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January 9 2007

Yesterday we looked at home and away home run numbers for a handful of Phillies' hitters, and the numbers seemed to suggest they didn't gain much of an advantage in terms of hitting home runs at Citizens Bank Park last season.  There are some numbers, however, that may suggest that Phillies' pitchers did suffer a disadvantage at CBP in '06.  Or at least that they simply pitched worse there.

First of all, the Phillies allow a lot of home runs and they have since Citizens Bank Park opened in 2004.  For each of those three years, the team has been in the top three in the National League in terms of home runs allowed.  And for the last two years, the difference between the number of home runs hit by opponents in Philadelphia and the number of home runs they hit against Phils' pitching away from Philadelphia has grown.

Here's a look at the home runs that Phillies' pitchers have allowed over the past four seasons at home and away, remembering that 2003 was the final year the team played at the Vet:

 

Year HR NL-Rank Home HR NL-Rank % @ Home Away HR NL-Rank % Away HR H - HR A
2006 211 2 121 2 57.3 90 7 42.7 31
2005 189 3 107 2 56.6 82 6 43.4 25
2004 214 2 115 2 53.7 99 4 46.3 16
2003 142 13 61 14 43.0 81 8 57.0 -20

One thing that is for sure:  CBP is playing a lot different than the Vet.  In 2003 and 2005, for example, Phillies' pitchers allowed about the same number of home runs in their away games.  In their home games, Phils' pitchers surrendered 46 more pitching at CBP in 2005 than their 2003 counterparts did playing in the Vet.

The Phillies have pitched more innings at home than away in the last three years.  They threw about 51% of their innings at home in '05 and '06 and about 52% of their innings at home in 2004.  In their games on the road the Phillies have improved at preventing the home run recently, falling to down near the middle of the pack of NL teams in '06 by allowing just the seventh-most home runs.  They continue, however, to allow a percentage of their home runs at home that exceeds the percentage of the innings they pitch at home, and they have since they started pitching at Citizens Bank Park.

In the same way that pitchers throw more of their innings at home, hitters get more of their at-bats on the road.  Over the past four seasons, Phillies' hitters as a team have gotten about 51-52% of their at-bats away from home.  And, for every year CBP has been around, Phillies' hitters have hit more home runs there than they have on the road:

 
Year HR NL-Rank Home HR NL-Rank % @ Home Away HR NL-Rank % Away
2006 216 3 112 2 51.9 104 4 48.1
2005 167 8 94 4 56.3 73 10 43.7
2004 215 2 113 2 52.6 102 T-3 47.4
2003 166 9 83 8 50.0 83 10 50.0

One could argue that when it came to home runs, the Phillies' pitchers were hurt more last season by CBP than the team's hitters benefited. 

Also, for the sake of sanity, all of the hitters we looked at yesterday hit about the same or more home runs away than they did at home.  If the Phillies as a team hit more at home than on the road, there must have been some Phils hitters that hit more at home, right?  And there were.  Rollins hit five more home runs at home than on the road.  Bell hit two more and Lieberthal, Abreu and Coste all homered once more at home than on the road.

This Blue Jays mailbag says Toronto and the Phils talked about Lieber and it didn't go anywhere.

Karim Garcia has agreed to a minor league contract with the Phillies.  The left-handed outfielder turned 31 in October and has played in Japan for the past two seasons.  In 2004 he hit 229/265/388 with 10 home runs in 258 at-bats between the Yankees and Orioles.  He may be most remembered for his role in the brawl between the Red Sox and the Yankees in Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS.

Garcia could become the best hitter in a weak Phillies' minor league system.  The Phillies have about a zillion guys that can play center field and be good defensively with excellent speed while on-basing about .300.  At Triple-A last season they had two players that hit ten or more home runs.  At Double-A they had one.  By comparison, in 2005 they had ten guys that hit ten or more home runs between Double-A and Triple-A.  On the other hand, if Garcia is the Phillies' fifth outfielder you have to be at least a little disappointed if not worried about the outfield.

The bottom line for the Phillies in the outfield seems to be whether or not they can acquire a better hitter than Aaron Rowand.  If they can, they can trade Rowand and play Victorino in center.  So far, apparently, they can't or don't want to, which means they may go into the season with two center fielders, one of who is playing right field where he seems likely to produce significantly less offense than other right fielders.

Here you can review an account of the time in 2004 when Garcia may have done his best to put the pee in pizzeria while at Spring Training with the Mets.  No charges were filed.

This article mentions free agent Mike DeJean, who missed almost all of 2006 and is coming back from shoulder surgery.  The 36-year-old DeJean saved 27 games in 2002 for the Brewers while throwing to a 3.12 ERA.  Between 2003 and 2005 he posted ERA's in the mid-fours pitching for the Brewers, Cardinals, Orioles, Mets and Rockies.  No word on any public urination issues.

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