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Tuesday, January 01, 2013


What I found fascinating about those ZIPS projections is that they have Frandsen getting more PA that Utley or Howard.

We've discussed this in past years, but which group's projections are consistently the most accurate?

Here's a Seattle Times article on Michael Saunders vs. Tyson Gillies in the Lee deal. Supports suggestion Phillies preferred Gillies and that Mariners wanted to deal Saunders.

"What I found fascinating about those ZIPS projections is that they have Frandsen getting more PA that Utley or Howard."

I haven't clicked on the link yet (I will when I can get to my laptop and off my phone), but that alone is reason enough for me to pretty much discount what ZIPS has to say.

The ICEMAN projections also have Revere hitting .300+ this year. I'd be curious if even one person agrees with that (probably not). I'm bullish on Revere and think he will take another step forward this year. Certainly not a step back, as those projections seem to suggest.

"We've discussed this in past years, but which group's projections are consistently the most accurate?"

At some point, the line between "projecting" and "guessing" starts to blur. If you're predicting the batting average or homerun totals for Jimmy Rollins or Michael Young, it's a projection. If you're predicting numbers for Darrin Ruf, or you're making predictions about the number of PAs that Ryan Howard or Kevin Frandsen will have, it's a flat-out guess.

The outfield is going to be fine. aAAberry is going to get plenty of AB's also. Plus nice to have a nice cushion to make deal at deadline. And this will be a big year for system.

Also, with regard to Frandsen getting more PAs than Howard & Utley . . . I have to believe that has something to do with the ZIPS projection system. They have like 20 or 25 players getting 400+ PAs, including Jermaine Mitchell, Cesar Hernandez, Pete Orr, Jiwan James, Sebastian Valle, and Ender Inciarte. Josh Fields, Jake Fox, and Tug Hulett are all over 300 PAs. Perhaps the ZIPS system starts with the assumption that the player is on the roster & penciled in to start 162 games, and then they subtract out from the PA total, based on the player's individual injury history. Or something like that.

He hit .294 last year...its not so much of a stretch to see him hit .300.

BAP: Or maybe the projections need a minimum baseline of PAs to have any predictive power.

It would be kind of pointless to project someone's numbers based on 65 PAs. Any player good enough to make the majors could put up any stat line in a random 65 plate appearances, except Michael Martinez, who of course we could accurately project to hit .186/.231/.272.

Iceman, to expand on your post, I am under the impression that - on average - MLB players improve in their early 20's and then have peak years starting at about age 26. If that is the case, one wonders why ZIPS feels that Revere is going to be and anomoly, in that he'll regress.

NEPP: "We have one of the worst farms in baseball...definitely in the bottom 5."

Disagree. I think they go into 2013 right around the cutoff of bottom 10, maybe even the high teens.

Deadline trades, breakouts by Ruf and Asche, solid build years from Franco and Biddle, and lots of love for Quinn. Feel like the 2012 draft class has been praised for the most part too.

Jack: Exactly. They undoubtedly use some sort of computer program to make the projections, and the program needs to assume a relatively high number of PAs in order to avoid spitting out random gibberish. So the computer assumes a full season of ABs, and then backs out PAs based on the player's history of being injured or missing games.

I thought the Phillies wanted Gillies AND Aumont AND Ramirez, rather than JUST Saunders.

awh- exactly. They must think Revere's step forward last year was almost entirely attributable to luck (BABIP) to think he'll take a step back moving to the NL, approaching his prime production years. Again, I'm on my phone and will check when I get to my laptop, but I don't remember anything extraordinary about Revere's BABIP that would lead one to believe that he was extremely fortunate to have the numbers he had last year.

I understand the thinking that players relying on speed are more prone to have their production crater without warning, but as someone said a few weeks back (I think it was NEPP), Revere is 'RG3 Fast', and that ain't going away any time soon.

Opened up my official 2013 Philadelphia Phillies Calendar today. Representing January: Kyle Kendrick.

This is an inauspicious beginning to the new year.

GTwon, KK's gonna go 20-7, with a 2.59 ERA pitch 220 innings, and win the Cy Young Award.

It's very precient on the part of the Phillies.

Revere's speed probably wont decline until he hits his 30s...barring a major leg/knee injury of course. He's built like Juan Pierre.

I assumed Revere's BA was inflated last year by an abrnormally high BABIP as well, but it was "only" .325. That number would be high for most players, of course, but for a guy of his speed, is probably not too far off what is to be expected.

However, his BABIP in 2011 was only .293, so the projections may be averaging the .325 down or regressing it backwards.

Hes young and hasn't played much, so the truth is we just don't really know. Which is why, as BAP says, it's mostly just guessing. It's possible he's a .270 hitter, in which case he's not a very good player, and it's also possible he's a .310 hitter, in which case he's pretty good. We just don't know. We know to a much better extent that he's good in the field and on the bases, and that he won't walk much and doesn't hit for power. But the rest is still to be determined.

BB - That's my recollection, too. I think Benny Looper was high on Gillies.

The Phils may have been able to substitute Pineda for one of the other pitchers.

Aumont and Ramirez were in the M's BA Top 10 at the time. Pineda was No. 10. Gillies was in the Top 20, as I recall.

For those of you who have grown impatient with Domonic Brown, take a look at Alex Gordon, a very highly touted prospect who floundered for a few years before becoming a star.

It took Gordon over 1500 PAs. Brown has not quite had 500 PAs.

BedBeard: I never read that. Aumont & Ramirez were always in the deal. Phils had choice of Gillies or Saunders as third player. That was the report at the time.

He is old, slow, terrible defensively at first and in the OF. He is coming off his worse year, so he might be cooked. And I don't remember his name being tossed out here his winter and didn't realize he was a free agent until looking at the list again last night. Could this team find enough at bats for and is it worth taking a flier on Carlos Lee? Have always liked his bat and I can't see him being a starter anywhere at this point.

Pblunts, in your description of Lee, you for got to use necessary additional words.


He is old, slow, fat, unmotivated, terrible defensively at first and in the OF.

Javier Vasquez is considering a return, if he can play for a contender. According to mlbtr he's hitting 92-93mph in workouts this winter.

3.98 ERA, 994 IP in his last 5 MLB seasons - 3 of them being in the AL.

IMHO he'd be a better 4/5 option than either Lannan or KK.

Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports wrote this very informative article on the new CBA and the draft/FA system.

It makes it clear why teams (like the Phillies) are so reluctant to surrender a first round draft pick.

A couple of quotes:

"The new draft format included fixed bonus pools for teams based on the previous year's record; the worst teams would get the most money. A separate rule transformed compensation for free agents who left. Teams would have to offer a player a one-year deal worth the average of the highest-paid 125 players in the major leagues the previous season – about $13.3 million this year. If another team chose to sign one of those players, it would forfeit its first-round draft choice and the bonus-pool money that came with it – unless it was a top 10 pick, in which case it would lose its second-rounder and the accompanying bonus value."

"In the old draft system, even when teams lost their first-round picks for free agents, they could overspend in later rounds to pluck players who slipped because of signability concerns. The pool system limits flexibility and creativity, leaving teams even more reticent to plunge into an already-inflated free-agent market when it's tied to the draft."

I think that pretty much explains it. It's not just that a team (Phils) would lose a first round pick to sign a Michael Bourn or Nick Swisher, but they would also lose the money allocated to that pick, and cannot pay over slot later in the draft.

Buster Olney put up his list of top 10 infields. The Phillies couldn't even beat out Cleveland for honorable mention. He must be very down on Howard & Utley's ability to rebound from last year's injury marred effort. He ranked the Phillies pitching staff 4th and the Outfield was outside the top 10 as well. All of which has me worried. The powerhouse Phillies teams all had top 5 infields, outfields and at least top 15 pitching staffs or much better. I suppose I can take some solace in the Cardinals and Giants teams that have won it all recently despite glaring deficiencies. However, I'm feeling a little pessimistic about the club's chances at the moment given their decision not to pursue Swisher. Hope Brown and Ruf are the real deal and Young has 1 more good year left in the tank.

I think Olney's opinions/analysis hold about as much weight as BAP's.

Unless you are cut_fastball, GTown or Hitman, that means I think he doesn't have a clue.

I agree that Olney is like most national guys in that he doesn't have a clue. The outfield of Ruf-Revere-Brown is obviously going to be boom or bust. The Infield Young-Rollins-Utley-Howard should be good if healthy (major caveat). It just struck me that not all that long ago the Phillies fielded infields and outfields that were chockablock with great players in the prime of their career, and now they don't. 2013 Phillies are the Wheeze Kids part Deux?

jbird- oh yeah, I agree with your larger point. It's funny (and sad) how quickly it happens.

So the infield should be Top 10 because "it might be good"?

How does that make any sense? There are legit reasons for a low ranking...first and foremost, the average age of all 4 starters is something like 34 and for it to be Top 10, you'd need 3 of the 4 to have bounceback years and Rollins to maintain his production from 2012.

Its not unreasonable to be down on them as an objective national observer.

Still, Rollins should be solid and Utley should be pretty good as well as he showed he can still produce at a high level once he came back. However, Howard is coming off a major injury that players sometimes simply do not recover from and Young will be 36 coming off the worst year of his career.

NEPP, you make valid points. However, it seems to me that Olney's (and your) analysis/ranking assumes the opposite.

To wit, how can you rank the Phillies infield AT ALL with so many question marks?

So, while Its not unreasonable to be down on them" for the health and age-related issues, those issues still add up to one big question mark.

If "Its not unreasonable to be down on them", it's also not unreasonable to be optimistic.

Howard could recover to a 35-45/120-130 player.
Utley stays healthy for 140+ games and put up an OPS similar to 2012
Rollins repeats 2012
Young rebounds to his '10-'12 average [.299/.341/.430]

Likely? Dunno, but in the realm of probabilities how likely is the polar opposite - that they ALL fall off the table?

Me? I am in the "wait and see" camp, and of the opinion that I expressed above:

If there are really that many question marks surrounding age and health, then how can they be ranked in the first place?

"...Young will be 36 coming off the worst year of his career."

You see NEPP, the optimist thinks this way:

"Young is only one year removed from leading the league in hits, putting up a 125 OPS+, and averaged a 118 OPS+ from 2009-2011."

They can be ranked because a baseball reporter decided to do rankings as a filler article in January. Personally, I'd split the difference and assume that at least 1 of the 3 question marks in our infield doesn't rebound (whether it be Young or Howard, I dont really know). I expect Utley & Rollins to be productive but I have no idea what to expect from Howard. It honestly depends on how well he healed from his surgery. He was playing on 1 leg last year. Some guys recover nearly 100% from that surgery and some limp around the rest of their life like Dan Marino did after his similar surgery.

On Young though, its not that usual for a guy to improve as he enters his late least in the post-steroid era.

If everything falls into place, they'll be a solid infield. Personally, I'd put it at 50/50 of that happening.

NEPP, sure, Olney can do it because it's filler and academic only, but it's also virtually meaningless at this point, especially as far as the Phillies are concerned.

NEPP: Indians Infield is Chisenhall-Cabrera-Kipnis-Reynolds. I would think that infield has quite a few question marks as well. Chisenhall played half as many games last year as Utley due to a fractured forearm, and he hasn't had a breakout season yet. Kipnis was a monster in the 1st half and a mouse in the 2nd, absolutely fell off a cliff production wise. Asdrubal Cabrera's production declined slightly almost across the board from 2011 to 2012 and Mark Reynolds is a textbook example of a boom or bust player who hits .240 in "good years". San Fran got ranked 9th with an infield of Panda-Crawford-Scutaro-Belt. Question marks galore. But, I wasn't really nitpicking the ranking in my prior post or crying about a national guy "hating philly", I was just pointing to the rankings as a general sign of the general degradation of the phillies' everyday players from the years when we were perennial favorites.

I would say that the Phillies (as a team and as an infield) have one of the largest variances in expected production of any team. I could see them winning 65 games and I could see them winning 95 and anything in between. There are just so many question marks on the current roster and Rube will probably add a couple of tertiary pieces before Opening Day that will change the odds.

I also agree that such ranking articles are stupid in early January as there are still a good number of FAs out there that would change things. At least wait until some ST games have been played to see guys' statuses.

But what does Bleacher Report say?

LOL...good one.

RAJ needs to shake up this offseason with a big trade. I don't think I can hold out until spring training.

If you're trying to predict the best infield performance in 2013, I'm pretty sure Rollins is the only guy in our infield that you can clearly put in as a strength. Utley Howard and Young are saturated in uncertainity - that makes it pretty hard to name the infield as a top 10.

I think its pretty safe to consider Utley a strength as well. As long as he actually works out all winter, he's shown that he can still produce at an elite level (for a 2B).

Howard and Young are far bigger question marks.

All this said, watch Young, Utley and Howard have career years while Rollins blows out his knee in the 1st week of April.

You know, kinda like when we look at a series and say "Wow, we've got Cole, Lee and KK going so we'll probably win those first 2 and lose the finale" but in reality Cole or Lee blow up for a loss and KK throws 8 innings of shutout ball.

Baseball is fun that way.

65 games? My floor for this team is high 70s and that is just about most thing go wrong for this team like they did last year. If they are plagued with injuries again and don't get much production from their younger players, then yeah I could see them potentially winning 77-78 but that is pretty much a worst-case scenario.

Strikes me a lot like the Phils prior to '07 where on paper they have a pretty good team but you need to see how things play out only with those teams always having question marks about how good their pitching was & did they have enough.

This team has enough pitching. Just a lot of health-related question marks that will impact the offense & to a lesser degree the defense.

It should be the most interesting spring training in several years though because there are a ton of things to watch & several younger players competing for spots in the OF & bullpen.

I saw somewhere that CNN has bought Bleacher Report as their new online sports affliate, ending its relationship with Sports Illustrated, hah what a joke.

The single sole good thing about Bleacher Report is that they have such a large population of people who they let write articles, so almost any topic you can think of is usually addressed.

I can't tell if that same reason is the worst thing about the site too, its either that or the slideshow format.

NEPP: True on Utley, but what kills it for me is that on this very date in 2012, Utley was considered a definite strength.

I am personally confident, but can certainly see why someone else wouldn't give the Phils too much credit for Utley's 2013 production.

"It should be the most interesting spring training in several years though because there are a ton of things to watch & several younger players competing for spots in the OF & bullpen."

I feel like MG says this every year. Actually, I feel like MG has a program where his posts all have to include one stock phrase. Like, "Really interesting to see if Charlie can finally learn to handle the bullpen and not overwork the relievers by July" or "Gonna be a lot of boos especially if [insert player here] struggles early at home" and "would be interested to see the season ticket sales--would bet revenue is down at least 10-15%," and, of course, "one of the weakest crowds I can remember at CBP last night--fans were leaving in the 7th inning and no cheering at all [after a 12-2 loss on a Tuesday night in May]."

Those comments are all interesting and valid, of course. I don't mean to pick on MG. It's just kind of funny--it's like a top 40 radio station that keeps playing the same songs over again in some sort of rotation.

***65 games? My floor for this team is high 70s and that is just about most thing go wrong for this team like they did last year. If they are plagued with injuries again and don't get much production from their younger players, then yeah I could see them potentially winning 77-78 but that is pretty much a worst-case scenario. ***

The only reason I go so low is that I could see a mass selloff if they are doing terrible in July and are something like 20 games out...

I can't wait for someone to respond with the inevitable, "I fell like Jack says this every year" post!

Why all the concern over Utley, Howard, and Young? I feel like they've all been working out and are in the best shape of their lives.

I look forward to MG's "really no reason to go to an AA or AAA game this year. Only a couple of guys really worth seeing on these teams, and only worth it b/c seats are so cheap."

Jack is right on his analysis of MG (I would equate it more to a CD or record skipping, but the Top 40 station is a pretty good analogy)- however he would never say this: "Really interesting to see if Charlie can finally learn to handle the bullpen and not overwork the relievers by July."

He's never going to have faith in Cholly to do what he wants with the bullpen, mostly because he constantly moves the goalposts. The Top 40 line would be, "Not looking forward to seeing Cholly manage this bullpen with few paint-by-numbers options. He has no feel for a pitching staff. Worst manager when it comes to pitching decisions I've seen since Grady Little."

ZiPS is agnostic on who actually gets playing time. It projects *equivalent* playing time, what the line is projected to look like if, in fact, the player played in the majors. I try to use the computer for what the computer is good at - sorting through objective information, good, guessing team future plans, bad.

In addition, I like giving too much information than not enough. Knowing that, say, Zach Collier would be projected to hit 230/286/321 in the majors is more useful information than projecting him to hit 000/000/000.

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