You’ve come a long way in the wrong direction, baby

Phillies fans spend much of their time these days thinking about how to improve the offense. That’s always a good idea. But if you compare what the Phillies did in 2011 to what they did in 2012, it seems clear that pitching accounts for the massive drop.

So shouldn’t the Phillies be focusing on their pitching?

It seems like the answer is almost surely no. If the value of the position players stays about the same, the pitching is going to have to be extraordinary for the Phillies to return to their recent levels of regular season success. And the pitching is never, ever going to be as good as it was in 2011. In both 2011 and 2012, the team’s hitters were far from exceptional — by combined bWAR for all hitters, the Phils were ninth in the NL in 2012 and eighth in 2011. In 2011, the pitching was so enormously fantastic the Phils were able to dominate the regular season anyway. In 2012, the overall contribution of the position players was about the same as it was in 2011 — the pitching just wasn’t elite in a way that allowed the Phillies to overcome it.

Not only is the pitching not going to be as fantastic as it was in 2011, it probably isn’t going to be as fantastic as it was in 2010. The combined WAR for Phillie pitchers in 2010 was 21.2. Over the past 20 years, other than 2011, the closest the Phillies have gotten to the 21.2 mark was 2006 when their pitchers combined to post a bWAR of 14.8.

Of course, for a lot (18) of the past 20 years, the Phillies didn’t have Halladay, Lee and Hamels atop their rotation. In 1997, for example, Mark Leiter, Matt Beach, Tyler Green and Calvin Maduro combined to make 82 starts for the Phillies, throwing to a 5.61 ERA combined as the Phillies put up a combined WAR for their pitchers of 1.6. Those days are mercifully gone, but in 2012 the Phils gave 86 starts to Halladay, Lee and Hamels and that didn’t turn out real well either.

Given that the pitching is never going back to where it was in 2011, the Phillies are going to need to have both their position players and pitchers improve if they want to retake their position among the elite teams in the NL.

Just how far do they have to go? Really, really far. At least if you look at WAR as calculated by Baseball-Reference.

The table below shows the WAR for hitters and pitchers for the NL teams that won the most games in each of the last five years (the 2012 Phillies are also included, despite not being close to one of the four best teams in the NL last year):

2012 WAS 98 20.6 20.2 40.8
CIN 97 14.3 26.4 40.7
SF 94 28.9 5.5 34.4
ATL 94 23.2 11.7 34.9
(PHI) 81 15 10.8 25.8
2011 PHI 102 14.2 35.2 49.4
MIL 96 23.7 14.6 38.3
ARI 94 23.6 7.3 30.9
STL 90 24.4 9.4 33.8
2010 PHI 97 21.3 21.2 42.5
SF 92 20.8 19.5 40.3
CIN 91 29.5 8.1 37.6
ATL 91 22.8 15.4 38.2
2009 LAD 95 27.1 17.6 44.7
PHI 93 26.3 10.2 36.5
COL 92 17.8 17.9 35.7
STL 91 22.4 14.9 37.3
2008 CHC 97 18.9 26.9 45.8
PHI 92 27.3 11.1 38.4
MIL 90 24.3 13.6 37.9
NYM 89 23.1 12.6 35.7

So, for example, in 2012, the hitters for the Phillies accumulated a total bWAR of 15.0 and the pitchers accumulated a total bWAR of 10.8. If you add them together they total 25.8 — significantly worse than the total for the NL’s fourth-best team by wins, Atlanta (34.9), the third-best team the Giants (34.4), the second-best team the Reds (40.7) or 98-win Nats (40.8).

The 25.8 mark was also hugely worse than the 2011 Phils (49.4).

Again, if you look at the bWAR H column, Baseball-Reference’s calculation suggests that the total WAR for the Phillie position players in 2012 was better than the total WAR for the Phillie position players in 2011.

Over the last five years, here are the average bWAR for hitters and for pitchers for the teams who have won the most, second-most, third-most and fourth-most games in the NL:

Avg bWAR H Avg bWAR P H+P
#1 20.42 24.22 44.64
#2 22.48 16.36 38.84
#3 24.82 10.48 35.3
#4 23.18 12.8 35.98
Actual bWAR H Actual bWAR P H+P
PHI 2012 15 10.8 25.8
PHI 2011 14.2 35.2 49.4
PHI 2010 21.3 21.2 42.5
PHI 2009 26.3 10.2 36.5
PHI 2008 27.3 11.1 38.4

So that suggests to get to the level of the fourth-best team in the NL over the past five seasons, the Phillies would need to add a little more than ten WAR between their hitters and pitchers to their 2012 marks.

That’s a lot.

Important to note is that in 2010, when the Phillies were great, the total WAR for their pitchers was 21.2, which is the second-highest mark for the team in the past 20 years behind only the 35.2 from 2011. I believe you have to go back to 1983 to find a year (other than 2011) in which the combined bWAR for Phillie pitchers was better than 21.2. In 1983, John Denny won the Cy Young for the Phils, Steve Carlton was very good in 37 starts and Kevin Gross and Charles Hudson were both pretty good. Al Holland finished sixth in Cy Young voting pitching out of the pen.

None of that is the real point, though. The real point is that even in 2010, when the pitching was fantastic, the best it had been since 1983, the Phillies still got 21.3 combined WAR from their position players, which is a whole lot more than they got in either of the last two seasons. It’s also a whole lot more than they’re going to get in 2013 without significant additions among the position players.

This suggests that the Angels are close to signing Ryan Madson and that Madson will close for the Angels.

This suggests there are seven teams interested in Shane Victorino. The Phillies are not on the list. It is surprising to me if the Phillies are not interested in bringing Victorino back.

The Phillies signed right-handed pitcher Brian Erbe to a minor league deal. Erbe made Baseball America’s list of top 100 prospects before the 2007 (#76), but has been awful in the minors over the last three years, throwing to a 6.13 ERA over 108 2/3 innings. He missed much of the 2011 season after surgery for a torn labrum and turns 25 next month.

Update: This says Carlos Ruiz has been suspended for 25 games after testing positive for an Amphetamine.

Top ten reasons the Phillies should get some new outfielders

Here are the best seasons for Phillie outfielders by total WAR as measured Baseball-Reference over the past ten years (2003-2012) as well as their NL rank for bWAR for hitters in that season:

Player Year bWAR bWAR rank NL batters
1 Abreu 2004 6.3 8
2 Victorino 2011 5.2 9
3 Abreu 2003 5.2 10
4 Rowand 2007 4.8 12
5 Werth 2010 4.3 17
6 Werth 2009 4.2 15
6 Victorino 2008 4.2 T-17
8 Werth 2008 3.6 T-23
9 Victorino 2009 3.5 T-23
10 Burrell 2005 3.4 T-26
10 Lofton 2005 3.4 T-26
10 Abreu 2005 3.4 T-26

Thanks to a three-way tie for the tenth spot, 12 different seasons appear on the list. Werth, Abreu and Victorino all appear three times each and Rowand, Burrell and Lofton each appear once.

Two of the top three seasons in which a Phillie outfielder has posted a bWAR better than 4.8 came a long time ago — two of the top three spots belong to Bobby Abreu and his ’03 and ’04 seasons.

Comparing that list to Friday’s post about potentially available center fielders, you’ll see there are a number of players whose 2012 season would have had them on the list had they been playing for the Phillies and put up the same bWAR. They include:

  • Michael Bourn’s 6.0 would have been second-best of any Phillie outfielder in the past ten seasons
  • Torii Hunter’s 5.2 would have also been second-best
  • Melky Cabrera’s 4.7 would have been fifth-best
  • Curtis Granderson’s 4.1 would have been eighth-best
  • Angel Pagan’s 4.0 would also have been eighth-best
  • Josh Hamilton’s 3.4 would have tied him for tenth-best

It seems like there may be a case to be made that the Phillies really haven’t had their share of monster bWAR seasons from their outfielders over the past ten years. For example, over the last ten years, the Phillies have had three seasons in which an outfield posted a bWAR better than 4.8. The Braves had three outfielders do it last year in Bourn (6.0), Heyward (5.5) and Prado (5.4).

This suggests that the Phillies are in talks with Cody Ross and that Ross is looking for $25 million over three years. This should work out great if the Phils can just convince everyone to replay the 2010 NLCS and get Ross to put up a 1.385 OPS for them instead of the Giants.

This suggests that issues between the Phillies and Scott Boras stemming from last year’s negotiations around Ryan Madson could impact a potential deal for Michael Bourn, a Boras client.

The article linked above suggests that Amaro said the backup catcher’s job is Erik Kratz’s to lose.

This article mentions the Phillies as a possible fit for Torri Hunter. This suggests the Dodgers are no longer pursuing Hunter.

This suggests the Phillies might be willing to pay Josh Hamilton the amount of money he wants, but not for the number of years he wants.

And not just that, some of those guys haven’t even ever been on Hawaii Five-0

More today on eight of the potential center fielders whose names will be thrown about this off-season as the Phillies try to finalize their outfield. The table below shows their Baseball-Reference calculated oWAR per 600 plate appearances over the past three years and over their career as well as their FanGraphs calculated UZR/150 at center for their career and for any of the last three seasons in which they played at least 500 innings in center:

2010-2012 Career Career 2012 2011 2010
oWAR per 600 PA oWAR per 600 PA UZR/150 CF UZR/150 CF UZR/150 CF UZR/150 CF
Hamilton 5.19 4.51 -9.6 -26.3 <500 <500
Hunter 3.70 2.84 -0.5 <500 <500 -6.4
Upton 3.09 2.81 3.9 -3.2 1.6 1.9
Pagan 2.99 2.65 -0.8 -0.1 -16.1 13.3
Victorino 2.15 2.57 3.1 -2.4 5.7 2.8
Bourn 2.51 2.01 10.7 22.5 -6.2 20.6
Cabrera 3.22 1.97 -7.3 <500 -9.7 -25.2
Mayberry 1.75 1.56 -15.9 <500 <500 <500

Hamilton, Hunter, Cabrera and Mayberry really shouldn’t be getting too many defensive innings in center field.

Hunter has only played 8 2/3 innings in center field since the end of 2010. From 2006 to 2010, he played at least 800 innings in center field for five straight seasons, posting a negative UZR/150 at the position in each of the five seasons.

Hamilton sure can hit, but he’s posted a negative dWAR in four of the last five seasons. His career UZR/150 in left of 8.5 is a whole lot better than his career UZR/150 of -9.6 in center. Last year he put up a -26.3 in 687 innings in center for the Rangers.

Mayberry’s UZR/150 in center last year was -20.7.

Cabrera didn’t play an inning in center field in 2012, making 106 appearances in left for the Giants and 11 in right. He was bad defensively for the Royals in 1,265 2/3 innings in center in 2011 and terrible for the Braves in 385 innings in 2010.

Cabrera’s offensive production over the last three years is a lot better than it has been for his career. 3.22 oWAR per 600 plate appearances for the last three years, 1.97 for his career and 0.98 for his career before the start of the 2010 season. For 2005 to 2009, Cabrera got 2,148 plate appearances in which he combined for a total oWAR of 3.5 ((3.5/2148)*600=0.98).

Hamilton and Hunter could obviously help the Phillies at a corner outfield position, which is a place where the Phillies could use some help. I think that’s really, really unlikely given the combination of how much they are going to cost and the presence of Brown, Ruf, Schierholtz, Mayberry and Nix.

Bourn is the best defensive center fielder of this group by a wide margin. Upton and Victorino are way behind him. Pagan may have the strangest UZR/150 numbers of the group — he was great for the Mets in center in 2010, terrible for the Mets in center in 2011 and then put up a -0.1 for the Giants in 2012.

Compared to the previous post, Upton looks like a much better offensive player than Michael Bourn. The previous post looked at the numbers for four years, 2009 through 2012, while the first oWAR column in the table above reports on three years, 2010 through 2012. In 2009, Bourn hit 285/354/384 in his best offensive season in the last four years while Upton had his worst offensive season of the last four years, posting a 241/313/373 line.

Bourn’s career .201 oWAR per 600 plate appearances is a little frightening. He was just miserable offensively from 2006 to 2008, hitting 237/299/313 over 658 plate appearances for the Phils and Astros. Since the end of 2008, his oWAR per 600 plate appearances has been 2.66 over 2,708 plate appearances.

Here are the Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs calculations of total WAR for the last three years for each of the eight players:

bWAR ’12 bWAR ’11 bWAR ’10 bWAR ’10-’12 fWAR ’12 fWAR ’11 fWAR ’10 fWAR ’10-12
Hamilton 3.4 3.5 8.4 15.3 4.4 4.1 8.4 16.9
Hunter 5.5 3.4 2.7 11.6 5.3 2.6 3.7 11.6
Upton 2.6 2.8 1.0 6.4 3.3 4.1 4.1 11.5
Pagan 4.0 1.0 5.1 10.1 4.8 0.9 5.4 11.1
Victorino 2.4 5.2 2.8 10.4 3.3 5.9 3.8 13.0
Bourn 6.0 3.0 5.3 14.3 6.4 4.1 4.7 15.2
Cabrera 4.7 4.1 -0.5 8.3 4.6 4.2 -1.1 7.7
Mayberry 0.5 1.6 0.2 2.3 0.4 2.5 0.2 3.1

So here’s how the list of cumulative WAR over the past three seasons for those eight players goes using Baseball-Reference’s calculation:

  1. Hamilton, 15.3
  2. Bourn, 14.3
  3. Hunter, 11.6
  4. Victorino, 10.4
  5. Pagan, 10.1
  6. Cabrera, 8.3
  7. Upton, 6.4
  8. Mayberry, 2.3

And here’s the list using the FanGraphs calculation of WAR:

  1. Hamilton, 16.9
  2. Bourn, 15.2
  3. Victorino, 13.2
  4. Hunter, 11.6
  5. Upton, 11.5
  6. Pagan, 11.1
  7. Cabrera, 7.7
  8. Mayberry, 3.1

Those lists have some things in common:

  • Using both the Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs calculation, Hamilton is first, Bourn is second and Mayberry is eighth of the eight players in combined WAR for 2010-2012. Mayberry obviously played a lot less than the other seven guys, giving him less chances to accumulate WAR, but I think it’s also relevant that top table shows him at the bottom on oWAR per 600 plate appearances for the last three years and for his career and with the worst UZR/150 at center for the group
  • Both have Hunter and Victorino third and fourth, with Baseball-Reference showing Hunter ahead of Victorino and vice-versa for FanGraphs
  • Both lists think Victorino had a monster 2011 — his ’11 season is third-best on the FanGraphs list and fourth-best on the Baseball-Reference list
  • Both have Pagan, Cabrera and Upton in slots 5-7 with the players ordered differently. Pagan, Cabrera, Upton for Baseball-Reference and Upton, Pagan, Cabrera for FanGraphs
  • Both agree that the best of the seasons in the last three years was Hamilton’s 2010 and both agree the worst was Cabrera’s 2010

The bottom line for me is that four of those eight guys, Hamilton, Hunter, Cabrera and Mayberry, need to be disqualified from any search for a center field because they aren’t or shouldn’t be center fielders. That leaves four — Bourn, Upton, Pagan and Victorino. Of those four, WAR calculated by Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs suggests that, over the last three years, Bourn has been the best overall player and Victorino has been second-best. The sites disagree about Upton and Pagan — FanGraphs has Upton slightly ahead of Pagan in WAR for the three-year period while Baseball-Reference has Pagan with a big advantage over Upton over the last three seasons.

Biggest thing that came out of the post for me is that Shane Victorino might have been a little better than we thought. Sure, it was a little tough to appreciate his greatness while he was hitting 229/296/333 against righties last year, but maybe it was there.

Starters for five

A recent post looked at the combined WAR for Phillie starting pitchers over the past five years. This post will look how the core of the Phillie rotation, Halladay, Lee and Hamels, compare to other elite pitchers across both leagues in terms of cumulative WAR for pitchers over the past five seasons.

Spoiler alert — they compare really well.

The table below shows pitchers who have 1) made more than 100 starts over the past five seasons and 2) have a Baseball-Reference calculated WAR per game started better than .125:

Pitcher GS # Relief appearances WAR WAR/GS
Roy Halladay 155 1 30.0 .194
Cliff Lee 155 0 28.9 .186
Josh Johnson 115 0 21.0 .183
CC Sabathia 164 0 27.0 .164
Clayton Kershaw 149 2 23.7 .159
Justin Verlander 168 0 26.7 .159
Felix Hernandez 165 0 24.1 .146
Zack Greinke 160 0 23.0 .144
Cole Hamels 160 1 21.4 .134
Jon Lester 161 0 21.1 .131
John Danks 133 0 17.2 .129
Jared Weaver 160 0 20.7 .129
Adam Wainwright 119 0 15.2 .128
Chris Carpenter 103 1 13.0 .126
Matt Cain 165 0 20.8 .126

Again, the table above displays the total WAR accumulated from 2008 through 2012, then divides that total by the number of games that the pitcher started. So pitchers who accumulated WAR in relief appearances get a tiny advantage over pitchers who did not, although the entire group of 15 pitchers in the table above has combined to make just five relief appearances since the start of 2008.

Halladay is the key thing to focus on here and just how good he was from 2008 through 2011. He stays atop the chart despite his miserable 2012.

Here’s what Halladay’s numbers look like if you break them down from 2008-2011 and 2012 separately.

GS # Relief appearances WAR WAR/GS
Halladay 2008-2011 130 1 29.3 .225
Halladay 2012 25 0 0.7 .028
Total 155 1 30.0 .194

So, again, even with the ugly 2012 performance from Halladay, he still finds himself above the chart of elite pitchers at the top of the post.

By WAR, 2010 and 2011 were the best years of Halladay’s career. He spent both of them with the Phillies. In those two seasons, he had a combined Baseball-Reference calculated WAR of 16.8 over 65 starts, which is about .258 per start.

Lee also fares very well on the top table, second only to Halladay. Like Halladay, his 2012 wasn’t as good as his previous four years, although it was a lot better than Halladay’s. Here’s the same chart for Lee, broken up into 2008 through 2011 with an individual entry for 2012:

GS # Relief appearances WAR WAR/GS
Lee 2008-2011 125 0 24.7 .198
Lee 2012 30 0 4.2 .140
Total 155 0 28.9 .186

Like Halladay, Lee’s mark for 2012 was worse than 2008 through 2011, although not nearly as dramatically.

Hamels’s two best years for WAR were 2010 and 2011. His numbers for the last five years combined are dragged down by his ugly 2009 season in which he threw to a 4.32 ERA over 32 starts with an ERA+ of 97, posting a WAR for the year of 1.7.

Here’s how his numbers look if you break them down by ’08 and ’09, ’10 and ’11 and 2012:

GS # Relief appearances WAR WAR/GS
Hamels 2008-2009 65 0 5.7 .088
Hamels 2010-2011 64 1 11.5 .180
Hamels 2012 31 0 4.2 .135
Total 160 1 21.4 .134

So Lee and Hamels were about the same in 2012 in terms of WAR per game started, with Lee having been a lot better over the past four years.

Even if you take out Hamels’s ’09 season, that leaves him at 19.7 WAR over 128 starts in ’08 and ’10 through ’12. That’s about .154 WAR per game started, which is very good, but still not as good as Lee’s 2008 through 2011.

The Reading Phillies (Double-A) are getting a new name, which will be revealed on November 17.

The votes aren’t all counted yet, but I think we can agree that Adam Eaton was not the answer

Here’s the Baseball-Reference calculated combined WAR for pitchers who have made at least ten starts for the team over the past five seasons:

Pitcher GS # Relief appearances WAR WAR/GS
Halladay 90 0 17.6 .196
Lee 74 0 13.5 .182
Happ 30 16 5.0 .167
Oswalt 35 1 5.2 .149
Hamels 160 1 21.4 .134
Worley 46 7 4.4 .096
Moyer 77 5 2.7 .035
Blanton 100 5 2.5 .025
Myers 40 8 0.8 .020
Kendrick 103 41 1.7 .017
Eaton 19 2 -1.2 -.063

Important to remember is that the WAR calculation includes games pitched in relief. So, for example, the WAR for Kendrick over the last five seasons includes his 41 appearances out of the bullpen. His .017 for WAR/GS is his total WAR in all appearances divided by the number of games he started (not the total number of games in which he pitched).

The 11 pitchers above combined to make 774 of the 810 starts for the Phillies over the last five seasons. Not appearing on the list are guys who made fewer than ten starts, including Pedro Martinez (9), Chan Ho Park (7), Tyler Cloyd (6), Rodrigo Lopez (5), Antonio Bastardo (5), Raul Valdes (1), Andrew Carpenter (1), Nelson Figueroa (1) and BJ Rosenberg (1). Those 36 total starts plus the 774 for the 11 guys above gets you to 810.

Hamels is the guy who has made the most starts for the Phillies over the past five years with 160. And he’s been very good. After that, though, there are two guys in Blanton and Kendrick who have gotten a ton of starts over the past five seasons without being very good.

Kendrick is second in starts over the last five seasons with 103. His best year for WAR was 2007 (which doesn’t count for the table above as it was more than five years ago). In 2007, Kendrick made 20 appearances for the Phillies, all starts, going 10-4 with a 3.87 and putting up a WAR of 2.1. Kendrick was terrible in 2008 and finished the year with a -1.7 WAR. In the four years since his combined WAR has been just 3.4 — 3.4 + (-1.7) = 1.7, his mark for the past five years combined.

Blanton has made 105 appearances over the last five years for the Phillies, including 100 starts (more than anyone but Kendrick or Hamels). In the five seasons that Blanton pitched all or part of the year with the Phillies, he had a Baseball-Reference calculated WAR better than 0.1 only once. His best year with the Phillies was 2009 — he made 31 starts that year with a 4.05 ERA and a 1.32 ratio, posting a 2.4 WAR for the season. He had a -0.2 WAR in 29 appearances with the Phillies in 2010 and a -0.1 WAR in 21 appearances with them in 2012. He threw just 41 1/3 innings in 2011, all with the Phils, and put up a 0.0 WAR for that season.

The point here is that Blanton and Kendrick have pitched a lot for the Phillies over the past five years, making about as many starts (203) as Halladay, Lee and Worley (210). Overall, they’ve made about 25.1% of the starts for the Phillies over the past five seasons. And they haven’t been very good.

And while Blanton doesn’t have much of a chance to be not very good for the Phillies again in 2013, Kendrick does.

Gone also from the mix of the last five years are Happ and Oswalt. Both of those pitchers didn’t pitch a ton for the Phillies over the past five years, but put up good numbers overall in their time with the team.

Happ’s 4.83 ERA since he left the Phillies makes it easy to forget that he was great for the Phillies in 2009, going 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA and a 1.23 ratio in his 35 appearances (23 starts). He led the team in WAR for pitchers that year at 4.0. Hamels made 32 starts for the Phillies in ’09, finishing the year with a WAR of 1.7.

Oswalt threw to a 2.96 ERA in 36 appearances (35 starts) with the Phils between 2010 and 2011. He appeared in just 13 games for the Phillies in 2010 (12 starts), but managed to post a WAR of 3.2, third best on the staff behind Halladay and Hamels.

This suggests Josh Hamilton wants seven years, $175 million.

Amaro mentions Adam Morgan favorably in this article. Morgan is a 22-year-old lefty the Phillies took in the third round of the 2011 draft. He made 27 appearances between Clearwater and Reading in 2012, 26 of which were starts, throwing to a 3.35 ERA with a 1.11 ratio and striking out 169 in 158 2/3 innings.

Sandy, the pitching angels have lost their desire for us

Bruce Springsteen. Sort of.

The table below shows, for each of the past five years, the four pitchers who have gotten the most starts for the Phillies that season and their WAR for the year as calculated by Baseball-Reference:

Year Pitcher Starts WAR
2012 Hamels 31 4.2
2012 Lee 30 4.2
2012 Kendrick 25 1.3
2012 Halladay 25 0.7
2012 Total for group 101 10.4
2011 Halladay 32 8.5
2011 Lee 32 8.3
2011 Hamels 31 6.2
2011 Oswalt 23 2.0
2011 Total for group 118 25.0
2010 Halladay 33 8.3
2010 Hamels 33 5.3
2010 Kendrick 31 0.2
2010 Blanton 28 -0.2
2010 Total for group 125 13.6
2009 Hamels 32 1.7
2009 Blanton 31 2.4
2009 Moyer 25 0.1
2009 Happ 23 4.0
2009 Total for group 111 8.2
2008 Hamels 33 4.0
2008 Moyer 33 2.5
2008 Myers 30 0.4
2008 Kendrick 30 -1.7
2008 Total for group 126 5.2

Important to note is that the WAR for the pitcher includes all of his appearances for the season, not just his starts. So, for example, Kendrick made 37 appearances in 2012 and only 25 of them were starts. His WAR for the year was 1.3 and that includes all 37 appearances, not just the 25 starts.

Again, the Phillies went to the World Series in 2008 and again in 2009 and they did it without outstanding starting pitching. This message will repeat. Happ (in 2009) and Hamels (in 2008) were the only two pitchers, starter or relievers, to post a WAR for the season better than 2.5 in either year.

Led by Hamels and Halladay, the top four was a lot better in 2010. Halladay, Hamels and Lee all had superb years in 2011.

Halladay was, as you may have noticed, way off in 2012. Hamels wasn’t as good as he had been in 2011 or 2010. Lee wasn’t as good as he had been in 2011, but the top for of the rotation were still better than they been in 2009 and a lot better than they had been in 2008.

It’s easy for some of us (by which I mean me) to forget that Lee didn’t throw a pitch for the Phillies in 2010. They Phillies have only had two years where Halladay, Hamels and Lee comprised the core of the rotation. One of those years was great for the Phillies until they were bounced out of the playoffs in the first round. The other was 2012, which is best forgotten if at all possible.

Halladay came into 2012 having not put up a WAR worse than 5.9 since 2008 — in ’08 he was an All-Star, finished second in Cy Young voting in the AL (losing to Indian and 22-game winner Cliff Lee) and seventh in WAR for pitchers across both leagues. Last year his WAR was 0.7, which is the worst mark of his career since he threw to a 10.64 ERA as a 23-year-old with the Blue Jays in 2000.

Rollins won his fourth Gold Glove.

The Phillies picked up the $5 million option on Ruiz and declined the $5.5 million option on Polanco. They will pay Polanco a $1 million buyout. The same article suggests that free agent Juan Pierre is not likely to be back with the Phillies.

This article suggests that Worley will stay in Philadelphia to rehab his elbow coming off of surgery.

This article suggests the Phillies have $135.35 million committed to ten players for next season, including Lee ($25 million), Halladay ($20 million), Howard ($20 million), Hamels ($19.5 million), Utley ($15 million), Papelbon ($13 million), Rollins ($11 million), Ruiz ($5 million), Kyle Kendrick ($4.5 million) and Laynce Nix ($1.35 million).

That’s $40 million committed to Halladay and Howard. In 2012, Howard’s Baseball-Reference calculated WAR was -1.2 and Halladay’s was 0.7.

This article quotes Amaro suggesting that that center field will have to be addressed externally. The writer goes on to list possible candidates, including Bourn, Pagan, Upton, Victorino, Hamilton, Cabrera, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dexter Fowler.

This article looks at potential corner outfielders, including free agent Juan Pierre, Nick Swisher, Cody Ross, Torii Hunter, Ryan Ludwick, Jonny Gomes, Rual Ibanez, Ichiro Suzuki, Delmon Young, Josh Willingham and Alfonso Soriano.

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