Archive for November, 2008

All you need is Koplove

The Phillies signed 32-year-old right-handed reliever Mike Koplove to a minor league contract. The Phils will almost surely add a veteran right-handed reliever to the roster before the start of the season, but Koplove is a long shot to be the guy.

Koplove is a Philadelphia native who had outstanding years with the Diamondbacks in 2002 and 2003, throwing to a 2.90 ERA with a 1.12 ratio over 99 1/3 innings. His numbers dropped in 2004 and were miserable in 2005. He’s thrown nine innings in the majors since ’05.

Koplove has thrown more than ten innings in four seasons. Here’s what lefties have slugged against him in those four seasons:

2002 .261
2003 .397
2004 .444
2005 .487

Despite those struggles, Koplove still has a career 3.82 ERA and a 1.31 ratio. He was good in ’08 in the PCL, throwing to a 3.46 ERA and a 1.12 ERA in 54 2/3 innings while striking out 46. He was also fantastic in the Olympics, allowing one walk and no hits over 5 1/3 innings while striking out six.

I don’t think it’s going to happen, but I don’t think it would be a problem if Koplove won the spot as the last righty in the bullpen (joining, presumably, Madson, Romero, Condrey, Eyre, Durbin and Lidge). The problem would be counting on Koplove without a backup plan — I’d be stunned if that happened, cause I think you have to assume that Koplove is the backup plan (or at least part of it).

The other thing I think you have to remember is that Condrey, despite his fantastic year in ’08, was hit hard by lefties. They hit 320/370/448 against him last year, and I think the Phillies may be concerned about putting two righties at the back of their pen who don’t have much of a chance against lefties if they see any other options.

This article suggests that the Phillies will almost surely offer arbitration to Jamie Moyer and Pat Burrell and that both are likely to decline. Tom Gordon and Rudy Seanez could also be offered arbitration before the deadline at midnight on Monday, which is almost surely not going to happen.

Utley had surgery on his right hip on Monday without complications. GM Ruben Amaro suggests in the linked article that nobody can predict how long Utley will be out, but a gaggle of folks have managed to predict four to six months, which would put the window for his return between March 24 and May 24.

Any guess which Phillie is the assistant hockey coach at John Bapst High School in Bangor, Maine? A hint: his name is probably somewhere in the back of Jonathan Broxton’s mind and probably will be for a while.

November 25 was Shane Victorino Day in Wailuku.

History mystery

I’ve been thinking about how the 2008 Phillies compare to other teams in Phillies history.

They are one of just two teams that have won the World Series. If that’s the only thing that’s important, the discussion of the best team comes down to the ’08 Phils and the 1980 Phils. I thought I would take a look ignoring what the teams did in the post-season as well as where they finished in their division and league.

The exercise I went through considered only how many runs each team scored and allowed in a particular year, and how those numbers compare to the other teams in the National League that season. For example, in 2008 the Phillies scored 799 runs. The average team in the NL scored 733.81 runs, so the Phils scored about 108.9% the runs of the average team. The ’08 Phils allowed 680 runs while the average NL team in ’08 allowed 748.5 runs, so the Phils allowed about 90.8% of the runs of the average NL team. I then added the difference between the runs they scored and allowed (in this example 8.9 plus 9.2) relative to other teams and compared that total to the total other teams in franchise history.

Specifically, I compared the total to the totals for all other teams in the past 100 years who finished the year with a winning percentage of at least .540 (a team that goes 88-74 has a winning percentage of .543).

This is far from perfect. Notably, you are comparing the results of one year’s team against the other teams in the NL from that year, then using the results to compare teams from different years. For example, if you have access to a parallel universe where you can get the 2008 Phillies to replay their schedule in an NL where every other team is made up of fifth-graders, the Phillies will have an enormously massive difference in runs scored and runs allowed compared to the other teams in the league. When you compare their results to all of the other teams, they will look like the best team in history by a huge amount. How good the ’08 Phillies are hasn’t changed at all, but they do better in this exercise because of who they were playing (also, if you do have access to a parallel universe and go through with this, I would recommend comprehensive medical coverage and protective headgear for everyone, especially the fifth-graders playing first base with Ryan Howard at the plate who are at grave risk of being hypothetically decapitated).

Again, this is imperfect for a lot of reasons. But if you do it, these are the ten Phillies teams over the past 100 years that come out with the best results:



101-61 (.623)

Five regular players with OPS+ of at least 130 (Schmidt, Allen, Luzinski, Maddux, Johnstone). Carlton won 20 games and Jon Lonborg 18.  Second in NL in runs scored, third in runs allowed.  Won the NL East by nine games but were swept by the Reds in the NLCS.



101-61 (.623)

Led the NL in runs scored this year, but runs allowed dropped to third in the league.  Carlton won 23 games and the Cy Young.  Won the NL East, beating the Pirates by five games.  Lost the NLCS to the Dodgers three games to one.



90-62 (.592)

Had the best offense in the league and pitched to an NL-best 2.17 ERA in year the league average was 2.75.  First baseman Fred Luderus and outfielder Gavvy Cravath were first and second in the NL in OPS.  Cravath led the league in OBP, slugging, runs and total bases.  Pete Alexander led the league in wins with 31 and ERA (1.22).  The Phils won the National League by seven games, but the Red Sox beat them four games to one in the World Series.



90-72 (.556)

Phils were third best in runs scored and fifth best in runs allowed.  Won the NL East by 1 1/2 games, but were again beaten by the Dodgers in the NLCS, again falling three games to one.



97-65 (.599)

Dykstra, Daulton and Kruk led a monster Phillies offense that was the best in the league.  The pitching wasn’t nearly as good, in the middle of the pack in the NL, but Curt Schilling and Tommy Greene both won 16 games.  The Phils won the NL East by three games and beat the Braves 4-2 in the NLCS.  The Blue Jays won the World Series four games to two on a walkoff home run by Joe Carter.



92-70 (.568)

Tied for second in NL in runs scored.  Fourth-best in runs allowed using runs allowed per game.  Won the NL East by three games.  Beat the Brewers in an NLDS (three games to one) and the Dodgers in the NLCS (four games to one).  Beat Tampa Bay in the World Series, four games to one.



91-62 (.595)

Offense and pitching both slipped a bit from the amazing 1915 levels and the Phillies fell short of the playoffs.  The Brooklyn Robins finished 2 1/2 games ahead of them for the right to earn the right to get blasted by the Red Sox in the World Series.



87-67 (.575)

The 1952 Phillies had a middle-of-the pack offense but pitching that dominated the league.  Robin Roberts went 28-7 with a 2.59 ERA and finished second in the voting for league MVP.  The ’52 Phils didn’t sniff the playoffs, finishing fourth in the league, 9 1/2 games out of first place.



87-65 (.572)

Third straight year of 30 wins for Pete Alexander.  Phils were near the top of the NL in both hitting and pitching, but finished second in the league a distant ten games behind the New York Giants.  The Giants lost the World Series, too, but this time to the Chicago White Sox in six games.



91-63 (.591)

After a long drought of miserable teams from 1917 through 1949, the 1950 Phillies were great.  Del Ennis, Richie Ashburn, Dick Sisler and Andy Seminick led a solid offense, but the pitching was outstanding.  Led by 20 wins from 23-year-old Robin Roberts and another 17 from Curt Simmons, the Phillies had the dominant pitching in the league.  Reliever Jim Konstanty won 16 games and threw to a 2.66 ERA while winning MVP of the league.  Bullpen-mate Milo Candini was just about as good.  The Phillies won the National League by two games, but were swept by the Yankees in the World Series.

The World Series-winning 1980 team was eleventh. The ’80 Phils were second in the NL in runs scored and fifth in runs allowed. Mike Schmidt was MVP of the league as he led the NL in OPS and won a Gold Glove. Steve Carlton went 24-9 with a 2.34 ERA and struck out 286 in 304 innings. The Phils nipped the Expos by a game to win the NL East, topped the Astros three games to two in the NLCS and beat the Kansas City Royals four games to two to win their first World Series.

Using the same system, these are the five best teams in the last 100 years at scoring runs relative to the rest of the teams in the National League in that year:

1. 1993
2. 1976
3. 1977
4. 1981
5. 2007

And here are the five best teams at preventing runs:

1. 1915
2. 1952
3. 1976
4. 1950
5. 1917

A reminder that the 2008 World Series Film will debut in Philadelphia area theaters on November 24. Ticket information and information about the DVD (which will be available on November 25) is here.

Golson set

The Phillies traded Greg Golson to the Texas Rangers for John Mayberry, a right-handed corner outfielder who turns 25 next month. The Rangers took Mayberry with the 19th pick in the first round of the 2005 draft. Golson was taken by the Phillies in the first round of the 2004 draft, but is about two years younger than Mayberry. Golson turned 23 in September.

Both of these guys are going to need to figure out how to get on base to have a career. Mayberry has a career .330 on-base percentage in the minor leagues while Golson’s is .309. Golson plays center field, though, and has a couple more years to develop.

In 764 at-bats above A-ball, Mayberry has hit 257/314/471, with 34 home runs, 54 walks and 168 strikeouts. That’s not a huge strikeout rate. Mayberry is a monster physically, 6′ 6″ and 230 pounds — it’s nice to see he’s kept his strikeouts under control. The .314 on-base percentage as he turns 25 is a big problem, though. Strikeouts are an issue for Golson, who whiffed 130 times in 426 at-bats at Double-A for the Phils last year in what is his most promising pro season to date.

Mayberry put up a .474 slugging percentage in 437 at-bats in the PCL last season. Sounds nice, but a little less nice in the context of the rest of the PCL– his .474 was 40th in the league. Val Pascucci, another right-handed hitter who the Phillies released in April of 2008, for example, hit 290/410/553 with 27 homers in 396 at-bats in the PCL in ’08.

My reaction to the trade is mostly surprise. I think Golson could still develop, but if he does it’s not going to be for several years. I worried the Phillies saw him as someone that could help them in the next year or so. Given his age and athletic ability it’s far too early to give up on him. Glad to see the Phillies add a potentially big right-handed bat to the organization in Mayberry, an area where they need a lot of help. I do find some comfort in the trade knowing that it ensures that Golson will not be seeing any time with the Phils in the immediate future.

I would guess there is close to zero chance Mayberry starts the season with the Phillies, but I think he is a lot closer to helping them than Golson was.

Elsewhere, Chase Utley will have hip surgery and probably miss the start of the season. Jason Donald appears to be a candidate to see time at second to start the season. You would have to think that the Phils would consider bringing back Iguchi as well. I’d rather see them bring back Iguchi (or another veteran free agent) than take a chance on Donald at this point.

Pat chat

I still think the likely solution in left field for the Phillies is that they’ll bring back Pat Burrell. In case they don’t, the list below includes hitters that 1) are right-handed 2) have spent time in the outfield over the past three seasons and 3) were among the top 40 right-handed hitters who got at least 400 plate appearances in 2006, 2007 or 2008 (using OPS as the measure). The left column is their name, the middle column is their OPS over the last three seasons and in the right column is a note if the player is thought to be available via free agency or trade.

Player OPS 2006-2008 Indications
the player is available?

Better OPS than Burrell 2006-2008
Manny Ramirez 991 YES — FREE
Matt Holliday
Ryan Braun 938
Vlad Guerrero 925
Ryan Ludwick 913 MAY BE
910 MAY BE
Carlos Lee 901
Jermaine Dye 900 MAY BE
Pat Burrell 889 YES — FREE

Worse OPS than Burrell ’06-’08
Jason Bay 859
Alex Rios 836
Hunter Pence 834
Ty Wigginton 827
Torii Hunter 825
Xavier Nady 824

Conor Jackson

Juan Rivera 821 YES — FREE
Corey Hart 816
Vernon Wells 814
Aaron Rowand 803
BJ Upton 801
Mike Cameron 801 MAY BE

Marlon Byrd

790 MAY BE
Bill Hall 786
Reed Johnson 778
Melvin Mora 770
Justin Upton 769

Several of the players without a note in the right column are surely available, I only made a note where for players where there have been stories in the press suggesting their team may be looking to trade them. I’d guess that Morgan Ensberg could be pried away from Cleveland, for example.

That’s not a real long list when you’re looking to replace Burrell. I think there’s very little chance the Phillies sign Manny or trade for Ludwick or Ordonez. Trading for Jermaine Dye seems somewhat more reasonable, but you’d still have to pay him big money plus give up players to get him. It is a shorter term commitment, which is no doubt appealing, but Burrell is also younger than Dye and has been better over the past two seasons. Dye was a monster in 2006 when he hit 44 home runs, which puts his OPS for the three-year period ahead of Burrell at .900. Over the last two seasons, though, Dye has posted an .847 OPS. I think it’s likely that Burrell will outproduce him offensively in 2009.

Jason Bay is an interesting name on the list. He’s almost surely going nowhere after joining the Red Sox last season, but two of his last three seasons have been outstanding. He was miserable in 2007, but in ’06 and ’08 he hit to an impressive .911 OPS. If there was an opportunity to acquire him it looks like it closed last season, though, and you gotta believe the Phillies did the right thing what with winning the World Series and whatnot.

Josh Willingham is another guy that caught my eye. In what looks to me to be an outstanding deal for the Nationals, Florida sent Josh Willingham and Scott Olsen to the Nats last week for Emilio Bonifacio and minor leaguers Jake Smolinski (2B) and PJ Dean (RHP). Willingham can hit — I’d be surprised if both of these things proved to be true: 1) the Phillies think they will not be able to bring back Burrell and 2) they had no interest in trading for Willingham. If they don’t think it’s very likely they will re-sign Burrell and could have gotten Willingham, I think they made a mistake (especially if the price the Nats paid reflects what it would have cost the Phillies). Either way, it looks like the window to trade for him is closed as well.

Juan Rivera has had one good season out of the last three. Replacing Burrell’s bat with his, or a platoon of Rivera/Stairs, Jenkins/Stairs or Dobbs/Stairs would mean a big dropoff in offensive production at the position for the Phils. One of the things about Rivera that’s not true of a lot of the players lower on the list is that he’s been about as good against lefties as righties over his career, hitting 284/336/458 against left-handed pitching and 284/322/486 against righties. So unlike some of the other options, Rivera wouldn’t need to purely be a platoon player.

Here’s eight more available right-handed hitters and what they’ve done over the past three seasons with the bat, again using OPS as the measure:

Player OPS
Moises Alou 910
Gabe Kapler 753
Kevin Mench 730
Emil Brown 727
Jay Payton 692

Alou’s .910 OPS over the last three years is a bit misleading. He had 49 at-bats in 2008. I don’t think it’s likely that the Phillies would bring in Alou to be the main guy in left field given his age and injury history.

Close to zero chance they bring back Jason Michaels, I would guess. Jay Payton also seems exceptionally unlikely.

Hairston’s numbers over the past three years are miserable, but he did post career highs in ’08 as he posted a 326/384/487 line in 261 at-bats. To count on that kind of production as a regular player or even a platoon player in left field would be a huge mistake that the Phillies are very unlikely to make.

I’d love to see Baldelli on the Phillies, but not as the guy the Phils were counting on to play in left field regularly given his health concerns. I think whoever winds up with Baldelli in 2009 will be looking for a backup plan — if it’s the Phils let’s hope it’s a good one.

Mench has great career numbers against lefties, 299/358/542, better than Kapler’s 294/344/484. Either of those guys would have to man left as part of a platoon and Mench looks like the better option.

Emil Brown blasted 72 doubles in 2005 and 2006, but on-based .246 against righties in 2007 and .272 against them in ’08. So if he does anything for the Phils lets home it’s against left-handed pitching. His career line against lefties is 270/338/446, worse than Kapler and Mench.

Again, the emergence of Werth in 2008 took a big right-handed bat off the bench for the Phils. I think the Phillies need to add two right-handed hitters to their team before the start of ’09, meaning there may be room for Burrell plus another guy on one of the two lists. The dream scenario in my mind would be to add Burrell and Baldelli, although I would guess the chances of that are close to zero given that Baldelli will have lots of opportunities to join teams that will be able to give him far more playing time.

In a scenario where the Phillies don’t bring back Burrell, they seem almost guaranteed to lose offense at the position. In a Burrell-free world, my first guess would be that they would bring in Rivera. Second guess would be that they try to sign one of Baldelli, Kapler, Mench or Brown to come in and share left in a platoon with Stairs, Dobbs or Jenkins. I put Mench at the top of that wish list just because of the numbers against lefties over his career, but Baldelli would be high on it as well. If it were Baldelli the Phils would almost surely have to add a second right-handed bat that can play outfield as insurance.

I will be surprised if the Phillies trade for anyone to play left field for them, given the Willingham trade and the options that appear to be available without a trade.

A Manuel for the ages? (part three)

Six managers left. Here they are, again with their winning percentage with the Phils, their Pythagorean winning percentage with the Phils and whether or not they ever took the Phillies to the post-season:







Bill Shettsline






Pat Moran






Paul Owens


1972, 1983-84




Danny Ozark






Dallas Green






Charlie Manuel






And here’s what I see as the key elements for and against for each as the best manager in Phils’ history:

Manager For Against
Bill Shettsline (1898-1902)
  • Fourth-best winning percentage of the
    original group of 25 managers (third-best of remaining six)
  • Second-best difference between winning percentage and Pythagorean
    winning percentage of the six remaining managers (and third-best among
    the original group of 25)
  • Won more games than any of the remaining six except for Ozark
  • Never took the Phillies to the post-season


Pat Moran (1915-1918)
  • Third-best winning percentage among
    the original group of 25 managers (second-best for the remaining six)
  • Took the Phillies to their first World
    Series in 1915 (they lost to the Red Sox four games to one)
  • The difference between his winning
    percentage and Pythagorean winning percentage is just fourth-best of the
    remaining six managers
Paul Owens (1972, ’83-’84)
  • Took the Phillies to the World Series
    in 1983 (where they lost to the Baltimore Orioles, four games to one)
  • Has the worst winning percentage of
    the six managers that are left — he won just three more games than he
    lost at the helm for the Phils
  • Managed just 319 games for the Phils,
    second-fewest among the original group of 25
Danny Ozark (1973-1979)
  • Took the Phillies to the post-season
    three times, the most of any manager
  • Won 594 games for the Phils,
    third-most in team history and more than 200 more than anyone else in
    the remaining group of six
  • Has a Pythagorean winning percentage
    that is worse than his actual winning percentage
  • Had disappointing results in the
    post-season, winning the NL East in ’76, ’77 and ’78 but going 2-9 in
    three National League Championship series
Dallas Green (1979-1980)
  • Best winning percentage among the
    original group of 25 managers
  • Best difference between winning
    percentage and Pythagorean winning percentage among the original group
    of 25 managers
  • Won the World Series in 1980 (the
    Phils beat the Royals four games to two)
  • Took the Phillies to the post-season
    twice, matched or bettered only by Manuel and Ozark
  • Managed just 299 games for the Phils,
    just two full seasons (’80 and ’81) and part of 1979.  The 1981
    season was a strike-shortened 107 games
Charlie Manuel (2005-2008)
  • Took the Phillies to the post-season
  • Won the World Series in 2008 (beat the
    Tampa Bay Rays four games to one)
  • Fourth-best winning percentage among
    the six managers that remain
  • Has a Pythagorean winning percentage
    that is worse than his actual winning percentage

Five guys of this group I don’t think are the best manager in Phillies history:

  • Bill Shettsline. I think the inability to take the Phils to the post-season kills Shettsline’s chances. He finished in the top three in the NL in 1899, 1901 and 1902 and won more games than the Pythagorean won-loss record suggests he should have in each of those years, but the closest he got to the post-season was 1901 when his Phils finished 7 1/2 games behind the Pirates. Other than that, though, his case is very strong. Fourth-best winning percentage of the original group of 25 and the third-best difference between the winning percentage and Pythagorean winning percentage. I don’t think you can make a case that he’s better than Green, though, who 1) had a better winning percentage, 2) had a better difference between his winning percentage and Pythagorean winning percentage and 3) won the World Series, without weighing heavily the fact that Shettsline managed and won so many more games. I don’t think that’s enough. This article would also have you believe that he once had an 11-year-old child thrown in the clink for refusing to return a ball that had left the field of play.
  • Pat Moran. Another fantastic winning percentage, third-best of the original group of 25 and second-best among the 25 that remain. Didn’t do quite as well against his Pythagorean winning percentage as some of the other guys, though. He took the Phils to their first World Series in 1915. The team was very good that year and dominated the National League, leading the league in both average runs scored per game and average runs allowed per game. The AL, which had three outstanding teams in 1915, Boston, Detroit and Chicago, sent the Red Sox to the ’15 World Series. Despite their dominance in their own league, the Phils were dispatched quickly in five games. The Phils took the opener with a 3-1 win, but dropped four one-run games in a row after that. In three of the four games the Phillies allowed a run in the ninth inning that gave Boston the win. The American League may just have been better than the NL in 1915, but there is a sense that the Phils, who also underperformed their Pythagorean wins by two victories, underperformed a bit after dominating the NL. Moran would go on to manage the 1919 Cincinnati Reds to a World Series victory, beating the Chicago White Sox five games to three in a series marred by the Black Sox Scandal.
  • Paul Owens. I don’t think there’s much of a case to be made for Owens against the rest of this group despite taking the Phils to the World Series in 1983. Owens did make it to the series with what was arguably the second-best team in the National League. The Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves by three games to win the NL West and the chance to face the Phils in the NLCS (which the Phils won three games to one), but I would argue that the Braves and their monster offense that year were the better team overall. Owens lost the World Series to a Baltimore team that was simply better than the Phils. Overall he won just three more games than he lost while managing the Phillies.
  • Danny Ozark. Ozark had a ton of talent and won a ton of games, third-most in Phillies history. The Phillies have had two teams that won 100 games in a season and Ozark managed both of them. He won the NL East in 1976, ’77 and ’78. His ’76 Phillies may well be the best team in the history of the franchise. No other manager has taken the team to the post-season three times. Two big factors against Ozark as I see it, though: 1) His Pythagorean winning percentage is worse than his actual winning percentage and 2) despite all the talent, he never took the Phillies to the World Series and went 2-9 in three National League Championship Series. On the post-season, you have to give him a pass for 1978. The Dodgers, who beat the Phils three games to one in the NLCS, were just better than the Phils that year. They won more games, scored more runs and allowed fewer. The ’76 Phillies may indeed be the best team in the history of the franchise, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Reds, who rolled them in a three-game sweep, were at least as good if not a tick better. In the same way, the ’77 Dodgers, who beat the Phils three games to one, may also have been a touch better than the ’77 Phils. So Ozark was certainly the victim of some bad luck to run into monster Reds and Dodgers teams in ’76 and ’77. Regardless of the circumstances, though, 2-9 is hard to overlook and the combination of that plus the comparison to other managers who have outperformed their Pythagorean win expectation makes it tough to see him as the best in history.
  • Charlie Manuel. Manuel won the 2008 World Series despite having, almost inarguably, the second-best team in the NL. The Cubs won more games, scored more runs and allowed fewer runs. The Phils didn’t have to beat the Cubs to get to the World Series, the Dodgers did it for them, but they went to the World Series, and won it, with the second-best team in their league nonetheless. The Rays team that they beat wasn’t particularly a powerhouse. Of the five teams in the AL East, for example, three of them scored more runs than Tampa Bay. The Rays did have fantastic pitching, but, despite the fact that they beat the Red Sox in the ALCS, Boston was arguably the better team overall. I’m not going to argue that the Blue Jays were better than the Rays, but thanks to their amazing pitching their run differential in 2008 was better than Tampa Bay’s. None of that is Charlie Manuel’s fault, of course, he could only beat the team they put in front of him. And he did. He does have a Pythagorean win percentage that’s worse than his actual win percentage, which makes it hard to put him ahead of a guy who also won the World Series and does not. His winning percentage is also the fourth-lowest of the six managers in this group. Manuel has managed 648 games for the Phils and gone 354-294. To post the same winning percentage as Green, .565, he would have had to have gone 366-282. Green outperformed his Pythagorean win percentage by .030, the best rate of the original group of 25. To have outperformed his Pythagorean win percentage of .548 by the same margin, Manuel would have to post a .578 win percentage — over 648 games that would be a 375-273 record. Manuel is almost surely never going to pass Green in difference between his Pythagorean winning percentage and winning percentage and probably never in winning percentage either. Another post-season appearance, though, seems possible and would give him three, which would tie him with Ozark for the most in team history and strengthen his case considerably given that he’s already won the World Series.

Just one guy left and, as you may have guessed, I think he’s the best Phillies manager of all time.

  • Dallas Green. Best winning percentage of the group of 25. Best difference between the winning percentage and Pythagorean winning percentage. Won the World Series in 1980. I think there can be two big components of an argument against Green, but neither of them is enough for me. The first is that he simply didn’t manage enough games, just 299, and was the only manager of the team for just two seasons — 1980 and the strike-shortened 1981 in which the Phils played just 107 games. The second is that Manuel won the World Series with the second-best team in the NL while Green won it with the best. Green also caught a break in 1980 by getting to play the Astros rather than the Dodgers in the NLCS despite the fact that the Dodgers were probably a little better. LA trailed the Astros by three games with three games to play at the end of the ’80 season. The Dodgers swept Houston in the three-game set to force a one-game playoff, which Houston won 7-1. Houston got ahead of the Phils two games to one in the NLCS, but the Phils won a pair of extra-innings games in four and five to take the best-of-five set three games to two. Green also got a break in getting to play the Royals for the World Series in a year where the AL East featured two teams, the Yankees and the Orioles, that both won 100 games and were both probably better than KC. But the Yanks edged out Baltimore to win the AL East and Kansas City swept New York to go to the World Series, where the Phils topped the Royals four games to two.

2009 on the mind

Back to the managers soon.

I put up the 2009 Phillies page, where I will track my best guess at who will be on the ’09 squad.

It looks to me like there are seven spots open for next year, three for pitchers and four for hitters.

Of the pitcher’s spots, two are in the starting rotation behind Hamels, Myers and Blanton. Jamie Moyer looks like a good bet to take one of them. I would still call Kendrick the front-runner for the #5 spot, with Happ behind him and Eaton way, way behind both of them.

The other spot appears to be for a right-handed relief pitcher. Romero and Eyre look likely to handle the left-handed duties, joining righties Lidge, Madson, Condrey and Durbin in the pen. That leaves one spot, and I’m guessing it goes to a righty veteran reliever not currently with the organization. It could be Gordon or Seanez, but I would still go with field as a better guess at this point.

The bigger questions are with the offense. I think there’s a good chance the Phils will bring back Burrell. They should try and I think they will. His absence would leave a huge gap in the lineup, leaving Werth as the best right-handed hitter on the team. Werth is great, but the second-best right-handed hitter on the team would be Feliz, which is not great. Again, we’ll have to cut Feliz at least a little break what with winning the World Series and whatnot.

The emergence of Werth as an everyday player has created a problem for the Phillies with a lack of right-handed options off the bench. They went out of their way to demonstrate this by starting Chris Coste as their DH in the World Series. I think you can argue that the Phillies need two right-handed hitters, a big one, like Burrell, to play left, and another to backup the outfield and hit off the bench. The Phillies had a problem with not having enough right-handed hitters last year and that was with Burrell.

The Phillies either need Burrell back or they need a big right-handed bat in his place. Might as well just make it Burrell. I would be surprised if they traded for or signed an expensive right-handed free agent to play left field that wasn’t Burrell. My guess is that one of the four remaining offensive slots will be taken either by Burrell or a cheap right-handed hitter who can play left field and will play often.

That leaves three spots — one catcher spot behind Ruiz, one more outfielder and another bench spot that will probably be taken by a fifth outfielder.

With Victorino, Werth and Burrell (or his replacement) in the outfield, the Phillies don’t look like they have room for all of Stairs, Jenkins and Golson. I think a disaster scenario for the Phils is one where they trade Victorino to let Golson play regularly in center field. Golson needs to be a fifth outfield if he’s on the team in ’09 — if he is on the roster I think he will be. A less disastrous scenario in my mind is trading Victorino and letting Werth play center regularly with Golson backing him up. That plan is still a bit worrisome as it’s not a lot of backup for Werth, who still has limited experience playing every day. It would mean that Golson would probably get a job backing him up, but he wouldn’t have much of an organizational net behind him.

Werth can play center, though, well enough to be there regularly if the Phils had the hitters to man the corner outfield spots.

I would guess that the Phils will not start ’09 with both Stairs and Jenkins on the team. Dobbs, Stairs and Jenkins is too many left-handed hitters coming off of the bench, especially given that Stairs and Dobbs are hard to use defensively. I’d guess they trade Stairs given that he’s cheaper and more tradable. I have Jenkins penciled in as the fourth outfielder, giving them Victorino, Werth, Jenkins and Burrell or cheap right-handed free agent.

I hope in 2009 we will see Dobbs’ role expand to include signficant time in the outfield against right-handed pitching.

Jenkins and Burrell are two of the four spots. Leaves one bench spot and a catcher.

Ruiz is surely coming back, but I feel much less sure about Coste. The in-house options for second catcher along with Ruiz include Coste, Jason Jaramillo and Lou Marson. Jaramillo was not especially impressive at Triple-A last year and Marson was at Double-A. Marson is 22, Jaramillo is 26. Some people think 19-year-old Travis D’Arnaud is going to be better than both of them, although there’s about zero chance you’ll see him next year. My guesses are 1) that the Phillies would only put Jaramillo or Marson on the 25-man roster to start the season if it was as a third catcher and 2) if they did it would be Jaramillo and not Marson. You have to believe that Jaramillo could be had in a trade if people really think he’s a potential regular player. Here’s what I think is likely for the Phils at catcher at this point, in order of likelihood 1) they sign a veteran catcher to share duties with Ruiz 2) Coste and Ruiz 3) Ruiz, Coste (or veteran catcher) plus Jaramillo 4) Ruiz plus Jaramillo.

The addition of the second catcher leaves one spot on the roster, which could be taken by a fifth outfielder, a third catcher or a pitcher. I think you can assume that Bruntlett will handle the utility role. 23-year-old Brad Harman is coming, but I don’t think it’s yet. This spot may go to Golson, but I don’t think it should. I’d go with a right-handed hitter here that can also play a corner outfield position — a part-time player that’s probably not currently in the organization.

Here’s my guess then at this point as to who will be on the 25-man roster when the ’09 season starts:

Pitchers (12): Hamels, Myers, Blanton, Moyer, Kendrick, Lidge, Madson, Durbin, Condrey, Romero, Eyre and a veteran right-handed relief pitcher that is currently not with the organization.

Hitters (13): Howard, Utley, Rollins, Feliz, Ruiz, Burrell, Victorino, Werth, Jenkins, Bruntlett, Dobbs, veteran catcher not currently with the team, veteran right-handed corner outfielder not currently with the team.

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