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Friday, February 17, 2012


"I just base it on thirty-plus years of seeing Phillies flash-in-the-pan rookie pitchers who come crashing back to earth in year two."

Jason Grimsley and Pat Combs instantly come to mind but then you look at their stats and realize why. Grimsley had ridiculous control issues and Combs didn't have good control either or ability to misses bats.

Worley's better than both of them. What could derail him is injury ala Tommy Greene. The two years that Greene actually stayed relatively healthy for the Phils ('91 and '93) he was an above average starter who won 29 games & even pitched a no-hitter.

Lets hope Worley settles into another nice year so Amaro will realize to not give Joe Blantons $24M contracts when you have young arms capable of giving you similar results on the cheap.

Worley is a solid pitcher. No ace pitch but when his command is on, and he has major league defensive support, a 3/4 starter. He'll have achieved his upside which is no small feat. Unlike Happ, his peripherals were solid (FIP of 3.32) even if he still outperformed them a bit. A 2012 ERA around 4 seems like a good bet given a drop off in his K/BB, reversion to the mean, a little less luck.

I kept waiting on Worley to come down to earth last year and he never did. I still am pretty sure he will this year, and as I said last year I still think he'll have a crash and burn kind of come down to earth, not a gentle glide.

On the other hand, I have been wrong before, and I hope I can be wrong again.

lorecore - there were 13 pitchers, born in 1987 or later, who threw 130+ IP last year. Results aside. 10 of them had ERAs of 4 or lower. The Blanton contract was crap, but I'm not sure the minors are overflowing with even bottom of the rotation arms.

While no BL poster has ever expressed concern about Bastardo's command because, as we all know, fastball velocity is the single determinant of success or failure, in reality it is the one questionable area that will dictate his results. There's no debate about his stuff.

In terms of how scouts rated these guys in the minors, it's pretty much how BAP had them ranked in the last thread: Bastardo, Mayberry, Worley, Stutes with Bastardo and Mayberry at B-, Worley at C+ and Stutes at C.

"Jason Grimsley and Pat Combs instantly come to mind."

And Bruce Ruffin. And Robinson Tejeda. And Brandon Duckworth. And Charles Hudson. And Bobby Munoz. And Mike Mimbs. And Marty Bystrom. And Bob Walk. And Marvin Freeman. And . . . well, you get the point.

Bastardo will walk a ton of guys. He was just literally unhittable last year -- cut his BA against / H9 in half with a BAbip under .200. There are 0 pitchers over the last 10+ years who've been able to maintain that kind of BAbip, although there are a bunch in the .220-.250 range (Bard, Mike Adams, Soriano, Andrew Bailey, Neftali Feliz, to name a few).

Ray Culp and Grant Jackson from my childhood. Both stuck around for a while, but...

I have a hunch flash in the pan rookies exists throughout baseball.

Barry Lersch, Tommy Underwood, Bill Wilson and Billy Champion from my boyhood days.. GAWD did those 69-74 teams suck! Except for Lefty and a lil of Michael Jack.

And Tyler Greene and Kevin Gross

Sophist Yea, I guess agree, its hard to count on the minors for a Blanton replacement. Lets take a look at the number of pitchers who are in their pre-arb year(1st-3rd), put up a 4.32 ERA or lower(blanton's career), and threw at least 130IP(roughly 25 starts) by the last 5 years.

2007: 18
2008: 19
2009: 17
2010: 21
2011: 21

So basically, with 30 teams in the league, i'd say 67% of them usually get a cheap starter each year with approx Blanton's approx performance.

Yeah, and then you're only talking about 1 year of that performance. Contracts like Blanton's are intended to give you 3 such years in a row. So you'd want to compare the chances of getting 2-3 years in a row of Blanton career norms with the chances of getting 2-3 years in a row from some player under team control. Blanton's contract is hard to defend these days, but you can see why a team in a division-winning streak would make a 3/$24 deal.

Also bunch of those teams, getting just one year of solid, cheap production, are teams like the Royal, Mariners, Orioles or maybe, at best, the Rockies too. Once you start looking at teams that have been recently competitive with the Phils the list is shorter and the players are more elite: Tommy Hanson, Jurrjens, Gallardo, Kershaw, Garcia, Hellickson, King Felix.

From the looks of things, there aren't many teams with less elite prospects getting ~4.30 ERA production or better from minor league call ups.

Jon: I thought of both those guys too. But Gross really wasn't a flash-in-the-pan because he went on to have a long and decent career and actually won 15 games for us only 2 years later. Green makes the grade as a flash-in-the-pan though. He had a great start, then started getting injured & was never the same again.

Baseball is a game of adjustments. Teams will have had a full year to look for weaknesses in these guys' games. They will adjust based on those weaknesses. Its up to these guys to adjust back. That's the biggest reason for sophomore slumps...a phenomenan that happens throughout baseball. Hell, just like at Heyward in ATL last year.

What are the chances of Stutes breaking camp with the Phils? 50-50 at best?

I kind of thought of more recent history: Kendrick and Happ. Both were guys who had a lot of success as rookies, despite numbers that weren't really sustainable, and who fans really believed had "poise" and the intangibles to sustain their success.

Neither pitcher, of course, has matched their rookie seasons yet.

I like Worley better than both of them, for whatever that's worth. There will definitely be regression this year, though.

Worley actually had the peripherals to indicate his success with run prevention. Happ didn't. Happ's poise was brought in to argue that he had some skill at stranding runners at some rate out of proportion with his general ability to get guys out.

Worley just suddenly seems to be able to strike out batters at a rate higher than his MiLB numbers would indicate and he's sustaining his BB%. Happ's success was more unsustainable than Worley's, you'd think, since Worley has displayed the core abilities over a ~100 IP MLB sample.

I think of a guy more like Travis Wood as Worley's cautionary tale (although Worley had a better track record as far as command goes and Wood had some BAbip luck in his first year).

Sophist: Bastardo's walk rates are high, but not especially high for a relief pitcher. His career walk rate in the majors is 3.9 per 9 innings.

Clout's point about his command is well-taken--when he's been hit, it's because he's located fastballs poorly in the zone. Command is different from control.

But the simple fact is, with his sort of stuff, his walk rate just isn't that big a deal. Would he become an elite reliever if he cut it down to below 3? Absolutely. But is he still pretty effective with his current walk rate? Yes.

Sophist: The worry is that Worley's strikeout rate is inflated by a lot of "looking" strikeouts. No one is really sure if that is as sustainable as swing-and-miss stuff (unless there's some research that I missed).

So yes, his peripherals are better than Happ or Kendrick's were. But from a pure scouting perspective, his stuff doesn't really line up with his peripherals. So we shall see.

Jack - Right, his ability to command his pitches speaks to his success or failure when batters make contact. I didn't intend to directly contradict clout when I said he'll always walk a lot of guys. I was speaking more to what that does to his room for error.

Neftali Feliz had a BB9 over 4 last year, 2/9 higher than his previous rate, but he was still very effective -- arguable elite -- because he creates poor contact. The question is whether or not Bastardo has the ability to hold a low BAbip the way that Feliz has. Given Bastardo's BB9 he has to have excellent command to be a great reliever otherwise he's an average relief pitcher or worse. The world of pitchers with that kind of command is a small one.

Jack - I hadn't seen that on Worley. That's interesting but makes sense since his K9 was higher than even Hamels' was, and Hamels gets about twice as many swinging strikes. Same is true for James Shields just to cherry pick another guy with similar K9.

Hard to know the relative risks of significant attrition between guys like Happ and a guy like Worley. You could say we could try to adjust his K9 to be more suited to his SS% but we have no idea what batters would do with those strikes they just watched. With a different approach, those could all be line drives.

I mentioned this last year, but the problem with Worley is a very very low swinging strike rate. His rate in 2011 was only 5.5%, which puts him in the very bottom of the league in that category.

The problem is that if you can't get swinging strikes, you have to do almost everything well, and if anything at all goes wrong, you're toast. If hitters start swinging and boarderline pitches....

Well as I said above, I have been wrong before and I hope I'm wrong with him. I like the kid and he seems to have a lot going for him. My main concern is if he starts to get a little unlucky with BABIP and HR/FB% at the beginning of the season, it will really show up in his ERA due to his low swinging K%, and he very easily might lose confidence and back to the minors with him.

Here's hoping, though.

Jack, you scooped me!

clout: "While no BL poster has ever expressed concern about Bastardo's command.."

Stick to your goosewurst and 'in the best shape ever' jokes, the posts where you overexaggerate everything aren't as amusing anymore.

I believe Worley is the next Greg Maddux. Maddux redux if you will.

Sounds like he's the next Mike Pelfrey

It seems that the reason for Worley's improved K numbers and overall numbers is the development of his two seam fastball to lefties. That pitch is a gem.

Now, he has to hope that lefty hitters can't make an adjustment.

But this sort of shows how minor league track records can be misleading. Because he only perfected that two seamer after reaching the majors. It may be the one concrete contribution of Brian Schneider to the team.

The question now becomes this: Can he keep developing his pitches so he won't have to rely so much on the two seamer?

To base expectations on 30 years of observations is to totally ignore Worley's year. You ignore the present in favor of what happened before. Where is your value added?

Vance 20-13
Can we have three 20 game winners ?
Will we win 107 like I projected last
year at the beginning of the season
then changed 2 months later hitting
it right on the head with 102.

I'll be there for
at least 7 games in Philly.
And both Saturday & Sunday
here in Baltimore.

Reparations for Vietnam Vets
Vietnam Naval Vet
Righteous Robert
Baltimore Bob

After watching Vance Worley, I was forced to comment, "How's he do that?" He isn't a power pitcher and he doesn't have fantastic stuff. He somehow gets the job done...after allowing 2 men to get on base at the beginning of an inning. Many times, he was one hit away from having a 4.50 ERA and a record of 3-11. I've seen a few pitchers like that make a career of it but most, by the second time around, become punching bags who quickly sink to minor league irrelevancy.


Having said that, for all you baby boomers I bring the name...JACK your attention.

Reading how these statistical sources have already predicted Worley's and Stutes' 2012 earned run averages makes me cringe with embarrasement for anyone who gives them any creedence whatsoever.
There are so many factors that can determine how a player does from one year to the next that can't be calculated. A player can do far better or far worse than these projections, pitchers in particular.
A pitcher may develop a new pitch or refine a pitch that he hasn't used much in the past and this can become the key to his success. For reasons similar to this the San FraNCISCO GIANTS' RYAN VOGELSONG LEAPT from a minor leaguer who couldn't make the Phillies roster one year to an all-star with the Giants the next.
When I see projections of this sort i just regard it as so much gibberish. It's why you won't find me wasting my time with Fantasy Baseball Leagues.

As Yogi Berra once said or should have said, "90 per Cent of the sophomore jinx is 110 per cent mental".

Worley has HEART!!

how about Jack Sanford?

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