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Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Just don't put much stock in a hitting coach helping established veteran hitters like Howard or JRoll one way or another.

At best, you hope that he might help a guy like Brown or Ruf a bit.

Hopefully, he helps keep some of the hitters loose. Howard can fall into such horrible slumps where you can see he's just searching.

JW - Maybe but Howard just has been prone to those funks the last few years.

Can't see how Henderson is going to improve Howard's pitch recognition ability or opposing teams not throwing him a fastball unless they generally have to.

I just hope Howard is healthy enough to get back to a .250/.340/.480 next year with 30-35 HRs in a full year without being the total liability he was last year defensively or on the basepaths.

Howard is one guy too that the fans here actually did give a fair amount of slack too. He got booed a bit at some of the games I went to late in the season but nothing that bad.

If he shows up to camp out of shape a bit (always a possibility with an inability to train due to that broken toe right now and his wedding & honeymoon in Dec) and struggles in April as he has done in previous years, my bet is he hears a ton of boo birds. Won't get the pass he did this year from fans who actually gave him a bit of a break due to the injury issue.

Should hope be renewed for MiniMart?

If you can't relax with a Dubee, you'll never relax with a Henderson.

The Phils have had four particularly undisciplined hitters over recent years. Two of them, Victorino and Pence, are now gone, so half the problem is solved. But Howard and Rollins remain. Trying to teach Rollins to be more selective at the plate is a classic case of teaching an old horse new tricks. Hats off to Henderson if he can help Rollins to avoid swinging at bad pitches and to take a few walks. Howard is the big problem. Over the years, he has shown zero ability to lay off sucker pitches. His batting average is descending in the direction of MiniMart territory. He should be Henderson's number one priority. The other obvious problem is overswinging. I suggest that the new hitting coach make Howard watch videos of Miguel Cabrera.

Follow up on lorecore's UZR statement from last thread: "I liked the point that someone posted earlier about UZR/fielding metrics being subject to small sample size because a player might get 500 balls hit to them, but ~450 of them have a close to 100% predetermined outcome regardless of the players defensive ability."

This is especially true for outfielders, who have fewer chances than infielders and fewer tough chances.

Jack was asking about Dexter Fowler, who has terrible UZR. Every scouting report I've ever seen on Fowler says he's got above average range and is an above average fielder. Are the scouts all wrong? Is his UZR the product of an incompetent UZR statistician? Does Coors Field distort UZR? Is it impacted by the players who played alongside him?

@mg -- that's the key... getting Mayberry/Brown/Ruf/Galvis to buy the new "hitting philosphy" could be enough to fill in the production gaps that the declining veterans have.

re: howard. I'm not as particularly concerned with the way Howard can be pitched to. If he's patient he should be fine. Its finally when he gets the pitches he should destroy he wasn't able to do that consistently because he was so out of sync.

It wasn't the flailing at pitching out of the zones. He's going to strike out. It was when he got strikes to hit, he didn't do much with them. Which caused more inpatience.

Jonathan Singleton co-Player of the Week in AFL. Posted a 1.037 OPS in 6 games, 2 homers, 7 hits.

So there's money in the coaching budget for 2 hitting coaches, but the team couldn't scrape together a few extra bucks to keep Davey Lopes in the fold?

I wonder if Mick Billmyer moving from the bullpen to the dugout helps, too? He is supposed to be a master pitch identifier and might help the hitters look for pitchers tipping pitches.

Yeah but had we kept Singleton, we wouldn't have Nate Schierholtz now.

So there's that.

"Some agents and general managers believe free agent starter Kyle Lohse could command a deal in the $60-75MM range," Olney reports.

Of all the trades Amaro made, Singleton is going to be the one guy we'll miss. D'Arnaud has been consistently ranked higher, but we have a top notch catcher in Ruiz and 2 somewhat promising players in the upper minors who may not be D'Arnaud, but one should pan out to be a serviceable starter (I think Joseph). Our system has no other hitters like Singleton (unless Ruf maintains that .900+ OPS long term).

***"Some agents and general managers believe free agent starter Kyle Lohse could command a deal in the $60-75MM range,"***

Yeah, its totally reasonable to reward him for a career year at Age 33. I mean, pitchers only improve as they enter their mid-30s, right?

I really wanted Lohse back after the '07 season. I thought he would get 2 yr/$16M with an option.

Wound up getting 3 yr/$30M from the Cards. Signed Eaton instead at 3 yr/$24M.

I wonder which number has more predictive value going forward for Kyle Lohse?

1. Career 97 ERA+

2. 2012 season 134 ERA+

In other words, Kyle Lohse's agent (Scott Boras) wants people to think that Kyle Lohse should sign a deal in the $60-75m range and he has a 4 inch binder with chapters comparing Lohse to Walter Johnson & Pedro Martinez to prove it

"i liked the point that someone posted earlier about UZR/fielding metrics being subject to small sample size because a player might get 500 balls hit to them, but ~450 of them have a close to 100% predetermined outcome regardless of the players defensive ability.

That might actually be the best point I've ever read about the problems with defensive metrics. These metrics are basically purporting to measure defensive skill based on the relatively tiny number of difficult plays that wouldn't be automatically caught by every major league player. Which explains why there is often so much variation in the stat from year to year. Vic might catch a particular ball 500 times out of 1,000, whereas Bryce Harper only catches it 300 times out of 1,000. But if that particular catch only comes up 20 times in a season, Harper could easily come away with the better defensive stats.

i was completely wrong. Lohse only got a 1 yr/$4.25m deal and got paid after a solid '08 season (4 yr/$41M)

We got Eaton before 2007. After the season, they told him to go home.

What Ryan Howard needs to do is stand w/in 5' or so of the plate. His coverage is awful because his positioning is awful.

clout: While at the doctor's office a couple weeks ago, I was reading an article about defensive shifts from a June edition of SI. At the time of the article, the Rays had already employed like 700 defensive shifts in the 2012 season -- far more than any other team. They also had, at the time, the best defensive stats in baseball. I believe they finished the year in the middle of the pack in UZR, but the article still got me to thinking about yet another factor which impacts those UZR stats.

MG: "I really wanted Lohse back after the '07 season. I thought he would get 2 yr/$16M with an option.

Wound up getting 3 yr/$30M from the Cards. Signed Eaton instead at 3 yr/$24M."

Yah, what a freakin' idiot that Ruben Amaro is. He's not worthy to shine Pat Gillick's shoes....oh, wait.

BAP: Good example.

Call it lack of patience or bad pitch recognition but Ryan Howard just doesn't walk enough. His totals are much lower than the first few years of his career. The league figured out how to pitch to him as they always do. It's up to the hitter to make the adjustments. He hasn't done that. He's still dangerous as hell but he mostly crushes mistakes only. He often swings at pitches that are so bad that one can only conclude he was determined to swing at the next pitch no matter what it is. He has become an extreme guess hitter in my opinion. That's a terrible way to hit. Can he shake that? I don't know, but if Henderson/Joyner can cure him of it they should get the Nobel (Big)Piece Prize.

I doubt if Henderson will have that much impact on Rollins or Howard (maybe Howard; he seems a bit more receptive of instruction than Rollins), but if he can get Jimmy to cut his pop-ups by half - I consider that progress.

JW - Huge oversight. Go back to non multi-tasking.

BAP: I also vaguely remember seeing something on Fangraphs once that explained how, when an outfielder makes a catch out of his zone, it actually makes his UZR worse.

So there's money in the coaching budget for 2 hitting coaches, but the team couldn't scrape together a few extra bucks to keep Davey Lopes in the fold?

Posted by: jbird | Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 03:34 PM

I was wondering how long it would take for someone to post that. It still sticks in my craw that Davey Lopes is no longer here. I think most coaches impact is greatly over-rated. But Lopes was extremely valuable. The Phillies made a lot of hay on the basepaths during his tenure. It's great to steal a lot of bases. It's fabulous to almost never get caught. While we're at it, I find it amusing to think that any team would need two hitting coaches. There just aren't that many jocks to pick up in a major league clubhouse.

Speaking of coaches, does anybody have any insight as to how much these guys make. I figure a top pitching coach probably makes decent cake, but really how much did Juan Samuel get paid to be a human windmill last year? $300,000 or so?

The real test of WAR is if the replacement level baseline and the coefficients are locked in before a season, and then the season WAR totals for each team are checked against their actual win/loss that year (or Pythagorean, I guess it would have to be). I assume that actually happens, but a cursory Googling didn't reveal it.

Henderson might be the ticket. If he gets a little help, all the better. It's also a statement by the FO that they're investing money and attention into that part of the game.

Human Windmill sounds like a great BL handle.

I'm thinking more than a few posters here ought to consider adopting the handle "WAR Machine".

Regarding the thread topic, I must admit, I am incredibly skeptical that a hitting coach (ANY hitting coach) has the ability to teach selectivity/pitch recognition. Nonetheless, I am heartened to see the Phillies -- for the first time since I can remember -- actually hire a hitting coach who didn't play for the Phillies. It's not that playing for the Phillies should disqualify a person from being a hitting coach. It's just that it shouldn't be a prerequisite, and the Phillies have been seemingly treating it as a prerequisite for as long as I can remember. It doesn't inspire much confidence that the organization is committed to hiring the best guys available. Hence, Henderson's hiring is a nice departure. Whether he can make a meaningful difference remains to be seen.

speaking of Tickets...

Variable Pricing is here... as @mg had been trumpeting/predicting for a while... it has finally arrived in Philly:

According to the letter overall prices won't change for season ticket holders compared to last year. I did the math for Sunday's with 11 Red 25, 1 Blue 29 1 Gray 21 1 On Deck 15 (i'm guessing)... the Math works out.

But for individual games they will work out.

I'm guessing we'll see price increases in 2014 for season tickets unless we have another season like last year...

but if you pick and choose the games you want to go to... your will see increases like both Boston home games are BLUE.

Its interesting that the September Nationals games 2 are Gray (the cheaper games).... My guess is that they tried to price them based on attendance from this year, to estimate the needs for next year. I would gather in 2014, Sunday games (especially giveaway games) will increase in price. There are two Saturday night blue games which are near the fourth of July and i'm guessing those are the Fireworks games.

My understanding is that Jimmy Rollins watches a lot of tape. I do think he is open to constructive analysis. But, who knows. But the very possibility that Henderson brings is going to warm my cockles over the winter. Hope is a powerful thing. Now, if Jimmy can just show up to spring training in the best shape of his life...

Is appropriate to call him "Hendo," or is that exclusive?

Can Henderson turn back time and make Rollins, Utley, and Howard five years younger?

If so, he is certainly the answer for this offense.

Then again...

"Henderson, 59, has spent six prior seasons as a major-league hitting coach. His first job was with Houston in 1995. He said the value of working with experienced hitters like Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Derek Bell is applicable with a veteran team like these Phillies"

In 1995, Jeff Bagwell's OBP dropped 52 points from the previous season.

But, hey maybe it was a learning experience? ;-)

BAP: That is true--it's hard to know what shifts and defensive positioning means for UZR (although I saw one study that broke down Utley's consistently great UZR and gave most of the credit to his positioning, as opposed to his pure range, which most people agree is merely average).

For team defense as a whole, you just want to look at "defensive efficiency," not UZR. Defensive efficiency is simply the amount of balls in play they turn into outs. So the math is rather easy (1-team BABIP)--meaning you actually might approve of it!

HammRadio: That the Phillies will try to make up some of the lost revenue from what are certain to be fewer season plan renewals & advance ticket sales by weighting the (presumably) more desirable games is not surprising. While I dislike the notion of tiered pricing, so long as the overall cost of my plan has not increased -- & it has not -- there's really nothing much to bitch about. I'm also pleased that my usual Plan (B) only contains 2 Interleague Games (one of which is Boston, which I will sell, sell, sell). All-in-all these changes will have zero effect on my previously decided course of action, namely dropping one of my seats, & seeing how the club fares in '13.

Jack: Good point. UZR doesn't make much sense as a team measure. BABIP, perhaps, makes more sense (and has the virtue of simplicity). However, one glaring anomaly springs right to mind: an error actually reduces the team's BABIP. So, if a team makes an error, its defensive efficiency, by this measure, actually increases.

Even on a team with lots of errors, I suspect that the number of errors, relative to the number of balls in play, probably isn't enough to skew team BABIP by more than .02 or .03 points at most. But it still strikes me as an oddity.

BAP: True, but sites like The Hardball Times and BP have adjusted for that and now slightly change their defensive efficiency measures to include errors as basically a "hit" on a ball in play.

So I guess the math isn't exactly as simple as I made it out to be, but it is still pretty simple.

I have no issue with variable pricing but I am not surprised at all.

It is a way to generate some additional gate revenue to offset some of the season ticket renewal losses they are sure to see even without ticket price increases.

BAP makes a really good point about it is simply a positive that Henderson wasn't a former player for the Phils. Way too often this ownership group has made hires who were former players including for coaches that were pretty suspect.

I think he will get them to situational hitting more then hitting fundamentals. How many times can u watch a game and counts like 1-0 or 2-0 and they watch the fastball go by? Now yes there are times when u work the pitchers, but More and more the hitters got themselves out on the off speed etc. just watching the cards and the at bats they have. They picked up wht big mac was putting down. It's a known fact this team doesn't put in the extra time in areas needed. Film and cages etc. you just hope that the team got the message and responds well. This city gives them a pass this year, but next year could be a different story......

What is this "pass" you speak of?

Did BL approve that?

I am hopeful about Henderson and Joyner for one reason. They aren't career Phillies. Hiring from withing is fine, if the results are fine. But at some point, you have to run out of guys who played for the Phillies in 1980. I thought that would only happen when they had all died. But this gives me just a bit of hope that the cycle has been broken.

Bring in your former stars to look like they're helping in Spring Traning. That's a nice visual. But for goodness sake, keep them out of coaching positions during the regular season. Between Schmidt fouling up (purportedly) Burrell and Samuel waving runners as if there were no catcher to receive the ball, I'm a bit tired of ex-Phillies. They make better broadcasters. Except for the phlegm king, Sarge.

hamm: good find on the phillies variable pricing, that is a pretty big deal, to us who attends multiple games at least.

i'm with bap and most others on the hitting coach, hard to really think it will make any impact.

It kind of reminds me of the "Player X looks like he's in the best shape of his career" comment people say every Spring.

Somewhere today I read Charlie Manuel's quotes indicating that not even he believes a hitting coach can make a huge difference. He specifically mentioned Howard & Rollins and how one can't expect them to drastically change. Darned if I can find it now, though.

I read an article today that some think the doctors giving cortisone injections to Jeter's foot caused the break, similar to Howard and his ankle.


GBrettFan: I haven't seen the comments to which you referred, but if accurate they reflect an exceptionally lame attitude. If a manager &/or coaches don't believe they can positively influence their players, they might as well retire.

Actually, I think Charlie's comments reflect the reality of it. These guys are already in The Show. They earned it, and figure they did it with the tools they have. I used to come here complaining about Milt Thompson, and swore the Phillies would be better off without him. They got rid of him. Nothing changed. It isn't that I don't think a hitting coach can help, it's that I don't think many of our established players feel a need to change anything. Charlie has repeatedly tried to get Howard to change things, but he just won't commit to a change. It is also hard to imagine Rollins changing his approach at this point in his career. I believe Charlie has tried, and he's seen where his efforts have gotten him.

Pass because of chase Howard and doc. The injuries were just too much. That's the only reason I said pass this year.

Found it!,0,4320630.story

And here's the pertinent quote:

Manuel, though, was quick to explain that it's unlikely his veteran hitters — Howard and Jimmy Rollins — suddenly will undergo a massive transformation.

"If a guy has a 10-year history of playing in the big leagues and he's got an average of 20 walks, don't look for him to walk 100 times," Manuel said. "That ain't going to happen. If a guy has a 10-year history of hitting 15 home runs a year or 12 or 10 or 11, he's not going to hit 30 or 40. At the same time, if we work in the right way, we can get better production out of you."

Tigers probably just won the game. Verlander on his game, and Yankees still not hitting? 1 run might be enough.

Wow, that's a pretty damming statement by Charlie, the hitting guru. Because the one thing in hitting that you can control, at least to some degree, is how many pitches you take. And thus, your walks. Yeah, a guy who gets twenty walks a season isn't likely to jump to 100. But he might be able to double it pretty easily. And for a base stealer and table setter ahead of the big boys, isn't that what you're aiming for?

As for Howard, I have to say he actually tries to take pitches off the outside corner. But I've never seen a guy who gets so many borderline, and worse, pitches called strikes on the outside corner. It seem pitchers get an extra half foot off that corner against him and nobody else. Is there some reason umps don't like Howard. Because he seems like a nice enough guy.

Oh no. Now Phil Hughes is dead, too.

I don't know, I really don't see anything wrong with Charlie's comments. Very few hitters completely reinvent themselves after a decade or more of playing at that level. To do so would require extreme discipline and an intense desire to change. Are Howard and Rollins capable?? Absolutely. I know Howard has tried getting closer to the plate in the past, but he just doesn't seem able to ride it out long enough to see any success with it. I'd love to see Rollins embrace his inner Juan Pierre, but after his late season power surge, I'd be surprised if it happened.

GBrettFan: That sounds a lot more reasonable than simply not expecting veterans to be capable of any changes simply because they're veterans.

Oh no. Now Phil Hughes is dead, too.

Posted by: GTown_Dave | Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 09:21 PM

I sense this is feigned sympathy.

Fatalotti: I certainly hope nothing awful befalls Russell Martin.

GTown, I just took out a life insurance policy on Russell Martin. I expect to collect a hefty lump sum in the near future.

Sorry if I misrepresented Charlie's comments before I found the article. I did use the descriptor drastic in an attempt to accurately portray what I remembered him saying - not that no improvement was possible, just that a coach wouldn't be able to transform a veteran into a different hitter entirely.

I think he's being realistic, too.

I'm glad you all inspired me to go find the actual article so that I could let Charlie represent himself rather than rely on my imprecise & imperfect memory!

Verlander is in the middle of a Cole Hamels circa 2008 level postseason.

I've been trying to watch the debate. Finding it hard to focus, maybe I'll just give up. Really shouldn't have debates during playoffs, if you ask me. Or vice-versa.

* * *

Hughes has a herniated disc? That didn't happen just from pitching tonight, did it?

Miguel Cabrera is good at hitting.

Yankees and debate aside, Ruf is finally playing LF and threw a guy out at home.

Why is there a tunnel behind home plate? I would think those would be premium seats.

Verlander is in the middle of a Cole Hamels circa 2008 level postseason.

I was thinking the same. Although these Yankees aren't exactly Bombers save for in a most negative sense of the term. They can't hit anyone ... well, anyone but Valverde, but that hardly counts.

The Yanks radio guy and gal sound like they are broadcasting a funeral. Love it!


Raul had a great AB against Verlander. He is in the game. And Ruf finally hit a home run. He likes to hit when he plays LF.

Verlander has left a lot of pitches over the middle of the plate and offspeed stuff off.

This Yanks' lineup just is in a deep funk. Even on balls that are fat pitches to hit ahead in the count they aren't making much hard contact & putting it in play.

Ibañez & Suzuki have both shown up for the Postseason. Unfortunately for the Yankees, they're the only two.

ARod is overdoing the 'good teammate' with the ridiculous Cheshire Chat grin every time they show him.

I do hope he PH and promptly strikes out on 3 pitches while smiling all the way back to the dugout.

I'm starting to feel bad for the Yankees, believe it or not. It's like watching the Phillies season in microcosm, which makes me relate. Injuries and offensive futility.

Other than the fact that I'll feel for Raul, I still want Detroit to beat them.

Cabrera 'engulfed' that smash to 3B.

Leyland is an absolute moron for leaving in Vernalder here.

This is worse managing than Cholly late in a game.

I think this shows just how terrified the Tigers are at the prospect of using Valverde again.

Finally. Gardner had a 2-2 pitch to hit that was a quality pitch to hit. Just didn't do anything with it.

Dave - It does but I have no idea why Leyland left in Verlander after Nunez HR. The no brainer was to bring in LH Coke to face LH Gardner.

There have been some good ABs this inning.

MG: Agreed.

Are you sure Leyland made a mistake leaving Verlander in, MG?

Ibanez vs Coke? Don't see any more magic for the Yanks here.

Start him first pitch fastball to get him behind 0-1 and then you have him.

MG is, at best, off-base claiming that leaving in Verlander (throwing 100 mph still) to face slap hitting Gardener was so mind blowingly stupid. He is at worst completely incorrect that he should have been lifted at all. Do you have any idea what that did to the Yankees psyche, seeing him get pulled? They couldn't touch him all night. He gives up one HR, so what. The guy is a freight train and the slumping bats coming up weren't scoring off him.

I simply cannot believe Girardi allowed Raul to face a lefty here. That is managerial incompetence of the highest order.

He has Swisher and A-Rod to hit righty against a guy who let up a .390 AVG against righties.

That was insane. I am not sure I've ever seen a worse managerial move with the season on the line. Seriously.

No Raul heroics tonight.

Wow. Yankees down 3 games to none.

2006 WS rematch?

Sit, Raul, sit!

Good Ibañez.

Nasty slider. Saved his best pitch for last.

Could have been much easier had Verlander been left in the game.

Yeah it was given how gassed Verlander was. he was just rearing back and throwing fastballs as hard as he could in the middle of the plate.

GBrettFan: If it means the Phillies win the World Series again in '14, I'm all for it.

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