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Thursday, February 28, 2013

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Michael, I gave you all those at-bats last year, like you demanded. I want the negatives, I'm not kidding!

Looks very much like what could be the Opening Day lineup.

Did I miss that Chollie plans to bat Revere lead off? Don't see it happening.

Nor should it, until Revere can prove that he can get on base at a higher percentage than Rollins.

I wouldn't be surprised if Charlie toys with Revere at 1 and Jimmy at 2. I'd much rather prefere Jimmy at 1 and Revere at 9.

I'd much rather prefer Revere at 9, Chase at 1, and Jimmy at 6, but alas..

ZiPS projection:

Revere: .328 / .342
Rollins: .325 / .422

I'd rather have the guy with more power hitting lower in the lineup.

Best set-up man since 2009 does not matter because I have been assured by Jack that this was money poorly spent because relievers are fungible.

please, please, please be healthy and effective Mike Adams.

Even in his best season Mike Adams put up no more than a 1.9 WAR. Now I know WAR isn't supposed to correlate to real life wins and losses, but how many more games would the Phillies have won last year if they'd had a shutdown setup man? 9? 10?

ramsey, a 3 point advantage in OBP despite an 80 point advantage in power in no way justifies giving Revere far more PA than Jimmy Rollins. I'd rather have the better overall hitter get more PAs, unless the worse hitter has a significant advantage in OBP.

That is the Opening Day lineup I'd like to see, too, minus the DH--only not in that order. Providing that Brown keeps raking (I personally think his power surge is a mirage, but let's hope it's not) and Ruf catches fire, this is what I'd like to see:

1 Revere
2 Young
3 Utley
4 Howard
5 Ruf
6 Brown
7 Rollins
8 Kratz
9 P

The lefties are still not split up that way, but I think Young would do much better in the 2-hole than in the 5-hole (if Brown really is for real, he'd make a good 2-hole batter, but that would give us four lefties in a row counting Revere--not a good idea). I really think Rollins' time in the leadoff spot should be over, but I don't want to ever see him hitting third again after his performances in that slot the past two seasons.

Also--and this is something Cholly would never do--if Brown and Ruf pan out and Howard continues his career decline, I'd seriously consider putting one of them in the fourth hole and dropping Howard in the lineup--but, as long as he's making 25 million and can still move, I think he'll own that spot.

Revere
Utley
Ruiz
Howard
Rollins
Brown
Nix/Mayberry/Ruff/D. Young
M. Young
pitcher

That's my lineup if I'm making the decisions.


It's too simplistic an analysis to look at 8th inning losses last year, plug in Adams, and ad 10 wins to our total. We certainly would have won more games, but perhaps those pitchers who blew leads in the 8th would have simply blown them in the 7th. And of course, the butterfly effect.

also, WAR for relievers is fundamentally flawed, in my opinion, because relievers aren't replaced by "replacement players", but instead by the next pitcher in the bullpen, and so the difference ends up being a change of pitcher in that reliever's spot, and a change of pitcher in the lowest leverage innings, which is a big difference from just simply replacing a stud reliever with a replacement level pitcher.

TTI: Oh, 2009 Mike Adams is pitching for us this year? Sick.

Man, technology really has improved. Can we get 2006 Ryan Howard in the lineup while we're at it?

Rollins in the 5 or 6 hole would be nice. This is assuming of course that Revere can get a .350 and above OBP.

Anyway, my point is never that Adams was fungible. In fact, I specifically excepted him from the category of "fungible" relievers (whereas, say, Chad Durbin is extremely fungible).

I think Adams was a perfectly good acquisition who will make the team slightly better. My point was always two-fold: one, that the team could've upgraded the team more in the corner OF spots or with a 4th starter; and two, that throwing money at the bullpen was trying to fix a problem that was largely going to solve itself. The Phils' relievers actually had pretty solid peripherals last year--there's no reason to think the bullpen wouldn't have improved anyway. Still, Adams will help that, of course. Provided he's healthy and that last year's dip in his numbers wasn't a harbinger of decline.

Has anyone looked at Michael Young's batting order splits last season? There's a considerable difference in his AVG and OBP when hitting 5th vs. 6th:

5th: 287 AB, 33/2/25, .268/.294OBP
6th: 190 AB, 28/5/26, .289/.337OBP

because relievers aren't replaced by "replacement players", but instead by the next pitcher in the bullpen,

But then the "next" pitcher is replaced by the "next next" pitcher, etc. I can't tell you that the ripple effect is as strong as replacing your theoretically second best RP with your 8th best RP, but I'd imagine it's pretty close.

Probably too small of a sample size to be meaningful.

At the risk of injecting myself into others' conversation, here was Jack's very first post after the Adams signing:

"Solid move. Makes the team better."

He later supplemented that post by saying:

"It's a fine move, but I don't think it guarantees anything, even that the bullpen will be a lot better.

How can you all be so sure that Adams will be good? Have you looked at his declining K rate and declining velocity and the fact that he's coming off surgery?

I don't get this "well, now the 8th inning is solved." The 8th inning is only solved if Adams is healthy and very good. How can all of you be so sure that he will be, knowing what we know about him and about reliever performance being so random?"

I don't think that's quite the same thing as saying, "this was money poorly spent because relievers are fungible." What he said was: it's a solid move, but let's not pretend that it's a guarantee to work out."

Edmundo, good point. There's obviously a dropoff, but I think it's too simplistic to claim that you're replacing Reliever A with Replacement Level Reliever A. It may work out that way, but I would venture that it generally doesn't.

It warrants further study (of which I'm sure someone is currently engaged).

Fats: WAR may be flawed for relievers, but the Phillies were so bad in the 8th, it makes you wonder how impactful solving that problem would be. Of course last year was last year and this year is this year. No way to say things play out exactly as they did last year with or without Adams, fortune is fickle.

"The overall decline is dramatic - a half-million seats, down to about 2.6 million from at least 3.1 million a year ago.

Fans might wonder if that could spell trouble sustaining one of the biggest payrolls in the league.

It's important to put the figures in context, Weber said."

http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/20130228_Phillies_ticket_sales_way_down.html

Here's the context. Ticket sales are down over 16% this offseason and I bet are off more than the Marketing Dept predicted at the start of the offseason.

Basically, Amaro's hands were tied this offseason (largely of his own making though) forcing him to only pursue short-term contracts at moderate dollars. The FO is clearly very concerned about the drop in gate revenues this year & in '14. It is why they avoided handing out any large dollar contracts over a multiyear period.

I would imagine if the Phils are in the thick of things at the deadline they will take on additional salary but it will be only moderate dollars & only if they think it will clearly put them in a much stronger position to make the playoffs.

If they are out of it at the deadline again a few games before .500, I anticipate they will have another fire sale where they look to dump salary first and foremost with prospects a secondary consideration.

From Murphy's piece today:
Short of hitting Utley leadoff, something Manuel has never given a hint of consideration, there isn't a logical order that does not have Rollins at the top. Revere is fast, there is no denying that. But the guy has not shown any power in his first 2 years, and when you look at him up close and in batting practice, it is hard to envision that power suddenly emerging this season. I'm not saying he's small, but I'd take Juan Pierre in a wrestling match.

-----

So because Revere is devoid of power he SHOULDN'T hit leadoff? Um, ok. This is the very reason why you would hit him leadoff and not at the back end of the order where he will be asked to drive the ball to create some runs. Am I missing something here? I understand he will get more PA hitting leadoff but his skill set is such that he really can't hit anywhere else and get the same use of his speed.

My lineup would still be:

Revere
Utley
Young
Howard
Rollins
Brown
Ruf/Nix
Kratz
P

@jbird, I'm in on that same lineup when Ruiz returns.

Rollins in the 5 or 6 hole would be nice. This is assuming of course that Revere can get a .350 and above OBP.

Posted by: RedBurb

Of course hitting Revere leadoff and the success of such a move will be dependent upon him improving his OBP but I think that's a risk worth taking. And if it isn't working that doesn't mean it can't be changed.

MG: I wonder though if ticket sales would have been goosed by a big acquisition. Hamilton, most definitely. Swisher maybe. The quiet offseason probably hasn't helped to increase excitement about this coming season with the low-information fan.

I agree with you though that a struggling team will prompt a firesale. Everything not nailed down (Hamels, Howard, Revere, & Brown, maybe Rollins) could go.

Joe D: Aside from the fact that putting Revere first and Rollins later means you're giving more ABs to the inferior hitter, the real issue is Revere's lack of power and his mediocre OBP.

If he were getting on-base significantly more often than Rollins, it would make sense to put him there, but if it's going to be about the same level anyway, why wouldn't you want someone more likely to be on 2nd before the next guy comes to the plate (possibly stealing 3rd during the AB)?

Speed plays well in the 7-8-9 area of the lineup, since it gives you a chance to mess with opposing pitchers at a point where your hitters aren't the best. In addition to possibly getting more mistakes for your mediocre hitters, you also give them a chance to help move him over in time for the lineup to turn over.

***"The overall decline is dramatic - a half-million seats, down to about 2.6 million from at least 3.1 million a year ago***

Doom & Gloom: OMG, tickets are down, Rube and Ownership are gonna break up the team and never spend again.

Reality: Its a month until Opening Day and we've already sold more tickets than 18 other clubs sold all of last year.

I think we'll be fine. We'll still be one of the top teams in attendance in 2013.

How did I know MG would be the first to post that article?

Joe D, because OBP and power are the two most important aspects of hitting, and you want your best hitters hitting as often as possible.

Unless Revere is significantly outstripping Rollings in the OBP department, the power difference between two IS significant enough to warrant Rollins getting more plate appearances.

***How did I know MG would be the first to post that article?***

Not only post it but take the most negative spin possible...

I know I typically want my power bats up with nobody on base...that's when they can really drive in the runs.

Power should matter to the decision because power is part of what makes someone a better hitter. Rollins is a better hitter than Revere. Ergo, he should hit more.

Hitting leadoff is only a very little bit about maximizing strategy that usually only ever really exists in the 1st inning anyway. It's mostly about maximizing the amount of ABs a player gets in a game and in a season. Your better hitters should hit early because they get more ABs. If Rollins is a better hitter than Revere, he should get more ABs. Simple as that.

***If Rollins is a better hitter than Revere, he should get more ABs. Simple as that.
***

Why not just bat them 1/2 with Revere leading off and Rollins hitting behind him then? The 2 hole still takes good advantage of Rollins' speed and also factors in his ability to drive in runs. Having Revere on in front of him is a great boon.

To clarify, if Revere has a .335 OBP and a .350 SLG, while Jimmy has a .325 OBP, but a .420 SLG, does the extra handful of times that Revere's on base during the season justify the fact that Jimmy hits for more power, thus able to drive in slower runners at the back of the order (pithcer, Ruf, Young, etc), while also getting to 2nd and 3rd by virtue of a double or triple?

Now, if Revere had a .355 OBP to Rollins .325, then absolutely, put him int he leadoff spot.

But Revere's advantage in OBP has to make up for his disadvantage in SLG.

Phillibuster, you hit on a good point about Revere's speed creating problems down in the order and giving some inferior hitters better pitches to hit. I see that point. But can't Rollins do the same thing hitting 5th? Get the 6-7-8 guys some good pitches by causing distractions of his own.

Now I understand the OBP argument. Revere hasn't shown that he can get on at that great of a clip but he's still young and this could be the turning of the tide for him. This lineup just needs an infusion of life. I have seen them spin their wheels for too long. Jimmy is now open to the move. Let's make it happen. Generate some excitement. If it fails, pull the plug.

NEPP: I would hit Revere 9th. You get that same tactical advantage when Revere is on base in front of Rollins, without having to give a bad offensive player (which is what Revere is) an extra 70-90 ABs over the season.

Jack: so should the Tigers bat Miguel Cabrera or Prince Fielder 1st? Cabrera had the better year, but I do love watching the fat man leg out a triple.

Let me say that at least we can all have this discussion. It's nice that there actually seems to be options/flexibility with this lineup as opposed to having Hector Luna hit cleanup.

For this, I am grateful.

Joe D, Jimmy's always been open to the move, but outside of Chase Utley, he's generally been the team's best leadoff hitter option (except for Pierre last year, I suppose).

Jack's point is the most salient. Give your best hitters the most PA possible.

"(whereas, say, Chad Durbin is extremely fungible)."

Not the word starting with 'f' I would have used :)

***I would hit Revere 9th. ***

Yes and that will NEVER happen. So, based on the perimeters that UC has set with how he constructs lineups, how would you bat him. UC will NEVER bat anyone but the pitcher 9th.

Jack, Revere 9th would be the best solution. Many of us have pointed that out but it will never happen.

jbird - That's not his point. Also Cabrera and Fielder have much higher slugging % than Rollins. This factors into the decision too.

Fatalotti, I know that Rollins has always been the best leadoff option. That has always been the case. This year presents the opportunity for change though.

Who said they would never spend again? When the TV contract gets renegotiated in '15, that should help to really displace what will be a likely shortfall in gate revenues the team will have if their on field performance starts to level off.

I don't expect will be go back to the bad-old days of the 90s but I do expect the team payroll to be meaningfully reduced over the next 2 years (say 20-25% below what it was last year) as this team begins a rebuilding process/transition period.

jbird - Hamilton would have put them well over the luxury tax threshold and I bet even the notable boost in ticket sales & gate revenues wouldn't have been enough to get this team to a comfortable financial position. Forbes estimated they had a negative operating income last year. I don't buy that but do buy that there is some real concern about what the margins will be this year.

Right now fans are just dipping their toe in with this team. If they come out and have a hot April all the idiots that populate the greater metro area will flock to CBP in their ill shirts.

Joe: While I'm not averse to Revere leading off, I would say you don't give him the spot on the assumption that he's going to turn around his plate discipline issues without any empirical evidence to back it up.

Bat him down in the lineup (7-8-9, which is later than you should be hitting an above-average offensive guy like Rollins) and let him prove he's going to get on-base more often. He should be doing it down there anyway, just by virtue of coming to the plate with inferior bats behind him.

If, after maybe 2/3-to-one-month in, he's showing on-base skills in the .350+ range, then you can make the switch. Doing it to start the season just seems like making a change for the sake of making one, however - especially since Rollins has plenty of speed/base-stealing smarts himself.

I would be curious to see what the lineup optimizer would say. I just don't have the time to plug in the numbers.

I would like to see Joe D lineup early on. Can't say I am a fan of hitting JRoll 2nd and keeping Utley/Howard back-to-back.

JRoll has really struggled vs LHP the last few years and it makes it way too easy for an opposing manager to put a LHP reliever on the mound with the top of the order up with that lineup today.

Joe D - Yeah. What i bet happened this offseason is that the under 30 crowd which has been a huge staple at CBP the last few years didn't scoop up those 3-game and 6-game ticket packages like they have in the past few years.

If the team gets out to a really strong start, I expect they will be back in large numbers once the weather warms a bit.

I think having tickets available is a good thing. I would rather walk up to the gate and get standing room than going on Stubhub.

Phillibuster, I'd be on board with giving Revere a so-called trial run and timetable to up his OBP for the better part of April. But at that time if he does succeed how confident will you be in Charlie making the switch? He can never get out of his own way it seems.

Jack: As long as we're talking about stuff Charlie will never do (hit Revere 9th), why not dream about not giving the most PAs to one of our two worst hitters?

Revere might have the lowest projected wOBA of the regulars, but Rollins has the second lowest (lower than the brothers Young and even Kratz). Rollins and Revere should both be relegated to hitting 6-9.

***say 20-25% below what it was last year)***

You seriously expect our payroll in 2014 to be in the $129 M-$137.6 M range? For one, I think you're ignoring that they start getting $50+ million in national TV revenue starting in 2014 regardless of the local tv rights that come in 2015. Also, their estimated payroll if they stand pat is already $130 million. You expect them to add no players whatsoever next year through FA? It means playing rookies at 2B, 3B, C as well as in the rotation as well.

I really dont see that happening.

NEPP: If I couldn't hit Revere 9th, I'd hit him 8th.

I believe the most efficient lineups through the lineup optimizer all have Revere either 9th or 8th, though I could be misremembering.

MG, that's my feeling on J-Roll hitting 2 as well. You are setting up a run of fail with him-Utley-Howard if there is a lefty on the mound. Now with my lineup you are really putting a lot of faith in Young but that's all you can do. When Ruiz returns you hope he can pick up from last season and you can then hit him 3.

***Rollins and Revere should both be relegated to hitting 6-9.***

Who would you bat leading off then...throw out a lineup constructed with Rollins/Revere in the bottom 3rd.

MG, the real snag with relying on TV money is that every team is going to be seeing an influx of money from TV deals (since sports is the last safe harbor of the TV world, they're going to invest heavily).

So while the Phillies will have much more money, will the money from the TV deal be enough to keep them as one of the top salaried teams in the league?

Jack: I just like jostling you over the fungible comment. However, he isn't fungible but the problem could've fixed itself-your comment- is "po-tay-to, po-tah-to" to me.

***You are setting up a run of fail with him-Utley-Howard if there is a lefty on the mound***

Rollins has a nearly even career platoon split. Its about 10 OPS points.

NEPP - Depending upon if this team makes the playoffs or not, yeah I do.

If they do make the playoffs this year, that will go a long way how they approach next offseason too because I bet interest will remain fairly strong.

They have $100M committed next year but yeah I do expect that if things go drastically wrong this year like they did last year that the Phils will possibly look to move a big salary and come into the '14 season with a $145-$150M payroll next year.

A couple of thoughts (as MG might say):

1. Pitchers tend to make the final out of the inning, so it's not just the 1st inning in which the leadoff hitter actually leads off.

2. Even if it DOES only matter in the 1st inning, I would argue that the 1st inning has a disproportionate impact on the game. For one thing, many starters have a tendency to struggle early in the game but settle down thereafter. For another, relief specialists generally take over the game from the 7th inning on -- which tends to nullify some of our better run producers. The early innings are our best chance to score.

3. Rollins is certainly a better all-around hitter than Revere, but only because of his power -- which is somewhat wasted when he leads off innings & bats behind the pitcher & guys like Galvis & Mini-Mart.

4. Rollins is no longer the .328 OBP player that his career numbers say he is. It's more like .315 or .320 -- which is a pretty goodly drop-off from Revere's .333 2013 clip. And, given Revere's age and minor league performance, it's fair to expect some improvement on that .333 number.

5. Speed does matter at the top of the lineup. Rollins is still a terrific base stealer, but Revere's much better. He's the fastest guy in baseball & he very rarely gets thrown out. If he plays 150 games, he could easily steal 50 to 60 bases -- which means all of those singles are turning into doubles.

Ok, that's more than a couple. But I would make the leap of faith & put Revere in the leadoff spot.

NEPP:

Without Ruiz:
Utley
Brown
M Young
Howard
Ruf/DY
Rollins
Kratz
P
Revere

With Ruiz:
Utley
Ruiz
M Young
Howard
Brown
Ruf/DY
Rollins
P
Revere

I don't think WAR is necessarily flawed for relievers. It's just taking pitching stats and converting them into runs. The "wins" and "replacement level" concepts are basically frills; the replacement level baseline is arbitrary and might not bear relation to how a player might actually be replaced, but it's the same baseline for each position, so you get to make comparisons. Even if you can't relate a reliever's WAR to team wins in a meaningful way, you can still look at a reliever with 1.5 WAR and be fairly confident that he performed better than a 0.5 WAR reliever (after normalizing for IP).

As BAP has said, WAR would be an infinitely better stat if it just represented itself as a unitless score or rating. The usefulness comes from the part that inputs results and process stats and spits out runs, not the other part that takes in runs and spits out wins; that's just dressy obscurantism designed to sell the stat, and leads to very bizarre misinterpretations. The replacement concept is kind of the same way.

***that the Phils will possibly look to move a big salary and come into the '14 season with a $145-$150M payroll next year. ***

So basically right around the same level as this year (we're at $153.9 million right now). Hardly a 20-25% drop from our 2012 numbers. Even the low end of $145 million is a 15% cut from 2012. Just given salary inflation and that influx of national tv money, I dont see it.

One thing worth noting about that Baseball Musings lineup optimizer: there's a square for entering OBP and a square for entering SLG but there isn't a square for entering SBs. Which means it's not even considering that attribute when it spits out its optimal lineups.

How can you not love a post which uses the word "obscurantism?"

***4. Rollins is no longer the .328 OBP player that his career numbers say he is. It's more like .315 or .320 ***

To support this point by bap, Rollins has a .316 OBP over the past 4 seasons.

He's also a great hitter with RISP and Men On. He's got a career .871 OPS with RISP and an .832 OPS with Men On.

TTI: Well, those aren't the same, actually, and it's not that hard to follow why.

I think Adams can help the bullpen be better, but he's not the *only* thing that will help. What I'm saying is that if you assume improvement in the bullpen, Adams will contribute on top of improvement that already would've occurred due to better performance by existing players. Whereas you seem ready to credit him with 100% of any improvement that occurs.

I just don't see how you can compare career OBPs for Revere and Rollins and not take into account the fact that Rollins OBP is on the decline while you would think/hope Revere's is on the up and up.

Fat - I don't track the cable market closely enough but it has been fascinating to see the dynamics of the music industry as they chase off YouTube and all of the streaming revenues now. Retailers too with a bunch of major retailers dying a slow death for several reasons (e.g., their US customers are broke, they have pushed the economics of the supply logistics chain as far as they could, commodities have exploded in price the past decade, and Bernanke's ZIRP world is causing all kinds of stealth inflation).

The big issues in MLB spending are the luxury tax threshold penalty & the draft pool money hit for losing a 1st round draft pick. The luxury tax threshold sets a pretty strong artificial ceiling on what teams will spend. Only exception was the Dodgers and they were a unique case this offseason. I don't expect that will happen again this coming offseason.

As for the Phils, it really does come down to how they do this season and if they make the playoffs again. If they do, they likely don't slam the door shut entirely on this core & are willing to play things out for one more year. If they don't and aren't competitive by the ASB, it is rebuilding time and I expect that will mean a moderation in payroll a bit until the local TV deal is renegotiated.

I meant a 20-25% drop from the $173M salary figure in '12.

BAP: You make some valid points.

I take issue with point 2, though. I just don't think that's right, as an empirical matter.

As to the effect of starters "settling in," do you have any evidence to support it? I'd be shocked if the runs given up by starting pitchers was more in the first than in, say, the 5th, once you adjust for the fact that they're facing the best part of the lineup in the 1st inning. I'm happy to say I'm wrong if you show me the numbers, but it doesn't seem right to me as a matter of pure conjecture.

And as to relief specialists, I think that washes out. You may have a better chance to score off a team's 5th starter than their relief specialists, but if I'm playing the Dodgers, I like my chances better to score off their relievers than off Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke.

***I meant a 20-25% drop from the $173M salary figure in '12.***

That's the baseline I was using.

The biggest thing about the Phillies payroll is that there is a handful of guys who make up the bulk of it. Lee, Hamels, Howard, Halladay, Utley. I'd say that 3 of these 5 guys are immovable at come deadline time this season if they are struggling. The 2 moveable ones (Halladay and Lee) are up in age and Doc will have to prove himself as healthy to draw the interest you'd want. You aren't dealing Hamels because he is now your ace and centerpiece for years to come. Howard and Utley won't generate enough interest for obvious reasons (Howard-$ and age) and Utley (health).

Actually Utley will be pretty tradeable if he comes out healthy to start the year and performs to his career averages but at the point he is a rental and the ROI will be low for the Phillies one would think.

Jack: I don't have any numbers which say that starters tend to be worse in the 1st inning. It's just based on my own observations & impressions. It feels like it's a pretty common pattern for a starter to struggle early, settle down, and then pitch well until he begins tiring. If the numbers say that my theory is wrong, then I guess it's wrong. But I don't know.

Lineup Optimizer (I didn't include Ruf because his split have an insanely low sample size):

vs. RHP:
1. Ruiz
2. Utley
3. Brown/Rollins/MYoung
4. Howard
5. MYoung/Rollins
6. Nix
7. Rollins/Brown
8. Pitcher
9. Revere

vs. LHP
1. Utley
2. MYoung/DYoung
3. Ruiz
4. Mayberry
5. MYoung/DYoung
6. Howard
7. Rollins
8. Pitcher
9. Revere

Not a bad lineup vs. RHP (which I believe is about 2/3 of all pitchers)

NEPP - I also meant 2 years out ('15) before the renewed TV contract kicks in.

This season is really important for several reasons including what the fiscal health of the team will look like for the next few years and what Amaro's prognosis is here for the longer-term.

If they don't make the playoffs this year, both will trend in a negative direction & Amaro will basically be a lame duck here until his contract ends in '15.

AT's head would explode if Brown batted 3rd.

I bet Utley would have a harm time passing a physical for another team.

If Halladay is healthy and even 85-90% of what he was in '10-'11, he'll be the biggest name available at the deadline if the Phils are scuffling.

King -- are those based on projections or career numbers or what?

True, MG. The physical aspect would be a huge stumbling block. I just don't see how this team can really even further shed payroll other than the obvious of Utley coming clean off the books.

BAP: I looked at the Phillies' own splits last year.

Interestingly, they did score the most times in the first inning, compared to any other inning. However, in terms of runs allowed, they allowed runs more in the fourth, sixth, eighth and second innings than they did in the first.

So I'm not sure what that tells us, except that the 2012 Phillies' pitching staff really struggled in even-numbered innings.

Jack: I know what the Phillies' 8th inning numbers tell us. The other innings, I'm not so sure.

I'm not surprised at all that the 1st inning was the Phillies' most productive one last year. It feels like there were like 80 games in which they scored in the 1st inning & then never scored again. Of all the formulas for a Phillies loss, I think that one is probably the single most exasperating to me -- or at least 2nd most exasperating behind a Jonathan Papelbon meltdown.

I'll never understand this BL typepad filter. Sometimes the words are very clear & I type them 100% correctly, but it still doesn't accept my post. And sometimes I can't read it at all, or I feel myself hit the wrong key while typing out the word, and it accepts the post anyhow. Go figure.

As I was scrolling I noticed a comment referencing the drop in ticket sales.

There was no doubt who posted it.

Winning solves everything. If this team is winning, the attendance will return. If this team is losing it won't.

Is there really anything else to be said?

Problem with the firesale scenario is that if Halladay, Howard, & Utley are healthy and effective, the team won't be out of it. If they aren't healthy and effective, no body will want them.

Lineup Optimizer (I didn't include Ruf because his split have an insanely low sample size):

vs. RHP:
1. Ruiz
2. Utley
3. Brown/Rollins/MYoung
4. Howard
5. MYoung/Rollins
6. Nix
7. Rollins/Brown
8. Pitcher
9. Revere
10. Mini Mart

vs. LHP
1. Utley
2. MYoung/DYoung
3. Ruiz
4. Mayberry
5. MYoung/DYoung
6. Howard
7. Rollins
8. Pitcher
9. Revere
10. Mini Mart

MG & NEPP~ As far as season tickets being down, there are 2 trains of though: 1. Nepp, your're right, there's still amonth to go before opening day and things could change. They may not draw 3.1 but 2.5 - 2.7 isn't bad.

2. I could see why sales are down. The team does not appear to be as good as in years past, and phans may be reluctant to spend dollars. And with the lackluster off-season (as one poster here put it recently), can anyone find fault in phans' reluctancy?

If they don't make the playoffs again this year, I would expect that season ticket sales will go down agin next year. Reality may have set in by then.

***They may not draw 3.1 but 2.5 - 2.7 isn't bad.***

Its Feb 28th and they've already drawn 2.6 Million. if they fail to sell another ticket this year, they'll finish around 12th in attendance. I imagine they'll sell some more tickets as the season goes by.

Jack: you can't just assume everything fixes itself though. That would've been egregious on Amaro's part.

Here is why I see some overlap in your thoughts. I'm not anointing Adams as the only reason for bullpen improvement- should that happen. What I am
Saying is that in adding Adams you have added a legitimate proven set up guy. They didn't really have that last year other than relying on an aging, injured Contreras.

I hope a guy(s) like Aumont/DeFratus bust out as a big back end arm but or now we needed a stabilizing veteran presence and as far as set-up men go we got arguably the best one over the past 4 years. Adding him means we can take some pressure off young guys and let them develop into roles and get experienced.

A healthy Halladay goes a long way towards helping the bullpen too as it means far less 6th & 7th inning appearances by middle-relievers.

TTI - Its up to Aumont and Adams. I am working from home today and will probably tune in to watch Adams pitch.

Off topic...Nick Swisher...
Interesting comment in a JOEL SHERMAN article:

"Like Wells and Swisher, players such as Chamberlain have a shelf life for any one organization, a time frame before they just wear everyone down with the look-at-me noise."

I thought what BAP is saying- that starters, especially the good/great ones, settle in after the first inning ("You have to get to them early")- was a pretty common theory. And I agree with him that what I've watched over the years, without looking at statistics, only reinforces that idea. But I've never looked at stats on it.

BAP: It's possible, of course, that given the Phils' depleted lineup last year, there was a much stronger disparity than normal between the top of the lineup and the bottom of the lineup, especially in games early in the year when Chooch hit 4th. It might just be that the 1st inning they scored more often because that's the only inning in which real major-league hitters were guaranteed to hit in order.

When the bottom of your lineup consists of Wigginton, Polanco, Galvis, and Mini-Mart, it shouldn't be a surprise when you don't score in a lot of innings.

Iceman: I've certainly heard the theory. But it strikes me as a classic old baseball theory that may well not actually stand up to scrutiny. My sense is that the times when it happens stand out, but you don't really notice the times when a guy like Doc gets a 1-2-3 first but gives up a cheap run in the 4th, you know? For all we know, the latter happens just as often as the former, it just doesn't get commented upon.

But I don't know, either.

The Phillies drew 3.1M fans in 2007. Does anyone *really* believe they'll draw fewer fans this year than they did in 2007?

And the Phillies have sold more tickets prior to the start of the season than they did in 2009... en route to 3.6M in attendance.

I'll have to save my panic for something more real.

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