As we look ahead to starting 2009 without JC Romero, it’s important to remember that even with Romero dominating left-handed batters in 2008 the Phillies still weren’t especially good against them.
Left-handed hitters hit 270/346/425 against the Phils last year. Eight NL teams pitched to a better OPS against them than the Phillies did. The Phils were better against right-handed batters, who put up a .716 OPS against the Phils. Only four NL teams were better.
As you would expect, the bullpen was much more effective against lefties than the guys who pitched in the rotation (for these purposes I’ve counted Happ as a reliever):
PHI pitchers vs left-handed batters, 2008
About 62% of the lefties that the Phillies pitched against were faced by Hamels, Moyer, Eaton, Kendrick, Blanton or Myers. Presumably because lefties exit the lineup with Moyer or Hamels on the mound, Myers, Kendrick and even Eaton all faced more left-handed hitters than Hamels or Moyer. For Myers and Kendrick, the number of lefties they faced over the season was significantly higher (again, the chart below does not include the lefties faced by Happ in his four starts):
That’s a lot of lefties faced by Myers, Kendrick and Eaton. Myers, for example, faced about 150 more lefties in his 30 starts than Hamels or Moyer did in the 33 starts each of them made. Obviously, the more lefties you face the more damage you can do to the team’s overall numbers against left-handed hitters. Myers, who faced more left-handed hitters than anyone on the team, was fantastic against lefties as he has been over his career. Kendrick was not — lefties feasted on him, hitting 334/404/541. Eaton was almost as bad as lefties posted a 318/402/484 line against him for the season.
Among the relief pitchers, Brad Lidge faced the most lefties. He faced 159 left-handed hitters, less than half of what Myers or Kendrick faced.
For the Phillies relievers that faced at least 90 left-handed hitters in ’08, Durbin and Condrey had the most trouble. Lefties hit 311/401/394 against Durbin and 320/370/448 against Condrey. Fellow righties Madson and Lidge were better — 273/354/345 for Lidge and 268/344/384 for Madson. But Romero was the undisputed king against lefties for the Phils last year. Lefties went 10-for-98 against him, putting up a 102/193/153 line for the season.
If you take the 111 plate appearances against Romero out of the numbers for the relief pitchers, opponents hit 274/354/379 against Philadelphia relievers. That .733 OPS is pretty close to Scott Eyre’s career .723 mark against left-handed hitters.
I think there’s a good chance that Happ can be a part of the solution against lefties out of the pen this season. And he was very good against them in 2008 in limited action. Left-handed hitters got 46 plate appearances against him and hit 209/261/395.
If you look back at 2008, a big reason the Phillies had problems with lefties was that Kendrick and Eaton faced them a lot and got blasted by them. That doesn’t mean the loss of Romero isn’t an issue, though, because his effectiveness out of the pen against left-handed hitters is going to be almost impossible for anyone on the ’09 Phils to replicate.
Jayson Werth has not played in the first two spring training games and will not play again today. If you’re wondering why, this may shed some light on the issue. Or maybe not. Apparently there is zero wrong with Werth and “he’s not a whole lot out of shape.” Take what you will from that, but I think what some people might take is he’s a whole lot out of shaper than a bunch of other guys on the team.
Werth staying off the field for the first couple of games has allowed the Phils to get guys like Slayden, Mayberry and Ellison at-bats, which may have been part of the plan anyway.
The article linked above also says that Pedro Feliz hit off the tee yesterday for the first time since his back surgery.
This suggests that Nomar Garciaparra is deciding between playing for Oakland or retiring. Neither of those options would have him making much of a contribution to the Phillies this season.
The Phillies released Adam Eaton.
Yesterday the Phils dropped to 0-2 in spring training with a 6-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
The best news of the day is that Carlos Carrasco and JA Happ both pitched great. Carrasco struck out three in two perfect innings while Happ gave up just one single and also kept the Jays off the board for two frames. Justin Lehr gave up back-to-back homers in the fifth and Toronto scored four runs in the eighth inning, all of which were charged to Blaine Neal. Gary Majewski struck out two in two perfect innings in his first action with the Phils.
Offensively, the Phils scored two runs for the second straight day. Again they had just one extra-base and again it was a double, this time off the bat of John Mayberry against former Phil Fabio Castro (who I continue to be certain is about to break out any day now). Dobbs and Rollins were both 1-for-3 with an RBI. Donald 0-for-3. Giles 0-for-2 with a walk. Paulino 0-for-1 with a strikeout and was hit by a pitch. Coste did not play.
The Phils play the Reds today.
Jamie and Karen Moyer will be hosting a fundraiser on March 17 in Clearwater to benefit Camp Erin. Details available here.