Tag: Aaron Rowand

They coulda been a contender . . . oh wait, they were a contender

Not long ago, the Phillies were pretty good defensively in the outfield compared to the rest of baseball. Not so much anymore. Here’s the UZR/150 for all Phillie outfielders combined for the last six seasons as calculated by FanGraphs and how it compares to teams across both leagues:

Year UZR/150 all PHI OF Rank MLB
2007 4.1 8
2008 8.0 7
2009 0.7 13
2010 -5.5 25
2011 -8.4 28
2012 -4.8 25

So, from 2007 through 2009, the Phillies were in the top half of teams defensively in the outfield across both leagues by UZR/150. Over the last three years they have been no better than 25th.

There’s only 30 teams out there, so being 25th or worse for three straight years counts as a problem. It’s arguable that the Phillies have had the worst outfield defense in baseball over the past three seasons. It’s kind of a pick ‘em between the Phils, Orioles and Mets.

Notably, ugly outfield defense or not, the Phillies went 199-125 in 2010 and 2011 combined. I think it’s safe to say they were good at other things.

Using Baseball-Reference’s dWAR, only twice in the past three seasons have the Phillies had a player who both played at least 100 outfield innings for the team in a season and posted a dWAR greater than zero for the year. Victorino did it both times, putting up a 0.5 in 1,150 innings in 2011 after putting up a 0.4 in 1,265 innings in 2010.

In 2007, Victorino (16.6 UZR/150 in the outfield, mostly right), Bourn (22.9 in about 300 innings, about 200 of which were in left) and Werth (30.5 in 446 innings in right, 127 2/3 innings in left and two in center) were all outstanding defensively. Rowand played more than 94% of the defensive innings in center field and posted UZR/150 in the outfield of 4.5. Burrell played just over 70% of the innings in left, dragging down the numbers for the team overall with his UZR/150 in the outfield of -29.6. Despite that they were still eighth-best in the category among all MLB teams.

In 2008, Victorino moved over from right, where he had been very good defensively, to center. He was very good there as well, playing about 82.5% of the innings in center with an UZR/150 in the outfield for the year of 5.8 — a little better than Rowand’s 4.5 from 2007. Werth and Jenkins combined to get about 90% of the innings in right in 2008 and were good defensively. Werth was great with an outfield UZR/150 mark of 28.5. Jenkins was very good, too, playing to an UZR/150 of 15.2 in 642 outfield innings. Burrell continued to be the guy in left, playing about 83% of the innings there. He was still bad defensively, -12.3 in the outfield for the year, but that was still a big improvement over his 2007 mark of -29.6. Overall, by UZR/150, the Phillies popped up to seventh-best across both leagues, their best mark for the six seasons presented in the table above.

In 2009, their UZR/150 dropped from 8.0 in the previous year to 0.7. Jenkins was gone and so was Burrell. The Phillies went Ibanez, Victorino and Werth from left to right on most days. Ibanez was a big improvement over Burrell in left, at least as calculated by UZR/150. He played about 77% of the innings in left and posted an UZR/150 for the year of 4.9 in the outfield, which was a huge improvement over the big negative numbers Burrell had put up in the two previous seasons. Victorino manned center and his numbers were way down as he oddly posted a UZR/150 for the year in the outfield of -5.6, which was, by far, the worst mark of his career. UZR/150 suggests that Werth didn’t have nearly the impact defensively he had in the two previous seasons, but he still put up a solid 4.4 for the year in the outfield. Overall, thanks to the replacement of Burrell with Ibanez, the Phillies had a huge change to improve on their overall numbers from 2008. Didn’t work out that way as both Victorino and Werth played a lot of innings and each found themselves off their pace from the previous year.

Things got worse in 2010 as the Phils dropped from thirteenth all the way to twenty-fifth. They still primarily went Ibanez, Victorino, Werth left to right. Victorino improved on his 2009 number, up to 2.8 for the year in his 1,265 1/3 outfield innings. But Werth and Ibanez were both worse. After five straight years of at least 575 outfield innings with an UZR/150 in the outfield of 4.4 or better, Werth’s UZR/150 in the outfield plunged to -7.8 over 1,342 innings. Ibanez, who had posted a 4.9 in 2009, saw his mark drop to -7.2. For the year, Victorino improved on his ’09 numbers, but Ibanez and Werth both saw theirs take a huge dive. The Phillies wound up near the bottom of the league in UZR/150 for their outfielders as a result.

2011 was a nightmare defensively for the Phillies in the outfield, the worst year of the six as their UZR/150 for all outfielders dropped to 28th in the league. Only the Mets and Orioles were worse — notably, the Mets were worse in large part because Angel Pagan was their center fielder and he was awful, posting a UZR/150 for the year in the outfield of -16.1. Ibanez was still the primary guy for the Phils in left and Victorino in center. Victorino was still good, putting up a 5.7 UZR/150 for the season. Ibanez went from real bad, -7.2, to terrible, posting a Burrell-like -21.8. Right field was shared by three guys in Pence, Brown and Francisco, all of who ended the year having played about 30% of the innings for the Phillies defensively in right. Pence played about 32.7%, Brown 30.5% and Francisco 30.1%. Pence was very good defensively for the Phils when he played, putting up an 8.6 for the year with the team. Brown and Francisco were both terrible — Brown’s mark for the year was -26.0 and Francisco’s was -16.1. For the season, Ibanez was terrible in left, Victorino solid in center and Pence, Brown and Francisco split right almost equally, with Brown and Francisco being atrocious while Pence was very good. Put it all together and the Phils were the 28th-best team in the league for UZR/150 in the outfield.

Things were still atrocious in 2012, if slightly improved from the two previous seasons. Pierre was the primary guy in left, getting about 55% of the innings. He was backed up by Mayberry, who got about 23% of the innings at the position. Pierre put up a better-than-expected mark of -0.4 and Mayberry was solid when playing left with a 5.4. Victorino was the primary guy in center until he was traded. He wound up playing about 60% of the team’s innings in center field for the season and posting an UZR/150 of 0.9. Mayberry took over the gig after Victorino was traded and was terrible, posting a -20.7 UZR/150 in center in 474 1/3 innings. Pence played most of the innings in right field for the Phils in 2012, about 62%, and was awful in right when he did play, posting an UZR/150 with the Phils of -13.5, well off his 2011 mark. Domonic Brown was the other guy to see a lot of time in right, playing about 21% of the defensive innings at the position. He was significantly better than he was in 2012, but still not good, putting up a UZR/150 of -7.9 for the year.

Looking to 2013, there are still big questions to be answered about the makeup of the Phillie outfield. The Phils appear to have five guys in-house in the mix in Brown, Mayberry, Schierholtz, Nix and Ruf. If you had to pick one of them, most fans would guess that Brown is the player of that group who is likely to play the most defensive outfield innings for the Phils in 2013. And we know he’s been a really bad defensive player so far in his career. I think we also know that Mayberry can put up some ugly defensive numbers in center field — he seems sure to do so if the Phillies give him that opportunity. Schierholtz and Nix have both been pretty good defensively over their careers in the outfield, although neither of them seem likely to see much time in center and it’s a little hard to believe the Phillies think they need to carry both left-handed backup outfielders going in 2013. Ruf is the other guy in that group — if he proves to be a good defensive outfielder in the majors it’s going to surprise a lot of people.

The Phillies finalized a one-year, $850,000 deal with Kevin Frandsen.

Many Marlins appear to be on the move to Toronto, including Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle.

This suggests that Amaro kind of wishes that Ruf would have had more of an opportunity to play at the end of the year, but that Amaro understands Manuel playing Juan Pierre instead. Not sure I completely believe all of that.

At least now the Phillies have a good idea what Juan Pierre brings to the table.

It will be pretty interesting to see if Ruf can play left field — I think he’s going to get some chances to do so with the Phillies in 2013. I’m guessing he can’t in a think Pat Burrell kind of way. So let’s hope for 51 more home runs.

What now?

It’s no secret the Phils are going to need to add a right-handed outfielder to try and replace some of Jayson Werth’s production. The Phillies already have Ben Francisco, and this article from yesterday mentions as possible additions Jeff Francoeur, Matt Diaz, Scott Hairston, Juan Rivera and Josh Willingham. Matt Diaz won’t be with the Phils this year, cause he just signed with the Pirates, but Jeff Francoeur rumors abound and the same names keep on coming up.

Today’s point is that Josh Willingham is a lot better hitter than the rest of those guys.

Here’s the ’11 age, career numbers and OPS for each of the players mentioned above as well as what they’ve done in the last three years:

’11 Age Career OPS Last 3
Francisco 29 263/329/446 775 263/331/442 773
Francoeur 27 268/310/425 735 256/301/389 690
Diaz 33 301/350/456 806 281/342/438 780
S Hairston 31 245/303/435 737 245/305/432 737
Rivera 32 280/328/461 789 266/314/445 760
Willingham 32 265/367/475 841 260/373/476 850

It’s really not very close. Diaz is the only guy on the list who is really close to Willingham. And Diaz can’t hit right-handed pitching and is on the Pirates. Here’s what the career splits against righties and lefties look like for those guys:

vs R OPS vs L OPS
Francisco 262/323/440 762 267/347/460 806
Francoeur 256/296/403 699 299/343/481 824
Diaz 269/327/382 710 335/373/533 907
S Hairston 227/288/402 690 278/331/498 829
Rivera 276/326/441 768 288/333/499 832
Willingham 264/382/446 828 277/409/500 909

Willingham has the best numbers of those six players against both righties and lefties. All of the other guys on the list have a career on-base percentage against righties that’s under .330. If the question is who is the player besides Willingham on that list who is better than Francisco, I think a reasonable answer is nobody. At least nobody is enough of an improvement to be worth investing in. Rivera has been better over his career, but I don’t think you would have enough confidence that he’s going to be significantly better in 2011 to put both of them on the team next year.

The problem of course, is that Willingham isn’t a free agent. The Phils would have to trade for him to get him from the Nationals and he is due to become a free agent after the end of the 2011 season. So, better or not, I am going to be surprised if Willingham winds up with the Phils.

Finally, the list of players the Phillies are considering is surely larger than the five (now four) non-Phillies listed above. A bunch of right-handed bats remain available, including Jose Guillen, Bill Hall, Andruw Jones, Austin Kearns and Magglio Ordonez. Some people think the Padres might be persuaded to trade Ryan Ludwick. This article suggests that Aaron Rowand has “become a strong consideration” off of three bad years in a row and a terrible 2010 in which he on-based .281. A lot of those guys bring some baggage with them, like being about to be suspended for a long time or having not been good since 2008, or just have a strong need to be unconsidered really soon, but they’re out there.

And that’s good news for the Phillies. Cause the guys people are speculating they might have interest in aren’t that exciting, except for the one they’re probably not going to be able to get.

Runs down rundown

The massively improved bullpen helped the Phillies win the World Series in 2008, but the team also produced far fewer runs offensively. After scoring 892 runs in 2007, the Phils scored 799 in 2008.

Runs were down across the league last year. In 2007, NL teams combined to score 11,741 runs, about 734 runs per team. In 2008, they combined to score 12,208 runs, about 763 runs per team. The Phillies drop off was larger than the rate overall — across the league about 96.2% of the runs that were scored in 2007 were scored in 2008. The Phillies scored about 89.6% of the runs they had scored in 2007 in 2008.

Things would be easy to explain if the Phils had installed a forty foot wall in left field, but it doesn’t look like the problem was Citizens Bank Park. The difference in the average number of runs the team scored in their home and away games between ’07 and ’08 is actually larger for the team’s games away from home:


Year Runs R/G Runs R/G
2007 450 5.55 442 5.46
2008 412 5.09 387 4.78

So where did all those runs go? To try and help understand I took a look at the offensive production by 11 different groups of players: the offense produced by players playing all nine of the positions (P, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF) plus designated hitters and pinch-hitters. Those groups are not all equally important, of course. Pitchers got fewer at-bats than the players manning the other eight positions, pinch-hitters fewer than that and designated hitters fewer still.

For each of those 11 groups, I looked at the OPS they hit to and, using the technical version of the runs created formula, their runs created.

Of the 11 groups, both by OPS and runs created, nine were clearly worse in 2008 than they were in 2007. The only two that weren’t were pinch-hitters and third base.

Led by Dobbs, Phillies pinch-hitters were simply better in 2008 than they were in ’07. In 281 plate appearances, Phils’ pinch-hitters put up a 253/309/415 line a year after hitting 230/307/391 in 2007. The bad news is that of the 11 groups, designated hitter is the only group that got fewer plate appearances than the pinch-hitter group.

The other place where the Phillies were not clearly worse was at third base. This one was a split decision. The 245/295/400 line gave Feliz and cohorts a .695 OPS for 2008, which is better than .688 OPS (255/321/368) Nunez and pals put up in ’07. On-base percentage trumps slugging, though, so runs created thinks the ’07 group was a little bit better than last year’s.

The other nine groups were all worse than what they did in the previous year. But not by the same amount. Here’s the difference in the runs created for all 11 groups between 2007 and 2008:

Group RC
SS 30.0
1B 19.0
2B 17.8
LF 16.3
RF 15.1
CF 13.5
C 7.3
P 4.0
3B 3.6
DH 2.5
PH -3.4

The chart suggests that Phillies shortstops created 30 fewer runs in 2008 than they had in 2007 while, at the bottom of the list, pinch-hitters created about three and a half more.

If you add up the runs created numbers, they don’t equal the difference in runs that the Phillies scored in 2008 and 2007. They equal 125.8. If you adjust the chart so the total difference in runs created is the actual 93 runs (892 runs scored in 2007 minus 799 scored in 2008), the chart looks like this:

Group RC
SS 22.2
1B 14.0
2B 13.2
LF 12.1
RF 11.2
CF 10.0
C 5.4
P 2.9
3B 2.7
DH 1.8
PH -2.5

If you think back to 2008, four of the Phils’ best hitters had a worse year than they had in 2007. Burrell, Utley and Howard all had fantastic years, but all three weren’t as fantastic as they had been the year before. Rollins was much worse with the bat in 2008 than in 2007. At the top of the list you see all four of their positions in a row.

While first, second and left are all down in about the same level, though, shortstop is down a lot more. The position got hit with a double-whammy in ’08. First, Rollins’ production was way down. After hitting 296/344/531 with 30 homers in ’07, he hit 277/349/437 with 11 home runs in 2008. Second, after starting every game for the Phils in 2007, Rollins started just 132 in 2008. Bruntlett started the other 30 games, and although he hit well while playing the position (274/331/393) it still brought the numbers down for the position compared to the previous season.

In right field, the group led Victorino and Werth in ’07 put up more offense than the ’08 group led by Werth and Jenkins. Jenkins struggled badly for most of the year, hitting 252/308/383 in 266 at-bats while playing right.

Surprisingly to me, the Phils did well to keep pace in center field coming off a fantastic year with the bat from Aaron Rowand. By OPS, the Phils’ 292/354/470 line in ’08 was still the best in the National League. It was just a bit off the 311/377/507 mark of ’07, which was the best in the league that year by a wide margin. Coming into 2008, I would have guessed that center field would be the position where the Phils offense would be down the most compared the previous season. Not even close.

Catchers, pitchers and third basemen fared about as well in ’08 as they had in ’07.

Here are the Phillies hitting splits by position for 2008 and for 2007.

Jimmy Rollins is okay with playing behind Derek Jeter in the World Baseball Classic and doesn’t want to talk about the Mets yet.

This from the Phillies web site seems to suggest that Kendrick could pitch out of the pen if he does not win the fifth starter job. I’d be surprised if they keep Kendrick on the team to pitch out of the pen.

Ad: Ticketcity has tickets for the 2009 Phillies season.

Burrell gets around round round on Brian Wilson

Team W-L R R/G NL Rank R OPS (NL) SB CS
SF 13-16 93 3.21 16 676 (14) 33 10
PHI 16-13 136 4.69 4 780 (4) 12 5

Team W-L RA RA/G NL Rank RA Starter ERA Pen ERA
SF 13-16 131 4.52 T-8 4.17 (9) 4.10 (9)
PHI 16-13 124 4.28 T-6 4.32 (10) 2.56 (1)

The pitchers, relievers in particular, have carried more than their share of the load in the early going for the Phils. More than once they’ve helped the team come out with a win in a game where the performance of the offense was lack-luster. Last night the bats returned the favor.

After the Giants came back from down 4-1 to force extra-innings and then pulled ahead with a run in the top of the tenth off of the overused JC Romero, San Francisco closer Brian Wilson came on to protect a one-run lead in the bottom of the tenth. He threw fastball after fastball past the heart of the Phillies order. Utley managed to loop a single into right-center field, but Werth and Howard both struck out. The Phils were down to their last strike when Pat Burrell blasted a 3-2 pitch out to left to win the game.

The Phillies beat the San Francisco Giants last night, winning 6-5 in ten innings to improve to 17-13 on the season. They are four games above .500 for the first time on the season.

Kendrick got the start for the Phils and went six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits. Just one of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He struck out six.

Randy Winn singled to left with two outs in the first, but Kendrick got cleanup hitter Bengie Molina on a fly ball to left to end the frame.

He started the second up 2-0. John Bowker singled to center with one out, but Kendrick got the next two to leave him stranded.

Kendrick struck out Fred Lewis and Ray Durham in a 1-2-3 third.

Winn singled to start the fourth, but Molina followed and hit into a double-play. Aaron Rowand was next and he doubled into left. Bowker was next he lined a single to center. Rowand held third, but Jose Castillo followed with a single into right-center. Rowand scored to cut the Phillies’ lead to 2-1 and Bowker went to second. Emmanuel Burriss grounded to short for the third out to leave both runners stranded.

Kendrick started the fifth with a 4-1 lead. Dan Ortmeier hit for the pitcher Pat Misch to start the inning and was hit by a pitch. Kendrick set down the next three, striking out Lewis and getting Ray Durham on a fly ball to left before he struck out Winn to end the frame.

Kendrick threw a 1-2-3 sixth.

Castillo and Burriss started the seventh with back-to-back singles. It put men on first and second with nobody out for the pitcher’s spot and switch-hitter Eugenio Velez hit for reliever Keiichi Yabu. Madson came in to pitch to him and Velez singled into center to load the bases. Madson struck Lewis out swinging at a 1-2 pitch for the first out. Durham singled into right and Castillo and Burriss both scored to cut the Phillies’ lead to 4-3. Velez went to second. Winn singled off the glove of Feliz and into left, loading the bases for Molina with one out. Madson got ahead of Molina 0-2 before Molina reached out for a pitch way low and outside and hit a slow grounder to short. Bruntlett had to go to first for the second out as Velez scored to tie the game at 4-4. With men on second and third and two, Madson struck Rowand out to end the frame.

Gordon started the eighth. Bowker led off with a single and went to second on a curve ball in the dirt that Coste couldn’t find with Castillo at the plate. Gordon was charged with a wild pitch. With Castillo still at the plate Coste couldn’t handle another pitch from Gordon, this one low and outside, and Bowker went to third with nobody out. Gordon struck Castillo out for the first out. Burriss was next and hit a ground ball back to Gordon. Gordon did a great job, chasing Bowker back to third and then tossing to Feliz who tagged him out. Flash hurt something on the play, but stayed in the game. Velez grounded to short to end the frame.

Miserable inning for Coste, but Gordon worked around it.

Lidge started the ninth for the Phils with the game tied at 4-4 after having pitched an inning the night before. He got ahead of Lewis 0-2 before Lewis singled into right. Brian Bocock hit for the pitcher Tyler Walker and bunted Lewis to second. Winn hit a slow ground ball to first for the second out and Lewis went to third. Molina flew to right to set the Giants down.

I was surprised to see Lidge enter in a tie game. Other choices were Durbin, who threw 36 pitches on Wednesday and probably wasn’t available, Seanez, who threw eight and probably was, and JC Romero who would have been pitching in his fourth game in four days.

Romero came on to pitch the tenth. Rowand hit his first pitch out to center to put the Giants up 5-4. Bowker followed with a single, but Castillo hit into a double-play. Burriss singled and stole second before Velez walked to put men on first and second with two down. Romero struck out Lewis to end the frame.

Manuel didn’t have a good game and Burrell bailed him out. Romero pitching for the fourth day in a row and giving up the go-ahead home run in the tenth to a righty isn’t what you’re looking for. Unless they were not available I think you have to let Seanez or even Condrey pitch.

The Phillies should stop using Romero in the way they have been. The risk of injury seems high and his loss would be a huge problem given the lack of lefties. If you hear them say anything like, “Romero is a big, strong kid and we really know his arm” it’s time to head for the hills.

Bad day for the pen. Phils’ relievers went four innings and allowed two runs on eight hits and a walk. Madson threw 19 pitches, Gordon 22, Romero 20, Lidge 14. Romero cannot pitch five days in a row. Gordon was pitching for the second straight day, so he’s probably out tonight even if he is not injured from the play on the comebacker. Lidge would be going three days in a row if he goes tonight. Phils need a long outing from Myers.

The Phillies’ lineup against lefty Pat Misch went (1) Victorino (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Feliz (7) Coste (8) Bruntlett. Jenkins on the bench against the lefty with Victorino in center and Werth in right. Coste catches Kendrick. Interesting decision tonight for Manuel in center and right with a righy on the mound for the Giants. I assume Jenkins will play right, but I think we might see Victorino in center with Werth on the bench. Werth is 2-for-his-last-20.

Werth singled with one out in the first and stole second before Utley homered down the line in right, putting the Phils up 2-0. Howard and Burrell went down to end the inning.

Feliz started the second with a single and Coste struck out behind him for the first out. Bruntlett drew a walk, moving Feliz to second. Kendrick tried to bunt and failed, striking out for the second out. Victorino flew to right to end the inning.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the third.

Burrell walked to start the fourth and Feliz followed and hit the first pitch of his at-bat out down the line in right, putting the Phils up 4-1. Coste flew to left for the first out before Bruntlett bunted for a single. Madson bunted him to second for the second out, but Victorino popped to third to end the inning.

Utley walked with one out in the fifth, but Howard and Burrell went down behind him.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the sixth.

With the score tied at 4-4 in the seventh, Dobbs hit for Madson to start the inning and flew to right. Victorino followed with a single and stole second with Werth at the plate. Werth flew to right for the second out, deep enough for Victorino to go to third. Utley was walked intentionally and lefty Jack Traschner came in to pitch to Howard and struck him out to end the inning. San Francisco would still rather pitch to Howard than Utley even after Howard beat them the night before.

After Howard’s strikeout he was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Had me wondering if I was a little premature with yesterday’s headline.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the eighth.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the ninth. Jenkins hit for Lidge against the righty Merkin Valdez and flew to center for the second out.

Werth led off the tenth against Giants’ closer Brian Wilson. Werth got ahead 3-0 but Wilson threw three straight fastballs and struck him out swinging. Utley looped the first pitch of his at-bat into right-center field, bringing up Howard as the winning run. Howard struck out looking at a 2-2 pitch and was ejected as he walked away from the plate complaining. The pitch that Howard struck out on was most definitely a strike. Burrell got ahead 3-0 and Wilson threw two fastballs past him. He didn’t throw three. The 3-2 pitch was a little outside, but Burrell hammered it out to left to give the Phils a 6-4 win.

Victorino was 1-for-5 with a stolen base.

Werth 1-for-5 with a stolen base.

Utley 2-for-3 with a home run and two walks.

Howard 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.

Burrell 1-for-4 with a walk and a game-winning homer.

Feliz 2-for-4 with a two-run homer against his former team.

Coste 0-for-4 and a bad night behind the plate.

Bruntlett 1-for-3 with a walk.

Brett Myers (2-2, 5.11) faces righty Matt Cain (1-2, 4.41) tonight. Cain got bombed by the Cardinals for nine runs in 3 2/3 innings on April 18. In his two starts since he’s allowed one run on nine hits in 12 1/3 innings. Opponents are hitting just .248 against him for the year, righties .233. He has walked way too many, 23 in 32 2/3 innings. The Phillies scored seven runs in three innings against him the only time they faces him last year, which was on May 3. Myers has allowed ten runs in 12 innings over his last two starts. Over his last five starts he’s allowed ten home runs in 32 innings. He didn’t make a start against the Giants last year but threw two scoreless innings in relief.

I’ll tell you what I do — I stare out the window and think about what Carlos Ruiz did on the first pitch

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”
-Rogers Hornsby

I’m gonna let the Carlos Ruiz and the first pitch thing go sometime soon. Promise. I mean, not today. But soon.

Here are Ruiz’s numbers overall from last year and in his plate appearances that ended on the first pitch:





Ruiz ’07 374 .259 .340 .396 .735
1st pitch 50 .140 .173 .220 .393

In looking at numbers that compare what a hitter did on the first pitch to what he did overall, it’s important to remember that he can’t walk on the first pitch of his at-bat, which would help his on-base percentage and OPS. With that in mind, in his plate appearances that ended on the first pitch, Ruiz went 7-for-50 with three singles and four doubles. In the 50 at-bats he had seven hits, hit into five double-plays and sacrificed three times. The formula for outs is AB (50)-H (7)+CS (0)+GIDP (5)+SH (3)+SF (0). Thanks to hitting into five double-plays on the first pitch, Ruiz created more outs putting the first pitch into play, 51, than he had at-bats (50).

That’s just fantastic. But not in a good way. Kind of like the Beowulf movie.

And here’s what Ruiz’s numbers from last year look like if you take out all of the plate appearances that ended with one pitch:





w/o 1st pitch 324 .278 .363 .423 .786

That doesn’t mean that Ruiz’s numbers overall would have been that good if he hadn’t ever swung at the first pitch. Among other things, pitchers would have adjusted to him never swinging on the first pitch. Twice in ’07 he was hit on the first pitch. But still. The difference is dramatic. By comparison, Aaron Rowand’s OPS when his plate appearance ended on one pitch (.808) was a little worse than the OPS he posted overall for 2007 (.889). He put up a 309/374/515 line overall — if you take out his first pitch plate appearances and recalculate his line it comes out as 308/377/523 (a .900 OPS). A little better, but nowhere near the dramatic change with Ruiz’s numbers.

The Mets claimed reliever Ruddy Lugo off of waivers.

This suggests that the Phillies should trade for Matt Morris and then trade Adam Eaton to the Twins. I think the Phillies would have a hard time trading Eaton at all given his contract and how badly he struggled last season. Matt Morris at $9.5 million might be a tough sell to some in the Phils’ front office in the light of how the Freddy Garcia and Eaton signings have panned out.

The Phils still think they can play with the Mets in a post-Santana world. As well they should. As a side note, you hear a lot about how the Twins made a terrible deal and didn’t pull the trigger on better offers from Boston and the Yankees. The flip side of that I haven’t heard as much about is that the Mets just made a fantastic deal and somehow managed to get Santana with a weaker hand.

And if they played in your back yard their offensive numbers would be even better

There’s a lot of gloom and doom about the Phillies outfield out there and how it compares to the other NL outfields after the loss of Rowand. Rowand is going to be hard to replace, but, at least offensively and compared to the other outfields in their division, I think the Phils are fine. Better than fine.

Here’s a look at how Phils’ outfielder produced offensively last year compared to the other teams in their division, using OPS as the measure:

Left Field


PHI .904
FLA .844
NYM .815
ATL .789
WAS .712

The Phillies just got more offense out of left field than the other teams in their division. What’s significant is not just that they got more offense, but how much more they got there. Unless Pat Burrell gets hurt, they’re going to get more offense than the other teams in the NL East this year, too. You can write that one down wherever you write things down.

Center Field


PHI .884
NYM .876
ATL .721
WAS .703
FLA .683

Led by Rowand, the Phils got the most offense from their center fielders in ’07 as well. Led by Beltran, the Mets, playing their home games in a far worse place to hit, weren’t far behind.

No way Victorino outhits Beltran this season. But I like his chances against the other guys in the division.

Right Field


FLA .792
PHI .791
WAS .781
ATL .775
NYM .724

A monster year by Jeremy Hermida, who hit 296/366/501 while playing right field, helped the Marlins nip the Phils, led by Victorino and Werth, in right.

If you add up what all the Phillies’ players did with the while playing left field, right field and center field for the season, they went 551-for-1903 with 76 home runs and 247 walks. If you calculate the average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage they hit 290/379/480, an OPS of .859. Here’s how that compares to other teams in the division:

All OF


PHI .859
NYM .806
FLA .773
ATL .762
WAS .732

Those teams don’t all play their games in the same stadium, but it’s not close. The Phillies were just better.

The Phils go into 2008 without Rowand in the picture. Victorino will slide to center and Werth and Jenkins are expected to hold down right field. The Phillies are going to miss Rowand’s bat — he was outstanding in ’07. But here’s how the numbers look if you adjust Victorino’s at-bats as if he had gotten all 649 at-bats for Phillies’ center fielders and produced his same 281/347/423 line and Rowand hadn’t gotten a single at-bat as a center fielder:



PHI .821
NYM .806
FLA .773
ATL .762
WAS .732

Closer. But the Phils still come out on top. If the Phils’ center fielders had hit to Victorino’s .770 OPS from ’07 they still would have been second in the division behind just the Mets. Victorino’s offense is good for a center fielder — it’s not good for a right fielder. While there’s no chance the Phils are going to produce as much offense in center without Rowand it’s just about a sure thing that they’ll get more offense out of right as Victorino/Werth is replaced by Jenkins and Werth.

Could still use a pitcher or four.

Rod Barajas signed with the Blue Jays.

This article says that if Joe Crede proves he’s healthy in spring training there’s a “good chance” the Giants could acquire him for a pitcher. It also suggests that the Giants are no longer interested in Pedro Feliz after offering him a two-year deal, which he rejected.

This looks to the stars of 2013 and reminds that Chase Utley turns 30 in December.

Article about some of the ’08 Triple-A Iron Pigs here.

Livan Herndandez may be close to signing a deal with the Mets.

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