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Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Michael Martinez and Pete Orr breaking camp as ho-hum reserves

What did ho-hum ever do to you that you insult it by including MiniMart's name in the same sentence?

schmenkman -- Re: last thread. Nice stat. However, I like championships at any cost; maybe that's just my peculiar way of looking at things.

On to 2012!

What's the over/under for Mini Mart's batting average this year?


Site is finally not blocked at my was for a couple days for some reason.

Should Utley bat 3rd? I'd almost rather see Pence in that spot now. Maybe,


to start the season and


when Howard comes back?

If Utley's power has returned he'd be ok in the 4 hole, but I'd need to see it in spring training first.

A response to RK from the previous thread:

RK, I'm not trying to be rude, but you need to understand that if you're going to post here and be taken seriously you have to address what others are actually saying. I posted what I posted because I felt you made no attempt to address the previous points I made, and even ignored some of them.

Let me put it to you this way:

Despite all your complaints about an aging and decline core of players, the problem with the course of action which you recommend is that it's virtually impossible to accomplish - in shirt, it's unrealistic.

Let's deal with the team position by position:

C - Ruiz: He hit's for average and gets on base, and he is one of the top defensive catchers in the game, and handles pitchers about as well as any other catcher in the game. He's been a borderline All Star the last 2 seasons, and in case you've missed it, quality catchers are really hard to come by. They'll ride Chooch as long as they can, because they aren't going to be able to trade him for equal value and would have to trade a huge number of their top prospects to get anyone as good as him in return.

1B - Howard: Despite his decline (which I believe has had something to do with leg injuries the last 2 seasons), he is still posting an OPS+ of 125 and 127 in 2010and 2011. In short, he's still above average.

2B - Utley: See schmenkman's post above.

3B - Polly: He's on his last year of his contract, remains above average defensively, and has been slowed by injuries the last 2 years. He'll be someone to watch. schmenkman has compared him to David Wright over at TGP, and has said that based on his defensive value (which is important with this pitching staff) he compares favorably to Wright. 3B is a position in MLB that is very thin right now, so what to do at 3B at the end of the season will be an issue.

SS - Rollins: Despite his decline from his MVP season (a career year outlier anyway), he's still one of the top defensive SS in MLB and is above average offensively at the position.

RF - Pence: He's one of the top 5 RF in the game. Any questions?

CF: - Vic: He's one of the top 5 CF in the game, especially defensively. He's been in the top 5 in OPS among CF in 3 of the last 4 years.

LF - New Players: Whether it's Mayberry, Nix, or Brown, didn't they get younger at the position as you wish them to?

Pitching: Best top 3 starters, 2nd best closer. Do you want to replace any of them with someone younger?

A lot of meat in this thread header. I was surprised by my internal reactions as I read the header. Mostly, I also felt, ho hum. I was surprised to discover that I was pissed that Ryan Madson is no longer a Phillies player. He was really dependable coming out of the pen. Papelbon will have to convince me of his dependability. All I can remember of Papelbon is his season ending game melt down giving up the tying and go ahead runs as the Bosox missed the playoffs with Papelbon on the mound.

so when do we predict the phils win a 100 games, and then people can tell us how stupid we are?

More important then beards, who is in the best shape of their lives?

MisterZoomer: I know I'm not.

lorecore, we can call you stupid before you post your prediction, if you would like. :)

My "predictions thread" goal this year is to predict more Phillies wins than CJ predicts. That will give me free reign to criticize the Phillies this season without being accused of having a negative agenda.

single game tix on sale to public tomorrow, I wonder how many are left after all of package options have been being bought up.

I have always personally enjoyed the opposite of 'who comes into camp in the best shape' stories and instead 'who looks liked they spent the offseason eating various fried foods and drinking lots of beer.'

My favorite ever had to be Dante Bichette in '01 for the Red Sox. He was overweight & a bit chunky when the Sox picked him up at the deadline in '00. He came into camp through in '01 with a notable pot belly packing at least an extra 15-20 pounds.

Remember Sean McDonough kind of pointing about Bichette's extra weight in a spring training game and Jerry Remy sarcastically joking that Bichette had obviously trained rigorously.

Kind of thing that eventually got McDonough canned because he wasn't afraid to point about shortcomings/deficiencies about the Red Sox or criticize certain players (e.g., Manny or Carl Everitt) when they didn't play hard.

To his credit, Bichette still wasn't a disaster at the plate but man watching him run and play in the OF that spring training & early in the year was pretty hilarious.

Out in my parts, rumor has it that Pablo Sandoval fell off the healthy eating/exercise wagon & will soon be reporting to spring training in decidedly less than the best shape of his life.

luckily we're past the days of Jon Lieber's fatass with his monster truck being the highlight of the first ST arrivals.

I'm not even gonna bother buying tickets off their site. I'm just gonna rely on stub hub.

Awh: thanks for the response. I note the use of “decline” atleast 3 times in your note and approrpriately so.
On a line item basis:
C: We all love Ruiz a lot but the team needs desperately to locate an additional catcher who will not sink the team (as Schneifer etc have) for the 40 or more games that Ruiz is out of action.
1B; We don’t have to discuss Howard the team is locked in for the logn term. He is a great story but he has been figured out by the opposition and he has not been able to adjust. Howard is reputed not to see the ball well. Last year in a reversal on dhis data his night average sank relative to his daytime ave (226/308) inprior years they were both the same. In any event the team should coach him on reading the ball better (after an eye examination!) Would I trade Howard? Absolutely but right now given his contract and injuries it can’t be done profitably.
2B Utley. I read Schmenkman's post Utley is still a good player he is a keeper but Utley’s upside is limited and his greatest value to the Phils is future replacement players both for 2nd, SS and 3rd. As Schmenkman noted “hopefully we can get 130-140 games”.
3B Polly. I love Polly but 3rd is not his position anymore. Givcen the number of times Rollins and Utley are out Polly should be the new Valdez (that’s tongue and cheek) because if Poly were to step in for 2nd or 3rd there would be no loss! With Valdez as much as we respected his attitude and accomplishemtns he is noPolly, Utley or Rollins. We definitely need a new 3rd basemen jhave not had one since Rolens (sorry to bring his name up).
SS Rollins “despite his decline” what do you want me to say is he going to stop declining?
There is no issue wuith Pence and Vic.
The problem in Philly is the infield it is aging and sometimes it is better to trade in now for the future. As for the replacement “dudes” I am sure there is a lot fo real talentin theminors of a number of teams that could be had. There are several well regarded MLB players who were once in our minors. Not interested in getting into a discussion of who we got in return I am just pointing out we could do the same.
As for the declining run productivity in baseball as the reason for all this, how about looking at the data last year the Phillies were not even in the top 1/3 in MLB in runs scored and tehri team slugging was .395. So as with everything else its relative yes there is a decline in progress how was our team’s decline—more precipitous.

RK - I believe schmenkman has posted several times that the Phils "decline" has not been more precipitous than the league average decline. In fact I think the Phils "decline" has been less steep than the league average.

RK, go find a backup catcher who won't "sink the team". Seriously. I'm no Schneider fan either but I understand the reality of the situation. There simply aren't 60 MLB caliber catchers available. go look at what some of the other teams have been running out as backups the last several years. Take a look at this list:

It's dreck once you get past the top 20 - 25 guys.

Saying Utley's upside is limited is rather silly. That can be said of every player. If his power returns he's one of the top 2-3 2B in MLB. I'll take that upside.

BTW, you cannot compare the Phillies RPG to all of MLB's RPG with any validity. It's only fair to compare them to other NL teams, because AL teams have the DH.

If the 2011 Phillies had the DH this is what their lineup could have looked like:

Mayberry LF
Ibanez DH

That lineup scores way more runs than one with a pitcher hitting 9th, just as AL teams would score considerably less runs if their pitchers had to hit.

Why haven't you adequately addressed schmenkman's point - that the Phillies had the top offense in the NL after Utley's return?

Is it just too convenient to ignore it?

Secondly, you haven't adequately addressed my point about run differential.

It seems to me the FO's strategy to deal with a declining core of position players has been to improve the pitching the last couple of years.

As far as I can tell - base on the number of regular season games they've won - that strategy has worked.

But awh - they don't have a WS title to show for it! Blow it all up!

Apparently Valentine's Day was the day for P's and C's to report at Beerleaguer. Panty wastes and Crybabies that is. Apparently BLers have come to ST in the best shape of their careers. Mid-season form already. Impressive.

RedBurb, yeah, I know. Some people just aren't satisfied - ever.

For those people, I recommend they become Yankee fans, so they can commiserate with their compatriots when they don't win the WS every year.

I understand the disappointment, because I share the view that the Phillies were the best team in MLB in both 2010 and 2011 (in 2009 they lost to a better team in the WS). But the Yankees were the best team in the AL last year and in 5 of the previous 9 years and have 1 WS win to show for it.

The playoffs are a both leagues.

Olney is reporting (according to mlbr) that the Phils are still in on Soler.

We'll see.

Eesh, 'panty waste' is a much worse insult than 'pantywaist'.

RedBurb: It was awh who posted that. Here was the stat: "Since 2008 RPG are down 10% in the NL. Since 2008 RPG are down 10.75% for the Phillies."

My first response is an observation: as he usually does, awh has gerrymandered the data pool to get the result he wants. The Phillies' offense was still the best in the league in 2009; their decline started in 2010 & got worse in 2011. To include 2009 is like taking the average OPS from Ibanez's 2009 through 2011 seasons and then using that average to argue that he's still a .798 OPS hitter.

My second response is that, even with the inclusion of 2009, the Phillies' run production has still managed to decline more than the league average over the last 3 years (10.75% to 10%). That tells us it has declined WAY more than league average over the last 2 years. Of course, I could have told you that without all the rigmarole about league averages. Just look at the team offensive stats from year to year, and note that the Phillies have gone from 1st to 2nd to 7th in runs scored over that time.

So, RK is actually right on this one isolated point. Other than that, I think his ramblings of the last few days are pretty silly. He is basically advocating a complete rebuilding project for a team that has as good a chance as anyone of winning it all this year.

How many runs is .75% over a season?

5-6 maybe?

I would guess we've probably saved far more runs by focusing on pitching than we have lost due to the offensive decline...even when accounting for the overall decline in run scoring. Didnt we lead the Majors in run prevention last year?

Why the consternation over the offense when you haven't even seen how a number of guys look and who is likely to get most of the PT at 1B/LF?

Do I think Polanco is going to look pretty awful in spring training as Ibanez did in '10 coming off that sports hernia surgery? Yeah I do but grousing about the Phils' offense is a little ridiculous until how see how some of the pieces will look early on.

NEPP: Except it's a decline of .75% only if you throw in our peak season of 2009. And since no one has ever contended that our offensive decline began in 2009, it's not really responsive to the contention to include those numbers. I mean, if you threw in Ibanez's .899 OPS from 2009, you could probably make an argument that he isn't declining much faster than the league in general, since his three-year average OPS is only .20 points off his career average. Of course, no one would take your argument seriously but it's there to be made if you choose to manipulate the numbers in a particular way.

On your larger point about overall run differential, I don't know how anyone could disagree. The Phillies' pitching has gotten better as their offense has declined. It has been a net positive. But I was just focusing on the offense.

NEPP - Here's the thing. Yes. The phillies have superb pitching and it has gotten better. They're a wonderful pitching team and pitching wins pennants. I love how good their pitching is and it's a joy to watch. Now. Listen for it:

Their hitting has gotten worse.

People do not like to hear that and will argue things like "after Utley got back" and stuff like that. In 2008, it didn't matter who was out, they flat out mashed. This is not a critique of the team. It's just that people should not expect that the Phils are going to be very much above average in their offensive production.

It will not keep them, however, from winning the division and, most likely, winning more games than anyone else in the league. While RK is off-base with his idea of rebuilding a team which will still be the 5000 gorilla in the room, he is correct to say that their offensive prowess is in decline.

"Do I think Polanco is going to look pretty awful in spring training as Ibanez did in '10 coming off that sports hernia surgery? Yeah I do but grousing about the Phils' offense is a little ridiculous until how see how some of the pieces will look early on. "


It's nice to see were in on soler and what he can do for our offense in 2015...

All the machinations are over for a while now. Not sure what the point of whining now is. Probably a better idea to wait until players either suck or excel in ST to make preliminary judgements.

If there is one area you want to harp on the Phils' offense being deficient especially early in the year with Howard, it is going to be from a power perspective.

They were just 8th last year in the NL with 153 HRs which was their worst ranking since '05.

Really good chance that the Phils don't even have someone hit more than 25 HRs this year or they duplicate the 153 HR from last year.

Utley's days of a power threat are gone. He's a ~15 HR guy now. JRoll too. One of the things that really made this offense go at its peak was the well above average power they got out of these two positions. At their peak, you could count on at least 50 HRs between them. Now it is closer to 30.

The only real spot on the diamond the Phils might get a little more power from is the corner OF spots. They did get 23 HRs though from their LF and 24 from their RF. Pence isn't going to hit more than 24 HRs this year and hard to see the combo of how plays LF notably hitting more than 23 HRs. Max there would about 30 and probably closer to 25.

Phils will get very little power again from 3B or C this year as long as Polanco and Chooch get a majority of the PT. Biggest failoff will probably be at 1st where the Phils will be hard pressed to duplicate the 35 HRs they got. It won't be a huge dropoff if Howard returns and is a capable performer this year but an estimate of 25 is probably more realistic there.

Power production for 2012 in comparison to NL teams (1-10 with 10 league leaders):

C - 3
1B - 5
2B - 6
SS - 6
3B - 2
LF - 5
CF - 7
RF - 6

I would imagine it is a team that will finish around 8th-9th in HRs this year in the NL and hit slightly less than 153 HRs.

Lack of power is one thing you can potentially harp if you want to about this offense.

Last point:

This team bludgeon opposing teams in '08 and '09 in the postseason with HRs:

'08: 19 HRs vs 9 HRs allowed in 14 G
'09: 25 HRs vs. 14 HRs allowed in 15 G
'10: 4 HRs vs. 9 HRs allowed in 9 G
'11: 3 HRs vs. 2 HRs allowed in 5 G

Not a team that is going to likely get by opposing teams anymore in the postseason by powering past them. That power just isn't there anymore although Amaro really did try to upgrade the power off the Phils' bench this offseason.

Yes, their hitting has gotten worse, but not by nearly as much as many people think.

When you look at Phillies scoring compared to the league average, there has been some decline:

2007 +17% (Phils averaged 5.51 vs. league average of 4.71)
2008 + 9% (4.93 vs. 4.54)
2009 +14% (5.06 vs. 4.43)
2010 +10% (4.77 vs. 4.33)
2011 + 7% (4.40 vs. 4.13) full year
2011 +12% (4.63 vs. 4.13) after Utley returned in May

So relative to the league, last year’s offense was a little worse than in 2008 (7% better than the league, vs. 9% better).

And from the time Utley started in May, the Phillies averaged 4.63 per game, or 12% over the league average (and highest in the NL). No offense is perfect, but the Phillies had a very good one when Valdez, Orr, and Martinez were kept out of the batter’s box.

To Andy's point, this compares the time after Utley's return, to full year 2008, which included players on the DL. Well of course, so did the last 2/3 of 2011: Polanco; Victorino; Howard missed games with foot issues in September, etc.

Then there is the run differential.

Below is their run differential since 2007, in runs per game, and then as a percentage of runs allowed:

2007: 0.44, 8.7%
2008: 0.73, 17.4%
2009: 0.68, 15.5%
2010: 0.82, 20.8%
2011: 1.13, 34.6% full year
2011: 1.36, 41.6% after Utley's return

MG - That last stat about home runs isn't surprising as the Phils faced two great pitching staffs in the 10 and 11 postseasons.

Maybe my memory is faulty, but I don't remember so many recognizable names on the free agent list w/o teams in past years as there are this year.
Someone discussed a change in the labor agreement a few threads ago, which may have some causal effect.
A lot of older players are either going to retire or settle for less money than their wives, girlfriends and egos are expecting.

Adding a little color to my last comment, they went from scoring 17.4% more runs than they allowed in 2008, to scoring 34.6% more than they allowed last year.

bap, me Gerrymander?

C'mon, the reason I used 2008 as the starting point is that (I believe) it's when RPG started to decline in both leagues.

If I'm wrong I'll go back further and run those numbers.

I still stand by my point:

You cannot look at the drop in the Phillies' offensive production without viewing it within the context that offensive production has declined throughout MLB.

RedBurb - I wouldn't say the Cards had a great pitching staff. They were mediocre all year and even in the postseason gave up their share of runs to the Brewers/Rangers.

Reds' was mediocre in '10 too with pretty weak starting pitching.

The only staff they have faced their entire playoff run since '08 that was very good was the '10 Giants in the NLCS. Giants had strong starters, a deep pen, and a great closer.

bap, I just read the rest of your post.

You have completely misinterpreted my data. I used two data points. BTW, I did the calc so fast last time I was off slightly.

2008 RPG:

Phillies: 4.93
Nat'l League avg: 4.54

2011 RPG:

Phillies: 4.40
Nat'l League avg: 4.13

4.13 ÷ 4.54 = .909 which is a 9.03% drop

4.40 ÷ 4.93 = .8925 which is a 10.75% drop

OK, so the NL is off 9.03% and the Phillies are off 10.75%. I maintain that that is a statistically insignificant difference.

Now, one can make the case that RELATIVE to the rest of the NL the Phillies offense was better in 2008 than in 2011. In 2008 they scored 8.59% more RPG than the league average, and in 2011 they only scored 6.54% more runs than the league average.

Oh well. I’ll take 2011 and the dominant pitching, which provides a better run differential.

schmenkman, I appreciate the run support (pun intended), but you're just never going to convince some people here.

You have a better chance of seeing God.

That's wrong. You have to add the Dodgers in '08 and '09. Out homered them 15 to 10 in the two NLCS series.

Let me point out that if we exclude the AL the Phils are still barely in the top third of the NL in offense. Although they are tied with the Brewers for 5th they are rightfully listed as 6th because on other numbers they trail them especially slugging. While it is true that the total offense of everyone is down the Phils went from being No.1 to No. 6 in the last 5 years. So much for Schmenkman.
Everyone on this site (except for occasional trolls) wants the Phils to win. But by now it should be obvious that this team will win games because as you all point out we are still the big gorilla in the room and over 162 games the law of averages favor us but not in the playoffs. And I actually don’t think we will be the big gorilla anymore.
Some reporter (I first saw the link here) wrote a great piece about what you need to get into the WS. You need to win just enough games to get into the playoffs (not 102). Once in the playoffs in addition to being hot you need an agile team—a team that can manufacture runs and a manager who knows how to put that together. No one here is going to argue that the Phillies are that kind of team let alone that CM is a strategist (literally after every blown game the second guessing of CM is well established here).
BAP: About my “ramblings”, I think the Marlins have on several occasions scrapped a winning team in order to get the next team. There are no guarantees but there is nothing wrong with scrapping a team that has not only failed to reproduce its prior season but as in fact come short of its prior season 3 years running.

To add to my 3:02 post above, if the Phillies had scored 14 more runs in 2011, their offensive "decline" from 2008 to 2011 would have been LESS than the league average (though by an insignificant amount).

So in reality, those of you who are takng the opposite side of the discussion are in effect, arguing over 14 runs.

If Utley had been with the team all year, and Charlie and the team hadn't shut it down after they clinched on September 17th (they scored 16 runs in the next 8 games), it's likely they would have scored MORE than 14 more runs on the season and would have declined LESS than the NL since 2008.

"Let me point out that if we exclude the AL the Phils are still barely in the top third of the NL in offense."

RK, which Phillies team are you talking about, the one WITH Utley in the lineup or the one without?

schmenkman spelled it out pretty clearly above. Why are you dismissing him? Do you even understand the points he made?

BTW, RK, you ARE aware that the Giants WON the WS in 2010 with an offense that was in the bottom half of the NL and MLB overall?

Are you also aware that the team with the BEST offense in the NL in 2010 got swept in the first round of the playoffs? Why....they even got 'not-hit' in their first playoff game that year.

RK - There is no formula for winning in the postseason. Over 5 game and 7 game series anything can happen.

What we do know is the Phils were good enough over 162 games to win 102 of them. That is the best single season in Phillies history.

I know it has been repeated ad nauseum but the playoffs are the ultimate crapshoot. Until you start viewing the playoffs as a crapshoot and not indicative of future success, you can't properly analyze the team.

awh: 14 runs and Utley. The point is that Utley was not there. How many runs will we miss because Howard won't be there this spring?
The aging/injury process is taking its toll. Utley is an extreme competitor thus he is always at risk for injury. The last time Utley played 160 games was in 2006 his best year 2007 he played in 132 games. And his performance has dropped significantly since then.

Red: you should read my "ramblings" first. I agree its a crapshoot but the odds go to the hot team (the Giants in 2010) and the team that can make it happen with/without HRs. i.e. manufacturing runs. Not the Phils style.

More bunting!

RK - It has been demonstrated by MG above that the Phils home run totals have been declining. So therefore they have been making it happen without home runs.

You have confirmation bias. The Phils have come up short the past two postseasons and you need something to blame it on. The Phils actually outscored the Giants and the Cardinals in both series they lost.

awh: You don't need to keep reminding me that an increase in run differential (due to better pitching) outweighs a decrease in offense. I think pretty much everyone agrees with that proposition -- or at least, everyone except RK.

However, the discussion is about the offense and, yes, our offense has gotten worse. It's not just worse because everyone's worse. It's worse relative to the rest of the league. As one who thought one degree of infinity is higher than another, I have no earthly idea if the difference between 9.03% and 10.75% is or is not statistically significant -- although I wouldn't so readily discount it as you do; I wouldn't be surprised if it is.

More to the point, "average" can sometimes be a misleading stat -- particularly when you're dealing with a small set (16 teams) and teams on one end of that data set have some fairly extreme numbers (like, say, the run totals of the 2011 Giants). And, so, again I come back to this: 7th in the league in runs scored. Now you can make the clout argument that they were 5th until the last week of the season. Or you can argue that the 4th through 7th teams (and, to some extent, even the 2nd through 7th teams) were closely clumped together. But the bottom line is simply this: in 2008, they were the league's best offense; last year, they were just one of multiple teams that were all about the same and all a cut below the league-best. And, if anything, the Phillies were on the lower end of that group of teams. So the offense HAS gotten worse relative to the league and in a fairly significant way.

Red: I am not in the blame game at all. Disapointed yes but not blaming anyone.
But that does not mean we should not analyze what is happening and try to better our chances. This discussion started with me saying Thome is not the answer. And he is not the answer. Phils management is still trying to wring one more year out of this bunch and I just don't think that is a good approach.

"So the offense HAS gotten worse relative to the league and in a fairly significant way."

bap, when their lineup is healthy, I don't believe the quoted statement above is true.

Sorry, but we're just going to have to disagree.

RedBurb, excellent responses to RK, though I'm not sure he knows what "confirmation bias" entails.

RK: If the Marlins are your model for how to run a baseball team, I don't think there's going to be any convincing you.

The take-home lesson from the last 2 post-seasons is that there's no take-home lesson. The Giants won with great pitching & a lousy offense that got hot at the right time. The Cardinals won with great hitting, so-so starting pitching, and a lousy bullpen which got hot at the right time. If there were a GM out there who knew how to construct a team that had the specific ability to get hot precisely in October, that GM would have 10 World Series rings right now.

RK - Thome is a left handed power bat off the bench. Obviously the Phils do not think he is "the answer" either because he will be used sparingly in the beginning of the season and off the bench. If you are using Thome as an example, I really don't know what your argument is anymore.

"But that does not mean we should not analyze what is happening and try to better our chances."

OK, RK, I'll bite.

Tell us all how the Phillies can better their chances.

If you think a player should be replaced by a better player,
a) name the player to be replaced,
b) the player with whom you would replace him, and
c) how you would acquire that particular replacement (trade or FA signing).

Be specific. This is BeerLeaguer.

If you can't or won't do it we'll all just have to assume you're talking sh8t.

Domonic Brown, please save us by winning Left Field. Mayberry can play 1st.

awh: confirmation bias ==wishful thinking.
I must be wrong because the following is simply not true:
2008 WS
2009 In WS but lost
2010 Won Division lost Penant
2011-In but lost Division
In that time we had the same core team but improved pitching.
Surely its my confirmation bias that makes me wish for some replacement parts.

"But the bottom line is simply this: in 2008, they were the league's best offense; last year, they were just one of multiple teams that were all about the same and all a cut below the league-best."

bap, I wanted to go back and revisit your statement I quoted above.

Are you taking the position that after Utley returned that they weren't the best offense in the league - despite schmenkman's demonstration above that they outscored every other team?

If you want to talk "average" for the year I have to ask why? Do you not think there is a difference with Utley in the lineup?

If you don't, and you want to stick with an argument that the average for the whole season is the true measure of the 2011 Phillies' offense, then I need look no further than another BL poster whom I quote here:

"..."average" can sometimes be a misleading stat..". :)

RK - I get your point about the offense being weaker. It is. I thought last year it wasn't a Top 5 offense (runs scored) because of their failoff in power which did happen and Utley missing at least half the season (which didn't happen). I don't think it will be this year either.

The 'X' factor you have no idea about this offense though is the injury question especially in the infield. If Utley/JRoll go down for a while, this offense is going to be in trouble especially while Howard is out.

I would imagine though it ends up somewhere slightly above average this year though in the NL which should be good enough to get them in the playoffs.

awh:Be specific
I have seen all kidns of silly specific stuff here like "feels liek a loss" or "feels liek a win" etc. so I am not so sure about the analytics but I have been specific about the need to consider trading some of our guys for younger players. Other teams do it. The Marlins are not my model but you can't deny that it has worked for them (2 WS) in 6 years. With different teams!

You guys are not willing to consider this at all. So there is no point in going into the details of what we can get for a trade. But if you think our guys are among the best--and they are--surely others would be willing to trade for them.

RK, did you even read RedBurb's 3:37 post?

The Phillies OUTSCORED both the Cards and Giants in the series they lost.

So, I'm not sure what your point is.

By my count there are only 8 players left from the 2008 WS club. I'd say that would qualify as replacement parts wouldn't you?

MG I hope you are right.

Awh: Happens all the time you win one game big but lose the series. You wish you had saved a few runs for the next game.

RK - You've totally changed your argument. No one here said you shouldn't trade anyone on the Phils. I'm sure that many of the posters on the board would agree to a trade of Howard if the price was right.

The argument is whether a trade would make the team better. You automatically assume that it does. I think there are too many factors involved. If Utley performs even close to his normal stat line, you don't trade a player of his caliber. I don't get why this is hard for you to understand.

Red: I can tell you that although many thought that Howard got a rich contract, whenever someone (me too) would broach a trade the knives came out and they came out last year big time when I said trade the team. My attitude was the team peaked they blew it let's get some fresh young ones.
As each year goes by we will get less for our guys as they age. Utley is great but his best years are behind him. He is still better then most 2nd basemen. But all that tells me that we could get some strong talent--yes its a chance so far Brown hasn't impressed enough--but hey this is why Amaro gets the big bucks. Let's see what he can do now other than just squeeze a one more close call.

bap - "But the bottom line is simply this: in 2008, they were the league's best offense; "
-- they were actually tied for 2nd with the Mets with 4.93 RPG. The Cubs scored 5.31 per game.

I wouldn't trust the guy who authored the Lee-to-Seattle trade to move any of our current players for anything of value.


schmenk: I meant 2009. Was a misprint.

awh: I am agnostic when it comes to the argument that the post-Utley numbers are the truest indicator of last year's offense (or, by extension, of what we can expect in 2012). I certainly think it's a plausible argument. But I also can't help but notice that Utley, himself, was not nearly good enough last year to account for such a huge uptick in the team's offensive numbers (a goodly portion of which occurred even before we traded for Hunter Pence). This suggests to me that there was a healthy dose of coincidence in those pre-Utley/post-Utley numbers, and that our early-season offensive struggles would likely still have happened even with Utley in the lineup.

Of course, I also think it's possible that a healthy Utley could be much better in 2012. That, plus a full year of Hunter Pence, would go a long way toward making this, once again, an elite offense.

RK - If you can be specific and show which player could be traded and what you think the return would be instead of saying abstract things like "trade the team", I'm sure the knives wouldn't come out for you.

If you could make a coherent argument that trading some of the Phillies would be a net gain, that would be a nice conversation to have.

There are far too many posters that say "Oh Player X stinks, we need an upgrade there." When questioned on what the upgrade would be and how to get it, they don't have an answer.

RK, RedBurb called you on it. You're changing your argument. Let me know when you want to stick to one.

BTW, childish diversionary tactics like "I have seen all kidns of silly specific stuff here like "feels liek a loss" or "feels liek a win" etc." aren't going to cut it here.

Stick to the point.

Besides, this is statement by you is only partly true:

"I have been specific about the need to consider trading some of our guys for younger players."

So, if you really think they need to trade for younger players, go back to my 3:52 post, and BE SPECIFIC about who you would trade.

I presume that you think the younger players for whom you would trade are superior to the players who you would trade, so name them...and name the other talent you would have to give up in order to obtain the younger player - unless you think other teams would trade the Phillies a 'superior' player straight-up for the 'inferior' player currently on the Phillies.

C'mon, demonstrate to us how superior you would be as a GM!

"By my count there are only 8 players left from the 2008 WS club. I'd say that would qualify as replacement parts wouldn't you?

RedBurb, stop making sense.

Honestly given how much of a crapshoot winning in the playoffs is and how there isn't much advantage to winning your division under the current format, the only goal should be to build a team that has a very strong chance to get in the playoffs. Amaro's done that.

Next year though, the formula changes a bit and there is going to be a premium again though to winning your division which I really like. I wonder if it alters in the process how teams approach the offseason a bit.

Has Selig definitively ruled out implementing the change in playoff format in 2012? Last I heard it was still being considered.

Some good/mixed news per mlbtr:

:Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. joined Jim Duquette and Kevin Kennedy on MLB Network Radio and said he's still hoping to work out an extension with left-hander Cole Hamels. The sides haven't set a deadline for a long-term deal.

Amaro suggested the Phillies don't have the payroll flexibility required to add Roy Oswalt. "I just don't know that it's a fit for us right now," he said.

The Phillies and Marlins are among the teams eyeing Cuban outfield prospect Jorge Soler."

Glad to see they're talking to Hamels/Boggs.

schmenkman, last I read Selig was "leaning" towards implementing the new format this season.

I believe it was at, but don't hold me to that.

schmenkman - There's been on definitive word on it although I imagine Selig will make an announcement very soon with the start of spring training get under way by the end of next week for clubs.

Soler's power is comparable to Stanton....Please go get him Rube

This is the same dumb argument that has been going on since October.

It is impossible to reasonably argue with anyone who thinks:

"[to get into the WS,] you need to win just enough games to get into the playoffs (not 102)."

And the flaw with that thinking is...

The advantage that an excellent team has over a good team (say, likelihood of having a better record) is larger over 162 games than it is over 5.

That quote implies that over 5 games, the good team's likelihood of having a better record does not increase from 1% to, say, 40%, but rather increases from 1% to, say, 60%. This is crazy.

Aah. I may have misunderstood your comment. If you're saying that a very good team does NOT have a significant advantage in a short series, than we're in agreement.

After all, the difference between a 102-win team (.630 W%), and a 90-win team (.556 W%) applied to 5 games is 3.2 wins vs. 2.8 wins. No wonder lesser teams often win in the playoffs.

Add to that that instead of playing a league-average team (which is how a team racks up 102 wins), it's playing one of the league's better teams, and that makes short series even more of a crapshoot.

The 'thing' about short series that has essentially prven to be true (at least anecdotally) is that the W/L ratios generally hold true.

This is what I mean:

Hypothetically, if you have a team - like the Phillies, and they played the Houston Astros for 100 games, they could be expected to win approximately 2/3 of the time, about 66 of those games. For some reason, the same seems to hold true for short series: That is, if they played 100 short series, the Astros could be expected to win about 34 of them.

Teams that are more equally matched in the playoffs don't have as much disparity in expected wins, and thus, the playoffs are a crapshoot.

But some here seem to think that somehow, some way, despite all the evidence to the contrary, a GM can build a team to guarantee success in the postseason.

schmenkman: I think we agree completely.

My point is that it is very wrong to take the crapshoot conclusion further and say that a 90-win team is better built for October than a 102-win team, based on 4 data points from the last 4 Phillies seasons.

Here's news on RK's model franchise, the Marlins:

"Hanley not totally on board with switch to 3B"

awh: I don't agree with that exactly, but I agree with your conclusion.

That would be strictly true for a 1 game playoff series - the Phillies would be expected to win 66% of the time. For a 162 game playoff series, they would be expected to win the series something very close to 100% of the time.

If we assume games are independent events, the hypothetical Phillies would beat the hypothetical Astros in a 3, 5, and 7 game series with probability 73%, 78%, and 82%, respectively.

The point, which I agree with, is that even objectively terrible teams can beat objectively awesome teams in a 5-game series with 20% probability. This probability is larger when the underdog is pretty good, instead of terrible. Trying to build a team to win a large percentage of playoff series is a fool's errand.

DH, when I wrote it I knew it wasn't "quite" right, but I was really just trying to demonstrate a point, and it appears you have done it better than I did.

Actually, the best real world demo of it is the Yankees the last 10 years:

6 times they've had the best record in the league and 1 WS win to show for it.

Soler = Barry Bonds, Cecil Fielder, Lastings Milledge all combined with just an extra touch of surly.

"Trying to build a team to win a large percentage of playoff series is a fool's errand."

While I completely agree, I do think that teams which have 2 or 3 top-flight starting pitchers generally have a better chance of going deep in the playoffs than teams which are built on offense. Good pitching usually shuts down good hitting and elite pitchers have a better chance of giving you that good pitching than mediocre ones. Of course, sometimes elite pitchers don't pitch well (See Cliff Lee, Game 2, NLDS) and sometimes they do pitch well but get out-pitched by a lesser pitcher who's simply on his game (See Roy Halladay, Game 5, NLDS). So there's never a guarantee. But, insofar as it's possible to build a team for post-season success, building a team with 3 elite starting pitchers is a pretty good plan.

awh: That's a good example. Boston has only won the AL East once, but has 2 championships during that time. Meanwhile, the Phillies made the WS in 2008 and 2009 and missed it in 2010 and 2011.

Right conclusion: the playoffs are unpredictable
Wrong conclusion: 93-win teams are more likely to win championships than 98-win teams

RK, like many posters here, simply refuses to believe that anything can happen in a 5 or 7 game series and that even the worst team in the league can beat the best in such a short series.

Therefore losing a short series is caused by either A. A decline in talent or B. Weak character.

Arguing about this is silly because a person who holds such views is immune to logic.

To my last post, I'd add one thought.

I lied when I said that the take-home lesson from recent post-seasons is that there's no take-home lesson. There IS one lesson I have taken from recent post-seasons and it is this: if at all possible, ride your aces on 3 days rest. The Yankees knocked us out with that approach in 2009. The Cardinals did the same this past season.

Halladay & Lee seem like exactly the types of pitchers that can pitch on 3 days rest, and the more times they pitch, the greater our advantage over the opposing team. So that's something I'd like to see Cholly do if we make it back to the post-season again -- particularly since we no longer have Oswalt to pitch that extra game.

BAP: I'll try and find the article, but Dave Cameron argued that the best way to manage a playoff pitching staff, at least with a mediocre starter, is to get a few innings out of the starter and then turn the game over to the bullpen early.

That seemed to work well for St. Louis in NLDS Game 2, and for the Yankees with Nova in one of the ALDS games. Maybe teams with the best bullpens perform best in October, but I'm not sure how you build an elite bullpen (even for the regular season, much less for the playoffs). The Cardinals bullpen was terrible all year and excellent in October.

DH: That sounds like a dubious argument to me. For one thing, it would be a very rare bullpen which has 5 or 6 really good arms. Most bullpens are like the Phillies', with 2 to 3 lights-out pitchers and 4 to 5 David Herndons, J.C. Romeros, and Kyle Kendricks.

But even if you do have 5 really good relievers, odds are pretty strong that, on any particular day, at least one of them will be off his game. Every time you make a pitching change, you run the risk that the new guy will be ineffective & will get lit up. I'd rather just stick with even a passably effective starter for 6 innings.

Rube better stop being coy with Roy and sign him soon.

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