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Thursday, April 23, 2009

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on the bright side... CWS -113 tonight vs. Adam Eaton. take it to the bank

Another bright side: Aside from Santana, Mets pitching looks like it could switch places with the Phillies right now and we'd never know it.

doubleh:

wow.. your team loses and the first thing you mention is the mets starting pitching problems.worry about your team.jeez!!

Only thing I wanted to see the Phils do this April was go .500. Anything more was gravy. Still have a shot at this but I don't see this team winning more than a game in Florida (where they always seem to manage to play poorly) or sweeping the Nats who have turned it around the past few days.

Looks like a 9-11 so finish in April which I guess isn't terrible all things considered but also likely to leave the Phils with at least a 5 or 6 GB deficit in the NL East.

Why is it bad to evaluate a division rival?

J-Stark on ESPN writes about the Marlins:

"Their centerpiece player, Hanley Ramirez, is 25. Their best starter, Josh Johnson, is also 25. Their entire starting rotation is 26 and younger. They have no starting position players in their 30s.

And behind that group is the No. 2-ranked farm system in baseball, a system that has developed six of the top 100 prospects in the sport (and three of the top 18), according to Baseball America."

Gist: Pretty good team, bright future and new stadium means they won't have to wreck it.

Next couple seasons are a window for another Phillies WFC. Then it closes.

Clout - Really this year and next. After that this core is starting to get a little long in the tooth and they will have a couple of guy making big-time bucks.

You are overlooking though the utter cheapness of Loria. Maybe he increases the payroll a bit more he will still be looking save every dime and nickel he can.

Re: Marlins, certainly not contesting their pedigree at drafting and developing talent. However, I would say that new ballparks have historically only provided a short fillip to attendance figures. I know that the roof on the new stadium will help comfort levels, and the location may be better, but there has to be a certain underlying core fanbase (e.g. Flyers, Philadelphia), and I don't see the Marlins having it. I mean, it's not like people don't show up because they don't put an exciting team on the field.

monty: My point was we are both playing pretty poorly for teams that were declaring themselves the "team to beat" this year.

I think it's perfectly acceptable to bring up play of a division rival especially when standings are concerned.

I'm plenty worried about my team, and it wasn't the first thing I mentioned (I was on the other thread), but it makes me feel better to see other division rivals losing. If Atlanta or the Fish were playing today, I'd root for them to lose as well.

Geez, some people are so sensitive.

I’m not overly worried yet about the Phillies even though they are a little frustrating to watch right now. For better or worse this is the team’s April MO. They never seem to play well during this month and start to catch fire after May 1st. Also, there are still a lot of games left to play and a lot of predicted playoff teams are off to sluggish starts. That doesn’t excuse the Phillies though from starting slow this season.

Ideally they can take 2 of 3 from Florida and have a shot at 2 from the Nats back home. However, as MG mentioned, the home of the Marlins is a house of horrors for the Phillies. Important starts are tomorrow and Saturday. Myers needs to step up and be the ace he thinks he is. Give us a solid outing and put us in a spot to win. Park just needs to give us the type of quality start we had numerous times last year. He might need to be a little better because of how lethargic our offense has been.

"I reject the concept that a player's bat must exceed some artificially determined minimum level in order to play at a certain position."

Totally agree with this comment a couple threads back from CJ.

Tray: So you'd be fine with Donald playing 1st base then if Howard left?

Our starting pitchers have ERAs of 5.03, 6.35, 7.31, 8.68 and 9.69. This team is really lucky to be 6-8.

The power/position debate is a little bit chicken and egg.

Because C, SS, 2B and CF (and except on Beerleaguer NOT 3B) are the most important defensive positions by a large margin, teams look for defense first from those players. Because of that, offense has traditonally come from the corners.

That doesn't mean you CAN'T have a corner with weak offense/no power. Guys like Dave Magadan and Doug Mientkiewicz come quickly to mind. And you can get away with that if you have an excess of power at the defensive positions.

So in that sense, Tray and CJ are right.

On the other hand, it's a really stupid way to build a baseball team. If you're lucky enough to have power at the defense positions, why would you want to settle for no power at the positions where IT'S EASIEST TO FIND A PLAYER WITH POWER?!

That is a self-imposed handicap. It's like saying, "Hey, my number one and two starters are studs, so I'll be happy with Adam Eaton and Alfredo Simon as my 4 and 5."

Like I said, stupid. So, in that sense, Jack is right.

Missed the game after the 3d inning and glad I did. Good work from the local product. Cole Hamels is having a 2006 Ben Roethlisberger season.

clout: Agree with all that, but with 3 caveats. The first caveat is that, at least at third base, I'm not so sure it's all that easy to find power hitters -- and many of the ones who are out there come with high risks because of injury and age. There are 30 major league teams. According to Yahoo's stat too, there were 15 third baseman who hit 20 or more homeruns last year. That means half the teams, including the WFC, were unable to find a power hitting third baseman who could stay healthy enough to hit 20 homeruns.

The second caveat is that personnnel decisions don't occur in a vaccuum. Every personnnel decision is also a decision about allocation of financial resources. To the extent that power hitting third baseman are available on the FA market, their cost is prohibitive. If you spend $10M for a third baseman with 25-homer power, that's $10M you don't have to spend on starting pitching. Better to get a somewhat lesser third baseman who costs next to nothing, then use the difference to sign John Lackey or some other top of the rotation starter.

The third caveat is that homerun power is by no means the only, or most important, measure of offensive productivity. To me, a guy like Chone Figgins, who hits .290, has a .356 career OBP, and steals at least 30 bases a year, is a more valuable offensive player than guys like Mark Reynolds or Adrian Beltre or Joe Crede or Kevin Kouzmanoff (2008 version). If Donald could hit for decent average and a high OBP, I would also regard him as a better offensive player than these guys, even though he doesn't hit as many homeruns.

Jack asks: "So you'd be fine with Donald playing 1st base then if Howard left?"

I'll respond to a question with a question. If Howard were to be traded (which isn't out of the question), one much discussed scenario has the Phillies moving Utley to first and putting Donald at 2nd. Would you be fine with that? If yes, then explain how that scenario differs from one in which Donald plays first and Utley plays second?

BAP - I would certainly not be fine with that. Utley at second with a league average 1st baseman is better than Utley at first with Donald at second. That's a seat of the pants belief. If the Flyers weren't on, I'd try to back it up.

It's funny but Utley would be the 3rd highest 1B in MLB at first base last year. Pujols (148), Burkman (140), Utley (135). if Donald could have an OPS+ at or over 105-110, then would make sense. Otherwise, I'd rather the Phils find a league average 1B and keep Utley at second.

I think we are currently in a bizarro world. Adam Eaton is DEALING tonight. Read that sentence again.

Adam Eaton has pitched 7 shutout innings against the White Sox, with 9 strikeouts. He hasn't walked anyone and has only given up 4 hits.

I can't believe this is the same guy who has an ERA over 7 in a stint at Lakewood...

last year. This must be Bizarro Adam Eaton.

adam eaton, shutout through 6 IP. couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

I'd like more Eaton updates, please.

sophist: The point of my example was simply to illustrate the absurdity of the argument that Jason Donald's bat plays at 1 position but not another. By Jack's logic, it would be ok to have Utley at 1st and Donald at 2nd, because Utley's bat is good enough to play 1st and Donald's is good enough to play 2nd. But it would NOT be ok to have them swap positions -- even though our overall lineup would be exactly the same -- because that would leave us with a 1st baseman whose bat isn't good enough for his position.

For the record, I would not be ok with either one of these scenarios. But my opinion has nothing to do with where Jason Donald's bat does or doesn't play. It's just that, in both scenarios, you'd be replacing Ryan Howard's bat with Jason Donald's, which is an unacceptable loss in overall team power. Of course, every personnel decision has to be evaluated in the context of other moves that it begets. If the Phillies replaced Howard with Donald, and used Howard's $15M to bring in a Roy Halladay type starter, an argument could be made that you would have improved the team.

By the way, I'm very disappointed in clout today. He missed a golden opportunity to point out the irony of having a staunch Pedro Feliz supporter arguing that Jason Donald's bat doesn't play at third base.

Michael Taylor has raised his average .46 points tonight by going 3 for 5 tonight with his first homerun of the season. Dominic Brown has also raised his average .21 points tonight to .277, with his first homerun of the season. Glad to see they're both prospects again.

The offense has been good and bad. But I just can't wrap my mind around the starters' 7+ era in 14 games. Not 3 games. Not 6 games. A 7+ era in 14 games. If the Phils switched rotations with the Pigs for those 14 games, the Pigs couldn't have done any worse.

Taylor finished the night 4 for 6 with 2 HRs, including the game winner in the 11th inning.

Good to see someone in the organization remembers how to hit...

Gotta love the Phillies...when the pitching blows we put up 6+ runs a game...we get decent pitching and we can't buy a hit.

Anybody else sick to death about hearing about the new Yankee stadium, and all of its HR's???

Guess what? The Yankee pitching has sucked. And, groundballs never go out of the park. They gave up a bunch of HR's in Baltimore too. Is there something wrong with that park too?

Geez, is there nothing else to talk about? ESPN- All Yankees/Red Sox, All the Time.

And, how is Fernando Vino still employed as an analyist? That guy, can barely put a sentence together, without stammering and stuttering. He is the Emmitt Smith, of ESPN baseball coverage.

It's clearly the park.

And yes, Vino sucks.

MLB channel has better recaps now than Baseball Tonight on ESPN.

Clout:

Fish have a good team and young players, plus talent backing that up in the farm system. However, that doesn't necessarily "close" an open window for any team.

That assessment of the Marlins looks great on paper, but I've been hearing the same thing about the Diamondbacks and Angels for years. Every season some talking head from some major network lauds the extreme depth that both those teams with regard to position players. Both teams have excellent pitching staffs and bullpens during the same stretch in which they have been "loaded" with young talent. None of that has produced a championship.

The same can be said of the Brewers and a few other teams. I might also add, that if talent were all it took to win a World Series, then the Yankees would be shoe ins every season. Maybe the Marlins and their assembly line production of talent will win a WS, but I would say that it is equally likely that they are paper tigers.

If you take a hard look at the position players that the FIsh are currently playing with, most of their starters are from other organizations. Hanley came from the Red Sox, Uggla was a Rule 5 guy, Bonafacio came from the Nationals, Maybin came from the Tigers, Gload from the Royals, Baker from the Royals, Paulino from the Pirates, Cantu from the Reds, Ross from LA, Amezaga from the Rockies.

So, the only starter that the Marlins have that came from their system is Jeremy Hermida, who is a perpetual underachiever.

Compare that to the Phillies of this year: Howard, Utley, and Rollins are all from the Phillies system. Two MVP's and the best 2B in baseball. Add Burrell to that list and you have four position players that could all start for any team in MLB.

If you look at pitching staffs, Nolasco and Johnson (Top two) are home grown. IMO, Hamels and Myers trump both of them without question.

So despite having a relative dearth of "talent" in the system, the Phillies have been much more successful in getting someting out of their homegrown talent than the Marlins.

IOP - Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but you're aware that the DBacks, Angels, and Marlins have won 3 WS in the past 8-9 years, right? And you know why those starters on the Marlins are from other organizations? Because they traded their young, formerly cheap, homegrown talent for most of them. Hanley, Maybin, Johnson, etc.. Is M. Cabrera a perpetual underachiever? No. He's a once in a generation talent who stayed as long as he was cheap and then traded for some of the best young talent in baseball. The same is true of Josh Beckett.

That shouldn't say "Johnson." I meant Miller. The point stands.

"ake a look at some of the graphs from Dan Brooks Pitch F/x tool.

His fastest pitch of the day was 90.4 MPH. He threw a variety of fastballs, ranging from 86 to 90, averaging around 88 MPH. The algorithm identified another 21 pitches as change-ups, ranging from 81 to 86 MPH. Some of them were probably just fastballs with a little bit taken off, though. He also mixed in some cut fastball/slider type in the low to mid-80s, and topped it off with a big slow curve that averaged 68 MPH.

If I went to a high school game and saw a right-handed pitcher topping out at 90 without much sink and featuring a curve that hit 70 with some wind behind it, I’d assume that he had a pretty good chance of not getting drafted this summer. It’s just not the kind of stuff you expect to encounter in a major league starting pitcher, especially a righty.

To have that kind of stuff throwing a no-hitter at the defending World Champs is enough to make you fall out of your chair.

Bush is the kind of guy who thrives on throwing strikes, but he didn’t even really do that today.

...

That’s not painting the corners and peppering the strike zone to get ahead of hitters. 45 of his 111 pitches were outside of the Pitch F/x strikezone (which isn’t perfectly accurate, of course). Most of the stuff in the strike zone is on the higher side, which helps explain the 10 flyouts. There’s just nothing there that indicates “tough to hit”."

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/bushs-near-no-no

Disappointing series, but I'm more in the 'concerned' camp than the panic camp. It's not an excuse, but I think with the distractions the team has had, it may be a couple more weeks before they get back into a routine and find a groove.

One real wild card may be Hamels. It looked like he was just getting comfortable and then that GD line drive. Tough, tough luck. Even after the HR by Braun I was thinking about how that happens to Cole often, and he has learned how to shake it off, bear down, and stop the bleeding. And 2-0 should not be some sort of insurmountable lead. Not to be this afternoon, though. Rolling along smoothly and things are going fine, and in about 15 minutes, it all goes to hell in a handbasket.

One more hurdle for the team to get over. There was a quote in the great movie "Wall Street" where Michael Douglas (as Gordon Gekko) says to Charlie Sheen "You had what it took to get into my office. The real question is do you have what it takes to stay there?"

I won't dispute that the Phillies were pathetic today. But I'm not sure I buy into all the characterizations of Looper & Bush as mediocrities. Looper has pitched just under 1,000 major league innings and has a career ERA of 3.90. Bush has a career WHIP that rivals guys like Peavy, Oswalt, and Halladay, and opposing hitters hit just .234 against him last year. Both these guys are arguably better than any starting pitcher on the Phillies except Hamels.

Sophist, those WS teams come with vastly different players. FTLOG, Tim Salmon started on the last Angels WS team.

Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson started on the D-Backs teams (With L. Gonzalez and the rest of that team). That was a long time ago, and none of their "crop' of talent has come close to duplicating those results.

Sure, the Marlins had some great talent that they traded, but what did it get them in return? One superstar player and a rag tag group of other players. The Marlins constantly squander what talent they do have, betting that they will get good talent in return, but when those guys aren't what they thought they would be, they end up taping together a roster around Ramirez that contains guys like Uggla and Cantu. None of those guys would start for the Phillies.

Overall, the Phillies have made much more of the talent that they had and, for the most part, kept the best of the homegrown guys around. How many guys that the Phillies have dealt are burning it up around the league? Gavin Floyd? Maybe he is the best, but he is far from proven after one good season in which his BABIP numbers were freakishly fluky. We'll see if any of the other former Phils talent looks like they are major losses for the team, but I suspect that the Phils did a good job keeping the best of them at home. Consequences of such action was a WS championship. The FIsh have done it before, but they did it in different ways. Today they are building with trades for other teams talent. Sometimes they work out, sometimes, they don't.

We'll see.

@clout -- Re: Marlins new stadium... I would gather that you are over-estimating the amount of revenue it will generate. They can't get people in that ballpark when they win. A new stadium isn't going to get people from heading to the beach on a Sunday.

In this economy, as the Mets/Yanks have found out, opening a new stadium isn't the end all be all. And those teams already had a STRONG fan base!

Going forward, even if the economy rebounds, I would gather that many corporations will continue to be conservative on entertainment perks and luxury boxes and season tickets would probably be the first to go. So if you aren't generating good income there, you better be getting close to 3MM in the stands. And I don't see that happening except for maybe the first year of a new stadium.

The Marlins have a nice crop of young players. But if the current crop of players don't put butts in the seats I can see Loria package a few of them and bring in a high profile player (AROD?/Manny?) to sell tickets. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Red Sox trying to engineer something like that to get Hanley back and trigger the Marlins to do something like getting an AROD.

The Marlins will probably need to do something about their manager too.

But back to the "window closing" argument. Sure there are cycles in baseball, but if you have a good organization you can weather the storms and bridge the gaps with quality trades and free agent signings as your farm system develops. This isn't your grandmother's Phillies organization.

I'm not saying we won't have a 67 to 70 win season in the next 5 years, but I'd say its likely will stay in the 86 to 90 win range for a while with a few playoff appearances and maybe another WFC title.

The Phillies attendance will probably top 3MM again, and will probably continue to stay at the 2.8 to 3MM level for a while. That ballpark is just so darn welcoming...

The Marlins have hit 2 million just twice in their history. Once when they first came into the league. And during their first WS title. Their attendance for their second title? 1.3MM. It jumped to 1.7 the next year. But the last few years have been around 1.3MM. They are on a 1.7MM pace this year... Not exactly stellar.

I wouldn't get ready to close any windows just yet.

IOP: It's not that the Phillies do a great job developing minor league talent. It's that, when they do find top prospects, they rarely trade them away. While teams like the RedSox, Mets, Dodger, Cubs, and Tigers regularly trade away their blue chip prospects for established stars, the Phillies almost never make such deals. I'm not suggesting that this is the wrong approach. I'm just saying that, if the Phillies have more home-grown players than the norm, this is the main reason. It's certainly not because of their fabulous track record at scouting and drafting.

Doing my best EF:

2009: 6-8
2007: 4-10
1980: 6-8
1977: 5-9

BAP: I agree with you. Whatever their deficiencies at drafting may have been in the past (I guess that is infinitely debatable from a variety of angles), they have kept the players that have proven to be successes at the MLB level.

They have also been stellar at keeping guys who not only good, but actually want to play baseball and win. Sure Utley, Howard, Rollins and Burrell made some big money, but they still play baseball hard everyday. They consistently are trying to improve.

Other teams (Yankees) consistently throw money at prima-donnas hoping that somehow the sheer weight of their collective talent will overcome any adversity. That plan has consistently failed.

The Marlins are certainly not guilty of the Yankees blunders, but they make blunders of their own. In my estimation, they have let go of some guys that, had they held on to just two or maybe three of them, would have greatly increased their chances at being competitive.

Yo, new thread

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