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Saturday, September 07, 2013


Now, if we can just continue to get all our starting pitchers to give up no more than one run per game, we got it made. Simple, right Ruben!

Wasn't one of the biggest knocks against Asche that scouts weren't sure if he could play a decent 3rd? If that's the case,no gotta wonder which end of the binoculars the scouts were looking through, because his defense seems very solid.

At the bar last night when Ruf got his hit, the guy acrosss commented, "I think this kid, Ruf, can play a little bit." I said, "Could be, and I think Asche can play a little bit too." As the guy chewed that over, 10 seconds later - KABOOM! A season of small pleasures.

Also thought that play at 3rd he made could have been better than Utley's highlight film barehand play from last week.

Anyway, a fun game to watch for sure.

I think Asche proved he could handle 3b in AAA, but people never updated their scouting reports.

Asche has been looking very, very good out there. Franco may be even better. He certainly has more power. Nice problem for the Phillies to have.

Watch them screw it up somehow.

Ha ha, NEPP. They probably will.

I hear that they're moving Franco to the bullpen.

One nice barehanded play does not a good defender make. Any player good enough to get to the majors can make great plays every once in a while.

To my eye, Asche has looked solid enough at 3B. But my eye was also used to seeing Michael Young out there, so, you know, could just be relative. FWIW, in a tiny sample, UZR has Asche having pretty poor range, which matches up with scouting reports from the minors.

I came to read the analysis of last night's game, and I see there were only 75 comments in the game thread. That has to be a record low.

Is it because it was a Friday night? A quick game? Frustration with the state of the team? Frustration with CSN? All of the above?

It's a shame that Franco is, by all reports, a 20 runner. As the ideal situation would be to slot him over to a corner outfield position from 3B, where his bat would still generate a nice surplus of value and be a contributor to the next play-off competitive Phillies team. As his lack of foot speed inhibits his range, and after the Michael Young experience, it's a Good Thing to have somebody with plus range at 3B. As range is even more critical to a corner OF, it'd mean he'd be another all-bat/no-glove corner outfielder who we seem to be collecting a glut of in this organization.

But, as limoguy says, the question of what to do with Franco if Asche sticks is a nice problem to have.

Juums: I think the plan would be to have Franco play 1B if he couldn't stick at 3B or if Asche surpassed expectations and planted himself at 3B for the next six years.

I think Asche is going to be the third baseman for the Phillies at the beginning of next season and Franco will be the first baseman for the Iron Pigs. If Howard can't play, Franco might be playing first for the Phils sooner rather than later. If Chooch re-signs and they can put together a decent bullpen, they would have a pretty decent team next year with a good blend of veterans and younger players.

I'd assume so too. Except there's a certain Big Piece -- and even bigger contract -- to contend with for the next three seasons, which'll be really fun. As, if Franco's bat is for-real, his being blocked by Ryan Howard would be boondoggle given how young he is. (This assumes, of course, that he might be ready for The Show by the start of 2015 after doing a year in AAA. Given his free-swinging tendencies, it's not clear whether that will be the case.)

And on Asche's range, here's the wonkiness re: UZR: There've been 58 Balls In Zone, on which Asche's only made 39 Total Plays. Of those Total Plays, however, 10 have been Out Of Zone. From the numbers, it seems like he's not making the routine plays, which makes it look like he's got poor range...and then is going out and making a fair number of plays that require above-average range to make.

MG, good analysis and comps on SS at the end of the last thread.

The thing most of the Moronocracy miss

- that is, the posters here who take the position that they should dump all the players with bad contracts for whatever they can get (even just "some dudes"), regardless of whether there is a suitable replacement -

is that despite his decline and "down year", Rollins still ranks among the middle of the SS pack offensively in MLB and despite decreased range is still among the top half of defenders at his position.

Is Rollins the player he used to be? No way.

Is he still among the top half of SS in MLB? IMHO, yes.

Take a look at Elvis Andrus .265 .325 .321 8 years/$120M (2015-22), plus 2023 option, Jayson Nix .236 .308 .311 or Eduardo Nunez .261 .314 .361 , who might be the guys the Yankees are stuck with after Jeter, and you get the idea.

The SS position at the MLB level avergages a whopping .255 .308 .372 and a 90 tOPS+.

There are a lot of offensively challenged players at the position.

Be happy you got to see Jimmy at his peak, when he was arguably one of the top 2-3 overall, and was IMO the best defensively for 3-4 years.

"But my eye was also used to seeing Michael Young out there, so, you know, could just be relative.

Posted by: Jack | Saturday, September 07, 2013 at 10:32 AM"

So after 5 months of Michael Young, you've just forgotten the decades of outstanding 3B play by Schmidt, Rolen, Feliz, Polanco, et al?

Asche looks like a pro out there. He makes the routine plays look easy, has a good arm, and can put together a few web gems now and then too.

Juums: Interesting analysis re: Asche. We'll have to see how that plays out over the larger sample of next season.

Juums, good work on Asche. Jack is right - it will be interesting.

Howard isn't going anywhere since they are on the hook for $25M through '16.

As for Asche, he really struggled here his first few weeks up here defensively. He's improved then but it's way to tell if he is going to be good there or not defensively. Just can't be any worse than M. Young who I thought got progressively worse defensively as the season went on.

I'm fairly certain Asche will emerge triumphant over a larger sample size, at least assuming the same guy who's shown up for the past 20 games continues to do so over the rest of his career. As Asche was downright horrid his first three games (where he committed three of his four errors) and then uncertain for the next three or four. While certainly understandable, that's also a quarter of the innings he's logged this season.

The other problem is that, with sample sizes this small, two or three well-hit liners that not even Frank Robinson would've been able to play can skew the data. So for the moment, it's best to just enjoy the eyeball test. Which he's passing with flying colors.

BTW, according to fangraphs, Rollins ranks 13th in fWAR (0.8) among SS with enough PA to qualify.

MG, with regard to Howard, the Phillies HAVE shown willingness to eat a large part of a 1B/DH contract if he's traded to an AL team.

If Franco gets moved to 1B and proves he can play there, will the Phillies be willing to eat money to move Howard to make room for Franco, the same way they ate money to move Thome to make room for Howard?

I mean at 1B. It's too bad the Phils can't DH Howard because that is really where he belongs at this point both defensively and to try to reduce the wear & tear on his legs.

Howard as a DH still won't be anywhere near what he is making but you would hope he rebounds next year to 25+ HR and runs a little better.

Would the Phillies be willing to eat $17MM/year of the Howard contract lowering an acquiring team's cost to $8MM.

They'd still save 8MM (net 7.5 with Franco at 1B), and have that money to spend elsewhere.

That assumes, of course, that Franco can handle 1B, that Howard would approve a trade, and that Franco's bat can play at the MLB level.

"...that not even Frank Robinson would've been able to play..."

Juums, do you mean "Brooks" Robinson since we're discussing 3B?

Juums: True, no doubt. I'm not advocating using the UZR numbers over 25 games, by any means.

But in terms of the eyeball test, there's a whole lot of scouting reports from multiple years by paid professional scouts that all say he's shaky at 3B and will be shaky. So I'm inclined to reserve my judgment on that for the time being.

I think he's still a second-division starting 3B in the future (and Franco's ceiling is still much higher). He looks like a guy that can hit .290-.330-.440 with average-ish defense. He's not going to kill you, but he's hardly a difference-maker, either. I would love to see him exceed my expectations though. The franchise really needs some young guys to breakout in the right direction.

WHy can't Howard be moved if Franco is the real deal and can be on first?
Yes, the Phils will have to pay but I think to an AL team Howard could be very valuable and the Phils could get a 2 or more top 20 prospects.

Even a healthy Howard will not all of a sudden learn to read the pitches. Move him if you can.

MG, Howard needs to come to camp at no more than 235-240 pounds.

Too bad they didn't put a weight clause in his contract the way they did _elm_n.

awh: No team would take on Howard at 3 years / $24 million right now, plus the buyout.

Sad as it is to say, Howard would get a 1-year/$5-6 million deal if he were on the market right now. Too many questions about his legs being healthy, beyond just his declining performance.

@Jumms could you clarify? You made reference to "Franco having free swinging tendencies" I just checked his stats on the Phils web site before I responded to you. In 541 AB's he's struck out 70 times.
To me that doesn't indicate a free swinger. Rather it indicates he's more of a contact hitter don't you think? Could you clarify how you came up with that free swinging tendencies please.

Ryne Duren: Franco has a good ability to make contact, which is why he doesn't strike out much.

It's the lack of walks that makes Franco a free swinger. If he doesn't learn to lay off pitches outside of the strike zone, even if he makes contact on them, his effectiveness will be severely limited by major league-quality pitchers. His biggest tool is power. Unless you are Vlad Guerrero or Miggy Cabrera, most power comes from hitting strikes, not balls outside the zone.

All you have to do is look at the 2013 Phillies if you want to see why strike zone discipline and taking walks matters.

I went to the game last night. I was afraid Cliff's great performance would be wasted. It was very exciting (after our typically sluggish offense, but Minor is a good pitcher) when Asche hit the homerun after Ruf singled! Then we were just hoping Papelbon wouldn't blow it. Always fun to get a win and hear Harry sing "High Hopes". It was a beautiful night, too.

@Awh: Yes, I did mean Brooks. This is the problem with having too many HoFers who have the same surname. Mistakes will be made!

@Jack: A .770 OPS should be good for a 115-120 OPS+. Given the dreadful state of the 3B position offensively, wouldn't that be a massive win if you can produce a guy who can do that and play league-average defense? Not that I'm disagreeing with you: I tend to see him in the same ballpark, though I hope it's closer to a .350 OBP if he starts walking at the league-average rates he was in the minors. I'm just not sure that kind of bat is still one for a second-division starter in this age of diminishing offense.

@Ryan Duren: Jack hit the high notes. Free-swinging 3Bs can have success at the MLB-level: Look no further than Pablo Sandoval. But Franco's upside is higher than becoming Pablo Sandoval Redux, which is why you want to exhaust every avenue of teaching him plate discipline.

Looks as if an exterminator was successful. The board has been transformed.

Juums - if Franco's upside is higher than Sandoval, then Franco's a keeper.

It's not pretty to imagine how Sandoval might break down in a year or 2; by all indications, he simply does not control his weight.

Juums: A .770 OPS in CBP is worth about a 110 OPS+. Ryan Howard has a .784 OPS this year, and a 113 OPS+.

But sure, a 110 OPS+ third baseman with league-average defense is decent enough. That would basically be Martin Prado, who is a 2.5 WAR player. A good role player that a contender needs to have, but not a difference-maker.

Remember, though, that's talking about a fairly optimistic take on Asche. His defense was widely considered below-average, and I think that giving him a .290 batting average in the majors is optimistic as well.

Jack: I thought OPS was positionally adjusted. (I was eyeballing it backwards based off of Asche's current .818 OPS being worth 123 OPS+.) Mea culpa.

Who will have better outfield in 2014









One of BL's favorite pasttimes is historical revisionism and BedBeard is a chief purveyor.

There's nothing out of date about what scouts said about Asche's defense. His Fld% past two seasons is .959 and .941. That is a significant error rate for someone who does not have great range.

Asche made a great play last night and I do understand that many posters here have the attention span of a gnat, but I think we need a lot more than 26 games to declare what kind of defense Asche will give the Phillies.

Jack: I agree with your analysis of Asche 100%. I would argue, however, that Prado is better than MLB average at 3B and corner OF (but just average at 2B & 1B and below average at SS.)

Excellent posts by MG and awh on Rollins.

The reason terrible-bat, oft-injured Drew got the contract he did was his glove. The notion that there is no market for Rollins is the height of ignorance.

Howard is blocking neither Franco nor Asche at 1B. He is blocking Ruf.

clout, good point, because if Asche and Franco's bats play at the MLB level they could move Asche to the OF (or try, anyway).

The question is: What OPS does Howard have to put up to provide more value at 1B than Ruf, who looks to be a .800 - .850 OPS hitter, given that Ruf is probably better defensively and running the bases? Also, Ruf appears to be better against RHP than Howard is against LHP, which lessens the platoon disadvantage of Howard.

"The reason terrible-bat, oft-injured Drew got the contract he did was his glove. The notion that there is no market for Rollins is the height of ignorance."

Drew was 29 when he signed that 1-year deal. Rollins turns 35 in November and is due $11M in 2014 and $5-11M in 2015.

Amusing to hear Howard trade talk given the importance to the FO of being a "Phillie for Life", reported earlier this summer. For better or worse, he's ours for the duration.

Unikruk, Howard is my favorite player on the team (I love the longball!).

Still, if it makes the team better, I'd consider a trade.

Mike Gianella ‏@MikeGianella 1h
Cliff Lee was 6-9 last year and had 10th worst run support in baseball. This year he's 12-6 with 2nd worst run support in baseball.
Retweeted by David Murphy

Awh: oh, I still like him, too, infuriating flaws and all, and I too would consider a trade.

Very much doubt the FO would. He's an 'original' here, seems to still be pretty marketable, and a large part of the fanbase still digs the RBI, likely a majority.

Good news:

Chris Branch ‏@ChrisBranchTNJ 7m
Ryne also said they’re being extra careful with Dom. On “complete shutdown” right now. Anticipates him back this year, but no timetable.

"Cliff Lee was 6-9 last year and had 10th worst run support in baseball. This year he's 12-6 with 2nd worst run support in baseball."
Retweeted by David Murphy -
Posted by GBrettfan

Cliff Lee is a really good pitcher!

Yeah it pains me to agree with Jack but he is basically right that Asche still had issues in the minors defensively and obviously one great play last night does not change that.

However, he does seem to be improving at the major league level defensively and gaining some confidence.

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