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Sunday, March 28, 2010

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In the Brookover article, Manuel is quoted as saying:

"We have a lot of question marks in our bullpen," Manuel said. "But I'll say this: I know Baez and Contreras have talent. The more we send Contreras out there . . . his command should get better, and when that happens he'll start to throw some clean innings.

"Baez needs some work with his command. He hasn't pitched a lot in the last two years. Believe me, when we work him . . . the more we pitch him, the better he should get. How good they can be, we don't know."

-----------------

Neither Contreras nor Baez are good-command pitchers. Never have been and probably never will. That said, Baez has more control than anybody else in the BP other than Madson (and maybe now Herndon) which doesn't say a whole lot about the command of the Phillies' BP pitchers. On the otherhand, all of the BP guys have great stuff and decent velocity.

Going to the BP this year is going to be like playing russian roulette.

TNA: Good post.

From previous thread:
Reading will be most interesting this year. Beyond Brown, Gillies and Galvis, there is the rotation, which is a nice mix of very good projectable talent and command/health questions: Phillipe Aumont, J.C. Ramirez, Edgar Garcia, Vance Worley and Drew Naylor.

Those first 3 all throw mid-90s and Worley and Naylor are effective when they put the ball where they want (a skill that comes and goes.)

If everything clicks though, could be a nice rotation and fun to watch.

How was this going to be a "important spring" for Mayberry, when he had ZERO chance of making the club anyway?

There was no spot for him. Period. No matter how he did. The Phils are going to roll with 4 OF's (Dobbs and Gload are DH's/corner IF's) and 2 RH bench options (one of which being Juan Mendoza Castro). That was set in February.

I saw Mayberry hit off-speed pitches this spring. I saw more patience. I saw a better all-around player (defense, base running included) that I saw last year.

They might as well trade him to someone that will give him a chance to be an extra outfielder in the majors. Its not happening here and the Phils obviously don't care about having depth anyway. Either that or he he should sit tight and wait for Ibanez to break down again. Then he'll be back.

denny b: I don't think the Phils have given up on Mayberry. He's a much better prospect than Golson (who u were pretty high on as I recall) and if he can get better command of the strike zone, he'll be a decent 4th or 5th OF. I'd be very surprised if we don't see him at CBP this season.

Mayberry is at that danger area where he could latch on as a 4/5 OF or he might be the next Andy Tracy. At his age, he needed to show that he could be the former so that the perception of the latter didn't become ingrained.

Does that make sense, denny?

****The Phillies considered Chad Gaudin according to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, but they decided he wasn't enough of an upgrade over what they already have in-house.****

Upgrade over Moyer/Kendrick or our non-existent depth at AAA?

Clout-

I don't think they have given up on Mayberry either. I think they like many things about him. He's shown them some good things. If they had a 26 man roster, he'd be on it. There just isn't room.

I am encouraged by his comments about the demotion. He was realistic and understands the number's. He seems to have the right attitude. He'll be back at some point and he will help this club this year. And with the lack of high minor league depth, he almost has to be kept. Just in case of an OF injury.

Denny- what did you mean when you said the Phillies obviously don't care about having depth?

I am willing to see if Lidge's velocity picks up over the next 2 weeks in Clearwater but how can Brookover write this:

"Lidge, who underwent knee and elbow surgeries, passed another test yesterday with a one-inning performance against a single-A team sent to the Carpenter Complex by the Toronto Blue Jays. He followed his 20-pitch outing - it included a hit, a run, and two strikeouts - by long-tossing 30 times at an adjacent field."

So just being out on the mound was passing a test even though he maxed out at 88 MPH on his fastball & was 85-86 MPH towards the end? Against a single-A team where most of the guys will be lucky to ever see a MLB roster? Generous grading curve if you ask me.

If Lidge is still only topping out at 88-89 MPH in another 10-14 days in Clearwater, he will going to miss alot more time or come back & get hit hard. Pitcher with only 2 pitches can't get by at the MLB level if one is only an 88-89 MPH fastball with mediocre control.

Seems more and more likely that the LOOGY to start the season with this team isn't on the roster yet and the Phils will make a move this week as team's pare down & finalize their rosters for Opening Day.

"The Phillies considered Chad Gaudin..."

I am sure the Phillies considered Chad Gaudin. The problem is, did Chad Gaudin consider the Phillies?
If I was Gaudin, I would head straight to the Mariners and become the 4th starter or the Dodgers and become their 5th starter. Why should a guy of his level settle for playing in Lehigh as the Phillies 7th starter?

Yet another week article by Frank Fitzpatrick (worst sr. columnist at either one of the Philly papers):

http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/20100328_Stadium_has_been_foundation_of_Phillies__success.html

Granted I didn't expect Fitzpatrick to actually go into great detail about the economic impact but to completely disregard the fact that economic studies have conclusively shown that MLB teams only enjoy a significant boost in attendance in Year 1 of the operation of the stadium and that if significantly tails off when you adjust for other factors (e.g., winning pct). By Year 5, there is no notable difference. If the product on the field stinks, fans don't spend their limited entertainment dollars to show up for it.

Hell, CBP open in '05 and it had 3.2M fans which was good for 2nd in attendance in the NL. The following year attendance plummeted by over 600k (9th in the NL) despite a team with a better record that was in a heated WC race until the very end of Sept.

The 'design of CBP' has little-to-nothing to do with the 18-32 demographic suddenly coming out in big numbers. Team is incredibly successful, has very marketable players across different demographics, and home games at CBP especially on the weekend have become events to go to.

Meant by Year 4. New minor league stadiums have actually shown to have a bigger and more sustained impact on attendance but even that by Year 5 largely diminishes.

Clout: As far as the minor leagues go, Reading will be very interesting for the reasons you mention, as will Lakewood. At the lower level, you have guys like Jiwan James, Hewitt, Dugan, Valle, possibly Santana and Singleton, and pitchers like Jarrad Cosart and Brody Colvin all getting their first taste at full-season ball. No one at Low-A can establish themselves as a "sure thing" because they're so far away, but there will certainly be some important weeding out of the top "tools" prospects. You'll have a good sense after this year which of that long list of guys has a chance to be a real prospect, and which don't.

In Clearwater you've got Gose and May, and that's about it. Obviously Triple-A is a black hole of prospects, filled with the veteran greatness of guys like Wilson Valdez, Dewayne Wise and Cody Ransom. Iron Pigs indeed.

8 days.

it's a process MG. it doesn't happen overnight. sure, if he is still throwing that velocity in a couple of weeks, that's an issue but right now, not even close

ST - It is an issue especially for a guy who normally throws at 93-94 MPH on his fastball. He is consistently throwing 8-9 MPH below that and that usually indicates that a guy isn't healthy.

Or that he hasn't built up arm strength yet.

Its early, he's still building strength.

NEPP - That is why I said 10-14 days. I just think it is kind of ridiculous to say he has "passed any kind of tests" yet.

If he was only a few MPH below where he normally was, it wouldn't be a big deal. Say regularly in the upper 80s and topping out at say 92-93. He isn't even close to that right now though.

he's definitely healthy or they wouldn't let him pitch

I believe Dewayne "Magic Glove" Wise is still hanging in camp with Ransom, Valdez and Hoover this week. Sorry to see Mayberry go but it was inevitable. He the proverbial 26th man on the team.

ST - He wasn't healthy last year and they let him pitch. Lidge also has a history of not fully disclosing how he is really feeling.

Not saying that he isn't 'healthy' but likely something isn't right if he is still 4-5 MPH below on his fastball velocity in 2 week.

Season=Over

Lidge's drop in velocity could be a normal part of the recovery process from this type of surgery. It could also mean that he's still injured or that he has made a bad recovery from surgery, as sometimes happens. Or it could just mean that his career is effectively over, which would hardly be unprecedented for a 33-year old flame thrower. The truth is, we really have no idea. So those of us inclined toward pessimism will assume the worst; those inclined toward optimism will assume that he's just building up arm strength.

But building up arm strength is only part of the equation, and not even the main part. Lidge had plenty of arm strength last year, but that didn't stop him from having the worst season in the history of baseball by a closer. And, even if he's throwing just 87 MPH, he should still be able to retire minor league hitters. The fact that he's continuing to get pasted suggests that he still has no command whatsoever -- which was the reason for last year's problems.

Given what happened last year, the burden should be firmly on Lidge to produce evidence that he is once again fit to be the Phillies' closer. Part of that burden requires him to get his velocity up to something approaching what it has been in the past. Another part of that burden requires him to actually have 4 or 5 minor league outings in succession in which he doesn't allow any runs. Until and unless he does that, he has no entitlement to a roster spot -- let alone the closer's job.

BAP - Amen brother except about the roster spot. $12.5M x 2 means he is the running for the closer this year and next unfortunately.

"Denny- what did you mean when you said the Phillies obviously don't care about having depth?"


The bench the past few years, has left a LOT to be desired. Its a little better this year, but still has a couple of glaring holes. And if Utley or Rollins ever went down.......yikes.

Of course, Cholly doesn't use his bench anyway, so maybe its pointless to even have quality there.


Agreed with BAP that a ninth inning of a tight game should NOT be in Lidge's hands until he proves he can at least get minor leaguers out. I would not be surprised, however, if he's closing games early in the season even if he hasn't proven that he's ready and or able. For the reason given my MG, the fact that they don't have a solid alternative as closer, and also Charlie's history of loyalty to his players.

Of course, what fun would it be if we didn't have to sweat it out with Lidge on the mound? Think how boring it must be to be a Yankee fan and see Rivera heading in from the bullpen.

he gave up one hit yesterday. that's getting pasted?

ST: He also allowed one earned run, as he has in every inning he has pitched in spring training. We play a lot of semantics games on Beerleaguer, but you have to live in an alternate universe if that doesn't meet your definition of "geting pasted." Do you think Lidge deserves to be our closer if he keeps yielding runs almost every time he pitches?

Jack: Totally agree.

If I weren't so lazy, I'd go over to fangraphs and see what the average velocity of Lidge's fastball was in 2008. I guarantee it wasn't 92-93. He was Mr. Perfect because his slider was on the corners with sharp downward break (the technical term is "filthy") and he was spotting his fastball in great locations.

Neither of those two things happened often enough last year, which is why he got rocked. He never had command of his fastball and his slider broke more horizontally, like a traditional slider, than down as his (and Steve Carlton's) had done.

I do recognize the velocity-bias on this blog (and everywhere else), but when a pitcher has a problem, it's more likely to be location. Lidge's problem was control, IMHO, and that will be his problem this year if he struggles again.

no of course not. but it's a minor league game. no one knows how that run was scored. also, if you go back to 2008, his velocity was the same in the minor league games then too.

all I am saying is that I am not going to pass any judgement at all until he pitches in the regular season and see what happens. he's going to be on a shorter leash this year anyway

****I do recognize the velocity-bias on this blog (and everywhere else), but when a pitcher has a problem, it's more likely to be location. Lidge's problem was control, IMHO, and that will be his problem this year if he struggles again****

But, but, but...fastball must be hard, dont understand, speed is everything...DOES NOT COMPUTE!

clout - Here is a breakdown of Lidge using pitch f/x from 2008 from just his first few appearances:

April 6 - 93.3 MPH avg with a max of 94.1 MPH (9 fastballs)
April 7 - 92.67 MPH avg with a max of 94.4 MPH (15 fastballs)
April 10 - 93.32 MPH avg with a max of 93.8 MPH (6 fastballs)

Lidge did come back in 2008 almost at the start of the season and was throwing with normal velocity right away in the 93-94 MPH consistently.

Yes control was Lidge's primary issue but even Lidge said after that season that he had to modify his delivery a bit to keep his velocity up & not pitch in as much pain.

Velocity does really matter especially with a guy who only throws 2 pitches essentially with one of them being a 4-seem fastball.

The difference between a fastball at 93-94 MPH vs. 86-87 MPH is huge. It is about .050-.060 seconds which doesn't sound like alot until you realize that the typical MLB hitter takes about .40 seconds to really get ready to asses the pitch and actually swing with his bat in the zone.

Maybe Lidge could succeed as a closer with modest results an 86-87 MPH fastball if he has really good control but he never has had in his career and the last few years his control has generally been above average at best on his fastball.

My bet is that if Lidge comes back with a fastball that is topping out at 88-89 MPH and generally more in the 86-87 MPH range he is going to get smoked.

BTY - Is there a closer right now who succeeds with a 4-seem fastball that averages less than 90 MPH? I would really doubt it but I would be curious to see somebody run the numbers.

Denny - no team in baseball could offset players of the caliber of Utley going down. Remember that our own Cody Ransom was the starting 3B for the yankees last year when Arod was hurt. Give the Phillies mgmt some credit for having depth similar to, if not better than, most ML teams.

they won't let him come back if he isn't throwing his normal velocity

MG: Ryan Franklin maybe? I don't know though.

ST - It isn't that simple though. If they have 2-3 blown saves the first 2 weeks, Lidge might push the organization to come back even if his velocity is 'back to normal.'

Really a 'wait and see' but easily the most lingering question going into the season. Everything else is a distant 2nd.

MG: Do they have a season total with avg velocity? I wouldn't take the first few appearances of the season as the gospel from what happened in the other 159 games.

MG: Do you consider Trevor Hoffman a successful closer? Or does it not count if a guy can't throw 94 mph?

clout - His average on the season was 94.12 MPH if you use Brooks Baseball pitch f/x data in '98. If anything, Lidge actually threw a little bit harder as the season progressed.

Kudos to finding a closer (Hoffman) who hasn't thrown above 90 MPH on his fastball in years. He has great control though as evidenced by his BB/9 numbers and a secondary pitch (changeup) though that Lidge doesn't have. It also looks like he has added a slider in over the years & used with more regularity just to keep hitters a bit more honest.

My point is that Lidge is going to need to be able to throw 92-93 MPH consistently at least to succeed this given his pitching repetitore. If he comes back topping at 88-89 MPH and regularly at 86-87, he will get smoked. He suddenly isn't going to have control on his fastball anywhere near what Hoffman has. Lidge needs to be able to throw hard to succeed.

"Denny - no team in baseball could offset players of the caliber of Utley going down."


Some could. At least for a while.

Who do the Phils have? Juan Castro? He is lucky to even have a big league job with anyone. And there is literally NOBODY in AAA or AA, that could step in and play at any sort of decent level. Its something that they have gambled with, the past few years. There is no Jason Donald or Tad Iguchi around, with this club.

The Phils have no depth at 2B, SS and C. That is a fact. They do have some depth at 1B and 3B. Kendrick gives them a very good 6th starter and Carpenter is a decent option as well, to use in a pinch. They have the most depth (although its debatable how quality it is) with relief pitchers and OF's. Their organization depth in the OF, has got to be one of the best in baseball.

Again if Rollins, Utley or Ruiz goes down, the Phils are going to be in BIG trouble. Either that, or they will have to make some sort of trade.

Cholly today, on Mayberry:


"He's improved," Charlie Manuel said. "We figure he needs to go out and play. At the same time I also told him that he has to hit right-handed pitchers better. He hits left-handers real good. He's got some things he needs to learn about his hitting.

"Once he improves against right-handed pitchers, just like I told Jayson Werth, he's got a chance to be real good. He's a good outfielder that can play center field. I don't know if he can play a 162-game schedule in center field, but he can go in there and play for a while. I look at him mostly as a corner guy though. John is going to play in the big leagues, and he's going to play for a while."

Above quotes coming from Zolecki's blog (just to give it proper sourcing)...

"If I weren't so lazy"

Beware, clout, beware.

That type of laziness leads to posts that are divorced from fact.

Do your homework or you'll eind up like some of the people who post here who you consistently criticize thus:

"Don't let the facts get in the way of your opinion."

Denny, if the Utely goes down, then PP moves to second and either Dobbs or Ransom man 3B. As I pointed out, the high spending WS winning Yanks did not have a better contingency plan for ARod.

Could StL handle Pujols going down? Could Min handle Mauer going down? Could BOS handle Youk going down? No better than the Phillies could handle Utley going down

Also, you've got to be kidding about Phils not being able to handle Ruiz going down right? Have you checked out the paucity of good backup catchers in the league, even on contenders? Phils are in excellent shape if Ruiz is out for 50 games.

I really thought for sure that Mayberry would be traded some time this season, either for relief help or for some place we were short do to injury.

But now I think RAJ may just hang on to him and possibly start the next year with a platoon of Brown and Mayberry in RF.

awh, you have no shame in the amount a-- kissing you do for clout. All of that for an anonymous person on a sports blog. Hilarious.

MG: Hoffman has a great changeup, but it's not true to say that's a secondary pitch that Lidge doesn't have. Lidge's slider, when he's pitching well, is one of the best pitches in baseball. Hoffman's changeup was legendary at his peak, but Lidge's slider at its peak isn't far behind.

Spitz, exactly.

I detailed it last ST when the same debate occured.

Most MLB teams have backup catchers that are offensive liabilities, and some are only marginal defensive players.

Just go to MLB.com and take a look at some of the rosters.

The Phils are in better shape than at least half the MLB teams.

Can sombody please post Buster O's 2010 predictions fom his insider article. Thx in advance

KB: Phils to win the east, ATL to get the WC, Rox to beat the Yanks in the WS.

Thx Spitz. The Rox do scare me this year. Under the radar and Godd Pitching/ Solid lineup. Don't think they can beat Yanks though.

What's the difference between being optioned, reassigned, and designated for assignment?

Gaudin is now an Oakland Athletic...and is supposedly slotted into their bullpen.

Obviously, velocity has its advantages. The harder a pitcher throws, the more contrast there tends to be with his secondary pitches and the more margin for error he has with his command. A grooved 93 MPH fastball is still harder to hit than a grooved 87 MPH fastball.

That said, I tend to agree with clout that velocity is overrated. Lidge's velocity was fine last year; it was his command that was a disaster. If he had regained his command in the off-season, it wouldn't much matter that his fastball is topping out at 87 MPH; he would STILL be making mincemeat of the Single A hitters he has been facing. The fact that he's getting clobbered by these hitters tells me that his command is probably still terrible -- which is of far more concern to me than any dip in velocity.

anyone else find it strange how last year public opinion was that lidge was hurt but he wouldn't admit to it? in fact he consistantly said he felt great. now this year he and everyone else is referring to the fact that he was hurt last year - why isn't anyone with a press pass calling him on that?

"That said, I tend to agree with clout that velocity is overrated. Lidge's velocity was fine last year; it was his command that was a disaster."


I don't think its overrated with a power-pitcher (which Lidge always has been).

Guys like Hoffman are EXTREMELY rare, as closers. Hoffman could get away with only throwing 84-86 MPH, because he had pin-point control and had one of the best changeups in baseball.

Lidge has never had good control, even in his best days. But he used to be able to throw hard. He was a mid-to-high 90s guy in Houston. He was still throwing 93 or 94 MPH even last year. His arm strength was still fine. He just had no control and no command most of the year. And when you only throw 2 pitches, that means trouble.

If Lidge dips to a guy who only tops out at 90 or 91, he will have to have MUCH better control to survive. If anyone thinks that is suddenly going to happen, I think they are fooling themselves.

Lidge might just be getting old. He's had his share of physical and mental issues over the years. These closer's shelf life aren't all that long. And if he is on the downside, the Phils are going to be stuck with another bad contract.

He had arguably the worst year in the history of baseball for a closer on a good team. He's coming off pretty serious surgery (all surgeries at his age are serious). He has started off the year in 2010, a good 5-8 MPH off in velocity from where he ended 2009. That is a ton. And he hasn't been effective pitching against 19 and 20 year old A ballers.

What am I saying? Madson and Baez better be ready. Because one or both of them, might be doing a lot a 9th inning work in 2010.

A bit OT, but what will the AAA bullpen look like? Will they use Mathieson as a closer or continue to use him in a Durbin/Contreras multi-inning role? Should be interesting to see.

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