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Friday, March 02, 2012


From the previous thread:

awh - I never looked at it like that. I always though about keeping Pence and either letting Vic walk or trading him. Interesting. Pence would definitely get you back a better haul being arbitration eligible next season.
Posted by: RedBurb | Friday, March 02, 2012 at 12:09 PM
RedBurb, don't get me wrong. I love Pence. I would love to see if they can find a way to keep him AND Vic AND Hamels (yeah, right.), because I believe they can all be very productive players going forward.

But if RFD can sustain the performance of last season, then they'll have flexibility - and a decision to make.

The last 3 seasons Pence has done this: .293/.347/.478/.825

In 369 MLB PA, Mayberry has done this: .265/.328/.518/.846
In 2011, Mayberry did this: .273/.341/.513/.854

So, if Mayberry can sustain what he did last season, wouldn’t it make sense to at least consider trading Pence?

Unless his 2013 replacement is somehow Travis d'Arnauld, I'd say bring him back.

I can't foresee anything , other than a career ending injury, that would keep the Phils from doing what it takes to kapp Chooch here.

Chooch is every bit as much the face of the franchise as Jimmy, Chase & Ryan

"Davthom co-owned a team in the indie league. Apparently, his love of Coste had less to do with Coste himself than with an instinctive loyalty to former indie leaguers who made good."

Yep. In fact, after being queried at nauseum about his bizarre obesession with Chris Coste, he actually wrote what I thought was a fairly eloquent post -- at least as eloquent as one can possibly be when posting on Beerleaguer -- relating his background & why he became such a fan of Coste. I remember being so impressed by his explanation that I promised to never again make light of his odd obsession. I guess I lied. I mean, the guy came completely unglued when the official scorer charged Coste with a passed ball, instead of charging the pitcher with a WP. He was literally screaming out to be made light of.

I WILL give davthom his due about one thing: he was totally with me about Erik Kratz. I remember he showed up out of the woodwork last spring training to sing Kratz's praises and to rip the Phillies for having Brian Schneider on their roster. And, if I recall correctly, he also showed up to praise Paul Hoover the year before that. While Coste was certainly the apple of his eye, he also seems to have a broader fascination with career minor league backstops. I wouldn't be surprised if he shows up this spring training to plug Kratz or Tuffy.

With regard to the thread topic . . . short of a catastrophic injury, I'm hard-pressed to imagine any scenario in which the Phillies would not exercise that $5M option on Chooch. Even if he had a terrible 2012 season, or missed 75% of the season with injury, his past performance alone (not to mention, the difficulty of finding good catchers) would still make him a good gamble at $5M for 2013. Of course, if his 2012 season remotely resembles any of his last 3, then he would be an absolute screaming bargain at $5M.

Well let's just look at the 2013 list.

Really only play would be to exercise the option, and if you want to upgrade, give big money to McCann in 2014(assuming the braves pick up his 12mmm option for 13').

Valle is, best case scenario, 2-3 years away. Who would catch if ruiz left?

JW: Shouldn't that be "peace of mind"?

bap, I agree. The Phils will probably wait until the end of the season to exercise their option, mostly because of the injury risk.

But in light of what Molina just got as an extension, having only put up an OPS+ over 100 twice, one has to ask:

Is Molina really worth $10MM MORE per season than Chooch? (Molina's avg. 2009-2011 OPS+: 103. Chooch's avg. 2009-2011 OPS+: 113; Avg. games played 2009-2011: Molina: 132, Chooch: 120.)

If Chooch makes it through 2012 relatively unscathed by injury, I would not be surprised to see the Phils try to tack an extra year or two on the contract. Chocch may be older than Molina, but that's about it.

If Chooch is allowed to becaome an FA, and he stays healthy, even at 34 he should be able to get a 2-3 year contract, IMO.

Chooch has been a nice player but he is nowhere near the caliber player of JRoll, Utley, or Howard or what they have meant to the team. You could easy argue that each of those guys is the best guy who has played the position for the Phils. Especially JRoll and Utley.

That said, he will definitely back for '13 at $5M. I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to work out a 2 or 3-year deal even though I would rather just see them pick up his option instead.

Chooch has a way to go to even get to the Top 5 on games played in a Phils' uniform at catcher.

Utley is already No. 1 at 2B, JRoll will pass Bowa this year at SS, and Howard will eclipse Luderus by the time his contract here is up.

MG, they will, IMO, pick up his option if he's healthy. The questions is only if they want to add years.

If they pick up the option, then Ruiz will be an Fa going into his age 35 season.

If healthy and still productive, as I posted above, he'd robably be able to get at least a 2 year deal. And when he's healthy and productive he's one of the top 10 catchers in MLB.

Who could they replace him with who would be better?

goody: link to that palotto giveaway? I signed up for the VIP club, but can only find links to 2011 ticket winners, same with google searches.

awh - They don't and I could easily see them working out a 3-year deal with Chooch. Issue is just how much he is going to get paid.

I can't imagine he signs for anything less than $24-$25M for 3 years though.

"I'm from Panama!"

lorecore: They e-mailed me. As I said, I don't know if they will offer that to someone who just joins now. You might hear from them in a few days.

ah ok - thanks for the info and will be ready for next year at the least.

FYI - Two Pirates @ Phils games are firework nights, would be a nice win.

"Chooch has been a nice player but he is nowhere near the caliber player of JRoll, Utley, or Howard or what they have meant to the team."

MG, while your statement is true, I think you also need to consider positional value.

Chooch's OPS among MLB catchers the last 3 years has ranked him 8th, 4th and 11th, respectively. He's a 'top-ten' player at his position, and if defense and game management are taken into consideration, arguably top 5.

As I noted above, his OPS+ the last 3 years has been considerably higher than that of Molina, who just got 5/$75MM from the parsimonious Cardinals.

In light of that, if he's healthy and the Phils don't exercise his option, IMHO he'll get a lot more than $5MM from some team out there. I could see a team going 2/10 or 3/12-15 if he's on the open market.

MG, wow, I hadn't seen your post before I did mine.

You really think he'd get THAT much?

if ruiz has normal year and hit free agency, I'd say 3yr/$20M would be going rate.

With Ruiz, it's actually worth taking into consideration what he brings to the team in terms of things that can't be measured statistically. The pitchers love him & trust him, and players rave about him. While the latter is probably relatively insignificant, the former is immeasurable. He is also one of the few guys in the lineup that can be considered a patient hitter.

That being said, MG is always the first guy in line to rip Chooch's pitch selection as being 'overrated' so it's not surprising he only considers him a 'nice player.'

Marlins considering Vlad for a bench role? Great. He'll hit 10 pinch-hit HRs, 9 against the Phils.

There is no reason to believe Chooch won't be back. Same with Cole, but there are posts talking about them leaving. Why not run a story on CBP falling down? There's no reason to think it will but you know it could.

if MG values Chooch at 3yr/$25M, i think he considers him in higher regard than most, regardless of what he may complain about during live game threads

I think it's interesting that, if the new playoff format had been implemented earlier, the Phils would currently be riding a 7-year playoff run. It would have been fun to see those '05-06 teams in the playoffs, too, with the way they could hit the crap out of the ball.

gobay: The Ruiz talk is more of a hypothetical, but Hamels is a free agent after this year - how is there 'no reason' to consider he may not be a Phillie in 2013?

I've never seen a team and a player go into a contract year on better terms and more optimistic about getting a deal done than the Phillies and Cole are right now. Are they both playing PR? Mabye, but I believe both sides. The man has expressed zero interest in testing the FA waters and the team has shown that it will spend on pitching. But go ahead and worry about it if it makes you feel better.

I dont consider dicussing topics that have possible negative scenarios as 'worrying'.

However, if it gets past ST and they still dont have a deal, then please label me a worrier.

gobay: people are worrying because Hamels is so integral to the success of the team for the next few years, specifically in '13 and '14. Integral as in, his presence on the team will probably be the difference in them making the playoffs or not. Vic is a nice player, but with respect to the team's continued success, taking age into consideration, nobody on this team right now is as irreplaceable as Hamels.

Even I'm worried about it and I'm the one who pokes fun at people for worrying.

What I would get worked up about is the fact that the Phillies will have to open the first round of the playoffs on the road. That is some BS.

"Why not run a story on CBP falling down? There's no reason to think it will but you know it could."

Yes, in terms of the probability of actually happening, you'd be hard-pressed to find 2 more similar comps than: (1) the possible departure of a desirable soon-to-be free agent from a team with a maxed-out payroll; and (2) Citizen's Bank Park falling down.

BAP- We have our fair share of medical and legal experts on the board, but I wonder if there are any structural engineers in 'da house?

"I look at it this way," Victorino said. "If it's a significant difference, I have to weigh my options more than anything. I obviously love to play in Philly. They gave me my opportunity. ... But I also understand there's a window in this game ... When I say I don't want to go anywhere, yeah, I call this home. I want to finish my career here. I won't say I won't take a hometown discount, but I also will say I want to maximize my opportunity with not only what I've accomplished as an individual, but as part of a team."

There is no way Vic said this, there are no instances of "ya know" or "um".

Hyperbole, it's a common literary/rhetorical device.

How quickly people forget that Chooch was fairly mediocre in '07 and so bad in '08 that he basically lost his starting job to Coste that summer for a decent stretch.

Yeah I do think it is a little ridiculous to compare his value since '07 to Howard/JRoll/Utley. Howard and JRoll both have won MVP awards. Utley has been the arguably the best 2B in baseball over that stretch. Chooch had a great season in '10 but that's the only season where he had that was great.

As for Chooch's game-calling ability, yeah I do think it is a bit overrated a bit including his ability to frame pitches. If you look at the recent work done Max Marchi over at Hardball Times, Chooch actually is below average at his ability to frame pitches & get called strikes.

His best attribute defensively by far is at blocking pitches in the dirt. He is also very good at blocking the plate on runners coming home. At best though, he has only an average arm. Maybe even slightly below average now. Overall, he is a good defensive catcher but he isn't and never was near the caliber of Molina defensively.

What is complicated to figure out extending Chooch long-term (if he has a healthy solid year where he starts at least 110 G and has an OPS+ around 100) given his $5M option value.

To extend him long-term, the Phils are going to have to give him a decent buck. Give him a bit more than the $5M in '13 but have to backload a bit in '14 and '15. $24M/$25M might be a bit on the high-side.

Not many good comps recently. This off season the only catcher to get a major deal was R. Hernandez at 2/$6.4M. Poor comp since he was already 35.

2010 was better. Buck got 3 yrs/$18M from the Fish at 31. V. Martinez got 4 yr/$50M from the Tigers at 33.

Pierzynski got 2 yrs/$8M but he was already 35. Torrealba got 2 yrs/$6.3M at 33.

$24M/$25M might be a bit on the high-side. Figure they could possibly structure a deal like $5M or $6M in '13, then $8M in '14 and '15. Maybe 3 yrs/$21M instead?

Funny but the one attribute the last few years defensively that Schneider supposedly has been better at is framing pitches for called strikes.

Iceman - I used to always get in disagreements too when I lived in Boston about how great Varitek was defensively. It was laughable at times how Red Sox fans treated him like Johnny Bench behind the plate. He was an average defensive catcher at best who was poor in his later years.

Made his defensive rep because of his ability to work with pitchers. That and he was better defensively than Posada. Big deal.

Average arm at best which by the time he was in his mid-30s was a rag arm and wasn't the greatest at blocking pitches either. Hell, Varitek even had problems catching Wakefield or a guy like Lowe who tended to throw a ton of sinkers. Mirabelli made a nice living with the Red Sox for several years primarily because he could catch Wakefield.

Chooch is a good catcher & I am sure the pitchers/coaches will know 10x more than I do about what Chooch is like to work with personally. That said, I always have thought that a catcher's ability to call a game is vastly overrated. Numbers/analyses I have seen done on the subject too bear that out.

Bubbles (Mike Jackson's chimp) could have caught Pedro during his tenure in Boston and Pedro still would have been amazing especially at his prime in '99-'00.

3 years $21m is probably too much for Chooch's 35, 36 and 37 year old seasons. Keep in mind he's under contract already for this year, and the $5 mil option for next year. At that point, paying any kind of large money over a multiyear period to this guy is just silly.

Also don't think Pence stays longterm. I see all the Pence love dying down after he goes back to the guy he's always been, .800 OPS corner outfielder. It sincerely concerns me that Pence will be the featured player in your 2012 Phillies lineup, and Charlie has talked about not playing RFD everyday.

If the buck was filling in for Charlie on opening day, the lineup would look like:


bigbbigbuck - That 3 yr includes Chooch's option year in '13. Yeah I don't like the idea of paying him big dollars at age 35 and 36 either. 35 is probably a 50/50 crapshoot he gives the Phils' decent value and 36 he is almost certainly bound to under perform.

Pence is a guy I absolutely don't want to see the Phils locked-up long-term especially if it requires an AAV of $15M+ a year to do so.

Pence strikes me as a guy who isn't going to age particularly well once he loses some of his natural athletic ability that helps to compensate his poor stance/batting fundamentals and routes & awkwardness in the OF.

Pence is 29 in April and the Phils control him through next year. Strikes me a guy who will get 4-5 years in FA after next year at fairly large dollars, have a pretty good season at age 31-32 and provides pretty poor value in the backend of his deal in the last 2-3 years & has to either play just 1B/LF.

Chooch is the man that is all. I would pick up his option for 5 Mill after that im not sure. He had one mediocre to bad year in his career so far all the others have been decent. Does he have the best arm no. However, he has been pretty decent all around and the pitchers, players fan love him. My concern after next year how would he hold up. Since he basically will catch 85% of the games this year. The wear and tear on his body will be extreme. To all the Chooch haters kiss my Chooch. If he goes down then you will see how he will be missed with ol man Schneider as a back. up...Yikes!

A little out of left field, but my one big time hope for the Phillies going forward is that they aren't the team who makes the mistake of grossly overpaying for David Wright (either by trade at July 31/extension or getting him on the open market next year).

Just not the same player since getting beaned by Cain. And I never realized just how deplorable his defense at 3rd base is.

Stay away.

Geesh. Doesn't it feel like all of this money talk is hitting us like a ton of bricks?


And then you look at all of the money going to Papelbon...

Fat, I suspect that after yet another mediocre year this year, the book will be out on Wright. He was overrated to begin his career and has regressed considerably (though, he's still as good as many 3B options). I'm with you - I DEFINITELY don't want him in the years past what should be his prime. I think Rube knows this, though.

Cliff, that's part of the rationale behind letting Pence walk (or trading him to get something before he does).

Don't forget that there's also some $ coming off of the books, though, to offset SOME of that (Blanton, Schneider).

I'm of a firm mind that something has to be done to not be eating Polly's salary next season.

Does Polly have a salary for next year?

He's got a mutual option ($1M buyout), that the Phils certainly won't do their part in exercising. Though, I'm not aware of a succession plan as of yet...

I guess I don't understand what you mean by "something has to be done to not be eating Polly's salary next season."

Cliff -- At the signing of Papelbon, I went on a major rant, saying something to the effect that I'd toss the closer role at Bastardo at his current salary and pray for 15 saves, rather than toss $50mm at a long-time fastball pitcher who might just be at the threshold of losing his "giddy-up".

Just an opinion. Yet, RAJ always spins gold from straw. If we continue this run through the first half of Howard's contract (2014?) RAJ might be considered GM of the millennia.

Cliff -- At the signing of Papelbon, I went on a major rant, saying something to the effect that I'd toss the closer role at Bastardo at his current salary and pray for 15 saves, rather than toss $50mm at a long-time fastball pitcher who might just be at the threshold of losing his "giddy-up".

Just an opinion. Yet, RAJ always spins gold from straw. If we continue this run through the first half of Howard's contract (2014?) RAJ might be considered GM of the millennia.

Damn. Double post. I really thought I missed the "key in the character" test. JW -- board upgrade soon?

How about paying attention, and not scolding our fearless leader? :-)

Bob Brookover has a piece on how the Phillies front office doesn't use Sabermetrics to evaluates their players. While I think this is slightly foolhardy, Sabermetrics is not gospel, and it has not been (and may never be ) proven to be the absolute best way to judge players. That being said, this quote from Cholly cracks me up:

""When you're sitting there and a guy brings up sabermetrics, they don't know nothing about that guy, and that may be the biggest thing," Manuel said. "Sometimes a guy will look at you and say, 'Why did you play that guy, he's 1 for 16 against that guy with seven punch-outs?' But when I've watched that guy, he might be 1 for 16, but nine of those at-bats the guy hit about three or four balls hard."

If Cholly thinks that a SABR-nerd would use an argument based on our favorite fallacy -- the dreaded SMALL SAMPLE SIZE --, then he has very little idea of what Sabermetrics is.

Also, RAJ drops this quote at the end, about his dislike for the movie Moneyball:

"The thing that bothered me most is I think the fact of the matter was that Oakland had so much success because they had three of the best starting pitchers in the game."

He's right about the fact that Oakland was really so good because of their starting pitching, but what he fails to mention in his rant against Sabermetrics is that the three pitchers who propelled his club to 102 wins last year, Doc, Lee and Cole, are, simply put, the poster children for DIPs theory, and would be some of the strongest arguments in favor of Sabermetrics being used to evaluate pitchers.

Like I said, I don't have that big of a problem with RAJ and the FO claiming that they're not big fans of Sabermetrics, but when you ridicule or deride a topic, especially to a columnist, you should at least be aware of the fundamentals of the topic you are countering.

At the end of the day, Sabermetrics is really nothing more than trying to approach baseball with a scientific mind; that is to doubt our preconceptions, doubt our eyes, rid ourselves of confirmation bias, and let the facts speak for themselves. While some may doubt the veracity of the stats, this approach is almost beyond reproach (not only in baseball, but pretty much in all walks of life), and I'm confident that the tenets of Sabermetrics will eventually become the prevalent method of evaluating baseball (and other sports, as seems to be the case in football and basketball, nowadays).

Of course, in my above rant, I didn't consider that the Phils FO might have just been playing coy. And I came across this, which, quite frankly, b!tch slaps my last post into oblivion:

Chooch at 5 mill next deal is an absolute lock, unless he suffers a career-ending injury this season, or gets Buster Poseyed in the playoffs.

Chooch is the rare player who is overrated defensively and underrated offensively, which I think is part of what MG was saying. If so, I agree. Chooch is average to above defensively, very good at blocking pitches, but not particularly great with the running game. That said, he's a catcher with a .379 OBP and a 116 OPS+ over the last three seasons. Even adjusting some for the fact that the hits 8th (which is sort of absurd), there's an argument he's a top 5 offensive catcher in baseball, behind McCann, Mauer, Posey and Santana (arguments for Miguel Montero and Alex Avila and others can be made).

Anyway, Chooch is significantly underrated, and is easily worth 5 million next year.

The two wildcard teams can both be from the same division, right?

I saw that the wildcard winner can now play the division winner in the LDS.

I don't like the LDS format of 2-3 with the better team playing the first 2 games on the road, but I read it's only for this year and to eliminate travel days since the addition of a second WC team with a 1-game WC playoff has been approved after the schedule was set already. Next year, the format goes back to 2-2-1. Still, for the 2012 playoffs, it's a disadvantage for the teams with better records.

I was unclear above - The WC winner can now play the winner of their own division in the LDS, is what I meant to say. It could be Phils v. Braves or Marlins in the NLDS, in other words.

Fat - Bob Brookover's column wasn't that interesting. That doesn't surprise me. I almost need read a column him that is or that is particularly well-written.

What I did find interesting was that Cholly's response. Cholly isn't completely opposed to looking at numbers/analysis but doesn't really understand or necessary value that much. Instead Cholly relies upon his vast first-hand experience.

Doesn't surprise me though & it is why I think Cholly is isn't great at handling a pitching staff especially judging when a pitcher needs to be pulled.

Cholly relies largely upon what his eyes/experience are telling. Doesn't have first-hand experience as a player to recall on either as a former pitcher. Just something I don't think he has a good intrinsic feel for & relying solely upon his eyes/experience instead of numbers compounds the issue at times.

I was also surprised that Proefrock though came out and said, "I honestly can't tell you the last time WAR or VORP or any of those things were brought up in a conversation," assistant GM Scott Proefrock said. "We're aware of them, and we understand what they are. It's just not something we find relevant."

Not nearly as polished and competent an answer as what Amaro gave, "We do utilize some of the information," Amaro said during a recent workout at the Carpenter Complex. "There are times when I think maybe we should use it some more, but, frankly, I have a great deal of confidence in the people that we have hired to help us make some of the scouting and personnel decisions. I err on that side probably because I believe in our people.

I am sure the Phils subscribe to the various databases that STATS Inc. offers to MLB clubs. What I am more curious is to see if they subscribe to the Sportsvision data services especially around Field f/x analysis.

Read more:

I do wished Brookover had asked how the Phils use video though and especially Cholly. I would imagine that Cholly is a fairly big proponent of it given that he strikes me as a visual-oriented learner who likes to see things first hand and values see them several times.

Could have been a much better piece from Brookover. Instead it is the typical deadline turd article you often see early in spring training when a writer has to meet a deadline & there really isn't much to report on yet.

SABR Analytics Conference

Now this looks like an awesome conference compared to the MIT Sports Analytics Conference this past week which is really heavy on the basketball/business-related issues and not much on baseball.

If I wasn't so busy at work and it was closer than Phoenix, I would love to go.

This isn't just baseball or saber-nerds either. You have several current GMs/coaches at panel sessions. If I were running the Phils, I would pony up the $1500 and send somebody out there just to see if there was anything interesting of note.

Two panels I would love to hear personally are:

11:00-11:45 a.m.: RP6—Patrick Kilgo, et. al, “Bridging the Gap Between Sabermetrics and Formal Statistical Inference: Toward a Unified Approach to Baseball Research”

8:45-10:00 a.m.: Scouting and Analytics Panel
Speakers: Joe Bohringer, Chicago Cubs; A.J. Hinch, San Diego Padres; and Corrine Vitolo, SmartKage. Moderator: Dan Migala, PCG.

"Bob Brookover has a piece on how the Phillies front office doesn't use Sabermetrics to evaluates their players."

Fatti, be honest, that's not entirely what the article says.

It says they don't use "advanced" stats like WAR, etc., not that they don't use some basic statistical analysis.

I see Jack and others on the board deriding Chooch a bit for being "not particularly great at the running game".

To be fair, doesn't the pitcher have something to do with helphing control the running game?

If Lidge is throwing then well John Kruk could steal a base while eating Ribs and Benito behind the plate.

Fatalotti - I'd like to get teh two minutes back I wasted following that crashburn alley link. I'm not sure why you accept the author's premise. I don't.

Awh: Of course any individual pitcher affects the running game. But catchers catch the entire staff, including pitchers who are good at holding runners and pitchers who aren't. It all sort of evens out over a season, you know?

If you want to say that Ruiz being 12th out of 15 qualified catchers with a 23 percent caught stealing rate last year was a factor of a Phillies pitching staff that is composed entirely of pitchers who can't hold runners, then nothing I say can disabuse you of that notion.

But it strikes me that the rational inference to draw is that Ruiz, who is a very good baseball player, simply isn't that good at throwing out base stealers.

Yo, new thread

Ruiz is probably the one everyday player on the Phillies about whom I am least likely to say anything negative. But his throwing arm is pretty average, if not slightly below average. Working with guys like Lidge and Hamels, who don't know how to hold runners on base, has certainly not helped his numbers. But Ruiz has been at this a long time, and has worked with numerous different pitchers, and yet his CS% has remained in the 20% range over the years. I'm not sure what the average is, but I would guess it's probably in the mid to high 20s. By point of reference, Brian Schneider's career CS% is 36% & Yadier Molina's is 44%. Mike Piazza, whose throwing arm was a constant source of derision from Phillies fans, had a career CS% of 23% -- only 3 points lower than Chooch's.

Ruiz does, however, make up for this shortcoming by being absolutely fantastic at blocking pitches, blocking the plate, and fielding balls in play.

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