Archive for March, 2008

Some combination of less Nunez and much better pitchers may be the way to go for Phils

The Phils had pretty good win-loss numbers when they didn’t allow many runs, too:


Runs Allowed

W-L

Cumulative W-L
0 5-0 5-0
1 10-1 15-1
2 18-3 33-4
3 20-3 53-7
4 14-9 67-16
5 7-14 74-30
6 7-6 81-36
7 4-7 85-43
8 2-9 87-52
9 0-4 87-56
10 1-5 88-61
11 1-4 89-65
12 0-3 89-68
> 12 0-5 89-73

Phils were pretty tough to beat when they allowed less than five runs. 67-16.

When they allowed more than six runs they were 8-37. That’s not good, but still better than their opponents did when the Phils scored more than six runs in a game. Per yesterday’s post the Phils were 46-2 when they scored more than six runs.

22-57 when they allowed more than four runs.

You can view the Phillies’ record by runs allowed by their starting pitcher in the start log.

The Phils fell to the Yankees last night, losing 13-4 to drop to 11-14 in spring training.

Moyer got the start for the Phils and went four innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and a walk. Only two of the runs were earned. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a home run. JD Durbin followed Moyer and allowed six runs in an inning on six hits and a walk. Durbin gave up a three-run homer to Robinson Cano and a two-run shot to Melky Cabrera. With Lidge going to the DL the door is wide open for Durbin, but his ERA is up to 12.33 with the outing. In 15 1/3 spring innings Durbin has now allowed eight home runs — no player has allowed more this spring. The door is not quite as wide open for Vic Darensbourg, but he got hammered too. Darensbourg followed Durbin and allowed four runs in an inning on five hits. Only three of the runs were earned. His ERA is up to 5.63. Knotts walked one in a scoreless seventh and Flash struck out two in a perfect eighth.

Feliz was 2-for-3 with a two-run homer and three RBI for the Phils. The shot off of Phil Hughes was the only extra-base hit of the game for the Phils. Snelling 0-for-4 to drop his average to .205. Coste was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and an error. He’s hitting .179. Bruntlett was 1-for-2 with a walk and a stolen base.

The Phillies made four errors in the game, three of them throwing errors.

The Phils play the Reds this afternoon.

The Phillies put Brad Lidge on the DL. He will be eligible to return on April 5.

I think that Condrey and Chad Durbin both make the team. That makes 23 active players that look like they’ll start the season with the Phils:

Hitters (13): Howard, Utley, Rollins, Burrell, Victorino, Werth, Ruiz, Dobbs, Feliz, Coste, Bruntlett, Taguchi, Jenkins

Pitchers (10): Hamels, Myers, Moyer, Kendrick, Eaton, Gordon, Madson, Romero, Condrey, Chad Durbin.

It looks like these six guys are the candidates for two remaining spots: Blackley, JD Durbin, Helms, Knotts, Darensbourg and Snelling. Blackley looks like he’s got the best shot cause of the need for the second lefty and because he’ll have to be returned to the Giants if he’s not on the roster. JD Durbin is out of options. Helms is obviously an issue and his spring numbers are good at this point. I’d say the other three guys are long shots of the group.

John Patterson, recently cut by the Nationals, signed with the Rangers.

Kris Benson can opt out of his contract if he’s not on the 40-man roster as of today. Same article says that the Phils have no interest in Aaron Fultz, who was released by the Indians.


It takes a village, but all the villagers with a career slugging percentage of .314 better be able to pitch

Still on one-run games. For me the bottom line is this: whether it cost the Phillies in one run games last year or not, the Phillies need to keep their best hitters in the game as long as they can because they need to score a whole ton of runs to win. And if they don’t they don’t have much of a chance.

In 2007 they were 0-25 in games when they scored less than three runs.

If they scored less than four runs they still had almost no chance. They were 4-41.

In games when they scored six runs or less they were 43-71 (although they were 39-30 when they scored four, five or six runs).

In games when they scored more than six runs they were 46-2.

Here’s how their wins and losses break down for 2007 based on the number of runs that they scored:


Runs

W-L

Cumulative W-L
0 0-3 0-3
1 0-8 0-11
2 0-14 0-25
3 4-16 4-41
4 11-12 15-53
5 13-9 28-62
6 15-9 43-71
7 6-0 49-71
8 13-2 62-73
9 10-0 72-73
10 4-0 76-73
11 6-0 82-73
12 2-0 84-73
> 12 5-0 89-73

When the Phils are up 3-2 or 5-4 or whatever in the sixth what they need to do isn’t figure out how they’re going to stop the other team from scoring a run for the next three innings. Cause they’re not going to. What they need to do is figure out how they’re gonna score five more runs. And that’s going to take letting the best hitters they have hit.

Yesterday the Phils beat the Blue Jays 15-7 to improve to 11-13 in spring training.

Cole Hamels got the start and allowed five runs over 5 1/3 innings on nine hits and two walks. Four of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles, a triple and a home run. His spring ERA puffs to 7.12. Condrey followed Hamels and allowed two runs on four hits over 1 2/3 innings. All four hits were singles and he also walked one. His ERA is up to 4.50. Gordon allowed one hit, a single, in the eighth but struck out the side. Gary Knotts allowed a single in a scoreless tenth.

Jason Donald led the way offensively for the Phils. He was 2-for-3 with two home runs and six RBI. Utley was 2-for-2 with a walk and a home run. Helms was 1-for-2 with a two-run homer. His line is up to 289/372/474 on the spring. Ruiz keeps up his hot pace, he was 2-for-5 with two doubles. Bruntlett continued to slide. His average is down to .196 after an 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and a walk. Snelling was 0-for-3. He has hit .229 with three extra-base hits in 47 plate appearances.

Phillies play the Yankees tonight.

On Saturday Chad Durbin pitched three perfect innings against Detroit before the game was called due to rain.

Francisco Rosario was put on the DL with a strained right shoulder, which ensures he won’t be on the opening day roster.

Lidge threw 16 pitches in a minor league game yesterday. Having trouble seeing him being ready for opening day, but we’ll see.

The Phils reassigned Casey Smith to minor league camp on Saturday.


Twinkies linked to good Eaton

Another day, another fantastic outing for a struggling Phillies’ starter. This time it was the much maligned, much misunderstood, much manhandled but suddenly magnificent Adam Eaton mowing down many a Minnesota Twin. Phils won the game and everything. They’re 10-13 in spring training after winning 3-2.

In his last two starts Eaton has allowed one earned run in 8 1/3 innings on nine hits. He hasn’t walked a batter.

Yesterday Eaton went 5 1/3 innings and held the Twins to a run on four hits, all of them singles. He struck out four. Romero followed Eaton and went 1 2/3 innings and allowing a run on two hits including a double by Michael Cuddyer. Madson allowed a single in a scoreless eighth, dropping his spring ERA to 1.80. Vic Darensbourg pitched the ninth with a 3-2 lead and allowed a single but kept the Twins off the board to nail down his first spring save. Darensbourg lowered his ERA to 2.57. He’s clearly outpitched Travis Blackley and pitched well enough to earn a spot as the second lefty in the pen. With so many guys, Rosario, Condrey, Durbin, Blackley, either out of options or having to be offered back to the Giants if they don’t make the team you have to wonder if pitching well is going to be enough for Darensbourg.

Taguchi was 2-for-3 with a walk for the Phils to up his average to .355. Victorino 1-for-4 with a triple and an RBI. Dobbs 1-for-3 with a double. Bruntlett was 0-for-4 and struck out twice to drop his average down to .214 after a hot start early. Helms was 1-for-4 with a double, Snelling 0-for-2 with a walk.

The Phillies play the Tigers this afternoon.

Article about Kyle Drabeck here.

Brett Myers pitched in a minor league game and allowed four runs on five hits and a walk in 6 2/3 innings.


Unlikely quartet doesn’t sweat the Pirates

An unlikely group of Phillies’ hurlers combined to throw a four-hit shutout as the Phils topped the Pirates 3-0 yesterday to improve to 9-13 in spring training. After miserable springs, Kyle Kendrick, JD Durbin and Tom Gordon were all but unhittable as the Phils held the Pittsburgh bats silent. Condrey pitched a scoreless inning as well, but he’s been much better this spring. On the hitters’ side, Geoff Jenkins is suddenly on fire after early scuffles. Over the last three days Jenkins is 5-for-7 with two doubles and a home run.

Kendrick’s outing was the best news of the day as he threw five shutout innings. Doug Mientkiewicz hit third for Pittsburgh and Jose Bautista fourth, so it wasn’t exactly the ’27 Yankees. But let’s accentuate the positive.

Kendrick allowed just two hits and two walks over five frames. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He struck out one. Condrey followed and tossed a scoreless sixth to lower his spring ERA to 3.48. You’ve got to believe that Condrey is just about a lock for a bullpen spot at this point. JD Durbin was next and he showed a much-needed something, striking out three in two scoreless frames to bring his spring ERA down to 9.42. Gordon tossed a scoreless ninth, allowing a single, to nail down his second save.

Jenkins went 3-for-3 with his second home run, improving his spring batting average to .216. Howard and Feliz both hit solo shots, the fifth for Howard and the third for Feliz. Helms was 0-for-1, Snelling 0-for-2 with a walk. Rollins and Victorino, the duo likely to hit one and two atop the Phillies’ order, each went 0-for-3. Rollins is on-basing .275 this spring, Victorino .245.

Adam Eaton starts against the Twins today.

Brad Lidge faced five batters in a minor league game yesterday and got four of them out. He struck out three and walked one.

Kris Benson did not pitch again yesterday for the fourth day in a row. This says it’s likely he won’t make his scheduled start on Sunday.

Article about Vic Darensbourg’s career here.

The people of XM Satellite would like to be sure you know that they will be broadcasting every Phillies game, both home and away. I’m here to help. XM Satellite will be broadcasting every Phillies game, both home and away.


Better never than late

Whether you believe it was the hitters that were at fault for the Phillies’ problems in one run games or not, it still seems important who was playing at the end of the games for the Phils last season. And there were some players who regularly made early exits and others that often arrived late in the game.

Here’s a look at the total number of plate appearances for some key Phillies from 2007 and how many of those plate appearances came after the sixth inning:

 
Total PA

PA after 6th inn

% PA
Rollins 778 225 28.9
Rowand 684 219 32.0
Utley 613 196 32.0
Howard 648 205 31.6
Burrell 598 161 26.9
Victorino 510 173 33.9
Ruiz 429 159 37.1
Dobbs 358 126 35.2
Helms 308 121 39.3
Werth 304 118 38.8
Nunez 287 136 47.4
Coste 137 61 44.5
Bourn 133 83 62.4
       
Total for this group 5787 1983 34.3
Total for team 6537 2148 32.9

For the 13 players grouped above the average number of plate appearances that came after the sixth inning was 34.3. Six of the players above got less than that percentage of their plate appearances before the seventh inning. The seven that didn’t (ie, got a higher percentage of their plate appearances after the sixth inning) were Ruiz, Dobbs, Helms, Werth, Nunez, Coste and Bourn. Of that group, four, Nunez, Bourn, Ruiz and Werth were good defensive players that Manuel often wanted to work into a close came to try and hold the opposition.

Looking at those numbers it’s important to remember that where you hit in the lineup is relevant as well. Jimmy Rollins, for example, played just about every inning and his percentage is low compared to his teammates. But remember that in a game where he lead off the first and got additional plate appearances in the third, sixth and eighth, three of his four plate appearances would have come before the seventh inning. In Rollins’ case the relatively low percentage of plate appearances that came after the sixth inning reflect that he got so many plate appearances before the seventh inning, not that he was taken out early.

Not so about Pat Burrell, the low man on the list with just 26.9 percent of his plate appearances coming after the sixth inning. That’s just preposterous. Using OPS as the measure, Burrell was the third-best hitter on the Phils last season. Overall on the year he got two more plate appearances than Carlos Ruiz after the sixth inning, 12 fewer than Victorino.

Putting your good defensive players in to protect a lead seems to make sense. But I think the Phils can and often do create a problem for themselves playing to protect a one-run lead in a park where a one-run lead often isn’t enough. When Carlos Beltran hits it into the fifteenth row it doesn’t matter much who was playing third base.

Whether it’s a good play or not, it means that you wind up with some strange folks getting a lot of their plate appearances when the game is close and late:

 
Total PA

PA close/late

% PA
Rollins 778 107 13.8
Rowand 684 102 14.9
Utley 613 93 15.2
Howard 648 95 14.7
Burrell 598 83 13.9
Victorino 510 77 15.1
Ruiz 429 80 18.6
Dobbs 358 52 14.5
Helms 308 57 18.5
Werth 304 52 17.1
Nunez 287 57 19.9
Coste 137 24 17.5
Bourn 133 26 19.5
       
Total for this group 5787 905 15.6
Total for team 6537 973 14.9

Of that group the four players getting the highest percentage of their plate appearances in situations where the game is late and close are Nunez, Bourn, Ruiz and Helms. I think most would agree based on their performance last season they were among the weakest offensive players of the 13 (Coste was actually a little worse than Ruiz by OPS last season).

Almost inarguably you want your best players on the field and coming to the plate when the game is close and late. Nunez, Bourn, Ruiz and Helms weren’t the Phillies’ best players last year and certainly not their best hitters. And I think letting them see as much time as they did when the game was on the line hurt the Phils last year and hurt their record in games they won or lost by a run.

The Phillies lost to the Devil Rays yesterday, falling 3-1 to drop to 8-13 in spring training.

Jamie Moyer got the start for the Phils and went 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits and three walks. Only one of the runs was earned thanks to a throwing error by Dobbs. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, both doubles. Romero followed Moyer and went 1 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing a double and a walk. Blackley pitched a scoreless eighth, walking one hitter. Despite his early struggles this spring, Blackley is suddenly looking like a real candidate to win a spot as a lefty out of the pen behind Romero if the Phils carry two lefties and go with someone within the organization.

The Phils had three hits on the day. Jenkins was 1-for-2 with a double, the only hit of the three that went for extra-bases. Snelling was 1-for-2 with a walk and Ruiz 1-for-3 with a single that knocked in Jenkins for the Phillies’ only run. Ruiz is hitting .407 this spring. Helms was 0-for-1.

The Phillies play the Pirates today.

Brad Lidge will pitch in a minor league game today and probably a Grapefruit League game this weekend.

This points out that Dobbs still has an option left. Option or not, the Phils are still going to need a lefty on the bench.

Mike Costanzo came home from the hospital after being born wearing a miniature Phillies’ jacket. The article says he has a chance to make the Orioles opening day roster.


The losers may get lucky sometimes but they sure don’t score a lot of runs

Yesterday I suggested that you, and by you I mean I, would be surprised at how dramatic the difference in runs scored and allowed were between games the Phillies won and the games they lost in 2007. Here you go:

 
G

R

R/G

RA

RA/G
won 89 645 7.25 304 3.42
lost 73 247 3.38 517 7.08

I don’t know if that is unusual or not. But I would have expected both sets of numbers to be closer.

Cole Hamels was brilliant yesterday as the Phillies beat the Devil Rays 4-2 to improve to 8-12 in spring training.

Hamels allowed one run on two hits over six innings, including a solo home run by super-prospect Evan Longoria. He struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter. Castro followed Hamels and allowed a run in an inning on a double and two walks. His spring ERA is up to 6.30. Gary Knotts pitched a perfect eighth and Madson got the save with a 1-2-3 ninth. Gordon seems pretty clearly the second in line to close behind Lidge, but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to work for long it comes to that. Hopefully it’s Madson third and not Myers.

Jenkins went 1-for-2 with a walk and a two-run homer for the Phils, his first of the spring. The Phils had just four hits on the day. Rollins 1-for-2 with a double, Utley 1-for-2 and Burrell 1-for-3. Snelling walked in his only chance and Helms did not play. Feliz went 0-for-3 to drop his average to .222. No walks in 42 plate appearances for Feliz.

The Phils play the Devil Rays again today.

Kris Benson suggests the pitching mound at Rich Ashburn Field was a factor in his injury. Brad Lidge also says he does not want to pitch on that mound again after his injury to his knee earlier in spring training.

The Phils sent Fabio Castro to Double-A Reading yesterday, making it less likely he’ll start the season on the team. Same article says the Phils outrighted Shane Youman.

Former Phillies’ prospect Santino Gallone was one of six construction workers killed in the crane accident in New York on Saturday.


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