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March 19 2007

The Phils have talked a lot about how they want to do things differently on the bases in '07 -- whether or not they actually do is something we won't know till the season starts.  It may not mean anything, but so far this spring training they have been running more than they did last season.

Last season the Phillies stole 92 bases, which was eighth in the NL.  They were caught only 25 times.  The only NL team that was caught stealing less was the Pirates, and they stole just 63 bags on the year.  In '06 the Phils were safe 79% of the time -- only three NL teams were successful a higher percentage of the time.

During their first 19 spring training games the Phillies have stolen 17 bases and been caught eight times.  If they stole bases at that rate over 162 games they would swipe 145 for a season and be caught 68 times (they've been safe about 68% of the time).  Last season the Nationals lead the NL in caught stealings with 62.  The Phils have already stolen more bases this spring than they did in 30 spring training games last season.  During spring training in '06 they stole 16 and were caught seven times (they were safe about 70% of the time).

I don't expect the Phillies are going to steal 145 bases this season, although it does seem likely they may steal more than the 92 they posted last season.  More importantly, they hopefully will not be caught stealing anywhere near 68 times.  The guys that will be stealing all of those bases will be hitting in front of Utley, Howard and Burrell most of the time -- giving away outs in front of those guys is foolish.  If the new love of swiping sacks has the team adding 53 stolen bases over the season while they add 43 times where they turn a runner into an out, the change will be a miserable failure.  The good news is there's no way the Phillies would let that happen.

In 2006 the Mets and the Dodgers finished first and second in the NL in stolen bases.  New York stole 146 and Los Angeles stole 128.  And here's one for you New York/LA conspiracy buffs -- the Angels and the Yankees led the American League.  The Yankees swiped 139 and the Angels led all of baseball with 148 stolen bases.  This spring the Phillies have stolen bases at about the same rate as all of those teams, with the exception of the Angels who are just out of hand.  Here's what those team have done in spring training and how many bases they would steal if they continued to steal bags at that rate over a complete season (doesn't include today's games).

 

Team G SB CS SB over 162 CS over 162
PHI 19 17 8 145 68
NYM 21 18 7 139 54
LAD 20 13 8 105 65
LAA 21 35 6 270 46
NYY 18 13 3 117 27

Not to be ignored when looking at the numbers, other than the obvious warnings that need to be made about the tiny amount of games, is that the Phils' stats are impacted dramatically by Michael Bourn, who is unlikely to make the team to start the year.  Bourn has stolen five bases without being caught.  If you remove the players unlikely to make
the team from the mix, Rollins, Victorino, Utley and Werth are the guys likely to make the team who have stolen a base or been caught this spring training.  Between them they have stolen nine bags and been caught five times (or been safe about 64% of the time).  That's not good.  Last season, if the Phils had been safe in 64% of its stolen base attempts it would have put them 27th in the category in all of baseball rather than sixth.

Finally, the Angels are really unlikely to steal anywhere near 270 bases this season.  Over the past seven years, the most bases any team has stolen was the 2002 Marlins.  They stole 177.

The Phillies fell to the Pirates 5-1 this afternoon.  They are 7-12 (with one tie) in spring training.

The Phils just couldn't hit Ian Snell last season.  In 14 '06 innings against the Phils, Snell pitched to an 0.64 ERA, allowing eight hits and four walks.  They couldn't hit him today, either.  Snell struck out five in five shutout innings.

The Phils managed not to score in the second inning despite getting two singles, a double and a walk.  Ryan Howard led off with a single and was thrown out going for two.  Garcia singled with two down and the bases empty.  Rowand followed with a double that sent Garcia to third.  Ruiz walked to load the bases and Eaton grounded out to end the inning.

Brennan King got the Phils on the board in the eighth with an RBI-single.

Rowand was 2-for-4 with a double.  He's hitting .191 this spring.  Nunez went 0-for-4 and is hitting .194.  Burrell 0-for-2 with a walk and is hitting .200.  Ruiz was 0-for-2 with a walk and is hitting .207.

Garcia was 1-for-4 with a single.  Bourn walked in his only plate appearance.

Adam Eaton got the start for the Phils and allowed three runs on eight hits over five innings.  Four of the Pirates eight hits against Eaton went for extra-bases, three doubles and a triple.  They scored a single run in the first, third and fourth innings.  Eaton didn't
walk a batter and struck out two.

Joe Bisenius, who appears to be getting a real look, followed Eaton.  He threw a scoreless sixth and returned to start the seventh.  With two outs and a man on first in the seventh he allowed a walk and an RBI-single that extended the Pirates lead to 4-0.  With runners on first and second and two down, Matt Smith came in for Bisenius and got a strikeout to end the inning.  Smith returned to pitch the eighth and allowed two singles and a run, which was unearned due to a King error.

Jim Ed Warden pitched a scoreless ninth.  He hit a batter but nobody else reached base.  It was a nice day for the pen, which allowed a single earned run in four innings. 

The Phillies play the Yankees tomorrow night.

Justin Germano did not clear waivers and is heading back to San Diego.  That is unfortunate.

Danny Sandoval and Brian Sanches were sent to Triple-A.  Ryan Cameron, Kane Davis and Randall Simon were reassigned to minor-league camp.  By my count that leaves Castro, Condrey, Bisenius, Warden and Brito as the most likely candidates for the last spot in the pen barring a trade.  Having Smith as the sole lefty in the pen seems to give an advantage to Castro or Brito if they can get anybody out and Brito is healthy enough to pitch.

Geoff Young, who writes about the Padres at Ducksnorts, has written a book complete with a foreword from Padres' CEO Sandy Alderson.  Read all about it at Ducksnorts.

Jamie Moyer and his wife plan to open child bereavement camps in every major league baseball city. 

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