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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Comments

For every Brandon Moss and Cody Ross signing in the offseason, there are 30 Ty Wigginton-type signings that turn out to be flops.

Knew Howard would miss a significant portion of the '12 season. Committed $50 million to a Closer.

r00b failed.

Re: WAR

Okay, now that GTown_Dave isn't reading, let's talk about hindsight. It's easy and rarely tells us anything.

I'm concerned that Amaro has made a number of decisions that I consider to be mistakes. But I also recognize that he, like all GMs, will make plenty of bad decisions. This off-season is going to tell me an awful lot about whether Amaro has learned from his mistakes.

The reality that needs to be kept in mind is that the perception of Amaro's tenure has been unduly affected by chaotic moments of bad luck in October. We're talking a few arc-seconds' difference on Utley's big swing last year, freak performances by opposing mediocrities, stupid 5-game series in which we outscore the other team but lose, etc. This can't be emphasized enough. I think most of us would have happily traded one or more additional WFCs, and thus the solidifying of this core as a true dynasty, for the pain of being hamstrung by contracts to old players later on (i.e. now); and the reality is not only that the team came very close to accomplishing that goal, but that the reason for its consecutive near-misses had nothing to do with Amaro and everything to do with bad timing and bad luck. That is to say, in every instance other than the '09 WS, the Phillies lost to a worse team.

This is not to defend Amaro. He's made terrible and inexplicable moves, the scouting seems to have suffered on his watch, and I don't really have faith in him going forward. But he should get credit for the gambles he took, mostly with respect to assembling the four aces last year. Those gambles failed, but could just as easily have paid off, and if they had he'd be getting some pretty serious plaudits.

One good argument you can make against him (besides his going stone-cold, bat-dropping crazy on Howard, Pence and Papelbon) is that the teams he put together were "too good," i.e. given the chaotic nature of the postseason, he overweighted the desirability of getting additional star players at the expense of the farm and the budget, rather than constructing a good-enough-to-make-the-playoffs team while preserving same.

All of this is pretty obvious, but it does need to be a theme we keep in mind as we head into the offseason. We really were a few butterfly-flaps away from hailing Amaro as, if hardly a genius, a competent and praiseworthy GM.

Was there a huge outcry for the Phils to give Brandon Moss an increased role?

I said that getting rid of Moss would be a mistake, and that getting Wiggy and Nix would also be a mistake.

Inexcusable off-season decisions:
1. Qualls
2. Wigginton
3. Having MiniMart as any level that could cause him to be the only choice to bring up in case of injuries.
4. Schneider

I can see being a toolsy oriented organization and not a sabermetric one, but at least look at the data and question your eyes when the numbers reflect something awful.

Who couldn't have predicted all 4 would be rotten?

In fairness, at the time, Qualls was a decent calculated risk (and actually proved how little risk was involved when he didn't work out). Wigginton was slightly more risky, as his contract limited the "outs" if/when he underperformed.

Though, any executive who views Mini Mart and Schneider as viable pieces of a major league team (even if only as contingency pieces) should have his head examined. I don't need advanced metrics to tell me these guys suck.

Gtown Dave: "RE: Howard & Utley, each one needs be both on the field, AND productive. Otherwise, they will remain a large part of the problem."

And my (half-asleep) point was that one of them I am quite confident will be productive when he is on the field. Guess which one that is?

To me, Howard's productivity is a *bigger* question mark than Utley's health. If Howard hits like he did this season, that's a much bigger problem then Utley missing 40 games (obviously if Utley misses 100 games, that changes things).

Isn't every day the 'season' for hindsight on BL?

We don't just have the Hindsight Police on here. We have the Hindsight CIA, FBI, and shadow government.

"For every Brandon Moss and Cody Ross signing in the offseason, there are 30 Ty Wigginton-type signings that turn out to be flops."

I agree with Clout on this point. Given their age/injury/payroll situation, this year would've been a very good time for the Phils to get lucky with a few of these.

Of course, as JW notes at the end, they *did* get really lucky with one of them--Juan Pierre. But they were unfortunately in a situation where essentially all of their gambles had to hit, and that's just not gonna happen very often.

Well, Carpenter has his single run of support. Game over for the Nationals, right?

"(obviously if Utley misses 100 games, that changes things)."

Not possible. When has that happened before?

I think it's fair to say Qualls was a mistake and a mistake that many pointed out ahead of time.

While it's true his 2011 season was solid (a 3.51 ERA in 74.1 IP for San Diego), there are some underlying concerns:

1) His K/9 was the lowest in his career despite the 2011 ERA.
2) His BABIP in 2011 was 20 points below his career average.
3) He was pitching in San Diego.

Jack: A game w/out Utley at 2B = a game w/ Galvis at 2B. Multiply that by 40 & you've got a serious offensive production issue.

Hindsight is 20/20, and I certainly wasn't advocating keeping Moss, but I said, and knew, immediately that signing Nix and Wiggs was horrible. Not so much about the money, but the players themselves. It went completely against everything Amaro said they needed to address after the NLDS ouster in '11. Have to get younger. Have to put together better at-bats (work the count). Have to get better OBP guys. These 2 signings completely were the opposite of these points specifically outlined by Amaro. That's why I hate those signings, and that's why they were failures.

Outta Here: Well stated. I felt/feel the same.

Wayne: Not under that screen name.

If Halladay had been Halladay and Papelbon hadn't blown four saves, they'd still be playin'.

If "ifs" & "buts" were candy & nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas.

They traded for Wiggington, FWIW.

I see that the Reds removed Cueto from their roster, with Mike Leake replacing him and starting Game 4. Good luck to them.

Damn, the Cardinals have some power in their lineup.

It took St. Louis all of 1 inning to score more runs off of Jackson than the Phillies scored in Game 4 of the '11 NLDS.

Why are we even talking about Mini-Mart in this discussion? I'm fairly certain that had the infield remained healthy, they would have called up Galvis at some point to replace Mini, or Orr, who wouldn't have played anyway. When the Utley fiasco happened in Feb. - March, basically leaving the Phils scrambling, their utility strategy was to wait out spring training cuts and claim someone off the scrap pile, which they did with Mike Fontenot. Aside from that, I read a great deal of moans and groans about Wilson Valdez and Ryan Theriot, both of whom stink.

Um, Weitzel, Mini-Mart actually got more PA in 2011, when the Phillies led the NL for almost the entire season.

The pretty obvious answer is that the Phillies actually think he adds value to the team. Hard to see how, though.

Joyce blew a call at 1B? Unthinkable.

With Cueto out until at least the WS, and likely for the entirety of the postseason, and with Votto hurting and flashing almost zero power, it's going to be tough for the Reds to win it all.

While their 5 man rotation starting 161 games this year was awesome for winning 97 games, it leaves them without a good feeling of who else they can use in a starting role for the postseason, so Leake is really their only option.

He's not a terrible option, as he's pretty much been a league average pitcher the last 3 years, but he's simply the only option.

JW: With all due respect, no single player in all of baseball is as bad as Martinez, which is why it will continue to be an issue so long as he's a part of the organization. Also, my opinion is that Galvis never would so much as sniffed the Majors if Martinez hadn't gotten injured in Spring Training.

Since it keeps being repeated that the failure rate is so astoundingly high for older AAA everyday players who post good numbers in the minors, it's worth noting the 2012 MAJOR LEAGUE numbers of the last 4 guys who fell into this very category within the Phillies systems:

Brandon Moss: .291/.358/.596/.954 (296 PAs)

Kevin Frandsen: .338/.383/.451/.834 (210 PAs)

Erik Kratz: .248/.306/.504/.809 (157 PAs)

Darrin Ruf: .333/.351/.727/1.079 (33 PAs)

Perhaps the failure rate of this category of players is being overstated. Perhaps much of what gets chalked up as "failure" is actually just a lack of sufficient opportunity, brought about by preconceived notions of inevitable failure.

Fata, I'm hoping Leake can show flashes of brilliance in the postseason. But yes, I agree it will be tough.

b_a_p: The increasingly common fallacy of interpreting scouting reports as an indication of what will occur rather than an educated guess as to what might occur.

As Jimmy Rollins explained it in the Diamond Demo, that was a routine catch in spite of how impressive it may look to observers.

JW, after watching games from September on, you really think that Orr is "in front of" Mini Mart on Charlie's utility IF depth chart?

Orr was effective Gorilla Glued to the bench, while Martinez got starts while the Phils were still "in the chase."

WP: No. All I'm trying to communicate is that the Phillies didn't think about upgrading Mini-Mart this winter. Was it a mistake? I don't believe because they count count on losing both Utley and Galvis.

Not going to criticize Amaro at all for not resigning Moss. That was a complete luck signing by the A's. He played simply because their alternatives stunk so badly & they had some injuries in their OF.

Rounding out the rest of the roster though were pretty poor. Horst-Valdez move was the only real move he made that paid real (and unexpected dividends).

Qualls wasn't a terrible move either given the circumstances. Amaro paid a minimal price ($1.15M) for a veteran reliever who didn't pan out and was released by the end of June. It wasn't the typical 2-year deal or a deal with a large option. Yeah Qualls sucked but his overall impact on the season was minimal.

Hated the Schneider resigning because of the chance that he would miss significant time and underperform. He did both.

Like the Nix signing at the time. He was playing well until he got hurt. Nix's inability to avoid the DL though has been a huge issue. 7th time in last 9 season of professional baseball he has had a trip to the DL & reoccuring leg injuries have been a problem with him.

Wigginton was the real turd in the punch bowl. Phils got him knowing he was going to get a bunch of PT (everyday starter at least in April/May and maybe longer) and get at least 350-400 PAs. He had nothing left in the tank and there were several other FAs who signed elsewhere and performed better at a cheaper price tag.

Even if Amaro had made better moves than getting Wigginton and Qualls, it likely wouldn't have been enough given the injuries they had.

Amaro does need to hit on more of these secondary signings though or the Phils are going to be like the Mets were in '07-'08: a top-heavy, veteran-laden club that didn't get enough production out of the back end of their roster whether on the bench or the bullpen to make the playoffs.

Amaro's future with this club is going to be determined by this offseason too.

If the Phils get back to the playoffs again and have a deep postseason run, he's ensured himself several more years.

If the Phils spend a ton of money again though and underperform (.500 or so), my bet it is the beginning of the end for Amaro.

Likely to get a pretty long rope by the current owners but I can't imagine they tolerate 3-4 consecutive years with mediocre teams while spending tons of cash.

The Cardinals have 5 players who hit at least 20 HRs, and 5-6 players who hit above .290.

MG: That looks like a standard offseason for a lot of clubs, including teams that reached the postseason.

JW, fair enough. Prior to the season, I was hopeful that the Galvis experiment meant the end of Martinez at the MLB level. I guess it's hard to say one way or another with the way their respective injuries played out.

I like to think that Galvis was intended to displace Mini, regardless of Mini's injury. I guess it's the way Mini was effective fast tracked back to MLB once healthy that has me a little dubious (but, to your point, there weren't really any other options).

For the life of me, I still cannot fathom why Pete Orr was added to the roster, only to see 12 Sept/Oct PA's to Mini Mart's 46.

Gtown Dave: I just don't think that's right. I think that while I don't want them to force Galvis into the everyday lineup if they don't have to, 120 games of Utley and 40 games of Galvis is a pretty decent cumulative 2nd baseman whose overall production would be above-average for the position. Obviously it would be better with 160 games of Utley, but it would still overall be ok.

But 160 games of what Ryan Howard did this year? That would be among the worst 1B production in the sport. The guy had a 91 OPS+ this season at first base. And it's not like he brings anything to the table defensively or on the bases.

It seems pretty clear to me that Howard's production is a bigger concern than Utley only playing 120 games.

I agree with Jason.

Michael Martinez's playing time was based on circumstances and not desire.

He didn't join the ML roster this season until Freddy Galvis hurt his back. That means up until that point, Martinez wasn't even the choice to be the utility IF.

When Utley returned to the lineup (a couple weeks later), Martinez returned to AAA.

He only returned to the team again on August 1st after the Phillies traded away both Vic and Pence.

Had the roster been whole from the start and remained whole until the end, I'm not sure we see much of Martinez at all in 2012.

MG: The other move that paid real dividends was signing Pierre.

Mini-Mart actually had a really good chance to make the Opening Day roster until he broke his foot on March 20.

Orr made it instead. If not Mini-Mart likely would have been the utility infielder for the entire year.

It's kind of mind-boggling but the Phils like his defense and versatility. Amaro said as much in an interview a month ago on the radio when I was listening.

Imagine though that Galvis has leapfrogged Mini-Mart on the roster depth chart but it wouldn't surprise me if Mini-Mart makes the Opening Day roster next year either.

Seriously, $50 for Michael Martinez's Baseball Ref page sponsorship? That's almost a more egregious overpay than Mini Mart collecting a salary for playing baseball itself.

Then again, I guess you could see it as a bargain, from a marketing perspective. I've been to his BRef page more than any other player, and it's not even close. Something about the train wreck that keeps pulling me back in...

Mini-Mart got 122 PA. If he hasn't been hurt, I imagine he would have gotten 200+ PAs.

What was baffling about that was that this offseason Amaro didn't make an upgrade to their utility infielder position despite having 3 players who were huge injury question marks in Polanco, JRoll, and Utley.

If you want to criticize Amaro for that, I think it is more than fair game. Odds that those 3 guys all started 130+ games was almost 0% going into this year.

KAS - Good point. Overlooked that.

MG - True, but they also fell into a short holding pattern at utility and thought Fontenot could be the guy the rest of the season. Then they discovered that Fontenot's glove was shockingly bad.

MM's BRef page price is not suprising, if they set them based on traffic. Anyone searching for "Worst MLB Player" will be referred to his page. I'm pretty sure we here at BL give it a fair amount of hits when digging up stats to illustrate his ineptitude (which is the only thing that just about everyone here agrees upon).

Jack: I see your point, but I feel Howard will improve as he gets healthier. I'm still of the opinion that he was rushed back needlessly. That others who have had the same injury report needing a year or more to even begin feeling "normal" gives me reason to believe Howard's '12 was nothing more or less than the struggles of a player coming back too soon from a serious injury. I guess what I'm getting at is, while I understand your concern, I also see reason for qualified optimism. In my estimation Chase Utley's health remains the larger worry.

I could kill Bronson Arroyo w/out a second thought for that damn song alone. Thanks, MLB, for replaying it incessantly.

Jackson already out for the Nats. Their SP has been less than overwhelming this series.

Must resist urge to make Strasburg comment.

JW - They did but Fontenot was a guy they picked up off the waiver wire as the season went on.

Mini-Mart was the plan at utility infielder going into the season. Yeah he's a utility infielder (generally are pretty underwhelming) but on a team with brittle starters that was a puzzling decision by Amaro given how poorly he had performed in '11 even by utility infielder standards.

One move that Amaro should get a lot of credit for is dumping Valdez and getting Horst.

Valdez was terrible this year with the Reds and looks like he is at the end of his rope. Amaro look a lot of crap for a few days about that but it turned out he was right.

MG - Right, but I do think that midway through ST, they targeted the waiver wire for utility, once they knew more about Utley's condition.

G'Town Dave has a good point too about Papelbon.

Overall, Papelbon did pitch pretty well this year but he wasn't as dominant as his best year in Boston. Much more worrisome though was the drop in velocity he had almost all year on his 4-seam fastball. I really hope that doesn't continue next year because he really relies upon that pitch as his out pitch.

After the Papelbon signing, the Phils had to be Value Village buyers at other positions since they still had to address the SS position.

The cards I will say always a good hitting team. And when Big Mac took over a lot of guys took off. I can say I hate them, but u have to be impressed with the devolping of young talent and the situational hitting is hands down one of the best. A lot of guys Craig, Dave f, John J all said mark was the reason to get them to next level. More of approach and taking time to prepare. And when situations appear they know exactly what to do. Inpart because of the confidence they have in each other in getting the job done. Say what u want about Big Mac he knows hitting.

Inopportune time for Carpenter to be getting squeezed.

Or even before ST - they probably have a good read on who will shake loose.

"Amaro does need to hit on more of these secondary signings though or the Phils are going to be like the Mets were in '07-'08: a top-heavy, veteran-laden club that didn't get enough production out of the back end of their roster."

Yes and no. Amaro doesn't have a great track record with secondary signings but, as jw says, that's true of many teams, including a lot of good ones. In fact, people have been complaining about the Phillies' crappy bench for as long as I've been posting on Beerleaguer -- a time period which pre-dates RAJ's hiring as GM.

The larger problem with the Phillies' offense is that they lack impact bats. To call them "top-heavy" is to give far too much credit to the guys at the top.

The 2008 Mets were top-heavy. They had 4 guys in their starting lineup who played 159+ games and had an OPS+ above 119 (119, 128, 130, 142). But their role players and bullpen were terrible. The 2012 Phillies had only one guy with an OPS+ over 119 (Chooch -- 149), & he missed 48 games. Their next best OPS+ was Utley (113), and he missed 79 games. The only other guy with more than 250 PAs and an OPS over 100 was Pence, and he's obviously not someone we can count on for help next year.

BAP - The Phils had a quality bench in '07 with Dobbs, Werth, Coste, and in the later half of the year Bourn.

Even other years they generally have had 1-2 guys you would hit and give them a nice lift off the bench for a stretch.

The projected bench that Amaro put together going into last season was Mini-Mart, Wigginton, Schneider, Nix, and Pierre/Podsednik. The only guy out of that group who really contributed was Pierre.

Lack of a quality bench though in large part goes back to the Phils track record of developing any positional prospects the last several years. Been pretty abysmal or they have traded away prospects.

TMac is top heavy.

BAP: This theory is easily tested. Compile a list of every rookie in the big leagues this season who was at least 28 years old and has spent at least 2 years in Triple A. Then let's look at their stats.

Better yet, go back 5 years ago and do the same and see how their careers turned out.

Ruf does not belong in the same category, because 1. he's 25, not a minor league veteran, and 2. he's moved up through the system, albeit slowly, without having to repeat a level.

If you find that these older minor league veterans routinely become productive major league players as you assert, then you will have made a discovery that has eluded professional GMs.

I suspect you'll find the opposite.

Jack holding Howard accountable for his numbers while rehabbing from a severe leg injury (plus an extra surgery removing muscle from that leg) as if he really thinks he's going to be that bad going forward is laughable.

There's no way anyone believes that Howard's year is indicative of the player he's going to be next year, or even further going forward. Jack is using the Bill Baer method of kicking Howard while he's down, while simultaneously declaring Utley infallible, despite missing roughly half of the last two seasons combined, and forcing the Phils to use far more inferior players for long periods of time.

JW's comments are a breath of fresh air.

TMac:

Little surprised there has been no word on him resigning a new contract. His deal expired at the end of this season.

No word on his Twitter account, no word from the Phils, etc.

Imagine it is largely just because Amaro and the FO aren't that busy. TMac's original deal was signed on Nov. 27th, 2007. Probably negotiating the deal now and will announce sometime after the WS is over in mid-Nov.

I really do hope they replace him. He has has had basically 4 years now to develop a bit of a rapport with the fans and he seems to be pretty unpopular among most people I know who are fans.

Don't really think it will affect the ratings one way or another. Team wins people will watch if they don't they don't get the casual fan.

On Martinez, that is.

While it's true his 2011 season was solid (a 3.51 ERA in 74.1 IP for San Diego), there are some underlying concerns ...

This is what concerns me about the front office, they seem to have no recognition of secondary factors in their evaluation.

I agree that the price was right and term was right. However, figuring that guy for your 8th inning guy ...

If Charlie's the manager he leaves Carpenter in. Too much deference to the SP.

MG, I'm not even exaggerating to make a point when I say that I, truly, do not know of a single Phillies fan that would consider TMac anything other than "unpopular." I don't know how someone as unlikable could even be considered to be brought back if they didn't have to be.

Oh, Mini Mart...

That said, RAJ is definitely one who manages his PR pretty well. He'll wait until he has "good news" to report, before they slip in the TMac extension.

I suspect we'll get to read about Hamilton's lofty and lengthy contract about the same time.

Does Galvis = a younger Mini-Mart?

Dragon, not exactly. Mini Mart would KILL to have Galvis' defensive prowess, while Galvis would love a little of that Mini Mart "versatility" (though I bet he'd be just fine in CF, too...).

That said, it remains to be see what effect an already light-hitting Galvis does offensively without the benefit of PED's, but Mini Mart has set the bar about as high as you can when it comes to futility.

From Eskin yesterday:

Reported phils GM R Amaro has checked into 4 possible trade is Angels CF Peter Bourjos. available after he lost job to M. Trout.

Phils have been linked to him now a few times. Certainly would fit with Amaro's stated desire to get younger and defensively Bourjos is better than anyone available except Bourn.

Rather have them gamble on Bourjos (especially after his value dipped a bit with this season he had) than massively overpay for Bourn and use money to go after a corner OF bat with Brown as the starter at one of the other positions.

Preacher: We'll also see if Galvis' injury negatively impacts the sole professional-level aspect of his game, namely defense.

Just for perspective:

2012:
Galvis (200 PA): .226/.254/.363 (.617)
Mini Mart (122 PA): .174/.208/.252 (.461)

Though, to be fair, Mini's career OPS in 356 PA's is actually a much more robust .512.

(At this rate, Martinez should pay ME for as many hits as his BRef page is getting. Thank God it's not a drinking game)

What is the going rate for an OPS lift, attributable to PED's, anyway?

Did Harold Reynolds really just explain sunglasses to the viewing audience?

More I think about it and more I like going after Bourjos. Allows the Phils to go after a corner OF bat like Swisher or Hunter (two guys who will be in their price range if they don't blow their chunk on change on a free agent CF like Bourn or Upton).

Really hate the idea of spending a ton of money on Bourn. One thing I hope Amaro doesn't do this offseason. Almost rather have them spend the money on Hamilton which is almost as troubling.

clout: It would be impossible to test because part of my point is that these guys aren't even given a shot -- and, if they are, it's not a fair one. And I'm not even necessarily talking about rookies. I'm talking more about late-bloomers. Some of these guys -- including Moss, Kratz & Frandsen -- have had prior opportunities in the majors & weren't particularly good. But they've gotten better, as reflected by their minor league stats. And, when given another shot at the majors, they've all done well.

I am well aware that, if you took 100 28-year olds with .800+ OPS in the minors, and gave them 500 ABs at the major league level, many would fail completely. But that's true of minor leaguers across the board, irrespective of age. One of the very reasons that a 26-year old with an .850 OPS at AAA is more likely to fail than a 21-year old with the same OPS at AAA is because the latter will be given abundant opportunity to succeed (see, i.e., Dom Brown), whereas the former will be given up on after a handful of major league ABs.

Love Bourjos' defense, and he's incredibly fast on the basepaths. Unforunately, his speed has translated to a 72.9% stolen base rate, and he has the potential to be a zero with the bat.

He's a good player to have in CF if you are getting offensive contributions from other positions to make up for him.

What is the going rate for an OPS lift, attributable to PED's, anyway?

Check Ryan Braun's 2011 vs. 2012.

Dammit, MLB Network! Enough highlights! I need Harold Reynolds to explain what I'm supposed to do w/ these sunglasses now that the shadows are gone!

Ed, don't you mean 2010 vs. 2011-12?

I don't mind Bourjos assuming he doesn't cost a ton, isn't really a .301 OBP player (he's only 25/26 so can get better and he hit for more power and walked more in AAA), and the move allows them to really go all-in elsewhere.

But if Galvis and Bourjos are in this lineup, they don't sign someone like Hamilton, and Bourjos is "what he is", then I'm not so sure.

Cyclic, 2011 when he was juicing vs. 2012 when he was not. Add as many winks and nudges as you see fit.

I was being a wise@$$ -- we really don't know what impact PEDs have on individuals although there is strong evidence that it increased power in the aggregate.**

** Then again, I wouldn't put it past Seligula to de-juice the balls to prove that the PED testing was working.

Sophist nailed it.

Bourjos could be a solid part of the OF, but he's not a difference maker. So if he's the answer in CF and Galvis is the answer at 3B, we'd need a HUGE difference maker in either LF or RF (I'm assuming the other corner OF spot is filled internally).

One of the very reasons that a 26-year old with an .850 OPS at AAA is more likely to fail than a 21-year old with the same OPS at AAA is because the latter will be given abundant opportunity to succeed

That would be a minor reason. The prime reason is that average 21yo has lots of development left while the average 26yo has a very limited amount of growth.

There are always outliers, but they are outliers.

If you want to buy a team and focus your player development plan around scooping up 26yo .850-OPSing AAA players, I would watch your progress intently. Heck I'd even add your team as a secondary rooting interest. However, I'll keep my bettin' money in my pocket. :)

Re: Peter Bourjos

He's taken a traditional track through the minors. He was 21-yo in high A ball, 22-yo in AA and 23-yo in AAA. Going into the 2010 season, Baseball America had him as the 97th ranked prospect in baseball.

He was generally a guy with an OPS in between .760 and .780 before a "breakout" season in the hitter-happy PCL when he posted an OPS of .861 in AAA.

In a full season at the ML level in 2011 at age 24 he had a pretty solid season:
271/327/438, 765 OPS, 26 2B, league-leading 11 3B, 12 HR, 22 SB, 9 CS

He had a .336 wOBA, 114 wRC+ and a 4.5 WAR boosted by good defense and baserunning.

He's also not arbitration eligible until 2014 and just entering his prime seasons.

How would this lineup fair?

Rollins
Bourjos
Utley
Howard
Chooch
Hunter
Mayberry/Nix
Frandsen

Note: I'm not advocating that Frandsen should be the starting 3B next year, but if they go out and grab Bourjos and Hunter, I'm just not sure what they'll be able to do to fill 3B. The FA market sucks, and they'll have no trade chips left, presumably.

File that one under Plays Not Made By Dom Brown.

Iceman: Ok, ignore this past year for the big man. Utley produced the same WAR in 83 games this year as Howard did in 2010 and 2011 combined.

But yeah, you're right. There's no concern there about Howard's production at all, right? Even if this year was all injury-related, then you're putting a whole lot of eggs in the basket of a 33-year old man making a full recovery from a pretty serious injury.

Utley isn't infallible--although it's odd that you don't mention *his* serious injury and the fact that he's still managing to produce at a very high level. But I maintain--Utley's health had a far less detrimental impact on the team this year than Howard's production, whatever you want to ascribe that to.

KAS - Sounds like a good addition to me all other considerations aside.

I used the wrong "fare". Oops.

I'm not a huge fan of Bourjos. I don't think he brings enough with the bat, although obviously I love his defense.

Would prefer BJ Upton, who has his flaws as well, but can at least inject some power into this moribund lineup. And Upton would only cost money, whereas Bourjos would cost prospects.

bap: "Perhaps the failure rate of this category of players is being overstated. Perhaps much of what gets chalked up as "failure" is actually just a lack of sufficient opportunity, brought about by preconceived notions of inevitable failure."

Thats what the Phillies did with John Mayberry in 2011, and it absolutely killed this team's offseason approach and eventually season performance in 2012.

Building on Sophist's point about Bourjos -- with limited trade assets remaining in the minors, would be better for Phils to husband those limited trade resources for the need position with far greater FA scarcity: 3B.

"That would be a minor reason. The prime reason is that average 21yo has lots of development left while the average 26yo has a very limited amount of growth."

I get that. I also get why a team would be quick to give up on a 26-year old with good AAA stats, who flails in his first 30 major league ABs. I'm not saying it's entirely unjustified; I'm merely saying that there is a substantial element of self-selection at work in why the failure rate of oldish prospects is high. Many of them haven't really failed at all. They've just never been given a chance to succeed. That's precisely what happened with Moss when he was with the Phillies last year. He had 6 major league ABs and looked horrible in those 6 ABs. That was the end of his Phillies career.

Matt Gelb ‏@magelb
If only the Giants had a two-time former Cy Young Award winner available to start this elimination game.

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EST. 2005

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