Archive for March, 2009

For 3rd Consecutive Year, It’s Myers

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, March 31, 2009 10:58 PM Comments: 18

Scott Lauber reports it’ll be Brett Myers toeing the rubber with thousands of cameras on him Sunday night against the Braves. The righty will throw the first pitch of the 2009 Major League Baseball season as the Phillies opening night starter.

Jamie Moyer will pitch April 7, Joe Blanton will go April 8 and Cole Hamels will pitch April 10. Myers will take his turn April 11 and Chan Ho Park will go April 12.

Kyle Drabek will pitch tomorrow’s Grapefruit League game against the Yankees.


Report: Sheffield Chances ‘Very Slim’

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, March 31, 2009 08:40 PM Comments: 22

Andy Martino reports one Phillies official said the chances of the Phils signing Gary Sheffield were “very slim,” while multiple team sources tended to concur.

Martino listed some reasons it didn’t seem likely, and they’re all accurate: Sheffield isn’t quite a pinch hitter; he didn’t play well in 2008; he’s not a field player anymore; he has character issues. While I can see the Phils getting around these four things somewhat, the idea of them having to get around them likely spells a negative.


In Progress: Phillies Vs. Blue Jays

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, March 31, 2009 08:35 PM Comments: 5

Brett Myers threw gave up a run and struck out three in four innings against the Blue Jays. Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez have both hit RBI doubles to fuel the Phillies.

The game continues. Phillies lead 2-1.


2009 Projection: Pedro Feliz

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, March 31, 2009 07:30 PM Comments: 2

Pedro Feliz, 3B (RHB)
Age: 33 (34, April 27)

2008: 425 AB / 43 R / 14 HR / 58 RBI / 33 BB / 54 SO / 0 SB / .249 AVG / .302 OBP / .402 SLG

Summary: When the Phillies acquired Pedro Feliz, people became conditioned to live with the fact that Feliz wouldn’t hit well, but would supply enough power and defense to justify his everyday role. He did exactly that in 2008, though his counting numbers were down (he was injured). His averages hovered at career norms, though his on-base mark was higher than usual, and his slugging mark was lower. He was pretty good against lefties, but not righties, and splendid in close-and-late situations (.943 OPS), capped by his world championship-winning single up the middle. Feliz’s worth was proven defensively, as he committed just eight errors at third base in solid work.

Career Level: Post-Prime (Year 3)

Green Flags: Feliz’s walk rate rose from 4.9 percent to 7.2 percent, easily his highest mark yet. … Conversely, Feliz’s strikeout rate remained down at 12.7 percent, among the lowest of his career. … Feliz remains a versatile hitter in and out of the strike zone, but does swing a little too much when the ball is off the plate.

Red Flags: The slugging percentage was down considerably from the last few years. … Feliz’s fly ball rate dropped into the 37 percent range, which was unexpected after moving from San Francisco to Philadelphia. … There isn’t a lot of hope that Feliz will have a tremendous bounceback year at the plate. … Feliz’s back continues to be a problem, though he shaped up and is ready for opening night.

Prognostication: I can’t think Feliz will have a genuinely healthy season, especially as there were thoughts he might start the season on the trainer’s table. Still, he should enjoy a slight increase in production despite the fewer appearances. His 2008 was more an aberration, though it’s not far off from the norm, and close to indicative of a man on the descent.

2009 Projection: 411 AB / 45 R / 13 HR / 53 RBI / 39 BB / 50 SO / 1 SB / .265 AVG / .308 OBP / .410 SLG


2009 Projection: Chase Utley

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, March 31, 2009 05:30 PM Comments: 15

Chase Utley, 2B (LHB)
Age: 30

2008: 607 AB / 113 R / 33 HR / 104 RBI / 64 BB / 104 SO / 14 SB / .292 AVG / .380 OBP / .535 SLG

Summary: Chase Utley was having his finest offensive season in 2008 before a mysterious hip injury slowed him to mortal status. Of course, that was when his defense took center stage, and Utley — maybe robbed of a Gold Glove — directed a highlight reel of stupendous plays at second base. Still, Utley was hitting home runs at an alarming rate, at times threatening for 50 in a projected season. And his average was sitting comfortably in the expected .310s. The injury brought his homer total to a normal — but still impressive — 33, and his average to a solid but unspectacular .292. He improved against left-handed pitching (.277/.368/.519), but was lame in tight situations (.221/.353/.347 in late-and-close).

Career Level: Prime 2 (Year 2)

Green Flags: Utley remains impressive in all facets of the game, despite the hip injury. … The first two months of 2008 indicated where Utley was heading as his prime entered its second phase. … Even if the offense drops, Utley’s defense is valuable enough to retain his position as one of the game’s most important players. … Utley made contact with 65.7 perecent of pitches outside the plate, a very strong mark. … Utley became more of a line drive hitter in 2008.

Red Flags: The hip might still be bothering him (though he says it doesn’t), and that could mean even worse results in 2009. … Utley saw an exorbitant amount of fastballs in 2008 (61.8 percent of pitches), and that number shouldn’t be that high in 2009. … As a clutch hitter, Utley has deteriorated, and his clutch number is now at -2.19.

Prognostication: Utley is difficult to project because of the hip. Could he see fewer play early in the season? Absolutely (not likely, though). But could he also see no disruption? Absolutely. This projection is based on a full season without disruption; most experts see Utley to track down slightly from his age 28 and 29 trends, but I see a career season. Why not? He was on that pace before the injury.

2009 Projection: 621 AB / 119 R / 36 HR / 102 RBI / 69 BB / 110 SO / 18 SB / .314 AVG / .393 OBP / .555 SLG


Breaking News: Park Wins Fight For Fifth

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, March 31, 2009 03:52 PM Comments: 21

UPDATE (5:13 p.m.): Now Lauber says there’s no set destination for Happ yet. There are, certainly, more factors in play here.


UPDATE (4:15 p.m.): David Murphy reports JA Happ will start the season in the bullpen.


Ruben Amaro Jr. says Chan Ho Park has won the fifth-starter job, according to Scott Lauber via Twitter.


Breaking News: Phillies Release Jenkins, Contact Sheffield

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, March 31, 2009 03:49 PM Comments: 68

UPDATE (3:48 p.m.): Zolecki reports the Phillies have contacted Gary Sheffield’s agent.


Todd Zolecki reports the Phillies have released outfielder Geoff Jenkins.

There is speculation the Phils might be interested in Gary Sheffield.

More to come.


2009 Projection: Ryan Howard

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, March 31, 2009 03:30 PM Comments: 5

Ryan Howard, 1B (LHB)
Age: 29

2008: 610 AB / 105 R / 48 HR / 146 RBI / 81 BB / 199 SO / 1 SB / .251 AVG / .339 OBP / .543 SLG

As usual, Ryan Howard had a monster season in production, driving in 146 to lead the major leagues. But that total came with lessened averages across the board, especially a .339 on-base mark that was down from 2007’s .392. From that standpoint, 2008 was Howard’s worst full season yet. Still, Howard worked on his opposite-field hitting, which improved, as Howard hit over 40 percent of balls outside the strike zone, his best mark yet. Interestingly, he hit as many ground balls as he did in his MVP 2006 season, but one can attribute his sunken average to pull grounders hit into the shift. And his on-base percentage? Fewer walks. Defensively Howard had a poor season, committing 19 errors at first base. Still, he made many tough plays and spread himself across the position. Many of his blunders came from misjudging throw lengths.

Career Level: Prime 2 (Year 2)

Green Flags: As Howard improves hitting the other way, he might be able to cut down on shift grounders, which would help his average. … Howard’s K-rate was down respectfully from 37 in 2007 to 32 percent in 2008. … Howard remains in his prime, and is still one of the game’s most feared power hitters. He will hit home runs and drive in runners. … Howard has been working on his defense with Scott Proefrock.

Red Flags: The batting average dropped so low that it has caused much concern; likely, it’ll take adjustments for Howard to bring it up. … As Howard nears 30, comparisons to worn-out sluggers of the past will grow. … Howard’s numbers against left-handed pitching didn’t improve. … He remains a poor defensive hitter … and a poor defensive player, period.

Prognostication: Most projections see Howard duplicating his 2008 success, but with a slight less power and a slight more smarts. This projection might be even more radical, with Howard raising his average to respectable levels while keeping his slugging mark down a tad. It’s difficult to bet against a 45+ home run season from Howard, and as long as he plays much of the season, he should accomplish that mark.

2009 Projection: 594 AB / 96 R / 45 HR / 141 RBI / 89 BB / 190 SO / 0 SB / .277 AVG / .381 OBP / .567 SLG


2009 Projection: Lou Marson

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, March 31, 2009 01:30 PM Comments: 10

Lou Marson, C (RHB)
Age: 22 (23, June 26)

2008 (Minors): 322 AB / 55 R / 5 HR / 46 RBI / 68 BB / 70 SO / 3 SB / .314 AVG / .433 OBP / .416 SLG

Summary: Spending his season with the Reading Phillies, Lou Marson blossomed into a top prospect worthy of a September callup. His dreams became reality when in his first major league start, he went 2-for-4 with his first big-league home run. In Reading, Marson was a strong contact hitter, showing fantastic discipline with a K/BB ratio very close to even. His average of balls in play was a high .389, so he had a bit of luck when he struck the ball into the fields. He didn’t show much power, however, with five homers in the minors. Of course, he hit one in four big-league appearances. Reviews are mixed of Marson’s defensive and pitch-handling abilities, but all indications are whatever is bad can improve with experience.

Career Level: Learning (Year 4)

Green Flags: The discipline is a nice sign, especially as it improved from Clearwater to Reading. … Marson can hit to all fields with substantial pop. … He threw out 30 of 83 runners in Reading in 2008.

Red Flags: There isn’t much power yet. … Some scouts and experts believe the hitting prowess Marson achieved in Reading is the best he’ll do at any level.

Prognostication: He will see more than the four at bats he received in 2008. Probably a September callup again, but maybe even seeing some time before that, Marson will get a few more chances, but not too many. He’ll stay true to his game as a steady hitter, as most of his success in Triple-A should give him an upper hand to grab a 25-man roster spot in 2010.

2009 Projection: 32 AB / 3 R / 1 HR / 4 RBI / 3 BB / 13 SO / 0 SB / .300 AVG / .384 OBP / .500 SLG


2009 Projection: Chris Coste

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, March 31, 2009 11:30 AM Comments: 4

Chris Coste, C/IF (RHB)
Age: 36

2008: 274 AB / 28 R / 9 HR / 36 RBI / 16 BB / 51 SO / 0 SB / .263 AVG / .325 OBP / .423 SLG

Summary: You wouldn’t have known it, but Chris Coste had a better season in 2008 than in 2007. With about 50 fewer plate appearances than Ruiz, Coste improved on his counting statistics and most of his averages. It helped that Coste finally spent an entire season with the big club; still, he remained a platoon/backup. His contact percentages improved slightly, but not enough to show significant ownership of the strike zone. Coste remained a mostly fastball hitter, and one who can tear left-handed pitching (.296/.363/.519). Despite more than 100 fewer appearances against lefties, Coste matched his RBI total with his righty split (18). Coste remained tough to figure defensively; while critics say he’s worse than Ruiz, his metrics show he’s just as good, if not better. And pitchers were generally strong with Coste as backstop — he remains Brett Myers’ favorite target.

Career Level: Descent (Year 1)

Green Flags: With more time, Coste seems to remain a consistent hitter with climbing counting numbers. That’s the mark of a good player. … He has proven to be an above-average contact hitter with his .328 2006. … With 30 more at bats, Coste is an absolute possibility for double-digit home run power.

Red Flags: Though the great lefty numbers, Coste is still hard to swallow against righties. … His strikeout numbers ballooned, and he still doesn’t take nearly as much as he should. … His high average of balls in play shows luck is on his side a lot. That may change.

Prognostication: Now that Coste is locked in to the backup catcher role, he’ll likely be used against left-handed arms. That’s a role that can suit Coste well, as he rips left-handed pitching. He can also spell Ryan Howard a smidge of time at first base, if necessary. Now, Ruiz’s emergence defensively won’t help with his at bats, so expect a possible decrease in counting numbers, but close to normal averages.

2009 Projection: 227 AB / 19 R / 6 HR / 29 RBI / 10 BB / 43 SO / 0 SB / .277 AVG / .313 OBP / .411 SLG

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