Tag: Jim Thome

Guess appearance

Today’s very early guess on who starts the year with the Phillies. Barring new injuries, I think we can count on these 12 hitters:

1 Ruiz
2 Utley
3 Rollins
4 Polanco
5 Mayberry
6 Nix
7 Victorino
8 Pence
9 Wigginton
10 Thome
11 Schneider
12 Valdez

Notable no-shows on that list include Ryan Howard, still recovering, Domonic Brown and Michael Martinez.

Assuming you don’t count Wigginton, there are just four outfielders on that list including one, Nix, who can never, ever be used against lefties. On a related note, I have some trouble buying completely into the idea that Wigginton is the nearly every day first baseman while Howard is out. If Thome can play first at all (he probably can’t) he’s clearly the better choice. I think Mayberry is a better choice offensively as well, but to give him much time at first the Phils are going to need someone who can man left field against left-handed pitching. Maybe someone like Ben Francisco? Oh, wait.

I see one or two hitting spots as open, depending on how many pitchers the Phils decide to carry. I think one of them is filled by a fifth outfielder, either Domonic Brown or someone not currently on the roster who hits right-handed.

I think these 12 pitchers are likely to start the year with the Phils:

1 Halladay
2 Lee
3 Hamels
4 Blanton
5 Worley
6 Kendrick
7 Papelbon
8 Contreras
9 Bastardo
10 Stutes
11 Willis
12 Herndon

That assumes Contreras is healthy enough to start the year, of course, which is far from a sure thing. After Contreras, Stutes and Herndon seem like the two pitchers with the least solid hold on their slot. Brian Sanches, Phillippe Aumont and Justin De Fratus seem like the most likely candidates to squeeze past them or take Contreras’s spot if he’s not ready to go.

I have trouble seeing the Phils carrying more than two lefties out of the pen to start 2012. Unless Bastardo or Willis get hurt, or are consistently and resoundingly awful in spring training, I’d be surprised to see Joe Savery or Jake Diekman start the year with the Phils.

Joe Blanton says he’s feeling and throwing well. If he’s healthy he seems like a lock for the rotation. If he’s not I’d guess Kendrick takes his turns in the rotation, barring a big effort in the spring from NRIs Dave Bush and Joel Pineiro.

If the Phillies went with 14 hitters to start the year, my guess would be that Stutes and Herndon would be fighting for the eleventh pitching slot, advantage Stutes.

Cesar Hernandez was fifth on MLB.com’s list of the top ten second base prospects. Sebastian Valle ninth on the list of catching prospects.

Thome says that Spring Training will be the true test for his back in terms of when and how often he might be able to place defensively at first this year. I’m going to be surprised if we see much at all of Thome at first in 2012.

This says the Phillies are one of four teams still in the mix to land Francisco Cordero.

Update: Wilson Valdez was traded to the Reds for 26-year-old left-handed reliever Jeremy Horst.


Better than average Joel?

Joel Pineiro has a minor league deal with the Phils and there’s a reasonable chance he’ll get some starts with the team during the 2012 season. The 33-year-old righty was solid with the Cardinals and Angels in 2009 and 2010, making 55 starts between the two teams combined and throwing to 3.64 ERA with a 1.18 ratio.

In 2011, though, he had a miserable year with the Angels and finished the season with a 5.13 ERA and a 1.51 ratio. Through 14 starts in ’11 Pineiro sported a 3.90 ERA that hid the true story. He had a 1.43 ratio to go with it, having allowed 106 hits in 90 1/3 innings. Over his last 13 appearances, ten of which were starts, things blew up as he threw to a 7.11 ERA with a 1.63 ratio. In his last 23 appearances on the season, from May 21 to the end of the year, he allowed 160 hits in 118 1/3 innings pitched.

So allowing a ton of hits in 2011 was a big part of the problem for Pineiro. But there were others. Here are his combined numbers for 2009 and 2010 and for 2011 (in 2009 he threw 214 innings with St Louis in the NL, in 2010 152 1/3 with the Angels):

IP ERA Ratio H/9 BB/9 SO/9
2009-2010 366 1/3 3.64 1.18 9.2 1.5 4.8
2011 145 2/3 5.13 1.51 11.2 2.3 3.8

And here’s what righties and lefties did against him in those two years combined and in 2011:

PA AVG OBP SLG % H % BB % SO % HR % 1B
’09-’10 vs Right 751 273 302 385 25.7 3.1 13.2 1.6 18.9
’09-’10 vs Left 748 258 295 402 24.1 5.1 13.1 1.9 15.5
’09-’10 Total 1499 265 298 393 24.9 4.1 13.1 1.7 17.2
’11 vs Right 298 299 330 448 28.2 4.4 11.4 3.0 20.1
’11 vs Left 333 322 372 474 29.4 7.5 8.4 2.1 20.4
’11 Total 631 311 352 462 28.8 6.0 9.8 2.5 20.3

It’s not on the chart above, but in both 2009 and 2010 combined and in 2011, Pineiro gave up a double or a triple to about 6.0% of the batters he faced. Just about everything else got worse in 2011. Pineiro doesn’t rack up strikeouts, even when he’s pitching well, but his strikeouts were down in ’11. He gave up way more singles, walked a lot more hitters and gave up home runs at a higher rate. The walks were up more dramatically than the hits. Compared to his ’09-’10 numbers, his walks rose at about the same rate against lefties and righties.

Important to remember is that coming into the 2009 season with the Cardinals, Pineiro hadn’t been good for a while. From 2004 to 2008, he pitched for the Mariners, Red Sox and Cardinals, throwing to a 5.34 ERA and a 1.47 ratio. Over those five seasons, he allowed way too many hits, giving up 867 in 741 2/3 innings.

From 2001 to 2003, Pineiro pitched for Seattle and allowed just 431 hits in 481 1/3 innings (8.1 hits per nine). In ’03 he was seventh in the AL in fewest hits allowed per nine at 8.16. That was the end of that, though. From 2004 to 2008, he allowed 10.5 hits per nine innings and he hasn’t allowed fewer than nine hits per nine innings in any year since 2003.

I think the other things to be wary about Pineiro’s recent history are 1) his 2010 season with the Angels wasn’t that fantastic and 2) his 2009 season with the Cardinals was pretty fantastic, but during that year he prevented walks at an outstanding rate he has never matched in his career and likely won’t ever match again.

In 2010 with the Angels, Pineiro threw to an ERA+ of 104. He allowed more than a hit per inning and his walk rate from 2009 jumped.

In 2009, Pineiro walked 27 batters in 214 innings. That’s 1.14 per nine innings and in 2009 he led the NL in the category. By a lot. Arizona’s Dan Haren was second and he allowed 1.49 walks per nine that year.

Pineiro hasn’t been in the top ten in his league in fewest walks per nine innings in any other year of his career. From the start of his career in 2000 through the end of 2008, he walked 7.2% of the batters that he faced. In 2009, he walked 3.1% of the batters he faced. He faced 445 right-handed batters that year and walked ten of them (2.2%). Over the last two years, his walk rate has been down, but nowhere near as low as it was in 2009. He’s walked about 5.7% of the batters he’s faced since the start of the 2010 season and about 4.3% of the righties.

Both sides seem to think that Hamels and the Phillies will discussed a long-term contract during spring training.

In this article, Hamels’s agent suggests that the pitcher’s next contract will reflect his eliteness. Or at least it would if that was a word. The agent also suggests that Jared Weaver left a lot of money on the table in signing his five-year, $85 million deal.

This says that Jeremy Accardo has agreed to a minor league deal with the Indians.

This suggests that Amaro said left field will be a Mayberry/Nix platoon and Brown will start the year in the minors barring a monster spring training.

This suggests that Amaro said Ty Wigginton will be the primary first baseman for the Phils while Howard is out with Thome backing him up.


Log gabbin

The Start Log for 2011 is done and you can view it here.

Two of my favorites from the Start Log:

  • In 2011, the Phillies went 90-23 in games in which they scored more than two runs.
  • In 2011, the Phils allowed 529 runs.

90-23 is a .796 winning percentage for the Phils in games where they scored more than two runs. They went 18-10 (.643) in games where they scored three runs. In 2008, 2009 and 2010, the Phillies went to the World Series twice and never were .500 in games in which they scored three runs. Overall in those three seasons they went 24-43 (.358) in the games in which they plated exactly three runs. They actually had a better record in the 18 games in 2011 in which they scored three runs than the 19 games in which they scored four. The Phils went 11-8 when they scored four runs in 2011.

NL teams other than the Phillies went 1069-576 (.650) in games in which they scored more than two runs. In the games in which they scored exactly three runs, the NL teams other than the Phils went 150-219 (.407) in 2011.

In 2011, the Phillies allowed 529 runs. That’s not a lot.

The last team to play 162 or more games in a regular season and allow 529 runs or less was the 1969 Baltimore Orioles– they allowed 517 runs in 162 games. Righty Jim Palmer (16-4 with a 2.34 ERA, a 1.08 ratio and a 154 ERA+) and lefty Mike Cuellar (23-11 with a 2.38 ERA, a 1.01 ratio and a 151 ERA+) led that rotation. Cuellar won the Cy Young award in the AL that year. Lefty Dave McNally won 20 games for Baltimore as well, going 20-7 with a 3.22 ERA, a 1.18 ratio, but with an ERA+ of just 112.

Notably, Halladay and Lee were almost inarguably better than Cuellar and whoever you think the second-best starter for Baltimore that year was. And ’11 Hamels was better than ’69 McNally.

Baltimore, however, had a fantastic bullpen that threw to a league-best 2.32 ERA and a league-best 1.09 ratio in a year when the average AL-pen pitched to a 3.50 ERA and a 1.39 ratio. The Phillies bullpen this year, as you may remember, was far from league-best (7th in the NL in ERA and tenth in ratio).

Several teams were on pace to allow less than 529 runs over 162 games in a season where they didn’t play 162 games. In 1981, the Astos allowed 331 runs in 110 games, which put them on pace to allow 487 over 162 games. The Yankees were on pace to allow 519 runs that year and the Dodgers on pace to allow 524.

In 1972, the Orioles allowed 430 runs in a 154 games, which put them on a pace to allow 452 runs. Oakland’s pace would have had them allowing 478 runs over 162 games.

Back in June I looked at the pace at which the Phils were allowing runs. You can read that post here.

In this article, Manuel points out that the Phillies offense was really good in the second half of the year, saying, “From the second half of the season on, we were either No. 1 or No. 2 in offense.” No argument here. From the start of the season to the end of June, the Phils were eighth in the NL in runs scored. From the start of July to the end of the regular season, they led the league in runs scored. From the start of June to the end of the regular season they were fourth in the NL in runs scored. Second in the league in runs scored after the All-Star break. More on that later.

Manuel says he likes the chances of Rollins returning in this article.

In this article Manuel says he thinks Thome can still play first base and suggests that Utley will hit third when healthy.

These articles about the Brewers, Phillies, Jimmy Rollins and Aramis Ramirez seem similar to me.

This article lists the Phils among the suitors for Gio Gonzalez. Sounds good to me, but I would advise against holding one’s breath. Gio Gonzalez and Gavin Floyd for Freddy Garcia in December, 2006, wasn’t a shining moment for the Phils.

This says the Phils are out on Ramirez.

This suggests that the Phils would be willing to include Domonic Brown in a Gio Gonzalez deal.


Do-over?

Remember this? After 79 games, the 2011 Phillies were preventing runs at a fantastic rate and looked, at least compared to the rest of the National League, like they would wind up better overall than the 2008, 2009 or 2010 teams.

And despite the disappointment of the post-season, I think they were. The table below shows the runs scored and allowed by the Phils since 2008 compared to the rest of the league as well as the same numbers for the team that actually won the World Series that year (in 2008 the Phillies were the World Series winner, so there’s only one entry for that season):

TM W R/G Lg Rank Lg Avg RA/G Lg Rank Lg Avg Ttl
’11 PHI 102 4.40 7 4.13 1.07 3.27 1 4.16 0.79 .28
’11 STL 90 4.70 1 4.13 1.14 4.27 9 4.16 1.03 .11
’10 PHI 97 4.77 2 4.33 1.10 3.95 4 4.35 0.91 .19
’10 SF 92 4.30 9 4.33 0.99 3.60 2 4.35 0.83 .16
’09 PHI 93 5.06 1 4.46 1.14 4.38 6 4.49 0.98 .16
’09 NYY 103 5.65 1 4.82 1.17 4.65 7 4.75 0.98 .19
’08 PHI 92 4.93 3 4.54 1.09 4.20 3 4.63 0.91 .18

So, for example, the ’11 Phils scored 4.40 runs per game, which was seventh in the league and about 1.07 times (or 107% of) the NL average of 4.13 runs per game. They allowed a league-best 3.27 runs per game, which was about 0.79 times the NL average. If you add .07 (.07 better for at scoring runs than the league average) and .21 (.21 better at preventing runs) you get the .28 that appears in the right-most column. In the same year, the St Louis team that won the World Series was much better during the regular season at scoring runs, but much worse at preventing them.

The table above suggests . . .

  • The 2011 Phillies were better during the regular season than the Phillies teams of 2008, 2009 or 2010.
  • The 2011 Phillies excelled at preventing runs, but were near league average at scoring runs. From 2008 to 2010, the Phils were no worse than third in the NL in runs scored per game before dropping to seventh in 2011.
  • In each of the last four seasons, the Phils have been in the top half of the NL in both scoring and preventing runs.
  • In each of the last two seasons, the Phils have been ousted from the post-season by a team that excelled at either scoring or preventing runs, but was also in the bottom half of the league in allowing or scoring based on runs per game. The Cards were ninth-best in the NL in runs allowed per game in 2011 and the Giants were ninth-best in the NL in runs scored per game in 2010.
  • After getting a little worse in 2009 after winning the World Series in 2008, the Phillies have gotten better in 2010 and 2011.
  • In 2010 and 2011, the Phillies were better during the regular season than the NL team that 1) knocked them out of the playoffs and 2) won the World Series.
  • The ’09 Yankees were better than the ’09 Phillies — or at least were better relative to the rest of the AL than the Phils were relative to the rest of the NL.

If you had to pick one thing to focus on from that table, I think it’s how few runs the Phils allowed in 2011 compared to the rest of the NL. That carried them to much better numbers overall, despite the fact that the offense got worse. How much worse, though? Look at the offensive numbers for 2008 and 2010. Clearly the offense was better in those seasons — third in the NL in runs scored per game in 2008 and second in 2010. The 2011 Phils were seventh, but the runs they scored per game compared to the average for the league didn’t drop off by a huge amount. In 2011, they scored about 107% of the runs per game as the average NL team. In 2008 they scored 109% and in 2010 they scored 110%.

In 2011, there was a huge dropoff between the team that scored the seventh-most runs (the Phils) and the team that scored the eighth-most (the Cubs). The Phils scored 713 for the year and the Cubs scored 654 — the Phils, with the seventh-most runs in the league, were actually closer in runs scored to the Cardinals (who led the NL in runs scored) than they were to the Cubs, who were eighth in the league in scoring. The Phils scored 59 runs more than the Cubs and 49 less than the Cards.

The Phillies signed Jim Thome to a one-year deal worth $1.25 million. That is a great signing.

Getting Michael Cuddyer would be rather fantastic as well.


The soloists

The Phillies went 16-11 in August and are a nifty 36-18 since the end of June. August wasn’t their best month with the bats, though. It was actually their worst:

Month Runs per
game
April 5.95
May 5.29
June 4.77
July 5.67
August 4.48

Part of what’s curious about that is that the Phillies hit home runs at their highest rate of the season in August:

Month HR per 100
PA
April 3.64
May 3.62
June 3.64
July 3.24
August 4.19

The Phillies hit 43 home runs in August. Howard hit eleven, Rollins and Werth each hit seven and Utley hit six.

Forty-three is a lot of home runs for a month. The last time that the Phillies hit 43 or more home runs in a single month was June, 2004. Jim Thome hit 15 home runs for the Phils in June of 2004, which is silly. When Bonds hit 73 in 2001 he had just one month in which he hit 15 or more (Bonds hit 17 in May, 2001).

Compared to the other months of 2009, they also got a lot of hits:

Month H per 100
PA
April 23.37
May 22.62
June 21.91
July 22.89
August 22.90

The Phillies didn’t get hits at their best rate of the season during August, but they did get them at their second-best rate. Their hit rate was about the same as it was in May and July, months in which they scored more runs.

Oh whatever could it be? Well, I pretty sure you know and, if you’ve been watching the Phillies, you probably knew before you started reading this post:

Month BB per 100
PA
April 10.05
May 9.86
June 8.90
July 10.75
August 7.99

The Phillies may have gotten a lot of hits and hit a lot of homers in August, but they didn’t score a lot of runs compared to the rest of the season. A big part of the reason is that their walk rate was miserable, the worst it has been for any month this season.

The Phillies designated Brad Harman for assignment, added John Ennis to the 40-man roster and put Ennis on the DL. Ennis has gotten one out this season for the IronPigs and allowed five runs. He is recovering from Tommy John surgery and you won’t see him pitching any time soon. The linked article points out that “his presence on the DL allows the Phillies to add any player that is in the organization on Aug. 31 to the postseason roster.”


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