Sunday, October 28, 2007


The Phillies bench depth last year is what allowed them to continue their incredible offensive production despite injuries to Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, and an ever aching Pat Burrell. While some bench players didn't provide the force initially hoped for (Abe Nunez, Wes Helms and Rod Barajas) guys like Greg Dobbs, Jayson Werth, Michael Bourn, Chris Coste, and Tadahito Iguchi carried this team through some rough stretches of the season.

The team will bring back Werth and Dobbs as utility/spot start players, and I believe we own Werth's arb rights until 2010 and Dobbs' until 2011. Bourn I would like to see traded if the team can resign Rowand, which will hopefully net pitching help...far more important than a 4th/5th outfielder, though if not we own his rights until 2012. Werth is too valuable of a pinch hitter to use exclusively as a defensive replacement for Burrell, but the Phils should be able to find someone cheap for that role, or stomach Chris Roberson for the time being. Coste should be retained, and after the failed Barajas experience, keep Coste as the veteran catcher to mentor and provide insurance for Ruiz and Jason Jamarillo, while also using him to pinch hit and play the variety or other positions he's made career of. I believe Helms will be traded if the Phils acquire a starting 3b, which should leave one or two spots open.

Iguchi can opt out of his contract (which means we can't offer him arbitration and get draft picks...which is why the ChiSox traded him for Dubee's kid) and will look for a starting 2b spot somewhere else, which he's earned. I just caught news that Marcus Giles has been granted an unconditional release by the Padres. I think the Phillies should at least take a look at him as a 29 year old career .277 coming off a few bad years looking to revive his career and likely to accept a low paying bench role. The Braves seemed to be genius (as usual) to get rid of him when they did. This is a guy, however, who hit .316, .311, .291 before falling to .262 and then dropping off completely this year. If he's playing well, he's a staple at the top of the lineup, good for 40 doubles, 15 homers, and 15 steals. He's very comparable offensively to Aaron Rowand: solid but not spectacular numbers, but strikes out too much and doesn't walk enough to justify lack of power production, so value hinges heavily on batting average.

The Rowand-Giles Offensive Production by batting average chart:
> .330 = Incredible
> .300 = Great
> .270 = Good
< .270 = Bad
< .240 = Cut (apparently)

To put it in perspective, here's the Howard-Burrell Offensive Production by batting average chart:
> .300 = Incredible
> .280 = Great
> .260 = Good
> .240 = Acceptable (Adam Dunn anyone?)
< .240 = Bad

Marcus Giles has steadily improved his defense at 2b, cutting down to 7 errors in 112 games last season. I think he would be an effective low risk, high reward signing for this team. He provides a solid, experienced back up should Utley get hurt at all, and also a back up for Ryan Howard as Utley can shift to first if the big fella goes on the DL for an extended period. I would guess Giles doesn't have the arm or range to play SS or 3b, though the Braves did play him at third for 9 games over the seasons he was there, so he could potentially enter the 3b mix.

I understand I'm spending a lot of time on a player who hit .229 this season and was cut from the very team his brother plays on, but it's signings like these that make or break your season. Our All-Star lineup gets the headlines, but without Iguchi, Dobbs and Werth we are a sub .500 team last year, plain and simple. When starters were injured or unproductive, these guys stepped in to not only match production, but in some cases exceed it. That's what got this team to the postseason. These three guys were as important collectively as Jimmy Rollins was to this team.

I would like the Phils to take a waiver on this guy and check his recent medical condition as well as ask about steriod use...the guy hit 21 home runs in 2003 with a SLG% .065 higher than any other year, and he's the size of Ozzie Smith (I think baseball's gotten to a point where every contract should have a clause that says "Have you ever taken steroids?" "If yes, please explain" and "This contract is void should if it be found that player lied on the previous question or begins to take steroids under this contract"). Coming out of that negative light, I think he'd be an excellent addition to the team, the signing would fly under the radar, but he'd be there when we needed him most.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Aaron Rowand is a very good baseball player, but that's only 50% of what Aaron Rowand brings to this team. He is gritty, a Philly style player, with heart, but that still only adds another 30% to what he brings. Aaron Rowand is glue that brings this team together, that's the last 20, and often unnoticed, percent that he brings to this team and city.

Aaron Rowand is the captain of the outfield. He is a leader on the bench and the clubhouse. He puts together team gatherings, barbeques and genuinely gels this team. Aaron Rowand bleeds intangibles, things not seen on the stat sheet or necessarily during the game, but contributes to the success of the franchise. That's why I've decided after some debate, we need to resign him at nearly any cost, he's priceless.

I'm not going to acknowledge the outrageous demand that Rowand supposedly made regarding his value. It did not come from a confirmed source, and there are too many reporters fabricating stories during a slow time (outside of Colorado, Boston and Cleveland) leading into the offseason. I don't believe Rowand is the type of guy to make those demands, so I will be objectively discussing his value here.

Like everyone, I hesitate to give Rowand a long term deal. He is, however, only 30, and despite the constant running into things, we're talking about a baseball, not football player. I believe Rowand could have 3 more years left of his prime. He'll start to lose a step in the outfield, but he's a smart player, so he'll adjust his play to suit his strengths.

Offensively, Rowand is a very good hitter. Last year was a career year, but it wasn't extraordinary by Rowand's standards as he's been consistently effective, especially over the last 4 years. He sports a career average of .286, .289 over the last 4 years. He has averaged 22 home runs (in a 162 game season) over the last 4 years. His strike outs are a tick high for the power he delivers, but he also brings smart baserunning and averaged 14 stolen bases (in a 162 game season) over the last 4 years. He answered questions about his durability this season playing in 161 games.

I think Gillick should stretch far to retain Rowand, if it takes 5 years, go ahead. I'd rather give him more money than years, but I don't think 5 years is too long for a consistent guy like Rowand. While we pay Burrell $14 Mil a year, I think getting Rowand for anything less is a discount. I'd offer him 4/$40, and be prepared to move up to 5/$60. I simply don't think the presence that Rowand brings to this team can be overstated.

The Rest of the Outfield

Shane Victorino and Michael Bourn are very good, young outfielders who deserve a chance to play everyday. I really like Victorino in right field, and I think he should patrol there for the next few years. He covers ground like a centerfielder, and has one of the best arms out there. Any loss in power offensively is more than made up for with Rowand, Burrell, and our infield. Actually, it's contact hitters that don't strike out, like Victorino, that this team needs to gain some consistency in the lineup. Victorino struck out 116 times...over the last two years. His stolen base threat really make his an asset to this team. He also managed 12 home runs in only 131 games, making him no pushover.

Michael Bourn is an interesting case. If we resign Rowand, I think we should trade Bourn for maximum value for a pitcher. The league is high on his potential, but he hasn't yet proved himself at the major league level. Crossing sports, he reminds me of AJ Feely when the Eagles maximized his value for a 2nd round pick. Bourn may mature into a great centerfielder for another team, but the Phillies have no less than 3 carbon copies of him in the minors that will be ready long before Rowand moves on. And because you essentially have two centerfielders starting, the 4th outfielder only needs to be able to play the corners.

Pat Burrell makes another interesting case. He's turned his career around and has repeatedly professed his desire to play in Philadelphia. If Burrell leaves after this year, ideally I would move Rowand to left and Victorino to center and replace Burrell with a rightfielder. Burrell brings a great OBP and good power, still with a plus arm despite his limited range. At this point, I'm comfortable with all three options with Burrell, trade him now or during next season, offer him arbitration to get draft picks or one more season with him after this year, or resigning him to a discounted deal without a no trade clause, maybe 3/$24.

The Phillies have a few outfield prospects in the system, along with some very infield prospects who could potentially shift to the outfield if Rollins and Utley stay healthy. I think Rowand, Victorino and Burrell give the Phillies an above average outfield, with the Phils hopefully bringing back Werth to be the 4th outfielder again.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I still don't understand how the public at large can form such strong, yet naive opinions based off of media coverage and recent history.

  • Mike Lowell is a good, not great baseball player.
  • He's coming off a career year.
  • He will be 33 when next season starts.
  • No one wanted him a few years back when he was coming off a horrid year in Floridia.
Mike Lowell is not a great baseball player. I reserve the term great for players who play at a higher level than the rest of the league, year in, year out. Players like Jeter, Pujols, and now Howard is entering that mix. Pujols may be the most consistent player to ever pick up a bat. Howard had an off year by his measure, slumped bad in April, and still hit 47 home runs with 136 RBIs. How soon we forget that Lowell hit .238 (.298 OBP) in 2005 with 8 home runs and 58 RBIs in 150 games. Everyone is allowed to slump, but those numbers are simply atrocious. Even when Burrell had his worst season ever, when he hit .209, his OBS (.309), homers (21), RBIs (64) were all higher. And, admittedly I'm a Burrell guy, but did anyone ever noticed that the big guy legged out 4 triples that year (double his career high), meaning he was coming out of the box hard every AB and trying to earn that big paycheck he just signed?

Two full seasons ago, Mike Lowell was one of the worst third basemen in the league. Let that sink in a moment. The guy will be 33 when next year starts, warranting him about a 2, max 3 year deal. His average this year was a full 31 points higher than any other year of his career. His 120 RBIs were 40 more than last year with the same Boston hitters around him. He's only ever hit more than 30 home runs once, in 2003, and I hate to start playing this game, but the numbers to me, objectively, look like they could be performance enhancement induced. He never hit more than 24 homers previously, and never more than 27 since, but he managed 32 in only 130 games? His ABs per HR that season was 15.4, to a career 25.7 and 28 last year. Sometime to question, if nothing else.

There are positives to Lowell, and I'll note some here. He doesn't K a lot, as he's a contact hitter. Lowell's career high for strikeouts is 92, and he's consistently in the 60s and 70s. The Phillies lineup strikes out way too much, which makes them susceptible to offensive droughts, none more important than the lack of offensive production in the Rockies series. They need to add at least one bat to the middle of the lineup between Utley, Howard, Burrell and Rowand, that doesn't strike out 100+ (199 for Howard) in a season. Lowell also still plays a good 3b. That's important, as they try to bring ground ball pitchers to CBP, Moyer is still pitching another year, and Pat Burrell will be in left.

Offer him a 2 year, 22 Million dollar deal, with a club option for the 3rd with a nice buyout.

The market will clearly out price the Phils, but that's fine with me. Costanzo had another great year and looks like he'll be ready for a September call up possibly next year, an invitation to Spring Training the following, and joining the team for good in 2009 or 2010 at the latest. I'm guessing that Lowell has seen his best years, and I'm not convinced he won't relapse into his 2005 form, if even just for a half season. People simply don't get the buy low, sell high theory. The Red Sox stole Lowell as part of the Beckett trade a few years back. Now, every team will be in the mix for him as he just came off an MVP year.

I think the Phillies best options are to look at acquiring Hank Blalock, Miguel Tejada (assuming he will play 3rd), and Scott Rolen via trade. Blalock and Tejada both have 2 years on their deals and Rolen I believe has 3. This would give the Phils a proven veteran at third, with production and leadership they haven't seen since Rolen, himself. It will allow Costanzo time to progress, and send him a statement that says, "you're the future, kid." What it will take to acquire these players is beyond me. But if the Phils resign Rowand (which I strongly believe they should, but will go there in another post), I think Bourn makes a good trading chip, since there are 4 speedy outfielders in the minors (Greg Golson, D'Arby Myers, Dominic Brown and Quintin Berry) who at least 1 will be ready to go before Rowand (with new deal) or Victorino would be off the team.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Warning: Police Report Potential Baseball Sighting in Philadelphia

Just when you think they are out, they pull you back in! The Phillies, now sporting their first three-game winning streak of the season (let's be honest, first winning streak of the season), are starting to look like a real baseball team. That's three straight days with a solid starting effort, no blown saves, and a little bit of offense. Utley and Victorino have been ginormous over the last 3 games, and Rowand is riding a bit of a hitting streak. Rollins had a phenomenal day yesterday. Hopefully those guys all level off and stay as good as we think they are (or stay hot, that would be fine) and Howard wakes up. Then the offense is back to where we know it should be, and need it to be, and we can get back in this divisional race. Still plenty of Mets and Braves games left!

The purpose of this post is mostly to show that we do say positive things about the Phillies, too. Therefore, I won't mention the team's past experience with scoring 10 runs one day and 1 run the next. We can pitch and moan when they lose, let's just savor the winning streak (which I have now officially jinxed) while it lasts.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


While Pete and I were at the Phils-Nats game last week, we were getting a little frustrated with the constant replacement of Burrell in the middle innings. Nearly every game, Bourn is pinch-running, pinch-hitting, pinch-fielding (a.k.a defensive replacement), or pinch-playing-seven-innings-because-the-bullpen-blows-the-lead for Burrell nearly every night. Even when Burrell pinch hits for Dobbs on Sunday, Bourn comes in and replaces him.

It's one thing to get Bourn in there for the 9th just to make sure the defense is set to hold the lead, it's entirely different to pinch run in the 6th when you are ahead. It's getting ridiculous, so we started wondering what else Bourn might be pinch-doing for Burrell. Burrell is a valuable commodity, so we have to protect him from reinjuring his foot or wrist or anything else, and Bourn is a rookie that we can abuse. So here's a partial list that we'll keep adding to when we get bored:
  • Pinch-playing with the kids (see Griffey, Ken)
  • Pinch-air guitar (see Zumaya, Joel)
  • Pinch-mowing the lawn
  • Pinch-taking out the trash (Bourn has to be able to do that faster)
  • Pinch-running out for milk
  • Pinch-changing a light bulb

But hey, this is a team. What could Burrell do for Bourn?

  • Pinch-hitting the ball out of the infield
  • Pinch-medical treatment (he's an expert)

For the record, I like both players, but that game was so boring, and the team so pathetic (hopefully this weekend is the start of turning it around), this is what we were driven to do.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Phillies and More


Jeff and I attended the Phillies/Nationals battle for last place game today. While it's always entertaining to watch guys strike out on 72 mile per hour pitches from the crafty Jamie Moyer, they game was extremely boring to watch. Shane Victorino by the way, should have been so out on his steal attempt, but apparently, Lopez just blew the tag even though the throw was on the base.

Managing mistakes:

Chally didn't make too many boneheaded mistakes in this one. We supported his decision to leave Moyer in for the 8th, and to start the 9th (even at 106 pitches) because the bullpen needed an obvious rest heading into a long stretch of continuous games. He did, however, pinch run for Burrell with Bourn in the 6th inning, way too early in a still close game. An outfield of Bourn, Rowand, and Victorino for the final few innings ranks with the worst in baseball.

I can't remember the last time I felt confident about a win with a 4 run lead in the 9th...something is very wrong with this franchise. It's certainly fair for Moyer to give up a few hits his 4th time through the lineup. But then Gordon apparently wanted to make us sweat it out a little. If the Nats hit the grand slam to win it, Jeff and I were officially giving up on the team. That has been postoned for the time being.


The Phillies really need to do something about their outfield situation. Michael Bourn is ready to play in the MLB, and if nothing else, should be playing full time in AAA rather than pinch running for Burrell. In Victorino, Rollins, and Bourn, the Phils have 3 incredibly fast players all with some degree of leadoff potential. Bourn and Victorino both deserve a shot to play center as well. Aaron Rowand needs to be traded soon. I would put him in right for the meantime, except he doesn't have the arm. Ideally, Victorino or Bourn should be traded too, since the team is not designed to lose power in right, especially with Burrell only getting 400 ABs a year.

It's also time to move Rollins down in the lineup. Victorino and Bourn deserve a shot at leadoff, and the way Rollins is hitting I think he would make a great 6 hitter. What this lineup is missing is a pure #2 hitter. Someone who doesn't strike out, who hits to all fields, with gap power. This hitter should either come from right or third the way the team is built. Helms may be that guy at this point in his career, but I think he strikes out too much. Victorino or Bourn may also develop into that guy, but I think if one leads off, the other is best suited for the 8 hole. That would help provide some offsense from our usually stagnant bottom of the lineup.

I don't think this team needs Barajas. I was fine with the signing at the time, but Ruiz has proven his worth. Coste also deserves to be on the team, and Jamarillo provides depth and should take over the backup job at some point next year. There was interest in Barajas this offseason, so I think we should scout any teams with injuries at the position.

Guys to trade:

I hate to put guys on the auction block, and sadly, a lot of these guys haven't drawn interest yet, but I think the team would benefit from addition by subtraction with trading a few of these guys.
  • Rod Barajas
  • Aaron Rowand
  • Abraham Nunez or Danny Sandoval
  • Chris Roberson
  • Jon Lieber
  • Tom Gordon
  • Jamie Moyer
I understand we likely won't get anything for Nunez, Sandoval or Roberson, but I think these subpar players even being options bring down the team. How does Nunez already have 2 starts at third? He's the WORST hitter in the league. The lineup is already struggling. Sandoval is essentially the same player, we don't need both of them for any reason, it's hard to justify keeping one.

It's simply Rowand's time to go. He's in a FA year, and I have a feeling the Phils won't offer him arbitration. Trade him to the highest bidder by the deadline regardless of how the team is doing. Give Bourn some seasoning so he can move into at least a platoon spot next year.

I'm not sold on trading Lieber until Garcia is proven healthy. But either way, Lieber is the reason our opening day starter is in the bullpen, this is inexcusable. Hopefully he pitches well, and someone with a need, see Yankees, will offer us a few low level prospects.

I'm still waiting for Gordon's arm to fall off. I didn't like the risk in the 3 year deal to begin with and thought they should have traded him last season. He's going to become an expensive set up man eventually, and if he's still the team's closer next year, they aren't going anywhere to begin with. Oh why couldn't we have traded for Rafael Soriano?

The team owes it to Moyer to give him one last shot at winning. I like the way he mentors Hamels, and think he is an asset to the team. So trade him to a contender with the understanding that the minute he retires he can come be the pitching coach. This would let one of the younger guys come up and get a head start on pitching in the rotation next year.


This is news? Come on! Everyone needs to get off of their high horse and stop pretending that marijuana is only used by criminals. How many politicians, police officers, and judges are smoking up right now?


Speaking of drug users, supposedly the Rams are interested in Ricky Williams if he is reinstated. Why don't the Eagles take a run at the guy? He's a low risk, high reward case. I think Andy keeps the distraction to a minimum, and if he makes the team, he's a big back to come in behind Westbrook and bruise some carries up the middle.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

All you need to know about the 2007 Phillies

ESPN, as you know from their SportsCenter commercials, is the king of subtle. I think we all know what they are trying to tell us:
Caption for the symbolism impaired: ESPN has had so little occassion to load the Phillies logo for their game scoring summaries, that my computer couldn't figure out how to find that picture.

Apparently Charlie Manuel yelled at a talk radio host (Eskin) "we are going to win" among other profanities. People talk about Lou Pinella's blow ups, but Charlie never shows his frustration like that. I just can't see him yelling "What's our record? 3-9. How'd we ever win 3?" But maybe he should.

Wake me up when we win two in a row.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The First Series

Well, that sucked. The Phillies lose three to the Braves to start the season. Maybe the warmer weather in Florida will help. These games looked just like last season: too many strikeouts, no hitting with runners in scoring position, bullpen blows two leads but is great in the game they needed a bunch of innings. Burrell's strikeouts were just as predictable as always, and he got booed by the few fans who stuck around even though the Phils were down 8-1 and it was snowing. Someone even tossed a beer bottle into the outfield towards the end of Thursday's game. This is why I hate Phillies fans.

And Ryan Howard is PISSED. He is still out there shaking his head playing in the field after striking out. I don't think he will struggle for too long, but I wonder how long it takes for someone to say on ESPN that the Phillies were so smart for waiting on this guy after getting burned on Burrell's contract. Instant wisdom like that is really only a suit and tie away from booing a harmless strikeout in April.

So now Charlie Manuel is back on the hot seat, as if Jimy Williams could possibly say something different if they give him a bigger office. Using Madson was the right move both times, although double-switching for the catcher when you are only carrying 2 catchers is this point, the players aren't doing it, and they weren't doing it for Bowa either. But it does suck to watch.

The Phils also continue to stockpile arms by acquiring Francisco Rosario from Toronto for cash. Certainly can't hurt.

Monday, April 2, 2007

First Day of Summer

In my calendar, today is the First Day of Summer. You can tell because it's Opening Day. This works much beter with people who talk about hope and beginning anew - that is the stuff of spring, and spring training. Now it is April, and we can start eliminating the Orioles, Nationals, Devil Rays, Royals, Rockies, and Pirates from playoff contention.

Luckily for me living in DC, we are opening against the Braves, which means I get the game on TBS. As I sit here watching the first pitch (fastball, outside corner, strike 1!) of the Phillies' season, here are a few Phillies predictions to put me on the record for 2007.

1. Cole Hamels will not win 15 games. Brett Myers will. Hamels is still a year away, because he will walk too many.

2. Pat Burrell will drive in 100 runs.

3. Ryan Howard will hit 50 home runs.

4. If he isn't your hero yet, Chase Utley will be your hero by the end of the year.

5. I will not have goosebumps. It's going to be a fun year anyway.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Jeff's NL Predictions

NL East
1. Mets
2. Phillies
3. Braves
4. Marlins
5. Nationals
Pedro, Manuel, and deep July pockets make the difference. Both teams have questions, and they were 11 wins apart last year - did the Mets get 5 games worse, and did the Phillies get 5 games better? I don't know that either of those things are true. It will be close, but we'll be on the wrong side.

NL Central
1. Cardinals
2. Brewers
3. Cubs
4. Astros (I'm assuming no Clemens)
5. Reds
6. Pirates
St. Louis has to be dethroned before I take someone else here. They have to be healthier this season, and I think the pitching will still be good. The Brewers move up based on pitching, but Pujols can carry the Cardinals offense, and the Brewers are young. Maybe I'm a sucker, but I think the Cubs are a lot better, and the Astros did not get better by losing Pettite and probably Clemens. This is a tough division to finish and 1-4 could be completely flipped without surprising anyone, unless the Cubs ended up on top, because come on, it's the Cubs.

NL West
1. Dodgers
2. Giants (counting on Bonds to stay out of injuries and indictment)
3. Padres
4. Diamondbacks
5. Rockies
Why do people think Arizona will be good? Their most experienced regular is Eric Byrnes. No one on their team has 100 career home runs. Their closer was demoted last season. Maybe they are this year's 2006 Marlins, but that's probably just wishful thinking. Randy Johnson definitely won't pitch like he did last time he was in Arizona, but I don't think he is done either.

Wild Card - Phils. I smell an August surge again, just not from as far behind this time.

I have lost the ability to look at this season objectively. By picking the Phillies second, I might be downplaying their talent and their upgrade from last year just because I don't want to overhype them with my fandom. But I may also be disrespecting the Marlins' young talent or the Braves' strength and off-season changes. So I can't pick the Phils to win the division....but I'm not sold on a second place team anywhere else. Maybe the Brewers, who lots of people have winning the Central, are good enough to beat up on a weaker division and take the wild card from the teams bruised in NL East battles, but I don't buy it. So I'll take the Phillies to surge late, win the wild card, and run the table in the playoffs.

I mean, I can't pick them to lose to the Mets, right? So screw that, screw objectivity - Philles 4 games to 2 over Detroit in October. I might be wrong, but if someone else wins, what's the fun in being right?