September 17, 2014

Phillies Spring Training: 10 Biggest Questions

Spring Training is here, and with it, lots of questions. You can see how this is going to work, so let’s just get to it…

1. Should we be prepared to be disappointed by Vance Worley and John Mayberry Jr?

I hate to start out with a negative, but these two guys are probably my biggest concerns in 2012. Both of them will be relied upon heavily after very solid 2011 campaigns, and both of them have no track record to suggest that they can replicate that performance for a full season in 2012.

Let’s start with Vance Worley, who had a 3.01 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 8.1 K/9 in 131 IP. His best season in the minors was the year prior, where he pitched 158 innings between AA-AAA with a 3.36 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 6.8 K/9. The year prior, his ERA was up over 5. So what’s more likely – that Worley pitches in such a manner that MLB hitters can’t quite hit him, but minor leaguers can? Or that he had some of that “new pitcher luck” and will come crashing back to earth in 2012? As it usually is, I imagine the truth is somewhere in the middle. If Worley pitches 180+ IP with an ERA under or around 4.00, I’ll be thrilled.

Unlike Worley, who is still young (24) and could be going through a transformation, John Mayberry is 28, and less likely to have truly “broken out” last year. The biggest number for Mayberry last year was his .513 SLG% in 296 PA. Over nearly 3,000 PA in the minors, he has a career .457 SLG%, and a season-best of .480 in 2008. Again, which sample size are you trusting? The 3,000 minor league PA, or the 296 major league PA? Mayberry might be good if used in a platoon with Laynce Nix or Domonic Brown, but I have serious doubts he can be anywhere as good as he was last year. Hope they both prove me wrong.

2. Can Papelbon make us sort-of-forget how stupid his contract is?

OK, we all know Ruben Amaro comically jumped the market on closers and wildly overpaid Papelbon. You’d be hard-pressed to find any Phillies’ fan who is happy with the deal, and oftentimes when people are annoyed with a contract, they become annoyed with the player before he even takes the field.

For me, I realized this was the case with me with Papelbon. I hadn’t even thought much about what kind of performance he will have this year, because all I could think about was the money. But thankfully, they don’t decide who goes to the playoffs by contract efficiency, but rather by wins and losses.

Here are some reasons to be excited about Paps…

  • Despite some well-publicized blown saves, Papelbon was the only pitcher last year with a sub-1 WHIP and over 12.0 K/9. He was 2nd in baseball in FIP (a tool that adjusts for defense and ballpark) behind only Craig Kimbrel and was also 2nd to Kimbrel in WAR for relievers (3.0).
  • Rumors of his fastball decreasing in velo appear greatly exaggerated, as FanGraphs shows him averaging the 2nd highest fastball velo of his career last year (95.0)
  • If you pretend his 2010 season didn’t happen, he has a 1.86 career ERA against the NL (2.66 if you count it).
  • We saw with Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay that a move to the NL usually results in a drop in ERA.

3. Can Jim Thome play 1B?

This will be a big topic of conversation with Howard out and Thome reportedly coming into to camp in incredible shape (for a 41-year-old) with the intention of playing in the field some. Thome hasn’t played regularly in the field since he left the Phillies almost just over SIX years ago – which means that no matter how good of shape he is in, it’s going to be a challenge.

How bad can someone really be at 1b? I don’t know – and actually I think it’s more about the injury risk than anything else.

Personally, I’m not getting my hopes up that Thome will play in the field more than a couple times a month, with Ty Wigginton and John Mayberry getting most of the time at 1b.

4. Why does everyone hate Domonic Brown?

I really don’t understand what happened here. Brown made a couple bonehead plays in the field and on the basepaths, and suddenly our un-tradeable 5-tool wunderkind is being treated like a virus. I feel like something else must have happened here to make Ruben and Charlie sour on him so quickly. I mean, we are talking about a 24-yr-old kid who put up a .329/.391/.589 line just 2 years ago. There was very little doubt in anyone’s mind then that Brown would be the replacement for Ibanez when his contract was up, but now he seems ticketed for AAA. Hopefully he can show a little spark this spring and get people excited about him again.

5. Is Hunter Pence ready to be our best hitter?

I think so. And he kind of has to be, no? Howard is a question mark. Utley had a huge power drop as the year went on last year. Victorino probably had his career year last year and should drop a little this year. That leaves Pence as the likely #3 hitter and also the only guy in our line-up that looks poised for a career year.

He’s the right age (28), in the right mind set and right situation. Can he keep up the impressive .324/.394/.560 line he had after coming over from Houston for a full season? Unlikely, but he could get close. And we’ll need him to.

6. Who is filling out the bullpen?

The locks are Papelbon, Bastardo, Kendrick and probably Chad Qualls.

After that, the bullpen falls into several categories:

Been There

1. David Herndon – Was, dare I say, impressive the 2nd half of the year last year with a 1.42 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in his final 20 appearances
2. Mike Stutes –  Was lights out through 23 appearances, but then quite average (4.47 ERA) through his last 34.
3. Jose Contreras – When healthy, he’s been great. He hasn’t been healthy much, and the Qualls signing means the Phillies don’t expect him to start now.

Legit Prospects

4. Phillippe Aumont – Found his rhythm again as a reliever last year. Probably the best stuff out of this bunch.
5. Justin De Fratus – 3 K’s, 1 H, 3 BB, 1 ER in 4 IP with the big club last year. Good fastball, but probably needs a 3rd pitch.
6.  Jake Diekman – Lefty specialist, struck out 83 in 65 IP at Reading last year
7. Joe Savery –  One of the best stories last season, showed good velocity on his fastball in 2.2 scoreless inning with the big club
8. Mike Schwimer –  Had 16 K’s in 14.1 IP for the Phils last year, showing his stuff can play in the majors, but got hit around a bit and had a 5.02 ERA

Remember Me?

9. Dontrelle Willis – Not a great starter, but lefties can’t hit him. If used correctly, could be a great weapon in the pen.
10. Brian Sanches –  2.92 ERA in 181.7 innings the past 3 years, and can’t get an MLB contract? Weird.

Dark Horses/Eddie Oropesa division

11. Jeremy Horst – Acquired for Wilson Valdez, lefty.
12. Austin Hyatt – Similar career path to Stutes.
13. Pat Misch – 4.00 ERA as a starter in AAA last year. Lefty.
14. BJ Rosenberg – Used to be in prospects division, but injuries have hurt him
15. Raul Valdes – Signed minor league deal with Phillies.

So that is 15 guys for likely 3 spots. The most likely scenario is Herndon, Stutes and Willis. But my hope is that a couple guys in that 2nd group pitch well enough, like Stutes last year, that they have to be given a shot right out of the gate.

7. Should we be concerned about Cole Hamels contract?

I don’t think so. Hamels is the best home-grown pitcher in team history not named Roberts and I just don’t see how we let him walk. His press conference today seemed to make it clear he would like to stay. If the idiotic Papelbon and Howard deals mean that Hamels has to walk, I might never forgive RAJ.

8. And why doesn’t anyone seem to care Victorino will be a FA as well?

A couple years back, it looked like Victorino would walk and the Phillies would replace him with Anthony Gose, Jiwan James or Tyson Gillies, whoever had blossomed. Now? Victorino is coming off a year where he was our best offensive player, and the only one of those prospects who looks ready (Gose) is in a Blue Jays uniform. Without a definitive replacement, and an offense aging rapidly, it will be interesting to see what the Phillies do here.

9. When will Ryan Howard be back?

Or maybe the question should be, what will he be like when he gets back? Achilles injuries are notorious for keeping players less that 100% for more than one year (see Brand, Elton) after they return. Howard has the type of swing and approach where if he loses even a little bit of his power/bat speed, it could get ugly. Expectations have been set at May for Howard, but Charlie is a little more optimistic. Certainly a good sign that he was seen taking some grounders in Clearwater today.

10. What are reasonable expectations for the Phillies in 2012?

Last year, with the Big-4 getting all the headlines, the expectations for the Phillies were through the roof. This year, the hype isn’t quite there, but the goal is the same. Last year, the Phils won 102 games even with a tough stretch at the end of the year. I think the Phils will have trouble hitting 100 again for the following reasons…

  • Unknown status/production from Ryan Howard
  • Blanton replaces Roy Oswalt
  • Likely decline from Worley, Mayberry, Victorino
  • Much, much tougher division w/Marlins and Nats making big moves
On the other end, the positive reasons pulling on the other end are…
  • Full season of Hunter Pence
  • Much improved bench
The forces driving our win totals down are stronger than pulling them up, so I’m going to put the Over/Under for wins for the Phillies this year at 95, enough to win the division again, but also enough to make it interesting for the first time in awhile.
So that’s what I’m looking at – what are your questions for 2012? 
If you liked this post...Help Spread the Word:
  • YardBarker
  • BallHype
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Google
  • Mixx
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo! Buzz

Comments

  1. Dude says:

    I’m not speaking for “everybody”, but I definitely think letting Brown get more seasoning below the majors is a good idea. It’s not that I hate him or think he’s not talented, it’s that he just doesn’t look ready. In the majors, plate discipline will offset his awkward swing and probably allow him to be at least an average, possibly above average offensive player, but I’d like to see him get that swing smoothed out in low-pressure conditions so he can reach his full potential in the majors. Plus he’s still a pretty raw defensive player, an learning a new position to boot.

    As for Mayberry, I think the generalization about his age is trumped by the fact that he did make a concrete adjustment to his game (his swing), and you can pretty much see his production spike directly after that. It is true that he’s likely to decline a bit if he’s an every day player and has to face more righties, but the difference in his platoon production is not particularly dramatic. Is it possible he’ll fall off more? Yeah, sure, but I’d say that it’s more likely that he’ll be at least a pretty decent player. At any rate, I think it’s safe to say he’ll give us better production Ibanez

    Worley – I kind of like the Vannimal, so I’m maybe a bit biased, but his strikeout rate climbed steadily throughout the year, he’s a big strong kid (likely to be more durable), and he has good control and movement. I generally try to stay out of the prediction business(i’ll leave that to malik rose and his inner negrodamus) but in general terms I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become “rich mans” version of Blanton in the long run.

    As for the last couple years, Rollins and Utley are my keys – if they can be healthy enough to give us any kind of production, things look pretty good. If not, things look pretty dicey. I’m not sure what to expect out of Howard, honestly. I have low expectations, though. More than ever, he’s going to have to work on his pitch recognition.

    • Dude says:

      Gelb’s piece in the inky on brown working with Sheffield was encouraging – sounds like sheffield saw the same holes in brown’s strike zone that had me concerned. I’m curious to get a look at him and see how it works in a game situation. I thought that he was particularly vulnerable to fastballs in, so if he’s for that worked out, that’s a big step in the right direction.

  2. Ken Bland says:

    ProBably merits mention above 11 as to how the springs of Chase and Polly are.  And I suppose especially Chase.  

    Concerns about Mayberry make sense.  The way I see it is he’ll be pitched to differently this time.  Ability to adjust is the entire issue.  Between his baseball genetics, and supposed work ethic, I see reason to believe he maintains status as a solid contributor. 

    I thought Cole did an adept job of putting pressure back on the team in the court of public opinion today.  But I respect their right to look at 5 or more years, and 100 mil or so, or more with nervous eyes. 

    Share the same sentiment on Shane.

    Discovered just yesterday that Cliff Lee is now on Twitter.  Sent a congratulatory twit to AJ, which I thought was a nice gesture.

               

       

      

  3. Ken Bland says:

    Another question this spring to me is based on taking Juan pierre seriously as a roster candidate, just how much the club likes him.  I get that most view him as a 5th OF candidate, probably at best, and I see the merits behind the lack of positivity, but I think he could make some serious noise in that direction.  I like the speed, and leadoff ability.  Am I optimistic he can make an indentation?  Not particularly, but I’d like to see him get an adequate chance.  This addresses the Dom Brown question, which I suspect is guided by a midset of the powers that be that he’ll get substantial Triple A time, so I view it as a waste to think of him optimistically for this year.  He’s most definitely ready offensively, I feel, but defensively (not that Pierre is great, mind you), I see some merit to not taking him north.

  4. Ken Bland says:

    From the post…<<Hopefully he can show a little spark this spring and get people excited about him again.>>

    From David Hale…<<Dom was upbeat as ever. “I’m not at peace with starting at triple-A. I’m here to win a job.”>>

    Compare that quote with his previous conveyed attitudes when he lost playing time, or a roster spot in the past.
    Pretty accepting.   It’s just printed words to those outside Dom Brown’s inner self, but that spark within might make him excited about himself, which prolly precedes others getting excited about him.

    Remember the winter meeting RAJ had out in Arizona last off season with JMJ? I forget the exact subject nature, but it was reported as a motivational tool once Mayberry became Canberry. I recall Ruben as having been reported as pretty straightforward with Mayberry, and there’s no reason to suspecthe’s playing a psychological angle with DB, but if the threat of Triple A lights a fire under the young man, the quality and quantity of benefits remains scary with that body of potential.

    For now, I’m taking a simple sentence, and way, way overplaying it. But it would be one heckuva great story to see Dom get it cranked up sooner than later. I like the quote. It’s a start.

  5. Ken Bland says:

    Hamels is the best home-grown pitcher in team history not named Roberts >>

    I don’t know if you really thought that out, or were more casual in processing the conclusion, but even if Hamels stays here and if his performance has peaked, he’ll continue to challenge that claim held for quite a while by Chris Short, and pass him or stay close.  Hamels average WAR in his Phillie career is about 3, and Short’s is about 2, but Short had 3 very excellent years where he scored above 5.  Hamels, with what figures to be his best yet to come, should nail 2-3 peak WAR years which would take most any debate out of it.  The big difference is WHIP.  Chris had a couple real good years, but Cole is more or less killing him in that area.  Chris pitched inning totals that Cole will never touch, but that’s the breaks of the era.  I’d say Hamels has just about caught him, but that’s modestly prejudicial by an inability to ignore Hamels still higher potential.  At this point, after last year, I’d probably side with Cole based on the WHIP factor, but it’s still pretty close.  For now.  Chris was really good.  The poor history of the club developing pitchers is basis for a real stretch for other candidates, I scanned Randy Lerch, thinking maybe there might be some basis for comparison, but a look at his career record is light years behind either one.  Curt Simmons doesn’t match up especially well either, although he’s quite a bit more competitive than Lerch even though he doesn’t fit the chronology guideline.

    It’s a nice unofficial honor.

  6. Ken Bland says:

    If I were assigned to come up with a poll question this Sunday, it would read like this…

    In what year do the Phillies come to the realization that they will have to pay the Quaker City hated luxury tax?

       – 2012

       -2013

       -2014

       -2015

    I forget the development in which the quote surfaced, but a few months ago, maybe regarding Roy Oswalt, AGM Scott Proefrock said, “We have a very creative GM.” 

    And that’s true, whether or not you like the lengths and or dollars of some of RAJ’s deals.  He found ways to land Doc, Cliff (twice, although the latter time seemed more falling into his lap), Roy O, and Hunter Pence, all sought players that Phillie fans spent years watching similar plots fail.  He probably was very smart to look into AJ Burnett. But creative or not, reading Mike Missanelli’s Sundy Inky piece reminds of how unavoidable this tax is at some point if the Phils are to remain competitive barring miracle and massive farm system contributions.  Not that the farm system is bad (despite Amaro’s trading prospects as often as people complain about gas prices), it’s rated no worse than middle by most all followers of them, but there’s a minimum of a transistion to feeding off young talent to avoid down time.  Centered around the Hamels future, it really comes down to this.  Could the Phillies afford to lose Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence in 1 year to avoid the tax, and still satisfy Amaro’s competitive juices?  Let’s put it this way.  Respect to Ruben’s creativity, not likely, convict.  Not being a student of the luxury tax implications, my mere image of it is it’s scary, and expensive (even the Yankees and Red Sox are trying to limiting messing with it, so it must be bad), but you can only carry so many big obligations and avoid it.  Hell, even if Hamels walks, which I continue to believe is less than 50-50, future rosters won’t be cheap and the tax may be staring the club down.  There may be a message in the quietness of Shane Vic’s final contract year, and HP just inking up for 1 year, but this tax is looking more and more inevitable short of never say never.  Or a year, or period of slippage. 

    Im inclined to think the Phils avoid the tax until 2013.  My amatuer opinion.  

    Missanelli alsl touched a subject I found a little humorous a few days ago.  This conversation with Jimmy that Charlie had about plate patience.  Jimmy, and others have had 2 downtrending years offensively in a row.  Public conciousness started back then about how the Phils were being pitched to differently as they transformed from mashers to pitching driven.  These conversations and awareness have been around a while now, but the boredome of early spring apparently led to an image of this being fresh stuff.  And as Missanelli opines, if the Phils haven’t adjusted to being picthed to differently by now, well….It’s not impossible, just a longshot.  Perhaps the presence of veteran voice Jim Thome makes a difference.           
         
                

  7. Ken Bland says:

    Now, after a 6-1 thrashing of the FSU Seminole club (14-1 composite from the last 2 years if you’re scoring at home), a major question still remains.  Can the Phillies avoid complacency when they face an worse club when they play the division rival New York Mess later this year.  Can’t wait to watch the Mess play the Disastros.  It’s 1962 all over again.  

  8. Ken Bland says:

    By reputation, some of my best thinking occurs during rest room stops, so here’s the result of my latest trip to said destination.
    This whole playoff thing is making my head spin already, but what really stands out is the seemingly small chance that the 1 game 2 wildcard playoff stays at 1 game.  You know the drill.  True, the WS has essentially always been 7 games, but throughout sport, we’ve seen expansion of participants, and in earlier rounds, increased games….
    So, to cut through the chase of expanding it, let’s do it this way.
    Example….
    Phils, Cards, Dbacks win divisions.  Marlins, Reds, Giants finish 2nd, and their win totals go in same order.  Reds host Giants on Monday (season ends Sunday), if they win, play at Florida Tuesday.  If the Reds win, they play at the Phils (assumed best record going in order of divvy winners) in first of best of 5 on Wednesday.  This joins the upgrade of making winning the divvy priority, and makes the wild card climb ridiculously steep, but allows for 6 playoff teams per league, and in the AL, might allow for clubs like the Jays, or Royals or Indians to feel hope.  Not much delay for division winners, but a minimal amount of rest.  Please don’t ask me what would happen in the way of ties.  God knows.  But it’s a suggestion that opens the field, makes winning the division important, and makes a wildcard climb steep.
    How ’bout them apples?

  9. Ken Bland says:

    Two players I’m enthused about watching on today’s YES (1 PM East) game against the Yanks’d be Tyson Gillies and Phillipe Aumont.  They both were acquired for Cliff from Seattle.  And I remember a clip i read, I believe anonymously quoting a scout who was negative about the chances of any of the 3 acquisitions ever playing for the Phils.  Aumont, about 3 years ago now, almost made the Seattle club, off a classic World Classic performance, in which he did something like strike out 3 straight excellent MLB hitters, but his career plunged to where his numbers were really bad in 2010 in the Phils farm system when they tried stretching him out.  He fared a lot better last year, and Dallas Green said in a radio interview that he thought the club would give him some Show exposure in September.  It didn’t happen, and he’s still shy of Triple A experience, so not a real strong contender to make the club, but his lively arm still carries enthusiasm for the future.

    Gillies has a record of poor health.  He can flat out fly, and I’m hoping he can parlay yesterday’s 2 hot effort into even more focus.  He has even less chance than Aumont of wearing a 2012 Phillie uni, at most, his accomplishment for the year would/could be reducing Shane’s negotiating power, altho0ugh both players would be nice.  Maybe as he ages, Shane moves to a corner, and Gillies would play center.  But confidence in that developing is still way early.

    ********************************************************************************************

    Reports across Twitter today indicated that Ruben and Brian Cashman crossed paths.  Cashman reportedly asked his Phillie counterpart if he needed any Yankee stuff.  “No, I’m good,” replied RAJ.  Any conversation beyond that either didn’t take place, or wasn’t reported.  I can just see what might have happened if Amaro flipped the question on Cashman.  “Need any Phillie stuff?” to wish Cashman might have responded with words like “Sure.  I’ll take Hamels.” 

             

  10. Ken Bland says:

    From Danny Knobler…

    Were the Phillies the best team in baseball the last two years, despite not winning the World Series?

    Perhaps, but what about in 2008, when they did win it?

    “The team in 2008 that won the World Series was not the best team in baseball,” a National League general manager said this week.

    Not just any NL general manager, either. It was Phillies GM Ruben Amaro.

    “Things fell right, and we were fortunate that Tampa Bay beat Boston. Frankly, I didn’t like the matchup of the Phillies and Boston.”

    The 2008 Phillies won 92 games, fifth in the majors behind the Angels, Rays, Cubs and Red Sox

    *******************************************************************************************

    Jamie Moyer throws his first exhibition game Wednesday.  Look forward to success.  Probably a strict definition in this case of location game day, and feeling good the day after. So far, so good.  Good reports on his winter showcase that perked some interest from as many as just under 10 clubs, and evidently, the telling factor i n inking with the Rox was a seeminly unofficial agreement to let Jamie throw 20 spring innings in a combo of varsity and B games.  The Rox are representative at the top of the rotation, though the likes of Chacin and Guthrie don’t confuse with Doc and Cliff, and have depth with about 4 other representative starters.  Hard to imagine Jamie making that club, but there’s interest in improving club chemistry per Skipper Jim Tracy, so maybe that plays a point in the decision.  Kinda wonder if Jamie throws well in those innings if he might be satisfied and walk if he is cut, but at least it’d be extra fuel to catch someone else’s attention.     

    ******************************************************************************************

    Sources always report that 20% of realtors sell 80% of the properties.  Life’s experience tells us that many fields of endeavor run that formula.  Nothing’s easier in life than covering spring training.  Players galore are readily accessible, optimism abounds.  But it’s hard coming up with good stories.  It’s not exactly a story, more a singular line that has Bill Baer standing out from many that write about baseball.  Paraphrasing, he wonders how in Dom Brown’s game, defense is so important when Raul was given a complete pass for his left fielding skills.  How’d ya like to put that question to Ruben or Charlie, and no wiggling now, actually get a straight answer.  To me, offensively, he is ready to rock and roll.   

  11. Ken Bland says:

    I wonder what Jamie Moyer’s psychology was when he was released after the 1991 season when he lost all 5 decisions. He didn’t even pitch in ’92, the same age Dontrelle Willis now.  Willis, if nothing else oughta take a look at the back of Moyer’s baseball card tonight if he’s looking at what sho nuff can’t be a bad outing to shake off today.

    Willis, who demonstrated physical skills early in his career that Jamie Moyer barely can dream about has had his career reduced to a fraction.  But it’s still above zero.  He was a credible enough signing, if the intention was to have him fill a lefty specialist role, but the Phils, assumedly unintentionally have hung him out to dry in 2 spring outings by trying to stretch him out to at least a full inning of work.  The overexposure has been loud and clear in accumulating the D Train’s spring numbers to somewhere between pathetic, and terrible.  Perhaps his mindset is different if he’s faced 2 lefties only this spring, and had his usual success off them.  Moyer, 20 years later, today induced 3 weak grounders, struck out 1, and shut out the Giants for 2 innings.  The D Train needs an impossible plot to develop to be wearing Phillie red in 20 days, let alone Moyer’s bumpy road 20 years later.  But the source of inspiration is in today’s boxscore if it helps him make any sort of U-turn. 

  12. Ken Bland says:

    Kyle Kendrick pitched a split squad game today.  Toiugh to say who drew the short end of the stick, Kendrick, facing a Yankee squad (also split) that included Jeter, Alex and tex, or Cliff, who drew the offensively potent Tigers.  Kendrick threw 37 pitches and scattered 3 hits in 3 shutout innings, and it brings up a question.  Not necessarily a good question, but Kendrick certainly has the organization believing in him, validated by his new 2 year deal, for a fair sum of coin (7 mil plus).  He pitched well last year, too.  The Joe Blanton rumors continue to exsist, strengthened by another good outing yesterday.  The Phils are said to be willing to pay 2 mil of Joe’s 8 mil last year of the contract salary.

    But is it that outrageous to think that some team, if anyone is interested in acquiring a starter from the Phils might be more willing to go for Kendrick than Blanton?  Kendrick is signed for an extra year, and even with the Phils picking up some of the tab, Kendrick would be cheaper. He’s about 3 years younger as well.  Blanton has the larger body of work, and throwing from good health, he figures to be more attractive a candidate, if anyone’s to be moved, but Kendrick is at least giving trade partners something to think about.  One factor might take Kendrick out of the equation.  If the Phils want to make a move to save salary, Kendrick might be labelled something you never ever thought possible…an “untouchable.”  

  13. Ken Bland says:

    Another question about the Phils in spring training as a team is how will the personnel respond to what’s turned into an annual pitch of playing more effective small ball.  Small ball might be defined as moving runners along. Moving runners along has an important predecessor.  Not that you can’t start a rally with a bunt, but in essence, somebody has to be on to play a flavor of moving a runner along.

    Last year, the Phils were 6th in The League with an OBP of .323.  Considering the quality of pitching, 6th was pretty okay in tandem, especially since it translated to 102 wins.  But when you consider that this was a veteran team that can hit, and has experience, it’s a pretty meager accomplishment.  You can always slant final totals with withdrawls of certain data that make it more subjectively directional, but if you recall, there was concern about a Werthless lineup at season’s start, and the Phils came out pounding the first 10 days of the year.  That was largely against a weak schedule, but the fact of the matter is that taking away that 8% or so of the season, the .323 would be lower, perhaps down around .315.  That’s a mere point of conversation, but it stresses the rest of the year’s downside.

    With certain core players in place for a while now, it’s interesting to compare prior OBP results.

    2011  .323
    2010  .332
    2009  .334
    2008  .332
    2007  .354
    2006  .347
    2005  .348

    If the Phils are able to uptick the OBP, and play a degree of better small ball, the focus on themselves still could create good sized separation in the division, but just like the Phils focus should be on what they are doing and not the out of town scoreboard, the offense needs to focus on this, and not the other facets of the game.  I’d say chances are pretty good the OBP heads back up, and more effective offense results from it.  How much more effective?  I’ll pass on pressing my potential luck on that part of the roadmap.                     

    • Ken Bland says:

      With certain core players in place for a while now, it’s interesting to compare prior OBP results.
      2011 .323
      2010 .332
      2009 .334
      2008 .332
      2007 .354
      2006 .347
      2005 .348
      If the Phils are able to uptick the OBP, and play a degree of better small ball, the focus on themselves still could create good sized separation in the division, but just like the Phils focus should be on what they are doing and not the out of town scoreboard, the offense needs to focus on this, and not the other facets of the game. I’d say chances are pretty good the OBP heads back up, and more effective offense results from it. How much more effective? I’ll pass on pressing my potential luck on that part of the roadmap. >>>>>>

      OOOPS (14-17, 5/9/12….OPB was in upper .290s as of about 4 days ago (90% sure)  

  14. Mike Donnelly says:

    Based on SLG.  All 3 of our OF had career years last year. Last year their combined average age was 28.3   Lance Nix had his career year at age 28 in 2009.   Combined age of all 4 is now 29.8,  highly unlikely they perform as well as last year.
    Infield much, much worse. Average age for the big 5 in the infield plus Ty W. is 33.5 average age of all 6 of them at their peak year was 28.6.  On average they are 4 years removed from their best year.  Thome doesn’t count but is 10 years away.
    Placido’s best year was 7 years ago when he was 29, Howard 6 years ago at 26, Utley and Rollins both 5 years ago at age 28.  Ty W., 4 years ago at age 30, and Chooch’s best year was 2 yrs’ ago at age 31  (our 2 backup catchers’ best years were when they were even younger 25 & 28)
    And Rubin wonders why our hitting is getting worse every year….
    Last year 1st round exit
    2 years ago 2nd round exit
    3 years ago 3rd round exit
    4 years ago 4th round winner

    • Ken Bland says:

      This bleaker than dark summation carries a number of very possibly true points.  But it omits that a more controllable destiny, the regular season, has resulted in the exact opposite of the post season (short) samples in that each of the preceding 5 years has resulted in 5 higher win totals each year.  There isn’t an attentive fan that doesn’t think multiple rings shouldn’t/certainly couldn’t be in place by now, and that’s the important end result, but there’s still a lot to be said for the regular season success. 

      This isn’t pharmaceuticals with a high percentage of perfect prescriptions.  The Phillies moved out of Pedro Feliz, Pat Burrell, and Jayson Werth (perhaps forced oiut in that case because of a non competitive counter offer), and in other cases, spent the money on pitching.  Adrian Beltre, skill wise, a clear choice over Polanco, was a much more expensive proposition, and how many rings is he wearing? Maybe it took longer than some fans wanted, but Mayberry’s become part of the rotation.  Dom Brown admirers might plead for his opportunity, but still can’t defend him by factually stating he is absolutely ready.  Maybe here and there, the Phils have erred in decisions.  It’s a killer that the offense didn’t come up even adequately in key playoff spots.  But as we move into (probably) strong year 6 of an uptrend of 8 years, it’s wise to give the organization a lot more credit than focussing on stats that might carry truth, and weight, but contradict a good portion of the end results. 

      • Mike Donnelly says:

        We’ve all been taught that pitching wins championships, and each of the past 4 years our starting pitching has improved and our regular season wins have improved.  But maybe that is just simply wrong.  Perhaps in short 5 and 7 games series, hitting is more important and pitching less so…  Atlanta Braves anyone ?   Just for the record I’ve been begging the Phillies to get rid of Utley for 2-3 years now, he is completely done.  And I did not like the Rollins signing.  I’m just depressed.  I have no doubt they will make the playoffs, but the league has the book on how to shut down our bats.

        • Ken Bland says:

          For better or worse, following the game for an eternity takes me back forever on the old adage that pitching wins championships.  A good number of years ago, I started to see/think that there is balance to it, but the pitching remains thee important ingredient. To me, its about balance and execution.  Most people come across these days with the hot team thinking, I have a hard time simplifying it to that level.  Timing is involved, but skill is still the underlying factor.  I’d look foolish singing the praises of the Phillies offense, but I think there’s a tendency to disregard the opponent’s pitching, and in the case of last year, TLR’s pain in the butt, but effective bullpen moves.  Improvement comes from within, so in that facet, the opponent is secondary.  But to your point, the Cardinals had a good offense for sure.

          Obviously, you want to do better than the Braves 1 for 14, and believe me, I felt a lot of pain the last 2 years, but in the overall scheme of things, I’ve gotten a real kick out of the last few years, even with just 1 title.  But I hope it changes, even though it’s gonna be a monster task to beat an American league club in this year’s Series as it appears from a general viewpoint.  

          My only comment on Utley is I love the guy.  And you don’t just eat a 15 million obligation, but if the powers that be see an overall game dropoff in him to the extent of your view the last 2-3 years, he will not be depended on like he has been. I’d describe the front office as patient, not stupid.  Stupid being defined as going past the time when the handwriting’s pretty clear that he’s done.  I still have good expectations from him this year.  We’ll see if that develops.  

      • Ken Bland says:

        <<The Phillies moved out of Pedro Feliz, Pat Burrell, and Jayson Werth (perhaps forced out in that case because of a non competitive counter offer), and in other cases, spent the money on pitching.>>

        Not to belabor this point, but additionally, the Phils didn’t hold Aaron Rowand either.  And news of Ryan madson’s TJ surgery certainly in the present looks like they parted with him at a well-timed point.  I wouldn’t dare touch if they knew something, which I’d think not, but the Madson news is a Cincy crusher, and Rowand’s another example of guys they didn’t hold onto.  You win some, you lose some.  

  15. Ken Bland says:

    Today’s around the first anniversary of the birth of the steamboat of prognostications that swept up Braves sentiment toward winning the 2011 East.  Its momentous degree, and hallucagenic avoidance of answers was pretty entertaining.  Reasonably close to exact to the day, surprisingly, I did hear Jim Duquette, ex Met GM, and well exposed broadcaster digest the Chase news today, and offer that he still believes the Phillies will win the 2012 East edition.  I’d think prognosticators will be lined up to double check the competition after today.

    I’d thought “are you kidding me,” when I heard that, but trying not to fall into the Overreaction Monday mode, I at least held back from saying it out loud.

    But for cryin’ out loud.  Clearly wrong, let alone overly optimistic, not much in timing, time on the field, or production surprised me last year with Chase Utley.  But boy, does Mike Donnelly get a star next to his name at this point.  I mean how can you be optimistic at this juncture.  How deep do you have to dig to gather energy again to greet what seems real iffy now, a 3rd time back from serious injury in the last couple years.

    What hope can a specialist offer now that wasn’t addressed a year ago?  Forget the injury prone of before.  We’re in serious territory, and it sucks.  The playoffs are a challenge to say the least, 30 million bucks in obligations certainly effect business decisions, finding a suitable, let alone equal substitute is a pipedream, and the other half of the right side of the infield is problematic in stereo. 

    25 guys will battle, and keep their chins up, and maybe it’s a good start toward at least competing.  But this is brutal stuff.  Descending playoff results in recent years were painful, but now, eary as it is, winning the division seems like it would be cause for a parade.

    And prayers to Chase, I might add.
    Course there were those expecting little from Chase this year, that maybe don’t see this as the negative it appears here.  I’d take whatever faith I could at this point.             

  16. Mike Donnelly says:

    I take no pleasure in being correct, I’ve loved watching him play and will miss him.  Ruben has to take a hit on this one, he has let the core of the team get dangerously old, it’s no coincidence they’ve done worse every year for 3 straight years in the postseason, let’s imagine what a 4th year slide would look like.
    This year do not win the division
    Last year 1st round exit
    2 years ago 2nd round exit
    3 years ago 3rd round exit
    4 years ago 4th round winner
    Every great run ends at some point, but I really had hoped back in ’07/’08 we would get more than 1 WS championship, man I am really, really, really regretting not taking my kids out of school for the parade….

  17. Mike Donnelly says:
    • Ken Bland says:

      Should’nt rip Murph for scribing this…its not news til after the specialist meets with Chase, but it’ll get page hits and sell papers in the interim, so what the hey.

      And I’m zero per cent qualified to critique Murphy, who unquestionably by and large does a good job reporting and interpreting Phillies baseball.  But this piece put him on a 2 story losing streak.  Day before (time approximate), he wasted a column on how Ryan Madson still thinks the Phils offered him 44 mil.  Who the hell cares?  Ruben’s credibility, shaky as it is in a lot of public observor’s minds won’t be altered by this, so other than seeking page hits and selling papers, who cares?  It’s OVER.  And yeah, shame on Ryan for providing the quotes to Heyman in the first place.  Particularly since Ryan might not know since the probablity is the discussion was between Boras and Amaro.  

      That’s what you call a SPEC-TAC’-U-LAR job of avoidance.  Avoiding the intended topic of Utley because there’s not much to be said unless this specialist is a lot more special than his prdecessors.  

  18. Ken Bland says:

    Funny how the 10 biggest questions of spring training evolve as the pre season rolls.

    Several manes have been bandied about in the Phils investigation of an infielder.  I’ll throw 2 names out that come from one source.  Neither is a recommendation, but I’m pretty sure that the Reds will cut either Wilson Valdez, or Paul Janisch.   Course other clubs will cut “similar” players, and as it’s a pretty obvious statement that either Janisch or Valdez is likely to get sliced, if I had to venture a very wild guess, it’s Valdez.  Janisch is exhaust8ing the Reds with lack of offense, and has probably hit just well enough to coax another year on the club.

    Part of whatever approach the club tries to take might depend on if they decide to try to improve offensively, or strengthen the defense.  Well rounded players are hardly available this time of year.  Galvis has a pretty good chance of being a better defender than Chase at this point.  Galvis is relatively new to the position, and some simple errors bring down Chase’s overall rep as a real good 2nd baseman, but on the whole, Galvis defensively is something special that should translate fairly well to 2nd base.  So if you strengthen defense at 2nd, maybe you try to make up some of the offense figured to be lost without Chase, and keep Dom, and let him play.   

       

      

  19. Ken Bland says:

    Well, for right now, the Papelbon decision/contract doesn’t look quite as bad.  A little while ago, news came down that Ryan Madson will require TJ surgery, and will apparently have a quite short Reds career.  He was signed to a 1 year, uninsured deal that I’d think will cost the Reds 10.5 mil, 8.5 contract, and a 2 mil buyout if they don’t pick up ’13 at about 10 mil.  Murphy’s Law stuff if it ever exsisted.

    While it’s hardly time to think about it, it’ll be interesting to see what Madson’s future brings.  At best, he’d be about full strength at the start of ST ’13, so maybe he can show a full recovery and get a good deal, but realistically, this 1 year deal that was to serve as a springboard to a good, long term deal after this year in a supposedly less saturated market has taken an alternate course.  Pretty sad stuff to happen to a seemingly good guy.  

  20. Mike Donnelly says:

    Following all the press conferences of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley each handles their injury very differently, I’m loving the big guy more and more.  Chase has a lot to learn from Ryan.

  21. Ken Bland says:

    2012 Senses…

    The Phils will have a tedious year.  There are just too many questions that will prevent separation from the division.   The division is filled with improvement, yet still being overrated, and it’s the Phils division to lose, but there’ll be a real conciousness of scoreboard and standings watching.  Winning the division, and the division series round would make for a successful year, but it would still be a disppointment to lose the LCS.  Maybe it should, maybe not. It’ll be a fairly major upset to win the World Series.

    Hunter Pence will have a year that in sum is pretty good, but there’ll be times during the year that it’ll be popular to ask if he’s pressing.  Small ball might show flashes of success compared to the last couple years, but there’ll be a lot of pressure on Pence to provide the big hit to finish it off, and he won’t be consistently successful with it.

    Shane Victorino will not regress to any noticable degree.  He’ll essentially play as well as last year, his career year to date, maybe a little less, but he’s clearly this team’s best player.

    Dom Brown will finally turn the corner and be a Phillie for over half a season, and not just a bench player.  It’s finally now or never time, and he’ll get past the hump.

    Cliff Lee will have another excellent regular season.  This will be important, in a close division race, but less meaningful in his mission to reverse recent post season lack of success. 

    The American League will show massive superiority to the National league in reputation, inter league, and all-star game results, prompting historians to contemplate if it’s the biggest intra sport dominance since the NFC owned the AFC in the 1980′s (assuming that was bigger than the NBA Western Conference’s superiority in recent years.

    Ryan Braun will make people think hard about his 2012 year as an MVP year.  He’ll play well enough to make the conversation debatable whether to hold the off season developments against him.

    Jamie Moyer will complete his miracle in progress by making the Rockies, but will struggle to have an effective season.

    Andy Pettitte’s place in the rotation will make the Yankees a stronger threat to win in the post season.

    Juan Pierre wil lmake the Opening Day roster, and do some good things, but create a lot of head scratching during his time with the club.   

    Clayton Kershaw continues on the path to greatness.
       
    The Phillies bullpen will be a question mark under Jonathan Papelbon into the trading deadline.

    Johnny Damon will separate from Jermaine Dye’s exit and still get a job by May 1st.

    Ranger-Angel matchups live up to the hype.   

    If he chooses to be elaborate, Roy Oswalt’s press conference, when he does sign, will be very interesting to listen to.

    Ryan Madson will help Aroldis Chapman with the change up, and increase the chance of a scary future.

    Kyle Kendrick will continue his trend of improving pitcher.        
        
    Matt Kemp will be hard pressed to equal last year’s spectacular year.
            
    Justifying huge long term deals, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder will command strong attention in the AL MVP race.   Neither will miss a beat in standing up to the pressure of new team/big money.

    Stephen Strassburg will be more of a CY candidate than expected.  He’ll show dominance per inning, and even with a lower IP total, get some positive reaction to his year.

    The Washington Nationals will either regret, or not use Brad Lidge as their closer while Drew Storen is out.  At least until Henry Rodriguez proves unworthy of the responsibility. If he does.

    Cardinal observors will further appreciate Tony LaRussa’s 2011 managing as Mike Metheny will need a minimum of adjustment time to put his players in positions to succeed to the extent that LaRussa did last year.

    For all the spring talk of who’s rotation is better between the Phils and Giants, a likely breakthrough followup year by Madison Baumgarner reduces the headline of that discussion.

    The Braves probably feel the effects of the improved Nats and Marlins by slipping below 1 of them in the standings.  Fredi Gonzalez, possibly in his last year, struggles to not giving into the temptation of overusing his bullpen again. 

    By year’s end, Chipper Jones will know he made the right decision.

    The 1 game wildcard setup will create a lot of interest.  

    The Blue Jays are still not there, but have a year that builds toward 2013 as a serious AL East threat.

       

          

                

       
                  
             

        

    • Ken Bland says:

      2012 Senses and Results
      <<The Phils will have a tedious year. There are just too many questions that will prevent separation from the division. The division is filled with improvement, yet still being overrated, and it’s the Phils division to lose, but there’ll be a real conciousness of scoreboard and standings watching. Winning the division, and the division series round would make for a successful year, but it would still be a disppointment to lose the LCS. Maybe it should, maybe not. It’ll be a fairly major upset to win the World Series.>>

      Never really was even that good.  The top of the division certainly wasn’t overreated with the Braves and Nats among the best teams in baseball. 
       
      <<Hunter Pence will have a year that in sum is pretty good, but there’ll be times during the year that it’ll be popular to ask if he’s pressing. Small ball might show flashes of success compared to the last couple years, but there’ll be a lot of pressure on Pence to provide the big hit to finish it off, and he won’t be consistently successful with it.>>

      That was a pretty good take.  He’s got his plusses as a player, but it’s still hard to fathom them acvquring him for a high price, and not pursuing Carlos Beltran, or possibly just letting Dom Brown play through.  We’ll see if the Giants can move Pence again this winter.  At his arb money, that’s a possibility on their wish list.
             

      <<Shane Victorino will not regress to any noticable degree. He’ll essentially play as well as last year, his career year to date, maybe a little less, but he’s clearly this team’s best player.>>

      Not even close, and boy, what a year to play some very average baseball, free agency looming.   

      <<Dom Brown will finally turn the corner and be a Phillie for over half a season, and not just a bench player. It’s finally now or never time, and he’ll get past the hump.>>

      This one pretty much followed course.  It might have because of the club defining seller status, but I      thought it would take place in a contending or winning season.     

      <<Cliff Lee will have another excellent regular season. This will be important, in a close division race, but less meaningful in his mission to reverse recent post season lack of success.>>

      Cliff’s reached a point where his season almost actually does qualify as excellent, but you needf a short memory to go quite that far.  He just had too many games mixed in early where he didn’t hold leads, gave up double figure hits, the sort of stuff that is acceptable lesser quantity that still allows for an excellent mark.  But the way he’s finishing, you’d like to think he was ready to keep rolling into the post season. 

             
      The American League will show massive superiority to the National league in reputation, inter league, and all-star game results, prompting historians to contemplate if it’s the biggest intra sport dominance since the NFC owned the AFC in the 1980?s (assuming that was bigger than the NBA Western Conference’s superiority in recent years.>>

      I really liked the historic aspect of this witty comparison, and truly believed it.  But it winds up way off base.
      The AL might still be the better league, but it’s still close, or closer than I expected.     
      <<Ryan Braun will make people think hard about his 2012 year as an MVP year. He’ll play well enough to make the conversation debatable whether to hold the off season developments against him.>>

      Spot on for this one. 
      Jamie Moyer will complete his miracle in progress by making the Rockies, but will struggle to have an effective season.>>

      It’s hard to believe that Moyer still hasn’t announced his retirement.  He actually pitched a couple really good games while with the Rox, but by and large his release was very right to do. 
      <<Andy Pettitte’s place in the rotation will make the Yankees a stronger threat to win in the post season.>>

      His 2012 pitching validates this, his time on the shelf limits the detail, but as the season closes down, you can’t help but thgink this is nicely set up to wind up an accurate sense. 
      <<Juan Pierre will make the Opening Day roster, and do some good things, but create a lot of head scratching during his time with the club.>>

      I liked the signing at the time, and even from that barrier, JP done good.  He probably made fewer “what the hell is he doing” baserunning and fielding mistakes than he has in the last few years.  Give Ruben a high mark on this one.
            
      <<Clayton Kershaw continues on the path to greatness.>>

      The win column won’t tell you he did, the peripherals will validate this.  Many pitchers would kill to have a year like his.  Except for the hip pain, of course.
          
        
      <The Phillies bullpen will be a question mark under Jonathan Papelbon into the trading deadline.>>

      It’s hard depending on a guy of Jose Contreras’s age, but this helped rush this one to accurate when he went down.     
      <<Johnny Damon will separate from Jermaine Dye’s exit and still get a job by May 1st.>>

      I’d assume Johnny was an effective locker room guy for the Tribe, but on field, the other clubs ignoring him proved smart.
         
      <<Ranger-Angel matchups live up to the hype.>>

      Not for the regular season.  Hello, Oakland.  And those waiting for the O’s and A’s to give it up that would create a possible Angels-Rangers series are running very short on time.  It’s still hard toi fathom the Angels haing fallen short, especially with Trout playing as well as he did.  Oh, well.  That’s baseball!     
      If he chooses to be elaborate, Roy Oswalt’s press conference, when he does sign, will be very interesting to listen to.>>

      There hasn’t been one interesting thing about Roy O’s year. 
      <<Ryan Madson will help Aroldis Chapman with the change up, and increase the chance of a scary future.>>

      Haven’t heard much about Madson’s involvement with the Reds.  Lord have mercy, if he hadn’t gone down, and Chapman was in the rotation….well…suffice to say baseball doesn’t work out to script too often.   
      <<Kyle Kendrick will continue his trend of improving pitcher.>>

      Hmmmm.  General statement that it was, I can’t even remember specifically what paramets I might have meant.  Not the H2 guy that for a month was so good.  But, if it was to be a pretty respected contender for a 2013 rotation gig, we could put it in the win column.           
         
      <<Matt Kemp will be hard pressed to equal last year’s spectacular year.>>

      What a brave prediction!  Who, not named Musial, does perform like he did 2 straight years?  Truth is, the statement stood up, and the measurement was hard to duplicate, but it’s also a fact that Matt was scorching, and then got hamstrung.
          
             
      <<Justifying huge long term deals, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder will command strong attention in the AL MVP race. Neither will miss a beat in standing up to the pressure of new team/big money.>>

      That’d be pretty neat having Prince and Albert as the 2nd best players on your club, huh?  Neither one has to hang their heads over their years.  
      <<Stephen Strassburg will be more of a CY candidate than expected. He’ll show dominance per inning, and even with a lower IP total, get some positive reaction to his year.>>

      I had more CY presence in mind than development offered.  His per numbers are indeed good, but Dickey and Gio killed him anyway.   
       
      <<The Washington Nationals will either regret, or not use Brad Lidge as their closer while Drew Storen is out. At least until Henry Rodriguez proves unworthy of the responsibility. If he does.>>

      Lemme break the news to ya.  The Washington Nationals don’t have ANY regrests over the way this year has gone.  Well, to date, anyway.  You need a good memory to remember Lidge wearing a curly W anyway. 
      <<Cardinal observors will further appreciate Tony LaRussa’s 2011 managing as Mike Metheny will need a minimum of adjustment time to put his players in positions to succeed to the extent that LaRussa did last year.>>

      Headliners Davey, Dusty, and non headliner Bruce crush Metheny’s shot at MOY, but I’d wager that those that rub shoukders with him daily think he proved a very viable candidate.  Someone in Arch City drgagged some kick ass results out of the likes of Lohse and Lynn, and don’t think Metheny didn’t have anything to do with it. 
      Looks like the Cards made a terrific choice to replace Tony.   
      <<For all the spring talk of who’s rotation is better between the Phils and Giants, a likely breakthrough followup year by Madison Baumgarner reduces the headline of that discussion.>>

      And the Braves, and the Cardinals.  This ain’t no lifetime achievement award.  Truth is, the Phils have had an excellent rotation, even this year with the work of Hamels and Lee, but the historic comps have always been a rush to praise.   But I’ll take the Giants, even with Timmy finally coming back from the depths of pitching hell.  
      <<The Braves probably feel the effects of the improved Nats and Marlins by slipping below 1 of them in the standings. Fredi Gonzalez, possibly in his last year, struggles to not giving into the temptation of overusing his bullpen again.>>

      How do you spell W-R-O-N-G?  You could pitch Craig Kimbrel 162×9, and not be overusing him.  He is awesome, and my thinking that he would struggle to come back from overuse last year proved ridiculous.  Venters is another story, but Kimbrel had a something else season. 
      <<By year’s end, Chipper Jones will know he made the right decision.>>

      Funny thing is he probably does!  He’s still on course to leave the game with Greg Maddux dignity, not to be confused with Brett Favre, or Roger Clemens, which validates the statement, but while I wasn’t predicting a fall off the cliff type Pete Rose age 45 year, I figured another franchise non playoff year would have him secure in his thinking.  It’s not a bad plot to see Larry at the podium come early November.
         
      <<The 1 game wildcard setup will create a lot of interest. >>

      What a stupid statement!   I mean why the hell wouldn’t it?  I don’t wanna get into the concept’s worth, but it’s excitement creation factor is blatantly obvious, and indisputable, chaep though it may be.
      <<The Blue Jays are still not there, but have a year that builds toward 2013 as a serious AL East threat.>>

      Well, they did have a lot iof injuries, and Ricky Romero didn’t have even fair results, but I’m too tired of thinking the Jays are gonna be better, and they aren’t. 

         

  22. Mike Donnelly says:

    Holy mackerel that’s throwing a lot of spaghetti on the wall, I’d bet at least 1 of the 29 comes true!
    Here is my Spring Training question.  It is universally accepted that Dom. Brown was brought up too early and too much in a rush, this supposedly ruined him.  Aren’t Phillies doing the exact same to Freddy G.?
    Freddy G. has shown he can’t hit minor league ball particularly can’t hit the breaking ball, he already is hitting around .220 which is not acceptable.  Once major league pitchers figure out his weakness, I doubt Freddy hits better than .190
    Prediction, pressure will build to send Freddy back to the minors, but won’t this wreck him exactly like Dom. Brown?

  23. Mike Donnelly says:

    More on my theory does Pitching win or Scoring win?
    2006 Philly #1 in runs in NL, but 12 games back of Mets miss playoffs. NLCS is Mets #3 vs. StL #5
    2007 Philly #1 in runs, loses to #2 Colorado who makes it to WS
    2008 Philly #2 in runs, get lucky and don’t have to face #1 Cubs as they lose to Dodgers.
    2009 Philly #1 in runs, make it to WS, lose to #1 NYY in AL who scored 100 more runs than Philly that year
    2010 50 run droppoff but Philly #2, beat #1 Reds lose to #9 Giants
    2011 Philly #7 ! , lose to #1 Cards
    Pitching wins 2010, Scoring wins in ’06, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’11
    In 2011 Philly was a pathetic #7 in runs scored. 20% fewer runs than 2007 when everyone was young and healthy (713 vs. 892)  No three and four hitter in our lineup this year for likely a few months or perhaps half the season, we will perhaps score 650 runs this year and trail most of the NL, thank god for the extra playoff slot!  We could be the ’10 Giants all over again!
     

    • Ken Bland says:

      I’d like to see Galvis come up short first before even offering a guess on how he is effected by it.  I know he’s coming in here with a lot of questions about his offensive abilities, but let’s see how he does when he faces real pitching, if they do wind up going with him. Dom Brown, better than anyone knows in his heart why he hasn’t clicked to this point.  It matters, but not as much as just focussing on his next day rather than yesterday.  It can easily seem like getting jerked around between minors and majors, but it’s too easy to say that if you haven’t walked in his shoes.  There also are a huge measure of difference in the expectations laid on these 2 talents.  Let Galvis get mentioned in the same breath as Darryl Strawberry, and see how he does with that.   

  24. Ken Bland says:

    I’ll say this about what reaction there has been to spring training.

    If we eliminated Papelbon from the field in this question, which Phillie newcomer will have the biggest positive effect on the club’s season, who would win.

    Thinking about it relative to the pundit sponsored image of an improved bench sort of brings yuou back to earth.  Pierre did some nice things in ST, but also did some of his ridiculous fundamental lapses.  Qualls doesn’t excite me.  Nix unexcites me.  Podsednik had a good spring, but if the Phils keep him over nix, it’s a major miracle.  Galvis might balance out positive, between offense and defense, but unlikely to be enough to be biggest (hopefully).  Might be another name or two surface by a week from now, but Thome’s got a half decent shot at being it, and when an intended spot veteran like that is a favorite to fill the bill, it makes you think about the improved bench a little cautiously.

    Yeah, I guess Ty Wigginton is a possibility.  That’d be a positive, but he’s not that terrific a player.         

  25. Ken Bland says:

    Timing, in a word, is everything.  For example, what if John Usedtoberry had the spring he’shad this year a year ago.  Think we’d have seen him display the skills he did, or get buried in another year of MILB.

    You walk a fine line in determining who spring performance/stats count for, and who they don’t.  I’d hardly go so far as to predict Mayberry has definitively cost himself playing time come Opening Day, and beyond, but he certainly hasn’t enhanced his position.

    At the other end of the spectrum is the spring that ex-Phil Jamie Moyer has turned in, attempting to lay foundation for some fascinating hsitoric recollections of where were you when Jamie Moyer was doing this, or that.  Moyer was about 46 when I used to cringe at the thought of his pitching, and my schedule coi8nciding with watching the Phils.  I started doing a sharp U-turn the night he blanked Atlanta in a CG shutout at age 47, and I’ve rooted for his completion of a miracle all spring as he has pitched well, and is now being cited as an increasing favorite to make the Rockies.  It’s truly exciting, but even in the euphoria, there are onstacles.

    Moyer appears to have overcome health obstacles, as in the Rockies have been watching how he felt the day after as much as game days themselves.  Moyer would come cheap, but one reason to watch his recovery time is because the Rox don’t need a 5th starter for 2-3 weeks of the early season, and could long term starter Moyer adjust to being a spot starter/reliever at this age?  So I’ve watched Jamie’s progress grow from longshot, to probable, but still won’t believe he’s made the club until it’s announced.  And let’s be candid.  Great as the story is, it’s a novelty act on a moment’s notice, but even to this point, it’s been a phoenominal story.

            

  26. Ken Bland says:

    Kinda hate falling into the trap of Jamie Moyer timing references since there are eons of availabilities, but these names, so long removed from everyday awareness were drafted ahead of Moyer in the 1984 amatuer draft, when Jamie was picked by the Chicubs in Round 6.

    Jay Bell  

    John Marzano  

    Oddibe Rich and Famous McDowell   

    Norm Charlton 

    Greg Maddux 

    Tom Glavine

    Marvin Freeman

    Al Leiter 

    Ken Caminiti  

    Wes Chamberlain

    Another fascinating angle by which to appreciate Moyer’s long career is that he played at the same time as Bob Boone, ex-Phils catcher, who deserves kudos of his own for being able to sustain at that particular position into age 42 at the MLB level. Moyer was young then, but Boone’s 2 kids, Aaron and Brett had long careers that feel like they ended a while ago (5 years maybe?), and Moyer has outlasted them.  And there are prolly other players he caught at the tail end whose kids played in The Show and he has outlasted.

    What a rebleepingmarkable story.     

       

      

  27. Ken Bland says:

    Some people don’t need a warmup act for April Fools Day.  Natural connectivity to their skill set and the Holiday, I guess.

    Me?  I need practice.

    How ’bout Tom McCarthy is an outstanding baseball announcer.

    It don’t get no more foolish than that.      

    There goes my New Season’s Resolution.  I made it this far into the Grapefruit League.  Not too shabby. 

  28. Ken Bland says:

    Hard to believe, Harry, but this is about the 13th baseball season comin’ up since Harry Caray left us.  Harry was pure greatness in his prime.  Post prime?  Wellll….I’ve heard better, but it was still Harry, and Steve Stone was a most capable sidekick.  Pretty darned good analyst in his own right, but sidekick in that role, for sure.

    One of Harry’s post prime tricks, and perhaps before, though I’m too young to recollect, was telling us what the players names were backwards when they stepped to the plate.  Holy Cow!  Not to mention acknowledging 300 birthdays a game, and iswear, some of the peeps musta had 4 birthdays a season, but I digress.

    So it’s not the same, but in honor of Harry, if we flipped the initials of today’s outstanding Phillies starting lineup, here’s what we’d have….

    Vane Shictorino  (how’d ya like to walk through life with that identity?)

    Placido Polanco (didn’t take long to figger that one out)

    Rimmy Jollins (why couldn’t Rimmy, or Rames work as a 1st name?)

    lovely, Doc just gave up a homer.  I am one happy camper. I swear, Doc pitches like it’s home run derby sometimes.

    Punter Hence (football, anyone?)

    Wy Tigginton (because we needed a better bench, but I dunno about that litmus test)

    Mohn Jayberry (hell, I’ve called him everythingelseberry, so why not?)

    Lector Huna (kinda kill the Espanol identity)

    Rico Chuiz (does keep the Espanol identity, no?)

    Greddy Falvis (would you pronounce that Favis, or Falvees?)

    Well, so much for avoiding the pain of concentrating on falling behind… 2-0, Jlue Bays.   

                  

          

             

         

         

           

  29. Ken Bland says:

    When you think about it, in a number of areas, the Phillies have not been trendsetters among baseball franchises.  I could be wrong, way wrong, but to my recollection, the Phils don’t seem to lead the League in originality.  They seem to have been among the first to add a mascot (San Diego Chicken was the first, I think the Phanatic was fairly close behind, and certainly popular), but dating back to when the Phils were close to last in signing a black guy, they more follow than lead.

    Hell if I remember the first sideline reporter in any televised sports venue.  Might be 20 years ago, probably started in football.  This year, we have Greg Murphy added as a sideline guy.  I guess the idea is okay, albeit hardly an attention getter.  I haven’t paid enough attention to know if Murphy’s added anything interesting, or of substance, and I suppose throughout the course of the position, some news is broken quicker.  But this sideline reporter gig kind of falls in line with what an NFL player (plays for Dallas, so I don’t feel bad about not remembering his name) said in reaction to this Tebow deal.  No team with a good quarterback uses the wildcat.  Hard to imagine Vin Scully sharing air time with a sideline guy.  Hell, Vinnie don’t even like sharing with a color man.  I’m not opposed to it, but I guess it’s okay.  Maybe if it afforded the chance to look at Hazel Maze, or comparable, if there is such a thing, it’d be different.  

  30. Ken Bland says:

    I found one pre-season prediction that jumped out at me.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch staff picked their winners, and Derrick Goold, long time and respected baseball writer has the Marlins as the division champ, and the Phils as a wild card, and winning the 1 game playoff against the Reds.  He’s got the Cards and Giants in also, and the Phils emerging as NL champ.  But it doesn’t stop there.  He predicts the Phils beat the Angels in the Fall Classic.  That’d certainly be something.  Probably convince a lot of the hot team theorists they are right in their thinking.

    Six writers were displayed, everyone had the Phils in the playoffs.  3 of the 6 chose the WC route, the other 3 behind Miami. The Nats and Braves got zero support. They all picked the Cards to win their division. None picked the Brewers as even a wild card. Only Joe Strauss had the Cards back in the Series, losing to the Angels, no less.  Jeff Gordon has the Phils losing to the Tigers in the WS. Bryan Burwell flipped the Goold scenario, predicting Angels over Phillies.

    But that Goold call would be one cool playout.   
       

          

      

    • Ken Bland says:

      Goold offering his logic

      @KBland8318 My logic was they have issues to figure out early, will do so by the time it matters, and pitching rules in October.

  31. Ken Bland says:

    I think it was Dave Cameron who used the word paranoid in describing Phillies fans. 

    http://www.thegoodphight.com/2012/4/1/2917703/i-was-wrong-the-phillies-are-in-trouble-serious-trouble#comments