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.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Kyle Kendrick Video

I'm sure everyone has heard about this but I thought I'd post it anyway.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Phils take a look at Benson

The Phillies who have stated time and time again that finding pitching is still a priority. In their effort to find more starting pitching the Phillies have turned to the bargain bin and free agent Kris Benson. I’m very conflicted about Benson. He has had only two good seasons in his seven-year career. Benson’s strike out rate is trending down and his homerun rate is trending up, which suggest that he is a pitcher whose performance will decline. Even worse he missed both the 2001 and 2007 seasons due to injury.

Despite all that Benson could still provide valuable depth. The Phillies have no fifth starter, Kyle Kendrick is unproven, and Jamie Moyer is older than time itself. For all those reasons it couldn’t hurt to sign Benson and either keep him in the minors or use him as a long man in the bullpen.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Hot Corner Surprise

In an unexpected move the Phillies have reportedly signed third baseman Pedro Feliz to a two-year contract. Pat Gillick had consistently commented that they Phillies were comfortable platooning third base with Wes Helms and Greg Dobbs. With the addition of Feliz that Phillies have 3 third baseman, which is one to many. Presumably Feliz will start leaving either Dobbs or Helms as the odd man out. My guess is that one of those two will be traded for a bullpen piece sooner rather than later.

I’m hesitant to praise a signing before knowing the value of the contract but if the money is reasonable this is an exciting signing. Last season Feliz hit 20 homeruns. That’s five more than Wes Helms, Abraham Nunez, and Greg Dobbs combined. Pedro will have solid power and play adequate defense. His career .252 average and .288 OBP aren’t great but they still represent an upgrade.

The Phillies have now signed a new starting third basemen for the third straight season. I believe that Pedro Feliz will excel were Nunez and Helms failed.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Lieberthal Retires

Long time Philadelphia Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal retired today after fourteen seasons in majors. I wasn’t sad to see Lieby depart last season to the Dodgers but looking over his career statistics has reminded me of the good times. Back in the day Lieberthal was one of the best catchers in baseball. He had several high quality seasons including two All-Star campaigns. He also won a Gold Glove in 1999, which I had totally didn't remember.

I have a lot of respect for catchers. They take more punishment than anyone on the baseball diamond and Mike was no exception. He played 1,212 games in his career and in 1,174 he suited up for the Phillies. He owns the Phillies franchise record for the games played by a catcher and also the most times being hit by a pitch. It’s hard to quantify the value of stability but there’s no doubt that the Phillies were well served by his years of consistently solid play. I wish him look in his life after baseball.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Lidge and Madson avoid arbitration

The Phillies avoided arbitration with a pair of key relievers signing Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson. Lidge who came over to the Phillies in the Houston deal and Mad Dog will make $6.35 million and $1.4 million respectively. Both are reasonable prices for quality pitchers.

Lidge is a huge pick up. I don’t buy that Albert Pujols permanently messed up Lidge in the 2005 NLCS. That explanation is a junk story for ESPN. If Lidge had psychological issues in Houston it was a product of Phil Garner changing his role in the bullpen. A closer needs to know that they are the man. A closer also needs to know that if they blow a game then they will still be the man tomorrow. Every time Lidge pitched as an Astro last season he had to worry about losing his job. That would cause even the most confident pitcher to lose his cool.

The truth is that Lidge has a blazing fastball paired with a killer slider. Last season he had 11.52 K/9 and 1.25 WHIP. That was a down year for Brad. Between his sick repertoire of pitches and the knowledge that he is the man for better or for worse, Brad Lidge will succeed in Philadelphia.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Thank God Ed Wade is Gone

This afternoon I sat on my coach watching Congress question baseball big wigs about the steroids. I was surprised to see that the House committee holding the hearings started off the day by requesting the Justice Department to investigate allegations that Miguel Tejada lied to federal agents about his use of steroids.

My first thought was to think of a good friend of mine at school (you know who you are) who is a big Astros fan. As Phillies Phans we can all commiserate with the idea of a team suddenly losing their biggest off-season acquisition. I’m thinking of Freddy Garcia.

But more than that former Phillies GM Ed Wade has already done long term damage to the Astros. He has already gutted the system trading away a ton of prospects including Josh Anderson, Troy Patton, Matt Albers, and Dennis Safate. For some reason he signed Kazuo Matsui to a 3-year contract, which is about two years more than he deserved. He traded for Jose Valverde who averages nearly 4 walks per nine innings over his career. In addition Valverde is a fly ball pitcher who is not well suited for throwing in tiny Minute Maid Park. To top it all off Miguel Tejada may be spending 2008 on trial and not fielding ground balls.

And of course old Ed traded his stud closer Brad Lidge to the Pighten Phils and got very little it return. I am so relieved that Ed Wade is no longer the Phillies GM.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Phils Ink Jason Werth

The Phillies avoided arbitration with outfielder Jayson Werth signing him to a 1.7 million dollar contract. That’s a great value for a fourth outfielder that can serve Charlie as a solid pinch hitter and defensive replacement in a late inning situation. I’m a big Jayson Werth fan. He has power, speed, and doesn’t hesitate sacrifice his body in pursuit of fly balls. What’s not to like?

I wish that the Phillies would give Werth more at bats. But that’s not going to happen. The Phillies brain trust has decided to give to the well-aged veteran Geoff Jenkins the keys to right field. The Phillies would be better off with the more athletic Jayson Werth in the lineup every day.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Roberson to the Orioles

Chris Roberson’s tenure with the Phillies came to an abrupt end when his contract was sold to Baltimore Orioles for cash considerations. Roberson once a top prospect in the Phillies farm system has fallen out of favor. Roberson had the best year of his minor league career in 2005 when he won the Paul Owens award. Unfortunately he has struggled recently hitting .266 last season for the Ottawa Senators.

The Phillies simply don’t have room for him. The Phillies already have two reserve outfielders in Jayson Werth and So Taguchi. In addition the Phillies signed free agent Chris Snelling who can come up from the minors in case of an injury.

Chris Roberson will be best remembered most for his contributions to the darkest part of the Phillies 2007 season. During a sunny afternoon against the Braves in Hotlanta, Roberson entered as a defensive replacement without sunglasses. Two catchable balls feel in front of him helping the Braves win the game. I won’t be sad to see Roberson go.