Archive for December, 2008

Baseball Prospectus Names Top 11 Prospects

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, December 23, 2008 10:31 AM Comments: 27

From Baseball Prospectus:

Five-Star Prospects
1. Carlos Carrasco, RHP

Four-Star Prospects
2. Michael Taylor, RF
3. Kyle Drabek, RHP

Three-Star Prospects
4. Travis D’Arnaud, C
5. Lou Marson, C
6. Jason Donald, SS
7. Dominic Brown, OF
8. J.A. Happ, RHP
9. Zach Collier, RF
10. Jason Knapp, RHP
11. Anthony Hewitt, 3B

Just Missed: Travis Mattair, 3B; Drew Naylor, RHP; Joe Savery, LHP

Ranking Challenges: There were many. How real was Michael Taylor’s season? How do you rank so many unproven talents with so much raw ability? How to balance the two Double-A stars who have scouting reports that fall below the kind of numbers they put up?


Tim’s Thoughts: If they’re ranking Taylor second and giving him four-star status (51-100 nationally), then his 2008 must’ve been real. The two AA stars are Marson and Donald; I’d rate Marson higher than his current fifth, but I don’t mind Donald at six. So far the only bone of contention with Marson has been power, and that doesn’t need to appear yet; moreover, catchers don’t necessarily need power.

I am surprised D’Arnaud went before Marson, too. The latter has already proved himself in higher leagues; how can you deny it?


100 Greatest Phillies: 95 – Phil Collins

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, December 22, 2008 02:00 PM Comments: 23

Phil Collins
Relief Pitcher

Career w/Phillies: 1236.2 IP / 72-79 / 4.67 ERA / 403 K

Pitching in the live ball era, Collins — not the musician — was a pretty decent arm for some dreadful Phillies teams. He went 16-11 for a 1930 Phillies team that finished 52-102. And in 1934, his 4.18 ERA was very good, considering the league averaged a 4.71 ERA. Shuttling between starting and relieving throughout his Phillie career, Collins was nicknamed “Fidgety Phil,” probably for his horrible command (he walked 497 while striking out 423 during his career).

Comment: An underrated arm in the live ball days, Collins won’t be remembered for being dominant. Instead, he’ll be remembered for being the best pitcher during a string of bad Phillie teams. While Chuck Klein was drilling the ball all over Baker Bowl, Collins was keeping it steady on the mound.


Carrasco Superb In Venezuela

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, December 22, 2008 10:05 AM Comments: 74

Let’s head over to the Venezuelan Winter League, where top prospect Carlos Carrasco is doing great things:

11 GS / 47 IP / 3-0 / 2.11 ERA / 42 H / 45 K / 11 BB

It’s pretty obvious Carrasco is just about ready to make the jump to Philadelphia, but it might be wise to give him eight to 10 starts in Lehigh Valley, so he can stay in his groove before he moves up. Obviously it creates something of a logjam once he steps to the majors, but it’s the kind of logjam the Phillies would love to have.


How Teix’s Hold ‘Em Impacts The Phillies

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sun, December 21, 2008 02:50 PM Comments: 94

Mark Teixiera is trying to break the bank.

The Scott Boras client — or, Boras himself — is seeking an eight-year, $195 million deal. The players seeking Teixiera (Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Orioles, Nationals) are willing to go deep for the heavy-slugging first baseman, with the Nats even thinking about a 10-year, $200M contract. Yes, that’s right, 10 years, $200 million.

Let’s look at Teixiera’s career:

904 G / 203 HR / 676 RBI / .290 AVG / .378 OBP / .541 SLG

He’s 28 years old and will be going into his seventh season in the majors, just about at his peak. Meanwhile, the Phillies’ 29-year-old first baseman, Ryan Howard, has a career line that’s not as wealthy as Teixiera’s, since he’s played one fewer season (and 350+ fewer games). But it’s still worthy:

572 G / 177 HR / 499 RBI / .279 AVG / .380 OBP / .590 SLG

I think we can argue pretty easily that Howard’s career has been more impressive. And with that, we all have to wonder: What will No. 6 look to earn once he becomes a free agent — or, heck, what does he look to earn right now?

Teixiera wants $25M per year in 2009; when Howard becomes a free agent in 2011, it’s not out of the question that he’d want maybe $35M per year. Seriously (and I’m fully aware of the economic disaster we’re experiencing in this country). But if the Phils wanted to sign Howard to a long-term deal today, it would have to be at least six years. And the total price would be at least $150M. In 2010, with another fine campaign under his belt, Howard might want six years and $180M.

The Red Sox, Yankees and Angels are annual dabblers in the high-priced contract sweepstakes. Just this offseason, the Yanks tied up CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett together for $40 million per year. Add in the Cubs, Dodgers and Mets, and you have a six-pack of big-paying franchises that seem to always contend.

And thus, lies the question: Where do the Phillies fit? Are they big spenders or givers? Will they think about handing Howard $25M per year starting now? Or $35 million per year in 2011? Or will they settle to hand Howard $14M this year, and close to $20M in 2010, before bidding him farewell?

Mark Teixiera provides a neat microscope into which the rest of us can look. His current wrangling of the market is predicting a long, arduous winter between the Phillies and Ryan Howard. A winter that will end with an answer to the question: Can the Phillies be big market?


100 Greatest Phillies: 96 – Chick Fraser

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sun, December 21, 2008 02:00 PM Comments: 5

Chick Fraser
Staring pitcher
1899-1900, 1902-1904

Career w/Phillies: 1270 IP / 74-75 / 3.53 ERA / 454 K

Charles Fraser was “Chick” for short. He was a member of the 1908 Cubs team (you know, the last that won a World Series), but had his best seasons in Philadelphia. Fraser spent five seasons with the Phillies, throwing an average of more than 250 innings per season. Still, pitching in the dead-ball era, his somewhat low ERAs were actually league-average, for the most part. He walked a slew of batters, too. But for his stamina and first two strong seasons in Philly (1899 and 1900), Fraser remains a bright spot of the team’s early days. In 1901 he left the Baker Bowl for Columbia Park, going across the city to play for the Athletics.

Comment: Again, his hard work paid off for this spot. While never a really above-average pitcher, Fraser was always good for his workmanship.


Odds And Ends: Coste, Turnbow, Blackley, Burrell

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sun, December 21, 2008 10:25 AM Comments: 12

A few things I didn’t get to over the end of the week:

  • The Phillies may be baiting Chris Coste.

According to MASN (via MLB.com), the Orioles are showing interest in the Phillies backup catcher. Makes sense, considering the Phils traded for Ronny Paulino over the Winter Meetings. And considering Carlos Ruiz can handle pitching, and Paulino seems competent at the plate, there’s no reason not to try for insurance pitching or a prospect for Coste.

  • The Phillies are rumored interested in reliever Derrick Turnbow.

Turnbow, originally drafted by the Phillies, had an awesome 2005 (thank you, HGH), then dropped off in 2006. He returned with some quality in 2007, but hasn’t really been a great arm. Other teams interested include the Marlins, Pirates, Rangers, Giants, Rays, Rockies and Tigers. The two best teams in baseball and a bunch of the worst. He’ll go to one of the worst teams.

  • The Diamondbacks signed Travis Blackley to a major league contract.

Blackley, 26, went 5-10 with a 5.41 ERA for AAA Lehigh Valley last season. The lefty was on the short list of finalists for the 25-man roster in Spring Training 2008, but lost out to Adam Eaton. It’s a little surprising Arizona gave him a major league deal.

  • It’s looking possible Pat Burrell will suit up in Tampa Bay.

Jon Heyman is reporting the Rays and Burrell are talking, and it’s a “real possibility” Burrell will go to Tampa. Hey, it’s a great fit for both parties. Would be odd seeing Pat in that kooky Rays logo, though (ha, we beat them in the World Series).


100 Greatest Phillies: 97 – Jose Mesa

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sat, December 20, 2008 03:34 PM Comments: 38

Jose Mesa
Relief pitcher
2001-2003, 2007

Career w/Phillies: 242 IP / 13-18 / 4.05 ERA / 188 K / 112 SV

Mesa, believe it or not, is the all-time franchise leader in saves. Joe Table had two fantastic years in 2001 and ’02, with 42 and 45 saves, respectively. In that 2001, Mesa walked only 20 hitters in his 69.1 innings, staking out to a 2.34 ERA — his second-best total, besides his remarkable 1995 season for Cleveland. Known for his colorful gloves, his unknown age and possibly ridiculous sexual exploits, Mesa was always one of baseball’s more eccentric figures. At that point, that was all you could expect from him. Mesa returned to the Phillies in 2007, and was relegated to mop-up-type work.

Comment: Wash that 2007 out of your mouth — Mesa was one of the best Phillie closers, and his numbers show that. He ranks very closely with Bottalico — while Ricky had the better numbers, Mesa was flashier. They go hand in hand.


The Beer Post

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sat, December 20, 2008 11:40 AM Comments: 43

Happy Saturday, everyone.

So, as you all may or may not know, I’m a beer guy. A beer connoisseur, if you may. For each game, I recommend a new brew for your enjoyment. I don’t expect you to imbibe immediately, but at some point, I do hope you try the beers I suggest. You see, I believe beer is a drink to savor, to study, to sip. Beer is more than just Buds and suds.

Just to give you a glimpse of where I am: Last night I returned home from driving through a treacherous snowstorm, and ate dinner with a glass of Sam Adams Chocolate Bock. Now, the bock is only available at this time of year, and comes in a larger, wine-style bottle, costing about $14. But it’s clearly worth the purchase — a stunning array of dark flavors, punctuated by the cool winter wind. Highly suggested.

Yes, this is the time of year when stronger beers are invited at my shelf. I enjoy the stouts, the porters and the bocks right now — I’ll take a Guinness, I’ll take a honey. As long as it’s dark and hearty, I’ll try it.

And to further quench your thirst, here are my favorite beers:

Harpoon Raspberry Hefeweizen UFO: The perfect combination of fruit and alcohol, and not too strong. The perfect late-spring, early-summer beer.

Sam Adams White Ale: Spicy but not intolerable, it goes down like a cool mist on a warm spring day. Best in April.

Opa Opa Milk Stout: Tried this not long ago — a nice amount of cream with the hard stout content. Great for January.

Harpoon Oktoberfest: Just a fantastic autumn beer; hidden spices mixed with a hearty ale.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale: Not too spicy, not too strong, but not light; it’s easy to take in on a December night.

Yuengling Lager: Yes, I know, I’m pandering. Still, it was damn comforting to arrive at my new home and see Yuengling was at a premium. A fresh six pack rests in my fridge.

Okay, everyone, tell me about your favorite beers.


Barkley: Give Howard His Cash

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, December 19, 2008 03:52 PM Comments: 68

Randy Miller reports Charles Barkley says Ryan Howard should get a long-term deal from the Phillies.

“When you see a guy who has done what Ryan Howard has done, he should have gotten a long-term deal already,. It’s very disappointing (the Phillies) haven’t given him his due. They are doing him a disservice. He should be one of the 10 highest-paid players in the game because he’s clearly one of the 10 best players in the game.”

Has Barkley looked at Howard’s strikeouts? Really, however, it’s smarter that the Phils take their time with Howard. As for Barkley? Yeah, he loves to speak his mind, and that’s great, but where does he stop?


100 Greatest Phillies: 98 – Ricky Bottalico

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, December 19, 2008 02:00 PM Comments: 24

Ricky Bottalico
Relief Pitcher
1994-1998, 2001-2002

Career w/Phillies:
370 IP / 15-25 / 3.69 ERA / 361 K / 78 SV

An efficient reliever with a few heralded years as closer, Bottalico remains a true depiction of the mid 1990s Phillies — nothing great, somewhat forgettable, but in time, fun to remember. He recorded 34 saves in consecutive seasons, with his best moment coming in that first 34-save campaign, 1996. In that year’s All-Star Game, played at Veterans Stadium, he represented the Phillies with a fantastic 1-2-3 inning. After a poor 1998, the Phillies traded him and Garrett Stephenson to Saint Louis for Ron Gant, Cliff Politte and Jeff Brantley (advantage Phils). Two poor seasons in Saint Louis and Kansas City brought him back to Philly, where he played Jose Mesa’s lead setup man to much success, before dropping off in 2002. Today, you can see the Connecticut native on “Phillies Postgame Live” with fellow 1990s closer, Mitch Williams.

Comment: I remember getting mad at Ricky Bo a few times during his Phillies career, but you can’t deny his stuff. Two good seasons as closer wouldn’t have placed him on the list, but his successful stint as setup man on the strong 2001 team secured his place.

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