Archive for March, 2008

One run blame games

Something must be to blame for all the problems the Phils had in one-run games last season, mustn’t it? Sadly it mustn’t. They could simply be some or mostly bad luck. At the same time, you can make a case that in the one-run games that the Phillies lost in 2007 they had more problems scoring runs than they did preventing them.

Here are how many runs the Phils scored and allowed overall last year, in their games that they won or lost by more than one run and in their games that they won or lost by one run. Below that is the one run games broken down by whether or not they won or lost the game:







All games






Not 1-run games






1-run games






1-run games won






1-run games lost






The number of games played is very small, but the chart suggests that last year the Phils were better at preventing runs in games they lost by one run than in games they won by one run. It also suggests that in all one-run games, whether the Phils won or lost, they allowed fewer runs per game on average than in their games overall. The runs against numbers are very close to each other in the one-run games regardless of whether the Phils won or lost. The runs that the Phillies scored aren’t.

Here’s what it looks like if you take the runs scored and allowed in one run games and divide them by the average number of runs that the Phils scored (5.51) and allowed (5.07) over the entire season:




1-run wins



1-run losses



The runs scored in games the Phils lost by one run is pretty clearly the one of these things that’s not like the others.

The most surprising thing, though, isn’t that the runs scored differ so much between the one run games that the Phillies lost and won. The Phillies scored far more runs in games they won last year than in games they lost and their average runs scored per game in games they won was much higher than their runs scored per game in games they lost. The most surprising thing is how little the runs they allowed differed. Because in the same way that the Phils scored far more runs in their average win than in their average loss, they also allowed far more runs in their average loss than they did in their average win.

Chad Durbin got the start yesterday afternoon as the Phils topped the Indians 6-4 to improve to 7-12 in spring training.

Durbin went five innings, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a two-run home run by Aaron Herr. Clay Condrey is making a strong case to win a spot in the pen. Out of options, Condrey followed Durbin and threw a scoreless sixth, allowing one single and lowering his spring ERA to 3.86. JC Romero followed with a scoreless inning of his own in which he walked one batter. Vic Darensbourg was next and he threw a scoreless frame, also walking one hitter and dropping his ERA to 3.00. Tom Gordon pitched the ninth and allowed a run on a solo shot by Victor Martinez, puffing Flash’s spring ERA to 9.64. It’s not really a misleading 9.64 either.

Victorino, surrounded by recent speculation that Manuel is not pleased with his attitude, had a big day with the bat. He was 2-for-2 with three RBI. Ruiz went 3-for-4 with three singles and an RBI. He’s hitting .417. Feliz was 0-for-4 to drop his average to .238. Rollins was 2-for-3 with two doubles, hopefully he’s heating up in time for the start of the season after a weak spring. Ditto Utley, who 2-for-2 with a walk and a triple. Snelling was 0-for-2 and Helms walked in his only chance.

The Phillies play the Devil Rays today.

Brad Lidge threw live batting practice yesterday and should appear in a Grapefruit League game this weekend.

The article linked above suggests the Phils should trade Wes Helms to the Giants for Steve Kline and the only fly in the ointment is the complete and total lack of interest on the part of San Francisco in acquiring Helms.

Kris Benson will not pitch in a minor league game tomorrow as scheduled due to soreness in his right arm. Everyone seems to say it’s not a big deal. We’ll see.

Jason Jaramillo, Pete Laforest and Brennan King have all been reassigned to minor league camp.

Turns out if you play for one run what you often get is Nunez grounding out to end the game a few innings later

The Phils couldn’t have won a one-run game last year if they had read a book about why not to pinch-run for Pat Burrell in the sixth inning. How bad was it? Pretty bad. Here’s the overall record, record in one-run games, non one-run games and the difference in winning percentage in non-one run games and one-run games for the teams in the NL East in 2007:

Team Overall 1-run Not
PHI 89-73 (.549) 14-23 (.378) 75-50 (.600) .222
NYM 88-74 (.543) 22-15 (.595) 66-59 (.528) -.067
ATL 84-78 (.519) 18-25 (.419) 66-53 (.555) .136
WAS 73-89 (.451) 27-24 (.529) 46-65 (.414) -.115
FLA 71-91 (.438) 22-24 (.478) 49-67 (.422) -.056

Overall, the Mets and Marlins were pretty close to the same in one-run games and games decided by more than one run. The Nats had a much better winning percentage in one-run games. The Phils were awful and the Braves were bad too, just not as bad as the Phillies.

Along with the Mets, the Phils played the fewest one-run games in the division last season (37). The Nationals played the most with 51. This also means the Phils played the most non-run games in the division along with the Mets. In non one-run games, the Phils dominated the division, playing to a .600 winning percentage.

If I were to guess about the primary problems for the Phils in one-run games my top two would be the terrible bullpen and the insistence on replacing good players with bad ones that were better defensively late in games. The Phils’ pen was certainly miserable, but looking at the teams in the NL East, the Braves also struggled in one run games and their bullpen was far better (second best in the NL by ERA). The Marlins bullpen was weak and they fared better in one-run games than they did overall. By ERA, the Reds had the worst bullpen ERA in the league last season and they went 26-24 in their one-run games, a .520 winning percentage that was far better than their .444 winning percentage overall for the season. So while the bullpen is surely a factor, it’s not the only one.

Whatever the answer, it’s something the Phils are going to need to fix in 2008. By a wide margin, using winning percentage as the measure they were the worst team in the NL in one-run games in 2007. The Braves were second worst with their .419. The Pirates, who went 16-22 for a .421 winning percentage, were third worst. One of the reasons it would be a nice thing to figure out is that the Mets are just so effective in one-run games. Over the past two seasons they Phils have gone 36-46 in one-run games while the Mets have gone 53-31.

Yesterday the Phils got seven strong innings from Brett Myers and beat the Reds 6-2 to improve to 6-12 in spring training. Myers allowed two runs on five singles and didn’t walk a batter. Madson followed Myers and allowed a single in a scoreless eighth. Blackley pitched the ninth and walked one but didn’t allow a hit or a run. With his nice outing, Blackley has his ERA down to 8.22 as he continues his bid for the opening day roster.

Dobbs had the only extra-base hit for the Phils, a double. He was 1-for-3 on the day. Snelling was 1-for-1 with a walk and two RBI. His numbers are suddenly up to 292/393/417 for the spring. Helms was 1-for-2 to raise his average to .300. Rollins’ slow spring continued as he went 0-for-3 with a strikeout to drop his average to .158. Jenkins was also 0-for-3 with a strikeout and is hitting .136.

The Phils play Cleveland this afternoon.

Looks like there may be something going on with Shane Victorino, who is hitting 231/250/333 this spring, and Charlie Manuel. In this article Manuel says that the Phillies miss Aaron Rowand’s leadership and that some guys can’t police themselves. This after Manuel said that just because you’re a regular player doesn’t mean you always will be.

This reminds that the Phils almost took Rocco Baldelli over Chase Utley in the 2000 draft.

Lots of Phils’ players are unfazed by their miserable spring. Manuel seems a little more fazed.

Every Rosario has its thorn

Francisco Rosario didn’t exactly wipe out his fantastic spring with a bad start yesterday, but it’s safe to say his 1.whatever ERA has left the building and may never be heard from again. Rosario, who had put himself in strong position to make the opening day roster, was hammered by the Braves in his start on Friday as the Phils fell 9-1.

Yunel Escobar had the big blow against Rosario, a two-out grand slam in the second. Rosario went two innings and allowed six runs on three hits and two walks. Youman followed Rosario and he allowed a three-run shot to Scott Thorman in his inning. Youman allowed three hits and a walk in his frame as his spring ERA rose to 8.22. Along with Blackley and JD Durbin, Youman is another guy who seemingly came into camp with a real chance to make the team but has struggled. John Ennis followed Youman and tossed two scoreless frames, striking out four while holding the Braves to a pair of singles. Condrey pitched the sixth and allowed two more singles but kept Atlanta off the board. Carlos Carrasco finished it out with three strong innings, keeping the Braves off the board on two singles to drop his ERA to 6.22.

Dobbs hit a solo homer in the second to account for the Phils lone run. Snelling was 1-for-3 with a double and a walk. Helms 1-for-1 with a walk.

A relatively nice outing by Adam Eaton was the story of this afternoon’s game against the Twins as the the Phils were pounded 11-2 to drop to 5-12 in spring training. Eaton went three innings and wasn’t charged a run. He allowed five hits, four singles and a double, and didn’t walk a batter. That passes for fantastic news for Eaton, who has struggled to get outs all spring and is battling back problems.

Despite the nice day for Eaton, the Phils still gave up 11 runs on 18 hits. JD Durbin followed Eaton and got shelled, charged with five runs on five hits and two walks over three innings. You have to believe that if JD Durbin hasn’t pitched himself out of contention to start the season with the team yet he’s pretty close. Castro followed Durbin and he allowed two runs on four hits over two innings. His spring ERA is up to 6.00. Knotts pitched the ninth and gave up four runs on four hits and a walk. Knotts had nice numbers coming into today’s outing but leaves with a 9.00 ERA for the spring.

Offensively, the Phils scored two runs on five hits. Ryan Howard hit his fourth spring homer. Burrell, Rollins and Utley all doubled. Jenkins was 0-for-4 to drop his average to .146. Feliz was 0-for-3 and struck out twice. After a hot start he’s hitting .263 with zero walks in 38 plate appearances. Werth was also 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, he’s hitting .154. Snelling 0-for-1, Helms 0-for-1.

Phils play the Reds tomorrow.

TJ Bohn, Greg Golson, Josh Outman, Brandon Watson and Carlos Carrasco were reassigned to minor league camps. Of those I think Outman’s the one most likely to help the Phillies on the field in the immediate future. Youman and Ennis were sent down today.

This suggests that Manuel is displeased with the lackluster approach being taken by some of his regular players, hitters specifically.

Kendrick pitched in a minor league game today and allowed two earned runs on four hits and two walks over four innings.

Looking for a stranger

Over the past two seasons there have been a flurry of acquisitions around opening day for the Phils. Here are the moves they made:

In 2006 they played their first game on April 3.

On March 28 they traded Aquilino Lopez to the Padres for two minor leaguers, outfielder Matt Thayer and third baseman Trey Johnston. Lopez didn’t appear in the majors in 2006 but pitched some for Detroit last season. In ten relief appearances he threw to a 5.19 ERA in 17 1/3 innings with a 1.38 ratio.

On April 1 they traded Robinson Tejeda and Jake Blalock to the Rangers for David Dellucci. Blalock is now back with the Phillies. Tejeda has gone 10-14 with a 5.59 ERA and a 1.69 ratio in 33 starts with the Rangers since. In 2007 he walked 60 in 95 1/3 innings. Dellucci hit 292/369/530 in 264 at-bats with the Phils in 2006.

In 2007 they played their first game on April 2.

On April 5 they traded for Francisco Rosario, sending cash to the Blue Jays. Rosario is a candidate to make this year’s opening day roster and appeared in 23 games for the Phils last season. All of his appearances came in relief and he went 0-3 with a 5.47 ERA and a 1.78 ratio.

On April 6 they signed Rick Bauer to a minor league contract. Bauer threw to a 7.36 ERA in 33 innings at Triple-A Ottawa before the Phils released him in June. He’s in camp this spring with a chance to make the Indians. Over his career he’s thrown 311 innings in the majors with a 4.34 ERA and a 1.38 ratio.

On April 11 they claimed Michael Garciaparra off of waivers. Garciaparra spent most of the year at Reading last season and hit 240/343/303 in 271 at-bats.

On April 13 they claimed JD Durbin off of waivers. Durbin is fighting for a spot on this year’s team after appearing in 18 games for the Phils in ’07, ten of which were starts. In 64 2/3 innings he went 6-5 with a 5.15 ERA and a 1.65 ratio.

In each of the last two years, the Phils have made additions right around opening day that helped shape their team on the field. Dellucci was a significant part of the ’06 team. In a kinda similar but less impressive way, Durbin and Rosario both left their mark on the ’07 edition of the Phils. I think we can expect more around opening day again this year.

Last night the Phils beat the Reds 10-7 to improve to 5-10 in spring training. A perfect inning from Flash was the best news of the game for those of us unrelated to Casey Smith.

Moyer started for the Phils and went five innings, allowing four runs on four hits and three walks. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. Along with Myers, Moyer is one of two Phillies’ hurlers in the starting rotation throwing well this spring training. His ERA rose to 4.50 with the outing. Outman followed Moyer and allowed two runs on three hits and two walks over two frames. Andy Green hit a solo home run off of him in the sixth. Gordon was next a threw a 1-2-3 eighth. Vic Darensbourg pitched the ninth and allowed a run on two singles and two walks, upping his spring ERA to 3.60 in five innings.

Casey Smith had a monster day offensively for the Phils, going 2-for-4 with a three-run homer, a stolen base and four RBI. 467/500/1.000 for Smith in 15 spring at-bats, which gives him the best OPS of any Phil with more than one plate appearance, although I think there’s a good chance Ryan Howard would outhit him over enough at-bats. Helms was 2-for-3 with a triple and a walk. Golson was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Snelling was 1-for-2 with a double and an RBI.

Francisco Rosario gets a start this afternoon as the Phils face the Braves.

Benson and Hamels both pitched in minor league games yesterday. Benson allowed two runs on five hits over four innings. Hamels, who has been battling the flu, struck out six in five innings and allowed one run.

This suggests it will still be a while, late April at the best, before Benson is a real candidate to join the Phillies’ rotation.

The Cardinals agreed to a one-year deal with Kyle Lohse for $4.25 million. Whether the Phillies mishandled the situation with Lohse or not, that is quite unfortunate. The Phils’ core of young, excellent players is getting older and more expensive. And they’re about to start another season with a pitching staff that, to say the least, lacks depth. That’s frustrating for a lot of fans and Kyle Lohse to the Cards for $4.25 million isn’t going to help.

It’s easy to spend other people’s money and just about all of us are lacking the details about what actually happened in the Lohse negotiations. One of the fears for me is that the Phils are a little gun-shy after the $10 million they spent on Freddy Garcia last season and $24 million plus they gave to Adam Eaton. I don’t think you can say they aren’t willing to spend, but you have to hope they didn’t take their shot, came up empty and decided to call it a day. Cause they’re pretty good and pretty close. But the difference between having Kyle Lohse and not having him is big and the Phillies aren’t going to have to play many games this season before you see it.

Phils hopefully looking for more pitchers or an unusually competitive T-ball league

As the Phillies opened spring training, I saw 22 guys as sure things to make the opening day roster. They were:


1 Howard Hamels
2 Utley Myers
3 Rollins Kendrick
4 Burrell Moyer
5 Victorino Eaton
6 Werth Lidge
7 Ruiz Gordon
8 Feliz Madson
9 Jenkins Romero
10 Dobbs
11 Coste
12 Bruntlett
13 Taguchi

Of that group of hitters I think all 13 are still locks to be on the roster when the season begins. Taguchi is the only guy I question at all and he’s been on fire this spring, hitting 415/545/529 in 17 at-bats.

That’s a full roster of hitters unless the Phils go with 14.

Of the nine pitchers, Hamels, Kendrick, Eaton and Gordon have all struggled badly, but there’s close to zero chance Hamels and Gordon don’t start the season on the roster. As badly as he’s pitched, Kendrick’s hold on his spot in the rotation seems solid unless things get worse for him, which is pretty hard to imagine. If Eaton isn’t on the roster on opening day he’ll be on the DL. Romero has only thrown one official spring inning, Lidge none. Moyer, Madson and Myers have pitched well.

Eaton and Lidge both seem to be question marks for the opening day roster. Lidge because of the knee surgery and Eaton because of the back problems in combination with the 15.75 ERA (fourth best in the Phils rotation). I would guess that both still make the opening day roster. That leaves us with 22.

Just about everyone says that Chad Durbin is a lock for the tenth pitching slot. Here’s what Chad Durbin has done so far:





Chad Durbin




Opponents are hitting .286 against him, but if he really was in when spring training started I don’t think he’s pitched himself out. If he’s the tenth pitcher, that makes 23.

If the Phils are going to carry 14 hitters, the 14th will almost certainly be Helms or Snelling. Here’s what they have done so far:







Helms has just been miserable. Snelling started camp as a longer shot than Helms and hasn’t been much better. At this point I would guess that Snelling is just about out of the picture with Helms still a possibility, especially depending on the injury status of Lidge and Eaton as the season begins.

If you assume that Chad Durbin is the tenth pitcher, Lidge and Eaton both start the year on the active roster and the Phils don’t carry a 14th hitter, that leaves two pitchers who would likely come from this group:




C Condrey 7.1 4.91 1.23
F Castro 7.0 5.14 1.43
JD Durbin 9.1 9.64 2.36
F Rosario 8.2 1.04 0.92
S Youman 6.2 5.40 1.65
T Blackley 7.2 8.22 1.70
G Knotts 3.0 0.00 1.00
V Darensbourg 4.0 2.25 1.00

If you think about the guys who have helped and hurt themselves the most since spring training began, I think you would have to say that Rosario is the guy who has opened the most eyes while JD Durbin and Blackley are the pair that came in with a real opportunity to make the team but have hurt their chances.

I still think the Phillies need a second lefty in their pen. I see them as needing one pitcher from the group of lefties (Castro, Youman, Blackley and Darensbourg) and one from the group of righties (Condrey, JD Durbin, Rosario and Knotts). Rosario is out of options and has been pitching great. I see him as the pick from the righties with Condrey close behind. The lefties are harder. In limited action, Darensbourg has been the least bad, but I think he came into camp as a long shot to win a roster spot. I don’t feel real comfortable about, but if I’m going to guess again I’d still take Castro. There’s also a good chance, as this article suggests, that the second lefty in the pen will be a player not currently in the organization.

That would make their opening day roster:

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

Pitchers (12): Hamels, Myers, Kendrick, Moyer, Gordon, Lidge, Madson, Romero, Eaton, Chad Durbin, Castro, Rosario

My most recent guess was on February 13. I had JD Durbin as the last pitcher instead of Rosario.

Last night the Phils lost to the Reds 6-1 to fall to 4-10 in spring training.

Ryan Madson got the start for the Phils and went three innings, allowing a run on solo home run to Jerry Hairston. Madson walked one and allowed three hits. Castro was next and he allowed two runs on five hits over two runs. Both of the runs scored on a two-run homer by Scott Hatteberg. Blackley followed Castro and struck out five over three innings, but allowed two runs on two hits and two walks to puff his ERA to 8.22. Both of the runs he allowed came on a two-run shot by Craig Tatum. Condrey pitched the ninth and allowed a run on two hits.

Offensively the Phillies lineup featured basically all the Phillies regulars with Dobbs at DH. They scored one run on five hits, all singles, and a walk. Dobbs was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Ruiz 1-for-3 with a walk. Utley was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts to drop his spring average to .214. Jayson Werth played center for the Phils, which is just great. I really hope the Phils see Werth as a viable option in center behind Victorino — he’s by far a better hitter than Taguchi or Bruntlett. I believe he can handle the position defensively. He doesn’t have a lot of innings there, but in the innings he’s played the numbers are good.

The Phils play the Reds again tonight.

The Phillies offered Lincoln Holdzkom back to the Red Sox, who refused him, making him a free agent. That may help create room on the 40-man roster for Benson, who can opt out of his contract on March 25 if he’s not on the roster.

This article says that 1) Lidge hopes to be able to pitch in a game next week 2) Eaton felt good in a bullpen session and will pitch in a minor league game on Saturday 3) Benson will throw in a minor league game today and 4) Hamels didn’t pitch in a minor league game yesterday because he has the flu.

Moyer will start the third game of the season for the Phils, Kendrick the fourth. Whether or not Kendrick can get anyone out is going to be a lot more interesting than whether he’s the third starter or the fourth.

This suggests that Kyle Lohse is being pursued by the Cardinals, Giants and Rangers. This suggests that Lohse may get a one-year deal worth less than $5 million. The Phillies have big problems with their pitching, in the rotation and in the pen. If they had an opportunity to sign Lohse to a one-year deal worth around $5 million and didn’t do it that would be really disappointing.

First and second impressions

Here’s what the players that saw the most time at first base and second base for each of the teams in the NL East did last season with the bat:







PHI Utley 530 .332 .410 .566 .976
PHI Howard 529 .268 .392 .584 .976
PHI Total 1059 .300 .401 .575 .976
WAS Belliard 511 .290 .332 .427 .759
WAS Young 460 .320 .378 .491 .869
WAS Total 971 .304 .354 .457 .811
FLA Uggla 632 .245 .326 .479 .805
FLA Jacobs 426 .265 .317 .458 .775
FLA Total 1058 .253 .323 .471 .793
NYM Castillo 199 .296 .371 .372 .742
NYM Delgado 538 .258 .333 .448 .781
NYM Total 737 .269 .343 .427 .770
ATL Johnson 521 .276 .375 .457 .831
ATL Thorman 287 .216 .258 .394 .652
ATL Total 808 .255 .336 .434 .770

The Phils’ dynamic duo of Utley and Howard were the class of the group. Nobody else was real close. When looking at the overall numbers for the pairs you should remember that the numbers for the Mets are skewed towards Delgado because he got so many more at-bats than Castillo. Ditto for Kelly Johnson with the Braves given the number of at-bats for Scott Thorman.

Notably absent is Mark Teixeira, of course, who got less time at first for Atlanta than Thorman in ’07. Here’s what the numbers for Johnson and Teixeira look like (includes Teixeira’s numbers with both teams, not just the Braves):







ATL Johnson 521 .276 .375 .457 .831
ATL Teixeira 494 .306 .400 .563 .963
ATL Total 1015 .291 .387 .508 .895

And here is what the numbers look like if you use all of the players that got at-bats as first baseman and second baseman rather than just the players that saw the most time at the position:







PHI 2B 662 .325 .400 .535 .935
PHI 1B 616 .268 .383 .547 .930
PHI Total 1278 .297 .391 .541 .932
WAS 2B 663 .267 .316 .404 .720
WAS 1B 627 .297 .359 .437 .796
WAS Total 1290 .281 .337 .420 .758
FLA 2B 655 .246 .327 .475 .802
FLA 1B 619 .265 .337 .430 .766
FLA Total 1274 .255 .332 .453 .785
NYM 2B 618 .278 .348 .405 .752
NYM 1B 622 .260 .344 .453 .797
NYM Total 1240 .269 .346 .429 .775
ATL 2B 653 .289 .373 .455 .828
ATL 1B 601 .248 .318 .449 .767
ATL Total 1254 .270 .347 .452 .799

Thanks to Teixeira, Atlanta’s numbers surge up to second best in the division.

For the Phillies it’s interesting to note that the non-Utley guys who played second, led by Iguchi, outpaced the non-Howard guys who played first (hence the second basemen were better offensively overall using OPS as the measure despite the fact that Utley and Howard hit to the same .976).

For the Nationals, the guys other than Young and Belliard who manned first and second, Robert Fick and Felipe Lopez especially, were much worse and brought the numbers for the team down overall.

The Marlins numbers overall were pretty close to what their primary guys did. Ditto for the Mets, who saw Valentin, Easley and Gotay all get a lot of time at second base.

As you look to 2008, Utley and Howard seemingly guarantee the Phils will lead the pack. I’d guess Teixeira and Johnson will have Atlanta second. The other three teams were closely packed last season and it looks like there’s a good chance they will be again this season. The Nationals add Nick Johnson to the mix at first, which could be a significant boost, but the group went Flordia-New York-Washington last year and I think there’s a good chance they go that way again.

The Phils did not play yesterday. Chad Durbin pitched in a minor league game and allowed two runs on six hits and a walk over three innings.

Scott Mathieson was not actually demoted to the Phils minor league camp in the first big wave of moves. The Phils tried to demote him but were prevented from doing so because of his injury status during the 2007 season.

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