Archive for April, 2009

Matt Stairs shows those mean kids on the Royals who voted him least-likely-to-be-a-fourth-outfielder-ever-again back in 2005 a thing or two

A word or two on the outfield depth of the Phillies as the team is currently constructed. I’m going to go with two words actually, not and good.

The Phillies front office is probably hard at work trying to add another outfielder. And well they should be. Here’s a brief review of the Phillies depth in the outfield:

Things start out really well with Ibanez, Victorino and Werth. Very nice. Things go downhill from there. Fourth outfielder: Matt Stairs? Fifth outfielder: Eric Bruntlett? Sixth outfielder: Who knows? John Mayberry?

Fourth outfielder is the biggest problem there. Matt Stairs is 41-years-old and made 19 appearances in the outfield last season. He’s not a good defensive player. Right now it sure looks like he’s the guy if Ibanez or Werth go down.

Eric Bruntlett is really a backup infielder and has a whole lot of problems hitting righties, to the tune of a career 221/286/310 line against right-handed pitching. He made more appearances at corner outfield positions last year for the Phillies than he had in all the other years of his career combined.

Who is third on the depth chart at center field behind Victorino and Werth is an interesting question. Whatever the answer is, it’s not good. I think it’s probably Bruntlett.

Who knows who’s behind those two as the sixth outfielder, but Mayberry is presumably up near the top of the list. In the minors he’s hit to a .255 average with a .330 on-base percentage in his career.

And then there’s Werth, who was absolutely fantastic last season and played an enormous part in helping the Phillies win the World Series. Hopefully he’ll be fantastic again. But. Here’s some thing it would be nice if they weren’t true about him, given that Matt Stairs is the fourth outfielder and whatnot: Number of times he’s gotten 400 plate appearances in a season: 1. Number of times he’s hit 20 home runs in a season: 1. Career batting average against right-handed pitching: .251. Number of times he’s driven in 70 runs in a season: 0.

So I think the Phillies need another outfielder, which is why paying Jenkins not to play seems pretty odd.

The consensus seems to be that Happ and Taschner will likely win the last two spots in the Phillies pen. That would give the Phils these 12 pitchers to start the season: Hamels, Myers, Blanton, Moyer, Park, Lidge, Madson, Durbin, Eyre, Condrey, Happ and Taschner.

My guess on the hitters is these 13: Howard, Utley, Rollins, Feliz, Dobbs, Coste, Ruiz, Ibanez, Bruntlett, Victorino, Werth, Stairs and Cairo with a good chance that the Phils bring in another hitter in the Cairo spot either before opening day or shortly after the season starts.

Mosebach was sent back to the Angels.

The Phils fell to the Yankees today, losing 8-5.

Kyle Drabeck got the start for the Phils and allowed five runs over 2 1/3 innings. More importantly, Happ followed Drabeck and was also hit hard. Happ allowed three runs in 2 2/3 innings on four hits and two walks. Hideki Matsui clubbed a two-run shot off of him in the fourth. Koplove threw a scoreless seventh to drop his ERA to 0.96. Eyre got his down to 6.30 with a scoreless eighth.

Werth was 1-for-2 with a walk and his sixth home run of the spring. Coste was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, dropping his average to .133. Cairo is hitting .250 after going 0-for-4 with a walk. Rollins is hot at a good time. He went 2-for-3 with a double and is hitting .355.

The Phils play Washington tomorrow in their final game in Florida. They play the Devil Rays in Philadelphia on Friday night.

Update 4/2: Andruw Jones has likely made the Rangers, making it less likely he’ll be on the Phillies.


You don’t know Jack (but you will)

I’m a bit flummoxed by the trade for Jack Taschner. I thought the clear play for the Phils was to hold onto Paulino and let him play a lot against left-handed pitching, which he has hammered over his career. That didn’t happen, though, and the Phils shipped Paulino away for Taschner, a guy who turns 31 this month and has a 5.68 ERA with a miserable 1.64 ratio over the past three seasons and has been bombed this spring (6.23 ERA and a 2.54 ratio and three unearned runs before last night’s appearance).

This article points out that Taschner is going to make $835,000 this season whether he plays in the minors or the majors. That seems to suggest there’s a good chance he’s going to be playing in the majors. Since he’s on the Phillies it probably means he’ll be playing for them. So I thought I’d go looking for the silver lining.

You have to look pretty hard for the silver lining. To the degree it’s there I think it has two main parts: 1) he strikes people out and 2) he was very solid till the end of the season in 2008 when his numbers fell apart.

First the strikeouts. For his career, he’s struck out 124 in 140 innings. That’s 7.97 per nine innings. He also has struck out lefties and righties at about the same rate over his career. He’s fanned 67 of the 350 righties he’s faced (19.1%) and 57 of the 295 lefties (19.3%).

He also threw to a 3.03 ERA with a 1.35 ratio in 32 2/3 innings for the Giants in the first half of last year. He blew up in the second half, though, throwing just 15 1/3 miserable innings with an 8.80 ERA and a 2.41 ratio. Opponents hit 380/440/634 against him in the second half.

His overall numbers last year were actually solid through his appearance on August 24 against the Padres. Through his first 58 games he had thrown to a 3.89 ERA with a 1.44 ratio. In his last nine appearances of the season he allowed eight earned runs in 6 1/3 innings, an 11.37 ERA with a hideous 3.32 ratio (13 hits and eight walks).

Here’s how his career rates for runs, hits, walks and strikeouts compares to some other Phillies’ lefties (remembering that Happ has thrown just 35 2/3 innings while Romero and Eyre have each thrown more than 500):

taschner.jpg

Taschner isn’t especially good against lefties. He does have some nice numbers against righties compared to the rest of that group:

 
Vs Right

Vs Left
  AVG OBP SLG AVG OBP SLG
Taschner 247 353 412 288 349 409
Happ 269 355 419 217 280 413
Romero 271 379 435 212 306 285
Eyre 280 368 447 242 324 399

Yesterday the Phils released Geoff Jenkins. That one came as a surprise to me, but I also think it’s a mistake. Werth has had 400 plate appearances once in his career and has a history of having problems hitting right-handed pitching. I think Jenkins would have been a good guy to have around. Not sure why you would want to pay to not have him around and I especially think it’s a bad idea if the reason is so you can put Miguel Cairo on your team.

The article linked above also suggests the Phils may be interested in Gary Sheffield. Sheffield and Stairs would be one DH too many if the Phils played in a league with the DH.

Chan Ho Park will be the Phillies fifth starter. That article also suggests that Happ, Majewski, Mosebach and Taschner are competing for two jobs. I’d guess Taschner is likely on the team and Mosebach is likely not.

Brett Myers will start opening day.

The Phillies beat the Blue Jays last night, winning 9-1 to improve to 12-16 in spring training.

Myers got the start for the Phils and allowed a run on three hits. Travis Snider hit a solo home run off of him in the second and the other two hits were singles. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out three. His spring ERA is 3.52. Taschner and Majewski both pitched scoreless innings.

Ibanez was 2-for-5 with a two-run homer, his first of the spring. Rollins was 2-for-3 with a double to raise his average to .321. Werth 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. He’s hitting .317.

The Phillies play the Yankees today.

Update: This says the Phillies are interested in Andruw Jones. That would make a lot more sense than Gary Sheffield.


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