Archive for November, 2009

Year In Review: Matt Stairs

Posted by Amanda Orr, Mon, November 16, 2009 08:07 AM Comments: 10

Over the next few weeks, Phillies Nation will break down each player on the Phillies roster and grade their 2009 season on a very unofficial 1-10 scale. The players will be chosen in no particular order.

When Matt Stairs sent Jonathan Broxton’s pitch “deep into the night” during the 2008 National League Championship Series, he became a hero in Philadelphia.  When Stairs smashed a game winning home run off Huston Street on April 12, there was no doubt that he was the go-to guy for a pinch hit situation.  However, major league pitchers learned something: do not throw a fastball to Matt Stairs.

And that was the story for 2009. Stairs rarely saw a fastball that he could drive.  But if he got one, it left the yard for good.

It may be thought that most of his home runs were meaningless.  Afterall, he only had five.  There was a ninth inning home run against the Pirates that made it 7-4.  There was a ninth inning grand slam against the Nationals which made it 8-6.  He also broke up Dave Bush’s no-hitter in the eighth inning.  If anything, these were far from meaningless; it gave the Phillies hope and potentially started a rally.

The home runs and hits just didn’t come as often as he would have liked. Stairs  infamously went “0-for-the-summer,” going hit-less for 30 straight at-bats.

Stairs found another way to get the job done: he drew walks.  Stairs’ on-base percentage was .061 points higher than Jimmy Rollins’.  Consider the fact that Stairs’ batting average was also 0.56 points lower than Rollins.’

Stairs may not have gotten the clutch hit, but he drew key walks.  Many of the walks he drew started big innings for the Phillies.  A prime example is game four of the NLCS.  With one out in the ninth inning, Stairs drew a pinch hit walk against Broxton.  The walk started the rally, and the rest is history.

2009 numbers: 129 at-bats, .194 average, .357 on-base percentage, 5 HR, 17 RBI, .735 OPS

GRADE: 2.8/10 — Stairs didn’t get much playing time, but he didn’t do much when he was given the chance, whether it was a start or a pinch hit.


Rookie of the Year Candidates

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sun, November 15, 2009 02:29 PM Comments: 11

Tomorrow, the 2009 National League Rookie of the Year will be announced.  Here are some of the top candidates for the award:

J.A Happ (PHI): 12-4, 166 IP, 2.93 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 119 SO, .244 AVG

There is no clear cut favorite.  However, Happ has the numbers to make him a top Rookie of the Year choice.

Tommy Hanson (ATL):  11-4, 127.2 IP, 2.83 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 116 SO, .225 AVG

Happ’s advantage in innings may give him the edge over Hanson.

Randy Wells (CHC): 12-10, 165.1 IP, 3.05 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 104 SO, .261 AVG

The Cubs didn’t give Wells much run support this year.  In some cases, the voters take a team’s performance in account, and the Cubs aren’t helping Wells’ campaign.

Chris Coghlan (FLA): 128 G, .321 AVG, 9 HR, .850 OPS

Phillies fans know enough about this guy.  The question is whether his offensive numbers compete with the pitchers’ stats

Garrett Jones (PIT): 82 G, .293 AVG, 21 HR, .938 OPS

Jones did not play in many games, so that may hurt his campaign.  However, the 28-year old has showed his power in his limited major league experience.

Andrew McCutchen (PIT): 108 G, .286 AVG, 22 SB, .836 OPS

He’s the future of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  But he is in the same boat as Jones.  Does he have enough playing time to get enough votes?

Colby Rasmus (STL): 147 G, .251 AVG, 16 HR, .717 OPS

Rasmus doesn’t matchup with the other candidates.  His batting average and on-base plus slugging percentage are mediocre at best.

Casey McGehee (MIL): 116 G, .301 AVG, 16 HR, .859 OPS

McGehee has put up some solid offensive numbers, but his defense may factor in.  He spent the majority at third base, where he had a .916 fielding percentage.

Ryan Howard was the last Phillie to win the Rookie of the Year award.  Will Happ follow his footsteps?


Beltre, DeRosa, Figgins, or…

Posted by Corey Seidman, Sat, November 14, 2009 02:28 AM Comments: 98

When the free agent exclusivity period ends on November 20, a rash of moves will be made by teams attempting to improve for the 2010 season. If last year serves as any indicator, the first few signings won’t shatter the foundation of major league baseball – that is, unless you consider Jeremy Affeldt, Brad Hennessey, Chris Schroder (who?), and Paul McAnulty (who times two?) difference-makers.

While the Bays and Lackeys and Hollidays will eventually come off the board, all logic points to teams taking an extremely patient approach with third baseman. There are six clear-cut starting third baseman available (Figgins, Adrian Beltre, Mark DeRosa, Pedro Feliz, Joe Crede, Melvin Mora,) and two more if you include the recovering Troy Glaus and Miguel Tejada, a shortstop who could easily make the transition to third.

These eight potential starters are competing for seven jobs; the Phillies, Cardinals, Astros, Orioles, Twins, Angels and Mariners are all in need of a third sacker. But of those seven teams, only the Phils, Cardinals, Orioles, and Angels are in position to spend a significant amount of money. The Astros have a high payroll, a bad team, and an even worse farm system. The Mariners, too, have a high payroll. And the Twins are, well, the Twins. Michael Scott spent more on his 12-inch plasma TV than they do in free agency.

This leaves four teams competing over a free agent class of eight men, headed by Figgins (1), Beltre (2), and DeRosa (2a.)

The simple concept of supply and demand tells us that, with more men seeking work than available positions, the burden is on the seller rather than the buyer. Therefore, you shouldn’t expect to see any team cave in and overpay. The exception would be the Angels with Figgins, because I fully expect them to make a push to re-sign their guy.

If the Phils miss out on Figgins, so be it. Based on his age (32), the amount of money he’ll make (3-5 years, roughly $40-60M), and the fear that a player who relies so heavily on his speed faces a rapid decline, Figgins does not fit in with this team. The prediction of 3-5 years/$40-60M is merely an educated guess based on the forecasts of many, but, when recognizing past signings and the fact that Figgins is the fourth best free agent on this year’s market, that projection seems to be accurate.


My guess is that none of us would be overly upset if the Phillies signed either Beltre or DeRosa. If Beltre takes over at third, the Phillies won’t miss a beat defensively, but many of the same offensive deficencies from the third base spot will return. During a mediocre/cold streak, Beltre’s GIDPs and low on-base percentage will make him look like Feliz’ long-lost cousin.

However, Beltre has much more upside than Feliz and slightly superior speed. It’s hard to predict what kind of numbers Beltre could put up with the Phils, because I view him as similar to Raul Ibanez. In Seattle, both Ibanez and Beltre were viewed as key run-producers, but here, they  make up the sixth and seventh spot in the lineup. Nobody predicted that Ibanez would flourish so quickly in Philly, almost single-handedly carrying this team early in the season, but moving from a pitcher’s park to a hitter’s park and being surrounded by so many other good hitters can do wonders for a player’s offensive output.

The Quaker?

DeRosa is a safer bet. While Beltre shares many of the same skills Feliz possesses, DeRosa represents a different kind of athlete. Despite a pedestrian 2009 season, in which DeRosa slahed .250/.335/.418, he is a high on-base guy with an affinity for the clutch hit. In 2007 and 2008, DeRosa hit .319 with 127 RBI with runners in scoring position, and compiled back-to-back OBPs of .371 and .376. There would be a defensive dropoff, but DeRosa is adequate in the field. The fact that he knows more positions than Peter North is also a plus.

I understand the logic in going for DeRosa. He would change the recent culture of the third base position, as well as the seven-hole. He adds the local element, as this is the obligatory “DeRosa-was-a-quarterback-at-Penn” sentence. And he is a guy the Phillies have coveted for years, even before he became an everyday player.

But I’d rather the team go in a different direction.

No, I’m not advocating the re-signing of Pedro Feliz. If Ruben Amaro wanted to do that, I doubt he would have opted out of Feliz’ contract in the first place. And no, I’m not calling for Miguel Tejada or Dan Uggla to switch positions.

Sign Placido Polanco.

I’ve been researching, analyzing, and discussing this issue for several weeks, and, at the end of each day, I can’t help but face the fact that Polanco would be an absolutely perfect fit. He can hit at the top or bottom of the order, and you know that you’ll get a .300/.350/.410 line from him. He rarely walks, but he never strikes out. He’s a career .309 hitter with runners in scoring position, and his .250 average with two strikes is abnormally high. As a member of the Phillies in 2004, Polanco hit .317/.360/.475 with ten homers in 265 at-bats at Citizens Bank Park.

Polanco hasn’t played third base since 2004, so it is a stretch to imagine him vacating second base. He’s a brilliant defender at second, evidenced by his major-league leading UZR in ’09 (Chase Utley was second.) But, who knows. The Tigers are shopping Curtis Granderson because they are in such need of payroll relief, so it’s hard to imagine Dave Dombrowski opening the checkbook for Polanco.

If I’m Ruben Amaro, I offer the 34 year-old Polanco something along the lines of 3 years/$18M. Six million dollars a year for three years is a bargain for a player who would add as much as Polanco, and it would be tough for him to say no. After all, Polanco is coming off of a 4 year/$18M deal that he signed as a 31 year-old. I can’t imagine too many other teams would be willing to offer him as much as six million per year.

Would it be overpaying? Probably. Would it be worth it? Absolutely. Polanco’s steady bat would add another dimension to an already formidable Phillies offense. He’s the kind of guy you want leading off an inning, coming up after a Jayson Werth or Raul Ibanez single, or batting with two outs and the bases loaded. With strikeouts coming at every other spot in the order, Polanco would assure that the ball would be put in play at the bottom, where he and Carlos Ruiz would reside. And if Jimmy Rollins or Shane Victorino struggle, Polanco could easily move up to the 1- or 2-hole.

If Polanco is adamant about staying at second base, this is all moot. But, to steal a line from Ted DiBiase, “everyone has a price.”


Arizona Fall League Update

Posted by Amanda Orr, Fri, November 13, 2009 05:03 PM Comments: 3

Eight players in the Phillies organization are playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League.  Prospects from Philadelphia, Arizona, Colorado, San Francisco and Pittsburgh make up the 10-15 Scorpions.  Here are the latest updates on the prospects from the Phillies system:

Domonic Brown (OF): 98 AB/ .276 AVG/ .336 OBP/ .469 SLG/ 2 HR/ 18 RBI

Brown was selected to play in the AFL Rising Star’s game.  He went 1-for-4 with a walk.  During the AFL, Brown has committed five errors in the outfield.  He is 0-for-2 in steal attempts.  However, 13 of his 27 hits went for extra bases.  He is tied with teammate Jose Tabata for most total bases on the Scorpions.

Tuffy Gosewisch (C): 36 AB/ .278 AVG/ .297 OBP/ .278 SLG

The 26-year old batted just .200 with the IronPigs this year.  He has had limited at-bats during the AFL.

Troy Hanzawa (SS): 0-for-12, 5 SO, 1 BB, 2 SB

The Hawaiian Hanzawa has received minimal at-bats so far.  He spent the 2009 season in Lakewood and batted .267.

Steve Susdorf (OF): 48 AB/ .208 AVG/ .321 OBP/ .375 SLG/ 2 HR/ 1 SB

Susdorf has struggled since his promotion to Double-A Reading this year.

Michael Cisco (P): 0-2, 14.2 IP/ 4.30 ERA/ 1.30 WHIP/ 12 SO

At 22, Cisco spent the 2009 season in Clearwater and Reading.  He had a 3.75 ERA split between the two teams.  He’s also the grandson of former Phillies pitching coach, Galen Cisco.

Edgar Garcia (P): 2-2, 16 IP/ 5.63 ERA/ 1.63 WHIP/ 8 SO

Garcia’s problem is contact.  In 16 innings, he’s given up 22 hits.  On the plus side, he hasn’t walked many batters (4).

Michael Schwimer (P): 0-0, 11.2 IP/ 3.86 ERA/ 1.54 WHIP/ 8 SO

Schwimer has allowed a lot of base runners during the AFL.  In 60 innings, he had a 2.85 ERA in Clearwater before being promoted to Reading this year.

Scott Mathieson (P): 0-0, 10.2 IP/ 3.38 ERA/ 1.41 ERA/ 11 SO

Scott Mathieson made his Major League debut in 2006, but suffered from an injury which led to Tommy John surgery.  Mathieson continues to battle back from the surgery in his efforts to return to the major leagues.  During the AFL, Mathieson has put up impressive strike out totals, striking out about a batter per inning.


Eight Months Later, Harry’s Still in Our Thoughts

Posted by Amanda Orr, Fri, November 13, 2009 08:08 AM Comments: 23

You’re putting together a puzzle, and you’re just about finished.  The whole puzzle is put together, but you realize that one piece is missing.  You look in the box, and it’s not there.

From walk-off wins, to complete games, to winning a National League pennant, the 2009 season was filled with many memories.  Even with all the success, Phillies baseball was missing something: their voice.

The Phillies organization did a terrific job remembering their late broadcaster.  During the National League East celebration, the team rushed to left field, showering the “HK” sign with beer.  “That ball is outta here!” was played after each home run, and “High Hopes” blasted after each win.  Harry Kalas was inducted into the  Wall of Fame, and the broadcast team shared their fondest memories of Kalas all year long.  All these tributes were heartwarming and classy, but you can’t help but wonder: “how would HK have called it?”

During the World Series, Scott Franzke called Chase Utley’s homer run: “…and as our friend ‘HK’ would say, you are the man!”  Franzke has done a fantastic job this season, and that call was perfect.  It showed that eight months later, Harry is still in all of our thoughts.

“Outta here!” and “struck ‘em out!”  are missed, but just as much as “no runs, no hits, no errors, and none left.”  On many occasions, what happened on the field was remembered by his calls.  There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t think of Harry.  Phillies baseball wasn’t quite the same, but  Harry would have been proud of this team.

Harry was the Phillies missing piece of the puzzle.  He is missed very much, but I am thankful that I was able to listen to him over the years.  HK will always be in our hearts, and always reminding us to have “High Hopes!”


Year in Review: Jamie Moyer

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, November 12, 2009 06:07 PM Comments: 29

Over the next few weeks, Phillies Nation will break down each player on the Phillies roster and grade their 2009 season on a very unofficial 1-10 scale.  The players will be chosen in no particular order.

http://blogs.mycentraljersey.com/mets/files/2008/12/moyer.jpgIt was this time a year ago when a quandary was born.  Give a 45-year old, soft-tossing lefty a two-year deal, or risk the idea of him walking and latching on somewhere else.  The Phillies chose the former, and are now dealing with what looks like a bit of a mistake.

In 2008, Jamie Moyer, now 46, led the Phillies in wins with 16 and his ERA sunk like a rock to uncharted depths for a man of his age; 3.71.  His ERA hadn’t been that low since 2003, the same season he won 21 games.  Could he do it again?

Didn’t work out that way in 2009.  Moyer finished with a team high 12 wins (tied with J.A. Happ and Joe Blanton) but his ERA was shade under five.  That ERA is somewhat misleading, as he lowered it late in the year as a spot starter and relief pitcher.  In the process, he allowed seven home runs more in ’09 than the previous season (20 to 27) and did so in 34 less innings.

Bullpen killer is the proper term to use here.  Moyer went seven or more innings just four times.  He gave up four or more earned runs in a game, count ‘em, 13 times.  Yeeesh.  Clearly, age caught up to the iron man, and fortunately for the Phillies, it did not harm them too badly. Sure, they will have to pay Moyer $6.5 million in 2010 as part of that two year, $13 million deal he signed this time last year.

You have to give Moyer props for what he has accomplished here.  Coming in as a trade deadline pick-up in 2006, it seemed as though the man would never age.  He started eight games that year, winning five of them.  In the process, his hometown was behind him, rooting on the native son.  The 2007 season didn’t go swimmingly, but he proved durable and won 14 games. His 2008 performance then pushed the Phillies into a hard decision.  They made the wrong one, but it was hard not to. Jamie Moyer proved his worth for so long, and it could be that the franchise felt they needed him around, not just as a fifth starter, but as a player-coach; one that could help the likes of Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, and just about anyone that would listen.

In that regard, it’s hard to fault the Phils for the contract extension. Next season, however, Moyer could find himself in the unemployment line.  Is it the right move to see if he can get that mojo back? Or is it too late?

Moyer is clearly past his prime, and it’s unlikely he regains the magic of 2008.  He seemed unhappy in the bullpen, and there is a chance someone picks him up as a fifth starter, but for the Phillies, it doesn’t appear he fits very well into future plans beyond Spring Training.  Given the contract situation and his desire to continue to play, he deserves a shot in Clearwater.

If it is truly the end of the line for Moyer in Philly, it was a hell of a run, to say the least. Not many players get to play in the Major Leagues for a decade, let alone two.  They certainly don’t get to play until they’re 46; but Jamie Moyer has done it.  Will he do it for one more season here?  It’s unlikely, but you can never say never because Moyer is a bulldog.  As for 2009, I’m sure he’d rather forget it altogether.

2009 numbers: 30 games, 25 starts, 12-10, 4.90 ERA, 94 K/43 BB, 27 HR, 1.36 WHIP, .279 BAA

GRADE: 4/10: It was not a great year for Moyer as he struggled out of the gate.  He did well at times later in the year, mostly spot starting, however, when he does not hit his spots or get the edges of the plate, it tends to be a long game. Moyer had several of those in ’09.

Pat Gallen can be reached via email at Pat@Philliesnation.com


Utley Wins Silver Slugger Award

Posted by Amanda Orr, Thu, November 12, 2009 06:00 PM Comments: 6

Chase Utley wins his fourth consecutive Silver Slugger Award.  Players, coaches, and managers selected Utley as the best hitting second baseman in the National League.

Utley finished the year with a .282 batting average, .397 on-base percentage, and .508 slugging percentage.  Utley hit 31 home runs and drove in 93 runs.


Phillies Hot Stove Update

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, November 12, 2009 11:02 AM Comments: 65

-Buster Olney writes in his column this morning that the Phillies are going hard after a “set-up man/closer safety net” after Brad Lidge’s offseason surgery on a torn flexor tendon. Who could he be talking about?

J.J. Putz is an intriguing name on the market, as are Jose Valverde, Rafael Soriano, and Mike Gonzalez.  They are all Type-A free agents, as are Billy Wagner and Kevin Gregg.  The only real closing option that is not a Type-A is Fernando Rodney.

Rodney was linked to the Phillies earlier in the week by Ken Rosenthal and John Paul Morosi.

-David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News says that there are three third baseman he believes the Phillies are hard after: Adrian Beltre, Mark Derosa, and Placido Polanco.  Polanco is 34 and coming off of a Rawlings Gold Glove season at second base in Detroit.  He said he would switch positions if he were to move to a contending team.  Derosa is 35, and has Philly ties.  Beltre is the youngest of the bunch at 30, and has some pop from the right side, to go with a gold glove.

-Yesterday, Jon Heyman of SI talked about how the Phillies would go hard after Chone Figgins for the third base vacancy.

-Heyman also tweeted yesterday that eight teams are vying for the services of Derosa, who has been known to be as versatile as any player in the game.

-Murphy also talks about the Phillies attempt to bring back Chan Ho Park, who was an integral part of the Phillies bullpen in 2009.  Many believe Park wants to be a starter, but as we witnessed early in the season, that ship may have sailed.


Bring the DH to the NL

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, November 12, 2009 08:37 AM Comments: 73

In Wednesday’s Philadelphia Daily News, columnist Bill Conlin brought up a great point about the designated hitter.  I realize this is probably a moot point, since it’s unlikely this will be voted on anytime soon. However, the case could be made for the NL to adopt this rule.

It’s time the NL and AL were on the same page, given that they are in the same league overall.  Seems rather ridiculous that we have gone on for 35 years with two separate rules, the only major sport in our country that does so.

The baseball purist in me dislikes it, yet it still makes sense to take the bat out of the pitchers hands, and it’s head scratching that the National League owners don’t agree.  Why put an extra burden on a multi-million dollar pitcher if you don’t have to?  Cliff Lee is an outstanding hitter, and probably loves getting up there to swing the stick on occasion.  But in a sport where contracts are growing, pitch counts are examined with a fine-toothed comb, and the slightest injury means a week on the shelf, the DH would be a preventative issue for teams trying to protect their product. Hell, J.A. Happ was injured during batting practice.  He wasn’t the same after that.

Imagine this:  With the DH in the NL, the Phillies would be able to supply a lineup that would blow away AL teams.  Insert Jim Thome, Jason Kubel, or Hideki Matsui into this order, and your nearly on your way to 1,000 runs.

Again, this is probably as likely as me becoming president, but it works on so many levels.  Who wants to start up the petition?


Rollins, Victorino Win Gold Gloves

Posted by Amanda Orr, Wed, November 11, 2009 05:47 PM Comments: 22

Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino each won a National League Gold Glove Award at their respective positions.  This is the eleventh time in franchise history that the Phillies have had multiple Gold Glove winners.

With the award, Rollins becomes the first Phillie to win three consecutive Gold Gloves since Mike Schmidt.  Rollins led all shortstops with a .990 fielding percentage.  His six errors were the fewest in baseball among qualified players.

Victorino wins his second consecutive Gold Glove.  Victorino had the second best fielding percentage among all outfielders (.997).

While Rollins and Victorino were honored, Chase Utley was snubbed.  Utley had a 10.8 Ultimate Zone Rating, which was the best among NL second baseman.  Orlando Hudson, the NL second base Gold Glove winner, had a UZR of -3.3.

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