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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

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“Velocity is not as important to me as feeling good”

I see nothing wrong with this at all

I applaud Cruz for hating the Chad Durbin signing as much as us.

Haren has a $13M deal from the Nats.

I see Stutes starting in AAA.

And thus began the "Phillie Killer" portion of Juan Cruz's storied career.

Sounds like Stutes is in the best shape of his career.

Fata (last thread): I agree that the Braves could be the second-best team in the NL. I think it's up for debate, but they're certainly in the conversation. I don't think they're in the conversation for the second best team of all of baseball.

Of the three competitors in the NL East, I think the only real sure thing is the Nats. I think the Braves are better than the Phils on paper, but there are so many unknowns with both teams that I could see it going either way. A lot of turnover on that Braves roster, and they lost arguably their two best regulars last year (Prado and Jones), along with a quality CF in Bourn. On the other hand, they have a lot of good, young talent that could break out at any time. And there's always the chance that the Uptons feed off each other and take their game to another level.

If the Braves get starting pitching like they have in the past couple of years, I think you can pencil them in for 93-95 wins and a playoff spot. But that's not a given. And they certainly aren't better than Washington or Anaheim (or even Toronto and Tampa) on paper, and the Giants are right up there, also. I just think it's a pretty reactionary 'ranking' by SI to the Upton trade, though I guess any 'rankings' are meaningless anyway.

If a guy doesn't think he can pitch his way ahead of Chad Durbin on the bullpen depth chart, that's pretty much all you need to know.

rolo: As to your point before, the guy is a) making a subjective and completely irrelevant list of teams, so, honestly, who gives a crap? and b) he has two sentences to create a narrative for the teams.

Is it really that crazy for the narratives to be--

Nats: Great young team, added a couple veterans, plus they're adding a couple guys back who missed time last year.

Phillies: Great pitching staff, serious question marks on offense.

I mean, I might not make that the narrative about the Nationals regarding injuries (though obviously everyone is going to talk about Strasburg), but both narratives seem at least relatively accurate to me. I don't know why you would impose some sort of requirement that all the narratives refer to each other (i.e., well, the Nationals' narrative said they had injuries, the Phils' one therefore must too!). It just seems so weird to care about this.

Iceman, yeah, preseason rankings don't really mean anything.

And as much as I like the Angels, their rotation has as many, if not more question marks than the Braves. Now the Angels offense is more formidable than the Braves, but I could see ranking the Braves ahead of the Halos.

I like Toronto this year, but I always have trouble ranking the Rays ahead of elite teams before the season starts. For as good as the Rays are, they don't have many superstars, and rely a lot on what Maddon can squeeze out of the roster. They do a great job, but I would imagine their variance is higher than most teams.

I would go like this:

1. Nationals
2. Blue Jays
3. Cincinnati
4. Anaheim
5. Braves

That's just off the top of my head.

The Toronto Blue Jays lost 89 games last year.

Second best team in baseball? I'll believe it when I see it. All they did was win the off-season... like the Marlins did last year.

It's going to be a killer when the Phils lose out on the second wild-card spot in October because they had too low a preseason power ranking from the guy at SI.

Jack: Certainly not as important as playoff chance percentages in June! ;-)

"And there's always the chance that the Uptons feed off each other and take their game to another level."

Iceman, I agree with 'half' of that statement. There's a chance Justin could go wild, but BJ is what he is, IMHO.

Jack, you missed my point.

Again, which team was more affected by injuries in 2012, the Nats or Phils?

KAS, don't forget the Angels. They won big in the offseason last year too.

Fata: that's a good list. I have a slightly different order.

1) Anaheim
2) Washington
3) Toronto
4) Detroit
5) Cincy

Giants/Braves/Tampa behind them in some order, with Cleveland and LA being two interesting wild cards.

As for the Phils, I'd put them between 10th-13th on paper. Could go to either extreme depending on how good the Big 3 are.

rolo: Well, I mean, that's completely subjective, but sure, I'll grant the Phillies. I still fail to see why that *requires* mention in his two-sentence narratives about the teams. It's not like he made the claim that "the Nationals will get more value back from injuries than any other team." He just said they could be even better than they were last year--and that is true. That may also be true of the Phillies, but why is he required to talk about the exact same thing for every team? I mean, seriously.

The Tigers are getting Victor Martinez back from injury. He didn't even mention that!! What a hack. The Red Sox lost Bailey, Ellsbury, and Lackey last year, who should all return--oh my God, he didn't talk about how they were more affected than the Nationals. Holy crap, I can't believe they let this guy determine who makes the playoffs and who doesn't. It's a real travesty.

“Velocity is not as important to me as feeling good,” Halladay said. “When you feel comfortable you have an easier time putting the ball where you want it."

Wait, location is a factor in good pitching? It's not all velocity?

Don't tell Beerleaguer posters!

I hope that when Halladay means he is 'feeling good' that means he has no discomfort either throwing his changeup.

He basically threw 3 variations of his fastball (sinker, cutter, splitter) and his curve. Even if Halladay is topping out at 90 MPH or so and really doesn't use his 4-seam fastball anymore, having that 2nd offspeed pitch to keep hitters from guessing 'curve' if they are thinking offspeed pitch is huge.

Funny. When discussing offseason winners and losers, one of the teams that was arguably one of the big offseason losers last year was the Giants. What happened to them?

It's interesting how the "analysts" at SI, ESPN, etc. seem to be just as affected and enamored by the big FA signings and blockbuster trades as are the fans. It hardly seems they put any more thought into it than the average guy.

For instance, one could argue that the biggest "upgrade" any team made in the 2011-2012 offseason was Buster Posey being added to the Giants' lineup at catcher, coming off the season-ending injury in 2011.

Thus, one could also argue that having a healthy Werth for 162 games in 2013 is as much an upgrade to the Nats as adding Span or Soriano.

But as I stated, I think the analysts miss those type of things, or at least do not put as much emphasis on them as the "upgrades" through FA or trades because a team's own player rebounding from injury isn't as sexy as a 'blockbuster' trade or a big dollar FA signing. That, even though the return/addition of someone like Posey could be as important as any FA signing.

A quick look at Crashburn Alley today: a post about how the bullpen was just fine as constructed, their failure should have been blamed entirely on Chad Qualls, and how it was the last area of the team that needed upgraded.

Felt like I had fallen down a wormhole into Oz. I guess there really are people that believe all that.

Jack, I never stated it being mentioned was "required".

I merely stated that it's evidence of bad journalism/analysis.

"Even if Halladay is topping out at 90 MPH or so and really doesn't use his 4-seam fastball anymore, having that 2nd offspeed pitch to keep hitters from guessing 'curve' if they are thinking offspeed pitch is huge."

This is spot on. His problems were almost entirely out of the stretch last year, and it's mostly because he had no feel for his change-up. As a result, hitters began sitting on that nasty curve, rendering it basically ineffective.

Halladay is exactly right when he says velocity isn't the most important thing, with his repertoire. It's almost entirely about being able to use all of his pitches and having a feel for them. If he can, he'll dominate. If he can't, he'll look like Joe Blanton again.

Iceman, Baer's analysis at CA has been much better in the past than lately.

Iceman - Completely agreed and a great add on to my post. Halladay's problem was largely pitching out of the stretch last year and it was because hitters could sit curve if they got ahead in the count & thought Halladay might throw an offspeed pitch.

A hitter expecting a 77-78 MPH is in trouble trying to adjust to a 83-84 MPH changeup.

Here are the staring pitching arms that Amaro could have acquired with the additional funds instead of signing Adams and Durbin:

McCarthy: 2 yr/$14M
Iwakuma: 2 yr/$15.5M
Feldman: 1 yr/$6M
Blanton: 2 yr/$15M
Pelfrey: 1 yr/$4M

That's a pretty underwhelming group. Iwakuma wasn't going to sign here and said he wanted to stay on the West Coast. Baer will tell you Blanton is a notable upgrade over Lannan because of his SIERA. He's not. McCarthy would have been a clear upgrade but he's a huge injury risk.

Here are the corner OFs Amaro might have been able to sign with the additional funds:

Ludwick (2 yr/$15M)
Gomes (2 yr/$10M)
Cabrera (2 yr/$16M)

Ross was likely out of reach with only an additional $5.8M or so. Ludwick probably wouldn't have come to Philly though on a similiar deal since he made it pretty clear he wanted to stay in Cincy. Cabrera was one guy I really did want the Phils to target early on but we'll see if his last 2 years were largely PED-fueled or not this year.

Also, as to the topics at hand, if Halladay wants to stay and can still deal, I vote "yes".


I just read the projected win totals, and saw that it had the Phillies projected to win 95.5 last year.

Without going back to check, that was probably considerably more optimistic than most of the posters here, IIRC.

Dadgummit! I just ordered my Juan Cruz road grey jersey today.

I guess I'll have to put it in the closet next to my Luis Castillo Phils throwback top.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, pitching isn't all about velocity. But if Halladay isn't breaking ninety with his fastball, we're not going to like the results. Because if he isn't, it'll mean he still isn't healthy and the velocity won't be the main problem.

He lied to everyone last season. So, until he actually is throwing like the Halladay of old, or at least somewhere near it, I think I'll wait and see what he's actually doing. And I will root for him to be healthy and effective every day he pulls on the jersey.

All major sports sites have doc pcs. All pretty interesting with the national media views on him, and team as well.

Both velocity and control are important to pitchers. Greg Maddux famously took 2-3 mph off his fastball (going from 94 to 91) to dramatically improve his control, and it obviously paid off huge dividends.

But, pitching is about mechanics, and if a pitcher's velocity is down, it's often a sure sign that he cannot fully execute his mechanics, which is a sign that he's dealing with an injury.

So unless Halladay has completely retooled his pitching style, my eyes will be on his velocity this spring.

If Halladay is back to somewhat form, I would most definitively have him back.

As of tomorrow, after 10 years, it's good bye Directv and hello Comcast. I will be able to watch every game this season. Don't know if that's a good thing....

MG - looking at your list of FA alternatives:

Based on what he did, RAJ appears to have gone into this offseason with the intent - perhaps on orders from above - to keep new long-term commitments to an absolute minimum. That kept him from swimming in the deep end of the free-agent pool and left him hunting for trades, bargains, and reclamation projects. If you accept those parameters, RAJ - as you showed - did reasonably well.

The larger question, of course, is whether staying in the shallow end made sense for the organization at this point, given a strong veteran rotation and a weak (though improving) farm system. Time will tell.

Colonel Tom - How are all of the guys I mentioned not relatively short-term commitments when all of them got a max of 2 yrs and moderate dollars (just like Adams did)?

It's snowing out, but after catching up on mt BL reading for the day , it felt like mid summer with all the T-Mac bashing on the last thread.

And to think some people used to moan about Howard's contract.

A 5 year contract extension.

After an off season of moderation, the Phils go long on T-Mac??

Heard tmac doing st joes. Ughhhhh

Colonel Tom: You better watch it. That kind of reasoned logical post will get you labeled a FO apologist.

If Halladay can be even an effective 4/5 starter, I'd try to find a way to bring him back due to his leadership role in the clubhouse...even if that means sliglhty overpaying him as far as 4/5 starters go.

KK will be making around $4 million this year as a 4th starter and will likely get $7-8 million next year if they tender him a contract (its his final year of arbitration in 2014) by way of comparison.

KK makes $4.5 million in 2013 ($3.75 M AAV for Luxury Tax purposes)

In case anyone was curious. That's a relative bargain given the contracts given out this winter.

Re: the bullpen.

Check out the first/second half splits.

2nd worst ERA in the first half, 6th BEST in the second half.

Adding Adams to the mix should significantly improve even that 2nd half number. The bullpen should go from being probably the biggest weakness on the club to being one of its greatest strengths.

The Phillies have a punchers chance in 2013 and it lies entirely on the pitching staff being great. All of the Big 3 have to be their old selves and the bullpen has to be as good in reality as it supposedly looks on paper. If that happens, we have the Giants model for making the playoffs...a model that has led them to a couple WS rings in recent years.

TTI - It wasn't a logical post in that all of the guys I listed are short-term contracts at relatively moderate dollars.

How is a 2-year deal for Adams different than a 2-yr for one of the guys I listed.

The point was that Baer made it seem like there were a bunch of starting pitching/corner OF options to pursue this offseason if Amaro hadn't signed Adams/Durbin.

Simply is not true because the guys I listed above were all of the options in each category given the additional money the Phils would have had if they hadn't signed Adams/Durbin.

NEPP, I agree with your 9:05 post almost in it's entirety. The only thing I would change is (and I'm nitpicking to an extent - that, or I'm engaging in semantics) that I don't think the pitcing staff has to be "great". "Very good" will do.

Why? Because I believe that the offense will be a bit better (depending on who actually wins the everyday jobs in the corner OF spots) than last season.

Why is "very good" enough? Just look at the Giants last season. They won the WS with Lincecum actually being worse than the 2012 version of Halladay.

Add one more starter in Baker (1 yr/$5.5M).

re: pitching

The guiding principal of successful pitching is variability and unpredictability. A relatively higher velocity ceiling gives pitchers more room to play with velocity as a variable. Accuracy and the ability to pitch with precision (reproducibility) gives the pitcher even more variables to play with in terms of dropping the ball into a 3-D "box" extending above the plate. Other, more static things that lead to pitcher success are things like the variability of ball "movement" coming out of the hand and depth of movement, hiding the ball (Worley) so batters have less time to recognize the pitch, pitching well out of the stretch, and physical/mental stamina and clarity.

What are the most important variables? Rivera has shown that late breaking movement combined with great precision/accuracy and decent velocity is a recipe for sustainable success in a 1-inning frame. Moyer and Maddox proved over their careers that velocity is not essential. If you look at someone like Verlander or Chapman, and clearly velocity plays a role in their success - but only when it's harnessed with accuracy and precision.
Halladay noted that he was having trouble repeating pitches (precision) last year due to discomfort in his back/shoulder. That's clearly more of a factor than any kind of radar-gun reading. BUT, having the ability to elevate velocity on demand definitely plays a role in a pitcher's success.
It's all kinda common sense.

MG: "He basically threw 3 variations of his fastball (sinker, cutter, splitter) and his curve"

His splitter is actually his change up, not a fastball.

More important than his fastball variations was his ability to locate. The impressive thing about Halladay was his ability to accurately account for the movement of his pitches. Two seasons ago when he won the Cy, he basically said that in terms of both the X and Y axes, he aimed at the middle of the zone and knew that the pitch would end up at a certain edge of the zone. And what really did a number on hitters was that his mechanics didn't betray whether the ball was going to break left, right, up or down. When Schilling was on, his ability to do something similar with his cutter was also the source of his success.

Velocity gives more margin for error for when you miss your spot. Its one of those things that's not important until the moment it is. Barring pinpoint control, you need to be able to throw above a certain velocity to be effective...this is typically 88-89 mph for RHPs and a bit lower for LHPs. Maddux and Moyer were talked about because of their success in spite of their velocity, not because of it. They were the exceptions to the rule. For Maddux, this only applies to the last 5 or so years of his career because he has average velocity in his prime...average velocity and fantastic control were enough to make him an inner-circle HOF talent. His control was probably a 90 on the 80 scale for scouting.

TNA: good post, but sadly its what everyone already knows/thinks, and clout just likes to post the contrary to annoy people.

The above, an occasional one liner, and a small dose of helpful scouting reports on lesser known prosepcts sums clout up for the past 18 months i'd say.

So overall, are BL posters bullish or bearish on Halladay?

nepp: I agree that the bullpen looks to be a strength.

However, I predict that Chad Durbin turns out to be worse than almost all of his FA counterparts who signed for less than a couple million, and likely worse than at least 2 of our internal prearb relievers.

Iorecore - it's impressive that clout (and other regulars such as yourself) continue to post over the last 5-7 years. I imagine the rest of us mortals have to take breaks from beerleaguer (especially during the off-season) for the sake of our sanity. Guess that makes me a seasonal Rollins-esque beerleaguer bandwagon jumper.
I wonder how Jason is doing with Comcast these days. Their $16.7 billion purchase of the rest of the NBCU joint venture was big news. Limoguy's comment above was probably music to his ears.

Our bullpen "strength" is sadly still 3rd in the division.

The Braves have the best bullpen in the majors I believe, and the Nats are pretty RHP heavy, but still stacked with Soriano, Storen, and Clippard in their backend.

lorecore, I really like the Reds bullpen this year, maybe even more than the Braves.

Chapman, Broxton, Marshall, LeCure and Ondrusek, with Bray as their LOOGY.

I'd love to have that bullpen.

"So overall, are BL posters bullish or bearish on Halladay?"

When pitchers and catchers report, and I watch the coverage from Clearwater, I go through this irrational period where, for a week or so, I'm bullish on everyone. It happens every year.

Halladay - 15-7, 3.10 ERA, 205 IP
Ruf - holds down LF, 114 OPS+
Utley - 145 G, 120 OPS+
Howard - .270, 38 HR, 133 RBI

Phillies - 94 wins

Check back March 1 when this high wears off.

TNA, good post.

Essentially, the art of pitching involves trying to disrupt a hitter's timing, whether through movement, change in velocity, or change in location.

The very best starting pitchers can do all three of those things, and the great ones can do all three of those things with each individual pitch.

Fatal: yeah, you could def go Reds.

Not to get too scientific for you, but ill apply the b00b method for my thinking of braves > reds

Kimbrel = Chapman
Walden > Broxton
Venters = Marshall
OFlaherty > Ondrusek

I guess reds can go a bit deeper with LeCure and Arredondo, but i think the backend gets the edge.

Off topic somewhat, but I really hope Delmon Young isn't starting over Brown, considering, he hasn't really outperformed Brown at all in the last few years.

Ugh kill me

Fatti, there has been noise out of Cincy that they're going to give Chapman the opportunity to start.

rolo, if that's the case, the Braves bullpen is certainly better, but the Reds are still a top 5 'pen in my eyes.

I wonder how Chapman would fare as a starter.

What makes Halladay's statement even more heartwarming is the fact that he has, or would like to have, druthers. I didn't think anyone had druthers anymore.

Bullish on Halladay?

I dont think he's going to post a 160ish ERA+ again but I wouldn't be surprised if he was in the 130-140 ERA+ range next year.

lorecore, where our BP ranks in the division only matters a little, and I'm not sure that the Nats bullpen will be better.

Atlanta's is definitely the best in the division, and probably the best in MLB.

But if you take a look at the Phils bullpen, at the back end they match up with the Nats.

I rate Papelbon and Soriano even.

Adams has been the best setup man in MLB the last several years, and if he's healthy he'll match up with Storen.

The rest of the 'pen is where the Nats have a bit of an advantage, though if the Phils young guys progress and they get a bounceback from Bastardo the Phils 'pen could be as good.

Also, Soriano had a sketchy 2011. If that repeats itself the Phils 'pen might be better.

I think Halladay's ERA+ will be in the top 30.

NEPP: "KK makes $4.5 million in 2013 ($3.75 M AAV for Luxury Tax purposes)

In case anyone was curious. That's a relative bargain given the contracts given out this winter."

I noted that I was actually moderately optimistic regarding KK and his pitching this year. He actually showed real improvement last year. And I also agree that if the improvement is real, $4.5 million is a perfectly fine sum to be paying him.

Still, I think there were some worthwhile deals to be had in the 4th/5th starter department (Baker, Marcum, McCarthy, heck, even Dan Haren) that I would've liked to see the Phils pursue, especially after trading Worley. I tend to think a good 4th starter that throws 200 innings is more valuble than an 8th inning guy like Adams, though I know a lot of people on here will disagree.

NEPP, that's pretty much my prediction on Halladay. Even if he's completely healthy, i don't see an 8 fWAR season, more like a 4-5 fWAR season, which would put him around ~210 IP and a 135 ERA+.

Or basically what Cole Hamels was last year.

"I tend to think a good 4th starter that throws 200 innings is more valuble than an 8th inning guy like Adams, though I know a lot of people on here will disagree."

Jack, doesn't that depend on the performance of the two pitchers in question?

Are you saying the 200 innings that I pitched for the Snakes in 2010 are as valuable as someone like Adams?

Though, FWIW, Greg Maddux posted a 159 ERA+ in his Age 36 season...it was his last great season before he started fading with age. He was, however, limited to 199.1 IP in 34 starts that year so his manager was definitely limiting him. That was good for 4.2 bWAR that year.

Not unheard of for great pitchers to post spectacular seasons after age 35.

Hell, from ages 36-50, Randy Johnson had FOUR seasons with an fWAR OVER 8.7 (9.7, 10.7, 8.7, 2.7, 9.9)

I don't think Halladay is as good as The Big Unit, though.

Jack: I think John Lannan is a good bet to give the team a league average ~200IP season. The $$ they saved on him instead of getting some of those other guys (who have injury concerns) makes it OK to me to spend on a setup guy like Adams.

rolo: Well, of course. That's the whole point.

My point was that upgrading the 200 innings at the 4th starter position (by going from, say, Kendrick to McCartthy or Haren or Marcum) would be more valuable than upgrading the 60 innings pitched in the 8th.

I know most will disagree with me, primarily because of how bad the 8th inning was last season. I recognize that. I just tend to think people are overreacting to how bad that was, and that the results would've been better this year with or without Adams. Adams helps, of course, and if healthy, he's better than anyone else we have back there before Paps. I just think it's possible they could've gotten more bang for the buck with an upgrade in the rotation. Maybe not, though. I'm willing to be convinced otherwise on this, I think it's a close call.

***Not unheard of for great pitchers to post spectacular seasons after age 35.***

Definitely not unheard of. Its just a bit rare historically. The guys that typically do it are the elite great pitchers...of which Doc is.

I expect him to pitch like a #1 starter...maybe just not like the best pitcher in baseball (which is what he was the first 2 years he was here).

lorecore: Yeah, I know the injury concerns are relevant, I agree. It's why maybe they did the right thing here.

Though, at some point, don't we have to consider that Adams, coming off surgery for the same syndrome that apparently has ended Chris Carpenter's career, might have something of an injury concern himself? I'm not saying it's as bad as anything Carpenter or even Haren or Marcum have. Just that it seems at least a "concern" of its own, no?

NEPP, I agree. Doc has it in him, if he has all his pitchers working.

Also, any excuse I have to go look at what Randy Johnson did in the early 2000s, I take.

Jack: definitely. They went the safe, mundane route for starting pitching first, and then took a shot a getting a more dynamic setup.

You could certainly argue that going after a McCarthy-type starter and then settling for brandon lyon-type setup would be the better the strategy - but I think we're splitting hairs at that point.

If you made a list of the best free agent signings ever - Randy Johnson's gotta be up there(maddux too). If you filtered for FA signing in their mid 30's, then he probably wins hands down unless I'm forgetting someone.

From Age 36 on, Johnson went 143-78 with a 137 ERA+.

He also won 3 CY and finished 2nd one other time.

Ryan Howard just said his left leg feels "phenomenal" compared to last year.

The Achilles: "Now I don't even think about it."

"My point was that upgrading the 200 innings at the 4th starter position (by going from, say, Kendrick to McCartthy or Haren or Marcum) would be more valuable than upgrading the 60 innings pitched in the 8th."

Jack, on this oint we agree.

Keep in mind, however, that even in 2010 and 2011, the Phillies did not get 200 IP from their 4th starter.

If Lannan or KK do that (or if the both do), that would be a huge lift to the team, though I expect Lannan to give them about 180 - 185 IP, because he's only crossed the 200 IP once when he got 33 starts. He may only get 30 - 31, though if he's pitching well and the team is winning Charlie may not skip him as often and choose to give the front-end guys an extra day.

KK, IMHO, has a better shot at 200 IP for the season. He's also done it before in 2007 (between Reading and Philly) and as the #4 he's likely to get another start or two.

If

Plus, Howard is down to 350, so he's for sure in the best shape of his life.

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