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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Comments

What a stiff! He'll be a Barnstormer in no time!

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZz.

Bert you stole my ZZZZZZZZZZ's!

I like the update on minors. Help with seeing who's who and what some of the future looks like. Chase in Ariz to see knee person. Hmmmmm

Wait all these days(since announcement) and Chase is just now seen this specialist...???

Chase was supppossed to return today. The next time we see him, will he be:
a)Ready to play?
b)On crutches?
c)In a wheelchair?
or
d)Starring in a remake of Tim Conway's "Dorf" videos?

Luis, don't worry. This guy is a surgeon. If Chase is there for surgery, a few days won't make a difference. He'd be done for the year.

If Chase is in AZ for surgery, consider his career (at least as it pertains to the Chase Utley we know) just about over. If it really is micro-fracture surgery time, that's another year off at a minimum, with a lengthy time before we can have any real expectations that the surgery even "took" and will produce at a high level of competition.

However, I suspect that he's just there to consider his options and get a proper diagnosis. I think he knows that any surgery means a likely end to his ability to perform to his own high expectations, which is why he didn't do it last year, or in the off season.

If it does come to pass that Chase is going under the knife (especially for something like micro-fracture), let the endless chorus of sh8t fly toward the medical staff's handling of this whole situation...

Chase is done for good. Book it, Dano.

I now think of Chase Utley like a straggler in a zombie flick: "Leave him! There's nothing we can do! He's dead already!"

I am, however, intrigued by the apparent insistence of the Phillies FO on rushing Ryan Howard back for questionable offensive gain at the very real risk of another medical "setback". The man is under contract for the next 150 years, just let him sit & heal completely already.

GTown, I was getting ready to unleash my "Howard showcased without boot (ahead of schedule) on same day Utley shows up at Dr. Death's office" PR conspiracy.

Sounds like you smell what I'm cooking here...

Were I Chase, I'd be heading to Europe. By the time any surgical procedure of this type gets to the U.S., it's about five years out of date. He'd be better off seeing Dr. Sven Bjorkelsonmeyer (name pulled out of thin air) at this point, than continuing with the usual suspects.

But I'm going to go with this: Chase returns and is able to play the entire season with only moderate discomfort, and thus continues his assault on the hall of fame to stand among such luminaries as Honus Wagner and Jeff Kent.

I'm thinking Utley is the perfect guy to take hunting with you. You know, in case you come upon a bear.

"Leave him! There's nothing we can do! He's dead already!"

If there's anything I've learned from watching zombie movies, it's that you can't be sentimental when it comes to those straggler zombies. Even if they used to be your friend, they'll still come back and eat your flesh all the same, unless you shoot them.

Come to think of it, maybe everyone on Beerleaguer should pitch in and buy Ruben Amaro the whole "Night of the Living Dead" trilogy as a Christmas gift. It might make him stop and think twice the next time he wants to bring back J.C. Romero or Brian Schneider, or give a 2-year deal to Jose Contreras.

I commented the other day that the criticism of the front office for "not being prepared" (whatever that means) for Utley being injured was over-the-top.

I won't make a similar comment about any criticism of Utley, the front office, or the medical staff for not finding out in October if microfracture surgery was going to be necessary.

Preacher: I'm definitely pickin' up what you're layin' down, brother.

I am buyin what u are a selling

His contract ends before next season. I assume he gets surgery, sits 1/4 of the time period they recommend, the whole time never DL'd. Then he comes in August, burns for a week until he kills the knees again and then Rube signs him back for 4 more years.

Well, Chase should just be glad he didn't fall over at, say, Pimlico or Belmont.

"criticism of the front office for "not being prepared" (whatever that means) for Utley being injured was over-the-top."

In a sense, I agree. They're paying him $15M and, even in his compromised state, he was still well above average last year. The idea that they were going to replace him, or pay big money to a backup, was not realistic. They had no real choice except to hope he got healthy.

Here's where I think they can be severely criticized, though. After wooing Michael Cuddyer, whom they seemingly viewed as sort of a jack-of-all-trades, they signed a Michael Cuddyer Light in Ty Wigginton. On paper, it sounded like a decent plan. Wigginton isn't a great hitter but, for a utility infielder, he's still well above average. But, judging by management's various comments, it seems like they were under the impression that Wigginton could play either 2nd or 3rd base. Coupled with Polanco's ability to play 2nd or 3rd base, that would presumably give the Phillies some flexibility in case Utley had injury issues. In fact, the Phillies were apparently so confident in this plan that they traded away their best, most versatile utility infielder for essentially nothing.

Now we get to ST and we come to find out that Wigginton can't play 2nd at all. In fact, not only can't he play 2nd; it's not even clear that he can even play a passable 3rd anymore. On top of that, it's also not clear that Polanco still has the mobility to move to 2nd base. Hence, instead of enhancing our infield versatility without having to sacrifice offense, it seems we've acquired a guy who actually DIMINISHES our versatility, by being able to play only 1st base and the OF -- but without the offense that a typical 1st baseman/corner outfielder usually provides. All of this strikes me as a fairly massive failure in scouting.

b_a_p: Makes one wonder which voice(s) within the organization r00b listens to, doesn't it? Assuming, of course, that he's open to listening to any voice save his own. I persist in ruing the loss of Mike Arbuckle.

Was Bonilla the one who was taken by the Cubs in Rule V?

G-Town: I don't feel like looking them up but, after Wigginton was acquired, there were definitely comments from management to the effect that they planned to use him all over the field. I suspect the scout who told them that Wigginton can still play 2nd base was probably the same scout who told them that there was this fantastic diamond-in-the-rough player named Martinez who could play 6 different positions well & whom they absolutely had to take in the Rule 5 draft.

b_a_p -- Said it before; I'll say it again. Papelbon might be the "woist" signing ever, in light of Cuddyer's availability and the (IMHO) "dime a dozen" reliability/ availability of 9th-inning relievers.

Geesh.

b_a_p: Which leads one to the questions, "Who is this so-called "scout", & why hasn't he been summarily executed?"

BAP: I agree with all that.

The criticism that I considered over-the-top has mostly come from 2 camps:

1) those who are incredulous that Amaro doesn't have a good backup second baseman (someone like Mark Ellis or Jamey Carroll, I guess - guys who signed multi-year several-million-dollar contracts as starters elsewhere);
2) those who are incredulous that Amaro doesn't have a backup like Ryan Theriot, who at this point probably isn't much better than Galvis

The Valdez trade was a head-scratcher from the day it was made, but really, the dropoff from Utley to Valdez isn't that much better than the dropoff from Utley to Galvis. Utley getting hurt was going to result in an unpreventable big dropoff.

lorecore - It was actually Lendy Castillo, 22 year old RHP. There was a report from one of the national beat writers that he was impressing the Cubs' FO.

Apropos of nothing in particular, Lesley Visser looks like a decomposing mannequin, & her voice calls to mind the sound of someone beating a sack full of cats with a piano.

cut - There is no way to justify paying Cuddyer $10 mil/yr as essentially a utility player. I would agree with your point if Cuddyer settled for a $5 mil per year deal, but not $10 mil.

The thing about Cuddyer is that, while he's definitely a better hitter than Wigginton, he offers exactly the same kind of "versatility." Which is to say, he has played 2nd & 3rd in the past, but he can't really play them anymore. Which is to say he's basically a 1st baseman/corner outfielder at this point. Not that there's anything wrong with being a 1st baseman/corner outfielder, but his .794 career OPS would fit the Phillies' (or most teams') needs a whole lot more at 2nd or 3rd base than at 1st base or in LF.

When your number 3 and 4 hitters bite the dust and there is no one that can come close to replacing them, then, even with great pitching, this season looks like it will be one long struggle. Not saying we wont make the post-season, but that it will be an arduous task right up to the end.

"When your number 3 and 4 hitters bite the dust and there is no one that can come close to replacing them,..."


Dragon, 1) it depends on with whom you replace them, and 2) you need to look elsewhere in the lineup as well.


Last season's Opening Day lineup:

Vic
Polly
JRoll
Howie
Raul
BenFran
Chooch
Wilson


Now let's take a look at this season's probable Opening Day lineup:

JRoll
Polly
Vic
Pence
Mayberry
Wiggy/Nix
Chooch
Freddy

OK, let's rate 2011 against 2012, and see who's better:

2011/2012

Vic vs. JRoll, 2011 (was better)
Polly - push
JRoll vs. Vic, 2012 (is better)
Howard vs. Pence, based on 2yrs of OPS+, Pence is better
Raul vs. Mayberry, in 2011 RFD was better, esp againt LHP
BenFran vs. Wiggy-Nix, used properly, could be better than Benny Fresh
Chooch - push
Wilson vs. Freddy - we'll see, but probably a push

Dragon, the 2011 lineup, without Utley or Pence, went 28 - 18 in the first 46 games.

It certainly isn't nearly as good as the lineup that finished 2011 (especially with RFD against LHP), but they managed to play .608 baseball (98 win equivalent) on the strength of their pitching, even though they only scored 3.83 RPG.

The 2012 lineup above is projected to score somewhere between 4.0 and 4.3 RPG, depending on whose 2012 projections you use (Marcel, James, etc.).

They have a fairly easy schedule to start the season, so if the pitching holds up, don't be surprised to see them get off to a decent start.

Ryan Madson got scratched from an appearance yesterday because his elbow flared up again.

Correction: I miscalculated numbers I referenced above:

Ryan Howard's OPS+ on 2010 and 2011 was 126.

Hunter Pence's OPS+ on 2010 and 2011 was 125.

Also on the injured pitcher front:

Atlanta'a Tim Hudson will apparently miss the first month of the season.

Moyer threw four perfect innings against the Giants yesterday and has a 1.00 ERA this spring.

schmenkman - nice spreadsheet. Didn't Halladay's 3/60 extension start in 2010 when he was first traded here or wasn't it until 2011? I was trying to think back as to what he needed to do to have his options vest and figured he would easily get his first one based on the last 2 years but didn't know about the 2nd.

The Phillies also have a manageable, if not easy, schedule to start the season:

@PIT
MIA
NYM
@SFG
@SDP
@ARI
CHC
@ATL
@WSN
NYM
SDP
HOU
@CHC

That's their first 39 games, and against that, I wouldn't be surprised to see them go something like 24-15.

Dom Brown optioned this morning.

AL, Doc's first year here was under the final year of his contract with the Blue Jays. Last year was the actual first year of his three year deal with the Phillies.

Chase should have the surgery and try to come back in 2013.

Hopefully his deal is insured and the team can use that $15 million to get a replacement.

If it is microfracture surgery, his career is over...at least the Chase Utley we knew.

Kinda surprising that they'd option Brown like that. He's one of the few guys actually hitting the ball.

Brown sent down? Give a month of averaging 3 runs a game and we'll see if that changes.

On the other hand, if a hitter like Brown can't field well enough to play anywhere, it's a crying shame.

Brown's fielding is actually pretty average...for a DH.

I'm happy for Moyer. I'll be following him all season. I may even root for the Rockies - only secondarily, of course.

Saw a video of Ryan Howard saying: "Don't panic. I mean, look at the guys we've got."

Funny, I thought the concerns arose from the guys we've got to replace the guys we haven't got.

He mentioned the rotation and then said Pence should just go out and be Pence, Mayberry should be Mayberry, and they're very capable of holding their own or keeping the team competitive or somesuch (sorry, forgot his exact words).

They've said from the beginning they wanted him to get regular playing time at AAA. Once this offense shows what it can do with Wiggy and Nix in the lineup, Dom will get a shot.

It still boggles my mind that an athlete as good as Brown can be soooo bad in the field...

If it is microfracture surgery, his career is over...at least the Chase Utley we knew.

Posted by: NEPP | Friday, March 23, 2012 at 09:04 AM

Whether he has the surgery or not, the Chase Utley that we know has been long for a couple of years. He was still above average last year, but nowhere near the guy from 2005-2010.

***Once this offense shows what it can do with Wiggy and Nix in the lineup,***

"And for the 3rd time this month, Roy Halladay will leave the game after 9 no-hit, shutout innings looking at a no-decision as we go to extras still tied 0-0."

I actually like Ryan's confidence (and, I know, what else is he going to say? The sky is falling?) and agree with him - and everyone under the sun - that our rotation keeps us in the running. I even think our lineup is capable of producing. Guys need to step up. I have no idea whether they will - and Galvis stepping up will be a far cry from Chase Utley, of course.

NEPP, that scenario is not funny.

I read that some athletes have come back from microfracture surgery, and that it has an 80% success rate? Can someone speak to that?

On bad knees, Utley gave us a .648 OPS from 1 August on last year.

Valdez easily could have reproduced that for us in 2012 and hopefully Galvis/Wigginton/whoever? will do so at 2B this year.

The sky isn't falling. Utley should have the surgery and play for 2013.

Don't forget that when Chase Utley was 22, he was in Clearwater posting .746 OPS.

Look, in the late 2000's Chase Utley was arguably the second best player in Major League Baseball, behind only Albert Pujols. During that stretch, he was also arguably one of the top 5 second basemen in MLB history.

Even a diminished player of that cailbre is very, very difficult to replace, especially at his position.

It's a shame, because assuming 'normal' health and age related decline, he had a shot at the HOF.

I'm glad I got to watch him at his peak.

*** read that some athletes have come back from microfracture surgery, and that it has an 80% success rate? Can someone speak to that?
***

Completely accurate. There is a 80% success rate for the surgery. However, a good number of patients have pain reoccur within a couple years as the new scar tissue wears away. In addition, the recovery time, as noted, is a full 12 months so if he had it today, he'd likely be starting baseball activities in March 2013. Recovery is also highly dependent on the patient's age so the younger a guy is, the better his chances of coming back...something that Utley (in his 30s) is hurt by.

Grady Sizemore came back in 11 months from the surgery but obviously he has other injury issues to deal with too.

"Utley should have the surgery and play for 2013."

Except that if everything stays true to form, he'll more likely try some rest and therapy and denial for about 6 months and really won't return until the second half of 2014.

What's the rules on painkillers for athletes? Can they just give Utley a bunch of Percocets to chew on and toss him out there every night? Would that work for bone on bone pain?

NEPP - Percosets would knock him out. He needs an analgesic that's also a stimulant. I suggest cocaine.

Just one more thing about Michael Cuddyer -- even at his signed, sealed and delivered contract of 3 yrs/$31.5M, he still makes sense for the Phillies. Surely RAJ must have known of a very good chance of the long-term "outage" of Ryan Howard, and the inevitability of Chase Utley's decline. If not, then there’s either damn poor scouting in the FO or ridiculous denial. Anyone hear David Montgomery try to stammer his way out of Mike Missanelli’s questions regarding Utley yesterday afternoon? Hamina hamina hamina…

It’s my guess that the FO held an incredibly ill-informed view of the viability of Chase Utley’s career, and the healing time for Ryan Howard all winter long. The Phillies are close to a billion dollar organization, no? How’s that possible? Regardless, after hearing Montgomery stammer his way through that interview, I got the distinct sense that there was “full speed ahead, damn the icebergs, not even God can since this ship mentality” in the FO.

A smart FO would have planned for the worst, and sought to shore up the inevitability of the lost offensive production from Howard and Utley’s absence. How hard would it be to have signed Cuddyer, and moved Polanco back to 2nd in the face of an inevitable Utley outage? Heck even I can see how that works, and I’m clearly not a “baseball man”. If all Cuddyer brings is skills at first and third, he'd get at least 550 ABs this year, easy, and really offer veteran help to an offense that can scuffle.

Now, back to the extravagance of a $50mm closer. Papelbon will appear in what, 60 games, tops? Papelbon is useless unless you have a lead. Cuddyer could help the '12 Phils in that department – he’d spell Polanco at third, and offer solid play at first. All we can do at this point is hope and pray that Papelbon is a necessity more often than not.

After all, wasn't Clapton referring to reaching for groundballs when he wrote, "If you wanna get down, down to the ground..."??

***Percosets would knock him out. He needs an analgesic that's also a stimulant. I suggest cocaine.***

Not necessarily. I used to have to take it after I injured my back and while it made me woozy, I was in so much pain that I was still pretty conscious.

Perhaps a percocet/greenie tonic would work? He could get diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and then have all the help he needs to stay on the field and bring home another trophy.

Alas, given Utley's relatively late start in the majors, we all got a warped impression of how long he was going to be able to sustain his high peak. He went from platoon player to potential MVP so fast it was easy to forget that he was already 26 by the time he was playing regularly in the bigs, and his age 27-30 years (where most ML-ers peak) were the first real impression most of us had of him.

Thus, most assumed that peak was just what he was normally capable of all the time. If he had put numbers like that up starting at age 22, yes he would be an almost certain HOF-er. But the late start indicated that it was not likely he would be able to produce anything near that into his 30s, and his smallish frame meant him being able to keep up the rigours of 2nd base year after year, making continued excellece even less likely.

His fall has been rapid, but not quite unpredictable.

Cuddyer can play passable defense at 1B and mediocre defense in RF. He cant play any other position at an acceptable level in the Majors.

That, along with his salary, made him a poor fit.

The Cuddyer talk works if you think he was going to sign to be essentially a utility guy at a reduced rate.

There are two main choices you have with him:

1.) Get him to be a super utility guy at a couple million dollars a year.

2.) Sign him to the deal he wants to be the super utility guy.

The first choice makes no sense for Cuddyer. If he can find a starting spot somewhere and make real money why sign elsewhere for less money and no guarantee of a regular spot.

The second scenario makes no sense for the Phillies and would've been the type of irresponsible financial move so many like to claim other moves have been.

Had we a legitimate opening at third or a corner outfield spot- then yeah, you do it. It was just bad timing for us right now.

"Saw a video of Ryan Howard saying: "Don't panic. I mean, look at the guys we've got."
Funny, I thought the concerns arose from the guys we've got to replace the guys we haven't got."

What a great quote Gbrettfan. Pretty much exactly what I was thinking listening to that.

cut, you think there's ANY chance that Cuddyer signs here knowing that if our infield is healthy, that he'll be chewing sunflower seeds and swatting gnats out of his face all day as he sits on the bench, wondering when baseball got so cot damn boring?

It would have been UTTERLY foolish for the FO to sign a guy like Cuddyer for $10 M a year as a backup plan in case one of their $25 M/$15 M guys can't play as much as they'd hoped.

Look, when you sign guys like Utley and Howard to big deals like that, this is the risk you take. If they can't play, than you're going to have to live with the loss in production. You can provide reasonable backup solutions (and maybe the Phillies didn't do that as well as they could have), but you can't just go and sign another starter (or at least someone being paid starter's money) JUST IN CASE your big time paid players can't play.

The reason Utley's situation sucks so much is because until we know for sure that he's done, the Phillies just have to hope that he'll get back out there and live up to the money he's making. If he were to retire, then sure, they could go get another starter, but until that point, they have fill the void at a reasonable cost and just hope.

If the Phillies could just simply throw any amount of money at any player they wanted as insurance policies, and these players, with starter's talent, would be willing to ride the bench once our original starters were healthy, well then everything would be peachy. Unfortunately, that's not how sh!t works.

Two things on other topics at hand:

1.) That early season schedule looks nice on paper but it does include two of the Phillies classic trap parks in Pittsburgh and Arizona. They don't usually play well in either place so it will be nice to knock them out early.

2.) The injury bug-while bad- is something this team has dealt with time and again and have overcome it. You never want to lose important guys for long pieces of time but the Phillies have been able to weather the storm time and again and they have role players who have been able to step up and fill in at a level good enough to win. That is what makes a team a good team. Players need to step up. As I said the other day- guys like Vic, ROllins, and Pence need to perform out of the gate and they need support from the quadrant of Thome/Wiggy/Nix/Mayberry.

cut_fastball, back in November...

1) Utley had started all but 16 of the last 116 games (8 of those due to a concussion), and, while diminished, still performed at a very high level.

2) Howard was slated to return mid-May, with, if anything, some optimism that it could be even sooner.

3) Cuddyer was looking for $10M per year, after having played...
- 19 games at 2nd in the past 6 years
- 16 games at 3rd in the past 6 years
- 0 games in LF in the past 6 years
(seems that he avoids the left side due to left-ear deafness -- not that he can't play there... http://www.alldeaf.com/deaf-news/17461-im-deaf-my-left-ear.html)

TTI/Fata -- You have far more faith in Phillies management than I. My "argument" (is that the correct word?) is predicated on RAJ/FO's knowledge of the inevitability of Utley's decline, and a 12 month healing time for Howard.

In light of this readily available information -- Utley took no medical action after missing 50+ games in '11 -- the focus should have been on shoring up the infield, and not (IMHO) overpaying for a closer.

cut, according to some of the fielding stats I read over at fangraphs, Cuddyer cannot play the 2B/3B IF positions very well. With this pitching staff defense is very important, and there's no way he's be playing anything but 1B in the infield.

Why is it some posters here hold out one player - whether it's Cuddyer or another - as some sort of saviour?


You obviously missed my post yesterday about FA motivations, so here it is again:

"MG, that's an interesting Grantland article you linked at 1:05.

I wonder if this passage will be enough to moderate the vitriol directed at Amaro for not signing better utility infielders:

"The three biggest motivating factors for free agents are typically money, a chance to win, and a chance to play a lot. Injuries and age, or not, many useful veterans won't want any part of backing up someone of Utley's stature, or even Polanco's." "

So, on December 16th when Cuddyer signed, with Howard expected back and Utley looking like he was going being able to play, why would Cuddyer have signed here?

For that matter, if you were the Phillies FO why would you sign Cuddyer for more that $31.5MM to play LF if you knew Brown would be ready soon and Mayberry/Nix as a platoon could probably give you what Cuddyer could for far less money?

Wouldn't that have represented a massive and unnecessary overpay to fill the position?


We've been over this, cut.

As far as the OF is concerned, if Mayberry can only partially repeat his 2011 season at the plate, he provides as much overall value as Cuddyer because of superior defense and baserunning. If Mayberry somehow manages to duplicate his .854 OPS from last season, he's a SUPERIOR player to Cuddyer.

Now, if you add in a platoon of either NIx or Brown in the OF, then the combo of RFD/Nix/Dom is superior to Cuddyer anyway - for far less money.

To schmenkman, awh and MG et al-- To paraphrase Allen Iverson: "I hee ya". Regardless, it still stinks that the first half of the season pivots on whether Mayberry can hit and Galvis can stay in the Show.

With all of the money and resources the Phillies have at hand, surely there was a better way.

I've seen the argument made many times that with this pitching staff you need good defense, which I understand in the sense that you don't want to squander great pitching.

But wouldn't you actually need great defense less when your staff has a 21.4% K rate? (SF led the NL with 21.5%) i.e. the more the ball is put in play, the more you need good defense.

schmenkman, I haven't thought about that.

Sure, I guess you could make the argument, but does a pitching staff with a high K rate, or for that matter an excellent defense behind any pitching staff, affect batter psychology and thus have a compunding affect on a team's ability to get the opposition out?

Hypothetically, if a hitter knows he's facing a guy with great stuff/location who K's a lot of hitters, does he change his swing in order to try to make contact? And, does that lead to more GB necessitating a superior IF defense? Is there anyway to determine things like that?

Just got an email from mlb:
Bloomberg Sports Projects John Mayberry for 18 HR, 65 RBI

I will say this about the Utley situation - I find it incredibly difficult to believe that Utley was absolutely fine this offseason but started doing basic infield drills which caused such terrible pain in his knees that even doing routine tasks like going up/down stairs caused him considerable pain.

Somebody is not being truthful about what occurred this offseason because the scenario that was outlined by Amaro is almost implausible.

I don't really care about that as much as the fact that if this is something that Amaro knew about earlier this year why he didn't do something to address it. If Utley withheld critical information from the Phils on how he was actual doing, then that is on him. Likely never know the truth behind it though.

Amaro also did know that Utley wasn't going to likely be able to start the season either when they inexplicably started Galvis at 2nd all of a sudden.

MG: Do you care to comment about rumors from Clearwater that fans are leaving the games early?

Just got an email from mlb:
Bloomberg Sports Projects John Mayberry for 18 HR, 65 RBI

Posted by: GBrettfan
---
That's a weird subject line, although it's in line with most other projections:

http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=3390&position=OF

Jack - Do you have a point to make?

All I said is that the situation that Amaro described with Utley his highly implausible. That's all.

If Amaro didn't find out until Utley showed up in camp that his knees were so bad, then it is hard to fault him for what he did this offseason.

If he did know that Utley's knees were still bothering him in by Nov/Dec after a prolonged period of rest, then yeah what Amaro did this offseason was puzzling.

schmenkman: It's the other 78.6% that kills you if your Defense stinks. Pitchers need a good defense in the field behind them to get most of their outs. Otherwise, hits fall in, errors are made, and the opposing offense gets more chances to hurt you.

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