Tag: Pedro Feliz

A tale of two in new cities

Polanco isn’t the only veteran to come to Philadelphia in recent years. Pedro Feliz and Raul Ibanez both became regulars for the Phillies after long careers playing for other teams with dramatically different results.

Feliz was miserable, hitting 259/306/393 as a full-time player over more than a thousand at-bats in 2008 and 2009 combined. His .699 OPS as a Phillie was worse than the .721 career OPS he had when he came to Philadelphia.

Ibanez, on the other hand, had the best year of his career in 2009. He hit 272/347/552, setting career highs in home runs and slugging percentage.

Here’s how the percentage of plate appearances each of those players has gotten hits, walks, extra-base hits, doubles and triples and home runs at and away from Citizens Bank Park for their careers:

  % H % BB % XBH % 2B or 3B % HR
Ibanez CBP 22.4 11.9 10.8 6.0 4.9
Everywhere else
25.8 8.4 9.5 5.9 3.6
Feliz CBP 25.1 4.9 7.8 4.9 2.9
Everywhere else
23.5 5.3 8.8 5.4 3.3

For Ibanez, his rate of getting hits is way down at Citizens Bank Park, but his walks are up, his extra-base hits are up a little and his home runs are up a lot.

Feliz is just the opposite — his rate of getting hits went up at Citizens Bank Park, but everything else is down compared to his career numbers everywhere else.

The thing that’s critical to remember about Ibanez’s 2009 year is that his numbers away from Citizens Bank Park were much better than his numbers at it. He hit 260/351/511 at home and 283/343/587 away from home. He blasted 21 home runs and 19 doubles away from home while hitting 13 doubles and 13 homers at home.

In case you were wondering, Lidge won’t be ready for opening day. The article suggests he is trying to be ready for the series with the Astros that starts April 9 in Houston.

The article linked above also says that Happ allowed two runs in five innings in a minor league game yesterday.

This says Polanco may play tonight or, if not, maybe Saturday or Sunday.

Touching base (third)

Back in November I looked at some of the available players who looked like they might be a good match for the Phils at third base. The Phillies landed on Placido Polanco and most of the rest of that group has found a home by now as well:

Player Age Status
P Feliz 34

After the Phillies declined his $5.5 million option for 2010, Feliz signed a one-year deal with the Astros for $4.5 million.

P Polanco 34 Signed a three-year, $18 million deal with the Phillies
A Beltre 30 Signed a one-year, $9 million deal with Boston
C Figgins 32 Signed a four-year, $36 million deal with Seattle.
M DeRosa 34 Signed with San Francisco for two years, $12 million
G Atkins 30 Signed a one year contract with Baltimore. The contract is for $4 million with incentives that could earn Atkins an additional $1 million. He will likely play first base and not third.
T Glaus 33 Signed with the Braves for one-year, $1.75 million.  He is expected to play first base and not third with Atlanta.
M Tejada 35 Agreed to a one-year, $6 million deal with Baltimore
J Crede 31 Unsigned

I don’t think the Polanco contract looks great in relation to the signings for the group given the length of Polanco’s new deal. I would rather have Polanco for three years at his contract than Figgins for four years at his contract. I’m not as sure about the rest of the group.

After the Phillies declined Feliz’s option for 2010 I would guess they couldn’t have signed him as a free agent for one-year, $4.5 million even if they had wanted to. They might have been better off if they did.

Glaus’s signing may be the steal of the group, cause if he’s healthy he’s a lock to be the best offensive player in the group. Even if he’s not a hundred percent, there’s still a good chance he’s the best hitter in the group in 2009. Let’s just hope he really can’t play third base at all.

I think the O’s got a great deal on Atkins, too. I think it’s much more likely that he will see time at third in the future, despite Baltimore’s preference to play him at first. It’s undeniable that he was miserable in 2009, but including that awful year he has hit 292/359/472 over the past four seasons and averaged 21 homers and 94 RBI. Let’s hope he really can’t play third, either.

I’m definitely rooting for Polanco to hit .320 with 15 home runs. And maybe he will. He’s getting old, though, and he’s coming off a bad year. If I were guessing, Feliz and Crede are the only players in the group that I feel confident that Polanco will outperform offensively in 2010. And that’s in year one of a three-year deal. And maybe he can play third, but he’s not a third baseman. So let’s hope for the best. But the time that’s past since the signing hasn’t done a whole lot to make me feel better about the deal for the Phillies.

Joe Blanton and the Phillies agreed to a three-year, $24 million deal.

Victorino and the Phils agreed to a three-year, $22 million deal.

The Phillies and Ruiz agreed to a three-year, $8.85 million deal.

This suggests the Phillies have agreed to a one-year deal with right-handed pitcher Jose Contreras, which is worth about $1 million. Contreras pitched for the White Sox and Rockies last year, posting a 4.92 ERA with a 1.47 ratio over 131 2/3 innings. He spent most of the past three years with the White Sox and has a 5.09 ERA over the past three seasons. He was traded to the Rockies at the end of the 2009 season and he got his first chance to pitch for a NL team — in seven appearances he threw to a 1.59 ERA over 17 innings but with a 1.65 ratio (his ERA+ while throwing to a 1.59 ERA with the Rockies was 288).

First look

Earlier this month I wrote about how important it was for Phillies pitchers not to walk a batter with the bases empty. Phillies hitters also drive in a lot more runs in their chances to hit with runners on base than in their chances with the bases empty. If you had asked me who the Phillies hitters whose rate of driving in runs increased the most last year when they come to the plate with a runner on first instead of with the bases empty, I would have said that it’s the home run hitters because when they hit a home run with a man on first it drives in twice as many runs as when they hit a home run with the bases empty.

I would have been wrong, of course. In terms of their RBI per plate appearance it’s the guys who hit very few home runs with the bases empty who saw their rate of RBI per plate appearances rise the most when hitting with a man on first base.

Here’s the rate of RBI per plate appearance with the bases empty for the eight Phillies regulars for 2009 as well as the rates for Ben Francisco and Greg Dobbs:

Bases Empty
Player RBI per PA
Ibanez .066
Francisco .065
Howard .060
Werth .056
Utley .054
Dobbs .042
Rollins .023
Ruiz .022
Feliz .014
Victorino .014

Since you’re going to run into a lot of problems if you try to get an RBI with the bases empty without hitting a home run, you would probably think that the list should be just about the same as the list of the number of home runs per plate appearance. And it’s pretty close, but not identical. Ibanez, Francisco, Howard, Werth and Utley are the top five in the list above. For the same ten players the leaders on the list of plate appearances per home runs (regardless of who was on base) for 2009 went Howard, Ibanez, Werth, Francisco, Utley. Among players that had more than 50 plate appearances last year, none of those guys was the leaders in home run rate. Guesses? It might take a while, but the best rate for the year was John Mayberry. Mayberry hit four home runs in 60 plate appearances or one every 15 times he came to the dish. Had he gotten Howard’s 703 plate appearances and hit home runs at that rate he would have hit about 47 (Howard hit 45). There’s a chance that might not even have happened.

Here are the rates for RBI per plate appearance with a runner on first for 2009 for the same ten players:

Man on first
Player RBI per PA
Ibanez .179
Howard .174
Ruiz .143
Utley .142
Francisco .136
Werth .117
Rollins .091
Feliz .086
Dobbs .074
Victorino .049

Everyone’s rate is up. Overall for the team the average rate for RBI per plate appearance was .036 with the bases empty and .101 with a man on first. .101 is about 2.8 times as much as .036.

The point, though, is that some rates are up a whole lot more than others. The chart below shows, for each of the ten players, the rate of RBI per plate appearance with a runner on first compared to the player’s rate of RBI per plate appearance with the bases empty.

Player RBI per PA with man on 1B/RBI per PA with
the bases empty
Ruiz 6.40
Feliz 6.03
Rollins 3.97
Victorino 3.52
Howard 2.89
Ibanez 2.72
Utley 2.63
Francisco 2.11
Werth 2.10
Dobbs 1.76

So, for example, Carlos Ruiz got about 6.4 times as many RBI per plate appearance when he was hitting with a man on first last year as when he was hitting with the bases empty. At the bottom of the list, Greg Dobbs got just 1.76 times as many. Generally speaking, it wasn’t the guys who hit a lot of home runs who saw their RBI per plate appearance jump the most with a man on first. It’s the guys whose rates of getting RBI with the bases empty were tiny. The top four guys on that list were at the bottom of the list of RBI per plate appearance with the bases empty.

The Phillies avoided arbitration with Chad Durbin. Durbin and the Phils agreed to a one-year, $2.125 million contract. Victorino, Blanton and Ruiz are the team’s three remaining arbitration-eligible players.

Brother, can you spare $115,384 so we can beat the Nats 6-2 instead of 5-2?

The rise to super-stardom by Chase Utley and Ryan Howard has helped bring the Phillies a championship and a whole lot of spectacular moments. It has also brought a payroll challenge. Utley and Howard have been fantastic offensive players over the last four seasons. They were great four years ago, great last year and the Phillies are counting on them to keep on being great in 2010. But while the amount of offense they are producing hasn’t improved over the past four years, the amount of money that the Phillies have to pay them to produce it has.

The chart below shows the number of runs they each created in 2009 (as calculated by Baseball-Reference), their ’09 salary and the salary over runs created. It also shows the same information for the 2006 season.

Salary $/RC
Howard ’09 130 $15,000,000 $115,384
Howard ’06 169 $355,000 $2,100
Utley ’09 130 $11,285,714 $86,813
Utley ’06 136 $500,000 $3,676

The point here is not that Utley and Howard are overpaid. It’s also not that they’re anything but great offensive players. They are — in 2006, Howard led the NL in runs created and Utley was fifth. In 2009 they tied for fifth in the league with 130 runs created.

The point is that in 2009 they created about the same or less offense and it cost the Phillies about 55 times as much for Howard to produce a run as it did in 2006 and about 23 1/2 times as much for Utley.

Last year the Phillies spent about $57.1 million to pay their offensive players and scored 820 runs. Let’s pretend that for each of the past four years the Phillies had spent $57.1 million on offensive players and also tried to score the 820 runs they did in 2009. Using runs created as the measurement, the amount of offense produced by Utley and Howard is not improving. It’s high, but has stayed very much the same for Utley since ’06 and gone down a little for Howard. So to get to 820 every year they get similar offense from Howard and Utley, but need to get the same contribution from the players who aren’t Utley and Howard and have a lot less money to pay them.

The Phillies didn’t pay their offensive players $57.1 million in 2006. If they had, though, the $855,000 they paid Utley and Howard would have accounted for about 1.5% of the offensive payroll. In 2009, the $26,285,714 was about 46% of $57.1 million. With Utley and Howard producing at about the same rates in both years it would leave the Phils about $56.2 million to pay non-Utley or Howard players in 2006 and about $30.8 million to pay them in 2009.

If Utley and Howard do the same thing every year, that’s about half the money to acquire players from whom you need the same result.

Of course, the Phillies payroll isn’t staying the same year after year. It’s rising. With help from USA Today’s Baseball Salary Database we see that in 2006 the Phillies payroll was about $88.3 million and in 2009 it was about $113 million.

The problem is, though, that it wasn’t rising as fast as the salaries for Utley and Howard. The table below shows the payroll for each of those years, how much Utley and Howard combined to make and how much all of the players on payroll other than Utley and Howard combined to make:

  Payroll Utley and
players other than Utley and Howard
2009 $113,004,046 $26,285,714 $86,718,332
2006 $88,273,333 $855,000 $87,418,333

So despite the fact that the Phillies spent almost $25 million more on payroll in 2009 than in 2006, they spent less to pay players that were not Utley and Howard.

Again, Utley and Howard are great but they’re not getting better. If the goal is to get the same or better results from the rest of the team it leaves the Phillies with less money to do so.

Good news, though. Just about everyone seems to think that the Phillies payroll for 2010 will be about $140 million. Let’s pretend it is exactly that. Knowing that Howard will make $19 million in 2010 and Utley will make $15 million, we can add 2010 to the list:

  Payroll Utley and
players other than Utley and Howard
2009 $113,004,046 $26,285,714 $86,718,332
2006 $88,273,333 $855,000 $87,418,333
2010 $140,000,000 $34,000,000 $106,000,000

Nifty. So compared to 2006, the Phillies didn’t spend more money on players other than Utley and Howard than they did in 2009, but they sure will in 2010 (if their payroll really is $140 million).

Finally, a payroll jump from $113 to $140 million would be a huge one for the Phillies. By total dollars the jump of about $27 million from the 2009 payroll would be the biggest for the team in more than 20 years. By percentage things get weirder — remember that the Phillies went to the World Series in 1993 with a payroll under $27 million. So things have changed. Still, $140 million is about 123.9% of $113 million, which would be the biggest percentage jump for the Phils since 2004. In 2003 the payroll was about $70.8 million. In 2004 it rose to about $93.2 million — the ’04 payroll was about 131.7% of the ’03 payroll after a jump of about $22.4 million.

This suggests that the Phillies might be offering JA Happ and one of Domonic Brown or Michael Taylor in a deal for Halladay. Really? I would be surprised if that happened.

The Phillies took 24-year-old right-handed pitcher David Herndon in the first round of the Rule 5 draft. John Sickels writes about him here. You can see the results of the Rule 5 draft here.

Pedro Feliz and Brandon Lyon will both be Astros.

The Placido effect

The Phillies have signed Placido Polanco to a three-year, $18 million contract. Polanco will play third for the Phils in 2010.

I think this is bad news for Phillies fans, but confused by the fact that Polanco is a very good baseball player. The problem is that he’s a good baseball player because he plays second base.

Here are some of the things that bother me about the idea of signing Polanco to play third base:

He’s not a third baseman. I don’t think there’s much of an argument there. Polanco has not appeared at third base in any of the past four years. On the plus side, he is a very good second baseman and has played more than 2,400 innings at third over his career, so it seems pretty likely he can give the Phillies good defense at third. I feel a little less sure about that than I would about someone who actually provided some team good defense at third over the past four years, though.

He was bad offensively last year and he’s 34-years-old. 285/331/396 last year. OPS+ of 88. In each of the past four seasons he’s gotten at least 495 plate appearances and in two of them he’s on-based .331 or worse.

Even for a 2B he wasn’t good offensively last year. Between the two leagues there were 37 players that got 200 or more plate appearances as a second baseman in 2009. The .730 OPS that Polanco put up while playing second base was 23rd-best. Third basemen should obviously be producing more offense than second basemen.

He doesn’t have the bat to be an everyday 3B. The chart below shows the average slugging percentages posted by NL 3B for each of the past four seasons and the slugging percentage that Polanco has put up. In just one of the four years did he put up a slugging percentage that was better than the average for the position in the NL. He got a ton of hits in those four years, too, going 690-for-2,246 (a .307 batting average):


NL Average SLG by 3B

Polanco SLG













He’s all average — he never, ever walks and doesn’t hit for power. He walks less regularly than Pedro Feliz. He did last year and he has over his career. As I wrote in this post, in a group of players that includes Feliz, Polanco, Crede, Beltre and Tejada, Polanco has been the least likely of any of them to draw a walk in a given plate appearance over their career.

His career rate of getting extra-base hits is miserable. It’s worse than new addition Brian Schneider, who is younger than Polanco and was recently signed to backup Ruiz, and a tiny bit better than ’08 Phillie So Taguchi.

Player Career PA Career XBH XBH/100 PA
Schneider 3,186 221 6.94
Polanco 6,017 399 6.63
Taguchi 1,524 100 6.56

He’s obviously way below the good hitters on the Phillies in terms of their chances to get an extra-base hit. Each of the eight Phillies regulars (including Feliz) got an extra-base hit in at least 7% of their plate appearances in 2009. Utley, Rollins, Werth and Ruiz were all in the nines while Howard and Ibanez were over 12.

This isn’t an addition that’s going to make the Phillies a lot worse. Again, Polanco is a good baseball player and it’s sure not his fault if the Phillies think he’s a third baseman. But it’s not a move that’s going to make them a lot better, either. They had one offensive position on the field where they had a chance to make themselves a lot better and they didn’t do it.

The article linked at the top of the page suggests that Polanco could hit second for the Phils. I think it may make more sense to keep Victorino in the two-hole and hit Polanco seventh after Ibanez and before Ruiz.

Chris Jaffe, who writes for The Hardball Times, has written a book called Evaluating Baseball’s Managers: A History and Analysis of Performance in the Major Leagues, 1876–2008. You can read an excerpt about Gene Mauch from the book at Crashburn Alley.

The sixth nonsense

Charlie Manuel finished sixth in the voting for NL Manager of the Year. Sixth?

Moving on, here’s the rates some free agents who could fill the Phils need at third base tallied hits, walks, doubles and triples, home runs and extra-base hits per 100 plate appearances for their last season in which they got more than 450 plate appearances (2008 for Glaus and 2009 for everyone else):

  H/100 BB/100 2B+3B/100 HR/100 XBH/100
Feliz 24.6 5.6 5.1 1.9 7.0
Tejada 29.6 2.8 7.0 2.1 9.1
DeRosa 22.4 8.2 4.2 4.0 8.2
Polanco 26.1 5.3 5.2 1.5 6.7
Beltre 24.9 4.0 5.7 1.7 7.3
Glaus 23.1 13.7 5.3 4.2 9.6
Figgins 25.1 13.9 5.1 0.7 5.8
Crede 20.4 7.9 4.6 4.1 8.7

And here are the same numbers over their careers:

  H/100 BB/100 2B+3B/100 HR/100 XBH/100
Feliz 23.7 5.3 5.3 3.3 8.6
Tejada 26.4 6.3 5.5 3.6 9.1
DeRosa 24.4 8.4 5.2 2.6 7.8
Polanco 27.8 5.2 5.1 1.5 6.6
Beltre 24.7 7.0 5.4 3.6 9.1
Glaus 21.7 13.5 4.9 5.2 10.0
Figgins 25.6 10.1 4.9 0.8 5.7
Crede 23.3 5.9 4.9 4.1 9.0

Feliz is a very weak offensive player. He has never on-based over .308 for a season and has a .715 career OPS. Doesn’t walk, doesn’t hit for average and hasn’t hit more than 14 home runs in either of the last two seasons.

Tejada is a career .289 hitter and hit .313 for the Astros last year. He walked just 19 times in 673 plate appearances in ’09. He does deliver a ton of extra-base hits. He’s hit 30 or more homers four times in his career, but just 27 in 1,339 plate appearances over the last two years. He’s not a third baseman, either. He may be in the future, but so far he has appeared at third in zero games over his 13-year career.

DeRosa comes off of a weak season in which he hit 250/319/433 for the Indians and Cards. His walk rate is good, better than everyone on the list except for Figgins and Glaus. Through his age 32 season his career high in home runs was 13. Over the past two years he has hit 21 and 23.

Polanco is the least likely member of this group to walk in a given plate appearance over his career and that’s saying something. Pedro Feliz is in this group. Joe Crede is in this group. Adrian Beltre is in this group. The .303 career average is impressive, though. He’s the worst power option in the group behind Figgins.

Beltre has on-based .330 or better in one of the last nine seasons. He does have some power, but he’s hit under .270 four of the last five years.

The problems with Glaus are that he had terrible injury problems last year and probably can’t play third base anymore. Everything else is just ducky. He’s the least likely of the group to deliver a hit or a double or triple, but he has monster rates for drawing walks and hitting home runs. He’s a career .255 hitter and a big right-handed bat that would look fantastic in the Phillies lineup, but if he really can’t play third base it’s going to make it tough to make him your third baseman.

Figgins walked 101 times last season, leading the American League. Second-best walk rate for his career of the group behind Glaus. Worst power numbers of the group by a lot. He just doesn’t homer. His rate of delivering doubles and triples is actually a little better than the rates for Glaus and Crede. He also has stolen 40 or more bases in four of the last five seasons.

Joe Crede hasn’t gotten 400 plate appearances in any of the past three seasons, so I’d be pretty surprised if the Phillies think he’s the guy to hand the third base job. He doesn’t hit for average or draw walks. He is right-handed and can hit some home runs — his home runs rate is second for the group behind Glaus. Career on-base percentage of .304.

I think the guys on the list that have close to no chance of being the player the Phils go after are Crede and Glaus. They are both the kind of player the Phillies need at third — a righty who can hit for power. I would be tempted to take a chance on Glaus if there’s any way he can play third. I don’t think the Phillies will.

Beltre, Tejada, Figgins and DeRosa all seem like they would be an upgrade over Feliz. I hope the Phillies do not consider Polanco to be a real option. I think it would be a big mistake to give him the third base job this year and it could reasonably be argued that Feliz would have been the better choice.

I still think there’s a good chance the Phils get their third baseman through a trade rather than a free agent signing.

Garrett Atkins has been told by the Rockies that he will not be released, but says he knows he will be with another team in 2010. Atkins comes of a miserable season in which he hit 226/308/342 and lost his job to Ian Stewart, but I would be quite pleased to see him as a Phillie. 289/354/457 career line. Hits lefties hard (301/384/486). And yes, he’s been better at Coors than away from it by a lot, but he still has hit more home runs away than he has at home for his career. Where do I sign?

Atkins is also a close friend and former college roommate of Chase Utley. I’m just saying.

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