Tag: Miguel Cairo

2009 one last time

We won’t have to wait that much longer to actually see who’s going to be on the Phillies opening day roster, so here’s my final guess.

Still looks like ten hitters we know for sure are on the squad:


Player

Position
1
Ryan Howard

1B
2 Chase Utley
2B
3
Jimmy Rollins

SS
4
Pedro Feliz

3B
5
Shane Victorino

OF
6
Jayson Werth

OF
7
Raul Ibanez

OF
8
OF
9
Carlos Ruiz
C
10 C
11
Eric Bruntlett

UT
12
Greg Dobbs

3B/OF
13
UT
14

Assuming the Phils start the year with 13 hitters, which I think they will, there are three spots left. One has to go to a catcher and another to a fourth outfielder.

The top candidates for the three spots look to include Marcus Giles, Miguel Cairo, Pablo Ozuna, Ronny Paulino, Chris Coste, John Mayberry, Matt Stairs and Geoff Jenkins.

Of the three spots, one has to go to either Paulino or Coste. Jenkins is a strong front-runner for the second. I think Jenkins is on the team as the fourth outfielder, partly because he’s harder to trade than Stairs because of his contract. He is also far better defensively.

One of Coste or Paulino has to make the team as the second catcher along with Ruiz. Both can be sent to the minors if they’re still in the organization when the season starts and both have been awful this spring. Paulino has hit just 185/267/333 in 27 at-bats. Coste has been slowed by injury and gone just 2-for-18 (.111) with two singles.

I’ve been saying all along that I thought Paulino would make the team. He has gotten a big chance this spring and done nothing with it. Multiple reports, including this one, suggest the Phillies are looking to trade Paulino. The linked article suggests Robert Andino as possible fruit of a Paulino trade. Ew. I would be a little surprised to see Paulino traded, I’ve been assuming Coste is the guy they want to trade. I’m going to flip on this one nonetheless and guess Coste at this point.

That leaves one spot for Cairo, Ozuna, Paulino, Giles, Mayberry or Stairs. I don’t think the Phils will keep three catchers, especially given how badly Paulino has hit this spring. Giles also got a chance, but he has hit just 182/289/273 in 33 at-bats this spring. Despite his solid 279/323/525 line this spring, I think Mayberry is going to the minors. His .323 on-base percentage shouldn’t be overlooked, given that his career on-base percentage in the minors is .330.

I would be more surprised to see the Phils keep Ozuna than Cairo. Ozuna has actually outhit Cairo. Pablo has been on fire this spring and put up a 364/432/455 line in 33 at-bats compared to an also impressive 302/348/535 line for Cairo over 43 at-bats. My guess is if it’s one or the other it will be Cairo rather than Ozuna, mostly just based on the fact that the Phils have given Cairo more time this spring.

That leaves Stairs. I would guess that he will not be with the organization when the season starts. If he is, though, he’s on the team, either in the spot I just gave to Cairo or as the 14th hitter with the Phils going with 11 pitchers.

Ten of the Phillies pitching spots are likely to be filled by these guys:


Player

Position
1
Cole Hamels (left)

SP
2
Brett Myers (right)

SP
3
Joe Blanton (right)

SP
4
Jamie Moyer (left)

SP
5
SP
6
Ryan Madson (right)
 RP
7
Chan Ho Park (right)

SP/RP
8
Clay Condrey (right)

RP
9
Scott Eyre (left)

RP
10
Chad Durbin (right)

RP
11  
RP
12
Brad Lidge (right)

CLOSER

In part because of the minor injury problems with Hamels and Park, I think the Phillies will go with 12 pitchers to start the season despite having three off-days before they play their eighth came of the season. Especially with Hamels having been unable to work up his pitch counts, I think the Phils will want to carry seven relievers.

I think Park won the fifth starter’s job this spring. I think Happ is still on the team to pitch out of the pen as the second lefty. That assumes the Phillies do not add another lefty before the start of the season.

That leaves one spot, assuming the Phils carry 12 pitchers. I think that goes to Majewski or Koplove and both have been very good this spring. Majewski has a 3.27 ERA and a 1.27 ratio in 11 innings. Koplove has pitched less, just 6 1/3 innings, but thrown to a 1.42 ERA with a 1.11 ratio. I think it’s interesting that Majewkski has thrown significantly more innings than Koplove, which may mean the Phils are leaning that way. I think Koplove has a better chance to make a significant positive contribution this season, though, so that’s the way I’ll guess.

That slot seems like it would be the one to go if the Phils carried just 11 pitchers, presumably with Stairs being the 14th hitter. The other issue is that if Stairs does get traded, the deal may bring in a player that will start the year with the team and take up a roster spot. That move would also presumably knock off Majewski or Koplove. It could also knock off Happ for the first few games of the season if he proved to be the winner of the fifth starter competition rather than a guy who will pitch out of the pen.

Here’s my guess then:

Hitters (13): Howard, Utley, Rollins, Feliz, Ibanez, Victorino, Werth, Ruiz, Bruntlett, Dobbs, Jenkins, Coste, Cairo.

Pitchers (12): Hamels, Myers, Blanton, Moyer, Park, Madson, Happ, Condrey, Eyre, Durbin, Koplove, Lidge.

The Phillies did not play yesterday. They play the Yankees today with Carlos Carrasco expected to pitch.

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First pitch pitch

Getting ahead of the batter 0-1 instead of behind him 1-0 is hugely important for a pitcher. One way you can tell is by looking at the results of plate appearances in which the pitcher got ahead or behind.

The chart below shows the batting average and slugging percentage that batters hit to against the Phillies in plate appearances where the pitcher got behind 1-0 or ahead 0-1. Also included are the results of the plate appearances where the ball was put in play on the first pitch (no on-base percentage is included because a batter cannot walk on the first pitch of his plate appearance):

firstpitch1.jpg

So it’s good to get ahead. Duh. The curious thing, of course, is that the chart makes it look like the pitcher is better off when the count is 1-0 than if the batter put the ball in play on the first pitch. I don’t think you want to jump to that conclusion, though. In the same way the batter can’t walk on the first pitch, he also can’t strike out. If you take all the strikeouts away from the plate appearances, opposing hitters hit .345 and slugged .551 against the Phils in ’08 when they got ahead 1-0.

I don’t want to profess to have any idea what goes through a pitcher’s head when delivering the first pitch of plate appearance. I would guess, though, that the intention is rarely to deliver ball one. I would also guess that it is, by a wide margin, to throw strike one rather than have the batter hit the ball in a way that creates an out — the consequence of that is putting the ball over the plate where it can be hit at a time the batter expects just that.

In 2008, 11 of the 16 NL teams saw batters hit to a lower OPS in the plate appearances where the pitcher got behind 1-0 than the plate appearances where the plate appearance was over with one pitch. The Phillies were one of the five teams that saw batters hit to a lower OPS in plate appearances that ended in one pitch.

The five teams that did put up a better OPS against the batters that got ahead of them 1-0 than the batters whose plate appearances ended on one pitch were the Phils, Dodgers, Rockies, Marlins and Braves. Every one of those teams, like the Phillies, still saw batters hit to a higher batting average and slugging percentage on the first pitch plate appearances than they did on the plate appearances when they got behind 1-0 (again, perhaps in large part because you cannot strike out on the first pitch).

So a lot of teams are getting hurt on their plate appearances that end on the first pitch, presumably for the benefit of getting ahead in the count. All of the teams in the NL did not benefit equally by getting ahead in the count, though. The table below lists, for each NL team, the OPS that opposing batters hit to against them in plate appearances when they got ahead and behind in the count:

Team 1-0 PA OPS 0-1 PA OPS Diff
HOU 2440 .908 2915 .611 .297
FLA 2678 .886 2890 .592 .294
MIL 2589 .855 2871 .583 .272
PHI 2554 .858 2897 .610 .248
ATL 2628 .868 2931 .645 .223
LAD 2478 .800 2951 .580 .220
SDP 2608 .829 2938 .609 .220
STL 2524 .857 2997 .644 .213
SFG 2710 .830 2956 .624 .206
PIT 2888 .892 2839 .693 .199
CIN 2636 .886 3055 .688 .198
CHI 2551 .784 2937 .586 .198
ARI 2332 .798 3038 .602 .196
COL 2640 .872 2944 .676 .196
NYM 2627 .820 2990 .627 .193
WSN 2676 .853 2925 .677 .176

So the Astros had the biggest difference in the OPS that batters who got ahead 1-0 put up against them and the batters who got behind 0-1. Batters who got ahead 1-0 hit 294/399/509 (.908 OPS) against them and batters who got behind 0-1 hit 222/265/345 (.611 OPS). The difference between the two is .297. At the other end of the list was the Nats, who saw hitters that got ahead hit 274/394/459 (.853) and hitters who got behind hit 248/293/384 (.677) — that difference still seems dramatic, but was the smallest of the 16 NL teams.

The Phillies, meanwhile, were near the top of the list in terms of the benefit they got by OPS by getting ahead of hitters on the first pitch. So at least they got something out of all those first-pitch home runs they gave up.

Yesterday the Phillies scored three runs in the top of the ninth to beat Toronto 7-6. They are 10-11 in spring training.

Park got the start for the Phils and allowed three runs over four innings on four hits and a walk. He struck out seven and has a spring ERA of 2.87. Durbin and Madson each threw a scoreless inning for the Phils. Majewski went two innings and allowed two runs on four hits and a walk, pushing his spring ERA up to 3.27.

Park has amazing strikeout and walk numbers this spring training. He’s thrown 15 2/3 innings and allowed one walk while striking out 18.

Back from the World Baseball Classic, Rollins and Victorino were atop the lineup for the Phils. They both went 0-for-2 with a walk. Cairo was 1-for-1 with a walk. He’s hitting .303 this spring. Coste was at DH for the Phils and went 1-for-4 to raise his spring average to .111. Werth was 2-for-3 with his fourth spring home run. Utley hit his first, a two-run shot in the seventh. He’s hitting .278.

The Phillies do not play today.


Okay, then, stay in my yard

By almost any measure, the Phillies had the best bullpen in the National League in 2008. Phils’ relievers pitched to an NL-best 3.22 ERA and allowed fewer runs per inning than the relievers for any other team in the league.

But what was it that they did that was exceptional relative to the other bullpens in the league? Not that they necessarily had to do any one thing — they could have been a little bit better than average in a lot of ways. I mentioned yesterday that one thing that wasn’t exceptional about the pen in ’08 was the number of walks they issued. They actually walked more batters than the average bullpen in the league. They also didn’t prevent hits at an exceptional rate. Here are the rates that the average NL bullpen recorded hits, walks and strikeouts per nine innings in 2008 along with what the Phillies did:

bbhsoper9.jpg

The Phillies relievers did do a better job of preventing hits than the average NL bullpen, but not by a whole lot. They walked more batters and struck out more. Here it is in a chart that shows the average rates for NL bullpens for 2008 for hits, walks and strikeouts along with the rates for the Phillies and their rank in the NL in those categories relative to other NL relief corps:

  NL pen
average
PHI pen NL Rank PHI/NL AVG
H per 9
8.72 8.50 7 0.97
BB per 9 3.83 3.93 9 1.03
SO per 9 7.57 7.66 5 1.01

So per nine innings pitched, the Phillies relievers allowed about 97% of the hits, 103% of the walks and got 101% of the strikeouts that the average pen would have gotten. They were the fifth-best in the 16-team league at striking hitters out, but the numbers for allowing walks and hits were near the middle of the pack.

What is exceptional relative to the other bullpens in the NL last year is this:

  NL pen
average
PHI pen NL Rank PHI/NL AVG
XBH per 9
2.89 2.53 3 .88
HR per 9 0.96 0.69 1 .72

Again, per nine innings pitched, the Phils allowed 88% of the extra-base hits of an average NL pen and 72% of the home runs. Their rate of allowing extra-base bases hits was third-best in the league and the rate of allowing home runs was the best.

The overall success at preventing extra-base hits has a lot to do at how good the Phillies relievers were at preventing home runs. Compared to the other NL teams, their rate of preventing doubles and triples was not nearly as outstanding as their rate at preventing home runs.

hxb2bhr1.jpg

And here it is in table form:

  NL pen
average
PHI pen NL Rank PHI/NL AVG
XBH per 9
2.89 2.53 3 .88
2B + 3B per 9 1.93 1.84 7 .96
HR per 9 0.96 0.69 1 .72

The rate at which they prevented doubles and triples simply wasn’t as extraordinary as the rate at which they prevented home runs. While they were third overall among NL pens at preventing extra-base hits, they were just seventh in preventing doubles and triples. None of this is to say there was any one factor that made the bullpen great overall in 2008, or that all of the areas mentioned in the post are equally important, but in some areas the Phils’ relievers were much more dominant than others.

Yesterday the Phillies lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 to drop to 4-8 in spring training. Another nice outing by Happ was the best news of the day for the Phils.

Moyer got the start and went five innings, allowing two runs on six hits and a walk. Happ followed Moyer and allowed a run in three innings, giving up four hits and a walk. The run that Happ allowed came on a solo homer by Gabe Kapler.

Moyer called the outing his worst appearance of the spring. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed he’s not losing his marbles.

Offensively, the Phillies had three hits. Andy Tracy hit a solo home run with two outs in the ninth to get the Phillies within a run. Cairo was 2-for-3 with two singles, raising his spring average to .318. Mayberry 0-for-3. Donald 0-for-2 with a walk. Paulino 0-for-2, dropping his average to .200. Coste 0-for-1.

Werth was supposed to start the game in center but was scratched with a groin issue. He is expected to play today. I think you should be concerned but not surprised by all the problems Werth is having getting on the field this spring — the roster puts the Phillies in a spot where they’re going to have problems if Werth isn’t ready to go once the season starts. There’s still a lot of time, though.

Burrell was at DH for the Rays and went 1-for-3. He’s hitting .333 this spring.

The Phillies play the Pirates this afternoon.

In the World Baseball Classic, Rodrigo Lopez did not pitch yesterday as Cuba beat Mexico 16-4. Mexico plays Korea on Sunday and Cuba plays Japan.


Wake up stall

Given that the Phils and Mets scored the same number of runs last season, I thought I’d look for any area where the Phillies could improve. One is early in the game.

Here’s the runs scored for each of the teams in innings one through three, four through six and seven through nine:

 
Phillies

Mets
Innings Runs
scored
Per inning Runs
Scored
Per Inning
1 through 3 266 0.55 342 0.70
4 through 6 302 0.62 253 0.52
7 through 9 221 0.50 191 0.43

For each team the runs scored in innings one through nine does not equal 799. The Phillies scored ten runs in extra innings while the Mets scored thirteen.

In both the inning four through six and seven through nine categories, the Phillies outscored the Mets. For the season, after the third inning the Phils outscored the Mets 533 to 457.

The Phillies were actually better than the Mets in the second inning as well:

 
Phillies

Mets
Inning Runs
scored
Per inning Runs
Scored
Per Inning
Second 71 0.44 68 0.42

That means there must have been a big problem in the first and third innings. And there was:

 
Phillies

Mets
Inning Runs
scored
Per inning Runs
Scored
Per Inning
First 109 0.67 139 0.86
Third 86 0.53 135 0.83

The Mets clearly were getting out to a better start in ’08 in the first inning. Here’s at least part of the reason why:

First batter of the game

Team PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
PHI 162 253 290 344 634
NYM 162 346 370 532 902

Rollins was miserable in the first plate appearance of the game in 2008. He got the first plate appearance in 126 of the 162 games and hit 242/278/342 in those plate appearances. Victorino and Werth were the only two players on the team to get more than ten plate appearances as the first Phillie hitter of the game — Victorino hit 429/429/571 and Werth hit 300/417/300. Taguchi went 1-for-8 in the eight games where he hit first for the Phils.

Jose Reyes, on the other hand, was a terror for the Mets as the first hitter of the game. He got the Mets going by hitting 340/365/529 in the 159 times he got the first plate appearance of the game for New York.

It’s a lot less clear what happened in the third inning, but for whatever reason there were a lot of Phillies that just didn’t hit in their plate appearances that came in the third. Burrell hit .130, Werth .104, Victorino .211 and Ruiz .160.

Also possible is that the Phillies’ problems in the first inning forced them to send their 7-8-9 hitters to the plate more often in the third inning while the Mets were sending the better hitters at the top of their order. Here are the Mets hitting splits in the third inning.

The Phillies signed Miguel Cairo to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training. He may be part of the competition to fill in at second if Utley isn’t ready for the start of the season.

Adam Eaton, who has made 49 starts for the Phillies over the past two season in which he’s thrown to a 6.06 ERA, suggests that the reason general managers might not be jumping all over the chance to trade for him is that he will be available without having to make a trade if the Phillies release him.

Bad news if you had Drew Naylor in your office Phillies opening day starter pool. Looks like the Phils may be going to go with that Hamels guy.

Rich Dubee suggests Kendrick is the favorite to win the fifth starter job in this article.


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