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February 27 2007

Yesterday we looked at how Freddy Garcia has gotten his outs over the past couple of years.  While it may be somewhat concerning that he's striking out fewer batters and throwing more fly balls, Garcia has remained a workhorse.  He's an effective top of the rotation guy who has been among the steadiest and most successful pitchers in the AL over the past couple of years.  On the list of things to worry about on the Phillies, I'd put Garcia near the bottom.

I wouldn't put Adam Eaton near the top in a world where Antonio Alfonseca could be trotting out to pitch the eighth in a one-run game.  But I wouldn't want anyone to neglect him as they put together their worrying schedule, either.

One of the things that Garcia has in common with fellow newcomer to the Phillies rotation Eaton is that both pitchers have spent a considerable portion of their careers in parks that gave a considerable advantage to pitchers.  Garcia pitched several years in Seattle and Eaton has spent virtually all of his career in San Diego.  While Garcia has had enough success to make you think he can adapt to some blips over recent years, Eaton has allowed home runs at such a rate at times in his career that you have to wonder if he's going to be able to survive in a smaller yard in Philadelphia without making some significant changes.

Here's a look at how Eaton has gotten his outs over the past three years and for his career:

04 4.61 195 242 153 590 33 41 26
05 4.27 138 143 100 381 36 38 26
06 5.12 66 79 43 188 35 42 23
Career 4.40 917 963 666 2546 36 38 26

I always considered Eaton to be fly ball pitcher, but I was surprised by the rate at which he has struck batters out over the past couple of seasons.  Eaton has struck out more batters per nine innings than Garcia over his career and significantly more than Lieber or Moyer.  His 6.96 career strikeouts per nine innings is closer to the 7.27 mark for Myers than I would have guessed.  In his limited time, Cole Hamels (9.86) is way ahead of everyone in the current Phillies rotation, but that number is likely to go down this season.

Despite spending six of the seven years of his career in San Diego, Eaton has had several seasons where he has been bitten by the long ball.  In 2001 he gave up 20 in 116 2/3 innings.  In 2004 he allowed 28 in 199 1/3 innings, which put him tenth in the NL in home runs allowed for the year.  Finally, in 2006 he finally left San Diego and allowed 11 home runs in his 65 innings with Texas.  If he had thrown 200 innings for the Rangers last year and continued to allowed home runs at that rate he would have given up about 34.

Eaton's numbers last year simply weren't good.  In 65 innings he threw to a career-high 5.12 ERA and a career-high 1.57 ratio.  Opponents hit a career-high .299 against him.  Lefties slugged .592 against him.  Those numbers are a significant departure from what he had done over his career.  There wasn't a single factor that accounted for the drop in production.  As a Phillies' fan, you have to hope that the biggest issue was injury problems that are now resolved.  Beyond the injuries, the change from the NL to the AL hurts virtually everyone's numbers.  The worry has to be that Eaton posted solid numbers for a number of years in vacuous Petco Park, but all the fly balls he throws are going to mean trouble for him pitching virtually anyplace else.

The good news for fans is that the Phillies, apparently, are pretty comfortable about Eaton and his ability to adjust.  They have made it known with their words but, perhaps more importantly, with their actions in shelling out big money for the pitcher.

This article recounts how 19-year-old Carlos Ruiz told a Phillies scout he could catch when he was really a second baseman.

If you can stomach another article about lineup protection, here you go.

Gavin Floyd gave up a run in 2/3 of an inning before hurting his ankle in an intrasquad game in his biggest action with the White Sox to date.

In this article Manuel says that Kyle Drabeck has a good fastball and a good breaking ball but needs to work on his changeup.

This article says that Pat Burrell says his foot has been fine so far in spring training.  If Burrell's foot is not bothering him I would expect Chris Roberson's chances to make the team take a big hit.  Even if Burrell does have problems, Roberson is probably a long shot.

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