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« Transactions: Phillies option Zagurski, Mathieson | Main | Sunday notes: Polanco to play, Doc's final tune-up »

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Comments

How many lousy hitting utility infielders does it take to change a lightbulb?

Polanco played yesterday, guess beerleaguer didn't watch that game.

Yeah I did. He said he felt a twinge afterward.

Gelb on Twitter: "Interesting. Mike Stutes is back for a day in big-league camp. He'll pitch after Kendrick and Madson today."

Dubee also tells Zolecki Phils still have a few things in the works for 'pen.

From the last thread:

"More breath has been wasted on Mathieson than any other Phillies' prospect the past 3 years. He's a AAAA pitcher. Nothing more.

Posted by: mike77phillies"


Mikey, you do realize that you could say the exact same thing about David Herndon at this point, no? Unless, of course, you think his body of work to this point has proven he's a MLB pitcher?

A "few things in the works" probably means something along the lines scraping some of the old tobacco shreds off the walls out there.

The worst thing that ever happened to ESPN's baseball coverage was that MLB Network started and clearly lap everything the team in CT. does.

I was flipping through channels this morning and saw a piece of the ESPN Fantasy Draft special. They were doing fantasy sleepers. Buster Olney's pick? Alex Rodriguez. I immediately resumed flipping channels.

It’s my guess that at 35 years old, Polanco may no longer be an everyday player. Let's just say Polanco is on the mend until mid-May. How many games can we win until then with Valdez? Orr? at 3rd and Luis Castillo (ugh) at 2nd?

What exactly is the extra offense that Pete Orr brings worth? Assuming Castillo meets his targets and goes north as the starter at 2nd, does Martinez - with his youth and (hopefully!) corresponding durability - have the inside track as a utility guy?

I like Martinez for the simple reason that he makes the team younger and Lord knows we need that. Who knew that the infield could become such a mess?

Jerry - Polanco left the game early yesterday after the 3rd because of his elbow acting up. He was supposed to play until at least the 5th inning along with the rest of the regulars.

I'd much rather see the "a few things in the works" on the offense side. With Polanco banged up, there's a real possibility we trot out lineups with both Castillo and Valdez or Valdez and Martinez/Barfield/Orr/Young in the early going.

Don't really understand why you would keep both KK and Herndon in the bullpen. Really seems like you have a natural redundancy there.

Ideally, KK would be at at Lehigh as a starter at the beginning of the season but a guy making $2.35M is on the big league roster.

I guess I would go with Mathieson instead along the Phils supposedly want him to work on his splitter-finger more (not a big surprise) & get some innings in April.

We all know that if Mathieson was in the bullpen that he would be treated like a leper by Cholly. Cholly just doesn't use inexperienced relievers unless he really has no other option. Been here long along to realize that is one of his clear tendencies as a manager.

With the Phils' April schedule, Herndon/KK is only going to get used occasionally until they have that 2-week stretch from April 13-27 without an off-day. My bet is 1-2 IP for both guys the first two weeks.

Basically, this looks like the same largely mediocre bullpen they had last year because of the middle relief. Only two things you will find the first 2-3 weeks of the season about the pen are who is Cholly's choice to close and if Baez can hack it higher leverage situations in the 7th/8th innings.

Krukker: Agreed about the offense, But it appears nothing is in the works there or will be done at all. Clearly the success of the team lies squarely the pitching.

I don't understand all the handwringing about Mathieson. I watched him pitch one inning this Spring and it became abundantly clear that he's either tipping his pitches or it's really easy to pick up his offspeed stuff out of his hand.

He threw just about every fastball for a strike. And he threw every breaking ball or offspeed pitch for a ball. And nobody swung at anything that wasn't a fastball.

That's either the worst luck in the world or what I said in the first paragraph is happening. So until he can actually get someone to swing at (and hopefully miss) a secondary pitch, he's a minor leaguer.

Mathieson belongs in the minors right now to keep working on what they had him work on in the off-season.

Herndon got some good experience last year and I think Charlie would feel more comfortable going to him in a pinch rather than Scott.

It's not really a redundancy either because KK is your long man and Herndon will probably be a situational guy.

aksmith - Yup. His splitter is a MLB-caliber pitch and he doesn't have an offspeed pitch that he can consistently throw for a strike or get hitters to swing & miss/foul off on with enough consistency.

That that discussion with other including Good Phight & Phuture Phillies where people seemed to be overly enamored with his gaudy K/9 numbers & velocity. Even a couple of foolish posters who said that Mathieson should be given a spot on the Opening Day roster at the expense of Baez which made zero sense because Mathieson can just as easy do the same at Lehigh (where he will pitch frequently) & Phils need to see if Baez can be a meaningful contributor this year.

TTI - Why would Herndon be a situational guy when KK has more of a proven track record to get out right-handed hitting? If anything, I would rather see KK face a right-handed hitter in a key spot than Herndon at this point.

MG: Agreed about KK staying stretched out as a starter in AAA. I disagree with Herndon and KK being redundant, however. If KK stays in AAA you still need a long man.

KK's job is long man. He comes in if there's a rain delay or a starter gets injured or can't get anyone out. He needs to be able to pitch several innings at a time, with three innings being a reasonable expectation.

Herndon's job is mop-up duty. Sometimes these situations overlap but they are still distinct roles. Herndon would pitch in low leverage situations, such as when the game is in hand in the late innings, or in blowout losses after KK pitches. It would be nice if Herndon could pitch three innings, but he would typically only be expected to go one or two innings.

aksmith- There is also the possibility- that not many here want to admit to. Maybe Mathieson is just not that good a pitcher.

We complain about the Phillies 'pen.

This from Rosenthal:

"Finally, with right-hander Braden Looper retiring, the battle for the final spot on the Cubs' pitching staff is down to right-handers Carlos Silva, Marcos Mateo and Casey Coleman."

If you subbed in the names 'Herndon/Mathieson/Zagurski' would the result be any different?

"Clearly the success of the team lies squarely the pitching.

Dom, clearly, that's the way the FO drew it up in December.

awh - Back end of the Phils' bullpen will be fine even with Lidge out.

I would find it hard to believe that even the Phils' FO or Cholly/Dubee would admit that a middle relief combo of Baez, Romero, Bastardo, Herndon, and KK though is anything more than average.

JW: Still think you buried the lede in the last post. Mathieson and Zagurski aren't that surprising as cuts, but Polanco sitting again and being re-evaluated on his elbow is a pretty big deal.

MG: because that is probably how Charlie is going to use them. If KK is the long man you're not really going to run him out there in situational spots often, if at all. Herndon is not going to be the long man. We saw that when he goes more than one inning the results fluctuate wildly.

Both can be very good against righties, but Herndon is better against lefties (which allows you to use him in spots where you wouldn't use KK*) AND KK is better in multiple innings. I didn't think saying Herndon would be the situational guy was going to be debated since the preponderance of the evidence points that way.


*And because everything has to be laid out plain as day for people around here. This would also probably be a situation where you've either a) already used a lefty, or b) are saving them as it's too early in the game yet to use them.

Hide Utley's stool:

That was a funny tweet about Dubee's solution for Madson, "We gonna hide all the chairs this year."

If Madson goes down for an extended stretch, this bullpen unravels pretty fast. Ditto with Halladay even with all of the other starters they have. Both guys are the respective lynchpins.

MG, we agree on the back end of Phils pen. I was merely trying to demonstrate that it's not as if the same issues don't exist on other clubs.

Some teams run horrible dreck out on the mound.

TTI - Herndon's splits were even slightly worse against left-handing hitting than KK's much maligned numbers vs. left-handed hitting last year.

Herndon has a ridiculously anemic 0.56 K/BB vs. left-handed hitters and they smoked him at a .328/.421/.484 clip. It wasn't because of bad-luck either because BABIP were only .339 vs. .379 vs right-handed hitters.

Neither guy is a good option vs. a left-handed bat and I don't think they will get used in the early going with Herndon largely as the situational guy and KK as the long-man/mop-up guy. Both guys will pitch multiple innings if needed and Cholly will likely feel his way along with them in situational spots with no clear preference. With the 2 LHP relievers in th pen, I see Cholly making alot of hooks when KK/Herndon are in with runners on base and a left-handed hitter is coming up and rightly so.

MG: Kendrick has 4 years worth of numbers showing he struggles with lefties. Herndon has 64 at bats against lefties. Sorry if I'm not ready to declare a guy unable to get lefties out after that many at bats.

awh: Yeah, a lot of teams do run crap out there in the bullpen. I happen to agree people worry too much about our last pitcher on the roster.

But your point doesn't really hold, unless you think the Phillies have the same expectations as all those other teams, and you'd be cool with the same results as all those other teams. They don't, and you wouldn't.

MG, I believe TTI just busted you on "sample size". Unless you think that size doesn't matter? :)

awh: I don't get the joke.

The teams that matter, in terms of comparing our roster to theirs, are the Braves primarily, and then the Giants, Reds, and maybe the Rockies and Brewers.

I would say our bullpen (even with Lidge healthy) is behind the Giants and Braves, even with or slightly better than the Brewers, and ahead of the Reds.

Bautista drives in a run with a 2 out double but KK strikes out Hill to end the inning. 1-0 Jays.

Shane strikes out looking on a 3-2 pitch that looked low. That's actually an encouraging sign to me, if he's going to bat leadoff.

Castillo with a seeing-eye single through the 1b-2b hole.

That's about the extent of his base hits these days.

Castillo singles!

Well the Phillies used their last option on Mathieson so he's either in Lehigh Valley until September call-ups or if they do bring him up during the season for a injury replacement and then try to send him down again, I think he will be claimed by another organization. I'm sure they are aware of this (as is he) so I'm guessing that basically the Phillies are not counting him in their future unless he really turns heads in his latest minor league stint. It is interesting that needing another pitcher for today's game, they have turned to Michael Stutes.

awh: nevermind. I read your post backwards.

My bad. I get the joke.

Herndon and KK are different pitchers. Herndon is a ground ball specialist; KK isn't. But KK can give you 3-4 innings, and start in a pinch, whereas Herndon can't. The only real redundancy I see is the redundancy of crappiness.

That was a great throw by Riveria in right

The Phillies look like they are ready for spring training to be over.

Looks like Beerleaguer is as well

Sarge says Castillo should be judged by his past and not by what he looks like now. Hey, that sounds like a great idea.

Castillo has 2 hits today and neither ball was well hit at all.

Vic, Castillo, Ben Fran, and some second teamers are making a run at this game

@ TTI

That's been the theme this st, at least when the put up more than 2 hits in the game

That was a really terrible throw by Francisco.

This really sounds great (from CSNPhilly):

Polanco, 35, shook his head. “I feel great,” he said softly. “My legs feel great. My back feels great.”

He flexed his elbow. “It’s just this …” he said. His voice trailed off.

Jack, that doesn't sound good.


In other player news local boy Dave Bush says he'll opt out of his contract tomorrow if he doesn't make the Rangers.

I would suggest bringing him in for a look if he can provide depth, particularly in the bullpen, but in the 13 IP he's had in relief ("SSS alert") he's been awful.

Still, he'd be decent depth as a starter, but it doesn't look like he want to start the season in AAA.

So, my bet is Castillo makes the team as the starting 2B as Valdez will start at 3B.

That's a fantastic lineup, right?

SS Rollins
2B Castillo
LF Ibanez
1B Howard
CF Victorino
RF Francisco
C Ruiz
3B Valdez
P Halladay

Like NEPP said, just fantastic...

If Polly can't start the season I recommend that someone toss one at Tim Hidson the first chance.

Q - from Andy: How many lousy hitting utility infielders does it take to change a lightbulb?

A - None. Because lousy hitting utility infielders aren't afraid of the dark.

Anyone still more worried about the bullpen than the infield?

The worst part of the lineup is that UC will almost definitely bat Castillo in the 2-hole due to his history and his propensity for taking pitches.

Ugh.

I miss those halcyon days of January and February when the Phillies were guaranteed to have fewer injuries than last year (despite key guys being a year older and being the oldest team in the league), and anyone who questioned that was a raging pessimist.

I am officially hitting the household panic button. I have geniune concerns about our light hitting infield and nervous RFers who are bound to be pressing when they bat.

Just read a couple Sox Beerleaguer threads and saw a Jbird, Sox Patrone, an Evil Andy and then Southside Fallowfield announced Yo new thread. Crackin' me up fellas. The White Sox are now worth rooting for.

Judging from Charlie's praise recently of Mini Mart, he seems like a lock to make the Opening Day roster.

Jack, you're practicing revisionist history again, and in doing so you do yourself and your reputation a disservice. Why do you do it? You only make yourself look bad.

You know very well the disagreement that occured was not about that, it was about whether or not specific injuries that occured could be related to age.

So, if that's how you want it, then you must agree that Utley's broken hand (Lannan) was an age-related injury, that Polly's elbow last season was age-related, that Rollins ankle was age-related, that Howard's ankle sprain was age-related, that Utley's thumb was age related, that Blanton's age 29 oblique was age-related, that Hamels ankle was age-related, etc., etc., etc.

Revised roster:

1. Victorino, 2. Castillo, 3. Rollins, 4. Howard, 5. Ibanez, 6. Francisco, 7. Polanco, 8. Ruiz

Bench: Schneider, Valdez, Gload, Mayberry Jr., Martinez

1. Halladay, 2. Lee, 3. Oswalt, 4. Hamels, 5. Blanton

Bullpen: Contreras, Madson, Romero, Baez, Bastardo, Herndon, Kendrick

If Polanco starts the season on the DL, Young makes the roster and Valdez moves into the starting lineup hitting 8th (with Ruiz hitting 7th).

Also, seems clear Phils would like an option other than David Herndon to fill out that last bullpen spot with Lidge out.

Mets catcher Ronny Paulino, 29, was shut down today with age-related blood work problems.

+1 for using the word halycon and using it correctly.

-1 to me for the typo

halcyon, not halycon

Castillo does offer SOME value. He takes a ton of pitches, he walks a good amount, he's a great bunter, and...that's about it.

He'll likely never drive the ball or even hit it harder than a pitcher though. Not exactly the ideal 2-hole hitter.

On Paulino: Hopefully he's okay and its nothing serious. I may not care for him as a player but the list of things that come up on bloodwork isn't exactly full of "not-major" issues. Its usually things like cancers, other bad diseases, etc.

I foresee a Castillo defensive alignment equal and opposite in intensity to the Howard shift.

Castillo may get to see 7 infielders (not counting the pitcher) when he's at the plate. I mean, why not? I've yet to see him drive the ball with authority.

If you bat Castillo 3rd, it will look like the other team is taking the field for Howard.

PECOTA gives the following prediction for Castillo:

.271 AVG/.345 OBP/.681 OPS

Bill James gives the following prediction:

.275 AVG/.361 OBP/.686 OPS

Marcel predicts the following:

.257 AVG/.345 OBP/.666 OPS

For what its worth.

Cut Fastball~ You do realize that if Martinez makes the team he's gotta stay all year being a Rule 5 pick, right?

The problem is we have too many guys like him right now. Orr, Barf, Exxon, Young, Mini-Mart, Castillo. They're all basically light-hit guys. Each brings something a little different.

To me, relying on these guys, with Mayberry and Brown being unproven, then BenFran and Gload, I mean this offense could be in trouble. Does anyone else agree? Is anyone hearing anything?

My friend called me each of the last 2 days from out West (he's traveling), tells me nothing's going on, although he did say Michael Young met his the GM and he's saying Young will is not stay in Texas and that he might be coming here. I disagreed for this reason: A guy I work with down here, who's from Cherry Hill listens to WIP every mornning on his computer and he said one of the guys covering the Phils in Clearwater phoned in yesterday and said the Phils weren't spending any more money. So it looks like we're going with whom we have. That's disappointing if true.

Questions I have for anyone to answer are these: Let's say that Lidge and Utley are done for the year, are both contracts insured? Let's say the team recoups 80% of the 27 million I believe the 2 players earned combined(21.6). Are their salaries, while guaranteed, counted towards the luxery tax if they're not able to play? And even if they are, would we then have some money to take on part of a contract such as Young's? I'm not saying he's coming in. I'm saying we then have the ability to at least spend some. Thoughts?

Jack: I miss the days of July and August of last year, when you lectured everyone about how the Braves are a really good team, and that a 6 game lead with 60 games to play (6 of which were against that team) is very difficult to overcome, and anyone who questioned that was a silly pollyanna optimist.

These injuries are troubling, for sure, and yet the Phillies are still -400 to win the East and -110 to win the NL. I guess the betting public isn't as realistic and grounded as Jack, et al.

If Young werent swiftly declining AND he didn't have 3 years remaining on his deal, he MIGHT be the answer. The problem is that he does.

The word is that Utley's deal is insured but its unknown if Lidge's deal is or if his issue is nearly that serious to worry about it.

The luxury tax only matter BEFORE the season starts. The Phillies can add as much salary as they want afterward without having to pay anything towards it.

Right now, our official figure towards the luxury tax is right around $170 million and our actual salary is around $164 million (the money from Houston to cover Oswalt's salary doesnt help us in regards to the cap).

Young isnt the answer.

Two thoughts/predictions:

1. The Phillies will still easily win the NL East

2. They'll win a minimum of 95 games and likely come closer to or surpass 100 wins.

NEPP: Define "easily."

NEPP: I agree on both counts. So does Vegas, who has our O/U at 96.5 wins (Braves 87.5, Marlins 82.5, Mets 76.5, Nationals 72.5).

I suspect (although I could be wrong) that many/most of the regulars here will find our prediction ("our" meaning me, you, and America) to be ridiculous.

DH Phils: 6 games with 60 to go IS very hard to overcome. The fact that it happened doesn't mean it was always very likely. It wasn't.

Butler is going to back-to-back Final Fours. If you said beforehand that that was really hard to do, you wouldn't now be wrong just because it happened.

***NEPP: Define "easily."***

Minimum of 3 games and likely more than 5.

Jack: You may have thought it unlikely, but that doesn't mean it was. It just makes you wrong... again.

Being a pessimist is easy. It lets you say "I told you so" when you're right, but doesn't prevent you from celebrating when you're wrong.

Jack: Of course, one data point does not prove or disprove anything, but many felt the Phillies were underachieving and the Braves were overachieving, and as it turned out, they were right.

I just think pessimism masquerading as realism gets old.

That line-up is going to average 3 runs a game. With this starting pitching that may be good enough. The offense may go down, but the pitching has gone up. They probably offset each other in the end.

I don't know why people even bother arguing anything with Jack. When he's wrong (which is often) he doesn't admit to being wrong. He just tries to twist what you said into some unrecognizable mass that makes him look right. It's not worth your time. Last year he said the Phillies injuries were injury related. He has now backpedaled to, "When you get older you recover slower. How can you disagree with that?" which was not his original argument.

Also- the DPatrone phantom friend mention meter is now operating. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and start the countdown now. It is at 1.

NEPP~ I wasn't suggesting Young was the answer, just using him as an example. So currently we have ~5million to spend without paying a tax, correct? So guys like Johnson or Lopez could be gotten. So why is Castillo still here?

My friend also told me that the Giants are willing to pay almost all of Rowand's salary to move him as they don't have a spot for him. I know he's an older player but if that's so, he may be worth a look. Chances are the Phils wouldn't be the only team interested in him.

Thanks for answering the tax question. Appreciate it.

I think the tax kicks in at $178 million so we'd have $8 million if that was the cap for our spending.

I wonder if Charlie took the ride today to watch a Tigers player? Ramon Santiago maybe.

The "phantom friend mention meter" is at 2

Word out of the Giants camp (via MLBtraderumors) says Burrell is making the team (is this a "Duh" situation?) And this means Belt goes back down. I would assume this means Rowand makes the big team.

TTI: If the Phils average 3 runs a game, they'll score just 486 runs this year. The worst offense in baseball scored 587 runs last year. Let's not go overboard...

CJ: i was trying to set a baseline. I had originally said 5 but changed it to a lower number. I was trying to guess at what number I would be able to say without the Debbie Downer's of the board saying, "You think those guys can score (x) amount of runs."

I have no doubt the Giants would eat most of Rowand's salary. Doesn't take a source to figure that out. The reason they'd do that is because nobody wants him.

TTI: The Phils will *easily* average more than 4 runs a game. Had they scored just 4 runs per game last year, they would have outscored just two teams in the league.

DPatrone -- Yes, I'm aware Martinez is a "Rule 5" player. Regardless, I don't want to blow up the remainder of our minor league system for Michael Young.

I'm hoping like !@#$ our pitching carries the day, and we can scuffle on by with defense and the occasional HR by the Big Piece. The hustle and durability of Martinez -- whenever required -- might help.

CJ: You've been here a while. You should know better than to doubt the intransigence of the Debbie Downers.

I don't really understand the clamoring for Aaron Rowand. Save for his one big year with the Phillies, he has been a below average offensive outfielder in 5 of the last 6 seasons & was downright awful last year. Besides, while Franciso and Ibanez aren't exactly world-beaters, outfield is obviously not our biggest problem right now.

This lineup scores

CF Vic
2B Castillo
SS Rollins
1B Howard
LF Ibanez
RF Francisco
C Ruiz
3B Polanco

Yield 4.15 runs/game if you use Marcel's season prediction. 4.23 runs if you Bill James slightly more optimistic numbers.

Either way, it is a huge hit and an offense that will be likely somewhere slightly below average. Things that kills this lineup isn't really the lack of power either. It is a lineup stacked with relatively low OBP guys including JRoll who has no business hitting out of the leadoff spot with his almost certain .330 or lower OPS.

Avg OBP last year in the NL (Phils)

#1 - .328 (.332 #6)
#2 - .335 (.327 #11)
#3 - .364 (.372 #5)
#4 - .341 (.351 #6)
#5 - .339 (.391 #1)
#6 - .327 (.346 #3)
#7 - .310 (.320 #3)
#8 - .320 (.343 #6)

Oh and if the Phils score anywhere close to 3 runs a game, they will lose and lose quite often.

Giants last year scoring 3 runs or less (23-58 .283 winning pct). Padres (28-56 .378). Braves (15-51 .231). Phils (24-51 .320). NL average was ~26%

Basically, if a team score 3 runs or less in the NL they lose and lose often. Even the teams with the best ERA are well-below .500 including the Padres who had the #2 ERA last year in the NL and play in the most pitcher-friendly park in MLB.

Good thing that even as mediocre as this lineup is without Polanco, they should average somewhere slightly north of ~4 runs. Just going to be alot of lower-scoring, tight games for the Phils.

3B Valdez. Typo. It is likely an offense that finishes #10-#11 or so in runs scored in the NL.

Honestly, if Polanco is out the thing they will really miss is his defense first and foremost at 3B. Not his offense as much.

Frankly I get tired of hearing how Polanco is the the best hitter in this lineup right now with Utley being out and Werth's departure. Its simply not true.

He's one of the most inpatient hitters in MLB (P/PA) who really takes a BB. His likely ISO this year will be somewhere around .090 and that sucks for a corner INF. Yeah he will probably hit somewhere north of .280 but a line of say .285/.330/.390 at 3B is just nothing to be that impressed by especially the weak power numbers.

cut: Give me your predicted slash line for Martinez if he gets 200 ABs.

BAP is correct on Rowand.

clout: I'll try 234/318/282.

Recent reports by our beat writers quote coaches as saying Herndon has made excellent progress with his slider. Mathieson, not so much.

Zags had a nice ST, but scouting reports suggest he's a fringe prospect.

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