November 24, 2014

Phillies’ 2013 Preview: Road to Redemption or Ruin?

As I said, I will briefly come out of retirement when I feel the need to write something more than 140 characters (follow on Twitter here). And I’m always a sucker for previews.

A new baseball season will always get my juices flowing, so here is my quick take on the Phillies 25-man roster and my predictions for the season.

Catcher

Carlos Ruiz – Ruiz is the only reason the Phillies didn’t finish well below .500 last year. He will miss the first 25 games due to suspension. Chances are, at age 33, last year was his career year and it’s not logical to think that he will trot out a .540 SLG% again in 2013. Combine that with him missing 15% of the games out of the gate, and his value should be a good amount lower than last year.

2012 bWAR: 4.4
2010-12 Avg: 3.6
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 3.0

First Base

Ryan Howard - Howard hasn’t had a healthy season since 2010. However, he looks great in spring training and many are holding out hope that he can rebound. Casual fans tend to overvalue Howard by focusing on his ability to drive in runs and ignoring his horrendous fielding, baserunning and sub-par plate discipline. SABR folks undervalue him a bit by ignoring his clear increase in performance with runners on base (.977 career OPS w/ runners on vs. .851 w/ bases empty). I fall somewhere in-between but tend to skew towards the SABR crowd. Neither side would argue that his health isn’t a positive heading into 2013.

2012 bWAR: -1.2
2010-12 Avg: 0.3
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 1.5

Second Base

Chase Utley - Far more important than Howard’s health is the health of Utley, who is playing in spring training games for the first time in years. A fully healthy Utley could mean huge things for the Phillies. Playing hurt, and in only 83 games last year, he STILL posted a 2.9 bWAR, 6th among NL 2B. At age 34, and likely playing for his last big contract, Utley’s year will be very interesting to watch.

2012 bWAR: 2.9
2010-12 Avg: 4.1
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 4.0

Third Base

Michael Young - Let’s get one thing out of the way. Michael Young is going to be a bad, bad defensive 3B. Probably the worst in the league. He played over 200 innings there last season and the only player in baseball who was worse defensively at 3B was Greg Dobbs. He might make a play or two, but he’s going to be slow and not get to many balls someone like Polanco might have. So the key with him is – can his bat make up for it? Up until last season, the answer was ‘yes’ for the 10 years prior. The Phillies are obviously hoping for a rejuvenation and it’s not a horrible bet on 1 year deal.

2012 bWAR: -2.4
2010-12 Avg: 0.4
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.5

Shortstop

Jimmy Rollins - Consistency. Jimmy will be streaky, he will probably loaf on one pop fly and make a bunch of idiots go crazy, but at the end of the day we are still talking about a complete short-stop who is among the best in the league.

2012 bWAR: 2.3
2010-12 Avg: 2.2
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 2.0

Center Field

Ben Revere - Love, love, love this kid. Almost all of his value (defense and baserunning) comes from his speed and at 24 (we have a 24-year old on our team?) this isn’t likely to leave him any time soon. He’s not going to hit for power AT ALL, but when he gets on base he’ll be a terror. If he can incorporate walks into his game a bit (check out this fascinating article by Corey Seidman on the topic) he could very well be the next Michael Bourn.

2012 bWAR: 2.4
2011-12 Avg: 1.6
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 2.5

Left Field

Domonic Brown - I’m a big Brown fan – or at least, a big fan of giving him a regular job and a fair shot. He’s certainly been helping his case in the spring and locked down an outfield job. His defense still isn’t great and he’ll have to hit well to overcome it. Even though he didn’t have great numbers last year, he consistently had good ABs and still has the potential for a full offensive arsenal. That being said, projecting him as anything other that an average player is a leap for me based on his prior performance.

2012 bWAR: -1.0
2011-12 Avg: -0.6
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.5

Right Field

Delmon Young - I could go on and on about how much I hate this move. Delmon Young is bad baseball player with a bad attitude. Like Michael Young, he was among the worst players in baseball year. Unlike Michael Young, he has zero track before that indicates he could be a better baseball player this year.  He’s had one good year (and it wasn’t even THAT good, because his defense is SO bad), and could possibly take ABs away from Domonic Brown. Everyone says ‘what’s the risk?’ – but the risk is that he PLAYS. And the risk is that the Phillies, in their infinite wisdom, don’t think his RF defense is as bad as it’s going to be. Nate Schierholtz, who the Phillies released for no reason at all, would have been an infinitely better option.

2012 bWAR: -1.2
2010-12 Avg: -0.5
2013 bWAR (Proj.): -1.0

Starting Rotation

Cole Hamels - Wonderfully consistent the last 3 years after adding a cutter to his arsenal. Average year: 213.1 IP, 2.97 ERA, 207 K, 1.10 WHIP. Thrilled to have him in the fold for the next 6 years.

2012 bWAR: 4.2
2011-12 Avg: 5.2
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 5.2

Cliff Lee - Easily, EASILY the dumbest narrative of 2012 Phillies season was the craze over Cliff Lee’s win total. Cliff Lee pitched 211 innings with a 3.16 ERA and a league leading 7.4 K/BB ratio. He had 6 wins due to bad luck and horrendous run support. Not that after single-handedly leading 2 teams to the World Series he suddenly lost his ‘edge.’ Joe Blanton had 10 wins. You can have him on your team, I’ll take Lee.

2012 bWAR: 4.2
2011-12 Avg: 5.8
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 4.7

Roy Halladay - While Lee and others got the headlines and blame, Halladay’s tranformation from 8.0 WAR, best pitcher in baseball, to 0 WAR injury risk was the main reason the Phillies season played out the way it did. In spring, he’s talked about changes he’s made to his regimen and the results have been mixed. At 36, how much can we really expect? It seems that his velocity is gone for good and he’ll have to rely on command and movement. He’s got the stuff to do it, but how hard a transition will it be?

2012 bWAR: 0.7
2011-12 Avg: 5.8
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 2.0

Kyle Kendrick - I’m going to lay off Kendrick this year. At least give him the benefit of the doubt for a bit. After a very painful 2008-2010, he’s been solid the last two seasons in a variety of roles. The most promising sign was last year’s jump in K/9 rate to a not-horrible 6.6. In his 25 starts last season, he had a 3.89 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. I think we’d all take that in a heartbeat from our 4th starter.

2012 bWAR: 1.3
2011-12 Avg: 1.0
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 1.0

John Lannan - I liked the Lannan pick-up as a 5th starter. I’d have preferred a Marcum or even taken a chance on a guy like Dan Haren, but we could have done worse than Lannan.

2012 bWAR: 0.5
2011-12 Avg: 0.8
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.0

Bench

Erik Kratz -Kratz was a masher off the bench last year. His .504 SLG% was 2nd on the team. As a 33 year old career minor league, he’s not likely to ever challenge for the starting job, but perhaps he can provide us with another Chris Coste type story.

2012 bWAR: 1.4
2010-12 Avg: N/A
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.5

Freddy Galvis - Galvis is an elite defender who can be placed anywhere in the infield. His bat has come along a bit too and if Charlie Manuel was smart, he’d make sure he’s starting at least once a week in place of Utley, Rollins or Young.

2012 bWAR: 0.6
2010-12 Avg: N/A
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.5

Laynce Nix - Nix is theoretically not as bad as he looked last year. Provided he doesn’t EVER hit against lefties, he can be a decent bench piece.

2012 bWAR: 0.1
2010-12 Avg: 0.9
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.0

John Mayberry - Right now this is Inciarte until Delmon Young comes back. Not that it really matters.

2012 bWAR: 0.5
2011-12 Avg: 1.1
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.5

Kevin Frandsen - Michael Young has the track record, but after Young’s 2012 season, I wouldn’t have minded if the Phillies just stuck Frandsen at 3rd for a stopgap year. At the very least, he’s probably a better defensive player there. Frandsen’s .338 BA last season was a bit lucky, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still hit in the .280 – .300 range.

2012 bWAR: 1.5
2011-12 Avg: N/A
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.5

Bullpen

Jonathan Papelbon - The bullpen was another area that crushed the Phillies in 2012, but it wasn’t because of Papelbon. His contract might be foolish (you can have a bad contract AND be a good player, by the way), but he pitched very well in 2012 with a 2.44 ERA and 11.8 K/9.

2012 bWAR: 1.6
2010-12 Avg: 1.1
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 1.5

Mike Adams - If healthy, a fantastic pick-up by the Phillies. The tall, lanky Adams has been one of the best relievers in baseball over the past several years. This is a guy who had a 1.42 ERA over 177 innings prior to pitching hurt last season. His great spring was under-reported amid the many other story-lines.

2012 bWAR: 1.2
2010-12 Avg: 1.9
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 1.2

Antonio Bastardo - Talk about a confusing player. His 14.0 K/9 in 2012 was among the best ever. There have only been 13 other seasons in MLB history where a pitcher had 50+ IP and 14+ K/9. Average other stats for those years? 2.28 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 2.3 WAR. Bastardo’s 2012 numbers? 4.33 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, -0.2 WAR. If he can regain his consistency of 2011, he has the stuff to regain that form.

2012 bWAR: -0.2
2010-12 Avg: 0.5
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.8

Chad Durbin - Durbin is back with the Phillies after a solid season with Atlanta where he sported a 3.10 ERA in 61 IP. He doesn’t have the stuff to be a late inning guy and will probably fill the long relief role for the Phillies. He is the last pitcher on this list that is guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster.

2012 bWAR: 0.3
2011-12 Avg: 0.1
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.2

Phillipe Aumont - He has the stuff to be an elite reliever. When he is on, he is unhittable. When he is not, he can’t find the strike zone. Either way, he’s one of the few young players the Phillies have these days that make me stop what I’m doing to watch him play.

2012 bWAR: 0.2
2011-12 Avg: n/a
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.5

Jeremy Horst - Very, very good last year (1.15 ERA), especially considering his arrival meant the departure of Wilson Valdez. Fantastic K/9 rate (11.5) gives me hope that he’s not a one-year wonder.

2012 bWAR: 0.9
2011-12 Avg: 0.5
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.5

Raul Valdes - Beat out several candidates for the final bullpen spot and earned it. A 2.90 ERA and 0.74 WHIP last year and 22 K to 1 BB in spring training this year. Having 3 lefties in the bullpen should be a great asset.

2012 bWAR: 0.6
2011-12 Avg: 0.3
2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.5

Summary

You can add up all my projected WAR’s here and get an 85-87 win projection, which is about where Vegas has us (85.5).

As always, there is some upside (Utley is capable of a huge year, Hamels could have a career year, Brown and/or Revere could be great) and downside (Halladay could be done, Ruiz could regress further that we think, Adams could be hurt), etc, etc… but it seems like the Phillies will at the very least be in the wild card race most of the year.

One thing is clear. The offense and bullpen needs to be considerably better than last year because starters 3-5 all have question marks. Both have a chance to do so, however.

The rest of the league

Because I did it for my over/under bets, here is how I have the rest of the league ranked to start the year…

  1. Tigers, 98 wins
  2. Nationals, 96
  3. Rays, 91
  4. Angels, 91
  5. Blue Jays, 89
  6. Dodgers, 89
  7. Reds, 88
  8. Giants, 88
  9. Braves, 86
  10. Athletics, 86
  11. Rangers, 85
  12. Phillies, 85
  13. Diamondbacks, 84
  14. Cardinals, 84
  15. Yankees, 84
  16. Red Sox, 83
  17. Royals, 82
  18. Orioles, 79
  19. Brewers, 79
  20. Pirates, 78
  21. Indians, 78
  22. White Sox, 78
  23. Cubs, 75
  24. Rockies, 75
  25. Padres, 74
  26. Mariners, 74
  27. Mets, 72
  28. Twins, 67
  29. Marlins, 65
  30. Astros, 58
So at the moment, I have the Phils as the first team out of the playoffs in the NL…
Well – we will see what happens. Today is always a great day.
Happy Baseball Season!
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Comments

  1. jkay says:

    Thanks for the new thread Pete.
    Good thing about baseball, there’s 161 other games to play after your customary opening day loss.
    Utley looks good.

  2. The Greek says:

    Pete, I used to be on this blog all the time until Danny’s personality turned me away. This blog was jumping years ago and now it appers as if it is hanging by a thread. You were always nice and respectful and I wish you well. Dannie stank demeanor is the reason why everyone left this blog IMO

  3. Joe says:

    Damn, I miss this place.  None of the others are nearly as good.  I have been checking out some of the others, but Crashburn Alley just isn’t my cup of tea, Bearleaguer is ok (just started checking it out last week), but most is just stuff I already read somewhere else already, and the Fightins is ok for an occasional laugh but that is about it.  Come back Pete, we miss you!!!  Or where has everyone else like Ken Bland and all the other regulars gone?  This season has been depressing enough, I need my support for my Phillies depressions

    • Ken Bland says:

      I guess a lot of people would use the word depressing to classify the season.  I don’t think I’d use that word, I might choose frustrating.  I’ve enjoyed watching a high percentage of the games, even a number the Phils have lost.  Clear exceptions to that are the Cleveland and Miami set, which wasn’t about must wins as wins they plain and simple were positioned to win.  The importance of it to me was as day to day as the entire sports world can be, unless you’re a really terrific club was that after the Met series, they had reached a corner, if you will, and were positioned to turn.  They turned back.  After half as many games, and an impressive showing against The World Champs, they’ve kind of gotten right back to that corner.  Whether they can bust it, against Arizona, it’s like who knows.  I think (from what I’ve found is that I still believe this club will continue to play watchable baseball and hang around playoff territory.  It’s sort of like rooting for an uphill challenge.  Longshot, or competitive as it is, I’ve followed this game more than long enough to know that anyone who proceeds along lines of writing off the season as a lost cause is being disrespectful to the history of it.

      I’ll get out of here with what I find is a minority view on Roy Halladay.  To me, and I’m no doctor, a bone spur and arthroscopic surgery go hand in hand as non major.  Any procedure is touchy, and the shoulder is serious stuff, but I figure if Doc has the surgery by the 15thish, he’s throwing by June 15, and his legs by then should be pretty decent.  Three weeks of rehabbing, and he should get a start by the All-Star break.  I had reasonably high hopes last year for his comeback, that didn’t work out, so it’s not like I’m riding a winning streak here, but get 2-3 starts where he’s clearly closer to vintage Doc than either these semi-facades of good efforts this year, and he’ll be a help for the last 2 months of make the playoff competition, or be worth something decent to better than decent as a trade chip.  I keep hearing from negative types people (certainly how I see them) all these negative thoughts on him, and frankly, look forward to the coming weeks making fools of a lot of people.  Still, and always a Phillie fan. 
           
         

          

          

  4. Ken Bland says:

    I’ve sat here for about 2 innings figuring if I’m gonna make a comment, might as well be on the positive side.  What a challenge.

    By day’s end, since even thought they are down a measly run, and I don’t get the feeling the Phils are scoring a single run, their .302 OBP could be at or below the  hardly covetd .300 mark.  This oughta match up well with Miami’s .284 this week, and then Jayson Werth’s “best team in baseball” Nats, who are shaking them up at .296.
    I like pitching, but ya know.  There’s separation between pitching and poor hitting.

    And the Phils fail to score again.   

  5. Ken Bland says:

    The Phils get a base hit, a walk, a stolen base, and a 3 ball counts and come up empty.  Let’s let it go at that.  Not much point dwelling on the frequency of that type inning.

  6. Ken Bland says:

    Think we can safely6 put Pettibone as a pleasant surprise YTD?  I didn’t expect mush after a rocky Triple A start, but numbers aren’t everything, and his early season numbers there were poor, brief period that it was.  Seems like only Kendrick would rate higher, unless you wanna throw Utley in the loop, and that’d be largely based on a igh ratio of playing time.

  7. Ken Bland says:

    Well, they are set up to compete here, working around to the top of the order with Howard available for at least some hope, and Broxton in.

    My sense is Dusty’;; use Arolid for more than an inning, if needed, and it’s a 2-0 final.  We’ll see. 

  8. Ken Bland says:

    On the telecast of the Monday night game against the Fish, the AT and T poll question found 73% of respondents voting favorably that Cole Hamels would finish with a winning record.  Or non losing.  Details, details. Just like many businesses would find sales practically non exsistent if they gave iq tests to would be customers before taking their caishe, the Fish apparently don’t measure intelligence of poll respondents before they take their votes.

    Winning 6 in a row for a pitcher of Hamels ability is hardly impossible, but voting favorably on that question shows a complete lack of understanding of the concept that an offense has to coincide with a pitcher’s efforts to get a win.  And that has to happen 6 more times than not for Cole to get squared as he is within minutes of dropping to 1 up and 7 down.  The nicest thing you can say about that mark is it dwarfs the would be season projections of Sterling Joe Blanton, who gave up 2,000 runs in far fewer innings the other night, but a rare Angel outburst kept his record at 0-7.  Just sterling Joe, sterling.  And his peripherals are far worse, if c’est possible.

    For his part, and I wouldn’t dwell on this, but I’ll touch it, Hamels has now extended his season of pitching one time with a lead, a 4-0 spread against KC that the doomed lefty gave back to a 13-4 final.  But as cold as it sounds, at some point, somewhere along the line, even dismissing ace money, or ace status, a quality pitcher has to pitch to the scoreboard and on his game or not, hold the other team below his team’s score.  That’s a sad fact of life on a Phillies 2013 highlight film that despite surprisingly easy to fill positives just hasn’t happened.  It’s a vicious mountain to climb, but the truth lies between Cole pitching pretty well, and that not totally harsh judgement, even if not exactly between.  And that’s a vicious frustration when it’s such a hard challenge to meet.    

    It’s a final now.  And probably time to tip the cap to the 15 Fangraph voters who in their pre season predicted CY NL winners from multiple possibities that totally excluded any first place votes for Hamels.  Maybe one of these years.  But not this one.  The Phils have now been outscored by The Fish in their last 2 head to heads by a count of 19-3.  And probably have lost the last 3 since The Fernandez gem was 1 night before that (maybe 2, who the frig wants to remember stuff like that.  But he pitches tomorrow night.  That oughta fire ‘em up in South Beach.   

         

  9. Ken Bland says:

    Reasons for Optimism, Chapter Number Higher Than I Can Count….

    I wouldn’t even attempt to define optimism in the instance of the Phils chances of competing in the standings over the long haul.  All I know is that around here, the goal remains to get in the playoffs

    Sometimes (often?), the club’s play has jerked us into short term thinking that cultivates big time frustration, but tis a long, long season.  Always has been, and extra playoff spots enunciate that.

    I’ve been begging the Phils to turn this somewhat imaginary corner most of the year.  I guess the best way to describe it is that according to a comment I read yesterday, and I really don’t know it’s accuracy, the ballclub was 0-8 when they reached 2 under in the next game.  It sounds close, it feels right, and it’s unbelievable.  Sort of like the team being 1-9 in Cole Hamels starts.

    All I know about the corner is losing 2 in Cleveland (maybe not as bad as it seemed at the time), 2 of 3 to the Fish, 3 of 4 at home to the Bucs, things of that nature left a cold feeling, and regretfully, those are just samplings.

    Bottom line is it’s appropriate to whip out a sea level icon once again in the second straight year of a quest for .500.  Because here we be again.

    Climbing to within a game, by hook, or by crook is one reason to be optimistic. 

    Another reason is after Cliff’s game last night, the Phils are 9-6 since Doc stopped getting walloped.  Half the fools said the year was over when that happened, and the other 90% had given up already.  The question wasn’t overweighted toward who would replace Doc, because he was atrocious minus, the question was whether this club would hit enough to win some games.  They still aren’t exactly doing that, and certainly not consistently, but 9 of 15, against finally formidable comp is a good sign.  Now, if they can somehow, some way keep those winning ways, and when you come down to it, why can’t they.  Passing Washington in the pre season might have been seen as a major landmark.  Right now, it’s not.  But it’s a start.  And once again, the Phils are positioned to take a pretty big step if they can do that although it’s so early, you can’t exaggerate it’s importance like it’s a major accomplishment.  And it’s an iffy proposition anyway.                    

  10. Ken Bland says:

    This could be interesting tonight.  You never know, and it’s not like this roster presents terrific alternatives, but the Manuel lineup tonight reads like so…

    1. Ben Revere (L) CF
    2. Michael Young (R) 3B
    3. Jimmy Rollins (S) SS
    4. Ryan Howard (L) 1B
    5. Delmon Young (R) DH
    6. Domonic Brown (L) LF
    7. John Mayberry (R) RF
    8. Freddy Galvis (S) 2B
    9. Erik Kratz (R) C

    Breaking it down, you have 1 of the poorest OBP guys in the bigs leading off, followed by two guys in recent times during their good careers on the whole who have demonstrated total disdain for the RBI.  Young, despite a mostly mid order presence has maybe a dozen ribs all year, and Jimmy spent a whole month last year in tonight’s assigned position, 3rd hitter, accumulating 3 ribs. 

    Galvis and Brown,  fellas most likely to give you decent at bats bat lower. 

    This team tends to play competitive baseball, and wins just enough games to keep it from being a tease.  In that regard, chances exist that tonight’s broadcast is an okay production.

    But only a fool wouldn’t keep the remote quite close.  After all, this is Philadelphia Phillies Baseball.         

       

     

  11. joof says:

    How about Dominic Brown? I’ve liked how he always runs the count well and doesnt chase many pitches. Seems like hes swinging a lot more and going to right field with the HR’s hmmmm   I wonder if he’ll have to swing less as pitchers adjust to his hitting habits

  12. Ken Bland says:

    Aw geez, would you look at that.  She’s back. 

    Used last year as a facetious acknowledgement of the early season woes of the Phillies, thinking it would be highly temporary, the good old last place icon reappears. Still 7 and a half games behind the Phizzies, and currently tied with the on again off again Braves at 4-4, it’s hardly a matter of time before the Fish catch the Phils, or in the spirit of The Last Place Derby, should we say the Phils catch the Fish, but these are the facts, and they are indisputable.

    Today’s dusk intruding Phillies game at Washington is their most likely loss of the year.  Somehow, Vegas has the game at 2-1, and I assume, per their mission, expects to draw edge money off aneven amount played both ways.  To think the Phils will win this one is well within the parameters of the freedom of thought the Constitution provides, but if you commit a felony today, and bet on the Phils within the 24 hour cycle, any attorney worth a fraction of salt should get you off on grounds of mentally incompetent to stand trial.

    It’s not even the pitching matchup of Strasburg V Kendrick. Strasburg might get runs at a Hamelesque pace, and Kendrick, despite teases and minority support of threatening to be a better than average pitcher someday, but this one screams of a Nationals win.

    The Mart that’s known as Mini will set an MLB record today for most inept player to ever start an entire series for one thing.  The only question about old friend Jayson Werth today is whether he sees pink or yellow grapefruits.  Since Mike Young attempted to get his teammates to play for pride, the L’s have run rampant.  The Nats, for whatever reason seem more committed to winning to offset a disappointing year.  Not to mention they are 16 times more talented.

    After today’s loss, the Phils head to Atlanta where they should lose a minimum of 2 of 3, dropping them about 14 games below the territory formerly known as sea level.  That place is now called Fantasy Island.  Tomorrow, the Fish play in KC, but it’s Fernandez V Bruce Bleeping Chen.  Can you imagine the experience factor when Chen faces Polanco?  One guy has a social security number of 1, the other guy 2, they are so antiquated.  Lord only knows whatever happened to winner, winner, chicken dinner, but the race to last place might, should and could intensify soon.              

        

     

  13. Ken Bland says:

    Pretty sure most everyone’s distracted by the game instead of posting tonight, but I’ll take advantage of a few of the non exciting moments in tonight’s Phillies game to reflect upon one of the more memorable dialouges in the history of this site, non-bot division.

    Roundabouts a year ago maybe at this time, I had an idea in my head of what the Phils low single game attendance would be for the 2013 season.  To see how my guess was relative to other thinkers, I asked jjg for his guess.  The funny thing was we both said 26K.

    Frankly, I thought over the last couple months that guess just wasn’t gonna make it.  Tonight, for the first time this year, with an attendance of 28,026, the Phils did something they did earlier this year.  They crashed through a 10K mark that in the case of a sub 40K crowd, wasn’t something the Phils had seen since late April, 2009.

    But, with tonight’s figure, our guesses of 26K for a low actually looks pretty good.  All we both did was pick a crowd for a single game, not an average, and we’re within 10%.

    The Phils still have a couple early week home games, including against the massively appealing Padres.

    And you thought the end of this season was boring?

    We got a shot.

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays if nobody shows up until then to red those cheerful greetings.                 

  14. Ken Bland says:

    Ex Inky, current NYDN beat guy Andy Martino looks ahead on the Phis and Amaro’s winter

    http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/baseballinsider/2013/09/will-philadelphia-phillies-go-big-this-winter-yankees-problems-for-next-year

  15. Ken Bland says:

    Tonight’s 163rd game of the season for the Rangers and Rays conjures up some memories of one of Cliff Lee’s more memorable post season games.  It was at a time when Cliff was still building one of the post sewason’s more terrific resumes, a full year ahead of when kinks dented the armor in that post season string when game, set, match fell through the cracks after the Phils had built a 4-0 lead against the Cardinals and the team failed to hold the lead.  Prior to that, Lee had essentially accumulated remarkable post season results.

    His opponent in Game 5 of The Division Series that Game 5 was David Price.  Cliff’s CG 5-1 win capped a 5 game set that saw 5 road victories.  Price pitched pretty well that night, not to be confused with very well, but now, at age 28, he’s the senior pitcher in the matchup, and has pitched to better results of late than his injury affected season has shown.  Not well enough to offer much hope for 9 inning mastery, but well enough.  He certainly has ace potential, as reflected by a 12 player polling recently that found 2 players saying they’d choose him to start if they had 1 guy to pitch a playoff game, who would they choose.  Why anyone would choose Price over Clayton Kershaw is besides the point, but Price’s name did come up on 2 answers.  Price has not faced Texas this year, which you’d think works to his edge.

    One guy Price has faced, 21 official at bats if you’re scoring at home,, is Nelson Cruz, who there is no doubt will start tonight, with his suspension in the past.  Cruz has 9 hits in 21 AB’s against Price. That includes a homer (2 hits) in 5 AB’s last year, and 2-3 in 2011.  Cruz is the same guy who nobody spoke of when the Strangers won about 10 of 12 when his suspension started, and who became the source of a lot of comment when the Rangers set up for a  late season failure prior to arriving at another Houston portion of their schedule in the last week.  A clutch, valiant effort in the last 4 games against the Angels was parlayed with the Houston sweep that has them alive.

    All I know about Cruz being potentially rusty is in his first game after a 6 week layoff, David Wright took Cole Hamels deep in his 1st at bat, and that was too late in the season to even have a single rehab at bat. The real problem with Cruz’s pending free agency is his soon to be 33rd birthday that mixes the how many years question with how long do you offer him.  In a weak free agent class, his power numbers (when he plays) would easily justify 3 years at close to 55-60 mil, but who would settle for 3 years when the market won’t laugh at 4 with an option, even if the AAV comes down a hair. 

    The saving grace for both clubs is the last game with expanded rosters.  Tonight would mark Joe Nathan’s 5th straight appearance, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Ron Washington won’t shy away from using him.  Fernando Romney was well rested for yesterday, but off a 33 pitch effort, how much physical skill he has left to accompany courage is debatable.  A blown save either way won’t be shocking.

    So can Price be Cliff Lee this time?  I’m guessing no.  My suspicion is the Rangers are in the right place at the right time, often a prelude to playoff success, even if not the entire way.  They win tonight, they win at Cleveland Wednesday.  The good times end there, but it’s a better end to a season than could have been.  And for a team that’s essentially had season ends the last couple times that were about as bad as could be, it’s not as bad.       

  16. Ken Bland says:

    I just reviewed my twitter account, running through tweets since early in the account, and I don’t know that I’d call it a “fascinating” experience, but it was an experience.  In 2 regards.
    One, the amount of detail attention was devoted to during winning, and funner times was amazing.
     
    But of all the tweets glanced at, one in particular drew a smile.  I’m glad I recorded it for the archives, and the ages.
     
    Dates back to a pre season game in I guess it would be 2012.  Sweet Lou Pinella was color commentating on a Bomber-Phils exhibition, and I swear, I can imagine the exact audio in tone and salesmanship as he said it.
     
    “This Martinez is a good young player.  I saw him last year, and I was impressed.”
     
    I don’t know how old Mini is now, must be 30, so even at the time, higher math skills applied, he’d have been 28.  I didn’t know 28 was young.  Nor did I know he was good.
     
    I’d forgotten that incidental experience.  I don’t believe I will now. It’s funny I forgot that, because I’ve never forgot, and reduced my trust in Chase Utley since a year before that when Mini had a really good game on a Sunday at home V the ATL, and on the post game show, Chase called Mini a “talented ” player.
     
    Aw hell.  You can’t tell the truth in the booth sometimes.