Archive for December, 2007

If there’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear

The Winter Meetings rarely fail to disappoint and this year was no exception. The Phillies leave Nashville will all the same problems they arrived with and a little less time to find solutions. Their right field, center field and third base situations remain murky, but they’re small problems compared to the Phillies’ need to add at least one and hopefully two quality pitchers before the season starts in April.

As if not on cue, the Phillies picked up pitchers Travis Blackley and Lincoln Holdzkom in the Rule 5 Draft.

Blackley is a 25-year-old lefty from the Giants organization who was 10-8 with a 4.66 ERA and a 1.38 ratio in 28 PCL starts in ’07. He walks a lot of hitters, 67 in 162 1/3 innings this season, which is 3.77 per nine innings. In Phillies’ starters terms that would put him between Moyer, who walked 2.95 per nine innings this season, and Eaton, who walked 3.95. He’s made eight career starts at the major league level in which he’s gone 1-3 with a 9.35 ERA. Righties have hit 336/433/664 against him. He missed the 2005 season after shoulder surgery.

The linked article suggests he’s in the mix for fifth starter, but I would guess there’s little chance that he starts the season in that role. The Phils already have five starters in Myers, Hamels, Kendrick, Moyer and Eaton for one thing. I would guess that when one of those guys goes down, and it’s not going to take long, Durbin would get the first shot given the choices the Phillies have now.

The other addition is Lincoln Holdzkom, a 25-year-old right-handed reliever. He strikes out a ton of hitters but walks way too many. Between Double-A and Triple-A in the Red Sox organization this season he threw to a 2.97 ERA in 63 2/3 innings. Opponents hit just .231 against him but his ratio was 1.54 cause he walked 44 in those 63 2/3 innings. Over his minor league career he’s walked 5.19 per nine innings. He had Tommy John surgery in 2003.

This article says the Phils will be one of nine teams to watch Kris Benson pitch on December 17 in Arizona. Not the whole team, though.

This article says the Devil Rays are interested in Houston’s Luke Scott who you would guess would also be of interest to the Phillies.

This article suggests that it hasn’t been a real good couple of weeks for the Mets. It hasn’t been for the Phillies, either. It has been for the Braves.

This article suggests it’s the Phils, White Sox and Rangers in the hunt for Rowand and that Texas will not give Rowand five years, $75 million.

This article suggests the White Sox would be better off trying to add Juan Pierre than Rowand. I’d really like that to be true so I’m trying hard to see that one, but it’s just not happening.

This article says that the Yankees are discussing a one-year deal with LaTroy Hawkins for about $3.5 million. Nearly all the talk has been about a starter for the Phils, but they need help in the pen as well.


Me and Julio down by the school for strange transactions yard

The Phillies released Julio Mateo. Really they did. To recap, the Phils acquired Mateo, never used him despite being desperate for bullpen help last season while he threw to a 2.81 ERA with an 0.94 ratio at Reading, and then released him. Mateo could have helped the Phillies on the field last year and he could have helped them this year. I have no problem with not picking up a guy because of issues unrelated to what he does on the field, but it seems like the time to decide whether or not you’re going to let him pitch is before you add him to your team.

Here’s hoping the 330/404/478 that Jesus Merchan hit at Reading was just a coincidence. In the Phillies defense, his Reading numbers were by far the best of his career as a 26-year-old at Double-A.

This article says the Padres checked to see if the Phils had interest in Mike Cameron and the Phillies don’t. It also suggests the Phils have made an offer to Hiroki Kuroda that may have been for $30 million over three years but the pitcher is looking for four years and about $44 million. This article says the Phils are out of the race for Kuroda altogether.

This says the Phillies are one of four teams pursuing Mark Prior, who likely won’t pitch before May.

The Nationals released Billy Traber. He’ll surely be picked up by someone soon. Traber is 2-0 with a 3.48 ERA in four career appearances against the Phillies. In 194 2/3 innings overall, the 28-year-old lefty has thrown to a 5.41 ERA with a 1.55 ratio. He can get out lefties, who have hit 210/303/310 against him over his career. Righties, not so much (329/382/512).

This says the Brewers are expected to make Tad Iguchi an offer and the Padres may be interested as well. Rockies too. And the Giants. That didn’t take long.

In what is surprising development to me, it looks like the Dodgers will sign Andruw Jones to a two-year, $36.2 million contract. It turns out the answer to the why the Phils don’t try to sign Andruw to a short contract is less that Jones doesn’t want to sign a short contract and more that the Phils don’t want to pay him more than $18.1 million a year to do so.

This article says the Phillies won’t talk with Ryan Howard about an extension until next month.

This article says the Marlins have approached the Phils about getting Wes Helms back to help fill the third base void created when they lost Cabrera.

The Rule 5 draft is this morning.


Now wait just a secondary

Despite his strong offensive year, Aaron Rowand’s secondary average this season was just .288, 43rd best among the 75 National League players that had at least 500 plate appearances. That was especially surprising to me given his .515 slugging percentage — his secondary average was lower than Shane Victorino’s. Someone needs to get to the bottom of this and I’m here to help.

The Phillies were a tremendous offensive team in 2007, which can be demonstrated in a bunch of different ways. One of them is this: among NL players with 500 plate appearances this season, the Phils had four players in the top 20 in secondary average:



Player


SECA


NL Rank

Howard

.520

1

Burrell

.487

3

Rollins

.352

17

Utley

.343

19

Fantastic. Way to go, fellas. Alert the press. Would probably be even better if we knew what secondary average actually was or understood what it meant. A moment, please, and I’ll give it my best shot.

Another way to demonstrate that the Phillies were a fantastic team is this: among the NL players that had 500 plate appearances, the Phillies had four of the top 20 players in slugging percentage.



Player


SLG


NL Rank

Howard

.584

4

Utley

.566

6

Rollins

.531

15

Rowand

.515

18

Five good offensive players, but the lists aren’t the same. Burrell was third in the league in secondary average and not in the top 20 in slugging (he was 21st). Howard dominated the league in secondary average, but three players posted a higher slugging percentage. Utley’s slugging percentage was way better than his secondary average and you have to look hard to find Rowand’s secondary average (43rd of 75 NL players with 500 PA) despite that fact that he was 18th in the league in slugging.

What secondary average is is easy. Secondary average is TB-H+BB+SB-CS/AB.

Understanding what it means isn’t quite so easy, but secondary average measures a player’s offensive contribution. Players that walk a lot and get a lot of extra-base hits have high secondary averages. But players that have high slugging percentages don’t necessarily.

Singles hitters, especially ones that don’t walk or steal bases, get hammered. Singles don’t help your secondary average, but, unlike slugging percentage, walks do. For example, a player that is 10-for-10 with ten singles and no walks or stolen bases has a slugging percentage of 1.000 and a secondary average of .000.

(continue reading…)


Or maybe they’ll just talk about Scott Rolen’s secondary average for four days and decide to do nothing

If the Phils spent the first day of the Winter Meetings dealing for a corner outfielder, a third baseman and a couple of pitchers they’re apparently keeping it on the down-low. Fingers crossed.

This article suggests that the Dodgers are more interested in trying sign Andruw Jones to a shorter contract than giving a longer deal to Rowand. Opinions apparently vary about the chances of Rowand returning to the Phils. I think he is going to the White Sox, but I would say the chances of him coming back to the Phils are low but not zero. You have to believe that they would increase at least a little if the Phils don’t add another corner outfielder or acquire help at third.

This article suggests that the Phils have clear interest in Kris Benson and some interest in Bartolo Colon and Jason Jennings and not as much in Carlos Silva or Kyle Lohse. Gillick also sounds like he’s feeling a little less than warm and fuzzy about Randy Wolf, calling Wolf’s signing with the Padres a blessing in disguise.

While we’re on the subject, Scott Rolen’s secondary average last year was .232. I would guess the Phillies are about as likely to bring him back as they are Steve Jeltz.

And speaking of the man, if we could get Jeltz to weigh in it sounds like we could call it just about unanimous that the Phillies aren’t interested in Melvin Mora.

This article talks about what the Braves might be trying to do at the Winter Meetings. The Braves, I fear, are looking likely to continue their upswing.

The Nationals traded for Elijah Dukes. It’s gonna be quite a clubhouse.

This article says that the White Sox are still interested in Rowand and may be looking to trade Joe Crede.

Lefty Brian Anderson is attempting a comeback after missing the last two seasons. The Rockies may be interested. Anderson had elbow surgery in 2005 and 2006. In 2004 with the Royals he gave up 33 home runs in 166 innings while throwing to 5.64 ERA, so he’s not really screaming ideally suited to finish out his days at Citizens Bank Park.


Romero wasn’t built in a day

The 20 games without allowing a run was enough to sell me on JC Romero. You too, probably. There isn’t much question that the 15 2/3 scoreless innings he threw in September helped propel the Phils into the playoffs. While it may have seemed like he didn’t allow a hit all that month, he did. Four, actually, in 15 2/3 innings.

Given all that, here’s today’s challenge for those who don’t know the answer already: Guess Romero’s 2006 ERA within two runs. I certainly couldn’t have done it. Here’s what he did with the Angels in ’06:


G

IP

ERA

Ratio

H

BB

SO
65 48.1 6.70 1.76 57 28 3

Opponents hit .298 against him in ’06. Righties posted a 382/455/578 line in their 122 plate plate appearances. This season, before he swooped in to bail out the Phillies, he did a stint with Boston and while he was there righties hit 317/440/585 against him. While he was with the Phillies this season, righties hit 133/301/187. And it wasn’t that the Phils didn’t use him against righties, either. Romero faced 94 righties with the Phils are 50 with the Red Sox this year.

Here’s his his per nine innings over his career (in 1999 he threw less than ten innings):

Year H/9

2000

11.24

2001

9.83

2002

6.89

2003

9.43

2004

7.39

2005

7.89

2006

10.61

’07 BOS

10.80

’07 PHI

3.72
   

Career

8.63

One of these things is not like the other — come on, can you tell me which one? Of the eight years of his career that Romero has thrown more than ten innings, in three of them (2000, 2001 and 2006) he threw to an ERA of 6.23 or higher. In 2003 his ERA was 5.00. His career ratio is 1.50.

 

Romero pitched better than he ever has in his career while with the Phillies. But not by that much. In 2002 he was fantastic with the Twins, posting a 1.89 ERA with a 1.21 ratio. That came in between a 6.23 ERA in 2001 and a 5.00 ERA 2003.


The Wolf man stay awayeth

This article says that Randy Wolf has agreed to a one-year deal with the Padres. That one’s a surprise to me — I either thought he’d wind up with the Phils or it would take a little longer.

The Mets traded Lastings Milledge to the Nationals for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider. Schneider is a fantastic defensive player and has had some big games against the Phils over the last two years. Among the 21 NL players that had 200 plate appearances as a catcher, however, his OPS was 18th.

Church can hit and his numbers will benefit from leaving the Nats, but I would be surprised if the Mets use him as an everyday right fielder. He played no games in right for Washington last year after playing just 14 in 2006. He hit 229/316/339 in 136 plate appearances against lefties in 2007.

This article says that Rowand says he hasn’t heard much from the Nationals. The Twins have contacted his agent. Rotoworld points out that if the Yankees trade Melky Cabrera to get Santana, Rowand could be high on their list of replacement center fielders.

The Phillies offered Rowand arbitration. Rowand wants a five-year contract and this article suggests the Phillies may be hesitant to give him more than three.

The Rangers did not offer arbitration to Brad Wilkerson. Chris Snelling is one of a pretty small group of left-handed hitting corner outfielders who is actually more injury prone than Wilkerson. Despite his left-handed outfielderness, Wilkerson can’t be real high on any lists for the Phillies given his miserable numbers over the past two years.

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