Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Remember when people loved the Durbin signing?

I wonder how many of these people are now among the ones who say they hated the signing or complaining he sucks. For many, it should be a lesson why not to trust ERA in small sample sizes, but they will never learn. And there's always those that think any low dollar signing means low-risk, high-reward, but fail to realize some players can just plain out suck and don't have a high upside except with good luck. Essentially, with a player like Durbin, you are paying over a million for a roll of the dice. You can do that same thing for under $500,000 in a minor league arm. But as we know, RAJ paying double than what a player is worth isn't  rare.

I think my favorites are from jpelle36, Paul LaBadie, Jim McCabe, Mike Baer, Joe Flanagan, Dave Sechrist, and Jim Ross.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Ten 2013 Phillies Bold predictions

Even though the season is three games underway, I felt the need to lay out some predictions for the season. The ten are in no particular order.

1. Phillies make the Wild Card. 

I think there's plenty of leftover wins the Phillies will pick up this year, especially if Utley, Howard, and Halladay are relatively healthy all year. The bullpen will also be better as a whole. I see the Nationals and Braves coming down a bit(but still both making the playoffs) and the Dodgers being overrated.

2. Domonic Brown puts up a .350+ OBP

Between the changes he's made to his swing, the stellar plate discipline, and some better luck, this is the year he breaks out.

3. Utley plays 130 games and leads Phillies position players in WAR

Pretty much crossing my fingers on this. He's still the Phillies most valuable position player when healthy.

4. Amaro doesn't make an idiotic trade deadline deal. 

Please don't let something like this happen again. With my prediction of Brown stepping up, I doubt the Phills  will seek a major offensive player. Obviously they could use another good outfielder since Young/Nix/Mayberry isn't too good, but I think Amaro sticks with Young because of his past RBIzzz. If he does make a move, I can see it being an upgrade in the rotation over Lannan.

5. Aumont leads Phillies relievers in ERA 

I'm still not entirely sold on Adams, who I think will be much closer to his 2012 season than 2010-2011. His velocity was already on the decline before last year's injury. As for Papelbon, his declined velocity may be a sign of things to come.

6. Howard doesn't hit 30 homers.

For some reason, such as WIP's Anthony Gargano, people think a healthy Howard all season means 40+ homers. Unless he's found the Fountain of Youth, it's not happening. He hasn't hit 40 homers since McNabb was still the Eagles' quarterback.

7. Michael Young isn't a total albatross in the field. 

Despite not playing third-base full time since 2010, I think his move in Texas was more out of necessity than Mark Reynolds-esque glove butchery. I'd be fine with a -10 to -15 UZR/150.

8. Cliff Lee finishes top 3 in Cy Young voting. 

If someone tells you Lee isn't good anymore because he had 6 wins last year, they are clueless. The only downside is he's in the same league as Kershaw and Strasburg.

9. Howard finishes top 20 in MVP voting. 

This may seem counter-intuitive to #6, but I'm banking on him eclipsing 100 RBI(thank you Revere, Rollins and Utley), despite having a poor offensive season, and MVP voters love themselves some RBI.

10. Roy Halladay has a sub 3.50 ERA

I still have faith he's a pretty decent pitcher.

Honorable Mentions:
Revere steals 50 bases.
Sebastian Valle falls off prospect radar quite a bit.
Roman Quinn steals 70 in the minors.
Rollins puts up another 4.0+ fWAR season.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Typical overreaction from Opening Day

After one day it feels like 2009 all over again. As Hamels struggled, his haters sprouted up. One in particular(you can see who in the picture) was particularly outspoken. Of course Howard's night received more backlash, and deservedly so as more and more people each day realize he isn't nearly worth his contract. Chad Durbin got some hate too, but that's understandable given he's pretty average.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Offseason Review Part 2: Infield

In case you lived under a rock, Phillies had quite a hole at third-base. It took awhile but Amaro and many fans' love affair with Michael Young finally became Facebook official. Young rejected the Phillies initially, but Amaro sweet talked Young(along with an extra $1.2 million in benefits) into accepting the trade. Unfortunately they sacrificed one of their better young arms in Lisalverto Bonilla, who I think will be a good reliever someday. Thankfully, Texas threw in $10 million of Young's $16 million price-tag.

I was much more apathetic of the trade. They could have made worse decisions such as relying on Kevin Frandsen all season to somehow repeat his 2012(won't happen), outbidding the Yankess for Youkilis, or signing Mark Reynolds. Jeff Keppinger wouldn't have been a terrible option as he'd also provide a better backup option at second-base. Signing Eric Chavez on a one-year deal as a strict platoon with Frandsen would have been intriguing also.

The majority of fans seem to be behind the trade also, especially since he hit .338 and drove in 106 RBI in 2011. And we all know how most fans and radio personalities love their RBI. Then there's the others who look at his 2012 and label him as completely cooked. The truth is, he's probably somewhere in between. He's nowhere near as good as his 3.7 fWAR in 2011 or as bad as his 2012's -1.4 fWAR suggests. Despite a consistent drop in walk-rate and power since 2009, a slight rebound should be expected over last year's awfulness. I also have a hard time believing a -30.3 UZR/150 is accurate of his true defensive ability- not that his defense will ever be confused with Polanco, or even Frandsen, anytime soon.

Amaro didn't do much else with the infield over the offseason except for one under the radar signing that will be a complete waste. That was the signing of Yuniesky Betancourt. He only signed a minor league contract, but if he breaks camp with the club, he will get $1.4 million. And I have a bad feeling he will make an appearance with the major league team this year. Between management's love affair with older players, apathy toward defense, and belief that RBI equals value(he had 36 RBI in 57 games last year), I have little doubt he will make a few starts in 2013. Any amount of money or playing time for someone who can't get on base, can't field, can't run, and doesn't have much power is too much.   

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Offseason Review Part 1: Outfield

I am amazed, with the money Amaro had available, the Phillies didn't compound their mistakes in signing a high-priced, older free agent outfielder. Even if 90 percent of WIP and 97.5 callers wanted Hamilton or Upton, it wasn't worth the price. Amaro has made a habit of paying a premium for past production. That's exactly what signing a player like Hamilton would have been.

I'm sure seeing 43 homer and 128 RBI on the back of Hamilton's baseball card made RAJ drool but there are too many red flags surrounding him. Aside from his past abuse, his skill set was worrisome. Despite his offensive surge, his plate discipline was awful last year, despite pitchers adjusting accordingly. He swung at more pitches out of the zone and whiffed much more often than at any point in his career. And on the defensive side, most, if not all, the advanced metrics had him ranging from sub-par to bad. 

For at least $50 million less, teams could have a number of similar-value players. I'm not suggesting support for signing B.J. Upton for $75 million, but Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher both have strong possibility of their respective teams breaking even, or better, on their two contracts. However, it should also be given that if the Phillies were serious for either Bourn or Swisher, their price would have increased as well. In addition, the Phillies can ill-afford sacrificing their highest draft pick in years for any of these players. Restocking the farm is a must thanks to unnecessary trades and signings. Maybe they could have even been on the Justin Upton sweepstakes if they still had a certain player or two

Fortunately, Amaro took the more prudent route. It looked bleak at the beginning with the Nationals swiping in on Denard Span to improve their outfield. But with dealing Vance Worley and Trevor May for Ben Revere, Phillies got their own younger, cheaper version of Span. The price was more steep than the Nationals paid, but that's the price you pay for a player under team control until 2018 and four years younger. Despite almost 300 major league innings, there's still uncertainty surrounding Worley's injury and skill set. There isn't quite enough sample yet to prove he's a called-strike phenomenon like Doug Fister and be successful without missing bats. 

As for Delmon Young, he can't hit, he can't field, and can't run. Tack on that the guy is probably an asshole, and you got yourself another wasted signing that wasn't needed or improved the team. But because he gets RBIzzz, Amaro thinks he has value. Because he's a veteran and gets those empty RBI, he will take playing time away from either Ruf or Brown when both players need steady playing time to develop and succeed. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

How the Phillies should use Delmon Young

Unlike in Amaro's perfect world, Young should never be considered an everyday player this season. Even though he's been heavily criticized, Young could provide a use to the lineup in certain situations. That situation should be similar as the role one Laynce Nix has played over the years- a strict platoon player. Like Nix, Young has demonstrated a complete inability to hit same-handed pitching.

Unforunately, reputation often plays a bigger role over a manager's decisions rather than evidence. Over the past two years Nix had the platoon advantage 91 percent of his plate appearances however, because manager's still think Young is a capable everyday player, Young has received just a 30 percent platoon advantage. Young should never face righties over twice as often as lefties. Giving over 300 plate appearances to a player hitting .251/.283/.376 against righties the past two years is unacceptable. Like Nix, almost all of his plate appearances should be against opposite-handed pitching.

Young's success against lefties can be very helpful platooning with Domonic Brown, who also has same-handedness struggles. Whereas Young's pitiful .287 wOBA against righties ranks 209 among 229 players with at least 500 plate appearances the past two years, his .346 wOBA against lefties is very respectable.

Platooning with Brown should also not deter Brown's development much as Brown will still receive the vast majority of playing time and could help with his confidence if he maintains success against righties. Unfortunately, such a simple and effective concept may be too far out of the realm of possibility with such a backward and old-fashioned front office and management.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Amaro proves how far behind Phillies' front office has fallen

In case there was any doubt of the Phillies' reluctance using advanced metrics, Ruben Amaro recently put the nail in the coffin. In a recent interview with 97.5 The Fanatic's Mike Missanelli, Amaro displayed just how antiquated and comical his thought process in judging a player and how he views the game itself.

In case you missed it, the gist of the uproar come from these statements:
"I don't care about walks, I care about production."
"To be frank with ya, I said this all along, all the sabermatricians, all the people who think they know exactly what makes a good club, to me its about ummm its more about run production. Being able to score runs and drive in runs. If i'm not mistaken he even in a year when he really didn't have his best year, he drove in more runs than anybody on our club."
His way of thinking is eerily, and sadly, similar to the vast majority you hear calling into sports talk shows or posting online. The faults of judging players using runs scored and RBI has been discussed ad nauseam. It's as if he has no realization the first step in creating runs is getting on base. And a high walk-rate is vital in augmenting one's ability to reach base.

To put icing on the cake,using his basis for judgement, Amaro praised Delmon Young. "He would be our starter if he proves to us he could play everyday...there's nobody that has more of a track record as far as offense is concerned.” Followed by, "He's a much more accomplished offensive player than Dom Brown.”
The only thing proven about Delmon Young's offense is that it's not very good. Many cite Delmon's 2010 as proof of his ability but simply looking at his career numbers show that year is the outlier, not the norm. Since 2006, his .321 wOBA ranks 265th. That ranks about the same as other offensive luminaries such as Dan Johnson, Jose Vidro, Skip Schumaker, Mike Fontenot, Willy Aybar, Tadahito Iguchi, and Gabe Gross.

When deciding between two players such as Delmong Young and Domonic Brown, I'd rather go with the player who has not proven to suck in over 3000 plate appearances. With Brown, despite what people think, he has not proven yet whether or not he will be successful as less than 500 plate appearances isn't nearly enough time yet. At the very least Brown should get on-base more thanks to walks. But we know Amaro doesn't care about that.

It becomes more and more frustrating to root for a team with such a smug and ignorant leader. With the amount of resources he inherited, there's no reason this team should be in the trouble it's in. And honestly, I do not believe it will get better under his leadership.