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Sunday, July 31, 2011

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I really like the idea of adding a home run threat off the bench which I hear they are kicking the tires of. Having Thome or Giambi on the 25 man would be a nice bonus.

Except that they already have 1 player on the bench, who can't play a position or run the bases.

Gload is a good pinch-hitter, though.

The smarter course in August would be to get some sort of utility infielder (preferably one who can play 3B with some pop) so you can dump either Mini Mart or Exxon off the playoff roster. Having 2 identical players like those two, hurts.

Wigginton would be the perfect guy to get, in that regard.

Bourn to the Braves. I suppose he's the booby prize.

denny b: If you got Thome or Giambi, you wouldn't need Gload.

Braves deal away J Schafer, lhp Brett Oberholtzer, rhp Paul Clemens & rhp Juan Abreu to get the lefty hitting Bourn. They kept all of their big 4 pitching prospects.

It's interesting because one of the Braves biggest problems? Hitting lefties.

2011 vs. RHP: .727 OPS
2011 vs. LHP: .637 OPS

For comparison... Bourn's OPS vs. LHP in his career is 100 points lower than vs. RHP. He's got a much more even split so far this year, but the sample is obviously smaller than his career numbers.

Ooh, I've got it, I've got it, "The Big Pence"

It's a deal the Braves had to make. Their CF is a mess with everyone on the DL. I think it helped the Phillies that Schaeffer and McLouth got hurt... kept the Braves from going after a real impact bat. Bourn should be good for them, but I don't think it fills their biggest needs like Pence does for us.

Jack-

Isn't Gload leading baseball in pinch-hits?

That's a skill. And he's the best in the game at it.

He's going nowhere.

Amusingly enough, Bourne's having a BABIP infused year as well at .381. Yeah, he's fast, but he's not that fast. His career BABIP is .341.

Houston must be happy that they can sell high on pieces that aren't going to help them when they can contend again.

Houston ought to offer tickets for half-price the rest of the year.

They may not win 50 games this year.

Good thing the Phils get to beat on them some more this year.

Since I have no way to watch Astros baseball with the exception of scrolling through MLB highlights (Astros highlights chances of a showing on Baseball Tonight are spotty at best) I simply did not have the time or resources to learn who Hunter Pence was.

Now I know. If this lineup dynamic sticks, this team is going to win more than 100 games -- 1 heck of a lot more than my 92 win prediction in late March. To be 28 games over .500 with what amounted to a rag-tag lineup throughout the first half of the season (Martinez? Valdez? Francisco? Dane Sardinha?) is astonishing.

However, If Pence continue to show hustle and grit with the same violent intensity as last night’s game – providing genuine protection for Howard – and Utley's knee stays "repaired" (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot did he have done????) I love this team's post season chances.

Yeah, Houston definintely sold high this year. May deal Wandy Rodriguez, too. Definitely helped rebuild the barren Houston farm system.

This is a good deal for the Braves. Bourn is a good player, we know that, and it became the Braves biggest need when everyone got hurt. I truly think things would have played out differently had those other CFers stayed healthy.

Bourn is 8 for 37, with 1 XBH in his career against Lee, Doc, Hamels and Oswalt.

Denny B:
Suck it.

Minor question....
Were the Phils under 40 on their 40-man roster? With the Pence acquisition, I didn't see a transaction where someone was dropped from the 40-man.

Bourne is a great pick for up Atl,it gives them a leadoff man and a gold glove cf.

Bonehead: We're at 40 right now with Pence, so it's possible we were at 39 before the deal... unless Zeid was on the 40 man, but I don't think he was.

Someone else posted that message to Denny B under my name, FYI.

Worley gets the lineup shaft this time around... Schneider and Mini Mart hitting 7th and 8th instead of Chooch and Polly.

Guess I was right, huh Jacko, if that's your best comeback?

Gload is here to be a pinch-hitter. And he's the best in baseball at it.

As long as his hip stays connected to his body, he'll be here for the duration.

No matter who the Phils pick up in August.

Just would make much more sense to pick up a utility/corner guy with some power. Preferably one who hits RH, too. Then you could have Gload and Brown as your LH bats and Mayberry and the August pickup as your RH bats off the bench. With Valdez/Mini Mart as your super utility guy and Schneider as your backup C. That would be a pretty damn good and versatile bench.

Just saw that, Jack.

Probably a Astros Troll.

CJ: Since you keep discounting April for Raul, let's take a look at Polanco and Mini-Mart since May 1:

Polanco: .216/.276/.261
Mini-Mart: .224/.270/.336

Is Worley really getting the shaft?

With this long string of games and a long western road trip coming, Cholly probably needs to get Utley, Howard and Vic out of the lineup at some point in the next week too. I am sure it will be tough for Cholly to do, now that he has a new toy and all of his starters healthy. But it still needs to be done.

Utley has started every game for 2 weeks. Might want to be particularly careful with him going forward. Vic too.

I personally think Bourn is a better pickup for the Braes than Pence is for the Phillies...at least for this year.

He's a fantastic defensive CF, he gets on base at a good clip, and he's a freaking monster on teh basepaths. Good move by the Braves, and their certainly better off with him then Pence.

Jack loves this Bourn deal- he finally gets to root for him again.

denny b: I agree Utley should get a couple days off here and there. Tough, though, when he just got really hot at the plate. Same with Howard the last couple of days (and who got a day off in the past week, if I remember correctly).

Jack: SSS.

Jack: Or better yet...

So you think Mini Mart is a better player than Polanco?

Interesting.

In all honesty, yeah, obviously Polanco is the better player.

But I don't have much faith in Polanco these days, especially at the plate. And Charlie needs to keep hitting him 7th, not 2nd.

they're, not their...

Fatalotti: Time will tell. I think Pence is the better player. And the goal is to get better players. Bourn's defense will be good for them, but not much better than what Schaeffer was providing them (although it should be much better than McLouth!).

Though I like pence, the addition the braves made in bourn helps your team way more in a tight defensive game in the playoffs. I'd much rather have the guy that plays superior defense and can help generate a run with his legs in the later innings then "protection" for Howard hoping he hits a solo shot.

Phils, Braves, and Giants all win by playing from ahead. All three teams have great BPs. You need to scratch out runs against the starters and make it stand up late. Bourn helps you scratch out a run and he helps you protect it late in the game.

Bourn makes the braves a much more dangerous team when facing the giants or phils than Pence makes the phils facing the giants or braves.

Hope I am wrong when the playoffs come around.

After yesterday's game, I'm beginning to rethink whether protection is a myth...

how could braves get bourn in return for such mid level prospects when the phillies gave up their 2 best prospects to get pence?

Bourn is a fine player, and helps the Braves a lot, but as CJ notes, his best attribute is great defense in CF, and they were already getting very good defense from Schafer.

Obviously, he's a better bat and a good leadoff hitter. But at best, the Braves have kept pace with us by getting Bourn after we got Pence. And considering they're down 5 games, they needed to do better than that. And a playoff series, as we've already acknowledged, is basically a crapshoot between any of the Phils, Braves and Giants.

Just a reminder... prior to this year, Michael Bourn has never had a league average bat. His highest OPS+ coming into this season was 97. He obviously garners more value with his base running and defense, but the Braves biggest problem is offense. Bourn's having a career year... just as Pence is. But if both return to their career average, Pence is still well above league average.

Jack: A higher risk-higher reward move for them would have been Upton, would you agree?

Bourn is a good player and a pain in the ass to play against. I don't like that the Braves got him. But he's not a big difference maker.

The Giants, Phils and Braves probably all feel good about filling a need they felt they needed to fill before the deadline. The best case scenario for the Phils is that they win the division and the Giants and Braves beat the crap out of each other in the NLDS. All three teams are built well for a playoff run.

That being said, I'd have still liked another bullpen arm.

CJ: No question. I would be much more scared of them had they gotten Upton. Same great defense/baserunning, much better potential bat. Remember what he did in the 2008 playoffs? Hit 7 HRs in the ALDS and ALCS, then stole 4 bases in 5 games against the Phils in the WS (despite not having a very good series hitting-wise).

"Bourne's having a BABIP infused year as well at .381 . . . His career BABIP is .341."

His line drive rate is an incredibly high 26.8%, compared to 17.5% last year and 20.1% for his career. Time will tell whether this is really the hitter he has become or whether he's just having an anomalously good run from which he will fall back. But that BABIP is definitely not a matter of luck.

The starting pitching in this year's NL playoffs is going to be insane. Top 3 starters:

Phils: Halladay, Hamels, Lee
Giants: Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner
Braves: Hanson, Jurrjens, Hudson
Brewers: Gallardo, Marcum, Greinke

Yikes.

I'd rank impact for this season like this:

1. Beltran
2. Pence
3. Bourn

Impact over multiple seasons:

1. Pence (control for 2 years after this)
2. Bourn (control for this year and next)
3. Beltran (only a rental)

I also think the Phils gave up the most, so that makes sense. I think the Giants gave up the most relative to their return (although if they get back to the promise land, that changes!).

CJ, good point. I didn't really look at his career numbers. Phillies are definitely the better team overall, but both the Phillies and Braves are going to make the playoffs.

I do like the Bourn trade for the Braves, though. I doesn't help their most glaring need, but Bourn is a much better player than Schafer, so they got better.

Stark tweets: Include #Phillies in group of teams still in on Mike Adams & Heath Bell. #Padres scouted their AAA pitchers again this week. #trades

My thoughts: If Amaro can spin a couple AAA arms for Adams or Bell, that would be an awesome way to wrap up the crazy trade deadline week. I'd also anticipate a complimentary bat during the waiver trade period.

The Rich Harden to Boston deal is evidently off because, after Boston looked through his past medical records, they saw some red flags. Baseball is so unpredictable. Who could have ever foreseen that Harden's health history might scare a team away?

@Bonehead: I don't think they added anyone when Danys Baez was DFA'd, so they were probably at 39.

bap: What?!?!? I don't buy it. Look up durability in the dictionary and you see a picture of Rich Harden.

Bottom line:

There's no doubt Michael Bourn makes the Braves a better and more dangerous team. He's a huge upgrade offensively over Schaefer and a huge upgrade defensively over McLouth (and an offensive upgrade, too).

Either way, they've upgraded that position. But like Jack said, that move won't make up the gap between the Braves and the Phillies. I'm not sure there was a move the Braves could make to do that, particularly after the Phils acquired Pence.

Harden's not even 30. I didn't think guys got hurt until they hit 30.

CJ, agreed. The Phillies were and are going to win this division going away, especially if everyone stays healthy and effective (talking about Oswalt, Lidge and Polly here).

If you want your bullpen to get extra work every 5th day, you bring on Rich Harden. Guy just doesn't pitch deep into games.

Morosi tweets Jimenez will get a physical today before the trade is finalized.

Sad to see the Braves get Bourn almost for nothing.

The Braves gave up crap for Bourn and we gave up 2 Top 50 prospects for Pence.

Advantage Braves.

Now everyone is an expert on the Braves farm system.

None of them were or are in the Top 100 rankings before the season or now. Most had them in the 25-30 range in the Brave system.

Schafer is like giving up Mayberry or BenFran.

So basically go look at 2 of our high 20s guys and toss in BenFran for the value equivalency. Granted, we got the better player (maybe depending on how you rate Bourn's far superior speed, defense and baserunning) and we got him for far longer, but we paid far far more.

We built a bomb, the Braves built their own...at the end of the day, the gap is about the same as it was a week ago.

Jack: Scouting reports on Schafer say he's got a great arm and above-average range in CF, but Bourn's range in CF is best in the league.

I'd be surprised if Schafer makes much of an impact.

The 3 pitchers the 'Stros got are all C/C+ prospects with Oberholtzer having the best chance to make it, as a #3 or #4 SP. Abreu could be a setup man if all goes right.

There was some talk yesterday about bets being made at the beginning of the season and those who made them actually owning up to being wrong at the end. That got me thinking about before the season when MG was very adamant that the Phillies pitching staff would not beat last year's runs against total by anything more than 10 or 15 runs. So I thought I'd check up on that and see how it's holding up.

Through 106 games this year, the Phils have given up 95 fewer runs than last year. So unless MG gave himself a margin of error of 80, it's safe to say he lost that bet.

NEPP: Pence is a better player and under control for an additional year. Of course the Phils gave up more than the Braves. Of course, the Phils didn't give up anyone guaranteed to play in the majors. The Braves gave up a player who already has...

CJ: Regardless of who has played in the majors and who hasn't, the Phillies gave up a LOT more than the Braves. Two top 40 prospects, even in High-A ball, are worth a lot more than a CF who has never been able to stick in the majors and a few crappy pitchers.

Now, as you say, Pence is worth more than Bourn, but let's not try and pretend like the Phils' price wasn't a lot higher. It was.

The prospects the Phillies gave up are far more likely to have a big impact than the prospects the Braves gave up, including Schafer. They are also far more likely to have no impact at all.

The heck with Michael Bourn -- if McCann (.306 BA; 18 HRs; .375/.514/.889; 144 OPS+) and his miracle walk-off bat doesn't come back at 100% strength through the playoffs, this just might not be the Brave's year. How that guy puts up those numbers as a catcher who plays half of his games in the Atlanta heat is amazing.

Cut: McCann is still one of the most underrated players in baseball.

Guy is on his way to a surefire HOF career.

Jarred Cosart as a 21 year old has a 3.92 ERA in high A ball.

Brett Oberholtzer as a 21 year old has a 3.74 ERA in AA ball.

Cosart is a better prospect because his stuff projects better. But it's actually easier to project Oberholtzer to the majors because he's had success at a higher level.

But like I said, of course the Phils gave up more... they got the better player for more years. Duh.

Wade knew RAJ wanted Pence and would go all out to get him.Braves wanted Bourn but weren't going to sell the farm to get him.

McCann is the real f-in deal. He's the only player on the Braves I hate see coming to the plate. We should walk him every time. EVERY TIME.

WAR has Bourn as the better player for the last 3 years.

B-R.com WAR
Pence:
2009: 1.7
2010: 1.6
2011: 3.1

Bourn:
2009: 2.6
2010: 4.9
2011: 4.3

Fangraphs WAR

Pence
2009: 4.1
2010: 3.3
2011: 2.5

Bourn
2009: 4.9
2010: 4.8
2011: 3.6


I would argue that Bourn is the better player when you account for defense, speed and baserunning.

Regarding Bourn's OPS+: OPS is a bad stat to use for a leadoff hitter, because it values OBP and SLG equally. For a leadoff hitter, OBP is far more important, and his have been above average for the last 3 years.

CJ: The Phillies got a player for more years. I think you could argue whether Pence is the better player, if you actually value defense and baserunning.

Pirates getting Derrek Lee is interesting. They gave up organization filler for him. Maybe they think they can move Overbay for prospects.

As mentioned above, Stark and others have tweeted we are still looking at Bell and Adams. Says Padres scouts have scouted our AAA pitchers. Who would you think they would want? I think Adams asking price would be pretty high.

Clout: Pirates getting Lee is to appease the fanbase.

That ship is sinking, and they know it. They will finish > 5 games out of a playoff spot. But they needed to show the fans that they were "going for it", without giving up anything of value.

I also like the Furcal deal for the Cardinals. The guy they gave up is a non-prospect.

DeFratus, Aumont and Scwhimer in that order.

bfpsu: Any of Schwimmer, De Fratus or Aumont could be the key name in a deal for Bell or Adams.

NEPP: Using WAR as a measure of "who is the better player" is about as stupid a thing as I've seen you do.

At least 2 of the 3 I would think, Jack.

clout, do you think Bourn is a better baserunner and defender than Pence?

Please explain why we shouldn't look at both aspects of the game.

Bourn is the best defensive CF in the game by a good margin. Pence is an average defender in RF. Huge difference. Bourn has gamechanging speed on the bases, Pence is a guy that will steal a base here and there but isn't a "automatic double if he reaches 1B" type of runner.

I'm not arguing that Bourn is a bad player... but just because the Phils decided to trade for someone else, let's not gloss over his flaws. In his career, he's struggled against lefties (unless he magically fixed that this year) and that's one of the Braves biggest problems. He's also been a below average bat in his career. Now I'm told we're to ignore SLG because of where he bats. Someone remind me whether we're allowed to ignore OBP for a guy who bats 5th or 6th... oh, yeah... we can't.

Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

You'd have a hard time convincing most people in baseball that Michael Bourn = Hunter Pence.

A leadoff hitter who consistently gets on base at a .350 clip, steals 50-60 bases a year, and plays Gold Glove defense in CF is a very good player.

Not only does Bourn steal a lot of bags, but he's a damn efficient baserunner. 83% for his career. 85% this year. And hes been a great defender in one of the weirder centerfields in baseball. He'll be a monster in ATL, since they have a uniformly designed park.

Both are good players, but I don't think it's an open and shut case as to who's the better player, especially when you consider that Bourn may be one of the better leadoff hitters in the game, whereas I think Pence is miscast as a 5-hole hitter.

NEPP: Let me ask you the same question I always ask when someone trots out WAR as the way to measure "who's the best player."

Is Ryan Ludwick a better player than Ryan Howard? Would you trade Howard for him?

Was Ben Zobrist the best player in MLB in 2009? Would you have traded Pujols for him?

I await your answers.

Why I just LOVE defensive statistics. Here's Pence's UZR/150 since 2008:

12.2
11.6
1.3
-5.0

So what this tells me is that at age 27, Pence suddenly became an average to below average defender. And we're not talking a gradual decline. He was great, now he sucks. And that's all you need to know about defensive metrics.

CJ; McCann is a fine player for Atlanta, but he's not Stan Musial. With this Phillies staff, they should go at him with no one on base and away from him with men on. There's no need to show him any more respect than he might possibly earn.

Nepp; you could argue that Bourn is a better player factoring in his speed but I would still disagree. Give me the guy with a little pop in the lumber. We have base path devils already. We have solid centerfiled defense. Don't forget, Pence can run, play solid defense and has the arm that Bourn doesn't...and of course, the power bat factor.

clout, we're comparing 2 OFs...so it works far better than using it for an OF vs a 1B (for whom WAR underestimates value)...but then you already know that.

Me, I'd rather see Bourn in CF for us and Vic in RF than Vic in CF and Pence in RF.

Jack: No doubt he's a very good player. I don't think anyone is arguing otherwise.

***We have base path devils already.***

No, not really.

Bourn makes Vic and Rollins look like jokes on the basepaths.

This is an apples/oranges argument. Bourn brings defense and speed, but no SLG to the table. Pence brings SLG and lesser defense and speed.

The Phils needed power and Bourn has none. Pence is clearly the better player for the Phils.

As to who's the better player overall, that depends on your brias. If you think SLG, AVG and HR are worthless, which is the prevailing veiw on BL, then you have to go with the speed, walks and defense guy.

Big questions:

would Bourn in the order have made pitchers throw more fast balls to Ryan Howard?

Would Pence have solved Braves problem in CF?

Each team got the piece that best fits their team.

I'm with Denny - a player who hits from right, can play third or 2nd and has pop is the guy. Cuddyer is best but Wiggington would do. But if Phillies can get Adams, it means bullpen is OK next year even if Madson leaves (Stutes, Bastardo, Adams and Schwimmer).

Will Ben Fran get traded for a bat off bench?

Tweets suggest Astros would have to eat a huge chunck of Wandy's contract to send him to Yankees. Why not? It's a sunk cost anyway. Get what you can from the Yankees. If I'm a Stros fan at this point, once Pence left, I want to dump every vet I have to get every prospect I can.

NEPP, fwiw fangraphs has Vic as 5th in all of baseball witha Speed factor 8 while Bourn is at 8.1, third in baseball. Shane Victorino may not be stealing bases at an incredible rate this year, but he's definitely turned lots doubles into triples and probably a few singles into doubles, not to mention he's definitley the easiest guy tos core on our team.

slocs: Ben Francisco has no trade value. His performance this year has been bad and he's a non-tender candidate.

CJ: This study

http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/story/2006/2/19/192135/078

shows that for middle of the lineup hitters, OBP and SLG are roughly equally important, while for a leadoff hitter, OBP is 3 times as important.

The results of the study aside, doesn't that make logical sense? Power is far less important than on-base ability for a leadoff hitter - people have known this for 100 years and almost nobody disputes it.

I agree with the skepticism towards UZR though.

Also, NEPP, when comparing WARs, didn't it jump out that in 2009, Pence was worth 1.7 WAR by BR and 4.1 WAR by Fangraphs. In the same year, Bourn was worth 2.6 WAR by BR and 4.9 WAR by Fangraphs. Doesn't that absurd discrepancy raise a red flag about using those numbers as a sole measure of comparison?

Vic needs to steal far more but he has terrible instincts on the bases. If he could read pitchers better, he'd easily be a 50-60 SB guy every year.

Sorry Fat, I was referring more to SB than just speed. Utley is a fantastic baserunner despite barely above average speed.


@CJ: I wouldn't trade for BenFran to be on my work softball team.

I tossed in B-R.com WAR ranking exactly because of the issues with UZR.

questions:

Does Pence solve Atlanta's CF problem?

Does Bourn help Howard get more fastballs?

Each team got their piece. However, I like Rollins, Utley, Pence, Howard, Victorino, Polanco, Ibanez, Ruiz as the best order.

So two of three out of Defratus, Aumont and Schwimmer. Would you guys do it, especially for Adams?

BTW, I'm glad to see BL posters gushing with praise for Bourn. When the Phils traded Bourn, Geary and Costanzo for Lidge I worried that it was an overpay for a guy who's lost his closer job in 2 of the previous 3 seasons.

The prevailing, overwhelming view on BL was that Ed Wade was a total moron and it was one of the most lopsided deals in history.

Is Vic a better hitter than Pence?

Batting him in the 5 hole gives you the same thing as Pence there.

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