Archive for November, 2008

Pete Mackanin Named Bench Coach

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, November 21, 2008 12:45 PM Comments: 12

The Phillies have named Pete Mackanin the new bench coach, according to David Murphy.

Mackanin played nine years in the majors, including 18 games for the Phillies between 1978 and ’79. Recently he was a pro scout for the Yankees; prior, he managed the Reds for three months in 2007, to a 41-39 record.

Sam Perlozzo will be third-base coach in 2009.


Commentary: While Utley’s Legend Grows, Don’t Worry

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, November 21, 2008 11:03 AM Comments: 50

All our fears were confirmed yesterday when we found out Chase Utley has to undergo surgery to repair his right hip.

It seems sometime in May, around the time the New York Times lauded Utley for his spectacular, all-effort play, Utley suffered the injury. We can only speculate that, but it’s very possible, as Utley’s game dwindled a bit from there. And we know Utley isn’t really a .290 hitter. Up until mid May, Utley was far and away baseball’s best offensive player, en route to a season rivaling Alex Rodriguez’s MVP campaign one year before.

What amazes me, and should amaze everyone, is the thought that Utley suffered the injury in May. Imagine the team’s best player performing on a bad hip for more than half a season. And imagine that player still performing at a sold level. Moreover, look back at the plays Utley made throughout the season. You’re telling me a guy with a bad hip did all that?

I could continue about this, but in the spirit of Utley, I’ll stop now. He knows he’s appreciated.

Ruben Amaro Jr. made a blunt point yesterday:

“You don’t necessarily replace an Utley.”

Touche. Don’t look for an Orlando Hudson to come in. Instead, you might see a veteran infielder come in to take some snaps. More likely, you’ll see Jason Donald on opening day. Which is fine with me — Donald has proven himself at the grueling AA level, and he blew past competition in the Arizona Fall League. He can hit, and he’ll want to show that. In fact, this all could be great news for the Phils — if Donald performs well, once Utley returns, Donald becomes a possible trading chip worth a Phil Hughes or any other overblown prospect fed from the big markets.

Tad Iguchi? Maybe, but not as a starter. He might be good for the occasional start, but he’s no everyday player. In 2007 he was a necessity. Now, with a few months to go and some experiments to be had, Iguchi isn’t needed at all.

Take out of the Utley surgery that the guy was hurt and he should be fine next season. Even if he returns in July, I wouldn’t mind. He’s the franchise, a player who is still signed on for another couple years. And, as cream, we have our title. There’s no need to rush him through. Now is the time to see the forest.


The Nation Minute – 11.21.08

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, November 21, 2008 06:00 AM Comments: 6

In today’s Minute, we recap the big day — Chase Utley’s surgery, Greg Golson’s exit.


As always, e-mail me at tim@philliesnation.com


Breaking News: Phillies Trade Golson To Texas

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, November 20, 2008 08:02 PM Comments: 67

The Phillies traded outfield prospect Greg Golson to Texas for outfielder John Mayberry Jr.

Golson — the Phillies first-round pick in 2004 — hit .282 with 13 HR and 60 RBI for AA Reading last season. He went 0-for-6 in four games with the Phils in 2008, stealing a base and scoring two runs as a pinch runner.

Mayberry — the Rangers first-round pick in 2005 — hit .263 with 16 HR and 58 RBI for AAA Oklahoma City last season. He hit 20 total home runs in 2008 between Oklahoma City and AA Fresno. The right-handed hitter, 24, batted .351 with nine home runs and 23 RBI against left-handed pitching, too.


Ladies and gentlemen, we may have a replacement for Pat Burrell.

Talk about thinking outside the box. Mayberry was rated 17th-best Rangers prospect by the Oklahoman in April 2008. Just a few months ago, the Rangers Web site ranked him out of their top 20 prospects list. But John Sickels last November ranked Mayberry seventh. The explanation is a review of that selection:

7. John Mayberry Jr, OF, Grade B
.270/.322/.478 for Triple-A Oklahoma. Has all the tools, shows flashes of skills but still pretty raw.

Oh look, it’s Greg Golson! Actually, Mayberry is a shade better — his K/BB rates improved in Oklahoma City to 85/30. He’s 6’6″ and 230 pounds, comes with power and some speed, but nothing close to Golson in that regard. Think of him as a slower version of Golson, with potentially more pop. And he’s right-handed.

First, it’s sad to see Golson go, as he was such a huge part of the farm system for so long. But there wasn’t much room for Golson up top, plus, he seemed to be more of a project than originally thought. Regardless of what happens in left field, I don’t think Golson had a spot in the Phillies outfield anytime soon.

Now, back to my original comment. Yes, this is Burrell’s replacement. Maybe not in 2009, but for the future, very likely. Pat Gillick originally drafted him as a high school player in 1999, but he opted for college. He’s the kind of toolsy power hitter this franchise loves, and he seems to have a bit more power than Golson. It’s very possible Mayberry will platoon with Geoff Jenkins in the outfield, but it’s also possible he starts the year as a fifth outfielder, then takes over if he’s good enough. Or it’s possible he doesn’t do any of those things. To me, however, there’s a reason the Phils dumped one toolsy power-hitting outfielder for another. They like Mayberry, and want to give him a shot in the outfield.

Right now I’m favorable of the trade, but it’s basically a wash.


Breaking News: Utley, Feliz To Undergo Surgery

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, November 20, 2008 01:49 PM Comments: 64

Chase Utley will be out four to six months with hip surgery.

UPDATE (1:05 p.m.): There’s more.

Pedro Feliz will have back surgery.

Well, with Utley, we saw it coming. We thought there was some problem with Utley, as he struggled through the second half. While his defense remained stellar, and he still ran well, his hitting just didn’t seem right.

Now, don’t get crazy, everyone. Likely, Utley will miss Spring Training and use some time to get back in shape. His body is, for what we know, pretty strong and adaptable, so I’d say he should be back in full force by May.

And really, considering how the Phillies fared last season, this was the best scenario for a surgery.

Meanwhile, Feliz will have lower back surgery today. He’ll need up to three months to recover, so he could be back for Spring Training.

I’ll say this — it’s now imperative that the Phillies get a good bat this offseason; moreover, Jason Donald now might be taken off all trading tables.


Phillies Nation Top 25 Prospects

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, November 20, 2008 01:30 PM Comments: 31

Here are my top 25 prospects. In grading the prospects, I looked at performance, potential and staying power. I evaluated performance with my OSR statistic (objective statistical record). For hitters, it breaks down base acquisition, scoring, producing and recording outs. For pitchers, it breaks down giving up runs, hits and walks, and recording strikeouts.

OSRs of 2.00 or above are considered elite — pitching tends to cross this boundary more — while OSRs of 1.20 or below are unacceptable. Average is about 1.50.

With each prospect, I list position, age, most prominent recent level and OSR (with rank among all qualified in organization).

Here’s the list:

1. Carlos Carrasco / P / 22 / Lehigh Valley (AAA)
2008 OSR : 1.4 (60) / 151.3 IP
The celebrated prospect didn’t have a great 2008 in Reading, but pitched very well in Allentown. He kept his K rate over 1 per inning throughout, however, and is performing well in Venezuela.
2009 Verdict : He’ll start either in the majors or minors, but he’ll finish in Philly.
Grade : A-

2. Michael Taylor / OF / 23 / Clearwater (A+)
2008 OSR : 1.721 (20) / 554 PA
The best hitting prospect in the system in 2008, Taylor was tops in total bases per game, and showed no hiccups moving up to Florida. May need to work on walks, but he doesn’t strike out a lot. A big outfielder, he could be the next Pat Burrell.
2009 Verdict : Reading.
Grade : B+

3. Lou Marson / C / 22 / Reading (AA)

2008 OSR : 1.614 (30) / 399 PA
He made a splash with his first big-league homer, and had an all-around great season in Reading, Japan and Philly. Seems poised to be the catcher of the future.
2009 Verdict : Lehigh Valley, with a move to Philly during the year.
Grade : B+

4. JA Happ / P / 26 / Philadelphia (MLB)
2008 OSR : 1.666 (25) / 166.7 IP
Still a prospect in the very loosest sense, Happ is ready to contribute to the Phillies. Has a good four pitches, and should challenge for the fifth-starter spot.
2009 Verdict : He’s a Phillie, or he’s traded.
Grade : B

5. Jason Donald / SS / 24 / Reading (AA)
2008 OSR : 1.593 (32) / 414 PA
After tearing through the low-As, Donald was fabulous in Reading, then shred up the Arizona Fall League. A consistent .300 hitter, he has considerable power and OK speed. Definitely a top bat. May not be answer at third base, however.
2009 Verdict : Lehigh Valley, but may need to trade.
Grade : B

6. Kyle Drabek / P / 21 / Williamsport (A-)
2008 OSR : 1.913 (11) / 32.3 IP
The first-rounder from 2006 came back from Tommy John better than before, but his strikeout rates need to improve. Still, his quick jump back to low-A is a great sign.
2009 Verdict : Be careful, and see if he can get to Clearwater by season’s end.
Grade : B-

7. Dominic Brown / OF / 21 / Lakewood (A)

2008 OSR : 1.489 (44) / 516 PA
Like Taylor, this outfielder has great tools, and the power is starting to come around. He’s been compared to Darryl Strawberry, and that’s very good.
2009 Verdict : Moving to Clearwater.
Grade : B-

Tier 2

8. Drew Naylor / P / 22 / Clearwater (A+)
2008 OSR : 1.416 (55) / 155.3 IP
Right-handed Aussie was fabulous in Lakewood, but hit growing pains in Clearwater. Has good control and good stuff, so he should be fine for 2009.
2009 Verdict : Will go through Florida again, but should end up in Reading.
Grade : C+

9. Travis d’Arnaud / C / 20 / Lakewood (A)
2008 OSR : 1.501 (43) / 267 PA
A highly touted catcher, he’s a solid hitter whose power hasn’t come to him yet. Is he as good as Marson? Maybe, but it’s still hard to tell. 2009 may determine it.
2009 Verdict : Lakewood first, then Clearwater to face good pitching.
Grade : C+

10. Mike Stutes / P / 22 / Lakewood (A)
2008 OSR : 2.536 (4) / 69.7 IP
His control can be better, but Stutes makes batters miss plenty, giving up just a hit every two innings. He was the Phils’ 11th round pick.
2009 Verdict : Clearwater, with a chance at Reading.
Grade : C+

11. Zach Collier / OF / 18 / GCL Phillies (Rk)
2008 OSR : 1.455 (50) / 150 PA
The supplemental draft pick started with OK numbers, but has a way to go. Seems to have more promise than the very raw Anthony Hewitt.
2009 Verdict : A little more time in rookie ball before moving up.
Grade : C+

12. Jason Knapp / P / 18 / GCL Phillies (Rk)
2008 OSR : 1.87 (12) / 31 IP
The big Jersey boy came out firing for the GCL Phillies, striking out 38 in 31 frames. He ended the season with elbow tenderness, so look out for that. Big potential, though.
2009 Verdict : As long as he’s healthy, move him to Williamsport.
Grade : C+

Tier 3

13. Joe Savery / P / 23 / Clearwater (A+)
2008 OSR : 1.355 (65) / 150.3 IP
A tough year for the 2007 first-rounder, as he struggled in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Still, he came on strong late. The future is somewhat cloudy.
2009 Verdict : A few early starts in Clearwater won’t hurt.
Grade : C+

14. Vance Worley / P / 21 / Lakewood (A)
2008 OSR : 2.365 (5) / 69 IP
A third-rounder in 2008, Worley pitched very well and kept his control, walking eight batters in 69 innings. Not overpowering, he may move up the low levels quickly.
2009 Verdict : Clearwater, and keep him there all season.
Grade : C+

15. Antonio Bastardo / P / 23 / Reading (AA)
2008 OSR : 1.753 (18) / 97.7 IP
Bastardo cleaned up in Clearwater, then fared fine in Reading, though he walked more. He struck out 109 in 97.7 innings in 2009. Also suffered a labrum injury.
2009 Verdict : Needs to throw more in Reading, but Philly isn’t out of question.
Grade : C+

16. Sebastian Valle / C / 18 / GCL Phillies (Rk)
2008 OSR : 1.409 (58) / 185 PA
The offense will come (he performed well anyway in the GCL), but for now, he’s shown to be a very good catching prospect. A ways to go, but promise lingers.
2009 Verdict : Rookie ball, maybe starting in Williamsport.
Grade : C

17. Greg Golson / OF / 23 / Reading (AA)
2008 OSR : 1.547 (37) / 476 PA
Great speed, great arm, great defense, great power, bad eye. He’ll either be Michael Bourn or Kenny Lofton. The choice is his.
2009 Verdict : Lehigh Valley, Philly or traded.
Grade : C

18. Tyson Brummett / P / 24 / Reading (AA)
2008 OSR : 1.276 (76) / 170 IP
Great in Lakewood, good in Clearwater, horrible in Reading. A full year in Reading should help, though he really had poor ratios.
2009 Verdict : Get it together in Reading before a possible move.
Grade : C

19. Travis Mattair / 3B / 20 / Lakewood (A)
2008 OSR : 1.268 (78) / 507 PA
Had a poor debut in Lakewood, showing no power, a high rate of strikeouts (108 in 129 games) and bad defense (26 errors at third base). But signs point to a very good second swing in Lakewood.
2009 Verdict : Lakewood, then Clearwater if all goes well.
Grade : C

Tier 4

20. Anthony Hewitt / SS / 19 / GCL Phillies (Rk)
2008 OSR : 1.146 (94) / 129 PA
The first-round pick was pretty bad in his debut, but that was expected. He’s very, very raw. He struck out 55 times in 117 at bats. Still, it’s a long road for the skinny shortstop.
2009 Verdict : Rookie ball and Williamsport, probably.
Grade : C

21. Edgar Garcia / P / 21 / Reading (AA)
2008 OSR : 1.267 (79) / 128.3 IP
Young for Reading, Garcia has the stuff to come back strong in 2009. He’ll benefit from a full slate in Berks County.
2009 Verdict : All Reading, all the time.
Grade : C

22. BJ Rosenberg / P / 23 / Williamsport (A-)
2008 OSR : 2.732 (3) / 36 IP
This 13th round reliever has a mid-90s fastball and devastating slider, and it shows with a K rate of 1.45 per inning, second in the system.
2009 Verdict : Lakewood, but not for long.
Grade : C

23. Michael Schwimer / P / 23 / Williamsport (A-)
2008 OSR : 2.195 (7) / 41.3 IP
Drafted near Rosenberg with the same idea — turn him into a back-end reliever. His strikeout ratio (1.5 per inning) was tops in the system in 2008. He has very good stuff at 6’8”.
2009 Verdict : Like Rosenberg, start him in Lakewood, but move quickly.
Grade : C

24. Julian Sampson / P / 20 / Lakewood (A)
2008 OSR : 1.206 (90) / 137 IP
He walked a good lot and didn’t strike out enough, but he needs polish. He’s still a very viable arm, and could see a big year in 2009.
2009 Verdict : Lakewood with hopes for Clearwater.
Grade : C-

25. Cody Overbeck / 3B / 22 / Williamsport (A-)
2008 OSR : 1.685 (23) / 311 PA
He strikes out a lot, but he hit 12 homers for the Crosscutters in 2008. This 2008 draft pick third baseman needs to work on the discipline, but has the tools to move up.
2009 Verdict : Clearwater, where he’ll really be tested.
Grade : C-

Just Missed

Chance Chapman / P / 25 / Lakewood (A)
2008 OSR : 1.692 (22) / 139 IP
Too old for the low levels, he teeters on the brink but had a well-rounded 2008. His walk rate was only 0.27 per inning.
2009 Verdict : Might get fast-tracked to Reading, but he’s close to the wall.
Grade : C-

Mike Cisco / P / 21 / Lakewood (A)
2008 OSR : 3.423 (1) / 54.3 IP
A reliever, Cisco has a low walk rate at 0.09 per inning, and a low hit rate at 0.74 per inning.
2009 Verdict : Start in Clearwater.
Grade : C-

Jeremy Slayden / OF / 26 / Reading (AA)
2008 OSR : 1.522 (38) / 551 PA
A power bat who strikes out quite a bit, Slayden seems more like a fifth outfielder than an everyday player. Drove in as many per game as Chase Utley in 2008.
2009 Verdict : Could be the Rule V victim; if not, Lehigh Valley or Philly.
Grade : C-

Andrew Carpenter / P / 23 / Reading (AA)
2008 OSR : 1.411 (57) / 153 IP
Bouncing between four leagues, Carpenter struggled for most of 2008. Without any great pitches, it seems he won’t have a sharp career. Still, the Phils are giving him shots, as he pitched prominently in the Arizona Fall League.
2009 Verdict : Stick him in Lehigh Valley, but he might be trade bait.
Grade : C-


Rule V Primer: Slayden Might Be Gone

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, November 20, 2008 12:44 PM Comments: 0

The Rule V draft occurs in a few weeks. There, teams can claim unprotected minor league players from other teams.

Under the draft rules, players signed at 19 or older are protected for three years, while players signed at 18 or younger are protected for four years. Thus, you have to be 22 to be selected. Players off the 40-man roster are eligible.

So, looking at the Phillies system, that means the most appealing players for Rule V are, initially (thanks, Phuture Phillies):

Brett Harker, RHP
Jeremy Slayden, OF
Clay Harris, IF
Pat Overholt, RHP

Once-eligible Carlos Carrasco was added to the 40-man roster. In my upcoming top 25 prospect list, you’ll find Slayden is among the considered. Of all prospects, he’s the most likely to be selected — a power-hitting fifth-outfielder type who can contribute to a major league team in 2009 (he hit a game-winning home run to put the AFL Mesa Solar Sox in the finals). Most prospect trackers agree on this. He’d have to spend an entire season on a team’s 25-man roster to be kept; otherwise, the Phils will have a chance to reclaim him.


Rumor Ties Phils To OF Hermida

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, November 20, 2008 11:20 AM Comments: 18

The Phillies have asked about Marlins outfielder Jeremy Hermida, according to Joe Frisaro at the MLB Hot Stove Blog. Hermida, 25 in 2009, hit .249 with 17 HR and 61 RBI for Florida last season.

Hermida can hit the ball, as evidenced moreso by his 2007 season, when he hit .296. He also strikes out a ton (138 K in 2008), and he’s left-handed (hitting .240 against lefties last year), so he’s not an automatic fit for the Phils.

Hermida is going into arbitration for the first time this offseason, which makes him a pretty cheap alternative to Pat Burrell. But the Marlins would want a bounty for him, so consider Hermida a window shopper’s inquiry.


Report: Phils Showing Interest In Ibanez

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, November 20, 2008 10:15 AM Comments: 14

The Ibanez … Raul Ibanez … talk is upon us.

Ken Davidoff in Newsday reported a Phillies interest in Ibanez, the left-handed hitting outfielder. Ibanez, 36, hit .293 with 23 HR and 110 RBI for the Mariners last season.

My initial take is “he’s left-handed.” But I’ll put aside my balance bias, and note that Ibanez hit .307 / .368 / .497 against left-handers in 2008, and is a career .268 hitter against lefties. Thank you to Todd Zolecki for helping me see the light there.

The one thing you’ll find with Ibanez is downright consistency, even moreso than with Pat Burrell. Taking out 2004 because of injuries, Ibanez drove in 89 or more the last six seasons, hitting around .290 every season. He’ll get on base 35 percent of the time. His OPS+ for the past eight seasons has been above 100 (average), with most hovering in the 115-120 range.

In reality, Ibanez isn’t a bad alternative from Burrell. Though he’s going to be 37 in 2009, a three-year deal isn’t out of the question. I would venture he’s an $8M per year player, but that’s before Manny Ramirez sets the market. Overall, not a bad fit.


The Nation Minute – 11.20.08

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, November 20, 2008 06:00 AM Comments: 1

In today’s Minute, I look ahead to some prospect talk.


As always, e-mail me at tim@philliesnation.com

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