Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bench Geoff Jenkins

Recently Geoff Jenkins has been on the bench because So Taguchi is Charlie Manuel’s best option in the lead off spot. But who will platoon the Phillies outfield after the return of Shane Victorino? My concern is that Jenkins will return to right field and Jayson Werth will be relegated to the bench. I’m on record as not being a big fan of the Jenkins signing. I thought he would not bat for a high enough average with mediocre power and play atrocious defense. I was right.

Geoff Jenkins 64 6 1 3 4 0 .250 .294 .359
Jayson Werth 50 9 3 8 8 2 .300 .407 .540

Jayson Werth has outperformed Geoff Jenkins by a wide margin in every single statistical category. In addition Werth’s fielding ability and throwing arm are far better the Jenkins. There is no reason to play Jenkins over Werth. Jayson could easily go 20-20 while hitting close to .300. Jenkins hasn’t played poorly. However, that truth doesn’t change the fact that an objective analyst can’t reasonable believe that Werth is the best option. I only hope that Charlie Manuel comes to this realization sooner rather than later.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Big Props to My Boy Carlos

I a huge Carlos Ruiz fan. Carlos is a great baseball player. He does everything well. He has a little power, speed, and is a good defensive player. Catchers don't receive nearly enough credit when a team succeeds.

Tonight he had a huge two out hit that broke the game open. It was an absolutely great at bat. With two outs and the bases loaded Ruiz stepped up to the plate. Ball one was a close pitch with lots of movement. On pitch two of the at bat Carlos took the other way and knocked in two runs with a huge double. Now that's how you play the game.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Why is Wes Helms Still a Phillie?

As I watched Wes Helms take the field after replacing Ryan Howard, I had a flash back to January when the Phllies signed Pedro Feliz. At the time I thought Wes Helms will soon be traded for a bullpen arm or a couple of AA prospects. But its now March and Helms remains a Phillie.

The signing of Feliz appears to have served as motivation for Helms who has stepped up his game this spring. In thirty at bats Helms has hit .300 with a .382 on base percentage. Despite his stellar play the Phillies don’t have room on the roster for Helms, Feliz, and Greg Dobbs. Feliz was signed to start in the hot corner. Dobbs has also had a good spring hitting .286 with a .543 slugging percentage. More importantly Dobbs is the Phillies best option as a left-handed pinch hitter. That leaves Helms out in the cold.

It has been rumored that both the Braves and Marlins have shown interest in Helms. Apparently they haven’t shown much more than interest. If the Phillies can’t move Helms he will have to be placed on waivers and another team will claim him. Unfortunately for the Phillies other GMs know this fact and are willing to wait instead of making a trade.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Breaking Down Eaton’s Spring Start

The Good:
Eaton struck out two hitters and induced seven ground ball outs. That's an excellent sign. You can't be an effective pitcher in Citizens Bank Park if you give up a lot of fly ball outs. In addition he didn't walk a single batter or give up a single run, which both qualify as good things.

The Bad:
Last year Eaton was consistently able to throw strikes early in the count allowing him to get ahead of hitters. Surprisingly he labored to retire hitters in 0-2 and 1-2 counts. Unfortunately that trend continued in this year. 4 consecutive Twins hitters found themselves down 0-2. Of those four only Chris Redmond got a hit. However, Eaton took far to many pitches to put down those hitters.

I don't know where a pitcher should be with their velocity at this point in spring training but Eaton wasn't throwing hard. Usually Eaton's fastball tops out at 92 MPH. The fastest pitch I saw him throw looked like an 84 MPH two seam fastball. That must improve if Eaton wants to win the final spot in the rotation.

The I Am Confused:
Eaton gave up five hits. However, two of those hits should have been caught. Even if I forget those two hits Eaton still gave up three hits in three innings, which isn't that great either.

One issue was that it appeared Eaton had trouble throwing his curve ball for strikes. Admittedly I sometimes can't tell the difference between a slider and a curve while watching the highly pixilated But even I could tell that Eaton's accuracy wasn't always there.

In conclusion there is some evidence to support my hope that Eaton will be able to pitch effectively this season. I have always believed that if healthy Eaton could go 14-8 with a 4.35 ERA. Looking forward to the regular season I can’t help but get excite about both the Phillies and Eaton’s prospects.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Never Ending Search for Pitching

It’s no secret that the back end of the Phillies rotation is weak. The Phillies are now about half way through spring training and no one has stepped up their game. One dark horse candidate is Francisco Rosario. When watching Rosario pitch last season I often felt like I was having a heart attack. He simply lacks the ability to consistently retire hitters.

There’s no doubt he has electric stuff. Rosario has never had trouble striking hitters out as evidenced by his stellar career strikeout rate of 8.39 K/9. The problem is that Rosario can’t control his pitches. In his career he has given up a shocking 10.58 H/9 and walked and unimaginable 5.29 BB/9. In Rosario’s first two spring starts he gave up no earned runs, but he still surrendered his fair share of hits and walks. In his third start the hits and walks came back to bite him and the Braves slammed him for six runs.

Rosario looks good on paper but he doesn’t have what it takes to be a good pitcher. Unless Rich Dubee can get Rosario straightened out Pat Gillick needs to bite the bullet and cut him.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Deep Cleansing Breathes

After I heard that Brad Lidge had reinjured his knee I had a minor meltdown. Even after hearing that the surgery was successful and that he could be back in time for opening day I couldn’t really relax. It’s nearly impossible to get well-informed and accurate information about injuries. I have a few complaints regarding the way that the mainstream media covers sports injuries. Often all we hear is what body part is out of whack and the range of how many weeks or months they will be missing. Sometimes we will get a quote from the player that is almost always so ridiculous optimistic that they sound completely crazy.

All of that explains why I was unable to not worry about Brad Lidge. But after reading this great snippet by Stephania Bell, which was completely buried by ESPN I have been able to relax. Stephania’s bio says that she is a physical therapist who is a Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. In plain English someone who can actually explain what to expect from Lidge. She explains that because doctors only had to remove a small portion of the medial meniscus it is more likely that Lidge will be striking out Mets hitters with his nasty slider sooner rather than later. So finally I can relax and take a few deep cleansing breathes.

Here is the link to her article. It is sort of hidden on the right side. The main article is a pretty decent Phillies season preview. I should also mention Will Carroll who writes an excellent column about injuries called Under the Knife for Baseball Prospectus.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Lidge Out 3-6 Weeks

Phillies closer will require surgery on his knee to repair a torn meniscus. The recovery time in three to six weeks and Lidge is optimistic that he will be ready for opening day.

This whole story is very familiar. Last season the Phillies acquired a star pitcher who had a nagging injury that prevented him from pitching effectively during the season. The story of Brad Lidge appears to be mimicking last season’s drama with the infamous Freddy Garcia. Despite the Phillies history I still believe that Lidge will pitch effectively this season.

Lidge injured himself when his spike got caught in the ground, which is just plain unlucky. I can only hope that the Phillies do nothing to rush him back. He needs to be one hundred percent before the Phillies let him on the field. Anything else is just reckless.