Archive for March, 2008

Stat of the day

With the help of Baseball-Reference, here’s how many days each of the teams in the NL East has been in first place over the past three seasons (as defined by Baseball-Reference, this is the number of days a team both played and was in first at the end of the day):

 
2007

2006

2005

Total
NYM 140 158 0 298
ATL 29 2 100 131
WAS 0 0 53 53
FLA 2 0 29 31
PHI 4 0 2 6

Over the past three years, the Phils biggest lead in the division has been one game. The Phils haven’t spent a lot of the time with a piece of the division lead early thanks to their miserable starts — they went 10-14 in April in 2005 and 2006 and 11-14 in 2007.

During 2006 there was only one day when the Mets played a game and didn’t end the day at least tied for first place (it was after they lost their second game of the season on April 5, 2006). They also played three double-headers in ’06, which is why the 158 number isn’t higher.

Yesterday the Phillies lost to the Pirates 8-5 to drop to 4-9 in spring training.

JD Durbin got the start and came into the game having allowed four home runs in six spring innings. He didn’t give up a home run but got hit hard nonetheless. He went 3 1/3 innings and allowed five runs on eight hits and two walks. Six of the eight hits went for extra-bases, all doubles. Six is too many doubles to give up in 3 1/3 innings. Youman was next and he didn’t impress this time out, either. He went 2 1/3 and allowed two runs on a single and three walks. Condrey pitched a scoreless seventh, allowing one batter that he hit with a pitch. Gordon started the eighth with the Phils down 7-5 and gave up a leadoff double to super-prospect Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen would come around to score on a two-out single by Chris Gomez before Flash got the third out. On the day, Gordon was charged with one run on two hits in the inning, raising his spring ERA to 13.50. It’s not the spring ERA that matters so much as the fact he gets hammered every time he goes out.

Offensively the Phils got solo homers from Burrell, Feliz and Howard. Second of the spring for Burrell and Feliz, third for Howard. Chris Snelling had an RBI-double in his only at-bat, he’s hitting .235. Coste was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts to drop his average to .200. Helms was 1-for-1 with a single.

The Phillies do not play today and will face the Blue Jays tomorrow.

Lidge, Eaton and Benson all impressed yesterday.

Column about shortstop prospect Freddy Galvis here. Here’s hoping Rollins doesn’t go down, cause I’m not sure exactly how it would translate but a .507 OPS in the New York-Penn League doesn’t signal impending success at the major league level.

This says Shane Victorino is getting married next November.


Nothing to see here, folks (especially if you are looking for good starting pitching)

Three of the five guys in the Phillies’ rotation have struggled badly this spring training. Eaton has gotten the most attention by adding a bad back to his woes on the field, which you think would trump the poor outings for Kendrick and Hamels. But if Eaton wants to dominate the spring training lowlights, Kendrick is apparently not willing to go lightly.

Kendrick made his second straight miserable start yesterday as the Phillies lost to the Blue Jays, falling 9-4 to drop to 4-8 in spring training. The Phils have lost six of their last seven and have allowed nine runs in each of the last three games.

Kendrick got the start and went two innings, allowing six runs on seven hits and two walks. Only two of the hits went for extra-bases, both doubles. Over his last two outings, Kendrick has gone 4 2/3 innings and been charged with 13 earned runs. Charlie Manuel says he’s not concerned about Eaton in this article. I don’t believe him.

Ennis followed Kendrick and allowed three singles and walked two while getting two outs. Rosario was next and he put in an effort that solidified his status as the single best story so far for the Phils. Out of options and fighting for a spot on the team, Rosario threw 3 1/3 more scoreless innings. He allowed two singles and a walk. Vic Darensbourg was next and he pitched well also. Darensbourg went two scoreless frames, allowing just a lone single. He has allowed one run over four innings in four spring appearances for the Phils (2.25 ERA). Pat Overholt allowed two singles in a scoreless ninth.

Offensively, Howard hit another home run, a monster solo shot in the second. Feliz also hit one out, he was 1-for-3 with a walk. Taguchi continues to hit the ball well, he was 1-for-3 with a double and a walk.

Phillies play the Pirates today.

The article linked above suggests that the Phillies don’t have any interest in Kyle Lohse and that they might not be able to afford him if they did.

Yesterday the Phillies sent 14 players, including Joe Savery, Joe Bisenius and Scott Mathieson to minor league camps.

This article suggests the diagnosis for Eaton’s back is good.

This article says that Brad Lidge will throw off the mound today and suggests the Dodgers could have interest in Wes Helms.


Blackley and blue

After losing two games over the past two days the Phils are 4-7 in spring training.

Travis Blackley was the story of today’s game as the Phillies fell to Cleveland, 9-5. Blackley had a nice performance his first time out, his effort magnified by the struggles and back problems of thought-to-be fifth starter Adam Eaton. But he got hammered today, charged with five runs on four hits and four walks over 1 2/3 innings. Andy Gonzalez hit a three-run homer off of him in the second and Blackley didn’t make it out of the inning.

Condrey followed Blackley and allowed one hit in 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Savery was next and threw two innings. He walked three and allowed a double to Josh Barfield. He was charged with one run on the day. Outman went two innings and allowed three runs on a three-run blast by Ryan Garko, pushing his spring ERA to 9.45 with a 1.95 ratio after three appearances. Garko’s home run was the only hit that Outman allowed, but he walked two and hit two batters. Knotts pitched a scoreless eighth, allowing a double and a walk.

Helms was 0-for-2 for the Phils, dropping his average to .182 (4-for-22 with a double). Pascucci had a triple with the help of an oddly played ball by Jason Tyner in center for the Indians. Howard was 1-for-2 with a double and walk. He’s hitting 458/500/750 in 24 at-bats.

On Friday the Phillies lost to Tampa Bay 9-1.

Cole Hamels got the start for the Phils and allowed three runs on five hits and a walk, pushing his ERA to 12.60 after five spring training innings. Fabio Castro was next and he tossed three scoreless frames. I’d love to see Castro make the team as the second lefty out of the pen behind Romero. Carlos Carrasco was next and he got bombed, charged with six runs on 1 2/3 innings on five hits and four walks. Bisenius got the final out for the Phils to maintain his 0.00 ERA.

Offensively, Burrell drove in Bruntlett with a single in the sixth for the Phils only run. The Phils had just five hits and three walks on the day. Taguchi was 1-for-1 with a single, two walks and a stolen base.

You have to think that we’ll start to see less of Savery and Carrasco soon. They’ve thrown a lot of the innings early and I don’t think anyone really believes they have a chance to start the season with the team. Given Eaton’s struggles I think the Phils need to give those innings to guys they think might make the opening day roster.

Things apparently went well for Kris Benson as he faced minor leaguers this afternoon. This article suggests he still needs to get his velocity, which was in the upper-80s today, up.

The article linked above also says that Eaton had and MRI and CAT scan and the results will be known tomorrow.


Back, problems

As the Phillies opened spring training there was a lot of discussion about a competition for the role of fifth starter that many saw as simply lip service. Whether it was or not, they’ve got one now. Adam Eaton struggled again yesterday. Over two spring training starts he’s allowed seven runs in four innings on ten hits. And there’s something wrong with his back.

If Eaton’s opened the door, nobody has knocked it down in the early going. No Durbin, Chad or JD. No man, Outman or Youman. Blackey’s been good. And Segovia. Carrasco’s been good but he’s probably too young. Benson won’t have to do much on his start against minor leaguers tomorrow to get people excited. But you have to believe he’s still a long way away.

The Phils lost to the Devil Rays yesterday, falling 6-4 in a game that was shortened by rain to five and a half innings. They are 4-5 in spring training.

Eaton got the start for the Phils and Akinori Iwamura hit his second pitch out for a solo home run. Eaton would go two innings, allowing four runs on five hits. Four of the five hits went for extra-bases. Iwamura’s home run, two doubles and a triple. Chad Durbin followed Eaton and went three innings, allowing two runs on three hits. Given his experience you would think that Chad Durbin would be near the top of the list of guys who could capitalize on Eaton’s struggles, but early the numbers just haven’t been good.

Offensively the Phillies got two-run homers from Coste and Utley. They played what I guess their opening day lineup would be against a righty in slots one through seven — Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, Burrell, Jenkins, Feliz. Ruiz would be next in the eighth spot is my guess. Howard had two more hits, he’s hitting .455 in the early going.

The Phils play Tampa Bay again today. They will also play three more innings to make up for the ones the lost yesterday.

This article says that Eaton still has the inside track to be the fifth starter. It also says that Charlie Manuel sees guys falling off of buildings. Every day? Can other people see the guys falling of the building? Not sure if that’s like seeing dead people or what, but hopefully someone in the Phillies’ organization has dead Bruce Willis on speed-dial just in case.

This seems to suggest it’s a mystery to Don Fehr why the Phillies don’t pay Cole Hamels more than they have to. I, on the other hand, am having little problem understanding that. The fact that Hamels will make about one-sixteenth of what Adam Eaton makes this season is preposterous. But it’s the fault of the system. The suggestion the Phillies should give their employees hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars that they don’t have to in a please-like-me gesture doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.


I am not saying they are overrated; I am just saying that if Hanley Ramirez played in New York they would have to implement some sort of tithing system

I’m generally against anything that makes the Mets better offensively, but it might be worth it if it meant we got to see Mets’ fans have to bring a tenth of their goats, cows and comeliest women and leave them at the door of Hanley’s apartment.

Five teams in the NL East. This is what the player that played the most innings defensively at shortstop and the player that played the most innings defensively at third base did with the bat last year:


Team

Player

AB

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS
FLA Ramirez 639 .332 .386 .562 .948
FLA Cabrera 588 .320 .401 .565 .965
FLA Total 1227 .326 .393 .563 .956
ATL Renteria 494 .332 .390 .470 .860
ATL Chipper 513 .337 .425 .604 1.029
ATL Total 1007 .335 .408 .538 .947
NYM Reyes 681 .280 .354 .421 .775
NYM Wright 604 .325 .416 .546 .963
NYM Total 1285 .301 .384 .480 .864
PHI J-Roll 716 .296 .344 .531 .875
PHI Nunez 252 .234 .318 .282 .600
PHI Total 968 .280 .337 .466 .803
WAS Lopez 603 .245 .308 .352 .659
WAS Zimmerman 653 .266 .330 .458 .788
WAS Total 1256 .256 .319 .407 .726

Reyes and Wright are fantastic. Last year they were just less fantastic than the duo of Chipper and Renteria, though, and less fantastic than Miguel Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez. More fantastic than the offerings of the Phillies and the Nats. Reyes was almost inarguably the fourth-best hitting shortstop in the division and, well, there are only five teams in the division.

Hitting isn’t everything, of course. The chart above doesn’t account for the contribution through the stolen base. Or defense. Ramirez and Cabrera in particular pale in comparison defensively to Wright and Reyes.

The Phillies, meanwhile, were not fantastic. Their numbers look bad as they are and they are actually skewed positively for the Phils in the chart above. Because Rollins got so many more at-bats than Nunez his numbers are more heavily weighted, resulting in a higher OPS. At the same time, Lopez was miserable for the Nats at short last year while Guzman hit the ball well. So the Nats numbers are a bit lower than if they were actually reflecting the offense they got from the position rather than just from Lopez. If you use the numbers of all Phils’ third baseman and recalculate, and all the Nats’ shortstops, the Phils still post a .789 OPS, higher than the .769 for the Nats. But closer. And closer still when you consider that the Nationals play in a much worse place to hit.

So it’s nice to see that Reyes and Wright haven’t been dominating the division. Couple of problems, though, and they’re are spearheaded by these: Reyes and Wright are going to get better and the rest of the division is going to get worse. Of the guys who outpaced them in ’07, two of them, Cabrera and Renteria, now play in Detroit where their impact on the NL East is likely to be minimal.

In 2008, Yunel Escobar will replace Renteria at short for the Braves. He has just about zero chance at producing the offense that Renteria did last year (I would also guess he doesn’t have much chance to produce the offense that he produced last year, either). Chipper also arguably comes off his best season in the last eight, so the chances are good his numbers will be down. I think Reyes/Wright hit better than the Braves’ second and third combo in ’08.

The Fish, meanwhile, will replace Miguel Cabrera with a motley cast of characters. It’s kinda ugly but at the moment it looks like a combination of Dallas McPherson, Jose Castillo and Jorge Cantu. Ramirez’s numbers last year were other worldly — chances are good they’ll be down in ’08 as well.

Going into the season you’d have to pick Wright/Reyes to be the best duo of hitters. I’d go Chipper/Escobar behind them, but it’s close with the Marlins. Feliz and Rollins for the Phils and Zimmerman and Guzman for the Nats seems destined to drag up the rear in ’08 as well.

The Phillies played two games yesterday and are 4-4 in spring training after splitting the pair.

In one of the games they beat the Blue Jays 6-1.

Myers got the start for the Phils and pitched very well, allowing three hits over four shutout innings. He didn’t walk a hitter. Shane Youman followed Myers and tossed three scoreless frames, holding Detroit to two singles. Madson pitched the eighth and the ninth and allowed a run on two hits.

Utley was 1-for-3 with a double and drove in two runs. Ruiz was also 1-for-3 with a double and two RBI, he’s hitting .455 (5-for-11). Helms had two hits, going 2-for-3 with a double. Val Pascucci hit a solo home run in his only at-bat. Rollins was 1-for-2 to raise his average to .133.

In the other game the Phils lost to the Tigers 6-2.

JD Durbin got the start for the Phils and allowed three runs over four innings, all on solo home runs. Carlos Guillen got him twice and Magglio Ordonez hit the other one. Happ followed Durbin and allowed a run on two innings on two singles and a double. Condrey pitched the seventh and allowed another run on two singles and a double. Holdzkom pitched the eighth and allowed a run when walked the leadoff man, balked him to second and he came around to score on two sac flies.

Brandon Watson had two hits, including a double, for the Phils. Burrell went 0-for-3 to drop his average to .154. Snelling was 0-for-2 with a pair of walks, he’s hitting .167.

Phils play the Devil Rays today.

Kris Benson will pitch in a minor league game on Saturday.

Rowand doesn’t give an expletive where the Giants hit him.

This says that Lidge is still hopeful he can return by opening day. It also says that Rollins is not worried by his early slump.

The Mets’ Moises Alou will have hernia surgery today and will miss four to six weeks.


Phils pitching looking more likely to run out of glass to break than emergencies

If the minor league stats or how-low-can-you-go strikeout rates don’t worry you when it comes to Kyle Kendrick, how ’bout a bad spring training start? Keeping with an early trend that has seen key Phils’ hurlers struggle early this spring, Kendrick took it to another level with a miserable outing against the Braves yesterday as the Phils fell to Atlanta, 10-1. With the loss the Phils are 3-3 in spring training.

Kendrick was pounded for seven runs in 2 2/3 innings. He allowed nine hits, seven singles and two doubles, and walked a batter. Over his 20 career starts Kendrick has allowed more than eight hits in a start just once despite the fact he generally pitched deep into games — he went less than five innings just once.

The games won’t matter till they matter, but there are going to be a lot of people looking for signs of a Kendrick collapse. I don’t think a collapse is inevitable, but at the same time I don’t think it’s reasonable to count on Kendrick to put up his ’07 numbers again over 30-plus starts in 2008. The whole thing just has to make you nervous. The fact that he won’t turn 24 till August. The comparison of his minor league numbers to what he did in ’07. The .321/.379/.549 that lefties hit against him last season. Above all is the lack of options if he does struggle — the Phils have a weak rotation with a solid Kendrick. They’ve already had their emergency, already broken the glass and came up huge. But the well where you call up the 22-year-old from Double-A and he goes 10-4 with a 3.87 ERA in 20 starts isn’t one you want to count on going to very often.

Kendrick is going to get a lot of chances this season and he’s earned them. I don’t think the question is whether his ’08 numbers are going to be worse than his ’07 or not. It’s how much worse. And while a replication of his ’07 numbers seems unlikely, it’s important to remember that he could be significantly less effective in ’08 and still be the Phillies’ third best-starter.

In yesterday’s game, after Kendrick got hammered Rosario came in and was brilliant, which would have been the story of the day had it not been for the early innings run-the-bases day for the Braves. The out of options Rosario threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings, holding the Braves to two hits while striking out four. Vic Darensbourg followed with a scoreless frame before Gordon started the bottom of the eighth with the Phils down 7-1 and had another bad outing. He gave up three runs on three hits, including two doubles and a walk. Due to an error by Dobbs, only one of the runs was earned.

Dobbs’ error was one of three the Phillies made on the day.

Despite all the warning signs about Kendrick, if you only have time to worry about one guy and have to choose between Gordon and Kendrick, I don’t think you can go wrong with picking Gordon.

At the plate the Phils scored their only run on an RBI-single by Howard in the first. Victorino had two hits, including a double, which was the only extra-base hit for the Phils on the day. Bruntlett stayed hot with another hit in his lone at-bat, he’s hitting .467 early.

Split-squad action today against the Blue Jays and Tigers. This lists the Phils expected to pitch in each of the games.

This suggests that Kendrick’s outing yesterday wasn’t as bad as the numbers suggest.

Smoltz suggests Hamels “just pitch.”

Ruben Amaro says he thinks Randy Wolf didn’t want to play in Philadelphia in this article.


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