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Tuesday, April 01, 2014


Weird statistical quirk that current rangers have the same BA off Burnett as the franchise does all-time (in Texas).

Thanks for the game thread, Mike.

We have another 6 hours to enjoy the hit parade of Opening Day. Here's hoping Burnett's first outing goes much better than Lee's did, and that the Phillies play as well as a team (although I don't expect as many hits and runs off a competent starter), doing the little things right.

I heard Sandberg say yesterday that the Phillies had very good defense in ST. I think he said tops in the Grapefruit League. It will make a marked difference to have improved defense this year. It will make the starters' job easier, so that hopefully the BP will not be needed for as many innings.

I'm hopeful that SP will be better, too, as long as Cole comes back soon and they all stay healthy. Cliff, Cole, AJ, KK and whoever the 5th guy is makes for a rotation that has potential, at least, to hold their own and give the offense a chance - - which, hopefully, can also improve from last year.

Hope springs eternal at the start of a season, especially after an opening day offensive outburst and a W!

Jump to newest comments?!?!?

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the game thread. Between three new threads in about 24 hours and the start of the baseball season in general, life is excellent.

AND the JUMP too. Who-hoo. Seems like old times.

Well, they don't have advanced defensive metrics in ST, but going by the ol' FLDG they were tied for 3rd-best in MLB (tied with Tampa, .001 behind Chicago and Baltimore) with a .983.

However, they only turned 28 DPs, as compared to the league-high of 40.

It's gonna kill me to root for Burnett, but since he's a Phillie, I guess I gotta.

You guys think the Phillies wear the CB patch all season? What about Jim Fregosi at some point?

I thought I was going to have to get a BL patch but I'm actually pretty excited about all these new threads and the Jump To Newest Comments link!

Have to think the way the bats were goin, Cliff Lee was wishing it was an NL game and he'd have been able to join in on the fun.

Yeah, although JMJ and Gwynn had some pretty key PAs. Not at all convinced Lee would have been as solid in those.

"I heard Sandberg say yesterday that the Phillies had very good defense in ST."

Did he clarify whether or not this take was based on "pre" or "post" clout Day?

I'm not sure enough's been said about the Phillies tacking on runs in that game. Hopefully that's another trend that continues. Been far too common (even in better years) to watch the offense score 4+ early and completely go to sleep thereafter. Leaving it wide open for the all too common "Loss Attributed to the Bullpen"

Thanks for the Phillies' ST fielding percentage, Phillibuster.

I hope the low DP number doesn't mean our DP combo will fail us. I know they've both lost a step, but I do love watching Jimmy and Chase turn two.

And no, WP, Ryno didn't reference "clout Day". LOL.

Revere 8, Rollins 6, Utley 0, Byrd 9, Howard 3, Ruiz 2, Mayberry 7, Nix 5, Hernandez 4


I like that he's willing to mix it up, instead of just "riding the hot hand" and sticking with what worked the night before like I think Manuel would do.

Maybe it keeps the players on their toes.

Matt Gelb ‏@magelb 3m
Revere 8, Rollins 6, Utley 0, Byrd 9, Howard 3, Ruiz 2, Mayberry 7, Nix 5, Hernandez 4

Jim Salisbury ‏@JSalisburyCSN 1m
Phillies tonight. Utley DH. Hernandez at 2b. Nix at third vs lefty. Asche out.

Matt Gelb ‏@magelb 55s
Before tonight, Ryan Howard started 665 straight regular season games as the Phillies cleanup hitter.

Todd Zolecki ‏@ToddZolecki 1m
It's the first time Ryan Howard hasn't started a game in the cleanup spot since June 29, 2008, at Texas. Pat Burrell hit fourth that day.

Huh. Hernandez... I guess makes sense. Although I'd probably prefer to see Brown get a start. If we're platooning him against LHSPs in game 2 of his 2nd full season, he's not set to have a long career.

I'm also pretty sure I don't like Nix over Asche for the same reason.

I guess this gives us lots of bench options, but unless we're in a situation to make some substitutions in the 4th/5th again, we're trading down pretty heavily with the bats in exchange for marginally better defense (except in LF, which I think we can agree is significantly better, even with JMJ).

This is the best day of my life. My li-i-i-i-i-fe!

I wouldn't mind seeing Howard dropped down below Chooch.

> You guys think the Phillies wear the CB patch all season?

Probably. She did own like 33% of the team.

Since Asche is a rookie, and was terrible against LHP last year (albeit in only 32 PAs), I can't really blame Sandberg for keeping him on the bench against a LH starter. But Jayson Nix is horrendous.

Nix over Hernandez, why?

Maybe to have Hernandez as sort of a leadoff hitter to turn the lineup over for Revere and Rollins? Keep 3 speed guys together?

I bet it has to do with handedness.

Cesar is as bad against lefties as Nix is against righties, who's only below average against lefties.

Heck, if you're looking at his career numbers, Nix is pretty average against LHP (for a 2B/SS... Not so much a 3B).

SSS, right?

He doesn't seem to have pronounced MiLB splits...

The man likes to use his bench.

Wow. Ryne with more lineup changes in the second game of the season than Charlie would make in the first two months.

I'm not sure I agree with all of them, but I like the idea that he's willing to do different things, generally.

Cyclic: Yeah, he's mildly better (career) vs. righties though. He was drastically better vs. RHP in 2013 MiLB action, however (.118 OPS difference, almost all of which was SLG).

"I'm not sure I agree with all of them, but I like the idea that he's willing to do different things, generally."

Finding more playing time for Jayson Nix does not exactly strike me as a concern that should be high on Sandberg's priority list. On the other hand, he's giving Cesar a start & he moved Howard out of the cleanup spot, which is something I thought I'd never live to see. On balance, the positives outweigh the negatives.

Nix vs LHP

.244/.320/.407 (.727 OPS) with 17 HRs in 506 PAs

Asche vs LHP (SSS)

.219/.286/.344 (.629 OPS) with 1 HR in 35 PAs

On paper there is some rationale to it. I figured that was Frandsen chance to make the team since he still hit RHP well last year and that the Phils might platoon Asche at 3B initially.

Brown/Mayberry also makes sense although Hernandez starting at 2nd is a little puzzling although I have no problems with saving wear & tear on Utley/JRoll/Howard when possible.

Refreshing to see a manager who realizes that you have to use your bench in the NL and making more reasonable lineups.

THANK YOU! Jump to newest comments button! They do care!!

I'd like to second the thought about not liking Brown sitting already against a lefty. If he's going to be strictly a platoon guy then his overall potential does take a significant hit. Asche too, even he ends up best suited in that role.

BAP: Not entirely sure I agree with that, since moving Howard to 5th is probably more symbolic to BL posters than actually has a noticeable effect in-game.

Take that out, and you've got Nix instead of Asche (who does have pronounced splits, but his 2013 MiLB OPS vs. LHP is only .014 lower than Nix's 2013 MLB splits, and if you were to combine his MLB and MiLB numbers for 2013 it'd actually be higher), Mayberry instead of Brown (probably the right move for a single game sample size, but Dom's young enough we should want to give him a chance to hurt lefties before deciding he's a platoon - especially since he hurt lefties in the minors pretty well), and Cesar as the fielding component of the DH.

I'd say this lineup looks like it's overcompensating for handedness splits. Not so much that it's a negative (in the short term), but it may be a bad choice long-term. Your boss sitting you in game #2 doesn't exactly indicate confidence in your abilities - which is probably a bigger deal for the young guys like Brown and Asche.

Philibuster - Disagree and it is about optimizing the pieces as best he can to squeeze out offense.

If Brown was good defensively in LF (or Asche at 3B), I wouldn't necessarily agree but Brown stinks and Asche has been inconsistent so far.

MG: You're using Nix's career split vs. Asche's career MLB split.

Nix's 2013 OPS vs. LHP: .687 (114 PAs)
2012: .726 (111 PAs)
2011: .998 (27 PA SSS alert)

Asche's 2013 OPS vs. LHP (MLB/MiLB combo): .726 (139 PAs)
2012 (pure MiLB): .762 (174 PAs)
2011: .388 (50 PA SSS alert)

If you're just trying to win this game (which is of course what he's trying to do), then Mayberry over Brown is the right choice.

I don't think that's right for Nix over Asche.

MG: Brown can be the DH (as he was yesterday), allowing Mayberry to start in LF.

This allows you to keep Chase at 2B, and start one of Asche/Nix/Hernandez. You then still have time to substitute in the better defenders (Nix, probably Hernandez) if the better bats manage to give the team the lead.

As I said, in a one-game sample size, this might be maximizing the expected output of the offense... But we've got to consider more than one game, and both Asche and Dom need to see LHP in order to improve at hitting them... Or to prove it isn't going to happen (in which case we need to plan accordingly in the farther future).

I jumped to the newest comment and landed here. With the Yankees playing the Astros tonight, I doubt that the Phillies Texas game will be on TV tonight in Houston. I have acquired internet service and have as backup, a smart iPhone, so my Phillies game score famine won't be as bad as prior years.

Now we need the team to perform, to make my predicted win total of 63 wins to look silly. Tonight will be a very interesting game, with the new old guy starting and Howard batting 5th. Go Phillies!

Philli: I actually agree with every word of the last 2 paragraphs in your 5:12 post.

As for whether it's purely symbolic to move Howard to the 5-hole . . . even if that's true, I would be in favor of it. I think the symbolism is important after all those years with a manager who was often more worried about hurting players' feelings than about doing what was best for the team.

That said, I do think moving Howard to 5th has more than a symbolic impact, since it splits the lefties. Now, if the opposing manager wants to bring in a LOOGY to face Utley & Howard, that LOOGY has to deal with Byrd, who pulverized LH pitchers last year. Of course, that point would be equally true regardless whether it was a RH or LH starting pitcher on the mound tonight. So I don't really follow the logic of moving Howard to 5th against a LH starter, but back to 4th for a RH one. But moving him to 5th against ANYONE is at least a start.

My guess is they don't feel Hernandez is ready to see action at 3B in MLB yet.

"It's the first time Ryan Howard hasn't started a game in the cleanup spot since June 29, 2008, at Texas. Pat Burrell hit fourth that day."

Presumably, Charlie split up Utley and Howard that day. Does anyone remember that game?

I would have kept Asche in the lineup. He is inconsistent at 3B, as MG said, but he had a good game yesterday.

I don't like Nix there either, but am not as worried about the moves by Ryno because unlike Cholly, he will be more likely to switch things up during a game if his hunches are not correct.

Isn't it a good idea to keep Utley off the field in AL parks when you can to reduce wear & tear on his knees?

The Phillies lost 5-1 and no one ever batted cleanup over Howard again

I of course agree that Brown and Asche should generally get starts, considering they are young (though Brown isn't really that young) and this team shoudl prioritize their development.

But this team obviously is trying to win now and thus focusing on winning every game. Under that criteria, I can at least defend the Brown/Mayberry decision, because of the defensive upgrade and the lefty starter. And of course it always makes sense to split the lefties.

And generally, I'm happy Ryne is at least willing to do *something*. Some of the moves may be bad, but given what he's working with, creativity should be encouraged and not discouraged.

Question to me about Nix at 3B is so much about the offense because I do think it is largely a wash.

The question is Nix's defense at 3B and if Sandberg feels he is a better option than Asche. Nix certainly is the better option on the basepaths.

BAP: I think the symbolism would be important if Charlie were still the manager.

Since he's not, I don't think it's as big a deal. Especially after spending 2 years riding the DL on and off.

Well, the bottom 3rd of the lineup are bench players, so do we really expect much from them?

I can't believe he's said he's "happy" but I actually agree with Jack.

Hope the creativity pays of for Sandberg and helps the Phils get the W.

Yes, I expect a good performance from JMJ against a LHP

Perez does have a pretty good changeup and that is JMJ's kyrponite. He can't hit that pitch to save his life.

When you have a force like Jayson Nix hitting behind you, you're gonna see some fastballs, boy

I think Sandberg is trying to see what he has in Nix. Realistically, it will not be much but right now he is the backup SS. When Galvis comes back some roster spot is going to go.

I do not know if Hernandez was granted an extra option so I figure he will be in the majors all year. Same with Mayberry and they might be the backup CF if Gwynn goes in another roster shakeup.

I am not too concerned with Brown or Asche having to face lefties to get better. I figure they will not be straight platoons over the season.

Isn't it a good idea to keep Utley off the field in AL parks when you can to reduce wear & tear on his knees?


Fine with Howard at 5th. Fine with Utley DHing. Not at all fine with Mayberry or Nix starting the second game of the year.

"Not at all fine with Mayberry or Nix starting the second game of the year."

Unfortunately these things are always a possibility, so long as you have Mayberry and Nix on your 25 man roster. So, yeah, while I agree in spirit, I feel it's more RAJ's fault than it is Sandberg's.

"Isn't it a good idea to keep Utley off the field in AL parks when you can to reduce wear & tear on his knees?" clout

I think it really is because Utley is so critical to any chances the Phillies have of extended success this season.

I don't think either Domonic or Cody Asche is going to be a superstar going forward. But playing Mayberry and Nix instead of them in the second game of the season makes a lot less sense than keeping Ache at third and playing Mayberry at first against the lefty and sitting Howard. Of Brown, Asche and Howard only one of them has conclusivley proven he can't hit lefties, and he's the only one facing the lefty.

I like a manager who is flexible. But sometimes too much tinkering is also a concern.

I'm as big a proponent of the "straight platoon Howard" camp as anyone, but it's the 2nd game of the season and he's not had a whole lot of AB's in the previous 2 years. Shouldn't we give him at least a little bit of rope to re-prove to us that he can't hit lefties before we totally cut bait on the concept holistically?

I have no doubt that Howard will justify the suggestion and prove us correct soon enough, however I think that A, he needs as many AB's as he can get regardless of handidness of the pitcher (due to the prolonged layoff) and B, since he'll need to prove out our hypothesis (again) before the FO comes around on platooning the $125M man, it might as well be in the 2nd game of the season.

We'll have plenty of chances to fire grenades at Sandberg's tactical decisions, but I'm going to give him a pass on this particular lineup for a game on April 1st. I'm in "let's see what we have here" mode.

Not as concerning as a man who screws his grandkids out of merchandise for the home team though.

Right aksmith?andkids out of merchandise for the home team though.

Right aksmith?

Mayberry isn't a good defensive 1B though. I wouldn't even say average. He is a clear upgrade in LF though over Brown defensively.

Incrementally it is isn't huge but the chips fall more in the 'Mayberry>Brown in LF' vs 'Mayberry>Howard at 1B'

Here are Brown's career numbers vs LHP:

.237/.293/.380 (.672 OPS) with 7 HRs and 51 Ks (270 PAs)

Yeah SSS but those numbers suck for a corner OF.

Except for the DH, Cholly would have rode that lineup for a month after scoring 14 runs.

Totally agree, Conway

Here is how I am choosing to see the decision to start Mayberry:

1. If he plays well, then the team benefits. Counts as a good short-term decision.

2. If he plays poorly, then the team benefits in the long run, since it's just more evidence that Ruf has to be called up once healthy.

Glad the Phils did pick up Nix too. He isn't anything to right home about but he is a clear upgrade over some of the stiffs the Phils were considering including Brignac.

Whatever offense they get out of him will be a plus. To me the issue is how good his defense is and can be a plus on the basepaths.



"I like a manager who is flexible. But sometimes too much tinkering is also a concern."

I have that same concern about Sandberg. I believe he made some comments last season which suggested that he is a strong proponent of using his bench players to start. I am ok with that if we are talking about Ruf or Cesar or maybe even Mayberry or Galvis in certain situations. But I sure as hell want to see as little as possible of guys like Nix, Nieves, Gwynn, Brignac, Cedeno, etc.

Not watching, just listening on the radio, but it sounds like Sabathia is doing a pretty good impression of Roy Halladay circa 2013 vs the Astros.

Cyclic, thanks for that 2008 game info/link. Dud of a game.

Cole update:

Jim Salisbury ‏@JSalisburyCSN 11m
Cole Hamels' line tonight in CLW: 3 inn, 2 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts. He threw 44 pitches. Second of most likely 6 starts

I'm watching and yeah, Sabathia has nothing

Thanks for the update, GBrett.

So April 26-27ish, if all continues to go well?

My Yankees u86.5 wager is predicated on Sabathia being poor (and Texeira too). Nice to hear.

This is interesting:

Chris Branch ‏@ChrisBranchTNJ 2h
Interesting note: Ben Revere changed his throwing grip this offseason. Sandberg said throwing motion is “much cleaner” now.

He still can't throw for distance, though.

I don't think we'll be scoring double digits tonight.

I would have said the same after yesterday's first inning as well

True, Cyclic.

But still.

Chris Branch ‏@ChrisBranchTNJ 5m
Martin Perez is no Tanner Scheppers. He makes quick work of the Phillies, retiring them in order in just 14 pitches.

Andrus has horrible facial hair

Scheppers took 9 pitches to send Revere Rollins Utley down in order in the 1st inning yesterday...

Revere did an ok job holding the runner at 2nd there, to be fair.

Big-time cross-up. Awesome.

I wonder if Stairs and Moyer resent talking about the '09 WS.

That first inning was a bit shaky, but no harm done I guess.

As long as he gets the pitch count back on track to minimize bullpen innings...

Cyclic: Agreed. I'd be concerned if he goes out and throws up another 20 in inning 2.

But I guess that's always the nature of the beast when it comes to our starters.

Byrd still lookin good

Now Big Piece, chip on your shoulder... TANK ONE!

Man, that was a heck of a low strike...

And sheer bad luck with it touching the bat.

Getting better I guess, that was only about 3 feet outside.

Watching Perez pitch, I find myself surprised that he doesn't have more extreme lefty-righty splits. He sure made Ryan Howard look silly -- although that's admittedly not too tough to do.

That first called strike was pretty ridiculous, and I don't buy that the second pitch was a foul... But he sure looked bad on the 4th pitch, yeah.

First two pitches of Howard's AB were balls, but he was down 0-2 after them. Lost discipline. As did Mayberry.

The only thing that's going to stop Howard from shattering strikeout records is insufficient ABs.

All his career, JMJ wished he could hit like Ryan Howard.

Mayberry took it to 2-2 after being down 0-2. I think he just completely misjudged where that pitch was going to wind up.

Probably because it wasn't a fastball...

Yoooo jump to latest commennnnts! I wonder if it actually works...

Blurgh. AJ needs to let them put it in play. His stuff isn't hard enough to be a pure strikeout pitcher.

Well, I guess 17 is fewer than 20... At this rate, he just might get through 6.

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