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Friday, July 06, 2012


I'm glad Howard is back. I hope his lower body is stable... and we can make baseball fun again...

because its not fun right now...

not fun...

But, his contract and RBIs are meaningless!

Welcome Back, Howard!

Well, considering Halladay's injury was not just the missed time, but also the poor performance for the first two months, I'm going to go ahead and respectfully disagree, as I think 3 months worth of good Roy Halladay is worth more than 3 months of Ryan Howard.

But point taken. The bad ABs from Mayberry and Wigginton at 1B have made Howard look quite good.

Of course, as many have pointed out, the offense surprisingly hasn't been the problem this season. They've actually been better than last year, despite no Howard and Utley.

From today's Inquirer: "We plan on being contenders in '13, '14, '15 and '16," the general manager said.

That makes me laugh. I know he has to say it, but there is little chance of this team competing in 2014, 2015 and 2016. They are more likely to be the worst team in the league those seasons than the best.

KK, Blanton & Worley v. Hudson, Hanson, Jurrjens

Yet, the Phils are -105 to win the series? Puzzling.

I think the lion;s share of the blame for the Phillies record is on the pitching staff and, Halladay;s injury is one of several that have contributed to it. However, I tend to agree that, on a day to day basis, Howard;s injury and absence has had the most individual impact. Staring at the roster before the season, the giant hole in the middle of the lineup was glaring and has remained so. They've been fortunate that Ruiz has had such a fantastic season as the offense, as a whole, has been surprisingly adequate to win games the way they planned to win - by holding hte other team to 3 runs or less 5 times a week, instead of once every four games.

While not minimizing Howard's skills, if losing one guy castrates your offense that badly, I'd argue any competent opponent will Barry Bonds him. e.g. never see a fastball ever...

Interesting points. He's been really missed for sure. Not to diss Howard, but I'll only add that Cliff Lee and Doc have both been quoted when discussing the absence of players with injuries, as saying Utley was the heart and soul of the team.

Harping again on last night a bit. No doubt, there are a number of great candidates for toughest loss. It's sort of like trying to evaluate the worst meals you've ever been served - it's in the eye of the beholder.

For some reason last night's stung a bit more than a couple of the others. A week ago Chase came back and homered in his first game. Doc and Ryan are due back any day. Cliff just got a win, looked like Cliff Lee in the process, and got a little run support. Doc drenched Lee with Gatorade and players were actually smiling in the dugout. There were a couple of good quotes by Doc and Papelbon about not giving up on the season. All star breal coming, time to maybe turn the corner. I thought in spite of how bad things had been going, things were looking up.

Then last night was yet another variation of how to find another way to lose a pretty big game. Ugh.

Like I said, though, as long as the players haven't given up and are still fighting, I'm pulling for them all.

Well, the logical side of me knows that this season is a lost cause. However, the emotional side of me spent WAY too much time in the winter months counting down the days until pitchers and catchers to simply give up on Phillies baseball for the year. If nothing else, we're getting the band back together (with Doc and even Nix coming back at some point soon), at which point the injury excuse is out the window and we can really see what we have to work with going forward.

If nothing else, last night's game was competitive and fun to watch, which is really all I can ask for. If you have to watch an underperforming team, it might as well be one that makes their underperformance entertaining. Judging by the comment count on last night's game thread, that's precisely what happened.

As much as I hope and pray they're not rushing Howard back for secondary reasons, I really do want to see him play well, and see what pieces this team has to build on for next year (yeah, I know they'll still be yet another year older). There is some hope for this core group of guys and I'm still holding out hope that Hamels is around, or at least "back" next season.

I might be sadistic, but in my mind we're still just halfway through this season and I'll likely watch the remaining 78 games (and feel comfortable that there's no more after that) and cheer for the team, while at the same time taking playful jabs on BL. Though, I can't promise that the Olympics might not distract me for a couple of weeks, but other than that, what are my options, Big Brother and reruns of The Office?

To the contrary, your claim is quite scientific! Your theory implies a falsifiable prediction: now that Howard is back, the Phils should start winning like it's 2011.

I hope you're right, but I can't quite shake my doubts. The Phils' 97 wRC+ and 4.3 R/G this year are nearly identical to their 96 wRC+ and 4.4 R/G last year. It seems that our struggles this year have more to do with our pitching than our hitting.

"but there is little chance of this team competing in 2014, 2015 and 2016. They are more likely to be the worst team in the league those seasons than the best."

Gotta laugh at BL sometimes.

I don't agree that the Phils miss Howard more than Halladay. But they definitely missed him more than Utley. He is more important to this lineup than Jack and many others give him credit for. For that reason, I'm happy he's back.

*Sidenote: I wish they had shut him down for the season, and if he re-injures himself, it is grounds for Rube's firing.

I agree with a lot of whats written, but I disagree with the ultimate conclusion.

I think the way this team went on a unstoppable skid once Halladay went out is a clear sign that Doc truly is the one missed the most.

Jack: I think your post is foolish about this teams ability to contend in '14,'15,'16.

For every guy who flames out, contract expires - the Phils will be there to buy a new replacement.

Regarding the Prospect Rankings, one thing is clear. A team that doesn't have anyone in the top 50 (though, to be fair, that is a predominantly subjective compilation) may or may not have a bright future. But, largely, that is where it is increasingly important to have sound management and good decision making, especially when you factor in the current roster.

For instance, I haven't looked, but I feel reasonably comfortable assuming that of the 5 teams with no Top 50 prospects, the Phillies probably have the highest average age of their current big league roster. Basically, this means that it is up to Rube to put the team in a good position to win in those years of 2014, 2015, etc., that he's promising, via FA signings and trades (though trades become increasingly difficult with a diminished farm system as well).

Recent history has shown that this probably is not his strong suit, as he has a reputation for overpaying and giving too many years. I'm not especially hopeful that he can right the ship, but it's not totally out of the realm of possibility.

Iorecore and Bed's Beard: Ok, if you guys say so.

I stated my opinion on the matter, and you guys have yours. Agree to disagree.

If you're distraught about the state of our minor league system, take heart: a month from now, it should look better.

BAP: True. I look forward to "restocking the cupboard" like we did with the Lee trade.

Jack - My question is what about '17 and '18 ! I want to know about that!

I think now that we're into July, there should be a BL "What will the Phillies do with Hamels?" Poll (unless there already was one and I missed it).

A) Trade him, make no offer in Free Agency
B) Trade him with the intent on signing him in Free Agency
C) Don't trade him, fail to re-sign him
D) Don't trade him, re-sign him in Free Agency (or before)

Today's starting pitcher for the GCL Phillies is one "Manaure Martinez." If he could somehow find his way onto the Phillies' 2012 roster, he would be the first player in major league history whose name constitutes a perfect description of the team he plays for.

Re: Iceman's Poll,

At this stage (today) I'd say B is the closest alternative. Trade him to salvage something, but keep at least the option open to make an offer.

We could then have another poll over whether the free agency strategy in the final analysis will be

(a) decide not to make an offer after all

(b) make a face saving offer but not one high enough to do the job

(c) go for the gusto and sign Cole back up

BAP: is that Mini-Mart's younger, less-talented brother?

less talented? c'mon now.

steve: I was thinking it must be his identical twin.

of course i wanted to win in 2012, but I am pretty excited about trading Hamels for some new blood, and not even in sarcastic way but legit enthusiasm going into the deadline.

Vic should return something of interest, and even Wigginton and Polanco should be on the block just because.

Thanks JW.

Also, in the midseason BA top 50 Prospect list, Profar is #2 behind Dylan Bundy and Olt is #11.

Decent sized jumps for both of them. Profar might be off limits at this point and Olt may come without much else.

The Phil's lack of top 50 prospects isn't an indictment of the trades they made giving up prospects, but rather an indictment of their ability to re-stock the system with prospects.

Yes, when you trade away your prospects and give up draft picks to sign FAs it hurts your system...that's when you identify other ways to bolster the system, like signing international FAs. The fact that they have started to invest more in this area is a good sign, albeit a couple years too late. There's no reason a team with the financial resources the Phil's have should be in the bottom tier of teams when it comes to spending in the draft and international market.

I vote (A) in the Iceman Poll.

Only have to win 13 in a row and we're right back in it!

If the Phils decide to sell Hamels, I'd rather get an Olt-level prospect at a position of serious need like 3B and not much else than get several B-/C+ prospects.

steve: I was thinking it must be his identical twin.

Maybe it is MiniMart himself in disguise. Remember he is versitile!

Always been a huge fan for huge power hitters and Howard has been my favorite Phils' player the past decade. Glad to see him finally back.

Hope this hasn't been rushed though.

"Hope this hasn't been rushed though."

With an injury that typically takes 12 months to heal (before you account for the subsequent wound infection), when the time table even a week ago was whether or not he'd be back for the series in L.A. in two weeks?


Preacher: Plus the additional year many athletes who have suffered an Achilles tear claim is required from the time they're technically healed to the time they feel "normal" again.

Nope. No rush at all. But hey, if the Phillies weren't so darn competitive they wouldn't need to risk Howard's career to help put 'em over the top.

Wait, what?

Player the Phils have missed the most (especially with their crappy middle relief) has been the Halladay from '10-'11. It's not even close.

KK has largely been a disaster as a starter so far not working deep into games and not pitching well.

Before Halladay went on to the shelf, he simply wasn't the same caliber-starter either.

Phils went 4-7 in Halladay's first 11 starts this year. Phils are 4-8 in the 12 starts KK has had this year & 3-4 since Halladay went on the shelf. Overall, the Phils' record was 7-11 in those starts.

Wasn't expecting the Phils to duplicate their record during Halladay's starts like they did in '10 & '11 but I was expecting them to be over .500.

Say if the Phils were 11-7 in Halladay's starts instead, they would be 41-43. Still be 9 GB in the NL East and generally out of reach but only 4.5 GB in the WC.

Missed Howard but they have missed Halladay from '10-'11 a hell a lot more.

"If the Phils decide to sell Hamels, I'd rather get an Olt-level prospect at a position of serious need like 3B and not much else than get several B-/C+ prospects."

Interesting concept, but history suggests that Rube and the boys will have identified some kid in A ball that can throw it 100+ mph (when healthy), and another one who was a sprint champ (when healthy), and demand them in return rather than someone with actual baseball skills.

Is there a big re-injury risk with Howard coming back? Is there more of a re-injury risk with him "rehabbing" in Philadelphia rather than Lehigh Valley?

I don't know enough to answer those questions, but in a season where there hasn't been a whole lot to root for, I'm excited to have Howard back.

Hamels is gone either via trade or FA. Phils' payroll will be at $153M next year to 15 players if they resign him to a deal that pays him even just $20M next year. He's gone yet we keep having this ridiculous discussion.

Only way to keep him would have been to move a big additional salary for next year.

The Howard call-up only means what we all already know. There is no difference between the Phillies and our AAA team.

MG- sorry we keep bothering you with petty questions like "Can/will they sign Hamels?" Didn't know the future had already played out in your bizarre alternate universe.

I tend to agree with MG that Hamels is gone. Players at the top of the market rarely re-sign with their teams--both sides have an incentive to get a deal done earlier if they're going to get it done. When it gets to the open market, it's usually because there isn't a deal to be had at all.

It might not be 100%, but I think it's pretty high. I don't think Hamels will be in red pinstripes next year.

Yeah, I have to disagree. No offense to Howard, but over the last two years, Halladay has not only been the best pitcher in baseball, but arguably the best player in baseball. Losing him the entire season so far (since he was pitching hurt early on) has killed the Phillies. Halladay's injury has also actually had a domino effect, as it has caused bullpen pitchers to pitch a lot more innings, it has caused Manuel to try to stretch out his other starters when it might have been reasonable to take them out of a game. Losing your best player is never a good thing, especially one has important as Doc.

The argument that Howard's absence in the lineup has had a domino effect just doesn't seem to hold water unless your only evidence is Shane Victorino. Victorino's struggles, more than anything, are because he just can't hit from the left side of the plate. Pence's OPS+ is actually above his career average, Jimmy's right where we'd expect him to be, Pierre is well outperforming my expectations, Polly is continuing his descent into offensive obscurity that he started when he came here, Ruiz is arguably the best offensive player in the NL (Votto is, but there is an argument), Wigginton is exactly who we thought he was, and Mayberry has just been figured out. I don't see how Howard's absence has hurt the lineup beyond just the impact of the actual hits he'd have, and the fact that his AB have been taken over by scrub players. I don't see any players under-performing because Howard's not there.

That all being said, if he's truly healthy, it's good to see the big man back, and I hope he hits one into the 3rd level tonight. I may actually watch this game, so it'd be nice to see something that impresses me.

I like Hamels a lot, and I would love to see him remain a Phillie, but if the Dodgers offer him 7-8 years at $160 M, I won't feel the least bit upset that the Phillies didn't try to outdo that.

To claim Halladays injury is worse for us than Howard's is laughable. Doc affects the outcome of a game once every five games. Howard could impact each and every game. How's that add up fools?

If the Phillies value Hamels at $X and they don't have enough money to give him that $X - then the franchise should be embarrassed and part ways with all responsible.

I think the real issue is that the Phillies only value Hamels at $Y, and thats simply not good enough for Cole so he will go get $X from someone else.

I think that case is stupid as well, but thats my opinion and don't know what Cole actually wants comapred to what they are offering, so I can't really say what party is the reason this isn't get done.

Hamels won't get that high (especially with Greinke on the market as a secondary option for teams).

My guess is Hamels signs for 6/135, max.

"To claim Halladays injury is worse for us than Howard's is laughable. Doc affects the outcome of a game once every five games. Howard could impact each and every game. How's that add up fools?"

In all due respect, that is one of the dumbest lines of logic I've ever read.

tom: Every 5 games, Doc directly affects on average around ~30 plate appearences. Every 5 games, Howard affects about ~20 plate appearences.

Somebody print Tom's Moronocracy membership card immediately.

Mini-Mart affected the every game when he was starting for us, while Hamels pitched only 1 our of 5 games.

Ergo, Mini-Mart is better than Hamels.

To claim Halladays injury is worse for us than Howard's is laughable. Doc affects the outcome of a game once every five games. Howard could impact each and every game. How's that add up fools?

Posted by: Tom | Friday, July 06, 2012 at 02:04 PM

Really, this is your argument? I'm sure that Doc pitching a CGSO, allowing the bullpen to have a day off has NO affect on the outcome of the next game or two. And of course, a positional player is just as important to each game in which he plays as a starting pitcher is to each game he pitches.

Tom, your best bet is just to change your handle and start over. Put this embarrassment behind you.


you guys have the same argument every day. what's up with that?

i'd rather see utley-ruiz-howard but we all know charlie won't do that.

I've got a bad feeling Ruiz gets bumped down in the lineup. He's not hitting Pence lower than fifth. Guaranteed.


And I wouldn't be surprised if he moved Ruiz below Vic, also, although I don't think he will.

Iceman is likely correct. I'd be shocked if Ruiz was allowed to hit in the middle of the lineup with Howard back in.

It would just be too crazy to keep your best hitter up there.


There's your lineup.

Whenever it comes down to "maximize our chances to win" or "the way I did it back in 2008," that's a no brainer for Cholly.

Best lineup would be:


Tom's just stating an opinion. No reason to be so critical of him. If it were the Howard of say '06-'09, I would agree but not the Howard of '10-'11. Simply hasn't been the same caliber-offensive player.

Saber-stuff aside, just look at the raw totals especially HR/ABs. Notably done. Last two years, HR every 17.3 ABs. From '06-'09, HR every 11.8 ABs. Went from a historically great power hitter to just a very good power hitter.

Howard is never going to be a 40+ HRs guy again especially after the Achilles' Heel injury. I don't expect him to hit for much power this year either as he is recovering. Probably won't have a really good idea of what kind of power hitter going ahead forward until this time next year.

My bet is that he is going to be more a 30-HR max type hitter now due to several factors (age, lingering affects of the Achilles injury on his plant foot, teams refusing to give him fastballs & throwing a LH pitcher against him every chance they get).

Yeah Jack, that'd be the best. I honestly think Manuel will keep Ruiz up in the lineup, and so I was going on what I though the lineup would be, but yours is a great one.

curt: word.


is unfortunately how I see it

"But losing Howard, who has been nothing short of an offensive ironman his entire career, carries an everyday impact they don't have with any other player."

Does read like JW's talking about players in the lineup each day.

Jack I agree that you have the best lineup but I think I have the Manuel-est lineup

MG: So you're predicting that we are paying $25 million a year to a 30-HR hitting, low BA, mediocre OBP, bad fielding 1B?

And people say that I'm negative towards Howard.

MG, two things:

1. When Tom ends his comment with, "How's that add up fools?", he's inviting criticism for his vastly vapid remark, and he deserved every bit of it.

2. Howard was a special power hitter in the prime of his career, of this there is little doubt, but even back then, he still lacked in terms of defense and baserunning. I'd still have a hard arguing that the Howard of '06-'09 was more important to those clubs than Halladay was to the Phillies the last couple years.

I don't think it's coincidental that pre-Halladay, with a far superior offense, this was a 92-93 win team, then he came here, and we won 97, and they added Lee and we won 102. I think "best-of-the-best" pitching is always going to be more valuable than "best-of-the-best" hitting.

It will be Utley - 3, Howard - 4. Cholly has said as much a couple of times this season already when they get back.

I am curious to see who hits out of the 2-hole though. As for JRoll, he has quietly done a nice job out of the leadoff spot this year so far:

.275/.336/.462 (.797 OPS) with 8 HRs and 28 RBIs along with 10 SBs/3 CS & 40 runs in 287 PAs in 61 GS

Been more like the JRoll of old there with a moderate OBP but some decent power numbers and overall production.

Jack - Yeah it is going to be a bad contract going ahead forward and it is too bad the Phils couldn't DH Howard at some point down the road in the next year or so on a semi-regular basis.

Don't look now, but Rollins has been the 3rd most valuable SS in the NL this year by WAR.

The Phillies have a lot of bad contracts, but Rollins isn't one of them.

MG: Raises to Hamels, Pence, Lee, Papelbon, Ruiz, and Kendrick are easily covered by losing Blanton, Victorino, Polanco, Wigginton, and Contreras.

I don't think they're going to re-sign Hamels either, but not because they can't afford it, but for the reason Jack points out: that if both sides wanted him back at a mutually agreed price, it probably would have been done already.

I hate payroll analysis in the form of "X players signed for Y million" because it typically understates the payroll flexibility by ignoring the fact that 10 or so spots can and will be filled for around $10 million total.

Zolecki: 1B Ryan Howard has been activated from the 15-day DL. INF Hector Luna was optioned to Lehigh Valley (AAA).

Halladay has made 11 starts this year, pitched 72.1 innings, and is 4-5 with a 3.98 ERA. The Phillies are 4-7 in his starts. Granted, in 6 of those 7 losses, we didn't hit: 3 games with 1 run scored; 2 games with 2 runs scored; 1 game with 3 runs scored. In the other loss, we scored 13 runs.

Since the beginning of June, when KK took over Halladay's spot in the rotation, he has made 6 starts, pitched 32.1 innings (barely 5 per start), and gone 1-4 with a 6.96 ERA. The Phillies have gone 2-4 in his 6 starts. In the 4 losses, they've scored 2, 4, 5, and 7 runs.

The combined damage is: 17 starts, 104.2 IP, a 5-9 record, a 4.90 ERA, and a 6-11 team record in those starts. Compare that to what happened in Halladay's first 17 starts last year: 127.1 IP, a 10-3 record, a 2.40 ERA, and a 14-3 team record.

With a healthy Roy Halladay, there's a good chance we go 4-0 in those 4 games where we scored 4+ runs. There's also a good chance we win a couple of those games where we scored only 1 to 3 runs. And that doesn't even take into consideration the absolutely massive trickle-down benefit of getting 23 extra innings out of your starter over a 17-game span, or the lesser, but not insignificant, benefit of having Kendrick in the bullpen instead of, say, Savery. If 2011 Halladay were here, there would have been no "bullpen game" against Pittsburgh. It would have been a Kyle Kendrick game and, while Kendrick is no great shakes, I'm gonna go out on a limb & say that, in a game where we scored 7 runs, it's more likely than not that we would have won if Kendrick had started instead of Valdes.

We might well have 6 or 7 more wins with a healthy Halladay in our rotation since Day 1. With a healthy Ryan Howard, instead of Wigginton/Nix/Mayberry, we might have 3 or 4 more wins.

I want at least 8 yrs/$182M + vesting option.

Question: When Mini-mart was starting everyday, I'd argue that his level of suckitude had a greater impact on the lineup everyday to the negative than Howard will to the positive thereby disproving JW's hypothesis on everyday impact.

that post turned into an assertion midway through so it is no longer a question. . . . my bad.

Jbird, this is precisely why I claimed that Mini-Mart would be in the MVP discussion merely due to the fact of his leaving the major league club. His absence on a team is of greater value than any one player's presence.

"When Tom ends his comment with, "How's that add up fools?", he's inviting criticism for his vastly vapid remark, and he deserved every bit of it."

That was precisely my thought. I was fully prepared to address Tom's comment without any invective. But he invited invective by, not only making a completely stupid post, but punctuating it by insulting everyone else who posts.

I assumed by his verbiage that "Tom" was actually Mr. T &, not wishing to provoke his wrath, allowed the post to pass unremarked upon.

And, in fairness, here are the relevant numbers for Howard's absence:

Numbers of Phillies 1st basemen in 2012: .258/.319/.414/.733, with 12 HRs and 43 RBIs;

Ryan Howard's 1st half numbers from 2011: .257/.353/.475/.828, with 18 homers and 72 RBIs.

No doubt his loss has had a big impact -- especially because he consistently puts up good numbers with runners on base, whereas Pence has been dismal in that situation. But as big an impact as Halladay's absence? I don't think so.

With Howard and Utley back, Rollins hitting well from the leadoff spot and Ruiz in BeastMode - our lineups look so filthy.

I'm excited for 2013.

With Martinez: 8-9
Since optioning Martinez: 1-7

re: 2013 And a stud 3B prospect in their to replace Polly as well.

DH Phils: You realize that, in all seriousness, Phlipper tried to use an argument like that to claim Galvis was the MVP of the team?

I await Phlipper's declaration that Mini-Mart is the runner-up for team MVP.

MG, I know you said "saber-stuff aside", but Howard's OPS+ has been been pretty steady since 2007:

144, 125, 141, 127, 126

"I await Phlipper"

I dont.

We can talk alternatives all we want, but Phillies reality strongly suggests the club will pick up Polanco's option, & call Martinez up to play 3B when he gets injured.

I will never put aside my saber. It's the only thing protecting this village.

lorecore wins the thread.

DH Phils: you make a compelling point. Maybe Utley is the problem. That 138 OPS+ out of the 2b spot is making everyone else on the team "let up" a little. When it was Mini-Mart starting everyday, everyone know they had to be on their A-game. Utley's extra .511 points in OPS have lulled the rest of the team into a tepid malaise.

You can't quantify the leadership skills that Mini-Mart brought to the table.

Utley's extra .511 points in OPS have lulled the rest of the team into a tepid malaise.

Posted by: Jbird | Friday, July 06, 2012 at 02:51 PM


Nor can one assign a letter grade to Martinez's skill set, what w/ the alphabet ending at a far-too-generous "Z".

I know it's going to happen, but I'm still going to be immensely upset when the Phillies pick up Polanco's option for next season.

It will be even worse when Amaro gives a corresponding interview in the paper talking about how the Phillies "want to get younger" this offseason.

Fatalotti: pretty selfish of him. St. Utz, my foot.

G-Town: You can give a letter grade to Mini-Mart; you just can't do it in English. The Cambodian alphabet, however, has 74 letters.

Why restrict ourselves to letter. Hieroglyphics is meant to display messages in pictures. I'm sure we could come up with a hieroglyphic to accurately assess Mini-Mart. I'm also pretty sure this hieroglyph would not be allowed to be shown in public or around otherwise easily offended company.

@magelb: Tomorrow Never Knows: Rollins 6, Victorino 8, Utley 4, Howard 3, Ruiz 2, Pence 9, Pierre 7, Fontenot 5, Kendrick 1

kinda like this line up

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