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Sunday, December 06, 2009


****Unlike Arbuckle, LaMar has been very aggressive to move prospects through the ranks and less inclined to demote struggling players.****

I happen to like this approach. As Michael Schwimer said, if these guys can't handle being pushed in the minors, they won't handle be an MLB player. It makes no sense in coddling prospects.

Not every player responds the same way. Someone like Cole Hamels, for example, needed no time whatsoever. Carlos Carrasco is the other side of the coin.

Carrasco's stock would have been higher had the Phillies set a slower pace with him.

It will be interesting to see how these next few drafts go. LaMar's drafts in Tampa Bay were, for the most part, disasters. Go back and look at that string of top picks in the late '90s and early '00s.

But if he's able to come close to Arbuckle's drafts, I'll be quite pleased.

Carrasco has actually pitched better from year to year, his results just really haven't shown it.

For example, he's improved his K/BB rate for 3 straight years.

He seemed to respond really well to his inital promotion to AAA in 08 and then struggled a bit when he didn't make the team in 09.

Each prospect is different but I'd rather they push guys than hold them back.

JW: "LaMar has been very aggressive to move prospects through the ranks and less inclined to demote struggling players."

Does that mean Anthony Hewitt, Zach Collier and Moose Mattair will show up in Reading sometime next year?

That should be fun.

Love it. I'll be interested to see if Baseball Prospectus is as high on the Phils as BA when they do their prospect list. Also really looking forward to seeing some of these young dudes down in Clearwater in March.

****Does that mean Anthony Hewitt, Zach Collier and Moose Mattair will show up in Reading sometime next year?****

The AA strikeout record might fall if that occurs.

Drabek better be an ace that's all I'm saying! He best have the champion gene! I'm sick of these untouchable players becoming bust outs. Remember Tyler Green.

Speaking of Hewitt, have the Phillies settled on a position for him yet?

Clout: True, we will have to see how Lamar drafts, although with the team's success they might not have a high 1st round pick for a while. It's interesting to note that the team's #10 prospect according to BA, 17-year old OF Domingo Santana, was a guy the team signed last spring in Latin America. If he and Amaro commit some more resources to that market, that could be a very good thing.

Also, from the last post, you're right that I should've written my original post better. What I meant to say was "The last couple of years, as compared to the few years before that, Polanco has trended towards less line drives and more fly balls."

If you look at the numbers I posted at the end of the last thread, I imagine you would have to agree with that statement, no?

JW: I think he'll be in the OF, as the last report was that they were working him out there down in FL. Not sure it ultimately matters; he has a very low chance of ever making it to the majors.

i prefer to push guys more than arbuckle did. It is more teeling how a player adjusts to failure than to slowly plod them along. Carlos Carrasco might only be 22, but he shows no ability to adjust his emotions. Coddling him doesn't change or help that.

A "toolsy" guy to me is someone with great athleticism but negligble, though projectible, baseball skills.

Golson is the classic case and you could include Brown in there as well (and Hewitt, Collier, Dugan, Hudson & James of course.) But Michael Taylor had pretty fair skills coming out of Stanford, including an OPS of nearly 1.000. Obviously, he had tools, but he had skills as well and you didn't have to project them.

I believe they moved Hewitt to CF, which makes sense for a guy with extreme athleticism. Hopefully it comes more naturally to him and he can focus on improving his offensive game, but I am not optimistic. A guy who may end up moving fast through the system this year is Trevor May, a RH power pitcher who will probably start in Clearwater, and was ranked #6 in the system by BA. He just turned 20 in September.

****Speaking of Hewitt, have the Phillies settled on a position for him yet?****

Haven't heard anything since the reported move from 3B to CF.

"Unlike Arbuckle, LaMar has been very aggressive to move prospects through the ranks and less inclined to demote struggling players."

I'm a fan of the approach as well, as long as it's within reason -- i.e., I don't want to be rushing prospects like the Mets.

Still, the promotions from this year were generally warranted: Drabek, Brown, and Taylor come to mind, as does someone like Flande. The aggressive initial assignments that didn't work out (Collier, Valle) nonetheless made sense at the time; in fact, the only unwarranted promotion I can think of was Freddy Galvis, who was needed to fill a hole at short for a playoff team in Reading.

LaMar was a terrible GM but he seems like he is a pretty good guy to be in charge of the Minors.

good point by clout. LaMar manages the farm well, but doesnt have a good record of picking the livestock.

Thankfully, Wolever is essentially in charge of the drafts still...same as under Arbuckle. LaMar probably has little say on the actual picks.

NEPP: Any GM of course has large say over drafting decisions, and Tampa's drafting history when LaMar was GM speaks for itself. But a GM relies on his minor league and scouting directors for input, so let's say that LaMar was just a victim of bad advice.

LaMar was in charge of minor league ops in 1989 and 1990 for the Pirates and director of scouting and player development for the Braves in 1991-93.

Let's examine those drafts. The Pirates #1 in 1989 was Willie Greene. In 1990 they had two #1s and took Kurt Miller and Mike Zimmerman. With the Braves, LaMar took Mike Kelly in '91 and Jamie Arnold in '92. The Braves top pick in '93 was Andre King in Round 2.

With the exception of Zimmerman and Kelly, all these picks were raw toolsy high schoolers. Of the 6 players taken only Greene had anything resembling an average major league career. His career line for 9 years was .234/.326/.423. He had some pop but was a poor glove man and was shifted to multiple positions.

Perhaps LaMar has learned from his mistakes, but there is zero in his history to prompt a forecast of success.

Hopefully, Marti Wolever still has most of the say then as I agree that LaMar was terrible in Tampa despite having the top pick almost every year.

Did the Phillies wait too long for Chase & Howard to join the show or did that work out for the best?

Maybe more of a function of roadblocks versus them being ready?

Fans will always want these prospects fast-tracked but like JW said personality, character, and maturity determine how quickly they are ready.

NEPP: I hope so too. It's not necessarily a bad thing to have a philosophy of drafting raw talent/high-ceiling guys. The Braves have been doing it for years. But that is a high-risk game and you have to be very good at it to succeed. The Phillies ratio seems to be about 6 Greg Golsons for every Domonic Brown and I'm not sure that's good enough. They've done a far better job picking high school pitchers and that's offset the failure of their toolsy position-player picks.

I'm waiting to read the obligatory "the farm isn't really that good" post from MG.

I was looking over all the Phillies #1 draft picks spent on toolsy position players over the years. If Domonic Brown turns out to be the player we think he is, he will be the first toolsy #1 Phillies draft pick to have an above-average career since Lonnie Smith (#3 overall in 1974).

Every 35 years they get it right.

Brown wasn't a #1 pick.

Do the Phillies trade a star or 2 of the future in order to win in the present?

Brown was a 20th rd pick. That's a great round to draft lottery ticket toolsy players. Not as excited about taking those guys with every pick in the 1st and 2nd rd though.

I wouldn't mind if they took more top IF prospects...they always seem to focus on toolsy OFs and thus our IF is devoid of prospects at the moment. I know we have great IFs at hte MLB level but they won't be great forever...perhaps a toolsy 2B? or a toolsy 3B?

Rosenthal just tweeted:
Phillies like Lyon, not willing to pay price for him.

Sounds about right...Lyon is looking for big money, multi-year deal. I don't see Rube willing to give HIM that. Someone like Soriano or Gonzalez would be a little different...except for the draft pick issue.

Pat Burrell to the Mets?

Dutch's Delorean:

The talk is a three-way deal... Burrell to the Mets, Castillo to the Cubs, Bradley to the Rays.

At least he will have Coste to hang out with if it happens. Are the Mets determined to have terrible defense at the corners?

Crasnick says Rangers want Myers on a 1-year deal for their bullpen but that Myers wants a multi-year deal.

I can't imagine Myers will sign a 1-year deal with anyone for a bullpen job... maybe for a starting job. If he's going bullpen, he's going to want multi-year, I believe.

FYI: Burrell to the Mets is apparently just a rumor at this point. There have been talks, but no deal so far.

I can't imagine how any party involved in that trade benefits.

Also, Leslie Guidel reports that the Phils have won Baseball America's Organization of the Year. Congrats, Rube.

plz let PtB go to the mets...another aging statue in left for them would be GREEAT!

Murphy says no PtB to Mets

Dutch's Delorean: Well, the Rays would get an upgrade in Bradley over Burrell... if he doesn't become a clubhouse cancer for his fourth consecutive team.

The Mets would trade a really bad contract for an okay contract, opening up a spot for them to sign Hudson, as they want.

The Cubs would... well... ensure they go another year without a World Series title.

BedBeard: That's right. I forgot. He was considered a prime talent but everyone was sure he'd accept a scholarship to play football at Miami so no one touched him. Phils rolled the dice and got lucky.

So Lonnie Smith's record remains unchallenged.

Arbuckle calls LaMar a great scout. It was LaMar who drafted Rocco Baldelli with the 7th overall pick in the 2000 draft, leaving Arbuckle disappointed at drafting some kid named Chase Utley at #14.

* Thankfully, Wolever is essentially in charge of the drafts still...same as under Arbuckle. LaMar probably has little say on the actual picks. *

Amen to that, NEPP.

***It was LaMar who drafted Rocco Baldelli with the 7th overall pick in the 2000 draft, leaving Arbuckle disappointed at drafting some kid named Chase Utley at #14.***

I remember being surprised at the time. I looked at Baldelli's scouting video and said, "Damn, that kid looks like he'll be diagnosed with mitochrondrial disease at some point."

Turns out I was right.

Phils are considering trading Joe Blanton? Weird.

Here's the story.

If they trade Blanton, I'd have to think there's something bigger in the works...

Mariners apparently just signed Figgens to a 4 year, 36 million deal. There's also a vesting option for a 5th year and 45 million.

So for 3 million more a year the Phillies apparently could have had Figgins....
...but it's probably not the money. It's the length of the contract. I don't think they wanted to sign this guy for more than 3 years, and that was the hangup. I guess they want to develop a 3B from the minors internally (betcha their 1st draft pick this year is for that position).

Godfather: Check out the thread from Saturday/Sunday for the Figgins discussion. Some good discussion in there.


Willie, before Baldelli contracted his disease and had an early leg injury (I think it was a knee), the comparisons by age were the following players:

21- Tris Speaker
22 - Carl Yastrzemski
23 - Ellis Burks
24 - Rondell White

As you can see, that's a pretty crappy group of players that he was being compared to.

I think the worst one was Rondell White, who only made one All-Star team. Burks made two and had a career line of .291 .363 .510 with over 300 HR.

The two worst players on that list - Speaker and Yastremski - you can look up, they flat out sucked.

Unless we were upgrading with another better starter (someone like Halladay or Lackey), then trading Big Joe makes no sense.

BB - Yeah I still do think the Phils farm system at the upper levels right now (AA and AAA) is largely what it has been the past several years - a few good/very good prospects surrounded by a bunch of minor league journeyman.

People who always said the Phils farmed system stunk 4 or 5 years ago too heavily discounted the top-end talent that was coming of the system. Actually think that has reversed a bit now.

There was a bit more homegrown talent last year at Reading and Allentown but the Phils relied as heavily as anyone in the game on rounding out both rosters with minor league veterans and major league "AAAA"/journeyman too.

Can't speak that as much for the younger talent besides what I read but that Reading team is not stocked with MLB-players. There were 2 guys last year (Taylor & Drabek) who will make a potentially meaningful impact at the MLB level. Maybe one of the arms terms into a serviceable back-end reliever/starter but I wasn't crazy on what I saw from Savery or Worley when they pitched. More depth guys than MLB-caliber stuff.

I hope I am wrong because this team is going to heavily lean on that system in 2 years to produce enough talent to keep this team as a potential NL East contender as the core of this age passes their prime and/or leaves.

On 610, Gargano just made a couple references of "thinks there's something big coming" or "still something up their sleeves". As always with 610, take it with a major grain of salt, but being bored and optimistic, something "big" and fishing around for someone to take Blanton, could point in the direction of adding a big arm like Halladay.

*I'd be happy with keeping Blanton and adding some solid relievers.

CJ or anyone else:

How reliable as a source is fanhouse?

They say that would free up money for relievers. Color me skeptical, but why would it make sense to trade a guy who was their best pitcher for most of last season, and has pitched 200 innings a year, to afford a couple of middle relievers who might get you 60-80 IP?

Does that make sense?

The only caveat could be that they have quietly tried to extend Blanton, and he's either told them he's looking for more money or years than they want to pay (or think he's worth) or that he's determined to test free agency.

I wonder what a guy who has averged 200 IP the last five years with a slightly better than league average ERA, a 1.333 WHIP and k/BB of 2.20 would fetch on the open market? 3/24-27? 4/32?

If that's true about Blanton, it says 2 things: (1) the Phillies believe last year was about as good as it gets with Blanton; and (2) the Phillies believe they can find someone who can provide similar production for less money.

I tend to think that last year probably WAS about as good as it will get with Blanton. His career has been all over the map, and he's a pretty strong candidate for a substantial drop-off in performance next year. And he'll probably get around $7 or $8M in arbitration, so he isn't terribly cheap. I do wonder, however, where they would expect to find similar production for less money. And similar to what? To his 2009 performance, which was about 75th percentile for a starting pitcher? Or to his expected 2010 performance, which is probably closer to around 60th percentile?

Given his rising salary, the idea of trading Blanton is certainly not inexplicable. But I would have to say it's fairly improbable that it would actually happen, since it's hard to see where they would find an adequate, but cheaper, replacement.

Lastly, to the topic of the thread:

I wonder if LaMar's fast-tracking the talent through the system has contributed to the system itself improving?

What I mean is, does pushing players harder to perform accellerate their collective development and therefore lead to a better overall evaluation of the system?

"Yeah I still do think the Phils farm system at the upper levels right now (AA and AAA) is largely what it has been the past several years - a few good/very good prospects surrounded by a bunch of minor league journeyman."

Uhhh, MG, based on the number of "prospects" who actually make MLB and have a big impact, doesn't that describe MOST teams' farm systems?

Its funny how it largely doesn't get brought up anymore but LaMar was the worst kind of hire - "Old Boys Network" type who wasn't really hired because of his track record over the past 15-20 years which was pretty mediocre nor his status as an up and coming talent either.

Arbuckle generally got a raw deal in this town but the man generally knew how to draft talent in the early rounds. His high picks (#1 and #2) with the Phils from the mid-1990s to early 2000s were as good if not better than any GM in MLB during that time. Really formed the core of this team and produced some other really talented players too including Drew and Floyd.

awh - Sure but the Phils have had the most veteran FA at AA & AAA for years now in MLB. JW posts pretty often on this. Looked at the lengthy list of minor league veterans FA this Phils released this year. It has more players on it than anyone in baseball.

Of course, if the Phillies are trying to extend Blanton, the fanhouse story could be a negotiating ploy to get him to take notice.

"Hey, Joe, if you want to stay and aren't going to be flexible, we can always trade you to some place like WSH, KCR, PIT or ARI where you'll have a lot of fun winning....oh, wait."

yo, new thread

MG:the BA praise for the farm system is for right now, not about past failures in AA/AAA.

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