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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Comments

just a thought regarding a topic yesterday, re: why did wade fire cooper with 2 weeks left in the season?

si.com offers that it was actually done as a favor to cooper, to preserve his record with houston at above .500 (171-170).

The season was not what I expected, although I did think the Phils would score more runs than ever. I didn't think the Phils had the pitching to get it done, and I thought Hamels and Lidge would have down years.

Wasn't counting on a severely depleted East, a weakened Central, 152.2 IP from Happ with a 152 ERA+, 40.2 IP from Pedro with a 129 ERA+, or 70-90 IP from Lee with a 162 ERA+. The Phils Away ERA is under 4. Never would have thought that possible.

What do you all think the attendance will be for the first game of the DH today? Less than 7500? I can't see "Marlins fans" leaving work early to watch Game 1 of a DH.

Thoughts?

Nicely written summary, Jason.

I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised by this season. I truly expected more of a let-down ("let it out") season after the thrill of 2008. Howard and Utley have produced, as they always do. Werth has been a revelation, budding into a borderline superstar. Hamels is rounding into form, and Cliff Lee is going to be solid - though likely not as nearly-perfect as he was in his first five starts for this team.

I like our chances in 2009, despite the back end bullpen issues.

I am surprised people are using "down year" to describe both Hamels and Lidge at the same time.

Hamels had a down year, Lidge went from the best closer in the league to the worst. Not sure how we can group them together with the same phrase.

And re: Hamels down year

As taboo as it is for an athlete to say he'll pitch when it matters, or he'll worry about the important games, etc... I believe in it 100%. If Hamels hits the playoffs the way he did last year, than he can spot a 5 ERA all season for all I care.

If we were down 5 games for the majority of the year, than Hamels can turn on it earlier and get us into the playoffs. But with this team and its talent, he was able to not overwork himself and allow himself to be sharp when it really matters. If he does that will be the test... and I am betting that he will.

I mean, if Hamels had a great year all year long and went deep into ballgames, then we would all be complaining how much he was overused right?

This season (so far) was quite enjoyable. Things got a little interesting there for a while early on, but there hasn't been too much to complain about -- wouldn't know it from reading BL, though. Jimmy's early struggles and Lidge's career low year were the big issues for me. But, they were countered by Werth's emergence as a RH power threat, Raul's first half, the Lee trade, Happ's performance, Pedro, Jimmy's continued excellent defense (and the Phils' defense overall).

I like being 8 games up with 14 play a lot more than keeping it close. The last two years were exciting, no doubt. But, excitement is overrated sometimes.

I would never have expected the Phils to land a top line pitcher in a trade deadline deal, or even to have a Phils GM actually be a hardline negotiator. Certainly a contrast to previous trade deadline Ed Wade firesales.

I never expected Raul's first couple of months. It turned out to be too good to be true. I didn't expect him to be an automatic out for several weeks after his stint on the DL. I guess this is balance.
I also didn't expect to land Lee for a load of garbage, as it's turned out to be. It's nice to be the fleecer rather than the fleecee (Abreu, Shilling deals) for a change.

Phillies records by year on this date:

2009: 87-61 8.0 up in division
2008: 89-68 2.5 up in division

The key thing here is obviously Cole and Lidge/Madson. Imagine if Cole would have won 3 more games and the Lidge/Madson combo would have saved half of their blown saves. That would be 10 wins right there and the Phillies would be 97-51. That is astounding. And as I have been saying all year, come playoff time this team is dangerous.

With the bullpen injuries, closer situation, Hamels, Ibanez's injury and Rollins slow start. To be pushing 100 games possibly is beyond impressive, no matter how you cut it.

Raul's season is typical hot and cold. His "hot" just happened to be at a time when most others weren't doing much and the pitching was at its worst point in the season. Look at his season month-by-month, and he's had a great season, maybe a career year, but it's not a shock.

JW, while no one expected a "perfect" season from Lidge again, I think most posters here are a bit suprised at the magnitude of the descent.

Hamels? Questions were raised here throughout the offseason and into ST about his ability to bounce back from a vareer high 267 IP last season.

We have our answer.

One area I where will disagree, where it's not been "the same old, same old" offensively, is the bench.

Even with So Taguchi, the good luck charm, on the bench last season, the 2008 bench was better.

Dobbs was in fine form, the 2008 version of Coste > Bako 2009, as mediocre as Jenkins was he outperformed this year's version of Matt Stairs, and lastly, the ignominious Gnome had not descended into quite the depth of offensive and offensive futility that 2009 has witnessed.


All in all, this is where I expected them to be at this point:

At the top looking down on the rest of the division.

I did expect, however, that the Mets would provide a little better level of competition (though I still expected the Phils to take the division), but no one could have predicted their injuries.

JW: "but it's not a shock"

Maybe, you should re-read the threads from the time Raul was signed. From the minute he was signed, everyone was saying the Utley-Howard-Ibanez trio would suffer due to the lefty heavy core.

ozark, not sure if Ibanez' production was too good to be true, although it's certainly won't be his season line.

Up to June 18th: 280 PA, 22 HR, .312/.371/.656/1.027

He returned from the DL and played pretty well.

July 11 - Jul 29: 62 PA, 4 HR, .286/.355/.589/.944

It was his month of Aug+ that was awful

Jul 30 to Sept 5: 120 PA, 1 HR, .170/.267/.274/.540

And then since Sept 6: 55 PA, 4 HR, .306/.382/.653/1.035.

All to say, he wasn't going to hit .650 SLG all year, but I think a healthy Ibanez is closer to a 1.000 OPS than a .900 OPS. Although it's hard to see if that slump was health-related or a periodic event. At his age, maybe there's no difference anymore (his sterling health history a thing of the past perhaps).

Nice season, nice stories, baseball is a great game, this is a great team. We will need a little luck to win the WS this year, as we did last year, but we have to be considered as one of the favorites in the NL to get there.

Odds of winning NL: 1 in 3
Odds of winning WS: 1 in 7

Go Phils!

MVP - Certainly a shock to me that Ibanez is hitting .283/.358/.630/.989 against LHP this year (compared to an .872 against RHP) - with an almost identical BAbip against righties and lefties. He's also hit 7 more HR away (higher SLG, lower OBP, higher BA).

Sophist: Yea, his hitting against lefties is up from his career average. But don't you think that is due to him seeing better pitches because he is in a better lineup?

I don't think anyone could have predicted, with an educated guess, this.

Against LHP

2006: 4 HR, .243/.301/.362 -- .289 BAbip
2007: 2 HR, .256/.294/.356 -- .298 BAbip
2008: 7 HR, .305/.368/.497 -- .351 BAbip
2009: 12 HR, .283/.358/.630 -- .303 BAbip

2008 was perhaps a lucky fluke. From this, doesn't appear there was much luck involved.

Check out Ibanez in ultimate LOOGY territory

Late and Close: .338/.444/.632

MVP - Not sure. Even so, a .200 point jump over his career SLG against LHP?! The guy was a sub-.700 OPS player against them two years ago.

I'd say its been a very enjoyable season. The one surprise to me has been the apparent depth in the farm system. Seems like there are quite a few nice prospects developing. Also, Amaro seems to have done a nice job for a new GM. Bullpen help at the deadline would have been nice, but he tooke a chance that Condrey, Durbin, Romaro, Myers, etc. could get healthy. Overall a good job.

Sophist: So on the BLer record, even if Raul has a mediocre next two years. Was this the right move in your opinion?

I am sure you know my answer, but I seem to be in the minority that will go on the record.

It does feel nice to not be scoreboard watching the same way we were last season and the season before at this time. With an 8 game lead all we care about is knocking that magic number down to 0 and making some noise in the playoffs.

SteveW: Excellent point. The farm system is a pleasant surprise as well. We gave up 4 "top prospects" to acquire Lee and it seems the that farm didn't take a hit at all. To still have exciting players in all levels of the minors is something this team hasn't had in a long, long time. Thanks for the reminder.

It's amazing how the "virtuous cycle" of new ballpark, more revenues, better players, more wins, more revenues, etc. actually worked to perfection for the Phillies over the last few years. As opposed to say, Pittsburgh.

MVP - No, if he's a mediocre LF for the rest of his contract it wasn't worth it unless he plays a huge role in another deep playoff run (e.g., 2 wins from another championship).

There were cheaper/younger alternatives available, and the Phils have OF in the pipeline, obviously. The money on Ibanez could have been / could be spent on pitching and a bench bat. Just to give one example. I mentioned Willingham in the off season. The Marlins were looking to dump salary and he was a good buy low guy. Thanks to a .383 OBP, his OPS is higher than Ibanez (and he's managed to play in 122 games so far this year). He's making ~$3M.

Ibanez contract isn't Rowand bad, tho, and I don't expect him to be mediocre next year.

Count me among those who thought conditions were perfect for Lidge to flop: spring injury, history of up and down seasons, the general unpredictable nature of bullpen and the pressure of following 08. Even though he stayed perfect, they started living on the edge with Lidge late last year.

What are Raul's splits vs. the AAA Nats vs. the rest of the division/league? Since I work I don't have much time to research this stuff.

Sophist: True, but Willinghma is a butcher in the field. Ibanez is leaps and bounds ahead of Willingham.It's not just all based on offensive production.

Agree on the farm. The current class, led by Brown/Taylor, is much more legit than the Donald/Marson dynamic duo of last season.

Willingham is a perfect bench guy. I was all for the Phillies trading for Willingham to take Stairs' spot on the bench at the trading deadline. But we ended up getting Lee/Francisco combo instead.

MVP - How costly is Ibanez compared to Willingham? Compare the costs for LF now compared to a world where the Phils acquired Willingham this year. We're talking probably ~$20M, right? Is Ibanez' defense really that good? Willingham, just to use an example, has played in the same number of games as Ibanez with a virtually identical OPS.

More random Ibanez stats

Fly Balls

05: .260/.255/.669
06: .237/.229/.753
07: .207/.199/.655
08: .221/.216/.627
09: .323/.316/1.083

ozark - The key is finding things quickly. They're all right here:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?n1=ibanera01&year=Career&t=b#oppon

Can anyone else literally see the gust of Sophist's words and logic just whizzing by mvp's head?

Sophist: That is good and everything. But 1.) How do you know the Marlins would have traded him for a reasonable price? and 2.) What exactly would that price have been?

I go on who was available. There was Abreu, Burrell, Ibanez, Dunn,and Rivera available.

Who would be your pick. Mine is Ibanez. You can't go on trades and all the things that "maybe" would happen. How do you know the Phillies didn't acquire about Willingham, but the Marlins were asking for a ridiculous deal?

Sophist: In your flyball stats, i see that a players AVG is always larger than the OBP.

Is this based on a sac fly being counted negatively towards OBP, but neutral to AVG? Or is the slight decrease a sign of Ibanez getting thrown out on the basepaths? I know HRs count positvely towards OBP even though they do not end up on base, so it has to be either of the first two.

I am guessing sac fly, since a player os Ibanez's ilk is rarely caught stretching a double/triple.

thephaithful: I see where he is coming from, I just don't agree because the player wasn't a free agent, he would have had to be traded. Which therefore can not be counted as an option.

Actually now that I think about it...

Is getting caught on the basepaths during an at bat even reflected in OBP or is just counted the same as it is in AVG?

Lidge has had beyond a down year. He's been atrocious. The notion of Hamels "down year" has defititely been overblown.

08: 7.76 K/9 2.10 BB/9 3.70 K/BB 1.11 HR/9 .270 BABIP 3.72 FIP
09: 7.98 K/9 1.93 BB/9 4.13 K/BB 1.12 HR/9 .324 BABIP 3.64 FIP

His strike rate is up, his walk rate is down and hes allowing HRs at pretty much an identical rate to 08. The difference to some degree has been luck, as in he has been unlucky. Anyone who has watched him this season can clearly notice he's giving up a lot more dinks, dunks and bleeders than last year. Those "cheap" hits are readily apparent in his BABIP. Those hits have resulted in more base runners and as a result a bit of inflated ERA against what we're accustomed. You can even argue that last year he was a bit lucky throughout the season with only a .270 BABIP. Anyway, my point is that Hamels will be fine going into the postseason, and should be a special pitcher for years to come as he is only 25.

Lidge on the other hand, well, his season is just indefensible. You don't need numbers to see that he hasn't had consistent command his fastball at any point this year.

According to fangraphs:

Batting Fielding Worth
Ibanez 21.4 5.9 17.5 million

Willingham 23.3 -2.3 13.9 million

Also, according to that same "worth chart", Raul was worth the most out of all free agent outfielders.

MVP - The Marlins did trade Willingham (to the Nationals), and he was known to be available because that is the nature of the Fish (he was up for arbitration). He was traded with Olsen for Emilio Bonifacio, Jake Smolinksi, and P.J. Dea. But you're right that he wasn't as available as a free agent and we don't know if the Phils asked. I doubt they did, tho, since Rube seemed intent on signing Ibanez.

However, that there are cheaper and better routes (from a team perspective) than the higher priced FA was exactly my point. Of those options, maybe Ibanez at 3/30 is the best (kinda doubt it), but I think it may have been even better to look for a 1-2 year alternative and spend the money elsewhere. Willingham was just a name I suggested in Feb so I brought him up.

tommy, not to nitpick, but your post above comparing records from '08 to '09 is erroneous.

The correct way to measure the two teams is by record after a certain number of games, not on a specific date.


After 148 games:

2008 Phillies: 81-67, 2-1/2 games back

2009 Phillies: 87-61, 8 games up

Six more wins, 10-1/2 game swing in the standings.

clout: "BAP: You have certain rules. Anything Jamie Moyer does is bad; anything Ed Wade does is bad; anything Brad Lidge does is bad; anything Kyle Kendrick does is bad."

If ever there were a case of the pot calling the kettle, I think this is it. If we took a survey of Beerleaguers about which poster is the least capable of objectivity on particular players, I'm fairly positive the top 3 finishers in the poll would be: 1. clout -- Kyle Kendrick; 2. clout -- Jamie Moyer; 3. clout -- Pat Burrell. And if we included GMs, I think clout -- Ed Wade would finish somewhere in the top 10.

And if you think I have it out for Moyer and KK, you evidently haven't been reading my recent posts in which I've said that KK looks much improved & Moyer has been a solid bullpen contributor. As for Lidge, yeah, I do "have certain rules." One of those rules is that a closer with a 7+ ERA and 10 blown saves is a bad closer.

thephathful-nice imagery

awh: Regardless, they are much better team this year even with all there problems (injuries and off years for players i.e. Hamels and Lidge) and Amaro needs to be commended.

tommy, the fangraphs comparison is nice, but is their "worth" - which is ultimately tied to production - affected by the lineup in which they play?

MVP - I'm not saying Willingham 2009 > Ibanez 2009. I'm saying, for the price (and considering that the money would be allocated towards another area of need), Willingham 2009 + other cheaper LF options 2010/2011 > Ibanez 2009-2011, if Ibanez is mediocre for his remaining contract.

thephaithful - an out stretching a single/double/etc is still a hit and is calculated in both BA and OBP. Sacrifice flies are in the denominator in the OBP calc, but are not considered outs in calc BA.

phils84: From watching Hamels this year, I believe his biggest problem was not being able to put hitters away. Too many players were able to lay off pitches or foul off pitches and stay alive.

Pitches per Plate Appearence
08: 3.74
09: 3.87

Outside zone Swing%
08: 30.8%
09: 27.4%

Outside Zone Contact%
08: 60.8%
09: 63.2%

So in 2009 he was using more pitches for each batter, showing the batter's ability to stay alive longer or work better counts.

Batters were less likely to get fooled by Hamels this year, swinging at less pitches outside of the strike zone--but when they did swing outside of the zone, they were able to make contact more often than last year.

4. MVPTommy -- Raul Ibanez

Sophist: Ok, but to already chalk Ibanez as having a mediocre season in 2010 and 2011 is very premmature. If Ibanez falls off the cliff offensively in the next two years, looks like "The Babe" in left field in the next two years and needs to be taken out of every game in the 7th inning by way of a defensive replacement in the next two years. Then by all accounts you would be correct that the deal wasn't worth it.

tommy, we agree on the year-to-year comparison.

I was merely showing you a more accurate way to make your point.

The comparison after 148 games played is much more favorable to the 2009 team, and makes your point better than you did. ;)

BAP: Ibanez is the 3rd best overall LFer in the MLB behind Carl Crawford and Ryan Braun, no?

BAP: Well you don't have to worry about making that top 10 list because you are negative about everyone.

My surprises have been (1) that while I knew Lidge would not replicate his 2008 season, I never would have anticipated he would fall so far, so fast and not recover;

and (2) the ascendance of Jason Werth. Hard to believe he was a platoon player in 2007.
Although I'm an Utley die-hard; honestly, from a pure gut feel perspective, Werth has seemed just as much of a clutch threat at the plate as Utley late this year. He's got speed, fielding ability, a good eye at the plate, power, a great arm, and seems to be one of those players who does not let tough/pressure situations rattle him.

Not sure I quite buy "superstar" level (Pujols, Mauer, Utley, Ramirez, et al), but certainly a star player if he keeps this level of production up and increases his baseball IQ - still makes a few bonehead mistakes once in a while. What a breakout.

Raul carried this team for 1/3 of the season. He was a brilliant signing - and kudos to Rube for stepping up and getting his man, rather than taking the last dreg available. As far as his contract goes, I'll be disappointed if he hasn't been displaced by fresh blood long before it ends.

mvp - the question you asked stipulated that he'd be mediocre for the next two years. agreed that it is premature, but I was just answering your question. Hilarious comment re BAP.

Bob, what, in you opinion, qualifies a player as a superstar?

bap: thats a pretty good notion for a list.

i've got:
1. davthom73 - coste
2. mvptommy - ibanez
3. clout - anyone who the majority criticizes
4. bap - any player/team vs the phils
5. JW - every farmhand I havent heard of yet

With an honorable mention to: Jack - anyone who is left handed and pitching vs Howard.

put me in Jack's camp. his no. vs lefties are atrocious.

I'll add another:

denny b. - every phils prospect

phaithful: Oh, geez. I forgot davthom. Yeah, he beats clout. In fact, davthom-coste can never be knocked from the No. 1 perch.

awh: The Fangraphs "worth" comes from assigning a value to Wins Above Replacement.

phaithful: Well played. Although for a while I was known as the biggest Feliz "supporter" on here, although it was mostly because I thought he was a better option for 4.5 million a year than a Dobbs/Helms platoon. Crazy, I know.

AWH: Fangraphs value assessment has pretty much nothing to do with the lineup they are in. It counts purely a player's individual contributions, precisely so you can compare players on different teams. It also, I believe, adjusts for park factors.

Obviously, you can argue that a player's rate stats (avg/obp/slg) and baserunning stats are affected by the lineup, then yes, there is an indirect effect of lineup. But I would point out that every study done has concluded that "lineup protection" is a myth.

I'd like to nominate:

CJ-Ryan Howard

I love the guy. He's The Big Piece.

Ok, here's my list, although I'm sure I'm forgetting a few:

1. davthom73 -- coste
2. SirAlden -- Gillick
3. clout -- Kendrick
4. denny -- anyone in our minor leagues
5. mikes77 -- Howard
6. mikes77/MVPTommy -- Burrell
7. clout/Truth Injection -- Moyer
8. MVPTommy -- Ibanez
9. clout -- any starting pitcher with a 5+ ERA
10. MG -- Cholly

Honorable mentions to: Jack -- Hamels; CJ -- the Phillies in general; and anyone who ever defended Bruntlett because he scored the winning run in the World Series.

the phaithful- your challenge would be to find a loyal defender of T-Mac to add to your list.

(And no, thanks- I'm not volunteering)

Off topic, but since it's pretty clear the Phillies are probably going to make the playoffs, I was surfing around, and something made me think about the Matt Holliday trade, and various teams' records since then.

The Cards traded for him on 7/24.

Their record since then is a hefty 35-17 - a .673 WP.

The Phillies record since then is 33-21, an excellent .611 WP.

The Rockies record is almost identical to the Phillies, and comes in at 32-21, a .603 WP. (The Rockies 'made their bones' when they went 35-16 after going 18-28 to open the season.)

The Dodgers, after running away from everyone early in the year (61-35 on 7/24), since then are 29-25, a .510 WP.

If those four teams make the playoffs (coolstandings odds: Phils - 99.8%, Cards - 99.9%, Dodgers - 99.9%, Rocks 88.5%), three of them will enter playing .600 ball the last half of the season.

Analysis: Playoff crapshoot.

CJ: Sorry. Mikes77 got my nod on Howard, since he shows up and berates anyone who observes that Howard struggles against left-handed pitching. But, as you can see, you made my Honorable Mention list for your occasionally over-the-top optimism on all things Phillie.

bap: "CJ -- the Phillies in general; and anyone who ever defended Bruntlett because he scored the winning run in the World Series."

Ha! Although you forgot that I've officially declared Jamie Moyer "washed up" (tm) and that I'm part of the anti-Feliz club. Other than that, you're pretty spot on.

For the record, Eric Bruntlett is tied for the active major league lead in World Series-winning runs scored.

How bout:

Everyone except for Clout--Utley sycophants.

CJ: Don't forget that Gnome is in the HOF...how can anyone deny that the man does not have tremendous ability?

awh: Interesting. Are they all .600 in September?

CJ: No, I didn't forget. But I've never perceived you to be lacking objectivity about either Moyer or Feliz. You said Feliz stinks offensively, and he does. And you said Moyer is washed up, which he is (as a starting pitcher).

Of course, there is a considerable amount of subjectivity involved in creating a list of which posters lack objectivity. But I don't expect much dissent about the top 2 spots on my list.

Question for the BL faithful since we are basically killin' time waiting for the playoffs(always want to say it like Mora)...

Which Minor Leaguer will make the next impact for the Phillies next year? Drabek? Taylor? Brown? Who?

In the loss column the Phillies are 2 ahead of the Cards and one behind the Dodgers.

If those three teams continue to finish at the pace they've played at the last 1/2 of the season, they'll finish this way:

Dodgers...96 wins
Cards.....95 wins
Phils.....95-96 wins (95.55, but I wasn't comfortable rounding it up)

Does anyone know what the tiebreakers are in MLB for home field advantage.

This could be determined on the last day of the season.

GB: September Records

Phillies 12-8 (.600)
Cards 11-8 (.579)
Dodgers 12-6 (.667)
Rockies 13-6 (.684)

There is rarely any gray area here, so if you defend someone, you are automatically a supporter, so with that in mind, I'll volunteer to be the defender of T-Mac (he isn't that good, but much better than most people think)
Also..
Feliz-I like Pedro, and it can't be easy to hold your own in an infield with J- Roll, SS (Super Saint) Utley and The Big Piece.
Howard-yes, he is an elite player, and he gets extra points for recognizing his defensive shortcomings and working hard to improve them)
Vic-possibly my favorite Phillie and the looniest.
The Gnome-because he is a Gnome.

BAP-I've always been an over the top optimist, but if you've watched them as long as I have, I don't see how you have a choice. It would hard to stay in a relationship for your entire life with someone you hated (although I'm sure it's been done)

"just a thought regarding a topic yesterday, re: why did wade fire cooper with 2 weeks left in the season?

si.com offers that it was actually done as a favor to cooper, to preserve his record with houston at above .500 (171-170)."

If that is actually the reason, then I applaud them. Otherwise, it's idiotic.

Keith: My guess is (and has been) Taylor. Brown may have slightly more talent (therefore ranked higher), but he is a year behind Taylor. He may not make as big of a splash, but I think Taylor will be the next up.

Anyone think that the 1st game of the DH will be a bench players dream. They'd be hungry to play and would keep the starters fresh for the night game, which is their usual cycle anyway.

Fish will come out hard for G1 with starters and will have no choice but to use starters again in game 2 due to the importance of entire series for them.

Here's my G1 lineup:
Tracy-1st
Bruntlet-SS
Dobbs-3rd
Francisco-RF
Stairs-LF
Mayberry-CF
Cario-2nd
Bako-C
Moyer-P

First tiebreaker for home field advantage is record playing each other. Phils are 4-1 versus Cards and 3-4 against the Dodgers.

By the by, I'm not entirely sure that being a baseball fan and being objective are entirely compatible. I love statistics as much as the next guy, but isn't a fan by definition someone who operates, at least in part, on emotion? I can honestly say I have given my heart to the Phillies for at least 45 years (should I have died years ago of cardiac disease?), and no amount of objectivity can really overcome that connection.

keith: Taylor could contribute next year if there's an injury to one of our outfielders. If not, he might contribute as a bench player in the 2nd half. The other guys won't contribute until 2011 at the very earliest.

For next year, the biggest rookie contributor will most likely be a relief pitcher like Mathieson, Bastardo or Escalona.

Excellent point, BAP. The 'pen will most likely see an influx of young talent (as it always does). Mathieson is a great thought. How great would it be if he panned out after the surgeries and could be a reliable back-end of the 'pen reliever.

bap: Ah, yes... the blind support or blind criticism is the key, you're right. Your list is solid.

GBrett, September paints a little different picture:

Phils..........12-8, .600
Cards..........11-8, .578
Dodgers.....12-6, .667
Rockies.....13-6, .684


The Dodgers and Phillies have had fairly easy schedules in September - the D's have played PIT, SDP, and ARI 12 times, and the Phils have played WSH and NYM 10 times, with another 4 games aginst HOU (which they lost [cough, cough]).

I would say that that suppports my "Crapshoot" analysis, unless you think that the Cards will be any less dangerous because they've won 2 less games than the Rockies this month.

GreysFan, agreed. They aren't entirely compatible, but they are mutually exclusive, either.

Oops. I forgot about Moyer, who is NOT washed up.

Thanks, mvptommy. The Dodgers & Rockies are really playing well. I just read that Franklin's blown 3 saves this month for the Cards. I hope the Phillies play well these last 14 games, even after clinching.

Getting to the WS again won't be easy, esp. with some of their injuries and the struggles of Brad Lidge. I have scary visions I'm pushing out of my mind of losing a postseason series due to him. I hope EVERYONE turns it on for the postseason, and that luck is on our side again.

Blanton has been issuing more walks his last few games - anyone think that's a problem? Should we be giving starters an extra day's rest? Or limiting their pitches? We'll see how he does today, perhaps it's a fluke...

CJ, I see a lot more blind criticism here than blind support (pardon the pun). Once a poster has made up their mind about a player, they can't let go, no matter what they actually do on the field.

I don't understand mvp's near religious devotion to all things Ibanez. Take his defense for example. mvp touts it when the reality is that Ibanez will likely finish some of the weaker stats of LFs in MLB this year. He has a better arm than I thought and does catch what he gets to but he doesn't have much range either and plenty of stuff drops in too.

Are there worse LFs in the NL - yeah there are including Lee and Soriano (probably Anderson) too but all of those guys should be DHs at this point in their careers as should Ibanez.

Next year's team:

1B: Howard
2B: Utley
SS: Rollins
3B: Feliz
CA: Ruiz
RF: Werth
CF: Victorino
LF: Ibanez
SP: Hamels, Lee, Blanton, Happ, Moyer "washed up" (tm)
RP: Lidge, Madson, Romero, Condrey?, Durbin?
BN: Dobbs, Francisco

That leaves 2-4 relievers and 3 bench spots to fill. The Phils will not make a splash next off-season especially considering the raises already planned.

Old Phan: Yeah, that's one of the reasons I sometimes seem to stick out like a sore thumb. I'm generally optimistic, but I'm reasonable. There are a few people who seem overly optimistic and take great offense to any and all criticism. I just take offense to the unreasonable criticism!

awh, I agree it's a crapshoot. Nope, don't have any less respect for the Cards, no matter their Sept. record. Thanks for the info.

GreysFan: I think it's possible to be a baseball fan and be objective - if you don't have a favorite team. If you do, you can still aim for objectivity, but it's impossible to always maintain that. Having been both a general fan w/o a favorite team, and a partisan supporter of a team, I can tell you that the former is less stressful, but will never give you the highs (or lows) of the latter. As you say, being a team fan brings emotion with it.

I wouldn't say that Hamels' season has been a "disappointment" as his 2nd half stats have been very similar to what he put up last year down the stretch when he got universal praise. If anything, Hamels' strong 2nd half has largely gone under the radar. Let's say his performance in the 1st half.

Calling Lidge's season a disappointment is being charitable to say the least. It would have been one thing if he had an ERA of 5.00 and struggled at times. Lidge has been one of the worst relievers in MLB this year (arguably the worst) and is having one of the all-time historical terrible seasons by a closer.

One thing you don't hear discussed is not only is Lidge's viability as a closer for this year shot but Amaro and Co. have to think long and hard about having a contingency plan next year if Lidge's career as a closer is over (and it just might be).

My bet is that because of the dollar already locked up in Romero, Madson, and Lidge (and the overall team payroll) that the Phils don't go out and get another viable closer candidate and it will be sink or swim with Lidge again next year until at least the trading deadline again too.

awh's prediction for today:

If the Phillies win Game 1 of the DH today, Charlie will start Hoover for game 2, and give Chooch and extra day to let his wrist heal.

(Unless, of course, I'm totally wrong and Charlie pencils Chooch into the Game 1 lineup.)

killbill: I think Moyer's on for tonight, with Blanton pitching this afternoon. And I doubt Charlie will so as you suggest, although I think he'll have a few of the regulars sit out one game. Maybe he'll mix it up for both games and use a lot of these guys. It would be great for bench players to play an entire game, rather than having one at bat. As well as provide some much-needed rest for the regulars.

awh: Dave Murphy suggests that with Moyer pitching, Hoover would not be the best choice of receiver since Jamie has all kinds of different signs - He guesses that if Chooch isn't ready to play, Hoover will catch Blanton and Bako will be the catcher when Moyer pitches.

I think I'd like Ruiz to get another day of rest, myself.

Phan, I am sure you meant "not" mutually exclusive, and I agree of course. Even though I don't post much, I enjoy this board because of the obvious intelligence of most of those who do post, and I am sure this leads to the many efforts to objectively analyze each player and move the Phillies make. Objectively, I think this Phillies edition over the last couple of years is a hell of a team and as a fan I am very thankful for that.

Here's a thought you all can wrestle with. Baseball is clearly the team sport most available to intense and often very useful statistical analysis, yet at the same time it also remains the most unpredictable. Yes, the playoffs are very much a crapshoot this year, but aren't they always? We all know how common it is for an unlikely team to win the whole thing and if it happens again this year (Detroit anyone?) no one will be completely stunned. Of course if it isn't the Phils, people in my life know better than to try to talk to me for at least the next few days...

See, for some reason, I think the biggest splash next year will be KK. I really think he will become a solid 4th starter next year while no one else will contribute in any significant way. Am I delusional?

GBrett, winning this series basically finishes any hope for the Marlins, just as taking 2 of 3 from the Bravos over the weekend was a knife in their hearts.

I think Charlie wants to put this team away so he can have a wekk or so to get things in the rotation straightened out.

If they can win both games today, then tomorrow is the rest day - with the exception of my Chooch prediction above.

I was thinking Taylor could platoon with Raul next year. Not a straight platoon, but a couple of games a week maybe to give Ibanez a rest as he'll be 38. I guess they already have Francisco if they want to do that though.

keith: my exact thoughts.

i usually joke around about how good I think Kendrick is, but I truly think he will earn a spot in the rotation next season--at the expense of Jamie Moyer or anyone else who comes down with an injury.

I also agree with BAP's prediction of a rookie bullpen arm having a big impact. I would vote Matheison over the others

Interesting that it's a "true" doubleheader today and not some day-night doubleheader. When's the last time we had a "true" doubleheader?

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