Archive for March, 2012

Who is righter?

One other thing about Podsednik and Pierre. Given that either would be a part-time player who would play (hopefully) far more often against righties than lefties, the answer as to who would be the better match for the Phillies seems to have a lot to do with what the lefties do against right-handed pitching.

For their careers, their numbers are similar. Pierre has a 293/339/369 line against right-handed pitching while Podsednik is at 283/344/391. Pierre has hit for the slightly higher average, but Podsednik has offered more power and walked more. Against righties, Podsednik has walked in about 8.1% of his plate appearances while Pierre has walked about 5.7% of the time. Podsednik’s isolated power of .108 is considerably better than Pierre’s .076 against righties.

Pierre was absolutely terrible against righties in 2011, hitting just 264/296/325 against them over 536 plate appearances. A .296 on-base percentage with no power isn’t really what you’re looking for a left-handed corner outfielder against right-handed pitching. Pierre hit just .264 and walked in just 4.1% of his plate appearances against righties. Advantage Podsednik, there, who didn’t appear in the majors in 2011. In 2010, though, he hit them hard, putting up a 300/349/406 line against them over 445 plate appearances. 2009 he was good, too — 297/352/429 over 426 plate appearances.

The Phils played twice yesterday in split-squad action, beating the Braves and playing to a tie against the Rays.

The Phils beat the Braves 6-4.

Blanton started the game, allowing three runs over five innings. He allowed a solo home run to Matt Diaz in the second and a pair of runs on three singles in the third. That’s the first time Blanton has been charged with a run in official Spring Training action. In three starts he’s now thrown to a 2.70 ERA with a 1.10 ratio over ten innings in three starts. Herndon was next, facing four batters, retiring three and allowing a two-out homer to Uggla, upping his ERA to 1.69. Willis and Bastardo followed with scoreless innings. Qualls allowed a single and struck out two in a scoreless ninth.

Nice to see Willis put up a zero. He walked the first man he faced on four pitches, but got a fly ball and double-play behind that. Got his ERA down to 16.88. Bastardo has allowed one hit and no walks in four scoreless frames.

Rollins, Polanco and Thome (DH), all went 2-for-4 in the game for the Phils. Mayberry continued his hot hitting, going 1-for-3 with a double and a walk and getting his average up to .226. He’s 2-for-5 with two doubles and two walks over the last two days after a slow start. Podsednik had two more hits, going 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI and upping his average to .333. He leads the team with four doubles.

The Phillies lost a late lead in the other game, allowing two runs in the last two innings as they tied the Rays 6-6.

Piniero started that one and allowed a run on two hits and a walk over two innings. He’s got a 4.50 ERA and a 1.50 ratio through three appearances. Purcey followed that with two scoreless frames, dropping his ERA to 1.80 in five innings. Elarton gave up three runs in the fifth on a double, two singles and a walk before coming back to throw a scoreless sixth. Coming off an awful outing, Horst allowed two hits in a scoreless inning in the seventh to drop his ERA to 6.75. Schwimer started the bottom of the eighth with a 6-4 lead, but allowed a run in the eighth and another in the ninth that allowed the Rays to tie the game at 6-6. Jordan Whatcott, probably not coming soon to a theater near you, took over for Schwimer with two outs in the ninth and a man on second and got a ground out to end the ninth.

Elarton came into the game having allowed just one run on one hit over six innings, but has now allowed four earned runs over eight innings (4.50 ERA).

Pierre played center field and hit leadoff, going 2-for-4 and driving in two runs. Frandsen went 0-for-3 at short and dropped his average to .174. Montanez went 1-for-3 in right and is now hitting .450 (9-for-20). Pete Orr was 2-for-4 with a double and is at .280.

The Phils play the Pirates this afternoon with Cliff Lee expected to pitch.

Halladay does not sound worried about his Spring Training results to this point. I’m not either. Halladay has thrown to a 10.57 ERA so far, but has also struck out ten in 7 2/3 innings.

Contreras threw a scoreless innings in a minor league game, allowing a single and getting three ground outs.

In this article, Manuel says there’s “a good chance” Utley will play April 5 against Pittsburgh. The article also suggests that Manuel thinks that Galvis can play second base in the majors. Let’s hope he doesn’t start against Pittsburgh on April 5. Galvis has a .639 OPS in 30 at-bats this Spring Training. In 2011, Wilson Valdez put up a .634 OPS for the Phils over 300 plate appearances.

Laynce Nix was scratched yesterday because of sore left ribs that continue to be thought of as not serious no matter how many times he’s scratched. Brown was scratched due to a stiff neck.


Speed kills, but hopefully not us

I’m pretty sure that Scott Podsednik isn’t going to get a five-year, $44 million contract any time soon, but beyond that there are a lot of similarities between Podsednik and Juan Pierre. Both are left-handed hitters known for their speed who really shouldn’t be spending a whole lot of time as corner outfielders on a team trying to win the World Series, but just might for the Phillies in 2011.

Here are the percentages of plate appearances each have gotten a hit, reached base on a walk or hit by pitch, an extra-base hit or a home run for their career, remembering that Podsednik turns 36 later this month and Pierre turns 35 in August.

PA % H % BB+HBP % 1B % XBH % HR
Pierre 7511 26.9 7.0 22.4 4.5 0.2
Podsednik 4130 25.1 8.5 19.0 6.1 1.0

Pierre is a career 296/345/363 hitter while Podsednik has posted a 279/340/381 line. For their careers, Pierre has been more likely to get a hit and Podsednik more likely reach base via walk or hit by pitch. Podsednik has shown more power of the two, getting extra-base hits in 6.1% of his plate appearances compared to about 4.5% for Pierre. He’s been about five times more likely to homer in a given plate appearance, not that he’s shown a lot of power, hitting more than ten home runs in a season just once in his career (2004 with the Brewers) and averaging about one per 100 plate appearances.

Neither of those guys gets on the field for their power, offensively it’s all about their ability to get on base and steal bases. They have very similar numbers in terms of getting on base — if you add up the percentage of plate appearances in which they’ve gotten a hit, walk or hit by pitch, it’s about 33.9% for Pierre and about 33.6% for Podsednik.

Pierre has stolen a base about once every 13.56 plate appearances for his career, a little bit better than 13.72 for Podsednik. They have been successful in their stolen base attempts at a very similar rate as well, with a small advantage there for Podsednick. Podsednik has been safe about 74.7% of the time compared to 74.5% for Pierre.

The bigger issue, of course, is not which of them is the better offensive player, but whether or not either of them is a good enough offensive player to get regular time as a corner outfielder.

The Phillies are 5-7 in Spring Training after falling to the Twins 6-4 yesterday. The game was most notable cause Halladay got hit hard again, puffing his Spring Training ERA to 10.57 after three outings. In 7 2/3 innings he has allowed 13 hits and five walks.

If he’s going to pitch to a 10.57 ERA, now’s the perfect time for it.

Halladay started the game for the Phils and didn’t make it out of the third inning. He allowed five runs over 2 2/3 innings, four of which came on home runs — a solo shot by Josh Willingham and a three-run homer by Chris Parmelee. Joe Savery was next and he held the Twins to two singles over 1 1/3 scoreless innings, keeping his Spring Training ERA at 0.00 after three appearances and 3 1/3 innings. Papelbon followed Savery and allowed a walk and a single in a scoreless inning, dropping his ERA to 2.25 after four innings in four outings. Stutes was next. He faced six batters and retired all six. Diekman followed Stutes and allowed a single and a double to the first two men he faced before striking out the next three, although he was charged with an unearned run that scored on a passed ball by Kratz. Righty Michael Cisco, who threw to a 1.59 ERA for Reading last year and allowed just 39 hits in 62 1/3 innings, set the Twinkies down in the ninth in his first official action of Spring Training.

Polanco was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI for the Phils. Mayberry 1-for-2 with a double and a walk to get his line up to 214/267/321. Podsednik and Pierre both 0-for-1. Rollins went 0-for-3 with a walk to drop his average to .217. Ruiz is hitting .600 (6-for-10) after going 2-for-2 with a walk.

Domonic Brown didn’t make a single defense miscue in the entire game. He was at DH and went 1-for-4. And yes he needs a lot of reps in the outfield, but I personally feel like I could use a couple of reps of not seeing him play defense.

Split-squad action against the Braves and Rays today with Blanton and Piniero expected to pitch.

The Phillies sent nine players to minor league camp, including Dave Bush, Pat Misch and Tyson Gillies.

Ryan Howard still wears a protective boot, played catch yesterday and has no timetable for his return.

In this article, Rollins says of Howard: “If you ask me, with this infection, I don’t know if he’s going to play this year, because after all the work that he’s done, now he’s got to hit the reset button.”

Well aren’t we a little storm cloud? Let’s all just agree not to ask him anymore, okay? Maybe that’ll fix things right up.

And speaking of no timetable, you can expect to see Utley, well, sometime soon. Soon, of course, means different things to different people.

The article linked above also suggests that Willis will pitch today, Contreras will pitch in a minor league game today and that Thome will play first in a minor league game tomorrow.


Substitution contribution

The other day I pointed out that Papelbon’s addition might help the Phillie bullpen bring down the huge rate at which their relievers issued walks in 2011. Qualls might as well. Here are the rates of runs, hits, walks and strikeouts per nine innings for the ’11 pen as well as Papelbon and Qualls for 2011 and for their careers (remembering that Papelbon has spent his whole career in the AL while Qualls has thrown all but 21 innings of his career in the NL):

Runs per 9 BB/9 H/9 SO/9
Phillie pen 2011 3.68 3.99 7.84 8.01
Papelbon 2011 3.07 1.40 6.99 12.17
Qualls 2011 3.63 2.42 8.83 5.21
Papelbon career 2.64 2.41 6.75 10.67
Qualls career 4.16 2.49 8.93 7.06

The numbers for Qualls are a little scary overall, but his walk rate has always been under the 3.99 per nine innings that the bullpen posted for the Phils in 2011. Qualls has only had one year for his career in which he has posted a walk rate worse than 2.85 batters per nine — in 2010, a disaster for Qualls, he walked about 3.2 batters per nine while throwing to a 7.32 ERA.

Dontrelle Willis is a different story, of course. Willis has seen his walk rate explode in recent years to the detriment of his career. From 2003 to 2007 with the Marlins, Willis threw 1,022 2/3 innings and walked 344 batters — that’s about 3.03 batters per nine. Since he left Florida, 2008-2011, Willis has thrown just 199 innings in which he has walked 156 batters. That’s 7.06 batters per nine innings. You’re going to have some trouble putting up nice numbers overall if you walk 7.06 batters per nine — Willis’s ERA since the end of 2007 is 6.15.

The Phillies played Houston yesterday, losing 6-5 on a walkoff homer by Brian Bixler in the bottom of the tenth. They are 5-6.

Hamels started the game for the Phillies and was good again, holding the Astros to a run on four hits over five innings without walking a batter. The outing, the third of Spring Training for Hamels, raised his ERA to 1.69.

Bush pitched the sixth, allowing singles to the first two men he faced, but getting the next three to keep Houston off the board and lowering his ERA to 6.75. Lefty Raul Valdes allowed a run on two hits and a walk in the seventh — he’s now allowed a run on three hits and a walk over four innings. Brian Sanches followed him, allowing a run over two innings to lower his ERA to 6.75. Jeremy Horst started the tenth with a 5-3 lead. He allowed a a single and a walk before striking out righty Chris Wallace for the first out. Bixler was next, though, and he hit Horst’s first pitch out to left to give Houston the win. Horst came into the game having not been charged with a run in his first two appearances, but has now been charged with three runs in three innings.

Domonic Brown broke a 3-3 tie in the top of the tenth with a solo home run, his first of Spring Training. He was 2-for-5 on the day, raising his average to .313 (5-for-16 with two triples and a home run). That’s the good news. The bad news is that he’s so bad defensively it’s hard to believe the Phillies are going to put him on the field in a game that counts anytime soon. Brown made another bad miscue reacting to a ball hit to the outfield yesterday, misplaying Carlos Lee’s eighth inning line drive into a double.

Brown had also been charged with a throwing error in the seventh. It was his second error so far this Spring Training, but the reality is that two errors don’t capture just how atrocious his defense has been. He’s now OPSing 1.103 in his 16 official Spring Training at-bats, but there’s little left to the dream he would show up and prove he’s ready to join the team for the start of the regular season.

Michael Martinez was 2-for-2 with a pair of singles, upping his average to .333. Podsednik started in center and made a couple of nice defensive plays in right after shifting there. He was 1-for-5 at the plate to drop his average to .320 (8-for-25 with three doubles). Pierre went 0-for-1 with a walk and is hitting .263.

Mayberry started at first and went 0-for-3, dropping his line to 192/222/269 in a team-high 26 at-bats.

Martinez left yesterday’s game after being hit on the elbow by a pickoff attempt.

The same article says that Nix was scratched from yesterday’s game, but is expected to play soon.

The Phils face the Twins this afternoon with Halladay expected to pitch.


Walk-a-thon

Last week I pointed out that Phillie relievers walked a ton of hitters in 2011. While the average NL bullpen saw their pitchers walk about 9.5% of the batters they faced and about 3.64 per nine innings, the Phils’s pen walked 10.5% of the batters they faced and 3.99 per nine innings.

Here’s how the numbers break down for guys who faced batters in relief for the Phils in 2011:

IP BF BB  % BF BB BB/9
Juan Perez 
Justin De Fratus 
Mike Zagurski 
Vance Worley 
J.C. Romero 
Brad Lidge 
Jose Contreras 
Antonio Bastardo 
Michael Schwimer 
Michael Stutes 
Scott Mathieson 
David Herndon 
Kyle Kendrick 
Andrew Carpenter 
Danys Baez 
Ryan Madson 
Joe Blanton 
Cole Hamels 
Joe Savery 
Wilson Valdez 
Team Total 
5
4
3 1/3
6 2/3
16 1/3
19 1/3
14
58
14 1/3
62
5
57
31 2/3
9 1/3
36
60 2/3
3
3
2 2/3
1
412 1/3
21
17
17
30
75
86
60
225
64
259
28
243
136
44
163
246
12
12
9
4
1751
5
3
3
5
12
13
8
26
7
28
3
24
13
4
13
16
0
0
0
0
183
23.8
17.6
17.6
16.7
16.0
15.1
13.3
11.6
10.9
10.8
10.7
9.9
9.6
9.1
8.0
6.5
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
10.5
9.00
6.75
8.10
6.75
6.61
6.05
5.14
4.03
4.40
4.06
5.40
3.79
3.69
3.86
3.25
2.37
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
3.99

They are sorted by percentage of batters faced that were walked. Everyone from Kyle Kendrick and above both walked more than 9.5% of the batters they faced and walked more than 3.64 batters per nine innings.

There were four guys in the bullpen for the Phillies last year who threw more than 36 innings in relief. Stutes, Madson, Bastardo and Herndon combined to 237 innings out of the pen. That’s 57.5% of the total innings that relievers for the Phils threw for the year.

Of those four, Stutes, Herndon and Bastardo were all above the league average in terms of walks for both the percentage of hitters that they walked and their walks per nine innings. Madson was the only guy of the group who was under in either category — he was well under in both, but his ability to prevent walks doesn’t look like it’s going to help the team much in 2012.

Papelbon was great at preventing walks in 2011, walking just 10 of the 255 batters he faced. That’s 3.92% of batters and 1.40 per nine innings, both of which are better than Madson’s numbers. In 2009 and 2010 combined, though, his walk rate was much higher. In those two years combined, Papelbon walked 3.46 hitters per nine and about 9.1% of the hitters he faced.

The Phillies are 5-5 in Spring Training action after beating the Pirates 4-1 yesterday afternoon.

Worley was the story of the game. He started for the Phillies and was outstanding, striking out eight in four perfect innings. Pat Misch followed Worley and he was very good, too, retiring five in a row before walking Eric Fryer to give the Pirates their first base-runner of the game with two outs in the sixth inning. Herndon was next and he allowed an unearned run on a single, a stolen base and an error by Martinez at short. Bastardo and Schwimer followed Herndon and each threw a scoreless inning.

Herndon, Bastrado and Schwimer haven’t been charged with an earned run yet in official Spring Training action.

Hector Luna and Jimmy Rollins both homered for the Phils, the first of Spring Training for Rollins and the second for Luna.

Scott Podsednik started in right for the Phillies and went 1-for-3, dropping his average to .350 (7-for-20). Brown was 1-for-1 with an RBI-triple. Pierre 1-for-3 with a single to up his average to .278 (5-for-18 with five singles). Tyson Gillies went 0-for-3 to drop his average to .158 (3-for-19 with a double).

The Phils face the Astros this afternoon with Cole Hamels and Dave Bush expected to pitch.

Jim Thome played four innings of first base in a minor league game yesterday. Sounds kinda like it wasn’t a problem except for when someone hit the ball near him.

Contreras also played in a minor league game yesterday, getting five outs and throwing 21 pitches.

The same article linked above says that Nix left Monday’s game after just one at-bat because he didn’t feel good. Nix suffered a bruise to his left rib cage in a collision at the plate in Sunday’s game against the Tigers.


Pen happy to offer a little relief for anyone looking to walk

The starters may have been fantastic at preventing walks for the Phils in 2011, but the relievers were a different story. The bullpen walked a whole lot of folks last year.

For each of the NL teams, here’s the percentage of batters faced by relievers that walked in 2011:

Team Batters Faced Walks % BB
COL 
MIL 
STL 
ARI 
NYM 
PIT 
FLA 
ATL 
WSN 
HOU 
SFG 
LAD 
SDP 
PHI 
CHC 
CIN 
TOT
2133
1888
1969
1888
2101
2298
2167
2177
2193
2094
1958
1878
2031
1751
2164
2120
32810
149
139
170
166
199
220
208
209
211
205
197
193
210
183
227
227
3113
7.0%
7.4%
8.6%
8.8%
9.5%
9.6%
9.6%
9.6%
9.6%
9.8%
10.1%
10.3%
10.3%
10.5%
10.5%
10.7%
9.5%

By percentage of batters faced that were walked, the Phillies relievers were 14th in the NL in 2011.

Phillie starters faced the most batters in the NL by a wide margin in 2011, so it makes sense that the relievers faced the fewest. The Dodgers were the team that faced the second-fewest and they faced 127 more. Despite facing the fewest number of hitters, by a lot, there were four NL teams that walked fewer batters overall than the Phillie relievers did.

Here are the numbers by innings pitched rather than batters faced:

Team IP Walks BB/9
COL 
MIL 
STL 
ARI 
ATL 
FLA 
WSN 
PIT 
SFG 
NYM 
SDP 
HOU 
LAD 
PHI 
CHC 
CIN 
TOT
508 2/3
449 2/3
463
439 1/3
522 1/3
5151/3
520 2/3
526
470 1/3
474
483 2/3
471
439
412 1/3
502 2/3
499
7697
149
139
170
166
209
208
211
220
197
199
210
205
193
183
227
227
3113
2.64
2.78
3.30
3.40
3.60
3.63
3.65
3.76
3.77
3.78
3.91
3.92
3.96
3.99
4.06
4.09
3.64

The Phils were 14th in the NL in walks per nine innings pitched per relievers. Again, this underscores the amazing job the starters did at preventing walks given that overall the team walked fewer total batters than any NL team had since 1995.

The Phils played the Pirates yesterday, winning 5-4 when Lou Montanez hit a walkoff homer off of Michael Dubee in the bottom of the tenth to improve to 3-3.

Cole Hamels got the start for the Phils and was fantastic. He went 3 2/3 scoreless innings before allowing back-to-back singles. He should have been out of the inning, but the next batter, Nate McLouth, reached on an error by Wiggington at second to keep the inning alive. Bush followed Hamels and went 1 1/3 scoreless innings before running into trouble in the sixth. In the sixth, the Pirates scored three runs charged to Bush on three singles and a double, puffing Bush’s Spring Training ERA to 8.31. Bastardo, Aumont and Schwimer all threw scoreless frames for the Phils. Lefty David Purcey went in an inning as well and allowed a run on a solo homer by Starling Marte.

Wigginton started at second and made an error, but went 1-for-1 with an RBI-double and two walks. Pence was 2-for-3. Victorino went 1-for-3 with a two-run homer. Still no hits for Nix, who’s now 0-for-11 after an 0-for-2 with two walks. Montanez won it in the tenth — he’s 3-for-6 so far with two doubles and a home run. He has four RBI — Hector Luna still leads the team with five.

Wigginton has seen a lot of time at second over his career. He didn’t play there in 2011, but he started 35 games at second for the Orioles in 2010 with an UZR/150 of -14.3.

The Phillies play Detroit this afternoon.

Domonic Brown has a sprained right thumb. The linked article suggests he will sit for at least a few more days.

This says that Contreras will throw batting practice today, but is not scheduled for any game action in the next week. It also says that Dontrelle Willis has a sore left forearm and will rest a couple of days.


Doing less with more

In the past several posts I have pointed out that the Phillies starting pitchers, and Halladay, Hamels and Lee in particular, were exceptional at preventing walks in 2011.

As you know, their exceptionalness made for some nice walk numbers for the Phillie starting pitchers last year. In 2011, Phillie starting pitchers faced more batters than any other National League team. They also walked fewer batters than any NL team.

Team Batters Faced Walks % BB
PHI 
ARI 
STL 
WSN 
MIL 
FLA 
NYM 
CIN 
LAD 
SDP 
ATL 
PIT 
HOU 
CHC 
SFG 
COL 
TOT
4318
4214
4242
3948
4160
4033
4215
4139
4119
4034
4043
4019
4174
4098
4172
4082
66010
221
276
278
266
301
292
315
312
314
311
312
315
355
353
362
373
4956
5.1%
6.5%
6.6%
6.7%
7.2%
7.2%
7.5%
7.5%
7.6%
7.7%
7.7%
7.8%
8.5%
8.6%
8.7%
9.1%
7.5%

After the Phillies, the Cardinals were the team whose starting pitchers faced the next highest number of hitters. They faced 266 fewer hitters than the starting pitchers for the Phillies. The Nats were the team whose starters threw the second-fewest number of walks — they walked 45 more than the Phils.

The average NL team saw their starters walk about 7.5% of the batters they faced. Phillies started walked about 5.1% of them. By percentage of batters faced that walked, the Diamondbacks were the second-best rotation at preventing walks — Arizona started faced 104 fewer batters in 2011 and walked 55 more.

The Astros hammered the Phillies 10-3 yesterday, dropping the Phils to 2-3 in Spring Training.

Worley started for the Phils and allowed two runs in two innings on five hits and a walk. Pat Misch was next. He threw a scoreless third before allowing four runs in the fourth, three of which were unearned because of a two-out throwing error by Frandsen at third. Papelbon allowed a triple and a walk in the fifth, but kept the Astros off the board. Willis was next and he got hit hard for his second time in two tries, charged with four runs on three hits and two walks while getting just two outs. Rosenberg, Qualls and Stutes finished it out, combining to throw 3 1/3 shutout innings.

Nice to see Qualls and Stutes both put up some zeroes after each were hit hard in their first official Spring Training appearance.

Willis says he’s sore and tired in this article. Rich Dubee also says the Phils won’t carry two left-handed relievers for the sake of having more than one lefty in the pen. In two outings so far, Willis has allowed five runs in 1 2/3 innings on five hits and three walks (that’s a 27.00 ERA and a 4.80 ratio — opponents have hit .500 against him).

The Phillies had five hits in the game. Podsednik doubled in his only at-bat of the day, his third double already, and is 4-for-8 so far. Lou Montanez was 1-for-2 with a double. Hector Luna homered yet again — 3-for-7 with a double and a home run in official action with another homer in unofficial action against FSU.

Frandsen started at third and went 0-for-4 with an error. 1-for-12 with nightmareish defense so far. Nix is still looking for his first hit — he’s 0-for-9 after going 0-for-3 yesterday.

The Phillies play the Pirates this afternoon with Hamels and Bush expected to pitch.

Harold Garcia, he of the 40-man roster, had surgery on his right knee and will miss four to six months.

Thome will play first base in a minor league game on Monday. The same article says that Laynce Nix had “been bothered with a sore muscle near his left groin.”


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