Archive for March, 2010

Kendrick making sure everyone knows that Halladay’s beard looks like his and not the other way around

After eight more scoreless innings from the starters, the five guys who have started for the Phillies in official spring training games have a 1.41 ERA and an 0.81 ratio. Kyle Kendrick has surprisingly been the best of the bunch, allowing just four hits over nine scoreless innings without walking a batter. It may be enough to make him wish he pitched for a team that was considering spring training when choosing its starting rotation.

Blanton, Halladay and Kendrick have combined to not walk a batter in twenty innings. Happ, Halladay and Kendrick have combined not to allow a run in 20 1/3 innings.

Yesterday Kendrick shut out Baltimore for four innings but the Phils lost 4-3. Kendrick left with a 1-0 lead, but Escalona got hit hard again after Kendrick left the game. Escalona was charged with three runs in the fifth inning, raising his spring ERA to 13.50. Drew Carpenter followed Escalona and allowed a run over three innings to drop his spring ERA to 1.13 over eight innings.

Polanco went 2-for-3 in the game to raise his average to .375 (9-for-24 with nine singles).

Saturday Happ threw four strong innings as the Phils topped the Twins 5-4. Happ held Minnesota to a single single and struck out three before Bastardo got hit hard in the sixth inning. Bastardo allowed four runs on five hits — only three of the runs were earned. Durbin, Madson, Contreras and Baez all threw a scoreless inning in the game. Francisco hit a solo shot in the game and Cody Ransom had a three-run homer. Clay Condrey pitched the sixth for the Twins and allowed a run on a pair of singles.

This suggests that Madson will close if Lidge can’t start the year.

Scott Eyre may be open to the idea of pitching again.

First cuts of camp for the Phillies included Scott Mathieson, Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, Jesus Sanchez, Joe Savery and Drew Naylor.

Amaro says it’s probably unlikely that Romero will be available to start the season in the article linked above. I think it’s definitely unlikely.

Not many people have been blown away by what Bastardo, Zagurski or Escalona are doing in spring training.

Spring flingers

The Phillies have allowed a total of six runs over their last three spring training games. That probably doens’t mean a whole lot, but it does make it easier to win spring training games.

The five pitchers who have started spring games for the Phils so far, Halladay, Hamels, Blanton, Happ and Kendrick, have combined to throw to a 1.87 ERA with an 0.96 ratio and struck out 19 over 24 innings.

Yesterday Blanton and four other pitchers combined to throw a three-hit shutout as the Phils topped the Tigers 4-0. Blanton threw four scoreless innings and Savery two. David Herndon, Scott Mathieson and Yohan Flande each tossed a scoreless frame. Detroit had three hits in the game, all singles and all off of Blanton. Ibanez homered for the Phils and Utley and Victorino each had a pair of hits. Utley raised his spring average to .545.

Mathieson has now struck out four in two scorelss innings. Herndon has pitched three scoreless innings, allowing two walks but no hits.

Article about Herndon here.

Carpenter is trying to get Madson’s help with his change-up.

Today’s games against the Rays and Tigers have been cancelled due to awful weather.

Rotation consideration

I don’t think there’s much question that the Phillies starting pitchers in 2010 are going to be better than their starting pitchers in 2009. The question is just how much better. Here’s what the five guys in the starting rotation for 2010, Halladay, Hamels, Blanton, Happ and Moyer, combined to do as starting pitchers in 2009 and how it compares to the overall line for Phillies starters in ’09:

  IP H BB SO ERA Ratio
5 SP 915.7 940 224 719 3.81 1.27
PHI SP ’09 963.7 1022 266 736 4.29 1.34

Phillies starting pitchers overall combined to allow about .495 runs per inning in 2009. Those five pitchers combined to allow about .439 runs per inning, which is about 88.7% of .495.

Halladay threw 239 innings last year, which would have been about 25% of the total innings thrown by starting pitchers if he had thrown them for the Phillies and the Phillies starters had still thrown their 963 2/3 innings. He had a 2.79 ERA and a 1.13 ratio in ’09 and it seems like he may be able to reproduce those fantastic numbers with the move to the NL.

Blanton seems like a good candidate to be about as good in 2010 as he was in 2009.

Hamels seems like a good candidate to be better. Maybe a lot better. He also seems like a good candidate to eat up more innings than the 193 2/3 he pitched in 2009.

Happ seems like he will drop off a little. Moyer will be better or pitch less.

It seems reasonable to assume that the improvement by Hamels and the Moyer spot in the rotation will outweigh the drop off for Happ. As starters, Hamels and Moyer combined to throw 337 innings with a 4.75 ERA and a 1.35 ratio in 2009. Hamels and Moyer, or whoever takes over for Moyer, are going to combine to be a lot better than that in 2010.

If those five did exactly what they did in 2009 again in 2010, here’s what the other Phillies starting pitchers would have to do in 2010 for the Phillies to match their 2009 totals in these categories:

48 82 42 17 13.31 2.58

Insert your own Jose Contreras joke here, but someone in the starting rotation is going to be a lot worse in 2010 than they were in 2009 or the numbers for the rotation are going to get better overall.

The Phillies beat the Blue Jays 4-2 yesterday. Hamels sat down the first nine men he faced before allowing a solo homer to Jose Bautista to start the fourth. Ryan Vogelsong followed Hamels and allowed a run over 2 1/3 innings. JC Ramirez pitched the last three innings and held Toronto to a pair of singles while striking out three. Cody Ransom hit a solo home run for the Phils. Dobbs doubled twice. Mayberry was 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles to raise his average for the spring to .368.

Kyle Drabek started the game for Toronto and pitched two scoreless innings.

This says Brad Lidge will pitch in a game on Monday.

Fall from ridiculous pace

About a year ago I was writing that between 2007 and 2008, Ryan Howard’s batting average dropped from .268 to .251 despite the fact that he got hits in a very similar number of plate appearances in both seasons.

He improved his rate of getting hits in 2009 over ’08 and ’07, posting a .279 average. His strikeouts were down as well — for the second straight season the percentage of plate appearances in which he fanned went down. That’s where the good news ends, though, as for the third straight year his home run rate fell and for the second straight year his walks fell.

Here’s the percentage of plate appearances in which Howard has homered, walked, struck out or got a hit over the past four years:

Year % HR % BB % K % H
2006 8.2 15.3 25.7 25.9
2007 7.3 16.5 30.7 21.9
2008 6.9 11.6 28.4 21.9
2009 6.4 10.7 26.5 24.5

Again, the good news is more hits and fewer strikeouts. The bad news is that the walks are way down since 2007 and the home runs are falling to. In defense of the declining walk rate it’s important to notice how dramatically intentional walks have fallen off for Howard in the past two years. In 2006 and 2007 he was walked intentionally 72 times. In 2008 and 2009 he was walked intentionally just 25 times. Also, even if his home run and walk rates are down since 2006, it’s important to remember 1) that he was absurdly good in 2006 (he hit 313/425/659 with 58 homers and was MVP of the league) and 2) in 2009 he was fifth in the league in runs created, third in homers and first in RBI. So he’s still rather productive.

Roy Halladay threw three scoreless innings last night as the Phils topped the Braves 7-4. Madson allowed four runs in the fourth inning, only two of which were earned (Dobbs made an error at third in the frame). Drew Carpenter threw three scoreless innings in the game. Baez allowed a hit and a walk in a scoreless inning and Escalona threw a perfect sixth. Werth hit a two-run homer and Mayberry and Francisco each drove in a pair of runs.

Victorino saw his first spring action and went 1-for-3 with a single.

This article suggests Moyer is the heavy favorite to be the fifth starter. In the article, Rich Dubee suggests that the fifth starter likely won’t be decided by which player pitches best in spring training. I think chances are good it will be decided by which player has a name that rhymes best with Ramey Hoyer.

But do those guys know Jared?

Lots of people talking about this great article about how many curve balls Ryan Howard saw last year. Milt Thompson says that given how many breaking balls Howard sees he should be able to walk 150 times in a season. That may be a little optimistic, but it does seem like Howard should be drawing more walks. Howard has been in the top three in all of baseball in home runs for each of the past four seasons. Here’s how his rate of walks compares to the other top home run hitters from either league in 2009:

Player PA HR BB % of PA BB
A Pujols 700 47 115 16.4
P Fielder 719 46 110 15.3
R Howard 703 45 75 10.7
M Reynolds 662 44 76 11.5
A Gonzalez 681 40 119 17.5
C Pena 570 39 87 15.3
M Teixeira 707 39 81 11.5
A Dunn 668 38 116 17.4
J Werth 676 36 91 13.5
A Hill 734 36 42 5.7
J Bay 638 36 94 14.7

The group of players walked in about 14.9% of their plate appearances in 2009 on average. Howard walked in about 10.7% of his. The only player on the list who drew walks less often was Aaron Hill.

The Yankees beat the Phils 7-5 yesterday in a game that featured Jose Contreras allowing six runs on six hits and three walks over 1 2/3 innings. Kendrick pitched very well before that, throwing three scoreless innings. Scott Mathieson struck out two in his inning, but allowed a run on a single and a double. Mayberry went 2-for-4 with a solo home run and Rollins was also 2-for-4 with a solo shot.

It sure seemed like Moyer was a heavy favorite to win the fifth starter job. I still think he is, but it’s great to see Kendrick pitching so well.

Halladay will pitch in tonight’s game against the Yankees. Victorino, who has missed time with a sore shoulder, is expected to play.

Charlie Manuel tops Gene Mauch and Dallas Green in this poll on best manager in Phillies history. I concur.

What can Brown do for himself? Probably not enough

Here’s today’s guess on who will be on the 25-man roster for the Phillies on opening day:

Hitters (13): Ruiz, Howard, Utley, Polanco, Rollins, Ibanez, Victorino, Werth, Schneider, Gload, Dobbs, Castro and Francisco.

Sure looks like it’s a tough task for Brown to work his way on to the roster, not matter how well he hits this spring.

Pitchers (12): Halladay, Hamels, Blanton, Happ, Moyer, Madson, Durbin, Baez, Contreras, Bastardo, Kendrick, Escalona.

Romero and Lidge on the DL. Pretty low confidence in the Bastardo, Kendrick and Escalona guesses, especially Escalona. The other 22 look like sure things and Bastardo seems closer to a sure thing than Kendrick or Escalona.

No change there for me since the last guess, which came on February 12.

The Phillies are 1-2 in spring training after two losses and a tie since the last post.

Yesterday they lost to the Rays in ten innings, falling 5-3. Happ and Aumont combined to throw five scoreless innings to start the game before Joe Savery gave up three runs in the sixth. A two-run double by Domonic Brown, who is hitting .538 so far this spring, tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth. Yohan Flande threw a scoreless ninth inning but gave up two runs in the top of the tenth. Jimmy Rollins had a solo homer in the game and Ross Gload went 3-for-5 with a double.

Saturday the Phils and Pirates played to a 3-3 tie in ten innings. Blanton gave up three runs in the bottom of the first, two of which came on a two-run shot by Ryan Church. Baez and Zagurski both pitched two scoreless innings in the game. Jesus Sanchez had another impressive outing, striking out two in a perfect bottom of the tenth. Brown went 2-for-3 with a walk.

On Friday the Phils fell to Toronto 14-9. Hamels celebrated the start of a brand new year by giving up a home run to the first man he faced. He pitched better after that, allowing a run on two hits and a walk in two innings overall. JC Ramirez, Ryan Vogelsong and Bill White followed Hamels and combined to give up 13 runs over three innings. Bastardo struck out two in a perfect eighth. Tyson Gillies went 2-for-2 with a home run and Brown was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI.

Moyer had an impressive outing in the B-game against Toronto on Friday. He struck out three while tossing three scoreless frames.

Lidge will face hitters on Wednesday and Romero is “a ways from facing hitters.”

Victorino still has a sore shoulder and will not play today against the Yankees. Kendrick is expected to pitch in today’s game.

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