Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Prototypical mistake by Manuel aids in Mets' win

Where would society be without always following conventional wisdom. Surely we've gotten this far by not thinking outside the box. I don't know bout the rest of you but I still use stones tires on my engineless car.

Baseball managers insist on using "by the book" wisdom on an everyday basis. Unable to adapt in different game contexts, one of the more popular wisdoms is using your closer in the 9th inning of a tied game at home. In most case closers are used incorrectly, but that's an entirely different story saved for another day.

Tonight, following the Mets tieing the game in the 8th inning, Manuel followed conventional wisdom in the following frame. In the next inning, Manuel went with the conventional wisdom choice in Jon Papelbon. The problem? The pitcher, a previous pinch-hitter in Scott Hairston, and leadoff hitter Ruben Tejada, who really shouldn't be leading off. The Mets pinch-hit their pitcher with Justin Turner, owner of a crisp .309 wOBA this season. Hairston, a respectable .354 wOBA hitter(but .325 career), and Tejada, a .314 wOBA hitter followed. Basically, the worst part of the Mets' lineup was due up. All were also right-handed.

What does Charlie do? Naturally he opts to use his best reliever on this part of the lineup with the plan of using B.J. Rosenberg(a RHP keep in mind) in the 10th.

Now you're probably wondering who was due up in the tenth. The answer: left-handed Daniel Murphy(career .337 wOBA vs. RHP), David Wright(.385 wOBA this season), and left-handed Ike Davis(career .362 wOBA vs. RHP). Left-handed Lucas Duda(.360 wOBA vs. RHP) was due up fourth.

Basically, Charlie opted to use his best reliever for the Mets' worst part of the lineup while using arguably his worst reliever against the best(and left-handed) part of the Mets' lineup.

The result?
Daniel Murphy flied out to center (Fliner (Fly))
David Wright singled to second (Fliner (Fly)).
Ike Davis doubled to center (Fliner (Fly)). David Wright scored.
Lucas Duda singled to center (Fliner (Liner)). Ike Davis scored. Lucas Duda advanced to 2B.
Kelly Shoppach homered (Fly). Lucas Duda scored.

Mets win 9-5. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Linkage: "How MLB Announcers Favor American Players Over Foreign Ones"

Great article/study looking announcers' race bias and "intangibles." I know many fans out there live on these intangibles as much as a player's average or home run total. Hopefully articles like this continue the enlightenment in baseball and the media.

How MLB Announcers Favor American Players....


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Revisiting the Wilson Valdez trade

Quick, what do you consider the best trade Ruben Amaro has made in his tenure as GM?  




Stumped? There's really not many good ones to choose from. Most likely the Roy Halladay trade comes to mind. Even with his struggles this year, I still like the trade. The first Cliff Lee trade ultimately probably will get the nod above all others. How about a trade that was panned almost universally by Phillies fans? Imagine trading a player loved by almost all of the fans who some even regarded him as team MVP. You would think we just traded Carlos Ruiz or Chase Utley. No, I am talking about Wilson Valdez.

Some, such as Bob Vetrone, Jr., suggested he wasn't that far off from Jimmy Rollins. Of course, when you lack the understanding of just how far apart these players were offensively, I can understand. I remember the outcry like it was yesterday. They would incessantly shout, "RabbleRabbleRabble!" Google "Wilson Valdez traded to Reds," look at a few articles, and read the comments yourself to view the disappointment.

On the other hand, I enjoyed it from the beginning. The only thing I knew I would miss was the "Grounded into a Valdez" tagline. The fact is, Wilson Valdez was the epitome of a replacement-level player. In his two seasons with the Phillies, he accrued 1.1 fWAR and 0.0 bWAR. That's not difficult to replace.

As for Jeremy Horst, I didn't expect much at the time. However, I believe in building bullpens with cheap, team-controlled players. Jeremy Horst fits that mold. You see it time and time again. General mangers make costly mistakes overpaying for relievers. If you are reading this as a Phillies fan, you are a witness to this. Baez, Lidge, and the seemingly endless Ed Wade deals for middle relievers come to mind.

Talent wise, Horst was decent in the minors but far from dominating. With relievers, it's hard to tell whether they continue that success in the majors or flame out quickly. I was completely fine with taking that chance.

Now to the present day. Horst has pitched very well for the Phillies. In 18 innings, he's had a microscopic 1.00 ERA(small sample size alert) and a still impressive 2.79 SIERA and 3.54 xFIP. I don't believe his true talent is of a 30.1K% pitcher, but it's still encouraging.

On the other hand, Wilson Valdez has been nothing short of awful. He's been the double whammy- bad in the field and bad at the plate. If you put up Michael Martinez's numbers next to Wilson Valdez's, you would not know which is which.
Player A: .148/.200/.246
Player B: .197/.224/.219

For those guessed Wilson Valdez was Player B, you are correct.All in all, Wilson Valdez's value has been leaking more than the Exxon version circa 1989. His -1.1 fWAR and -1.4 bWAR are among the worst in baseball.

So kudos Ruben Amaro Jr. on a transaction well done. I don't get to say that much so soak it up while you can.








Thursday, August 23, 2012

Non-Phillies: Phil Rogers- "Jeter deserves MVP"

I've stated it time and time again, you don't actually need to know a sport to get paid to either talk or write about it. If there's ever evidence of that statement, here is Exhibit A. If you're a bit lazy to click on the link just yet, Chicago Tribune writer Phil Rogers suggests that if Mike Trout's Angels or Miguel Cabrera's Tigers do not make the playoffs, Derek Jeter should be the American League MVP. 

If ever an article was deserving of the Fire Joe Morgan treatment it's this. Unfortunately for me, Chicago SB Nation writer, Ricky O'Donnell already beat me to it. He summed up the basics pretty good. Basically, Derek Jeter, thanks to some craptastic defense, isn't even close to the best position player on his team, let alone the league.

The sad part Phil Rogers gets paid spilling out this garbage. It's obvious he's stuck decades behind the game, showing no attempt adapting with the time or increase his knowledge on the game. In any other job, if an employee was performing his or her job and not adapting or improving themselves over the years, they'd be let loose.

Part of the responsibility of a sportswriter, in my opinion, is educating his audience. There are plenty of young, intelligent writers out there pumping out articles for free, chomping at the bit for a job such as Phil Rogers'. I'm confident they would do a more admirable job of spreading that education, teaching them to think critically, outside the box and not stuck in early 20th century.




Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Howard and the new rallying cry- "Sluggers strikeout!"

More and more often I'm hearing the line, "That's what sluggers do," when supporting Ryan Howard, despite his magnitude of strikeouts. That statement is partially true but also partially false. There are a number of power hitters who strike out a lot. However, there's also a number of power hitters who don't. But the way Howard is paid, you would think he's part of the latter group.

Over the last two seasons there have been 38 players(minimum 500 plate appearances) with an isolated slugging of at least .220. Howard is one of these players. With all of these sluggers, you'd expect massive strikeout rates, but as a group, they've struck out 20.0% of their plate appearances. While 20.0% is higher than normal, it's a far cry from Howard's 28.4%.

Compared to this group of "sluggers," Howard doesn't actually appear that good of one either. His .830 OPS is 8th worst in the group. His pitiful 1.5 fWAR is 2nd worst, ahead of just Mark Reynolds. Unfortunately he's paid as if he belongs at the top of this list with some of his firstbase peers in Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Joey Votto, and Albert Pujols. In case you aren't keeping track, the collective strikeout rate of that group is just 13.6%.

I'm not saying the sluggers nearing Howard's strikeout rate aren't good- just not among the very best. Mike Giancarlo Stanton arguably has the best pure power of anyone in baseball, but even he's been hampered by his strikeouts. Imagine if he'd reduce his strikeout rate from Howard-esque to a more reasonable 20%.

So yes, sluggers do strikeout but the ones that don't tend to be more valuable players. It's a pretty simple concept that the more contact you make, the more chances the ball lands in the field(or over the fence) than in the catcher's glove.

Howard's salary suggests he's one of those elite sluggers but he's not thanks to those strikeouts, especially when given his position, lack of defense, and poor baserunning(which I'll delve into in a future post).

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Darin Ruf: Future cheap bench player

Darin Ruf has been on a tear lately and all season, really. Both Tyler Cloyd and Ruf have been battling each other throughout the season for the title of "semi-prospect fans bring up to make themselves look more intelligent than they are." Of course if you bring up Adam Morgan or Julio Rodriguez to them, expect some stutter and stammering. For as great Ruf has been this year, tearing up the Eastern League(173 wRC+) by a wide margin(2nd at 141 wRC+), he still remains pretty much a non-prospect because of his defensive liabilities and age(26).

As much as sports radio callers want to suggest him in the outfield, he cannot play there. He's strictly limited to first-base, and not a good first-base at that. Although, I don't think he can be much worse than Howard at this point.

History is also not on his side. In recent memory, I cannot recall any minor leaguers near his age(25-27) who tore up Double-A with a similar skill set. Before you say Ryan Howard, he was 24 in his full season with Reading. At 26, Ruf is just entering his prime and still not that close to the majors, unless Amaro wants to be aggressive and leapfrog Triple-A. The closest examples I came across that had similar season in Double-A at his age and then made it to the majors were Clint Robinson, Jake Fox, Lou Montanez, and Josh Whitesell.   Of that group, Jake Fox has had the longest career, playing 193 games while hitting .237/.288/.425.

While stardom, or even good starter(it's not like RAJ could ever trade Howard and his contract anyway), doesn't appear destined, a player like Ruf is what this team needs the future. Instead of spending a million or two for a bench player, the Phillies can fill their bench with cheap, controlled players who still can serve a purpose. If I had an option of paying a Ross Gload-esque player $1.5 million, or a Darin Ruf about $400,000, I'm going with Ruf every time. Fortunately, Ruf is also a right-handed hitter which should come in handy in a few years as Howard further deteriorates and a more frequent platoon is needed.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Jimmy Rollins: Leadoff hitter

Rollins is always a hot topic in the Phillies fanbase. Due to people's lack of understanding of position scarcity, especially at shortstop, people think he's heavily overpaid, which is false. But this post isn't about his value relative to his contract, it strictly delves into him as a leadoff hitter. While I agree Rollins should not currently be leading off, it's for a different reason than the popular opinion.

For most of the sports talk and written media sheeple, they act as if Rollins is one of the worst leadoff hitters in baseball. Most often cited are his low on-base percentage(true) and swinging often at first pitches(false). As a result, the fans also blame Manuel. What they fail to realize is that almost all managers pick the wrong leadoff guy for their team.

You can google "Jimmy Rollins bad leadoff hitter" and find a plethora of nonsensical opinions and arguments. But just for a quick guide of what people say, here's an article from this past summer.



"he just could be the worst lead-off hitter in the national league - maybe both leagues. poor choice to resign him."— tmq
"Jelly'sOLD is the worst lead-off hitter in baseball. Maybe a 7 hitter, but not even an 8 hitter since he NEVER walks. Very poor resigning. Too bad his contract is so high or they might just be able to trade him later this summer."— chucksf
"A possibility is Galvis when he returns. I know he does not walk enough and is just learning to hit big-league pitching but, the way the team is playing what's the real difference between leading off and hitting 7 or 8?"— Edae
"Jimmy has absolutely no plate discipline or pitch recognition. "— southpaw57
"James Rollins, JPOP, JSTROLL, is what JROLL is now. First-ball Swingers are not the consummate Lead-off hitters. His spark extinguished, the ego apparent, Jimmy has a $10mil glove, and that's all folks. Meet Mr.JJOKE at the top of the order. I really thought he was OUR LEADER. I guess when you have that kind of money you don't have to man-up."— Homersez
"is Jimmy the worst 11Million per year Player in any sport?"— Ubercatholic
"Are you joking ? He should be on the bench - but they are paying him the big bucks. so he plays.Jump on ' GET ROLLINS OUT OF THIS TOWN Now ' slogan."— candidly
"Galvis is proving to be as good as Rollins in every aspect of the game so far."— ned folk
"If I knew that Freddy Galvis was as good as he has been playing, I would have never signed Jimmy Rollins for more than one year. Galvis could take his spot at SS and not miss a beat defensively. Your lead off batter cannot bat .220 and expect to win."— Lina5614
"JIMMY POPPINS AT LEAD OFF? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"— Darryl Cofield
"What do you mean should he be leading off? He should'nt even be taking up a roster spot!"— Jiminfl

And if you watch the video, you see Marcus Hayes having a hard-on for Juan Pierre leading off, calling him an “an exceptional leadoff hitter.” Of course, Marcus Hayes and idiotic statements aren't a new phenomenon.

Before comparing to Rollins to his teammates, I wanted to prove the theory that he's the worst leadoff hitter in the league wrong.

First, the NL average triple slash for batters hitting first is .255/.317/.379. As of right now Rollins is hitting .245/.305/.407. Basically just a tad worse than average.

Here is the leaderboard for all NL leadoff hitters with a minimum of 30 games batting first this year. As you can see, he's far from the worst. More like on the bottom end of middle of the pack. You can see how many managers stick to the old-school way of leadoff hitting or who are just clueless. What I was unable to yield in that custom leaderboard  was the every popular first-pitch swinging that soooooooo many fans harp on. Of that group, cover your ears now little ones, Rollins swings at the first-pitch third least amount of times. Amazing how myths can easily be broken by facts.

As for in-house options, we won't even discuss Freddy Galvis. You should never ever bat someone first hitting .226/.254/.363.

Juan Pierre is the most popular choice. And if Charlie would have known this would have been Pierre's best hitting year, relative to the league and adjusting for park effects, you could certainly make a case for Pierre over Rollins. However,unlike what Marcus Hayes suggests, he has never been an "exceptional leadoff hitter"  in the way a lineup SHOULD be constructed. If you're using 19th and early 20th century wisdoms, then Juan Pierre is your man.

I'm more of the new school thought of having your best hitters at your most important spots, 1st and 4th. Leading off, you get more plate appearances over the course of the season than any other position. With that in mind, I want one of my best hitters to get those plate appearances. As for cleanup, while the position doesn't get as many plate appearances as 1-3, they get more plate appearances with runners on base. With that in mind, the leadoff guy should be one of your best overall hitters with an edge favoring on-base skills than power.

No one will confuse Rollins or Pierre as one of the Phillies' two best hitters. Therefore in my opinion, neither one should be leading off. For a default lineup, I would put Chase Utley at leadoff. He's still one of the Phillies two best hitters(especially if Ruiz regresses as expected next year), and I believe his true skill level currently is still that of a .360 OBP type player.

Another consideration is Domonic Brown. I've been a believer in him for a long time, but he still has to show me at least some pop yet before putting him as a top-two offensive player on the team. But his plate discipline to draw walks and make contact should result in a good on-base guy at the top of the lineup someday soon.




Ryan Howard and strikeouts: some hope for improvement

Before writing this I told myself I would not talk about how bad he's been as a whole since returning from injury. Aside showing he still has legit power, he's displayed awfulness in every other aspect of baseball. A spectacular triumvirate of poor baserunning, bad fielding, and an inability to get on base. But this won't delve into all those aspects- just strikeouts.

You often hear the mantra "that's what sluggers do." And those people are correct that is what one dimensional sluggers do. But you don't see the Mark Reynolds and Adam Dunn's of the world getting $20 million. Thus far, Howard is striking out in over a third of his plate appearances- 35.7% through August 12. Among players with at least 100 plate appearances, Howard ranks 7th worst among 405 players, edging out luminaries Brett Hayes, Brooks Conrad, Kelly Shoppach, Cody Ransom, Tyler Flowers, and Alex Liddi. 

Luckily, there's reason for optimism that Howard's strikeouts should decline as the season progresses. Even though his strikeout rate is up significantly from last year's 26.7%, his contact and plate discipline rates remain constant for the most part. Overall, he's making contact 67.3% compared to 67.9% last year and 67.7% for his career. He's swinging at the same amount of pitches(46.6% vs. 46.9% career) and seeing the same amount of pitches in the zone(42.9% vs. 42.1% career). On the down side, he's swinging at slightly more pitches outside the zone(up 3 percentage points vs. last year) and making much lower contact on those pitches(40.7% vs. 47.1% career). However, those declines get canceled out by the increase in contact of pitches in the zone(84.7% vs. 80.2% career). 

Thanks to baseballheatmaps.com, we can pinpoint where he's struggling with those outside pitches compared to last year. Looking at his swinging and called strikes against righties, there is almost no difference from last year. From the catcher's perspective, the square represents the strike zone. The color key represents the percentage point difference of pitches swung at. Red represents swinging at more pitches and blue represents swinging at less. 

This graph against righties shows his plate discipline has been pretty much the same. However against lefties......
That's much worse. He's taking more pitches up and in the middle of the zone(swing!), while swinging at many more pitches low and slightly closer inside as well as balls high and way outside. This has lead to a Polanco-esque .286 wOBA( 76 wRC+) and striking out 47.5% of the time against lefties. Keep in mind, just because he's swung(and probably missed) at those pitches outside, does not necessarily mean he struck out on those pitches. It certainly doesn't help though. 

Of course when we're breaking it down by handedness, especially with lefties, we are dealing with a much smaller sample size as of right now. So be warned. These can certainly still change drastically with only a few pitches in a certain area of either graph. 

Given that his plate discipline is pretty much in line(especially against righties) and he's making the same amount of contact as previous seasons, where are all the strikeouts coming from? My hunch turned to more 2-strike counts than usual and falling behind in the count more quickly. 

Compared to last year, Howard is swinging at almost exactly the same amount of first-pitches(25% vs 26%). However, pitchers are throwing more first pitch strikes toward him(also helping aid in an 8.9% walk-rate). This year he's fallen 0-1 in the count 47% of the time, 4 percentage points higher than last year. Continuing that path, he then falls into many more 2-strike counts than he has in the past. 63.4% of his plate appearances have resulted in a 2-strike count, significantly higher than 53.3% last year and 52.8% for his career. 

You don't have to be Einstein to figure out than when you're in more 2-strike counts, you will also strike out more. As of right now, I'm attributing that increase in small sample size and eventually those figures will regress, along with the strikeouts. I'd rather trust over 4500 plate appearances of data than 112. It would be much more concerning if he was simply swinging and missing more often. 

This isn't to say he doesn't have any adjusting to do. Swinging at more first pitches(gasp!) appears to be a good start. I know that'll hurt the fragile ears of many Phillies fans out there, but it's not always a bad thing. 





Friday, August 10, 2012

Trade Deadline Review: Part 4(Facebook reactions)

Now to the entertaining part. As always people get in an uproar. I've noticed quite a few different categories of such nonsense. Lucky for you I broken them down.

The "we got nothing" crowd.


The "we already have a catcher" crowd. 


The "Pence is so good" crowd. 

"Phillies are cheap"


"Should have traded Utley!"

"Blame Hamels!"


Some random ones...


I've saved the worst group for last. These are the terrific, die-hard fans that have infiltrated Citizens Bank Park for so many years dating back all the way to 2008. In my opinion, they are no better than cockroach Cowboys fans in the area. 








Thursday, August 9, 2012

Domonic Brown returns, to the chagrin of many

With the trade of Victorino and Pence, the long anticipated returns to Philadelphia reminiscent of Bruce Wayne to Gotham. Except playing the role of Bane is Amaro's poor decision making the past few seasons and the many sheeple. The latter believes less than 300 plate appearances must mean a player either has it or doesn't. Cause there's certainly never been any great player in history of baseball who has done poorly at the onset of his career.

Thus far, Brown has been impressive. Yes, there still has been some weird routes in the field, but he's shown of his terrific arm and excellent plate discipline. It's ironic for fans clamoring for a better approach, yet dislike a player who brings said approach in preference for a Hunter Pence. I don't want to delve too much into Brown's line so far because of the sample size issues. I'm quite curious as to what his detractors will say if he performs well rest of the season.

Upon news of his promotion, his detractors came out in full force on Facebook, spewing nonsense left and right. No word on how many of these people are simply brainwashed by Angelo Cataldi poison.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Trade Deadline Review: Part 3(Joe Blanton and Cliff Lee)

Part 2

Phillies trade: Joe Blanton

Dodgers  trade: Player to be named later or cash


This review won't really take long. Phillies knew there weren't going to get a good return but they still needed to at least get something back. With the new CBA rules, the Phillies weren't going to receive draft compensation if Blanton signed elsewhere. There's 0 percent chance Amaro would extend the needed qualifying offer to Blanton.

As far as Cliff Lee goes, I felt trading him at this point is selling low. Of course with most fans, they love buying high and selling low. While his contract is large, it's not nearly as bad as a certain firstbaseman. I feel Lee still has a couple 5-win seasons left, which doesn't make his contract an albatross.

However, if the Rangers made Rube an offer he can't refuse, then by all means go for it. But I don't consider Mike Olt with little else as enough. If it was Olt, Leonys Martin, and Cody Buckel, then maybe. Or Jurickson Profar, but that's a pipedream.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Phillies Trade Deadline Review: Part 2(Hunter Pence)


Phillies Trade: Hunter Pence, cash

Giants Trade: Nate Schierholtz, Tommy Joseph, and Seth Rosin

So in essence this is the breakdown of what Amaro did in over with Pence over the past season or so...

Spent:
Jon Singleton, a top 50 prospect
Jared Cosart, a top 100 prospect
Domingo Santana, a Phillies top 10 prospect who may have a higher ceiling than both of those players.
Josh Zeid, not much of a prospect
Over $9 million in salary, not counting excess cash Amaro gave to the Giants

Received:
3.9 wins above replacement(Fangraphs)
Tommy Joseph, a borderline  top 100 prospect
Nate Schierholtz, a 28-year-old, decent backup outfielder(career 5.3 fWAR)
Seth Rosin, a Giants top 15 prospect.

In my opinion, that's not good. Especially when he wasn't needed in the first place and there were better, cheaper options available. For those of you who wanted to keep them, there's a simple question I'd ask: What do you do with him after 2013 when he's a free agent seeking a four or five year deal in the $15 million range beginning in his age 31-year-old season and firmly past his prime? I've asked this on the Phillies Nation Facebook page(where I get most of my idiotic comment material), but no one answers.

Given the Phillies financial situation this and next season, there is no need or room to pay another player a premium salary with little to no surplus value. $13-$14 million for a 3-win player at a non-scarce position with young, cheap, and possibly just as good player waiting in the wings.

What the Phillies received for Pence this year is similar to what they should have given up last year, albeit slightly less considering they did have him for that year. However, I wouldn't call a top 50 prospect plus other marginally better pieces as slightly less.

As for the players themselves, Nate Schierholtz is the easiest to project. He's essentially a nice fourth outfielder. He's good defensively and around league average offensively. As he's already 28 and in his prime, there is not much room to grow aside from possibly receiving more playing time. Given his career 5.3 fWAR over 1321 plate appearances, it equates to about 2.4 wins for a full season(600 PAs). That's not much worse than Pence at a fraction of the cost($1.3 million this year). He's also under team control for two more years.

Tommy Joseph,21, was the centerpiece in the package. Minor League Ball's John Sickels ranked Joseph third among the Giants' prospects prior to the season.
Grade B-: Borderline B: I like the way he improved his defense, also has standout power, hit 22 homers in High-A at age 19/20. Strike zone judgment remains poor and precludes higher grade, but he projects as a regular catcher if he can improve his approach
In his mid-season review:
Grade B-: Hitting .263/.317/.397 for Richmond, eight homers, 25 walks, 62 strikeouts in 300 at-bats. Has caught 48% of runners. Defense and plate discipline have improved, but power production is down. Sharp platoon split, kills lefties (.338/.386/.500) but struggled against right-handers (.236/.292/.359).

 Seth Rosin, 23, has some upside as a reliever. Rated by Sickels as the Giants' 14th best prospect heading into the season, he's continued impressing, improving both strikeout-rate and walk-rate in his first high-A season.
Rosin was drafted by the Giants in the fourth round in 2010 from the University of Minnesota. He currently stands 2-1 with 10 saves and a 4.31 ERA for High-A San Jose, with a 68/18 K/BB ratio in 56 innings.
Rosin is a 6-6, 240 pound right-hander, born November 2nd, 1988. He's been clocked as high as 97 MPH and works consistently in the 91-93 range, mixing in an effective curveball and changeup. He started in college but the Giants have used him primarily as a reliever, since he throws harder in shorter stints. He's got potential as a middle reliever and I think he's ready to move up to Double-A.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Phillies Trade Deadline Review: Part 1(Shane Victorino)

Phillies trade: Shane Victorino

Dodgers trade: Josh Lindblom, Ethan Martin, and player to be named later or cash

Shane Victorino has always been an underrated player in this city and in the national media. Despite being a dark horse MVP candidate until the final month of the season last year and one of the most valuable outfielders in the league since he became a full-time starter, he was never

rumored to garner a high price tag in return. Part of the reason, being a free agent at the end of the season, is understandable. Amidst his worst offensive season since 2006, it was going to be difficult for Ruben Amaro to pawn him off as the same player in previous seasons, even as more general managers this day and age are aware of luck factors(.278 BABIP).

The ultimate goal for Amaro was attaining more value than draft compensation would have yielded in the off-season(assuming Amaro would have extended the qualifying offer). With the previously rumored trade of Victorino for the Reds' Logan Ondrusek and maybe a prospect, it was beginning to sound like Amaro was inevitably on track to fail. Despite progressively better ERAs the past three season, Ondrusek's fielding independent metrics were heading on the opposite track. Trading for a 27-year-old reliever amidst a 5.22 xFIP season is not what I'd call good.

Fortunately the Dodgers bailed him out as Lindblom is better and younger than Ondrusek. I'm a big fan of building cheap, team-controlled bullpens, assuming the relievers are halfway decent. Lindblom, 25, is a big righty with good swing and miss stuff(78.2% contact) and a 92-93 MPH fastball. On the downside, he's a fly ball pitcher(career 34.3 GB%). He's also not as good as his ERA thanks to a low .266 BABIP and unsustainable 93.3% strand rate. His true skillset is more of a mid to high 3s ERA pitcher, which is still better than the majority currently in the bullpen.

Along with Lindblom, former 1st round pick Ethan Martin,23, comes over. Plagued with horrible control throughout his first three seasons(13.6-16.5% walk rate), he's managed to bring it down slightly in 2012(12.5%). He's got decent velocity and strikeout rates(22.9% in 2012) along with an almost even ground-out/fly-out ratio in the minors. If he makes it, chances are it'll be as a reliever.

As for the player to be named later or cash, I'm not expecting much. I don't imagine an Amaro-esque PTBNL for the Phills.