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Friday, March 11, 2011

Comments

I see that Barfield is playing 3B for the first time today.

So Galvis is still in major-league camp as well, then?

Galvis is batting right now, as a matter of fact.

Good news for Jason... Baez walked a couple last inning, his first control issues of the spring.

I wouldn't read much into Galvis - they always need infielders handy. I'm actually somewhat surprised they sent Rivero down for the same reason. Thought Rizzotti would stick a little longer, but he wasn't making the club. Stutes is interesting. They kept Juan Perez, which is a little surprising I guess, but he is an older guy and I guess you can't take a hard enough look at lefties.

Howard prepared to carry the offense himself.

That last bullpen spot is really down to Baez & Herndon. Herndon would seem to have more upside & was the better of the 2 last year. But Herndon can be optioned and Baez can't. That, plus the foul taste of having to eat $2.5M, are big factors in Baez's favor.

De Fratus was a hot name about a month ago. Not anymore. From what I've seen and heard, he's not ready.

Danys Baez 'Release-O-Meter' update:

18% and stable. He did walk 2 batters in 2 IP pitched but he didn't give up a basehit either and got a K.

All things equal, Herndon should probably win the last spot but their are 2.75M why Baez will if he keeps this up. His stuff hasn't been that great but good enough to keep his spot so far this spring.

bap: Still early, but I'd guess Baez makes the club and Herndon goes down. Won't be long before Herndon is back up for whatever reason... whether it's Baez failing or an injury.

BAP must be crushed about Miller. I am about Bonine who some for crazy reason thought had an outside shot to make this team out of spring training if they traded Blanton.

Also, there's this talk of a "competition" for the 2nd lefty role. Bastardo would have to fall on his face for the Phils to look elsewhere. It's not going to be Zagurski and I don't think they're looking outside the club right now.

DeFratus was a hot name, but realistically, he shouldn't have been considered much of threat to make the ML roster out of camp.

This O's team reminds me so much of the bad Phils' teams from the late 90s.

Some decent offense players but also their share of over-the-hill veterans who are stop-gaps and marginal pitching at best.

Even if you say Herndon is better than Baez, it still makes sense to keep Baez and option Herndon for depth.

For some dumb reason I think Baez could have a decent year for the Phils. His overall stuff looks fine to me. mid 90s fastball with a good curve.

I would definitely take this O's lineup over the Phils' lineup though especially if Brian Roberts stay on the field and be moderately productive.

MG: You think the O's will score more runs than the Phils this year? There's a 159 run gap to make up (and that's despite the advantage of the DH).

CJ - Yes I do.

MG: Wow... that will be something to track. Can't see it myself (that's a LOT of runs to make up). But I suppose if everything goes right for the Orioles, it's possible.

CJ: If Bastardo doesn't make the roster, it's because he has gotten hurt between now and then. Peformance an stuff-wise, he is far above Zagurski, Meyer, et al.

Frankly, I expect him to be the 1st lefty by the end of the year. His stuff is better than Romero's at this point.

CJ: My guess is the Phils score about 30-40 runs less this year than last year. More if Utley is out for an extended period of time.

Can the O's offense pick up 120 runs with Reynolds, Vlad, Lee, Hardy? It's certainly possible. I wouldn't bet on it, personally, but I think it's within the range of possibilities, for sure. I'd give it about a 20% shot of happening, maybe 30.

And the Phils bats predictably fall asleep... 10 in a row sat down. Worthless offense.

Jack: His stuff is better... but it will take time for him to build up the trust that Romero has.

Jack: And I get the irony of Charlie have trust in a pitcher as inconsistent as Romero!!!

CJ - Before Utley's injury status, no. After it, yes.

I also may be one of the only people who loves to watch Reynolds' AB. He just literally swings as hard as he can and tries to smash the hell of it.

Misses almost more often than anybody in MLB (last 2 years he has swung and miss at a rate that is over 2x the MLB average) but when he hits it goes a mile. Reminds me of Rob Deer when he used to hit. Too young to really remember Dave Kingman.

Lidge ALERT! I expect the first hitter to reach so that he can work on that slide-step again... followed by a stolen base.

Lidge walks the leadoff batter. Real trouble with control through first two hitters.

CJ - While the rest of the bullpen has been solid this spring so far, Lidge has had real control problems especially throwing his slider for a strike like he late last year.

Team an ill afford for Lidge to be 'Mr. Lidge' '09 version who can't throw a strike and blows double digit saves.

I wish I could bet on things like a post that says "Lidge Alert" and the very next post saying "Lidge walks the leadoff batter."

Considering his wildly erratic history, is anyone a little concerned about Lidge's bad spring? I mean, I realize we're not allowed to be concerned quite yet, but I'm right on pace to be concerned the second the clock strikes midnight on March 20.

Matt Anderson made the first round of cuts?

Former Phil Geoff Geary missing in northern Japan.

Any word on how hard Lidge is throwing his fastball? I know that velocity has been called out as being a bit low for him this Spring.

BAP, considering no injury excuse this year, and his off season training regimen (which should have him further ahead on something like velocity), I'd say I'm right there with you.

bap - You could tell me that Lidge could save 30+ games this year and be a really solid closer with an ERA around 3.25 or blow double digit saves with an ERA closer to 5. I couldn't really refute you either way.

bap - If Lidge is '09 bad (which is hard to believe since it was one of the worst single seasons by a reliever in the post WW2 era), this team won't win the division. They won't have enough offense to overcome 11 or 12 blown saves by Lidge.

MG: Yeah, he's a total wild card. I also recall that he was getting absolutely lit up in his minor league rehab starts last year. If you'd told me at the time that he was going to be our closer, and post the stat line that he did, I would not have believed it.

Frankly, though, I think the Phillies might be well advised to think about transitioning to Madson as closer. He's going to want closer's money after this season, so it would be worthwhile giving him a real chance to see if he can handle the role. Chances of this happening as long as Lidge is healthy: somewhere between 0% and 0%.

Roberts
Markakis
Reynolds
Vladdy
Derrek Lee
Luke Scott
Weiters
Adam Jones
JJ Hardy

That might be the hardest lineup to predict. Tons of upsides/question marks all over.

Can Luke Scott play LF or will him and Vlad swtich as DH?

Phils come back and get another DEEP HR from John Mayberry Jr. They've extended their lead to 13-5. O's dropped two fly balls that would have ended the inning.

John Mayberry, Jr.: Mr. March.

Obviously Jack is seeing command in Bastardo that he heretofore has been unable to show consistently at the major league level.

I suppose if you were a firm believer in spring training results as a predictor of major league performance you could make that case.

Where do you stand on that issue, Jack?

And the other lefty... Meyer... gives up a deep HR in the bottom of the 9th.

I hope Geoff is alright - he was always one of my favorite Phillies as far as comic relief goes.

BobbyO - I could see Gillies helping in the OF in 2012, as someone else noted. With Mayberry being usable in CF I don't see him coming up this year.

Game over. 14 hits, 4 HR, 13 runs.

Cliff was not too sharp and neither was Lidge.

CJ: According to Gameday, I think there was an 18 MPH wind blowing out. That might explain why so many pitchers, including Lee, struggled. It might also explain why the Phillies' offense actually looked competent.

agree with bap. lidge is the closer. nothing is going to change unless he completely craps the bed.

Bullpen could open up a bit if Utley is out for an extended period and Blanton is dealt.

I'm not liking Lidge's Spring performance thus far. Mayberry and Howard are turning into real bright spots. Is Howard standing closer to the plate? Is he pulling the ball more in the air?

Anderson did not survive the cut. He was never on the non-roster list. He was only on the just in-case roster for a couple of games.

Somebody would have to be cut from the 40 man roster and he would have to be added to the 40 man roster to see action this season.

Clout: I don't believe in ST stats at all. You know that. Let's look at major-league regular season stats, shall we?

Bastardo has a much higher career K/9 rate than Romero (9.6 to 7.2), and a significantly lower BB/9 rate than Romero (3.8 to 5.1). If command/control is an issue for Bastardo, it's an even bigger problem for Romero, and Bastardo has better stuff to boot.

He's a lefty with a 95 MPH fastball and strikeout stuff. Those don't grow on trees. What better lefty bullpen option do we have, exactly? Mike Zagurski? Please. Bastardo makes the roster if he's healthy, no question.

With Bastardo, his biggest issue seems to be health/durability. As long as he can stay on the active roster, he should be a contributor.

Jack: One difference, though, is that Romero's massive control problems mainly show up against righties (18 walks in 13.2 IP last year). Against lefties, he's still a little wild (4.3 walks/9 IP last year), but not unacceptably so. Bastardo, OTOH, is more wild against lefties than righties. The end result is that, in his worst season as a Phillie, Romero still had a solid 1.26 WHIP against lefties last year. Bastardo's was a very mediocre 1.39. A 1.39 WHIP against lefties is unacceptable, when your primary job description is to face left-handers.

I do expect Bastardo to take a step forward this year, though. He's never going to be a strike-throwing machine, but I do expect that, with experience, his numbers against lefties should improve. The key is staying healthy, which he has had trouble doing.

RAJ got his extension too. My bet is another 3 yr deal that runs through '14 that basically doubled his yearly salary.

By then, there will be a lengthy track record to judge his merits including on the field (e.g., signing Howard long-term, signing Lee, etc) and off the field (e.g., promoting the likes of Looper and LaMar to key positions in the organization).

Even with a full year of Oswalt, adding Lee, and keeping Blanton, I don't see how even this super-star rotation gets that much further in run prevention than the Phils already got last year from their starters:

- 3.55 ERA (3rd in NL trailing StL at 3.50)
- 408 ER (5th in NL trailing StL at 385)
- 442 Runs (5th in NL trailing SD at 410)

Getting much improvement on these numbers is going to be tough:

- Only 3 NL teams had starter ERAs below 3.50 this past decade:

'02 Braves: 3.42 ERA
'03 Dodgers: 3.49 ERA
'05 Astros: 3.46 ERA

Let's just say for argument's sake the Phils are able to duplicate the '02 Braves 3.42 ERA mark.

Even if the Phils had a starters ERA last year of 3.42 ERA, it would have saved them a whopping 14 ER. That's it. At most, this starting rotation will give up about ~20 ER less than last year and that is if everything and I mean everything breaks their way.

Bullpen was much more mediocre last year:

- 4.02 ERA (10th in NL trailing SD at 2.80)
- 188 ER (4th in NL trailing SF at 153)
- 198 Runs (4th in NL trailing SD at 165)

Basically this was a bullpen that didn't have to pitch much last year (last in IP at just 421 IP) but they were generally mediocre when they did. I don't see that changing this year given you have almost the exact same cast of characters again sans Durbin.

Again let's say the best-scenario is that the Phils' bullpen allows 15 less runs overall. Maybe it could be more but I don't see how this bullpen is improved at all over last season.

Defense this team isn't going to be better either especially with Francisco in RF instead of Werth most of the season. Don't see any real improvement in the preventing the amount of runs scored due to defensive improvement. Let's say neutral overall.

So basically, best case scenario this pitching staff allows about 30 runs less than last year (640 total) and somehow slightly north of 600 on the season or about ~3.7 R/G allowed. 25-30 less runs allowed doesn't seem significant but the Phils are already at the end of the distribution curve here and incremental improvement becomes harder and harder. That's best-case scenario too.

If anybody tells you that the Phils are going to allow 600 or less runs this year, don't buy it for several reasons including some of the ones described above and still playing in what is a homer-friendly ballpark. Not suddenly moving into PetCo in SD.

As long as the offense stays north of 700 runs (they scored 772 runs last year and the average NL team scored 701 runs last year), they should win at least 90+ games and take the NL East. If this team's offense drops like a stone and they only score say 680-685 runs, then things start to get real dicey and this team needs to have super pitching through out the season to make the playoffs.

Is Mayberry Jr quietly playing himself into a platoon role this Spring?

He's been impressive early.

NEPP - Nah because Cholly will foolishly trot out Ibanez there everyday especially to start the year even though starting a 39-year old defensive liability everyday probably isn't the wisest strategy . . .

Raul's his guy!

MG- so I take it this means you'll be betting a lot against your favorite team again this year then?

I do like how you seem to have talked yourself into the Lee acquisition making little to no difference in the performance of the starting rotation over a 162-game schedule and using the three best rotations of the 2000's as your argument. This is a rotation that is, on paper, much better than the Braves '02 rotation that sported Damien Moss and Jason Marquis as their 4/5 starters. There is a reason this is being hyped as a historical rotation: they have a chance to be one of the best in history, even better than the well-known juggernaut Atlanta rotation of 2002.

A full season of Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee added to a team that saw Kyle Kendrick start 31 games and a trio of Moyer-Worley-Figueroa start more than 20- and you are betting they will only give up 14 ER less than last year at the most? Is this the same logic that led you to bet the Braves rotation would be better down the stretch last year than the Phils?

Also MG- to be honest I think your outlook of the bullpen is actually a little optimistic. I have a feeling Lidge will cost the team a decent amount of games this year and the only sure thing in the entire pen is Madson. The upside is that they will pitch even fewer innings than they did last year, minimizing the damage they could potentially cause.

Lidge is one of my favorite players but he is far from reliable, and the quotes I read today from Manuel make me uneasy about how he'll treat him if he starts struggling again. I was as happy as anyone to see him catch fire down the stretch last year, but I just get the feeling that with his history of injuries he's due to turn into a pumpkin any time now.

Best response I got about using a young arm in the pen from my scout friend:

"Its fine if you want to start a younger and unproven guy like Mathieson in the pen if you are say the Pirates, Indians, or Royals where you simply know it will be a 75-win max type year. Just really building for the future. Everybody pretty much knows that from the front office, coaching staff, to the players.

A team like Phils doesn't start a guy like Mathieson in the pen during the start of the season though. Only have 1 spot right now and that clearly either belongs to Baez or Herndon right now. Fans who insist that teams should stack their bullpen with unproven younger options just don't understand how the game works and the pressure associated with it."

What did I miss last season about Herndon's greatness. Clearly I'm out of step with the rest of the board.

Herndon was literally a young Mo Rivera last year. He flashed his unhittable sinker that simply bedazzled even great hitters. It was fun to watch.

Or something like that apparently. Herndon was brutal last year and it wasn't bad luck. He simply got hammered in his outings.

MG: Here's your big problem with saying the Phils will have a hard time improving upon their ERA (or run prevention as you call it):

MLB offense is in a downward trend. Or, if you prefer, MLB Pitching is in an upward trend.

In every year since 2006, runs per game has declined. The decline actually accelerated last season. Based on past waves of increase and decline in MLB, this trend probably has a few years to run.

I absolutely believe the Phils will sharply improve their run prevention. I also expect their runs scored to decline.

NEPP: "Herndon was brutal last year and it wasn't bad luck. He simply got hammered in his outings."

Well, that's what I saw too. Obviously, we're missing something based on the comments on this blog.

Well, every time I commented on it last year, I was told that he was simply unlucky and that its not his fault that crushed line drive to the gap fell in. For a sinkerball guy, he sure gave up a lot of crushed balls. Hitters simply made very solid contact on him (probably because he only has 1 pitch) and they hit him hard.

clout/NEPP - No one said anything about Herndon's greatness. Hell, I was probably one of his biggest detractors last year.

Fact is he has pitched fairly well though in spring training so far and deserves strong consideration for the last spot in the pen along with Baez.

Iceman - Didn't say the bullpen would be great. Just a best-case scenario exercise to largely prove a point. I honestly have no idea what Lidge will do except that Cholly will stick by with him until the bitter end as his closer as long as he is not on the DL.

Clout & Iceman - Any one want to take a bet that the starters on this team don't post an ERA of 3.42 or better this season? (Easiest side bet ever).

Clout - Yeah offense has been declining a bit and it would surprise if it does a bit more although not a lot. You think this team will allow 600 or less runs this year given that they last year were already among the league leaders in the NL? That kind of improvement would also take a notably better defensive effort this year.

My bet is that it is slightly lower than 640 but not marginally that much better (~15 runs). That's still ridiculously good.

Only teams (SD, SF) that allowed less than 600 runs last year had very strong pitching staffs (especially their bullpens) and played in 2 of the most pitcher-friendly parks in baseball (AT&T Park in SF; PetCo in SD).

One last thing about Herndon:

He is throwing regularly again at 93-94 this spring with this fastball and topping out at 95 MPH.

He steadily lost a bit of velocity last year on his fastball and by August he was regularly only at 90-91.

Given that he throws a ton of fastballs with the occasional slider, that extra 2-3 MPH on his fastball is huge.

Can he locate with his slider?
Does his slider have good movement yet?


If the answer is still no, he wont be an effective reliever.

Herndon/Baez are going to be the mop-up guys anyway who pitches 2 IP if somebody gets blown out by the 4th/5th or if the Phils are up by at least 7 runs since we know Madson has to come at every possible opportunity where the Phils only have a 5 or less run lead.

NEPP - I'll ask. Either guy will only likely be pitching 1/week at most and logging about 4-5 IP in April with the 3 off days scheduled during the month.

MG- what's also worth taking into consideration is that these four starters, if healthy, are going to pitch deeper into games, put up more zeros but also give up a few in the 7th and 8th innings. So another question here might be, how many more innings do you think the Phils starters will pitch than last year's rotation?

I would also bet the 'over' on how many quality starts this year vs. last years total (too lazy to look it up right now). These four pitchers, plus Blanton, aren't going to get bombed very often and will go 3ER/6-7IP a majority of the time down the stretch instead of getting a Kendrick or Moyer special of 4IP/5ER.

I definitely want to make a bet with you regarding total runs the starters will yield, but give me a day or so to think of the specific parameters.

I'm genuinely curious. His sinker is a very good pitch when its 93-94 mph. If he can mix in a decent slider, he'll be a solid middle reliever. Until then, he's gonna continue to get killed. The problem he had last year was that he couldn't throw his slider for strikes, he'd fall behind guys and then leave a sinker up in the zone to get hammered.

He would probably be well served to spend a minimum of a few months in AAA working on that or even a full year. He wasn't ready for MLB hitters last year and it showed. We had to keep him up as a Rule 5 guy and that did him no favors developmentally. The upside of that is that he won't be freaked by the pressure of the Majors the next time around.

Clout: I'll take your silence as a sign of approval with my Bastardo post.

I agree with fewer runs allowed and fewer runs scored. In fact, I could see us putting up similar numbers to the Braves last year--740 runs scored, 630 runs allowed. Of course, I also see the Braves scoring more runs this year, which is why I think the division will be a lot closer than people think.

Ballpark effect of CBP on Phils' staff ERA:

Home Away
2004: 4.31 4.66 (Home)
2005: 4.48 3.93 (Away)
2006: 4.70 4.52 (Away)
2007: 4.79 4.74 (Away)
2008: 3.67 4.13 (Home)
2009: 4.29 4.02 (Away)
2010: 3.49 3.90 (Home)

I would be curious to take the time to add up the overall numbers but it is about even.

What is a bit odd is how Blanton and Hamels pitch at CBP than on the road. Hamels' career ERA at CBP is 3.36 vs. 3.71 on the road. All of Hamels' peripherals are notably better at CBP too. Blanton's career ERA at CBP is 3.93 and his road ERA in a Phils' uniform is a crappy 5.05.

You would think that two guys who are prone to giving up their share of HRs would have at best a neutral home/road split playing at a place like CBP.

I think they both simply feel more comfortable at home (kinda like how most hitters do better at home than on the road regardless of what type of home park they play in...Petco being the obvious exception to this rule as its so extreme as a pitchers park).

Or maybe both love pitching in front of 43K fans instead of on the road.

Contrast to AT&T Park since it opened in 2000 for Giants' ERA:

Home Away
2000: 3.46 4.99 (Home)
2001: 3.79 4.62 (Home)
2002: 3.04 4.09 (Home)
2003: 3.31 4.17 (Home)
2004: 4.49 4.19 (Away)
2005: 4.26 4.45 (Home)
2006: 4.38 4.92 (Home)
2007: 4.02 4.39 (Home)
2008: 4.45 4.30 (Away)
2009: 3.27 3.85 (Home)
2010: 3.07 3.67 (Home)

Yeah AT&T Park is a pitcher's park and the splits are often quite dramatic.

Having a staff ERA that is slightly above 3 at home is like baseball from the 1960s. Incremental value of an extra run suddenly become more meaningful.

MG, quite a stat, that 3.07 ERA at AT&T Park for the Giants' starters. I would imagine that visiting teams also benefit from a favorable field for pitchers. After what happened to the Phillies at the hand of the Giants last post-season, I now hate the Giants, especially their bearded closer!

I'm starting to think that MG has a gambling problem.

Jack: I don't disagree with the point you made in your last post: Bastardo could be our best LH bullpen option.

Here's where we disagree: You think Bastardo doesn't have command problems and will be dazzlingly successful as a major leaguer based on his MLB stats scattered over 2 seasons.

I remain skeptical until I see more command. While K/9 trumps all other stats in your world (If you managed the 1971 Orioles, McNally and Cuellar would be cut), I notice things like a 9.6 H/9 and 1.1 HR/9.

NEPP: In re: Herndon, MG is heavily impressed by what happens in early spring training games.

Next time I'll have to be more precise with my posts. I guess it hadn't really occurred to me that, if I say, "Herndon was better than Danys Baez last year," it might be interpreted as, "Herndon displayed greatness last year."

Offensive numbers were obviously better in 2002, but that Braves' staff got some numbers that would still look impressive today.

For one thing, they got 156 starts from their starting 5, and 104 from their Big 3 (Glavine, Millwood, and Maddux), whose respective ERAs were 2.96, 3.24, and 2.62. I think any team would have difficulty beating that, including the Phillies. And their 4th starter, Damian Moss, wasn't too shabby either: 29 starts, 3.50 ERA. Their 5th starter, Jason Marquis, was pretty bad (5.04 ERA), but he only started 22 games. Glavine made 36 starts; Millwood, 35; and Madddux, 34. The supposedly overworked Roy Halladay made only 33 last year. The difference, though, is that, in those 33 starts, he pitched 26 more total innings than Glavine did in his 36 starts. Glavine & Millwood averaged only a little more than 6 IP per start; Maddux averaged less than 6.

Because the Braves' starters rarely pitched into the 7th inning, their bullpen got a ton of work -- with all 7 guys logging more than 50 innings. As it happens, they also had a historically good bullpen that year. All 7 relievers had ERAs below 3.48. 5 had ERAs below 3.00, & 3 had ERAs below 2. The quality of a bullpen can have a huge effect on the starters' ERAs, since they often take over the game after the starter has worn down & put a few men on base. If those guys score, the runs are on the starter.

Bottom line: ERA might not be the best way to compare our staff to the 2002 Braves' staff. Our bullpen is not remotely on a par with the 2002 Braves; hence, our starters will be asked to log way more innings than the 2002 Braves' guys did. And, unfortunately, our starters' ERAs will likely suffer from our so-so bullpen in a way that the 2002 Braves' starters did not. I don't know whose team ERA will wind up being better but my point is, it's not really a fair comparison & is not really the index for judging which is the better starting rotation.

TTI - Side bets always make things more interesting and it is much more about winning the bet than the amount why I wager an almost insignificant amount ($1-$2).

Yo, new thread

DPatone said this: I'm not liking Lidge's Spring performance thus far

There is a reason you have to take ST stats with a grain of salt, especially pitchers. Yesterday Brad Lidge threw 20 pitches, 19 of them were fastballs. That would never happen during the season. In ST guys are working on things. They don't necessarily pitch like they would in games that count.

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