February 23 2006
In 2005, the Phillies got off to an awful start with a 10-14 April. Here's what some key players did during that month:
Lieberthal, Rollins, Bell and Thome were all struggling. The low slugging percentages for Thome and Abreu are also notable, although Abreu was getting on base a lot even with his early season struggles. The two combined to hit just two HR in their 167 April at-bats. Lost a bit in the much dwelled upon bad start is that Burrell and the CF platoon of Lofton and Michaels hit very well.
was actually a bigger part of the story of the slow start --
Lieber, Myers and Wagner came out mowing people down but most
everyone else was getting shelled. It sheds some light on the
Phillies pitching problems -- Wolf and Floyd might have been a
big part of their staff but wound up with just 17 starts for the
season combined, seven of which came in April.
And the pen was awful. Terry Adams had just 13.1 innings pitched for the whole season, nine of which came in April, before being designated for assignment in May. If the Phillies were counting on him, they found out early that it was a mistake. Cormier also was battered in April, foreshadowing what was to come. And don't even get me started on Tim Worrell, who somehow only pitched 17.1 innings for the Phils in '05 but managed to make it seem like 170, before going to Arizona where he posted a 2.27 ERA for the Diamondbacks.
The man with two red shoes
February 22 2006
You can understand how Aaron Rowand might be a little shocked. After all, he was traded from the Chicago White Sox, a tightly knit group who shook up the baseball world last season by winning the organization's first World Series since 1917, to the National League and a Phillies team that's been looking for the missing piece since around the time MTV was launched. And what's the hardest part to deal with? Itís gotta be the shoes.
Rowand explained it all to the Chicago Tribune: "That's probably the weirdest thing of everything, the red spikes," Rowand said. "You're always looking down, looking at your feet. ... I never foresaw myself in red spikes in the States." (Rowand previously wore red spikes while playing winter ball in Puerto Rico).
Aaron, you ain't seen nothing yet. Apparently nobody explained the fans. Or the park. Or the brick wall. Or that Pat Burrell and Bobby Abreu have the combined range of Piper Perabo. Better to break him in slowly (and I'm begging here, please, mums the world on Wing Bowl).
In the black shoes of the White Sox, Aaron established himself as an elite defensive outfielder. Here's how he stacked up defensively against two of the 2005 Gold Glove winners from the AL (the other Gold Glove winner in the AL in 2005 was Ichiro Suzuki, who played right field rather than center):
Rowand didn't throw as well as either of those guys, but overall he was better than Hunter. Wells was probably better, with the 12 assists and not a single error, but Rowand still got to more balls in about the same number of innings. Bottom line, though, is he can go get it, which is good, cause the Phillies need it got (see Piper Perabo).
And I think he's been a better offensive player than people remember. In 2004, Rowand posted a 310/364/544 line -- good enough for the team high in OPS on a squad where Paul Konerko socked 41 HR and Carlos Lee hit .305 with another 31 HR (Frank Thomas actually had a higher OPS, but in less than 250 AB). Rowand's numbers did tail off a lot in 2005, dropping to 270/329/409.
Every time I see Aaron Rowand he looks like he just came off the set of West Side Story. He's got the 50's greaser look down, and he says he's ready to run through the wall in left-center fielder as often as the Phillies need him to. My favorite Rowand quote, regarding some of the more unusual stadium designs around the league: "It's not that big a deal. You don't run after a fly ball and then say, 'Oh my God, the hill!' You just go after it." And I believe him.
Cause when you're a Jet you're a Jet.
Keep on rolling
February 21 2006
wants to score 150 runs in a single season. I want him to, too,
but the problem is it almost never happens. So far its been
done 44 times, six of them by Babe Ruth. In the National League
it has happened twice since 1931, most recently when Jeff
Bagwell scored 152 runs in 2000. Before Bagwell, the last
player to score 150 runs in the NL was Chuck Klein in 1932.
The goal is perfect -- scoring runs is what you want your leadoff man to be thinking about. And I don't care how he does it. If he figures out a way to score 150 runs with a 330 on-base percentage I'll be thrilled. Of course, I'd be thrilled because it meant Pat Burrell, Bobby Abreu and Ryan Howard combined to hit about 155 home runs, but thrilled is
thrilled. And that's the problem -- it takes more than being a great hitter to score 150 runs.
And here's how I know: The greatest hitter of my lifetime (and the greatest hitter of your lifetime, too, unless you were around to have first hand experience with the 1935 Dust Bowl) never did it. Barry Bonds never got close (career high: 129). Rickey Henderson never did it (146). The thing is, it says more about the teams they played on and the era they played in than about either player. When Bagwell scored 152 runs in 2000, his Astros were second in the NL in runs scored, with 938. When Henderson scored 146 in 1985, his Yankees were the highest scoring offense in the American League but scored just 839 (St. Louis led the NL with 747 that season).
There's almost no way Rollins can get to 150 runs in a season, partly because he doesn't hit a lot of home runs (and score himself). In the last ten years, only once has the player who led the NL in runs hit less than 40 home runs. Craig Biggio led the league with 146 runs scored in 1997 -- he hit 22 home runs and on-based .419. The good news is that Rollins can be a solid hitter without ever getting near his 150 runs. Take a look at
his numbers in these categories:
The best news here is the strikeouts -- down from 113 in 2003 to 73 in 2004. With it came new highs in batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage. And runs. And the bad news? In 2005 he had the fewest walks of his career (except 2000, when he only had 53 AB) in the year when he had the most at-bats.
150 runs is a perfect dream for February. Getting closer to 150 runs is a perfect goal for Jimmy Rollins in 2006 -- but he's either going to have to hit like he did at the end of last year (32 runs in 29 games in September and October) for a whole season, or come up with a new way to get where he wants to be. During those tremendous 130 at-bats to end the 2005 campaign Rollins tallied 13 of his 47 walks for the season. By comparison, he walked just 16 times in his 330 at-bats in April, June and August combined. Let's hope the Jimmy that's dreaming today is the same one that was digging in at the end of last year, because that guy can take himself anywhere.
Feeling good was easy when Bobby sang the
February 20 2006
Bobby Abreu is not pleased. The Phillies have been up front about their interest in trading him for a top of the rotation starter, and it doesn't sit well with the two-time All-Star who has been knocking the ball around the yard for the Phils since 1998.
This would concern me except that, so far as I can tell, and with the possible exception of the 2005 All-Star game, Abreu's been pissed since 1997 when the Phillies got him straight-up for Kevin Stocker. This is not to say it's good or bad -- but it's been working for Abreu for a long time and I say let's just go with it. Cause he sure can hit.
In his eight years with the Phililes, Abreu has hit 187 home runs -- seventh on the Phillies all-time list. He's also fourth in on-base percentage, fifth in slugging percentage and doubles and tenth in RBI. All time, among all players with 1000 plate appearances, he's 32nd in on-base percentage -- that's All-time, as in the list goes 1) Ted Williams, 2) Babe Ruth . . . (32) Bobby Abreu.
Abreu has been seeing the ball well for a long time now, putting together eight impressive offensive seasons in a row. For example, in 2004, when Jim Thome stroked 42 home runs while hitting .274 and driving in 105 runs, Abreu was arguably the best offensive player on the team. That year he posted a 301/428/544 line to go with his 30 HR and 47 doubles. This also in a year where Thome was a butcher at first base while Abreu was decent in
And then there's defense. Abreu ridiculously won a Gold Glove in 2005 (some NL corner outfielders with more putouts in fewer innings than Abreu: Geoff Jenkins, Jeromy Burnitz, Brian Giles, Jose Guillen, Luis Gonzalez and Cliff Floyd) but for many years he was good enough out there -- he tailed off a bit defensively last year and will likely continue to do
so over the next few seasons.
Do the Phillies owe Abreu something? Well, they have paid him more than $47 million in the last ten years, not including the $13 million he'll earn this season, so it's hard to say they owe him any money.
They definitely owe it to the fans to make their team as good as they can, but I'm not sure dealing Abreu is the way to do it. I think it depends on two things: It definitely depends on who the top of the rotation starter they could get would be, but also on how healthy Randy Wolf will be this season. If he's really coming back for the second half, healthy, that's a huge boost. Cause of the two rotations below, the one on the right looks a
lot better than the one on the left. And if the Phillies really believe the one on the right is what we'll see by the end of July, I'd be inclined to dance with what brought me (even if where it has brought me is no playoff appearances since 1993).
|Without Wolf||With Wolf|