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Friday, April 22, 2011

Comments

Not sure if Roy is "showing no effects".

Reynolds and Bowa were adament tonight (which they backed up with video) that Roy still has some discomfort. Obviously it doesn't (or hasn't yet) effect his arm.

Wonder if Ryno gets the night off tomorrow? Probably not, but in the middle of this long string of games it might not be the worst thing to give him a night off against a LHP.

How would the lineup look? How about this?

1. Vic
2. Polly
3. Rollins
4. Francisco
5. Ibanez (I know)
6. Mayberry, 1B
7. Ruiz
8. Valdez
9. Jose Hamels

344 Total Pitches (170 Phillies, 174 Padres), 12 Walks (5 Phillies, 7 Padres), 20 K (10 Phillies, 10 Padres), Game Time = 3 hrs. 17 min.

Feels like even longer.

Props, denny b., for the "Jose Hamels" reference. Gotta love Franzke & L.A.

I think giving Howard the day off on Friday makes a lot of sense - on several levels. Wouldn't surprise me at all.

Has Oswalt ever thrown a stinker for the Phils? He has a mighty fine record for the Bloods.

Oswalt's ERA in 2011: 1.88. Oswalt's Career with the Phillies: 1.88.

His worst start was arguably 4 runs in 6 innings.

The worst I can find is July 30 @ WAS, 6 IP, 4 ER and September 6 against Florida, 7 IP, 4 ER. Also, October 8 5 IP, 3 ER. A couple of relief appearances aside it's all quality. He keeps getting it done and unless I'm missing something from my remote outpost most of the talk remains focused on the other guys.

Let's keep Oswalt around through 2014. Pay him his money.

Let's extend Hamels. Pay him his money.

Let's re-sign Madson. Pay him his money.

Let's go cheap in RF. Get Brown up here as the regular beginning in July and write his name into the lineup every day for the next 10 years.

Let's go cheap in LF. Get Singleton ready by 2013 or 2014, and write his name into the lineup every day for 10+ years.

Let's go cheap at 3B. Find that traditional, power-hitting 3B who bats right in the draft and get him here by 2014.

Let's go cheap in the bullpen. Make Madson the closer. Pay a little for 7th and 8th inning guys. And fill out the rest of the bullpen with our prospects (It would seem that some of the guys like Bastardo, Stutes, Aumont, De Fratus and Ramirez could develop into tomorrow's front of the bullpen).

Building the team around a dominant rotation is a formula for winning. It's expensive, but, if the Phils play it smart and commit to a youth movement at other positions, the team can remain among the elite for some time.

The days of the Phils' getting exceptional power from the middle infield and being an offensive juggernaut with its current veterans have come to a close. Fortunately, the front office saw this coming and made a smooth transition from offense to pitching.

"Has Oswalt ever thrown a stinker for the Phils? He has a mighty fine record for the Bloods."

Yeah, his first game vs. Nats. Of course, that's the one I went to.

OF course, by stinker you mean 4 runs on 6 IP in a game where he literally took the red eye flight to meet up with the club and hadn't even been introduced to his teammates before taking the mound.

I think we give him a pass on that one. Since then, he's basically been the best pitcher in baseball. The man can flat out pitch.

***He keeps getting it done and unless I'm missing something from my remote outpost most of the talk remains focused on the other guys. ***

That's the story of his career. The guy has a career ERA+ of 136 and he's made all of 3 AS games. Playing in Houston sucks for career recognition. Playing behind Roy Halladay doesn't help either.

I've realized something about Oswalt. The man just does not leave that many balls over the heart of the plate. He attacks the corners, and if he misses, he misses most often off the plate. You can say all you want about BAbip luck that he's had, but you rarely see guys really barrell the ball against him.

He's a mighty fine pitcher.

Oswalt had a rough outing in relief in Game 4 of last year's NLCS. Of course, he had their best outing as a starter in that series in Game 2.

I love when Oswalt just goes up the ladder with his fastball and makes guys look silly and/or breaks their bat up/in.

I really hope we exercise his option for next year and I tend to think we will do so.

Yeah, Oswalt's worst start as a Phillie was probably game 2 of the NLDS last year. I think he went 5 innings, and gave up 4 ER.

I was lucky enough to be at Game 2 of the NLCS last year. It was the best pitching performance I ever saw in person. I love watching Oswalt pitch. He's one of those pitchers who doesn't look like a pitcher, yet when he gets on the mound....

Maddux was like that. Off the mound he looked like an accountant. On the mound, he was a giant.

Good morning!

So glad Oswalt is functional. Judging by the photo, he's still a little bent out of shape, though.

K-Town, I was at that game, too. Oswalt was definitely on. If Maddux looks like an accountant, Oswalt looks like a guy who does brake jobs and changes oil.

I thought Oswalt had a job at Cabelas in the off-season...

About Braun's extension... Does anybody know the rhyme or reason for these contracts that don't start until years in the future? He was already locked up for 4 more years... so what's the point? Also, weren't we talking yesterday about how cheap 30 HRs are in LF?

I also like that Oswalt wears the old style "stockings" instead of baggy long pants. I think he bought them with his Cabela's employee discount.

Days since the Phillies scored more than 4 runs: 12
On the other hand, record in thos games: 6-4

Narrative 1: Once the offense heats up, we'll win 70% of the rest of our games.
Narrative 2: Once the pitching comes back down to earth just a little, we'll go .500 the rest of the way.

Vote on which narrative will win the day!!

***so what's the point? Also, weren't we talking yesterday about how cheap 30 HRs are in LF?
***

They're betting that he's cheaper to sign now than he would be in 4 years.

They're betting that he will continue to perform at his current level or even improve

They're betting that inflation will continue at current levels or even increase making it look like more of a bargain.

They're showing their fanbase and players that they're serious about building a winner

They're taking a MASSIVE risk in terms of investment on a guy they didn't need to lockup at a offense only defensive position where his numbers are good but not historically good as to justify this type of contract.


Basically, they're doing the same thing we did with Ryan Howard only they dont have the revenue stream to take the hit if he implodes, gets injured, or simply declines naturally in his 30s.

***Once the pitching comes back down to earth just a little, we'll go .500 the rest of the way.***

On the pitching...I dont think its outperforming its ability right now. If anything, Hamels, Doc, Lee, & Blanton should probably get better while Oswalt might step back a bit. And the BP has been good but not anything ridiculous. Madson, Contreras and Bastardo are very solid relievers.

Dan in Philly, there's no reason to think the pitching will come down to Earth. In fact, I don't think Halladay has pitched up to his ability quite yet, Lee has one great start, 2 okay ones, and one terrible one. He has to room to improve when it comes to consistency (although, I think his last start was better than it appeared). Hamels is just a phenomenal pitcher, and no one wants to accept that he's slowly creeping his way into a top tier pitcher.

Oswalt may come back to Earth just a bit if his BAbip normalizes, but otherwise, I don't think there's any reason to expect our pitching to regress in a negative way at all.

If the offense can turn it on, this team will be nigh unbeatable. That's a big if, though.

"About Braun's extension... Does anybody know the rhyme or reason for these contracts that don't start until years in the future?"

*cough* Ryan Howard *cough*

"if?"
Of course they'll hit, says a hopeful fan base without data. It's not like the ss and lf are looking like they're at the end of their careers or that the 1b goes through long streaks during which he looks like the worst hitter in MLB. The first two will turn it around, and Howard will learn how to recognize pitches. I know it!

Don't forget Oswalt's value as a backup, extra-inning left fielder, either. I believe his career fielding percentage in LF is 1.000

I agree with others that Oswalt seemed to show some soreness but where I really noticed it was in his ABs. Usually Oswalt gives a professional AB. Yesterday, he was mailing it in and giving a swing that was all arms...like he didn't want to rotate his torso (and by extension, his back).

I think Jimmy will turn it around but I dont know about Raul. I think Raul is done.

Dan In Philly: I vote Narrative #3 - the Phils defense will determine their record in low scoring games.

Oswalt's back was definitely tender last night. You could see it in his ABs, on his fielding of ground balls and on his dip in velocity. He's a warrior though and he clearly had no issues performing.

Dave - That't ridiculous that a 3-0 game takes 3:14 minutes. Fletcher's strike zone last night was so small and erratic at times that the following people either seemed pissed off or really wondered out it by it at times:

- Padres' TV announcers
- LA (big shock)
- TMac (big shock because he never really questions the home ump but he did last night in the 7th)
- Oswalt
- Bud Black
- Latos
- Bastardo

Fletcher has a reputation for calling a tight strike zone but there were at least 10-12 pitches last night that were clearly strikes he didn't call. If he gives a few pitches on the corners, that number jumps closer to 18-20 at least.

NEPP mentioned that maybe Selig is making the umpires calling very strict strike zones in order to give sagging offensive numbers a boost. Don't know if that is the case but there have been a few games this year already (McClelland the other night) where they simply aren't giving pitchers anything close & aren't even calling some pitches that clearly strikes.

A fastball at the belt is a strike. It should be called every single time yet there are a bunch this season I have seen that haven't been. Ditto if it is above the knees. Literally at times the strike zone is shrinking to below the belt to the lower thigh area. That's ridiculous. Not remotely close to the rulebook let alone what an umpire normally calls.

Makes starters even with excellent command run really high pitch counts & drags out games. Sorry that is not the way baseball should be played. It destroys the rhythm of the game, slows it down, and ultimately necessitates more pitching changes.

A guy like Ryan can complain all he wants that starters really throw beyond 120+ pitches today in a start but a guy with his command night last night would have throw 140 pitches through 6 IP & walked at least several guys with a strike zone that small.

Really hope we don't see this crap most of the season. Some umps like McCelland and Fletcher have reps for calling tight strikes zones but you have to call a strike a strike and they aren't doing that more than just a handful of times a game.

Oswalt may very well have been sore last night. It wasn't San Diego warm in san Diego last night, and the cold doesn't make sore backs feel better. He said the cold had a big part in his back stiffness against the Marlins, and it may have played a bit of a part last night. I'm glad he played it safe. No reason to stress yourself, when Oswalt can get by with 85% against a terrible San Diego offense.

I think his back will be fine once the weather warms up.

A lot of people worry about Oswalt's prior back issues (and there have been some), but the guy has made 30+ starts for 7 straight seasons, 8 of his last 9 seasons, and he's only made less than 32 starts in just 2 of his last 9 seasons. He's also topped 200 IP in 7 of the last 9 seasons.

The guy is a workhorse.

Fat - "...You can say all you want about BAbip luck that he's had, but you rarely see guys really barrell the ball against him."

You make an excellent point, not just about Oswalt , but pitchers in general.

The way I would measure the effectiveness of pitchers, aside from BBs and Ks, is by putting a speed gun on balls as they come off the bat. Pitchers who give up a lot of rockets are not so effective as pitchers like Oswalt who are tough to barrel up. So, in addition to K's and walks, I would want to know how many fair balls are given up that come off the bat, e.g., at 100 MPH+, at 75-100, at 50-74, at 25 - 49, at 25 or less (Since I don't actually know the velocity of hard-hit and softly hit balls off the bat, I just selected arbitrary categories.).

By focusing on the velocity of balls off the bat, we ignore defense and we ignore hits, but we do consider all balls that are in play.

(The sabermetrics guys don't like ERA. So, they look at FIP, which ignores balls in play and just considers walks, strikeouts, and HRs. They also look at xFIP, which is similar to FIP, but, instead of looking at actual HRs, just multiplies the pitcher's fly balls by a factor to come up with a luck-independent HR number.
I think that ignoring balls in play in order to eliminate the randomness factor and to come up with a number that is independent of defense misses the mark.)

***A fastball at the belt is a strike. It should be called every single time yet there are a bunch this season I have seen that haven't been. Ditto if it is above the knees. Literally at times the strike zone is shrinking to below the belt to the lower thigh area. That's ridiculous. Not remotely close to the rulebook let alone what an umpire normally calls. ***

Technically its "midway point between shoulders & belt to the small of the knee (just below the kneecap)." but its never actually called that way. Rarely are strikes below the top of the knee or above the belt called despite both areas being strikes per the rulebook.

@Fatalotti: I agree completely on Oswalt's back. Its not a major issue. He knows what he's doing as this isn't a new issue and he'll continue to pitch through it without likely even missing any starts. Cold weather sucks for back issues.

MG: Agreed - although my number #1 complaint this year is the reluctance of the home plate umpire to ask for help from the 1st/3rd umpire on check swings.

That might be the stupidest thing baseball has done recently - save themselves a whole 2 seconds at the expense of getting the call as accruate as you can.

Brian Schneider is batting .167 but with an .833 OPS. Gotta love it.

props to francisco last nite - a dead center shot in Petco is worthy of some praise. I didn't think he had it in him.

BenFran looked better on defense in RF too. Not great or even good but he's starting to look comfortable out there.

Some early observations:

- This is a bad, bad Padres' offensive team. That was the 5th time in 19 games they have been shutout. Thing is that I don't see it improving much.

Almost no power (good shot nobody has a 20+ HR season in that lineup), little speed, and a bunch of free swingers who don't walk much. Could be historically bad.

- Didn't realize that Akerfelds had pancreatic cancer & was pretty amazed that he is still with the team while receiving chemo.

Been there bullpen coach since '01 and probably one of the most underrated coaches in baseball. Every year it seems the Padres have a good/very good bullpen. I have to think that Akerfelds plays a strong hand in that.

I would be curious but I bet that the Padres' bullpen over the last 10 years has generally the best numbers of any NL team in most categories.

- Cholly's preference for veterans is almost as indefensible as Baker's preference.

Defense substitution for Mayberry last night for Francisco in that park was absurd. Yeah, the Padres had already use their only lefty. The Phils were ahead 3-0 though in the 7th & needed to play good defense. Francisco had made all of the plays that night & has more range.

Why Cholly is willing to substitute defensively for Francisco yet not for Ibanez when he used to do it all of the time for Burrell is just perplexing.

- Contreras only has about 65 bullets in his arm. Cholly has already used 8 of them. I really hope that Cholly doesn't use him on 3 consecutive nights tonight.

Ditto Bastardo too. Cholly has to be cognizant of that fact that Bastardo has an annual history of getting injured with some arm ailment during the season. Have to be careful a bit in how you use him too.

- Herndon needs to be sent down. Now. He will likely be on the roster through the rest of the road trip. I would be surprised if he isn't sent down though when get back to Philly for the Mets' series.

Heather: The difference between Howard and Braun is that the Phillies are betting on Howard putting up historic numbers, because he's done so before. They're hoping he does it again. The Brewers are hoping that Braun does it at all 4-9 years from now.

How's this for crazy: David Herndon leads the team in RP appearances and Danys Baez is tied for 2nd. Baez has pitched the most innings in relief and Herndon has pitched more than Ryan Madson.

That's almost criminal.

NEPP - They pitched in some blowouts though where the Phils were either really ahead or really behind early. Exactly where I want to see them pitch.

I actually feel for Cholly a bit because his middle relief options right now (Baez, Herndon, Zagurski, KK) are as bad as anyone in MLB. He has to go with someone besides Bastardo.

It would be interesting to see who he has more faith with though - my bet is that Baez has again moved to 'king of the midgets' after Herndon's performance last night. Dubee's face was classic last night in the 7th. I hadn't seen that look of dejection/frustration since '07.

Take David Herndon out of the picture and the team's ERA drops from 3.37 to 3.13.

Take Joe Blanton out of the picture and it drops from 3.37 to 2.91.

The team, minus the 5th starter, has a sub 3 ERA. That's pretty impressive.

A 3.37 ERA for all five is pretty impressive, too, considering each starter other than Oswalt has had at least one awful outing.

NEPP, what are the starters' ERA, not counting the 'pen?

Benfran is much more prone to mistakes than Ibanez I think. Ibanez's arm has become the joke of the team so far, but overall he plays balls the right way much more often tha francisco - ther is no way you should call that move 'absurd'

lorecore - Petco has one of the biggest OFs in MLB. Its up there with Colorado. Ibanez's range is really limited. It was a pretty suspect call.

Your right about the home ump checking with the 3rd base ump for the strike call. It saves no time and is the right thing to do. Been some ugly calls early. If that keeps up, eventually either Cholly or one of the Phils' players is going to likely get tossed at some point arguing a terrible call.

Woops, didn't realize that was a team ERA. Still, it's pretty good since it seems there have been quite a few terrible performances so far this year.

The scary thing is that a 3.37 ERA is only good for 8th in the Majors and 5th in the NL overall. The Athletics lead the Majors with a team ERA of 2.62.

Team Pitching
ERA: 3.37 (8th in Majors, 5th in NL)
K/9: 7.90 (4th in Majors, 4th in NL)
BB/9: 2.76 (2nd in Majors, 1st in NL)
K/BB: 2.86 (2nd in Majors, 1st in NL)
WHIP: 1.230 (8th in Majors, 4th in NL)
HR/9: 0.44 (1st in Majors, 1st in NL)
AVG: .239 (12th in Majors, 7th in NL)

Overall, that's pretty impressive and it should only improve as we get further removed from the blowups by our Ace pitchers.

The ERA of the starters is 3.78. The ERA of the Big Four is 3.14.

***NEPP, what are the starters' ERA, not counting the 'pen?***

The Phillies starters have a 3.78 ERA so far. The early blowouts have kicked it way up.

That As rotation is scary. Two starters are 27, one is 25, and two are 23. I don't think they are as good right now as they've been pitching but, if they stay together, over the next 5 years, they might be a force to be reckoned with.

Gonzalez, Cahill and Anderson are all legitimately very good. Braden is solid and McCarthy is a mystery.

Yeah just like Haren Harden Hudson Zito Mulder were goign to bring Oakland a dynasty.

I thought it was painful to watch Oswalt trying to move around last night. He's clearly laboring. Lucky it didn't affect his performance- he was on point.

Those of you with back issues/knowledge of back issues: is it something he just has to play through, or would going on the 15-DL help him at all?

Those pitchers won't bring a dynasty. They'll bring draft picks. My father said he saw Anderson last week and his curveball is insane.

Iceman - I don't know what is specifically wrong with Oswalt's back but, for many of us, it's just something that you have to manage.

Defense substitution for Mayberry last night for Francisco in that park was absurd.


The move was not a defensive substitution. It was a double switch to move the pitcher's spot to the 6 hole because he was planning on using Bastardo for two innings. If it was a defensive subsitution it would have been done at the beginning of the 8th inning. Can you argue that the difference between the 6 hole and the 5 hole in that situation is minimal? Yes you can. But that's a whole different subject. Most managers will double switch with the guy who made the last out in that situation. The point is it was not a subtitution for defense.

How do we know that Rizzotti and Overbeck both smacking theball around atReading are not teh realthing. Granted Rizzotti was unopicked on waivers. Victorino and Werth were also writtenoff at one time. Overbeck in particular is playong 3rd a position teh Phils will need to fill very soon anyway.

But it is Oakland. The chances of those 5 starters remaining with the team for the next 5 years is pretty slim.

Must be frustrating to be an A's fan and watch all that talent develop and leave.

At least when the Phillies acted like a small market team back in the mid 80s through 90s, they had the good sense to avoid teasing the fans by not developing any talent.

Mike - That's a good point. Makes more sense then. I would still have substituted Mayberry in for Ibanez in the 5-hole.

Is it just my computer or is anyone else seeing the picture messed up on the home page?

Well according to Eric Karabell we only "really" have two aces. Totally forgetting the fact that our aces could be a #1 starter for over half the MLB, but I digress.

Article here: http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/9406/are-hamels-and-oswalt-aces

Don't get excited as Mr. Karabell doesn't really say why he feels this way - other than to point out Kershaw, Carpenter and Greinke are pitchers he considers aces and Oswalt/Hamels really aren't aces.

Idiot.

RK, I think your position this offseason was to dump the vets to get young prospects in return. That would give guys like Rizzott, Overbeck, Garcia, Galvis a chance to shine in the Bigs. Multiple WFC's are around the corner!

***is it something he just has to play through, or would going on the 15-DL help him at all?***

If its just muscle tightness (like he says it is), its just something he can play through and receive treatments on. Unless there is a herniated disc, there's no reason to DL him. He cant really hurt it further. Odds are he has a bulging disc in his lower back (probably in the L4/L5 area) and this is something that he'll have to deal with on colder nights and on nights where he's achy. He's probably used to pitching through a certain level of pain at this point as its a chronic issue for him.

derekcarstairs, I agree with your GM plan of paying to extend Hamels, Oswalt and Madson and going cheap in LF, RF and the 'pen.

***Overbeck in particular is playong 3rd a position teh Phils will need to fill very soon anyway.***

Overbeck plays 1B now. They switched him this year as he's terrible at 3B.

Mike - That's a good point. Makes more sense then. I would still have substituted Mayberry in for Ibanez in the 5-hole.


He could have done that, but most managers like to get that pitcher's spot as far away from where they are in the order at that point as they can. That way there is less chance of having to use up another PH

I just read to Eric Karabell's article. I dont see how he can list the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw is an ace. Really? Ditto on leaving off Oswalt from the list. I tend to agree with his assessment of Hamels. I believe that Colbert has "ace" potential, but has yet to realize it on a consistent basis. We see stretches of "ace-like" performances, but he has yet to have that great ace season.

I love the term Golden Sombrero. It's my favorite baseball phrase.

BB: You have a good memory and I stand by my offseason position. And right now I am not so sure I was wrong. Many here agree Utley's days especially in the NL are numbered and that is excluding his lowered productivity in each of the past several years. The same is true for the others. Why bother with a slow fade? The days of league leading HRs and RBIs is over for this crew.

Although I have heard Rizzotti mentioned mostly as trade bait Overbeck has not been mentioned much. How do we know whether he is a minor lifer or belongs inteh bigs?

Career ERA+
Roy Oswalt: 136
Cole Hamels: 123
Zach Greinke: 116

Yeah, Greinke (a guy with 1 great season a bunch of #2 type seasons) is an Ace but the other two are #2 pitchers at best.

If you look at Greinke's career, 2009 is the Outlier where everything went right, its not a sign of things to come. His peripherals in 08 and 10 were nearly identical.

Pick someone like Cliff Lee or Tim Hudson, who we can all agree is an ace. Look at their numbers the last 2 years. Then look at Kershaw's. He's an ace.

Kershaw is young but he's an Ace.

How is Carp the Ace for the Cardinals when Wainwright is the better pitcher on that team?

You cant use the "He's injured" caveat as Greinke is also injured and he's there.

there's no reason to assume Utley's days in the NL are numbered; everything we've heard about his knee tells us it's condition that can be managed... but putting that aside, this meme of his "lowered productivity in each of the past several years" is wrong.

Utley's wRC+ for every year:

2005: 136
2006: 131
2007: 150
2008: 136
2009: 146
2010: 130

sure looks like a player in decline to me

'Aces' argument is kind of foolish. A more interesting one is who is the best pitcher in the NL East at this point? As much as I love watching Halladay pitch, I would go with Johnson if I had to go with somebody in a 1-game playoff. He's a guy I hope the Phils only see 2-3 times this year.

Wainwright is out for the season.

Greinke will be back next week probably.

That's how Greinke can still be considered an ace and Wainwright is not.

Actually, I don't think the starting pitching has been all that superior yet.

They have been good (because they ARE good) but not great. Halladay has been very good. Lee has been good, but not great. Hamels has been good, but not great. Oswalt has been good, but not great. Nobody has been pitching over their heads.

Truthfully I'd expect the bullpen to fall off and back to Earth soon. Contreras, Madson and Bastardo have been close to perfect.

I think tonight is a perfect opportunity to sit "The Big Man" for a night. Richard has good stuff. Plus he will likely enter the game in the late innings anyway as a hitter, so its not like he won't play at all. Give him some innings off. He hasn't looked sharp lately.

Both JRoll and Howard right now are in complete funks. They are really guessing at the plate right now. Taking fastballs right down the plate for called strikes and chasing some really bad offspeed pitchers. Howard in particular has been hacking away at slider/changeups at a frightening clip the past week.

Lake Fred: Cole Hamels last year from May 4th until the end of the year:

28 GS, 178 IP, 2.68 ERA, 8.84 SO/9, 2.58 BB/9, 3.43 SO/BB, 1.13 WHIP

I'd say that's pretty consistently ace lever, right there.

Oh, and the fact that he was NLCS and WS MVP for the World Champion Phillies in 2008, when he posted a 1.80 ERA over 5 postseason starts, pitching into the 7th or 8th in all but the rain shorted game 5 of the WS.

If Cole isn't an ace, then the requisites for ace lever are only met by maybe 5 pitchers in baseball.

I am possibly being overly optimistic on Utley, but I have a feeling he may come out of this ok.

My theory is that this knee has been bothering Chase for the past couple seasons, but being the gritty, play through pain, no complaints type of guy he is, he may have been trying to just ignore the knee pain and not really giving it the proper treatment it needed.

Now with him missing the opening of the season, I think he may have come to the realization that this knee is a real issue that he cannot just grit his teeth and play through. He now realizes that it is chronic and career threatening if not treated properly.

So if going forward he takes proper care of the knee he may be able to stay on the field and produce for long stretches.

I am hoping this is the case, because I think a healthy Chase Utley is what this offense really needs.

"I think Jimmy will turn it around"

What do you see that I don't? I don't see the ball jumping off his bat. I don't see a player who is making adjustments to compensate for his declining physical skills. I am very dubious about Rollins being anything more than a good defense/bad offense SS for the next say, three years.

Has Howard ever consistenly had the ability to recognize pitches? It seems like even when he's running well, he just crushes all the fastballs he sees as opposed to letting them go or fouling them off as he does now. It doesn't seem to me like he ever recognizes or hits breaking balls well at all.

"Phillies are betting on Howard putting up historic numbers, because he's done so before"

One year that was arguably historic (there's a good argument that Pujols was the MVP that year). And that one year was fading in the rear view mirror when the extension was signed. The other historic context about Howard being the first to x HRs is interesting trivia but not a measure of historic greatness. My guess is that the single most contributing factor to Howard and Braun's contracts being good or not will be how ML salaries inflate over the years.

While I think JJ is a fantastic pitcher, he does need to improve his ability to go more consistently deep into games. Last year, he only averaged 6.55 innings per start. While that's good, it's not as good as it can be. Maybe once he's in a temperature controlled stadium in Florida, this will improve

For comparison's sake, Roy Halladay averaged 7.6 innings per start last year. I know that it's unfair to compare JJ to the pitcher in baseball who's best at going deep into games, but an over inning per start difference is what separates the value between Halladay and JJ, at least for this year.

Lake Fred - I agree that the Phils have three aces - Halladay, Lee and Oswalt. I think of Hamels as a No. 1, though, which, by my personal rating system, just means he is one of the top 30 starters in baseball. I would rank Hamels in the top 15 or so.

I define an ace as someone who consistently shuts down the opposition completely and who has done so for an extended period of time. By this definition, the only aces are Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Lincecum, Felix, Josh Johnson and maybe Sabathia. Wainwright would also be on my list if he weren't hurt. Carpenter was on my list previously, but he has slipped a little lately.

Karabell lists about 15 aces on his list. He includes Kershaw, Price, Lester, Greinke, Haren, and Verlander. I consider all of these guys No. 1s, but not aces.

They have been good (because they ARE good) but not great. Halladay has been very good. Lee has been good, but not great. Hamels has been good, but not great. Oswalt has been good, but not great. Nobody has been pitching over their heads.

Posted by: denny b.

How is Oswalt at an ERA of 1.88 only good, but not very good? While Halladay this year at an ERA of 2.83 has been very good?

How do you define:
Good
Very Good
Great

I define it (loosely) as Good <4.00, Very Good <3.00, Great <2.00

Cole Hamels is a better pitcher than Greinke, Haren and Verlander. He also has more accolades than all of these pitchers.

He gets no love, but it's ok. He's still awesome and pitches for my team as the 4th starter. :)

Derek, Lester is, without a doubt, an ace. His ERA+ since 2008 is 138, and his performance in the postseason in two clinching games was awesome.

He's a great pitcher, and a stopper.

Everyone loves to debate Howard stats, but stating that the fastest to x HRs is essentially meaningless is a step too far for me. I realize advanced stats tell a different story, and that this different story is very important, but calling the historic beginning to his career "trivia" is just plain silly.

That being said, the comparison was made between the two deals (Howard and Braun), with the subtext that Braun hasn't had the historic production yet. As has been pointed out repeatedly, Braun is one of five players in history to hit at least 125 homers and post a .300 batting average over the first four seasons of his career, joining Joe DiMaggio, Chuck Klein, Albert Pujols and Ted Williams. I look forward to the wRC+ and ISO based rebuttals, but nice company nonetheless.

(And for full disclosure, while I don't discount the psychic value on a baseball town of signing homegrown, popular, and productive players to long terms deals well in advance of contract expiration, I don't think I would have extended either Braun or Howard in the way that was done.)

The Phillies had better hope that last year was the outlier & that Howard continues to be the game's best power hitter. Because, if he isn't the game's best power hitter, he certainly doesn't possess any other traits that make him anything close to an elite player. He possesses quite a few traits that make him maddening to watch, however.

I wonder if the Phils clinch in August, if Howard will still carry the team on his back for the whole month of September like he usually does.

Has anyone noticed that Cholly seems to have developed a preference for Pete Orr over Mini-Mart? And for good reason, I might add, since Orr has hit well, is just as good a baserunner as Martinez, and has made all the plays on defense. I know many believe it unthinkable that the Phillies would dump a Rule 5 guys, but it's kind of starting to feel like Martinez will be the odd man out when Chase returns.

I think Mini-Mart should be the odd guy out when Chase Utley returns. He adds very little value to the team.

"The Phillies had better hope that last year was the outlier & that Howard continues to be the game's best power hitter. Because, if he isn't the game's best power hitter, he certainly doesn't possess any other traits that make him anything close to an elite player"

When was he ever the game's best power hitter?

He had a .629 SLG in '06, his best power year. Albert Pujols' SLG in that year was .671.

But without Mini-Mart, we won't have a 3rd backup SS. Can we afford to risk going only 2 deep at SS?

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