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All Things Baseball



My love of baseball in all its forms: the Phillies, fantasy baseball, the hot stove, the playoffs, the roar of the crowd, the trade rumors, the free agents, and of course... the peanuts.



Updated: 2015-09-17T02:34:16.192-04:00

 



Still here

2006-09-26T23:00:15.710-04:00

Still here, just haven't had too much time to post - but it's not like anyone's reading anyway. Go Phillies!



Exciting times?

2005-11-07T22:26:40.423-05:00

After a long long long layoff - what can I say? Got married, took the bar exam, moved to Boston, spent 3 weeks in Australia - I just wanted to write a quick post:

First off, a small requiem for Ed Wade. I can't really say I'll miss him, but I just wish we had hired Gerry Hunsicker instead of Pat Gillick. But hey, you can't have everything, and I definitely am glad to see the Wade-ster outta here.

Second, please please please trade Burrell or Abreu (whichever one will get you more in a good SP and 3B) or perhaps package Thome and Bell for the nearest young 3B. Beltre could be nice, but I really doubt anyone would do that deal. I'd settle for Edwin Encarnacion or something like him (since the Reds wouldn't do that deal either).

Finally, congrats to Ryan Howard! Basically wrote the ticket out for Thome, I guess.

More substance later, though I must admit the Philly blog scene is pretty fruitful without me right now.



2 week break for my wedding

2005-05-16T10:11:44.480-04:00

Hi all,

I'll be taking the next two weeks off for my wedding and honeymoon. In the meantime, could someone fire Ed Wade, hire Brian Cashman away from the Yankees, and trade Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell and Placido Polanco and Cory Lidle? Thanks very much! Hopefully when I get back, the Phillies will have a winning record. (ha!)



"The Last Night of the Yankees Dynasty" and Implications for the Phillies

2005-05-11T17:02:28.656-04:00

Buster Olney has written what is (so far) a fascinating account of the Yankees, George Steinbrenner, and their collapse beginning with their loss to Arizona in the 2001 World Series. I've only read the first 4 chapters (I've only owned it for about 15 hrs), but so far it is chock full of an insider's account of Steinbrenner's maniacal tendencies, Cashman's woes, and the perspectives of every Yankee from that 1996-2000 championship run.

I'll leave it to you to read the book and see what Olney says, but suffice it to say that one of his bottom lines is that Steinbrenner in recent years has killed his team by signing declining stars to expensive and long contracts, depleting his minor leagues to the point of absurdity, and creating an atmosphere of tension around the clubhouse.

Sound somewhat familiar?

Now, the Phillies aren't 100% similar to the Yankees by any stretch of the imagination. But surprisingly, they're not that far. Just take away all the tradition (at least, the *winning* tradition) and about 100 million dollars from the salary total, and you kinda have the Phillies! Take a closer look:

At $95.3 million, the Phillies have the 4th highest payroll ... the 4th highest! Now, after all our years of complaining that we were such a great market with a terribly low payroll, it seems kinda whiny to now complain about the 95 million. But I'm not complaining about the 95 million... I'm complaining about the players it has brought. Note however, I can't really complain about Pat Burrell or Jim Thome. Both of those signings were lauded at the time they were made, and justifiably so. After all, Pat Burrell was coming off a .289, 37 hr (or something like that) campaign, and Jim Thome was the perfect signing for a new Phillies team. Obviously, though, neither contract looks that great right now.

My problem is more general... for $95 million, we have a terribly low number of exciting players. David Bell? Placido Polanco? Cory Lidle? Randy Wolf? Rheal Cormier? Where's the life?

Certainly not in our minors, which brings us to another similarity. Ironically, we were blasting Ed Wade for holding on to certain prospects instead of getting a big gun (ie: NOT A MIDDLE RELIEVER). However, what we've done is trade a lot of draft picks, a lot of middle prospects, and we've received very very little back.

Our minors are a combined 20-50 (approximately). Our top pitcher, depending on who you ask, just got shipped down from the Phillies to AAA (Gavin Floyd) or just broke his hand in a bar fight (Cole Hamels). Our top positional player is in single-A ball. The other top prospects are projects. There is no Andy Marte, there is no Felix Rodriguez, and there is no Delmon Young.

Again, I know, hindsight is 20/20. But that's the point of Olney's book. In the midst of pursuing immediate help, the cost was to deplete the minors. It's an easy trap to fall into, but the consequences are long-felt. It'll take some time for this team to really be a true contender. We'll need to actually draft and develop some real players. Trading ppl like Burrell and Polanco and even Ryan Howard will help. (I'd keep Thome, bad back and all, b/c in the end, he's an iconic-type of player, and we'll need those).

Another upshot from Buster Olney's book: Hopefully Cashman will be fired by the Yankees soon, b/c then the Phillies can hire him. THAT would be heavenly.



The Fantasy Value of Mr. Brett Myers (Part 2)

2005-05-10T11:17:32.913-04:00

And so, after I picked him up off the free agent wire in March, I decided that I would stick with him for the whole season, just in case he finally put it all together. After all, this is the guy who was touted as the next Curt Schilling! Last year, in Sports Illustrated, one scout ranked his "stuff" to be better than Rich Harden's. His curveball had always been nasty, his fastball always fast enough, and all he needed was to put it together mentally.Apparently, all he also needed was a cutter. Lately, it's come out that he added a cutter to his repertoire over the winter (perhaps the idea of Rich Dubee?) and this cutter has given him another out pitch that he can use deep in the count. Well, something has worked, whether it's his new cutter, or his new mental state (brought perhaps by his recently born child? that can always add perspective to one's life), or simply the passage of time. Remember, this guy is only 24 years old! Seems like he should be at least 27 or 28 given all the criticism he's endured over the past few years. And I'll admit, in one of my earlier posts, I told the Phillies to trade him. Thank god he's still a Phillie, and thank god he's on my fantasy team.What's he done this year? Only a 1.25 ERA and .95 WHIP (approximately). Only about 9.4 K per 9 IP. Only a 5 to 1 K to BB ratio. Only been the most dominant starter on the Phillies this side of Lieber. It's been amazing to see... I've seen a few of his games on TV, and he's always in control. He's not going for the K's but he's getting them in handfuls. I saw him put Victor Diaz away with 5 straight heaters. His cutter has frozen lefties.So will he keep it up? That's the question of the day, and the fantasy question addressed by my post today. This is a guy who has shown brilliance in flashes but who always reverted back to his dog day ways. (a la Pat Burrell) But I see no reason to doubt his continued excellence for this year and beyond. Why? What's new?1. His cutter. It just gives his fastball another dimension. It's not just a straight fastball, a changeup or a curveball any more. Now he's got a cutter to mix in there, and now his pitches work on more than on plane than just the straight or 12-6 plane. It's like he's got 3 dimensions with his pitches now.2. His new kid. I'm sure everyone reacts differently when they become new parents. Seems like Brett has found some perspective, which is exactly what he needed on the diamond. When he got in trouble, he pitched harder and harder, perhaps more tensely. Now, maybe he realizes that he doesn't need to grip it harder, that he can get out of these jams no problem.3. His physical fitness. Now, down in Florida, I saw him jogging after a start, and he's not exactly Gabe Kapler. But he's no longer heading towards David Wells either (he was getting a bit fat last year, you gotta admit). This can only help.Add all these to his already established bulldog attitude (funny how commentators are starting to rehash his whole "used to be a boxer" background now that he's doing well this year... sure makes for a better story when the pitcher is actually dominating) and his already established "stuff" (no one ever denied that he had a great curveball) and you know what? I think we may finally have the top of the rotation starter that we've been dreaming Brett would become. And so, my fantasy prognostication? 16-8: Hopefully the run support will finally kick in consistently.2.80 ERA: It'll go back up, perhaps after the obligatory blow out he endures, but something tells me it'll be sub-3.00.1.21 WHIP: Also will go up, but the elite pitchers have their WHIPs in the 1.15-1.25 region.230 IP: He's never had injury issues, knock on wood.215 Ks: Gotta love what he's doing on the mound.53 BBs: Just a guess obviously, but I like his command so far.Now that I've written this, of course, he'll end up at 4.79 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and a stint on the DL for elbow tendonitis.[...]



The Fantasy Value of Mr. Brett Myers (Part 1)

2005-05-06T18:43:44.950-04:00

There are several hot pitchers right now in terms of fantasy baseball free agent pickups (that is, they stunk before the season started and now, after a string of 4 to 6 great starts, everyone is hopping on them). Erik Bedard from Baltimore, John Patterson from Washington, and John Thomson from Atlanta are only some of those ... but for today, let's talk about Brett Myers.

The year before I went to law school, I took some time off and drove cross country. That was the summer that Brett Myers was about to be called up from AAA, and I was excited. Here was this 6-3 (whatever he is) pitcher who drew comparisons to Curt Schilling, a former boxer who wouldn't back down from the challenges of the MLB, and a guy who didn't take losing lightly. I was checking Yahoo (for my fantasy leagues) daily in my motel rooms to see if he was called up and available in my league, and sure enough, he got called up (and I had the #1 waiver priority! A plan from the start that season b/c I wanted Brett Myers).

Then his first start - remember that gem?? Keep in mind, this was also the year that Mark Prior made his debut, and the world was abuzz with his talents... and then Brett Myers comes up, 20 something years old, and he strikes out something like 8 in his first start, with no earned runs. A win, with many K's... Mark Prior joined the list (with Curt Schilling) of pitchers Brett Myers was going to compare with favorably. His first year finished well enough, with the usual rookie bumps, but it was clear that he was destined for greatness... Philly history be damned.

I am in a keeper league, and I had Brett Myers slated to be a keeper for the next 10 years. But then, something happened along the way to the Hall... He started to plateau! And not in a good place... he plateaued at a 5.00 ERA, 1.30 WHIP clip. For two seasons.

I was distraught, what to do?

I traded him.

But then before last season, scouts talked about the effect Kevin Millwood was having on him, how he was taking to Millwood's ethic and style. He started well last year too, and I thought, he's finally here! So.. I traded for him again. And lo and behold, he began to absolutely stink. As Angelo Cataldi would put it, he was a stinkin' bum. Another 5.00, 1.30 season, and you know what? He was no longer keeper material. At the ripe old age of 24, Brett Myers was washed up! I myself wrote this spring that the Phillies should trade him the first chance they get... right here on this blog!

In my league, he went undrafted till about the 27th round, where I decided to draft him for kicks. But before the season started, after seeing him once down in Florida during my bachelor party (at Spring Training), I dropped him to the wire. And there he remained (unclaimed) till I realized that if he starts to rock, and he's not on my team, I'd be semi-pissed (to put it mildly... I take fantasy baseball seriously, as I'm sure I'll post later).

So I picked him up, in March, right before the season started.

(To be continued)



State of the Phillies

2005-05-05T10:35:58.630-04:00

After a bit of a vacation, I'm back writing my baseball blog. I took a break to commit myself to finishing up law school well, especially my clinic where I was working as a public defender, but now it's all over (3 yrs of tuition, good bye!) and I can finally commit to my baseball blog....

... Which brings me to the unenviable task of having to address the Phillies. As Jayson Stark so eloquently put it in a recent ESPN column, this team is easily the most perplexing in the majors. Seems like everyone said that this team on paper was built to contend in the NL East. Of course, they said that we'd win the East last year. And Baseball Prospectus did their math and said we'd end up with 90+ wins. And the list goes on. But what's happened? We're in LAST... behind the Nationals? Behind the Mets? How? Why?

Is it the manager? I don't think so. If anything, this year tells us it's probably not the manager. Now, I'm glad Bowa is gone, b/c I don't even think there was the potential of improvement under his angry command, and I do wish the Phillies had hired Leyland instead of Manuel... but Charlie Manuel has been pretty good at keeping even keel throughout the struggles, and I think that is an important feature (just look at Andy Reid). And the guys Manuel brought in as assistant coaches seem to be doing their jobs - well, at least the pitching coach Dubee. Milt the hitting coach might need a little fire under his butt to get our guys going, but what do I know.

Is it the pitching? Well, our bullpen has been less than advertised. Randy Wolf looks lost. Padilla is still recovering from his lack of spring training. Lidle is still just Lidle. But Lieber has been superb, Myers has finally been the guy he's supposed to become, and we still have Floyd in the wings. So I'm not worried.

Is it the hitting? Short answer, yes but with conditions. Long answer, probably this is a major part of the problem. David Bell isn't producing. Burrell's production is too herky jerky and not consistent from game to game. Abreu has been cold, but that's normal for his Aprils. Thome has been non-existent, of course. Utley hasn't played enough games. Our CF position is atrocious, especially without Lofton (I never thought I'd say that!). Lieberthal has hit the wall. Rollins is still Rollins, for whatever that means.

Is it the atmosphere? For some unknown reason, YES. Absolutely. We have no one exciting. (Beltran anyone?) We have no one who's a true take charge leader. Rollins is nice for both, but not the answer. All we have are guys who are good but who like to keep quiet, it seems.

What can be done? Trade Polanco for one thing - it's addition by subtraction. Utley will play more, and Polanco's annoying attitude can be taken out. As for Howard, given Thome's situation, I'd say we actually have to keep this guy around. At least till June or so. Perhaps wait till then to trade Polanco too? I don't know. We can also trade Lidle - I'd rather have Floyd in there. Who to acquire? No idea. Our big chance was at Beltran last winter. I'm still depressed that we didn't make a full out effort to get him, and I don't buy the money thing. Can you imagine the OF of Abreu, Beltran, Burrell?

I'm obviously living in a fantasy world still, but this team needs a dose of fantasy for sure. At least us fans do.



Lack of Updates; Spring Training News!

2005-01-19T21:10:30.390-05:00

Well, sorry for the lack of updates. Plain and simple, nothing the Phillies are doing is really inspiring me. I'm glad Rollins re-signed, though only for the short term. Perhaps that means it won't be another salary that the Phillies will be saddled with down the line. Polanco came to terms, and 4.6 million is a LOT for him. Jose Offerman is on the minor league team, and I hope to God that Shane Victorio beats him out.

And... that's it. Now, it's a waiting game for Spring Training, which I'm excited to announce I'll be at! Yes, that's right, for my bachelor party, my buddies and I are heading to Florida for a weekend to catch some baseballs and ball games. I'll be the one in the powderblue 1970's Phillies jersey.



As if I needed more false hope...

2005-01-17T12:09:27.360-05:00

From Ken Rosenthal of the Sporting News...

"What would A's general manager Billy Beane be worth as a free agent? The answer might come if Lewis Wolff purchases the club. Beane, signed through 2008, can opt out of his contract if the team changes owners. Wolff almost certainly would want Beane to stay, but the Nationals could pursue Beane once their new owner is in place. Two highly regarded former general managers, Pat Gillick and Gerry Hunsicker, also are available. The Phillies' Ed Wade could be the next G.M. in trouble."



Oh why do you tease us Mr. Wade?

2005-01-12T10:45:00.680-05:00

From today's Philly Inquirer:

"General manager Ed Wade understands the perception that the Phillies have taken a step backward, although he doesn't agree with it. "It's the nature of our game that people view it a certain way," Wade said."

Okay, I'm gonna put my new-found optimism aside for a moment. Don't worry, I'll be returning to my 92-70 optimistic ways later. But come on, Ed Wade. That's the best you can do? That's the most inspirational you can get?

John Schuerholz goes and shores up his rotation. Successful? Many say yes, I say no, but we all can agree that he did everything he could and that he made the right decisions in bringing in Tim Hudson.

Omar Minaya goes to visit and ultimately sign Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran to patch up some glaring holes in his team. Successful? Many say yes, I still say no, but we all can agree that the Mets had one of the better offseasons given their expectations and low fan turnouts (I've been to Shea a couple times the last few years, and I can tell you it's a desolate desolate place).

The Florida Marlins bring in Al Leiter to complement their already young and good rotation, are trying to bring in Carlos Delgado, and were able to keep their thirdbaseman Mike Lowell in the fold. Successful? People say they'll be better than the Phillies, I say probably not, but they're also making the best moves they can.

The Phillies? Well, the year that one of the best CF's ever was on the market, the year that several great young pitchers were on the market, the year that the Athletics were selling 2 of their vaunted Big Three, the year that the 3B who ties Schmidt's HR record for a right handed 3Bman is a free agent, what did we end up with?

Kenny Lofton, Age 39 (or so).
Jon Lieber, Age 34 (or so), with a recovering ligament.
Terry Adams, who cares how old he is.
Cory Lidle
Placido Polanco at the low low price of 4 million.

YES we took a step back. NO it's not b/c of the nature of the game making ppl take different perspectives. YES the Phillies could have done a LOT more.

But fine. Enough complaining. Go Phillies.



Oh why do you tease us Mr. Wade?

2005-01-12T10:44:55.483-05:00

From today's Philly Inquirer:

"General manager Ed Wade understands the perception that the Phillies have taken a step backward, although he doesn't agree with it. "It's the nature of our game that people view it a certain way," Wade said."

Okay, I'm gonna put my new-found optimism aside for a moment. Don't worry, I'll be returning to my 92-70 optimistic ways later. But come on, Ed Wade. That's the best you can do? That's the most inspirational you can get?

John Schuerholz goes and shores up his rotation. Successful? Many say yes, I say no, but we all can agree that he did everything he could and that he made the right decisions in bringing in Tim Hudson.

Omar Minaya goes to visit and ultimately sign Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran to patch up some glaring holes in his team. Successful? Many say yes, I still say no, but we all can agree that the Mets had one of the better offseasons given their expectations and low fan turnouts (I've been to Shea a couple times the last few years, and I can tell you it's a desolate desolate place).

The Florida Marlins bring in Al Leiter to complement their already young and good rotation, are trying to bring in Carlos Delgado, and were able to keep their thirdbaseman Mike Lowell in the fold. Successful? People say they'll be better than the Phillies, I say probably not, but they're also making the best moves they can.

The Phillies? Well, the year that one of the best CF's ever was on the market, the year that several great young pitchers were on the market, the year that the Athletics were selling 2 of their vaunted Big Three, the year that the 3B who ties Schmidt's HR record for a right handed 3Bman is a free agent, what did we end up with?

Kenny Lofton, Age 39 (or so).
Jon Lieber, Age 34 (or so), with a recovering ligament.
Terry Adams, who cares how old he is.
Cory Lidle
Placido Polanco at the low low price of 4 million.

YES we took a step back. NO it's not b/c of the nature of the game making ppl take different perspectives. YES the Phillies could have done a LOT more.

But fine. Enough complaining. Go Phillies.



An Overview of the NL East: Part One - Phillies

2005-01-11T11:32:43.630-05:00

Well, I've decided to turn a new leaf. No more doom and gloom. No more pessimism. No more trashing of Ed Wade. Maybe. The Inquirer may have finally come out with an article criticizing Ed Wade for his inactivity this offseason. And yes, the Phillies let the one player that they most needed just pass them by into the NL East rivals Mets. And yes, their pitching staff is turning out to be pretty mediocre. It's true, I wish they had traded for Dioner Navarro and Javier Vazquez. And as Stefan as pointed out in his good comments, it's probably not going to happen. Definitely not for Navarro, as he's gone to the Dodgers, but also probably not for Vazquez, because if he's traded, he's probably going to the Orioles. Plus, if I were being truly honest, the Phillies have no one to offer outside Hamels and Floyd and Utley, and the Wade-ster just isn't going to let them go. But chalk me up as someone who still believes that the Phillies can win this NL East. How? Well, let's take a look at each franchise, one at a time, excluding the Nationals, b/c I see them as a AAA team that's been promoted to the bigs. Plus I have no idea who their pitching staff has, despite my obsession with fantasy baseball. So they seem a little irrelevant. Let's start with the Phillies: Projected Lineup: CF Lofton SS Rollins RF Abreu 1B Thome LF Burrell 3B Bell C Lieberthal 2B Utley Best case scenario: Lofton will be rejuvenated by his reunion with Thome and Charlie Manuel, and the ballpark will rekindle his stats. He'll be a consistent OBP guy (somewhere around .390). Rollins will take the next step and prove last season wasn't a mirage (a la Marlon Byrd). Lofton and Rollins will routinely set the table for Abreu and Thome, who'll put up 130 RBI's each. Thome will stop striking out so much, though it'll be okay if he still K's, b/c Burrell will rediscover his 2002 form and hit .290, .980 OPS, with 40 HRs and 120 RBI's. Bell will be the "good" David Bell, not the "injured, weak" David Bell, and he'll be the clubhouse glue to boot. Or else, Bell will get hurt and Polanco will play 3B full time. Lieberthal will defy Father Time and hit a solid .275, with 15 hrs and 70 RBI's. Utley will show me why Ed Wade values him so DAMN much (sorry), and he'll validate his minor league numbers with a .280, .890 OPS, 23 HR, 70 RBI campaign. Worst case scenario: Lofton will show his age and will show why he hasn't been a starter the last few years, batting .250 with a meager .330 OBP. He'll be replaced with Jason Michaels in June. Rollins will continue to think he's Roberto Alomar and will try to hit 35 HR's, managing to hit 23 but striking out 110 times. With no one on base, Abreu will be pitched around and Thome will be struck out more often than not. Burrell will show that 2003 was his true self, and he'll end up a .240 hitter, with 25 hrs before being traded in July to the Astros for Morgan Ensberg (talk about a worst case scenario!). David Bell will be hurt, and Placido Polanco will play 3B... but will tear an ACL. Utley proves me right and hits .250 with 10 hrs and no excitement. Lieberthal will go down with knee surgery and the Phillies will rely on Todd Pratt as their catcher. Most likely scenario: I actually think the offense will be okay. I think Rollins will take the "best shortstop in the NL" label seriously, and I think Lofton will be a good influence on him. Lofton will probably end up a .270, .350, .450 hitter, which is serviceable, and he'll score 100 runs. Abreu I think is terrific and Thome will be happy to play for Manuel. Burrell will relax and should settle into his .275, 35 hr routine. Utley I'm hoping will be a productive hitter, but I don't know about him. Pitching Rotation and Bullpen: Jon Lieber Randy Wolf Vicente Padilla Cory Lidle Bret[...]



Dark dark day for Phillies fans.

2005-01-09T14:57:33.863-05:00

In the world of sports-fandom, there's nothing worse than having the worst team in your division. The teams you hate are definitely better than yours, and that just plain hurts. And so, as a Phillies fan, it simply stinks seeing Beltran go to the Mets. Why?

1. Every team in the NL East WORKED to get better.

- Braves got Hudson, Kolb.
- Mets got Pedro, Beltran.
- Marlins got Leiter and are trying to get more.
- Nationals don't count yet.

- Phillies? They drop Millwood and Milton and sign Lieber. They get Lofton to replace Byrd and Michaels. So basically, they tread water while waiting for prospects to reach the bigs.

2. Beltran probably could have been gotten by the Phillies for enough money.

Is Beltran worth 119 million dollars? I don't know. He's definitely young, has the 5 tools, and is improving. But is ANY one player worth that much cap-constricting money? Well, if anyone is, it's Beltran. And hey guess where the Phillies have a gaping hole in their lineup and defense? Top of the order and CF... the two places Beltran resides.

Before the offseason, everyone felt that Beltran would go to the Yankees or stay with the Astros. Well guess what, the METS got him. The METS. Minaya may be inspirational, and he may have the Hispanic connection with Beltran, but don't tell me the Phillies couldn't have gotten him to man the new Philly stadium for the next 7 years. Too much money? Then trade Thome and put Howard there.

Will the Mets contend now? I don't think so. They have too many holes, too many injury-prone players. But at least they're giving themselves hope. Something the Phillies are running out of.



The Mess in Arizona and How the Phillies Can Hop Right In

2005-01-07T09:22:39.266-05:00

So it looks like the Shawn Green to Arizona deal may not happen, which quite honestly surprises me. But let's put LA (the REAL Los Angeles) aside and see what else could happen, should an enterprising GM, say... Ed Wade, take advantage of this.

The D-Backs now have TWO players that the Phillies could use, and as luck should have it, the D-Backs are willing to trade both players! Serendipity!

The Phillies need a better starting pitcher. Enter Javier Vazquez.
The Phillies also need a new young catcher to groom. Enter Dioner Navarro.

Hello Ed Wade, go trade for Vazquez and Navarro. Now. Right now. Right now while the D-Back's disappointment is fresh.

After the deal fell through, the D-Backs started looking into Jeromy Burnitz to replace Shawn Green. Well, I think the Phillies have something to offer.

Several names should immediately be thrown in by Wade: Randy Wolf, Brett Myers, Marlon Byrd, Placido Polanco, David Bell, Ryan Howard.

Somehow, some way, a combination of several of these players should get the Phillies Vazquez and Navarro.

How about Wolf, Myers and Howard? Too much you say? I don't.
Or maybe Myers, Byrd, and Howard? That might sound better to most.
Perhaps Wolf, Byrd, and Howard. Or Wolf, Polanco, Howard?

In any case, Byrd may be hard to trade, but maybe not... he's young, still has some talent somewhere buried in him. I'm surprised at his major step back last year.. I think he should still be in our lineup over Lofton. But that's just me. Howard is intriguing, yes, but in reality he's 25, strikes out a ton, and has no position outside 1B. So to the Phillies, he's useless. (I like Thome, I like his star appeal, and while he's expensive, I'd rather the Phillies keep him, unless they go get Beltran). Myers is the best of the names above, I believe... b/c of his age, skill, and mentality. He's been inconsistent, but so was Schilling, Unit, and others who became pretty great. Myers won't be THAT great in the end, but it's still not too late for him to become a terrific number 2 or 3.

If you can get Navarro and Vazquez, none of the players are worth enough to make them untouchable.



Dollars and No Sense: Looking at Team Salaries

2005-01-04T10:52:23.840-05:00

The MLB recently put out the 2004 figures for team salaries, and when compared with the figures over the past 4 years (back to 2000), there are some interesting things to note. Primarily, the Phillies are a weak organization (and it pains me to say it).

The top 10 teams in terms of salaries for 2004:

1. NY Yankees (187,918,394)
2. Boston (130, 395, 386)
3. Anaheim (115,608,812)
4. NY Mets (103,199,231)
5. LA Dodgers (101,682,464)
6. Chicago Cubs (100,653,389)
7. PHILLIES (97,380,476)
8. St. Louis (92,816,050)
9. San Francisco (82,404,615)
10. Houston (81,903,157)

Some quick thoughts:
- Where is Atlanta??? They're number 12 at 79,445,468. That's right, nearly 20 million less than the Phillies, 25 million less than the Mets. And that's not a team of nobodies: Smoltz, the Joneses, Marcus Giles, and now Tim Hudson... that's just a well run team.
- Obviously, the Mets are an even worse-run team than the Phillies, and their signing of Pedro for 4 yrs and pursuit of Beltran at 18 mil/yr simply confirm their short-sighted way of spending dollars.
- You can see why the Giants failed to make the playoffs... even with Barry Bonds on their payroll, their salary was "only" 82 million, meaning that they had no talent around Mr. Sherman Tank, aka Barry ".900 slg" Bonds.
- The Phillies spent more money than St. Louis (NL Champs), Houston (NL Runner-ups), and Atlanta. Nothing to show for it.

A closer look at Philly's history:
2000: 45.7 million
2001: 47 million
2002: 61.5 million
2003: 71.5 million
2004: 97.4 million

That's a steady increase in dollars spent for sure. And if anyone remembers, 2000 and 2001 were pretty dark years. As was just about all of the 1990's, save 1993. So I guess a lot of the criticism surrounding the Phillies that they're not spending the money or are acting like a small market team is misguided. They ARE spending money! But there's been nothing to show for it, not even a playoff appearance in this wild-card era. And perhaps that means that they've spent their money on the wrong players.

It's hard to criticize the last few free agent moves/trades that they've made though. Jim Thome was a heady signing... exciting times for this starved baseball team. At the time, David Bell was a hot commodity, being the clubhouse "winner" that lots of teams seek. Perhaps he was overpaid, but that's what bad teams need to do to get the players. Billy Wagner was a coup, given that Brandon Duckworth was pretty worthless. But here's the thing.... this club, in 2004, underproduced. They underproduced terribly.

When a team underproduces that poorly, lots of GM's take that as a sign that they need to fix things, take bold steps. It sure seems like, however, that Ed Wade's response is: "I have faith in our players. They're good players. Just wait till next year. These guys will win." In the mean time, Mulder changes teams. Hudson changes teams. Matt Clement is available. Odalis Perez is out there. Beltre is a free agent. Beltran is out there. Wade Miller signs for 1.5 million. Carl Pavano signs. These are big time names, exciting players. And who gets them? St Louis, Atlanta, Boston, Yankees, Seattle. Big time teams. Getting the big time players.

Bottom line: Just spending money doesn't make you a big time franchise. Actually getting the players is what does it. And unless we manage to get Vazquez, this offseason will rank as one of the worst in terms of opportunities lost. Even that won't fully save it anyway.



Could Ed Wade actually trade Randy Wolf?

2005-01-03T12:53:11.516-05:00

With Randy Johnson reportedly on his way to the Yankees for Javier Vazquez et al., and with Shawn Green reportedly on his way to Arizona for, well, NOT for Javier Vazquez, an interesting situation arises. Vazquez apparently wishes to stay on the East coast. The Phillies are rumored to be interested in trading Randy Wolf for Javier Vazquez.

With the moves that the rest of the NL East has made (Tim Hudson to the Braves, Pedro Martinez to the Mets, Al Leiter to the Marlins), and with the under-production of the pitching staff last year (goodbye Millwood), there is something to the argument that the Phillies desperately need a top-line young ace to build around.

Cole Hamels is a long ways away. Gavin Floyd is closer, but Brett Myers is becoming a cautionary tale. Ryan Madson was great last year, but only in a relief role. As a starter, Madson was decidedly less impressive. Padilla was better than his record indicates, but Wolf had injury issues, Lieber IS an injury issue, and Cory Lidle won't scare anyone who's not a Phillie fan.

For these reasons, a trade of Randy Wolf for Javier Vazquez would be terrific. There are caveats: (1) It would leave the Phillies without a LHP in their rotation. I'm not so worried about this... I feel that having lefties in the bullpen is much more important than in the starting rotation... that's where the matchups really come into play in any significant way. (2) Vazquez was terrible last season, but I'm not worried - he obviously didn't like the AL, and something tells me he's kinda angry about the press he's received out of New York.

He's in his 20's. He's put up crazy numbers in the past. He's got the ubiquitous "nasty stuff". And he wants to stay on the East Coast. The Yankees envisioned him as their ace for years to come.... he may have failed in NY, but he just might be great in Philly.

Go get him Ed Wade!



Brief respite from the holidays - Philly and Ed Wade

2004-12-30T14:35:58.640-05:00

Hello all, from Philadelphia. I finally managed to get onto the internet for a short while (hello Barnes and Noble), and just thought I'd post a quickie while I'm here. I still plan on returning full time to this blog on January 2nd.

While here, I've been listening to 610 WIP sports talk radio - one of my favorites. I remember back in the day when Steve Fredericks and Mike Micanelli were on together, and their show was absolutely hilarious. I think I heard Mike Micanelli again the other day, which was great - he's still funny, and Anthony Gargano is very good right now too.

While most of the talk was centered on the Eagles, there was a quick segment on the Phillies - and it seems that many people share my feelings that Ed Wade is a GM who lacks creativity. As the talk show hosts put it - Ed Wade just lacks imagination, the ability to pull off theh big deals that will allow them to actually beat Atlanta. And they made an interesting point - with a little bit of ingenuity, they could have traded Jim Thome, stayed away from Lofton, and ended up with Hudson, Beltran, Ryan Howard at first... and SAVED MONEY.

Now, I don't think Beltran would come here, unless we actually paid the 20 million a year. But I do believe that Tim Hudson could have come here (WHY do we care so much about Ryan Madson and Chase Utley), and I do believe that Ryan Howard should be traded now or played in the big leagues.

But the key point I come away with is that they could have SAVED money! Meaning, we may now be spending some money (about 95 million last year, good for 7th in the MLB), but we are definitely NOT using that money well. More on this later, after I return. But suffice it to say, we need to get rid of Ed Wade. Otherwise, there is no way we will ever contend for the World Series.



Boston's new rotation; Happy Holidays all!

2004-12-23T11:20:58.633-05:00

Man, the Red Sox have many moves that I wish the Phillies had made. I'm assuming Wade Miller's shoulder is more problematic than is being let on, because otherwise I have no idea why Houston would simply non-tender such a young, talented pitcher. He passed his physical, but as Pedro has shown, a "physical" is by no means a constant. In any case, Boston's rotation, which had taken a hit with Pedro's departure and Pavano's rejection, now shapes up to be interesting, if not exciting.

Curt Schilling
David Wells
Matt Clement
Wade Miller
Bronson Arroyo, with Tim Wakefield in the pen.

I had thought that the Sox would go get Odalis Perez, but Wade Miller's unexpected availability may have shifted their attention. In any case, this is one of those moderate-risk/high reward rotations... Schilling we know about, ankle and all, but Wells, Clement and Miller all can put up very interesting numbers, with high K/BB or K/9IP rates. In addition, there's an good balance of RHP and LHP's, and a good mix of groundball and flyball pitchers. In short, this is a rotation that could end up being average or great, but at the very least, Theo Epstein went out and tried the big moves.

(segue into conservative moves of Ed Wade)

In any case, Happy Holidays to all! I'll be taking a break until January 2nd, so I wanted to thank the people who read my blog and comment on my posts. Hope you all have a safe holiday season, and I'll be talking to you all again after the new year.



Braves are all hype and weaker than you think (w/o JD Drew):

2004-12-22T11:16:57.026-05:00

Reports are that JD Drew has signed with the Dodgers for 5 years, $55 million. As a Phillies fanatic, I am proud to say that I detest JD Drew and Scott Boras. I loved that the Phillies tried to draft this guy and take a principled stand (no $10 million bonus), and while hindsight shows that this move definitely hurt the Phillies, I really didn't mind what they tried to do. And I also developed an instant animosity towards St. Louis when they drafted Drew the next year, even after several teams let him pass. That said, JD Drew had an amazing year last season for the Braves. He finally managed to play a DL-free season, and in 145 games, he put up the following numbers: (AB - R - 2B - HR - RBI - BB - K - AVG - OBP - SLG - OPS) 518 - 118 - 28 - 31 - 93 - 118 - 116 - .305 - .436 - .570 - 1.006 He was, in my opinion, the main reason that the Braves were as successful as they were last year. Without Drew, they may have still won the NL East, but I don't know. At the All-Star break, Drew's VORP was a healthy 41. And his numbers stayed consistent throughout the year. I am underwhelmed by his 28 doubles - I feel that a good hitter should get at least 35, but his OBP and SLG numbers were incredible. He was one of only 9 hitters to end up with an OPS over 1.000 (Bonds, Helton, Pujols, Rolen, Beltre, Edmonds, Berkman, Manny Ramirez were the others... Boy, St. Louis had 3 hitters with OPS's over 1.000!). There is, of course, an important caveat when it comes to Drew - last season was his first fully healthy season. Looking at his career numbers, he seems to have alternatively bad and terrible years - 135 games one year, 100 the next, 135 the next year, then 100 again. If you believe in patterns, then Drew is due for an injury this year that will limit him to about 100 games. Also, something that's interesting when you look at his numbers - he hasn't had that many great seasons! Taking the injury aspect out of it, his only star season before 2004 was in 2001 when he put up similar, if not better numbers. The other years were, on the other hand, average. Now how much of that was due to his injuries... well, that's up for debate. But this is the guy the Dodgers signed for 11 million per year. Was he worth it? Well, yes. Given the Dodgers' specific situation, absolutely yes. - They were reeling from having lost Adrian Beltre, and they were facing a relapse to 2003 when their offense stunk. - This may give them a little more freedom to actually trade Shawn Green. - The NL West is a weak division, and even one bat may make all the difference. - Given what is left in the free agent market (Beltran, for example), Drew may actually be a CHEAP alternative! His value was equal to that of Beltran's and he'll come at a cheaper price... if Boras is to be believed. Now, how much does this hurt the Braves? They may have a good starting rotation (though, see my previous posts - I think their rotation is vastly overrated). But where is their offense coming from? Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Marcus Giles, Rafael Furcal, Johnny Estrada, Adam LaRoche are their mainstays from last season... and I'm less than impressed. - Andruw Jones is one of the most overrated players in the National League. His numbers are pedestrian (.833 OPS), even though his defense is subjectively stellar. For all the hype surrounding him, he hasn't put up the offensive numbers to be great. And all that talk about his speed? 6 stolen bases, 6 times caught stealing. - Marcus Giles is a good player, but he still hasn't put up the consistent career numbers that make me believe that 2003 wa[...]



Liking what Billy Beane has done:

2004-12-20T15:21:15.843-05:00

As a Philadelphia born-and-raised sports fan, I have a secondary love of the Athletics, given their roots and Philly heritage. So while I'm not as bleeding-green passionate about the A's as Oakland natives, part of me was sad to see Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder get traded away from the A's within the span of 3 days. But as I saw exactly who the A's received in return and as I saw just how the starting 9 and the starting rotation was shaping up, I began to realize that there's a reason why Billy Beane is the GM of the A's and not me. He plain and simple just has a great ability to see the whole picture. Start with his rotation... he now has pretty much every highly regarded pitching prospect this side of Jose Cappellan and Scott Kazmir. His rotation now boasts 4 or 5 potential "aces" (despite how easily that term is sometimes thrown around): Barry Zito: his stock has slipped, but he's still very young and still has that killer curve. Rich Harden: became the real deal last season by being the most consistent starter for the A's. Joe Blanton: supposedly better than Rich Harden, and we'll get to see in 2005. Dan Meyer: someone the Braves, who know a thing or two about pitchers, considered their best talent in the minors... better even than Jose Cappellan (who apparently had just one plus pitch, his fastball). Danny Haren: another stud prospect that we've been hearing about for a while now from the Cards organization. They'll probably struggle this year, especially given Texas' and Anaheim's offenses and Seattle's apparent improvement to their lineup. That said, they may also develop into an interesting rotation. I believe they'll struggle, and the A's will be a below .500 team -- there's just too much offensive talent in that AL West and the AL East for these youngsters to succeed. But 2006? That's another question. These guys may just be a "Super 5" come 2006, and now every starter is signed for either two years (Zito) or 4-5 years (everyone else). At that price (lots of rookie contracts), there's no greater value in the whole major leagues. Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder are definitely great. BUT: 1. They both had some recurring injuries last year, and as such present some risk to the A's. 2. Mulder was downright TERRIBLE in the second half. If that's what the Cardinals are getting, their search for an ace is not over. 3. They were going to be incredibly expensive after their contracts ran. Yes, Mulder was going to be an A for a couple more years, but his comments about his grief over Hudson's departure was someone alarming ... he was going to leave after his contract, and he seemed to want to go to Atlanta that minute! Why not then trade him now, get what you can, and not wait till his value drops either because of another off year or a perception of having to trade him? I actually think the Mulder trade was BETTER than the Hudson trade, given that Danny Haren, Kiko Calero, and Daric Barton is an amazing trio of young players to get at once. They now have young talent that is cheap and, well, talented. Nick Swisher, Bobby Crosby, Charles Thomas, the pitchers, Juan Cruz, Kiko Calero.... these guys will play and play hard. Add to that Eric Chavez and Jason Kendall... and this team has attitude. And finally, remember Daric Barton's inclusion, and you realize that this team even has a future ready for after Kendall loses a step. Bottom line: This team is going to be great, maybe not in 2005, maybe not even in 2006... but it'll definitely be great in 2007 and beyond. A's fans should rejoice... they have a GM who's [...]



Quick News & New Blogger:

2004-12-20T15:14:44.196-05:00

Placido Polanco returns! I'm not sure the Phillies were expecting that (none of us were, for sure)... and I'm not sure where he'll play (PLEASE TRADE DAVID BELL), but I'm just happy to have his character and leadership and abilities on this team. Maybe there's hope yet...

Also, I'm announcing a new blogger: Mike Huttenlocher. Check out his sports blog, linked to the right (Hutt's Sports Ramblings). He may be a Mets fan and a NY Giants fan, but I can vouch for his sports knowledge, and his site will have some great commentary. It's a good read for sure!



Is this for REAL?!? Mulder to the Cardinals?

2004-12-18T20:29:07.973-05:00

There was a funny spoof before saying the Cardinals traded Albert Pujols to the A's... but apparently the truth can be stranger than fiction!!!

Billy Beane has traded Mark Mulder to the Cardinals for Dan Haren, Kiko Calero, and Daric Barton.

WHAT the heck is going on???

I guess from some weird economic standpoint, given the A's situation, this was a "good" move - no way Beane and the A's could afford Mulder, even after trading Hudson away. And he did get a pretty studly prospect in Danny Haren, and Kiko Calero fits their trend of getting power arms in the pen.

But WOW. WOW WOW WOW. I mean, WOW.

So his starting rotation is now: Zito, Harden, Blanton, Haren, Meyer? He really IS planning for the future, isn't he?

WOW.

I mean, I respect Beane, and I wish Ed Wade was bold and creative. But maybe not THIS bold. I hear Barton has a .445 OBP, and .511 SLG as a catcher, and that's certainly great. And Haren is potentially great. And Mulder had an off year. But to trade both Hudson and Mulder in the same week... well, I'm glad I'm not a diehard A's fan.



On the new Braves rotation:

2004-12-18T15:03:35.646-05:00

After completing his admittedly amazing deal for Tim Hudson, Braves GM John Schuerholz came out and declared that his new 2005 rotation is the best starting five he's ever had in Atlanta. Well, that was obviously exaggeration, given that he 1994, his starting five was: Greg Maddux, who was at the top of his game and arguably putting up some of the best numbers in MLB history. Tom Glavine, who was also at his most effective as a control pitcher. John Smoltz, who was striking out batters at a great clip. Steve Avery, a youngster was was still the brilliant pitcher people hoped he would be. Kent Merker, an incredible guy to have as your number 5 pitcher. There is no way the current starting five can compare to this great list of pitchers, and I immediately dismissed Schuerholz's statements as marketing hype, gamesmanship, and salesmanship tactics. But nevertheless, as a Phillies fan, I was definitely depressed and angry to see the Braves acquire Tim Hudson, and it immediately put a damper on my expectations for the 2005 Phillies, a team whose window is just rapidly closing... to the point of wondering whether it's already shut. Was I right to immediately put a downer on my expectations? Should I be worried about the 2005 Phillies' chances because of this acquisition of Tim Hudson and the new great Braves rotation? Well, no Phillies fan can truly be confident about the next Phillies season, no matter how high the praise, how good the team looks on paper, and how much the prognosticators are predicting a playoff berth (ie: 2004). And at first, as my previous posts clearly show, I was worried about the Tim Hudson deal. In fact, nearly all of the sports-world has called this Hudson deal one of the best this offseason. Yahoo experts are saying that Schuerholz has driven the rest of the NL East into obscurity. ESPN polls and experts say that the Braves rotation is one of the best in the MLB. But I now believe, after more thought, that the Braves rotation is a grossly OVERRATED rotation. And I believe that the Braves will come to disappoint many fans. And I believe that without some extra offensive firepower, the Braves will finish behind the Phillies in the East. Why? Let's take a look at their projected rotation: Tim Hudson: Well, okay, this guy is now the best pitcher in the NL East (though I do believe Pedro will put up great numbers this season, I think it's a mirage and a cover for the future injuries he'll have to face). I don't know how much Mazzone will actually improve his numbers - given that it seems like Hudson has figured this whole pitching thing out and really doesn't need Mazzone to work his magic or teach him an offspeed pitch or anything like that. In fact, I could see Hudson helping the other pitchers out in the Braves organization... but I think the numbers we've seen from him will be the numbers we will see from him, all things considered (pitching in Oakland's stadium, facing pitchers instead of DH's, etc). John Smoltz: This is where I diverge from many experts. Many people are praising his return to the rotation, claiming that he'll return to elite status, posting his phenomenal K rate as evidenced by his years as a closer. I disagree 100%. I expect a rather pedestrian season from John Smoltz... perhaps he'll be great in April and May, but come July, August, September, I really don't think Smoltz will be a great number 2 pitcher. Why? He's almost 40 years old. Now I know that he's saved his arm over the la[...]



On the new (overrated) Braves rotation:

2004-12-18T13:13:57.023-05:00

After completing his admittedly amazing deal for Tim Hudson, Braves GM John Schuerholz came out and declared that his new 2005 rotation is the best starting five he's ever had in Atlanta. Well, that was obviously exaggeration, given that he 1994, his starting five was: Greg Maddux, who was at the top of his game and arguably putting up some of the best numbers in MLB history. Tom Glavine, who was also at his most effective as a control pitcher. John Smoltz, who was striking out batters at a great clip. Steve Avery, a youngster was was still the brilliant pitcher people hoped he would be. Kent Merker, an incredible guy to have as your number 5 pitcher. There is no way the current starting five can compare to this great list of pitchers, and I immediately dismissed Schuerholz's statements as marketing hype, gamesmanship, and salesmanship tactics. But nevertheless, as a Phillies fan, I was definitely depressed and angry to see the Braves acquire Tim Hudson, and it immediately put a damper on my expectations for the 2005 Phillies, a team whose window is just rapidly closing... to the point of wondering whether it's already shut. Was I right to immediately put a downer on my expectations? Should I be worried about the 2005 Phillies' chances because of this acquisition of Tim Hudson and the new great Braves rotation? Well, no Phillies fan can truly be confident about the next Phillies season, no matter how high the praise, how good the team looks on paper, and how much the prognosticators are predicting a playoff berth (ie: 2004). And at first, as my previous posts clearly show, I was worried about the Tim Hudson deal. In fact, nearly all of the sports-world has called this Hudson deal one of the best this offseason. Yahoo experts are saying that Schuerholz has driven the rest of the NL East into obscurity. ESPN polls and experts say that the Braves rotation is one of the best in the MLB. But I now believe, after more thought, that the Braves rotation is a grossly OVERRATED rotation. And I believe that the Braves will come to disappoint many fans. And I believe that without some extra offensive firepower, the Braves will finish behind the Phillies in the East. Why? Let's take a look at their projected rotation: Tim Hudson: Well, okay, this guy is now the best pitcher in the NL East (though I do believe Pedro will put up great numbers this season, I think it's a mirage and a cover for the future injuries he'll have to face). I don't know how much Mazzone will actually improve his numbers - given that it seems like Hudson has figured this whole pitching thing out and really doesn't need Mazzone to work his magic or teach him an offspeed pitch or anything like that. In fact, I could see Hudson helping the other pitchers out in the Braves organization... but I think the numbers we've seen from him will be the numbers we will see from him, all things considered (pitching in Oakland's stadium, facing pitchers instead of DH's, etc). John Smoltz: This is where I diverge from many experts. Many people are praising his return to the rotation, claiming that he'll return to elite status, posting his phenomenal K rate as evidenced by his years as a closer. I disagree 100%. I expect a rather pedestrian season from John Smoltz... perhaps he'll be great in April and May, but come July, August, September, I really don't think Smoltz will be a great number 2 pitcher. Why? He's almost 40 years old. Now I know that he[...]



And so it happened. The worst thing possible. Hudson is a Brave.

2004-12-16T18:04:07.356-05:00

Well, it's a dark day for all Phillies fans, and really, anyone who has a team in the National League East that is not the Braves. John Schuerholz just showed everyone why the Braves are the class of the National League East and why they will win their 52nd NL East title in a row (exaggeration intended).

The worst possible thing just happened. The Braves acquired Tim Hudson, and they really didn't give up that much to get him. Juan Cruz, Charles Thomas, and Dan Meyer really don't add up to a Tim Hudson, and the Braves really are a big bat away from a World Series appearance. While I'm not sold on John Smoltz returning to the starting rotation, he will be serviceable at the least, and a rotation headed by Tim Hudson will always be strong.

Could the Phillies have gotten into the Hudson sweepstakes? Yesterday's posts to the contrary (talking about the economic problems that would surface should give up cheap players for a one-year rental), I think they should have tried something still. I'm underwhelmed by the ultimate deal... I'm surprised Nick Green wasn't involved. I'm surprised Marcus Giles wasn't involved (even with Matt Ginter being a new Athletic). I'm surprised the Dodgers didn't finish off this deal.

Now with Leo Mazzone getting his hands on Tim Hudson, I really have to think that the Braves will manage to sign Hudson to a long term deal. And meanwhile, we have the Phillies with a rotation headed by Jon Lieber and Randy Wolf.

Well, we'll just have to see what happens.

When I have more time, I'll take a look at the Tim Hudson stats, compared with what they gave up. Let's see if this was as great a deal as I lamentably believe. In the meantime, I'm gonna keep rooting for the Phillies, as hopeless as that may become for 2005.