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Phils Dangling Victorino For Bullpen Help

Posted by Eric Seidman, Fri, July 27, 2012 09:53 AM | Comments: 50
Analysis, Posts, Rumors

The Phillies have played some solid baseball lately, which has muddied their trade waters as the deadline approaches. They haven’t identified themselves as buyers or sellers just yet, and have the unenviable task of managing for the future without completely throwing in the towel this year. This hasn’t stopped Ruben Amaro from shopping various players, but in most cases this tactic was designed to gauge interest as he would in any other season. There weren’t many serious trade offers on the table, but the Phillies did reportedly propose a deal to the Reds that would send Shane Victorino to Cincinnati for reliever Logan Ondrusek.

The Reds rejected the deal, according to an insider close to the team, but Jim Bowden confirmed that the Phils remained very interested in Ondrusek and Dodgers reliever Josh Lindblom. Jayson Stark then reported that the Phillies were interested in relief help in a potential Victorino deal and added the names Brad Lincoln (Pirates) and Wade Davis (Rays) to the mix. Victorino may not get dealt this week, but the Phillies have clearly identified the type of return they are seeking: a young reliever under team control.

While it may seem somewhat light to get a middle reliever back for an all-star and a legitimate 2011 MVP candidate, Victorino has just two months left on his contract and, as odd as it may sound, some interested parties might not even view him as an everyday player in the context of their respective rosters. Further, Victorino is likely a rental player for an acquiring team, and compensatory draft picks are no longer received for rentals.

But the Phils are in the driver’s seat. They have the leverage. They can keep Victorino, let him sign elsewhere after the season and hope to use the draft picks wisely. Or, they could keep him and try to sign him to a lesser-valued deal in the offseason. There is no sense of urgency to move him, and now that they have identified what they want in return, they should settle for nothing less.

The Phils want a reliever for Shane.

There are two key components to a Victorino-for-Reliever trade framework. First, can the Phillies still legitimately get back into the playoff picture without him in center? Second, does a young reliever like the four names tossed around really represent a decent return? The two components go hand-in-hand as well because these are major league ready relief pitchers who would shore up the Phillies bullpen both now and in the future. But, again, they are relievers, who typically provide far less value than more frequently used players. Unless Victorino completely implodes while one of these relievers pitches like Aroldis Chapman, it’s highly unlikely that the value swap will break-even.

However, the Phillies don’t need it to break-even to get back into the race. Victorino was providing value primarily in the field and on the bases, but not so much in terms of actually getting on-base to more effectively utilize his skill-set. Realistically, the Phillies would need solid performance out of the acquired reliever coupled with the emergence of those who stand to take over in his absence. Most likely, John Mayberry and Juan Pierre would split time in center, and both Mayberry and Laynce Nix would platoon in left.

Mayberry and Nix are decent fielders, and the former can at least fake it in center for a couple of months. All three of the outfield options are good baserunners, so the dropoff in those areas doesn’t figure to be all that substantial.

If properly platooned — always a question with Charlie Manuel at the helm — it’s also possible that this trio would outproduce Victorino at the plate down the stretch. While Shane is a switch-hitter who provides his own platoon advantage, he hasn’t come close to doing that recently. As Jack Moore of Fangraphs astutely pointed out, Victorino has been a switch-hitter in name only — what I call a SHINO — who has unfortunately struggled against the righties that tend to throw 70% of the innings in a given season.

From 2010-12, Mayberry has a .390 wOBA against lefties. Even this season, which has been disappointing, he has a .360 wOBA against oppo-handed hurlers. Pierre has a .321 wOBA against lefties over the last three years, as he has a reverse platoon split. Nix has a .342 wOBA against righties since 2010. Compare that to Victorino, who has a .311 wOBA against righties from 2010-12, and a .413 wOBA against lefties.

That’s a wOBA split of over 100 points, which only furthers the idea that the proper platooning of Mayberry, Pierre and Nix could help weather the storm in Victorino’s absence. And if it also means that Domonic Brown gets called up and plays almost everyday, there are benefits to the deal beyond getting to actually use a decent platoon, instead of the one Victorino has tried and struggled to create for himself lately.

Victorino’s large wOBA gap in his platoon splits is the main reason that some teams may not view him as an everyday solution. Some may simply want to play him against lefties, with the occasional start against righties, and in a defensive replacement or pinch-running role when he doesn’t start. It’s hard to argue with that approach, since he is one of the very best hitters against left-handed pitching, below average against righties, but an excellent baserunner and a very good fielder. It’s unclear how he would hit if he strictly batted right-handed, but he hasn’t shown any signs of not switch-hitting, so it’s almost a moot point.

His utility to an acquiring team directly relates to what they would give up in a trade, which may very well be why the Reds rejected the Victorino-for-Ondrusek trade. The Reds might view him as a platoon player for their purposes, not as a direct replacement to a specific outfield position. And while middle relievers are mostly fungible, the ones that the Phillies have their eyes on are a notch above the Michael Schwimer‘s, Justin De Fratus‘s, Jeremy Horst‘s and Jake Diekman‘s of the world, as they are already established as potential setup men, yet remain under team control for several more seasons.

While the Phillies young arms have the potential to break out, they are still very much works-in-progress. Under this lens, it becomes more understandable why the Reds would have rejected a deal that seemingly benefits them a whole hell of a lot.

The Phils are motivated to find relievers with, say, Horst’s contractual status, but a greater level of established and sustainable performance. If Victorino is the best shot at bringing someone like that in, so be it, as that type of return figures to help the team far more than two Low-A prospects who are raw and toolsy but don’t project to be anything more than fourth outfielders.

The bottom line is that, with the new CBA in place, the Phillies simply aren’t going to get all that much for two months of Victorino, so our expectations are in need of an adjustment. In years past, two months of a valuable centerfielder could have netted a very nice package. Now, some teams may not even trade middle relievers for that same player.

Regardless, the Phillies know what they want in a Victorino deal and will act accordingly. They aren’t going to move him for the sake of moving him, but they also aren’t going to get the same perceived value they could have gotten with the prior CBA in place. Getting a young and effective reliever, under team control for several more seasons, is a fine return given the circumstances, but it will be very interesting to see how the Phillies approach the impending deadline if this current win streak is extended and the team inches closer and closer to the second wild card berth.

Avatar of Eric Seidman

About Eric Seidman

Eric Seidman has written 64 articles on Phillies Nation.

Eric offers his unique analytical perspective to Phillies Nation and is a regular contributor on FanGraphs.com.

 
 
  • Posts: 1190 Manny

    Avatar of Manny

    “There is no sense of urgency to move him, and now that they have identified what they want in return, they should settle for nothing less.”

    Agreed.

    BUT, Pierre splitting time in CF?? Nix a good baserunner? The only way I’d be OK with a Shane trade is if it means that Brown gets called up for good. Simply because Brown + a solid reliever > a so-so version of Shane. Even then, however, I would be hesitant to pull the trigger… Shane has been having much, much better swings lately. I highly doubt that he’ll end up batting in the .250s or .260s this season. He’s better than that.

     
  • Posts: 3 NannyPan

    Avatar of NannyPan

    Please keep Shane Victorino. It would not be the Phillies with out him. When you think of the The Phillies team spirit Shane is one of them in front of the line. I know it is team that makes it work but every team have leaders that help the others excel and bring the team spirit alive. Shane is one of them. He is very well loved here in philly and I believe we would lose so much more then a center fielder if we lose Shane Victorino.

     
  • Posts: 0 Brain

    Its almost like theyre priming the OF to be as ugly as possible. Any OF with Brown and Mayberry as the lynchpins is sure to blow up in their faces. Mayberry has shown no plate discipline, Brown has and will continue to be a disappointing offensive piece and not to mention his defense is atrocious. Pierre being the only solid piece. Nix may or may not be just fine. Who knows. If theyre dumping Vic though, they need to have eyes on the OF lottery thats opening. Perhaps dumping blanton would give them wiggle room for a Bourn type OFer.

    But its all conjecture because the team needs to decide if theyre going to eclipse the luxury tax for a season and pay the 17.5% for 2013 or decide which bloated contract to let go: Lee or Pence.

     
    • Posts: 827 schmenkman

      Avatar of schmenkman

      Mayberry is solidifying his status as a platoon player. He can hit lefties pretty well, but is helpless against RHPs.

      Brown hit at the league average last year, and hit as well as the average left fielder. Not bad for a 23 year old rookie. At the same age, Utley was in AAA, Pence is AA, and Howard in A+, so it’s a little surprising him to see him already declared as “disappointing”. And reportedly he’s been looking much more comfortable in the field this year, particularly in center.

      Pierre is having one of his best years ever, at age 34 (35 next month). I for one am not expecting a repeat performance.

       
      • Posts: 0 brooks

        My dear friend Schmenkman – your constand defense of Dom Brown is almost getting as hard to read as someone else’s (did not mention any names) rant about 0 rbi.

        What Andrew said a few posts down is absolutley true – just watching these guys on a daily basis is proof positive, not the minor league stats nor the BA – but the type of atbats where he is able to prove himself with men on base, tight game, where a run or runner is needed or a push, anything showing life. Dom had a ton of chances while he was up and he did not come through.

        I would love to see another chance for sure but we cant set our expectations too high with this guy.

         
    • Posts: 0 TW

      I might be wrong, but they would have to pay the 17.5% THIS yr at the end of the year – which they are trying to avoid. The main reason the want to avoid it this yr is that they will DEFINITELY go over the $178 M next yr. a repeat/consecutive yr offense is a 30% tax [read that again - they would pay a tax of $54MILLION on a $180M payroll next yr for exceeding 2 yrs in a row.] THAT is why they want to avoid it this yr, since that 30% will hammer them in ’13. I believe the ceiling rises the following yr, giving them some wiggle room

       
      • Posts: 0 praeparare

        Teams pay the luxury tax only on the amount spent above the threshold, not on their total payroll. If payroll is $180 million and the threshold is $178 million, $2 million is taxable. If they are second year offenders, they’d pay $600,000, not $54 million.

         
    • Posts: 0 Stuart

      I dont know why people continue to complain about Browns fielding. He is young and is getting the hang of it. I have seen him numerous times this season since I work for a triple A club and he has made some diving catches, thrown some people out at the plate and has been patroling CF very very well this year.

       
  • Posts: 0 TW

    If they keep Victorino and received compensation pick for him – where do you see him fitting: Type A FA or Type B? Might partially dictate the Phils’ path – Type B might not be worth keeping him and I dont; see him as a Type A = top 20%…thoughts??

     
  • Posts: 0 Alex

    Someone just needs to sit Shane down and tell him to stop hitting left-handed. He was a lucky slap hitter batting left last year and this year is worse. I like the guy but trying to be a switch hitter has dragged him down.

     
    • Posts: 0 George

      Two thoughts here:

      It’s quite possible that Vic would hit righties even worse batting right handed. He likely tried switch hitting in the first place because he couldn’t pick up the ball against same-handed pitchers.

      If he does decide to try batting right exclusively, the most sensible thing would be to attempt it in spring training when at-bats don’t matter and his manager can change the lineup more.

       
  • Posts: 0 Ryan H.

    dom brown should have been playing every day starting at the beginning of last year. throw him in the deep end and let him swim or sink. he wasn’t that bad when he was in philly last year.

     
    • Posts: 0 Lefty

      He broke his hand at the beginning of last year, no? But I would like to see him get another shot.

       
  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    Hey, ya get what you can get.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    I would keep Vic for the 10 million a year range. Not the 14 milllion he is seeking.

     
    • Posts: 0 jake

      Shane’s been a huge bargain. Average since 2007 is 6.3 million per WAR for CF. (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/positional-differences-in-the-price-of-war-2/)

      Shane’s accumulated roughly 20 WAR since 2007. He’s been paid about 16M. That’s a value of roughly 100m. Take out 2011′s huge 5.2 WAR and he’s still been a tremendous value.
      But going foward you can’t assume that value will be there. He’s going to want to get paid as an average 3 WAR player. That’s a 14-18m/year salary. Maybe he takes a discount and goes with 14-16. That’s not worth it for a team with a tight pocket. Prob. better to find the next shane victorino than pay the current one.

       
      • Posts: 0 Lefty

        Jake, this is not meant to pick on you speifically, a lot of commenters here use the fangraphs “WAR to salary ratio”. I really think it’s time for Fangraphs to adjust these figures downward. It seems to me that they’d have almost 3/4 of teams paying luxury tax if their ratio’s were correct.

        Schmenkman – Can you either prove or disprove my position on this? I trust you to do so in an unbiased way, and can’t say that about everyone. Thanks.

         
      • Posts: 827 schmenkman

        Avatar of schmenkman

        Lefty (appreciate the confidence by the way), these figures are what players get on the open market (i.e. free agency). So obviously for all those players who are still cost controlled or even in arbitration, they earn much less per WAR.

         
      • Posts: 0 Lefty

        Thanks man.

         
  • Posts: 0 Mary Pat

    Couldn’t agree more with Alex! If you’re such a disaster batting left-handed, then bat right-handed no matter who you face! Seems pretty simple to me. I just hold my breath every time he goes up against a right-handed pitcher. That’s the main thing that’s hurt him so much this year. Otherwise, he’s doing fine. As frustrating as he is sometimes, I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone as good as he is defensively. Also think he’s a big part of the current clubhouse culture/swagger and his personality would be missed…

     
  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    Good read as usual Eric. I have one thought not yet mentioned. Is it possible that all these rumors about Shane being on the block is just part of a negotiation ploy to keep him at a much lower cost? In other words maybe they are saying “after shopping you we couldn’t even pull a middle reliever for you, but if you would consider playing on a low year contract for X dollars, then we’d really like you to stay”.

    Obviously it’s harder to move rentals due to the new CBA/ no picks scenario, and yes he might get offered more in FA, but he has stated he wants to stay.

     
  • Posts: 84 Tom

    Avatar of Tom

    The first line of the story caught my attention…”solid baseball”? If you call your team having to stage late innings heroics thanks to the dismal performance of your supposedly superior starting pitching “solid”, I’ve got some swamp land that you might be interested in! While it’s certainly enjoyable to watch this team excel in an area where they’ve been abysmal all season, that being scoring runs after the 7th inning, they can’t keep playing like this! Once they start playing teams with better bullpens than the Brewers, those late inning heroics will cease! As far as trading Shane, it would be tough to see him leave considering that he’s only 31 and had such a good season last year. He’s so good defensively that it’s going to be tough to replace him! I am still a strong believer in the need for excellent defense up the middle!! Going past the luxury threshold might not be a bad thing if done wisely!!

     
  • Posts: 0 George

    If the Phils allow Victorino to reach free agency and signs elsewhere, they will get absolutely nothing for him, because it will take a qualifying offer to gain prospects. That offer is based on present salaries of top players and will have to be in the neighborhood of $12 million annually . I wouldn’t think that the Phils would risk having to pay him that; thus the effort to make a trade.

    I don’t think a reliever should be the top priority, though. Those guys tend to have up and down years, and I also believe that the people the Phils have now (with the exception of Savery) will improve. Schwimer already has. They also have some more experienced guys on the DL, who will be back next season or sooner. I could, of course, be wrong. The scouts might see potential failings with Diekman, Horst, etc.

     
    • Posts: 0 Brian

      Absolutely correct George about the draft pick compensation issue. Hopefully everyone, including the author of this article, read your comment. Here’s a brief description, taken from an article from mlbtraderumors.com, explaining if draft picks can be obtained for your free agents signing elsewhere:

      “Keep in mind that for a team to receive draft pick compensation for a departing free agent after the 2012 season, a qualifying offer in the $12.5MM range must be tendered. Since that amount represents an average of the top 125 salaries, it will increase every year.”

       
    • Posts: 146 Eric Seidman

      Avatar of Eric Seidman

      Good call on the comp picks, George!

       
    • Posts: 0 Psujoe

      The first two relievers me tioned have had several good seasons and would probably take over the 7th inning if not 8th as bad as our pen is. If you can’t another 25 roster player I’d take one of them.

       
  • Posts: 0 sandy

    Phillies need to dump salary right now. Victorino is probably the best bet to get that done. I would like to see Ruben Amaro make a deal here that at least signals that change is coming. I think this team needs new energy and a new outlook to some extent. With the Hamels signing they are going to have to get rid of some higher payed players in order to sign anybody in the offseason but also they need to get under the luxury tax for this year unless they want to pay a 30% tax next season. So although I would like to see them get somebody who might help I don’t think for the Phillies its as important as just getting rid of his salary

     
    • Posts: 0 George

      If the Phils just want to get rid of salary, they should trade Pence. Pence makes more right now, and will make way more next season after arbitration. He’d also probably return better players, because he wouldn’t be a short-term rental.

       
      • Posts: 0 TW

        Couldn’t agree more George, on all points. Although we could use his RH power, I can do without the Ringling Brothers act in RF. He’s not a 15M/yr player – he is a piece, not a center piece. Think Jayson Werth with less tools. Dump him now

         
  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    Shane Victorino will not get 10m let alone 14m. 14m. Thats hysrterical. Who’s number is that? If Shane becomes a FA he will sign for 3y27m. He’s just not that good.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew From Waldorf

    The same WAR that had Ruiz as a minus player in 08?

    when I am 100% sure without his defense they wouldnt even had won a playoff series.

    Most all the geek stat stuff is useless. They gave us OPS which I appreciate.

    But let me or Dipsy or Lefty or someone like that just watch a player every night.

    Im excited for this series coming up. Its do or die time.

    Unless they can unload an semi- bad contract like Pence or Lee.
    I am fine with standing pat and seeing what happens.

    I actualy do have a good vibe going forward in 2012.
    That siad if Pence or Lee Or Vic were traded.
    I would still have a good vibe going forward.

    I am not taking back any previous rants etc etc.
    I am just hoping there was some attitude and hitting philosophy changes.

    That are actually quite simple and if were made would instantly improve the team more than signing or trading for anyone.

     
    • Posts: 827 schmenkman

      Avatar of schmenkman

      Ruiz has never had a negative WAR. But a .620 OPS (like he had in ’08) will tend to not reflect well on one’s overall value, no matter how good the defense is.

       
  • Posts: 13 xxLouA

    Avatar of xxLouA

    Sounds like a lot of If’s, And’s and But’s.. so….your answer here is keep Shane he had a bad year at bat but so did 3/4′s of the team. Pence would be my choice to let go especially with his great fielding….Yeah! he hits now and then…. but so does DBrown……this kid needs to play……

     
  • Posts: 13 xxLouA

    Avatar of xxLouA

    Sounds like a lot of If’s, And’s and But’s.. so….your answer here is keep Shane he had a bad year at bat but so did 3/4′s of the team. Pence would be my choice to let go especially with his great fielding….Yeah! he hits now and then…. but so does DBrown……this kid needs to play……
    tell Rueben to get off his rear end and get back some ot that …what do they call it…tax money or whatever he gave away for the “Magnificient Trio”

     
  • Posts: 0 Shloimy

    Why not have Dominic Brown play center he had enough at bats in the triple a and he wasn’t that bad in 2011 he’s starting to play centerfield down there, and whats the point of getting that dude ondrusek he sucks we have enough prospect relivers how about just waiting and let them grow

     
  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    I’m sorry, but regardless of what WAR says, I’m taking Bourn over all those guys going forward but for Braun and Kemp. Kemp not a best OF for 10-11? See, I only care what these guys have done in the past in so far as it reflects on what they will do in the future. Vic is on the downside. He’s 32 or 33. Cole got paid big money because most believe his best days are ahead. Shane’s best years are behind. Si I’m not payin him. PLUS! He tends to play stupid sometimes and has bouts of not being able to hit righties. You want me to pay Shane 14m at a year through his mid thirties? No thanks.

    Ther Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 George

    I don’t really care who the best outfielders are if they can’t be acquired. I also don’t care who’s best if they’re going to break the bank.

     
  • Posts: 0 Don M

    speaking of trades …. Chase Headley is being talked about like he’s some MVP candidate and the team that acquires him just landed the biggest difference maker in baseball

    He’s got great Defense and High OBP … do teams trade their farm for that now?

    He would be a great fit into the Phillies lineup for those reasons- but for the packages reportedly needed to get him – you’d expect a 3-4-5 hitter .. and I don’t know that he has the power to be those things. …or am I greatly misreading what he is . . . is he a #2 hitter, and you just take any power as a bonus ?

     
    • Posts: 827 schmenkman

      Avatar of schmenkman

      A big part of it is that they expect him to hit better when he no longer plays half his games at Petco.

      career home stats: .235/.324/.341 (.664 OPS)
      career road stats: .299/.366/.449 (.815 OPS)

      Recent road stats:
      2011: .330/.399/.465 (.864 OPS)
      2012: .277/.374/.497 (.871 OPS)

      CBP is essentially neutral, so moving from Petco to CBP should help him.

       
      • Posts: 0 Don M

        but he’s pretty much a non-option for the Phillies anyway, right . . . his cost in prospects would just be too high?

        I’d imagine they’d want at least one close position player . . (Brown, Valle . . . and at least of of our top pitching prospects . . . guys that we’ll need when Halladay’s deal is done, and to become the 4th-5th starters to fill out our rotation) . . I think trading for a “big name” 3b is out of the question if the cost will be prospects ??

         
      • Posts: 827 schmenkman

        Avatar of schmenkman

        Yes, I agree the price is probably too high. Here is one article advocating to go for it anyway: http://www.thegoodphight.com/2012/7/27/3193193/ty-wiggington-future-3b-make-a-trade-or-kill-me-now-or-why-its-ok-to

         
    • Posts: 0 George

      Chase Headley, I believe, is only being talked about like he’s an MVP candidate by his own team. If other teams felt he was that good, one of them would probably have him by now.

       
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Remindes me how a certain outfielder was discussed a year ago on local sports talk. Headley is no serious MVP candidate, but he is very good.

        Career road stats:
        Pence .286/.335/.474 (.809 OPS)
        Headley .299/.366/.449 (.815 OPS)

        2011-12 road stats:
        Pence .297/.350/.506 (.856 OPS)
        Headley .305/.387/.480 (.867 OPS)

        And Headley plays the tougher position.

         
  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    10 million a year.

     
  • Avatar of "Big Ed" Delahanty

    Trade Shane for a solid reliever. He gave us great years, but he is getting older and the contract he wants is not feasible for the team right now, considering money is tight since we have a ton of money locked into our starting pitching, and of course, the team’s overpayment for Papelschiz! Also trade Pence for prospects so we can replenish the farm system we depleted for him. Wear the egg on your face for that one, Rube. It would fee up a ton of money and he is the only non-pitcher that would get us a decent return. The only negative is he is one of our right-handed power hitters, but his atrocious fielding trumps that. Give Dom Brown a shot. Sink or swim time, and go after Bourne for what he could provide at the lead-off position. Here’s hoping we sweep the hated Braves.

     
  • Posts: 0 Bob in Bucks

    I think we get more for Pence. He has much better numbers this year AND he is controllable via arbitration for 2013. That should be attractive enough to get some value – I don’t really care what they get if it is value – propsects, infielders, outfielders.

    Fact is someone has to go, Phillies have put all chips on starting pitching – a bet which was great in past years but bad this year. They need to clear some money to be able to get some journeyman in 3B, LF, Bullpen.

    In my opinion the only way they can move Lee is to pay a big chunk of his salary which defeats the purpose. Pence and/or Victorino have to go. Let’s see what Amaro can do with what he has left in terms of money for FA for 2013.

    I loved the last few games but they are not signs of good baseball. Horrible starting pitching, shaky bullpen are not the way Phillies are going to win. Sure it is fun but a nice shutout or 3-1 game would not hurt either.

     
  • Avatar of "Big Ed" Delahanty

    Also need to unload Polly. I posted early in the season that he was an injury liability and isn’t the same. Don’t really care what the stats say. The guy is like an old pounded vag.

     
 
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