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January 31 2007

It's not much of a surprise that Ryan Howard's monster season with the bat was enough to put his name among the all-time Phillies greats.  What may be a little more surprising are the Phillies' pitchers whose 2006 seasons put them on the list of the team's single-season pitching leaders:

Jon Lieber, tied for ninth all-time for walks per nine innings pitched with 1.29 in 2006.  Lieber was just awful in '06 and posted his worst numbers of the past ten seasons.  Opponents hit .291 and slugged .473 against him.  What they didn't do against him was walk, Lieber walked just 24 in 168 innings.  It was the second time in three years that Lieber has led his league in the category.  In 2004 with the Yankees, Lieber walked just 18 in 176 2/3 innings or .92 per nine innings pitched.  He is second on the list of Yankees single-season leaders in the category.  And that wasn't even his best year of not-walking-anyone.  With the Cubs in 2002 he walked 12 in 141 innings, or .77 per nine innings.  He didn't pitch enough innings to qualify that season -- if he had thrown enough innings and continued to walk .77 batters per nine innings, he would be the single-season leader for the Cubs.

Brett Myers, eighth all-time in strikeouts per nine innings with 8.59 in 2006.  Myers also occupies the seventh spot on this list, having struck out 8.69 batters per inning in 2005.  There's a surprisingly high number of names on this list behind Brandon Duckworth -- Duckworth threw to a 5.41 ERA in 2002 but struck out 167 in 163 innings, which was good enough for third on the list of Phillies' single season leaders in strikeouts per nine innings with 9.22.  If you wanted to worry about Myers you might start with his allowing significantly more hits per nine innings in '06 than '05, slightly more walks and fewer strikeouts.

Geoff Geary, third all-time in games pitched with 81 in 2006.  To the degree that it was saved, Geary really saved the Phils' bacon in the pen last season, throwing to a 2.96 ERA in 91 1/3 innings. The 81 games for Geary was more than twice any of his other years in the major leagues -- much of the hope for a bullpen that in other ways looks hopeless for '07 rely on Geary doing it again this year.

Tom Gordon, tied for sixth all-time with 34 saves in 2006.  Good year for Flash, who saved 30 games or more for the second time in his career.

Like with Chuck Klein's hitting prowess, there are some Phillies' single-season records that are probably never going to fall.  Kid Gleason's 38 wins in 1890 looks safe, for example.  In 1883, John Coleman started 61 games and threw 59 complete games.  I can't even see Manuel trying to use Geoff Geary that much.  Pete Alexander's family can probably rest easy -- Alexander threw 16 shutouts in 1916.  Then again, never say never -- who would have thought that Tommy Greene would be tied at number two with an .800 win percentage.  In 1993 Greene went 16-4 with a 3.42 ERA for the Phils at age 26.  He threw 78 1/3 innings in his career after that.

In mentioning the Baker Bowl in yesterday's post I brought up the 280-foot short porch in right, but neglected to mention the 60-foot-wall.  Read all about it here or here.

The Padres and the Phillies have been talking about a deal that would send Aaron Rowand to San Diego for right-handed reliever Scott Linebrink.  Linebrink turned 30 in August and has thrown to an ERA under four in each of the last four seasons.  Rowand and Lieber presumably remain the Phillies most likely to be dealt before the season starts, although I would be surprised if Rowand was traded and neither he nor Lieber was moved in a deal that brought the Phillies back a corner outfielder.  Trading Rowand without getting an outfielder back would send Victorino to center and leave the Phillies with Jayson Werth as the primary option in right with little organizational depth backing him up.

This article from the Phillies web site reviews right-handed pitching prospects in the organization.  Here's hoping the starters stay healthy for a couple of years.

Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez, two of the guys likely to be in the Marlins rotation, are having arm troubles and may not be able to throw off a mound when the Fish open spring training on February 17.  The Marlins rotation probably goes Dontrelle Willis, Johnson, Scott Olsen, Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco if everyone is healthy.

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