Archive for January, 2008

On the other hand it could explain what happened to the Mets last season

Bobby Cox wants the Phillies to disappear. Hardly seems sporting.

This article says that Brett Myers is one of three pitchers (Brett Tomko and Miguel Batista) who has 115 appearances and 60 starts since 2005. Just barely, though. Myers has 116 appearances, 68 starts. Kind of an obscure stat, that.

This article suggests the Myers would rather close than start and that Gillick would prefer not having to put him back in the rotation. I understand why Myers would want to close more than I understand why Gillick would want him to.

This article says Myers is okay with starting.

This suggests the Phillies have the tenth-best outfield in the NL. I do not agree.

In this article, Charlie Manuel remembers Gene Lamont saying that Shane Victorino was the best centerfielder he ever managed. Lamont managed 1,115 games in the major leagues for the Pirates and White Sox before he managed Victorino and the Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons in 2005. Victorino hit 310/377/534 for the Red Barons that season. I would be surprised if Victorino wasn’t one of the six best center fielders in the NL this season overall.

In this article Gillick says it’s unlikely the Phillies will make a significant move to add pitching and that Kyle Lohse is “way off the radar.”

The Phils are going to either need to add some pitching or to get some performances that are unreasonable to expect from the guys they have available to them right now if they’re going to win the NL East, much less 100 games.

Lotsa technical problems at Philliesflow these days. Hopefully they will be resolved soon.


Whiff way did he go?

Chris Coste lauds Kendrick in this article, saying that, “He doesn’t have to throw six or seven pitches to strike out hitters when he can throw one or two pitches to get an out.”

I thought that was interesting not just in regards to Kendrick, but also as it relates to Myers as he tries to transition back to a being starter after spending most of ’07 in the pen.

First off, Kendrick does get his outs using remarkably few pitches. Not that you should believe that based on such a brief example, but here’s how many pitches four of the Phillies’ ’07 starters and Myers made for every out they got and for every batter they faced (Lohse’s numbers include his time with the Reds):


Player

Pitches per out

Pitches per BF
Moyer 5.26 3.64
Hamels 5.07 3.76
Kendrick 4.82 3.51
Lohse 5.26 3.67
     
Myers 5.80 4.08

Myers was a reliever, a closer no less, in 2007. He struck hitters out at the highest rate for any Phillies’ pitcher who threw more than five innings, so it’s not surprising that he needed more pitches to get his outs or threw more pitches to every batter than the ’07 numbers for the starting pitchers on the list.

But even as a starter in 2006, Myers was throwing more pitches to get his outs and to every batter than anyone in that group.

Remembering that Myers was basically solely a starter until 2007 (he pitched one game in relief in 2004), here’s a look at how many outs he has gotten, how many pitches he’s needed to get those outs, how many batters he faced and pitches made per batter and his number of strikeouts and the percentage of his outs that he got on strikeouts:


Year

Outs

pitches

P/out

BF

P/BF

SO

% of outs SO
2002 216 1070 4.95 307 3.49 34 15.7
2003 579 3016 5.21 848 3.56 143 24.7
2004 528 2827 5.35 778 3.63 116 22.0
2005 646 3474 5.38 905 3.84 208 32.2
2006 594 3222 5.42 833 3.87 189 31.8
2007 206 1195 5.80 293 4.08 83 40.3

Forgetting 2007, in every year Myers worked as a starter he used more pitches to get his outs than in the preceding year. He also threw more pitches to every batter. By 2006, the number of pitches he threw to get every out (5.42) and the number of pitches he threw to every batter (3.87) was already higher than the guys listed above for 2007.

And partly that’s because he strikes a lot of guys out. But not all of it. Among the 76 NL pitchers that threw at least 100 innings, Hamels was fourth in strikeouts per nine innings at (8.69). He threw 3.76 pitches per plate appearance.

If you look at the percentage of his outs that are strikeouts, you notice they generally trend up and there’s a big jump between 2004 and 2005. It’s important to remember that 2005 was Myers’ first really good year and he just wasn’t nearly as effective between ’02 and ’04.

The fact that the number of pitches Myers was using as a starter to get his outs is higher than the other guys in that group isn’t that big a deal. Even at his 2007 rates as a closer, Myers still threw about the same number of pitchers per batter (4.08) as some starting pitchers that struck out hitters at the highest rates in the league, guys like Jake Peavy (4.03), Chad Billingsley (4.05) and Chris Young (4.10).

At the same time, the difference between having to throw 5.8 pitches to get every out, like Myers did last year, and 4.82 pitches to get every out, like Kendrick did last year, is significant. If you throw 5.8 pitches per out you need 87 pitches to get through five innings, if you throw 4.82 pitches per out you need about 72.

As a starting pitcher, Myers has never had to throw 5.8 pitches to earn every out. Maybe he never will. But while the number of pitches he has to throw to every hitter and to get every out might not be troublesome yet, the trend that in his time as a starter they have increased every year is something he’s going to have to deal with if he’s going to stay in the rotation.

If you think Myers wants to strike everyone out, it’s hard to blame him. Generally speaking, over his career as his strikeouts have gone up he has been more successful. But if he’s going to survive as a starting pitcher I think he’s going to need to figure out a way to get more of his outs using fewer pitches.

Some of the big questions for the Phillies in the near future will be around Myers. Is he more suited for the pen or for the rotation? Does he help the team more in the bullpen or as a starter? And the answers may prove to be that he’s better suited to be a reliever but he helps the team more as a starter.

This article says the Phillies were one of four teams to watch lefty Brian Anderson throw 60 pitches on Friday. Anderson is 35 and last pitched in 2005. The Phillies are desperate for pitching, but Anderson gave up a ton of home runs before Tommy John surgery. I find it pretty hard to imagine he could help the Phils at Citizens Bank Park.

This mailbag from the Phillies web site says the Phils might be in the picture for Kyle Lohse.


I don’t know of too many arbitration cases that have been won because the guy could hit triples (Tony Muser)

Ryan Howard and the Phils are headed to arbitration. Howard asked for $10 million and the Phillies offered $7 million.

This article suggests that the Royals are the front-runners to land Bartolo Colon.

This from Friday’s Inquirer says it’s very unlikely the Phillies will sign Kyle Lohse. My guess would have been the chances are more unlikely than very unlikely.

The Astros avoided arbitration with Geoff Geary by signing him to a one-year, $1.125 million contract.

Article about Aaron Rowand here, the catch in center and his struggles during the 2003 season.


Ruffin tumbled

The Phillies agreed to a one-year, $6.35 million deal with Brad Lidge and a one-year, $1.4 million deal with Ryan Madson. They’re going to need some company out in the pen, which looks like it includes Lidge, Madson, Romero and Gordon at this point with at least two and probably three spots wide open.

Eric Bruntlett and Ryan Howard are the Phillies remaining arbitration-eligible players.

The Braves traded infielders Willy Aybar and Chase Fontaine to Tampa Bay for left-handed relief pitcher Jeff Ridgway. Phillies fans should be hoping the Braves pen is worse than it was last year — the good news is it looks like there’s a good chance it will be.

This article cites Bruce Ruffin as a cautionary tale for Kyle Kendrick. Ruffin went 9-4 with a 2.46 ERA and a 1.24 ratio as a 22-year-old rookie for the Phils in 1986. He followed it up by going 11-14 with a 4.35 ERA and 1.51 ratio in ’87.

Joe Crede and the White Sox agreed to a one-year, $5.1 million deal. The linked article suggests that Crede needs to prove he’s healthy and points to San Francisco as a team that may be looking to trade for a third baseman.


Out takes

For the 11 Phillies that got at least 200 plate appearances last season, here’s how many outs they made, how many plate appearances they got and their outs per plate appearance:


Player

Outs

PA

Outs/PA
Howard 407 648 .628
Burrell 369 598 .617
Rowand 450 684 .658
Nunez 207 287 .721
Utley 370 613 .604
Rollins 527 778 .677
Victorino 349 510 .684
Werth 183 304 .602
Dobbs 247 358 .690
Ruiz 303 429 .706

The outs formula is AB – H + CS +GIDP + SH + SF. The formula uses caught stealing and the number of times the player grounded into double-plays, so an outs/pa of .628 doesn’t mean that Ryan Howard made an out in 62.8% of his plate appearances (but it’s close).

And if you order those guys from fewest outs per plate appearance to the most, the list looks like this:

Werth
Utley
Burrell
Howard
Rowand
Rollins
Victorino
Dobbs
Ruiz
Nunez

That Werth tops the list was a surprise to me. Utley out on-base percentaged him .410 to .404. The outs formula is relevant again, there. Utley takes a hit for grounding into seven double plays in 2007 while Werth didn’t ground into any.

Ruiz is another guy whose outs per plate appearance was striking. Despite his respectable .340 on-base percentage, Ruiz made a ton of outs. He hit into 17 double-plays, more than anyone on the ’07 team except for Rowand. Rowand hit into 18 double-plays but got 255 more plate appearances than Ruiz.

Speaking of making a lot of outs, Doug Glanville can flat out write. Glanville is the guy I always think of when someone argues that players who take walks aren’t smart. It’s not that they aren’t smart, it’s that they aren’t able. Glanville had a career on-base percentage of .315 and didn’t on-base .300 once in the last four seasons he played. If you think it’s because he didn’t believe that taking a walk would make him a better offensive player I don’t agree.

This suggests the Phillies are willing to make a three-year offer to Kyle Lohse. The Phils need a whole lot more pitching and the addition of Lohse would be a huge help.

Jon Lieber signed a one-year deal with the Cubs.

Jayson Stark compares Troy Tulowitski and Hanley Ramirez here.

Pat Burrell thinks Philadelphia is a good place to walk his dog.

Lefty Mark Hendrickson will presumably be making a lot of starts for the Fish in ’08.

Matt Smith signed a minor league contract with the Phils and will come to spring training.


For goodness seca

This mailbag from the Phillies web site suggests the Phils are open to bringing back Antonio Alfonseca. I like to try to be a glass half-full sort of fella, but I’m having some trouble seeing the half-full in that one. I do see a sliver of hope in the fact there was no mention of the role in which they might bring Alfonseca back. Nutritionist maybe? Maybe if Rollins starts to put on a lot of weight they could cart Alfonseca out in some sort of cautionary capacity. Like a this-is-how-you-might-look-if-you-ate-Carlos-Ruiz (and grew six inches) kind of thing.

I’d be surprised if the Phillies brought Alfonseca back. His star had faded a bit by the end of the season for the Phils and he threw 2/3 of an inning in the team’s last 14 regular-season games. His ERA after the All-Star Break was 8.80.

He does lead the world in Google traffic generated for searches on “six-fingered pitcher.”

The Braves traded Joey Devine to the A’s for Mark Kotsay.

This suggests that Mike Piazza would like to play for the Marlins.

This article mentions the Phillies in talking about the tendency of teams to try to centralize their minor league operations.

This article from the Braves web site suggests that the Phillies are a bigger threat to Atlanta than the Mets. It also says that Smoltz/Hudson is a better top of the rotation than Hamels/Myers and that if the Mets got Santana that Santana/Pedro would be better than Hamels/Myers as well. There appears to be a difference of opinion about whether Hamels/Myers is a better top two than Smoltz/Hudson.


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