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February 8 2007

In limited action, Matt Smith was absolutely awesome last season.  In his time with the Yankees and the Phillies combined he threw to an 0.87 ERA.  He allowed seven hits in 20 2/3 innings.  Opponents hit .108 against him and he struck out more than a batter an inning.  There's no question that he was outstanding in the chances he got.  The question for Phillies fans at this point, though, is how good is he going to be next season?

I have no idea, except to say I'm pretty sure the answer is not as good as last season.  Take a look at his numbers overall for the season, keeping in mind that he threw more than half of his innings in the American League, compared to Trevor Hoffman and Takashi Saito.  The pair were arguably the best relievers in the NL last season.  Hoffman came in second in Cy Young voting and tenth in voting for NL MVP.  Saito was better than Hoffman.


Player IP ERA H BB SO H/9 K/9 Ratio Opp OPS
Hoffman 63.0 2.14 48 13 50 6.86 7.14 0.97 566
Saito 78.1 2.07 48 23 107 5.51 12.29 0.91 505
Smith 20.2 0.87 7 12 21 3.05 9.15 0.92 354

In his limited number of innings, Smith more than held his own, mostly because in addition to hitting .108 against him, opponents also slugged .108 against him.  The point isn't that Smith is a better pitcher than Hoffman or Saito.  He's not.  The point is that his numbers this season are going to be much worse than they were last season.  So if you've got him penciled in for a 2.08 ERA it's time to get out your eraser.

The good news is that the Phillies don't need (and can't reasonably expect) him to be as good over an entire season in 2007 as he was in '06.  During his seven-year minor league career, across all levels, in 197 games Smith threw 649 innings and pitched to a 3.51 ERA with a 1.37 ratio.  One thing I think you can tell from his minor league stats is there's a good chance he's going to do a good job of preventing the home run.  In his 649 minor league innings he allowed just 33, or just .46 per nine innings.  He's certainly guaranteed to allow more hits than the 3.05 per nine innings he did in the major leagues lasts season -- over his minor league career he allowed 8.57 hits per nine innings.

The Phillies don't have much of a net if Smith, the only lefty thought to be in the pen at this point, gets blown up.  They don't have much of a net even assuming that Smith is solid.  And I'm both hoping and confident the plan isn't that Smith is going to pitch better than the best relievers in baseball.

Not to be forgotten is that Smith has less major league experience than Fabio Castro, the guy who if he doesn't make the team to start the year will fail to do so because of lack of experience.  Castro's chances, meanwhile, look more reasonable with every passing day.  If the Phillies don't add a left-handed reliever before the season starts, it seems possible they'll go into the year with either Castro or Eude Brito making the team as a lefty out of the pen.

Another article calls Adam Eaton overpaid.  Sometimes it feels like people just look at the 5.12 ERA and don't even care about the person.

Ricky Nolasco could be a candidate to close for the Fish.  No truth to the rumor Joe Borowski was voted least-likely-to-be-missed-by-his-major-league-team-after-signing-with-the-Indians by his high school class.

Randall Simon has been suspended from playing winter ball for three years by the Caribbean Baseball Confederation.  Simon is accused of backing out of a contract he signed to play with the Ciabo Eagles.  Rotoworld points out that this could be a big problem for Simon, who likely makes much of his income playing winter ball.  It seems unlikely Simon will see a lot of time with the Phillies before September roster expansion given his inability to contribute much defensively.

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