John Lannan Minimizes Risk

Posted by Eric Seidman, Wed, December 19, 2012 09:00 AM | Comments: 47
Acquisitions, Analysis, Commentary, Statistical Analysis

The Phillies opened up a spot in their rotation when they traded Vance Worley for Ben Revere. They were looking to fill that spot with a low-risk free agent instead of relying on farmhands Tyler Cloyd and Jonathan Pettibone.

Definitions of risk vary but it seemed that the Phillies were looking for cheap and durable starters, valuing those attributes over pure talent and upside.

While several pitchers were available on reasonable short-term deals — Brandon McCarthy (pre-signing), Shaun Marcum, Kevin Millwood and Carlos Villanueva, to name a few — the Phillies signed Nationals castoff John Lannan to a one-year, $2.5 million contract. The deal could be worth upwards of $5 million through incentives. However, the deal is designed in a way that Lannan would most likely be worth $5+ million if those incentives were triggered.

The move was met with mixed reviews. Some gravitated towards the idea of having a durable pitcher with a stellar groundball rate at a minimal commitment. Others trashed it because they felt Lannan’s numbers were bad, occasionally conflating his numbers against the Phillies with his overall stats. Some were against it because they wanted the Phillies to spend more money and bring in a Marcum or McCarthy. And, of course, many people still couldn’t get past his propensity for beaning Phillies players.

I fell into the first group — those in favor of the deal.

What the Phillies did with Lannan was minimize risk at the back-end of the starting rotation. He isn’t flashy but he has been eerily consistent over the last several seasons. He is very much a known commodity and, from an expected value standpoint, there is far greater certainty in what he will provide than there is with Marcum or McCarthy.

Both of those pitchers have the potential to outperform Lannan but they are also big injury risks. They are question marks for a team that needs no more.

When judging the Phillies move along those lines, too many fans are comparing Lannan to the best case scenario of Marcum. Hearkening back to expected value, there is far more uncertainty as to what Marcum would provide, and that wasn’t worth a potential $4-$6 million premium for a team looking to minimize risk.

Expected value is a function of probability theory that comprises the weighted average of all possible outcomes. If there is an 80% chance that Lannan pitches 180 innings and tallies 1.4 WAR, and a 20% chance he throws 135 innings at 0.8 WAR, then his expected value is 1.3 WAR. That seems more than reasonable given his recent production:

2008: 182 IP, 1.2 WAR
2009: 206 IP, 1.4 WAR
2010: 183 IP, 1.4 WAR (he produced this over 143 MLB IP and threw 40 more in MiLB)
2011: 185 IP, 1.3 WAR

Last season, he threw 181 IP between Triple-A and the major leagues and produced at about a 2-WAR rate in his time with the Nationals. Lannan has virtually been a sure thing to throw 180+ IP at around 1.3 WAR. The Phillies valued some semblance of ‘sure thing’ over other attributes and it’s hard to really hold them at fault for that decision. After all, Kendrick is still in the rotation, and while he improved last season he is still somewhat of an unknown.

Contrast those numbers with Marcum’s over the last several seasons. He has already had ulnar collateral ligament surgery in his career and missed a good deal of time last year. In 2012, Marcum threw 124 innings over 21 starts, producing at an above-average-albeit-not-great rate. He topped 195 innings in each of the previous two seasons while averaging 3.2 WAR. He is a better pitcher than Lannan but significant injury concerns remain.

The Phillies, whether or not they wrote it down or put it into a computer model, likely determined his expected value and weighed it against the relative costs. Perhaps their expected value breakdown for Marcum looked like this:

33 GS / 3.0 WAR = 10%
30 GS / 2.5 WAR = 15%
27 GS / 2.3 WAR = 30%
22 GS / 1.8 WAR = 25%
15 GS / 1.6 WAR = 20%

Given that breakdown of possibilities, his expected value is 2.1 WAR. I’m not saying that is a supremely accurate distribution of potential outcomes, but rather one that would likely push the Phillies in a different direction. It is still higher than Lannan’s expected value, but the Phillies may not have viewed the difference as being worth an additional $4-$5 million per year and an additional guaranteed season.

The Phillies may also have been worried by the lower part of that distribution. If they calculated a 45% chance that Marcum makes 22 or fewer starts, they might have to rely on the replacement-level Cloyd for 10+ starts, or go out and acquire another pitcher if the injury proves more serious. If they had to rely on Cloyd or another prospect then it’s entirely possible the bullpen gets overextended in those games. It’s also entirely possible the ‘pen was already overextended from Kendrick’s start.

It’s also entirely possible that Lannan as a Phillies pitcher is better than Lannan the National.

I typically caution against putting stock into player vs. team statistics, since teams evolve and change personnel, but while the current Phillies offense isn’t what it once was they used to absolutely pummel Lannan. He has made 134 career starts, 19 of which (14%) have come against the Phillies. He has a 5.53 ERA and 50/44 K/BB ratio in those 19 starts. He hasn’t struggled that badly against any other team he faced more than a couple of times.

It’s not hard to imagine that his WAR totals may have been in the 1.6-1.8 range from 2008-11 if he faced a league average or slightly better offense instead of the Phillies. That ‘difference’ matters less in terms of projecting his 2013 production than it does in comparing his potential expected value to Marcum’s.

If the Phillies view Marcum as a significant injury risk and think that Lannan could produce 1.7+ WAR now that he isn’t facing the Phillies, their rationale makes more sense. There are numerous assumptions here but all have somewhat reasonable footing.

Lannan might also just be better at preventing runs than we think. The Nationals defense was mediocre throughout his tenure in D.C. and yet he has a career .287 BABIP against and a half-run difference between his ERA and estimators. That career has only seen him throw 783.2 innings, which isn’t necessarily a significant enough sample size to concretely determine that he is one of those outperforming-FIP guys, but it’s possible.

Luckily, Fangraphs rolled out a new set of stats that show what a pitcher’s WAR would have been based on different factors. One of those factors is RA/9. Looking at Lannan under that microscope, his 2008-11 RA/9 WAR totals are: 2.7, 3.0, 0.6 (partial season) and 1.9. His actual WAR and RA/9 WAR were similar last season.

If the Phillies believe Lannan’s style enables him to induce weaker contact and prevent runs better than his peripheral numbers would indicate, they likely view him as a 2+ WAR pitcher. Comparing those assumptions to the ones made about Marcum, their rationale makes even more sense. This isn’t to say their assumptions are infallible, but rather there are legitimate reasons to justify signing Lannan to this deal over signing Marcum or McCarthy.

Lannan isn’t the difference between making or missing the playoffs but this was a solid move. He doesn’t cost much, isn’t guaranteed anything beyond this season, and has the opportunity to really benefit the team by providing stability to the rotation’s back-end. He lacks the upside of someone like Marcum but he brings with him far less of a downside, which was very valuable to the Phillies give their current roster and position.

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: 0 arc

    All these moves are all well and good, but still probably the most impact-full move this organization can address has not been settled, nor has it been since 2009. Who protects Ryan Howard? if they are not going to go get Soriano, I think they are going to have to move Utley to the 5 hole. In the end, no protection for Howard, no Howard!!!

    • Posts: 872 schmenkman

      Avatar of schmenkman

      One can certainly say that having another big bat in the lineup would be impactful.

      But on the topic of protection, per se, there’s a lot of debate around that. It’s been studied quite a bit and there’s really no evidence that the on-deck batter impacts the hitter one way or another (aside from the 8th hitter in the NL). For example, there is no evidence that Howard got any better pitches to hit after they acquired Pence in 2011.

      • Posts: 0 arc

        The Phillies never replaced the key to their team. A left fielding protector for Howard. AKA Pat Burrell.

      • Posts: 872 schmenkman

        Avatar of schmenkman

        Obviously what position they play doesn’t make a difference in whatever protection they offer. And Pence in 2011 hit better than Burrell ever did behind Howard.

      • Posts: 0 arc

        first, the issue of how well Pence hit is not what we are measuring. The issue is how well Howard hit, who hit behind him, and is eany correlation in subsequent performance. the answer is; Howards numbers were alot better with Burrell behind him then Pence. If Pences numbers have any bearing on this conversation it would be in terms of the production pitchers would see and fear causing them to rather face Howard than not. The numbers also say; youre wrong. Burrells 2008 year were significantly stronger than Pences 2012 yr where he had the most time to hit behind howard. He posted 17 HR 59 rbi .271 vs. Burell 33 rbi 86.250. Also checkout Howards numbers in 2006 with Burrell behind him, 2007 without Burrell behind him, and then 2008. there seems to be a correlation.

        say say what ever they want in relation to

      • Posts: 0 arc

        Also, you cant totally use 2012 Pence stats because he spent a significant time not hitting in the 5

      • Posts: 872 schmenkman

        Avatar of schmenkman

        @arc, I’m starting to think you’re pulling my leg, but I’ll go ahead:

        “Burrells 2008 year were significantly stronger than Pences 2012 yr where he had the most time to hit behind howard. He posted 17 HR 59 rbi .271 vs. Burell 33 rbi 86.250.”

        You’re confusing 2011 and 2012, although you’re using Pence’s 2012 stats. He only hit behind Howard in 3 games in 2012. And I assume you realize you are comparing Burrell’s full season to Pence’s 2/3 of a season.

        “Also checkout Howards numbers in 2006 with Burrell behind him, 2007 without Burrell behind him, and then 2008. there seems to be a correlation.”

        In 2006, Burrell hit behind Howard in only 37 games, and Howard’s OPS was 1.084
        In 2007, Burrell hit behind Howard in only 34 games, and Howard’s OPS was .976
        In 2008, Burrell hit behind Howard in 133 games, and Howard’s OPS was .882

        So Howard had the two best seasons of his career with no significant “protection” from Burrell, and had his worst season in the 2006-2009 period with Burrell batting behind him in most games.

      • Posts: 0 arc

        youre right, by mid 2012 they realized that Pence could not protect Howard which they brought him in for and put Ruiz in that position. If Pence could not protect Howard there was no reason to keep him here. Thats why hes was let go. If 2011 was a bigger body of work to judge Pences performance as 5 hole hitter he hit 11hr 35 rbi 324. And you conveniently left out post season batting where Hunter especially stunk. Again in baseball there are too many variables to do no more then suppose a correlation not causation. Does a 5 hole hitter have any affect on the 4? depends which batters, what years, what teams, and at what period. However, just because a mechanism does not always affect what it was designed to, doesnt mean it wasnt created with a specific purpose in mind. In this sense Im sure we can both agree that we would both be more comfortable with protection for Howard.

      • Posts: 0 arc

        Yes, im glad you brought up ops, because Pences was never as high as any of Burrells OPS behind Howard and with a similar amount of time behind him. Again, back to your comment about there being no data to back up the protection theory. If you have children, you know you have had to remind them of consequences for their behavior. Do these consequences always deter children from misbehaving? no. However, no parent in their right mind would not express the consequences of certain behavior, mainly as a deterrent to shape their children’s behavior. Well, surely you see the analogy between this and the 4 and 5 holes. So again, if you were a pitcher who would you rather have behind Howard, Soriano, Utley, or Brown. Once youre done answering that in your mind, ask your self why?

      • Posts: 0 arc

        Also, how in the world can you determine “better pitches to hit”? I would love to see the experimental design for that. This is why I love baseball, its Gods sport, because at the end of the day the Yale grad with degrees in statistical data analysis, and physics trying to analyse his sabermetrics, can predict the outcome of a game no better then “joe” the 10th grade drop out sitting in a bar. I wonder with all the advanced sabermetrics talks that go on in here, is it because you all really believe in it, or are you all; just using one of my favorite phrases “academically masturbating”? Baseball is 90% luck, and thats what makes it the best sport in the world. If you are looking for predictability, you should try basketball. Theres a little team out of Miami I think my stats say theyll take it all this year.

      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        “by mid 2012 they realized that Pence could not protect Howard”

        They decided this based on what? He batted behind Howard in 3 games in 2012.

        “we would both be more comfortable with protection for Howard.”

        I suppose that all else being equal, I would prefer that Howard is not pitched around, mostly to protect him from himself because he hasn’t been disciplined enough to take a walk. Given the lack of any evidence that it matters much (i.e. that pitchers change the way they pitch to a significant degree), it’s far down on the list of things I worry about for the Phillies.

        “Pences [OPS] was never as high as any of Burrells OPS behind Howard”

        Burrell only had one year when he spent a considerable amount of time hitting behind Howard, and his OPS was about the same as Pence’s in 2011:

        Burrell’s OPS in his only year hitting behind Howard (2008): .875
        Pence’s OPS in his only year hitting behind Howard (2011): .871 full year, .954 with the Phils

        “Also, how in the world can you determine “better pitches to hit”?”

        It simply means seeing fastballs rather than off-speed pitches, and seeing pitches in the strike zone, both of which are tracked.

        “I wonder with all the advanced sabermetrics talks that go on in here, is it because you all really believe in it,”

        Yes, I really believe in it. All it is is that for the past 30+ years, lots of smart people who are really into baseball have been analyzing historical stats and using that knowledge to better understand how different events on the field tend to lead to scoring more runs, or allowing fewer runs, and therefore winning games. None of which is necessary to enjoy the game, of course.

      • Posts: 0 arc

        We can argue this ad absurdum, but the again, aside from continuing this exercise only to try to defend a position, the point is, protection for Howard is exactly the top priority for this team right now; and exactly for the reason you said “protecting himself from himself” which is what happens when he has to fend for himself. Also, you really want our power hitter taking walks, rather than forcing pitchers to face him?

        2) Again, for whatever stats you want to dig up, the point is; Pence was brought here to protect Howard. HE IS NOT HERE ANYMORE!! now plug that in your saber metrics. Burrell, and Howard in 08 has the stats and a WS to back up my theory.

        3) How in the world do you determine a “fast ball” is a better pitch to hit? The Phils have struggled hitting fast balls the last couple of years. Check individual games(play by play and see how they fared against fast balls)

        4) how the hell can you better understand random events? Baseball is really only predictable defensively.

        5) Again, all the saber metric studying, advanced degrees in statistics and physics cannot, I repeat cannot predict anything to any greater probability that the avg avid Baseball fan. I think sabermetrics is like what most people that get lost in academics is; its something the individual enjoys, and it helps to make one think they are smarter than they actually are. All sabermetrics are inferential. I can use saber metrics to make an argument that god exists.

        6) But I am not so foolish as not to keep and open mind. Here is your chance; use your saber metric skills and give me some sort of prediction as to the kind of season the Phils will have in 2013. Tell me what would their best line up look like?
        Show me anything other than pure vanity, and I will challange you to my predictions based on stats, and guts.

      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Again, the only year Burrell hit behind Howard was Howard’s worst year out of his first four. I don’t understand why you keep holding that up as some kind of proof that Burrell provided such great protection.

        “How in the world do you determine a “fast ball” is a better pitch to hit?”
        I didn’t know there was any debate as to whether Howard hit fastballs better than other pitches. Try this article about Howard and protection:

        “how the hell can you better understand random events? Baseball is really only predictable defensively.”

        I don’t know what “predictable defensively” means, but if you can’t understand random events, then entire fields of study should just pack it in now. Meteorology, quantum mechanics, life sciences, etc. They may random in small samples, which is why large samples are needed to minimize the noise and random variability.

        #5 is a fascinating anti-intellectual screed. What other sciences do you dismiss out of hand?

        I’ll pass on the invitation/homework assignment.

      • Posts: 0 arc

        1)Yes; 48 HR 146 RBI ops 881 yes, his worst year by far. By the way, that was the year Burrell batted behind him wasnt it? (Even your bretheren have seen the absurdity of this fruitless exercise.)

        2) I need no article to tell me what I ,you or anyone else can determine for ourselves. Just look up games from 2008-2012 and see the play by play pitches and see how well he hit fast balls.

        3)Yes, defense is the most predictable part of baseball, which means there are less random events which occur within the realm of fielding. A ball is hit, and you either make the play or you don’t. Issues such as; wind, bat speed, angle, pitch velocity, have less impact on a players defensive duties.

        4) Your statement “They may random in small samples, which is why large samples are needed to minimize the noise and random variability…..” I really have no idea what that statement meant, but I think what has happened is; you got my assertion confused into some statement which allows you to defend your position better. Anyway, let me restate the point you missed; saber metrics, quantum physics, etc. fall under a certain kind of logic called inductive reasoning.(how we are getting into rules of logic and reasoning; i don’t know)Therefore saber metrics, and quantum physics have predictive limitations.( this is my original point). Another lesson about logic; what you did is called ” a false comparison fallacy. Baseball and quantum physics cannot be compared in terms of your statement. Baseball is an observable phenomenon, Quantum physics is not. In terms of meteorology; weather patterns, are just that “patterns”. Again, in baseball, patterns; if such thing exists only occur randomly. This must be the same argument you use when you say there is no evidence for the efficacy of a 5 hole hitter.

        5)I( not sure what an “anti intellectual screed…” is but, I attend an ivy league school pursuing an advanced degree in the sciences. I am very well aware of the advantages, and limitations of science and analysis. My grammar may suck, but trust me, I am in contact everyday with over intellectual jerks at “huntsman Hall” if you don’t Know; that is “Wharton school” and I can assure you your argument for predictive analysis may hold in some fields, but in baseball, I will say again: “saber metrics gives you as much predictive power as the avid baseball fan sitting in a bar”. Again, I think you and a lot of other people on here would do better to stop over analyzing baseball. But If you must; admit you do it to sound more knowledgeable(mind you, not be more knowledgeable), or that you just enjoy the exercise, I can buy that. (Every man needs an hobby.)

        6) I am the first one to try and slither out of a homework assignment, but it would seem to me more logical for you to stop wasting time trying to argue with me point for point, and put your money where your mouth is. One prediction is all I ask for; one observable prediction. After all, isn’t saber metrics all about doing the homework?

        7) and Im done with this particular discourse; I have real homework to do.

      • Posts: 0 hk


        FWIW, relative to league average – and I think we would all agree that context is important – that .881 OPS year was actually that worst full season of Howard’s career, not just the worst of his first four seasons. He produced the following OPS+’s from 2006 through 2011: 167 in 2006, 144 in 2007, 125 in 2008, 141 in 2009, 127 in 2010 and 126 in 2011. Even his 2010 and 2011 seasons, which are generally thought of as slightly disappointing by Howard’s standards, were better than 2008 relative to the league and the offensive environment in each season.

      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        1) hk covered it well. By the way I don’t know what you mean about my “brethren”.

        2) glad we agree on something after you at first questioned whether fastballs are really easier to hit.

        3) ok

        4) You don’t understand what it means to say that smaller samples have more variability? ok.

        Agreed that there are predictive limitations, but it sounds like you’re saying that the limitations are so severe, you may as well not even try, which I don’t get.

        5) Quite familiar with Wharton, thanks. Analyzing (or “over analyzing” as you put it) baseball is an interest, and a hobby, and some even make a living at it. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, (although most who don’t get into sabermetrics never liked math, so you may be unusual in that regard).

        6) ok, you win: Michael Young will be better in 2013 than in 2012, but still not very good. Bonus prediction: Buster Posey will be worse next year than in 2012, but still very good.

        7) No problem. The sometimes contentious exchange aside, enjoy your holidays.

      • Posts: 0 arc

        Yes, a happy holidays to you also. Thank you for clarifying #4. Yes, I am very well aware of; sensitivity of sample size, misconceptions of chance, insensitivity to predictability, the illusion of validity, internal consistency, and misconceptions of regression. Im glad youre kind of touching on a whole other consideration of baseball, to which saber metrics falls mum; heuristics, or at least its use unawares when people are analyzing statistics. This falls more closely to my realm; psychology, and why I am so skeptical of peoples surety in saber metrics without respect for the psychological considerations when observing the game. As for your predictions, what are the odds that you are right? And what does sabe rmetrics show you that “a guy on a bar stool” wouldnt see that you base this prediction on? Just curious.

      • Posts: 1135 EricL

        Avatar of EricL

        Mr. arc, as you seem to like enumerated lists, I pose to you a few simple questions in that form:

        1. What, exactly, do you think sabermetrics is?

        2. When you assert that sabermetrics is no more predictive than the average “guy on a barstool,” how confident are you in that assessment?

        3. Further, when you assert that the Phillies ought to be searching for “protection” for Ryan Howard, how confident are you that such a thing as “protection” exists?

        4. If lineup “protection” of a batter exists, would you expect to find statistical evidence of such a phenomenon?

        5.If no such evidence could be found in the historical record, would you be willing to concede that the idea of lineup protection does not exist to a meaningful degree, or would you say that the statistical record is somehow flawed?

        6. Would you agree that there is useful, sometimes overlooked information about the game which can be gleaned from a careful examination of past events? Would you further agree that some of this information can be used in a predictive nature?

    • Posts: 0 arc

      Pence, bad example. Pence has been a non factor as a 5 hole for for Howard since he came, and a non factor for himself. You see hes not here any more. #2 Im not quite sure what evidence you’re alluding to, but conventionally the 5 hole is specifically designated for protection of your #4. Thats whats wrong with most you guys on here. You over think the beauty and simplicity of the game.

      • Posts: 872 schmenkman

        Avatar of schmenkman

        arc, not sure what you mean. In the 5 hole behind Howard in 2011, Pence hit .324/.394/.560 (.954 OPS)

        In his entire year with the Phillies (including this year mostly in the cleanup spot), he hit .289/.357/.486 (.842 OPS).

        How much more do you expect from a new #5 hitter? Anybody much better than this wouldn’t hit 5th, they would 4th, because they would also be much better than Howard.

        By evidence, I mean that try as they might, analysts haven’t been able to show that a #5 hitter makes a difference in what pitches the #4 hitter sees, or how well the #4 batter hits. If this isn’t what you mean by protection, what is it?

  • Posts: 0 brooks

    Back to the subject of Lannan coming to the Phils – “Pop! Smack! Kapow!” Nice to meet you, welcome to the club.

  • Posts: 0 EricL

    Scott Baker though.

    • Posts: 1135 EricL

      Avatar of EricL

      Let me expound on that a little.

      Baker signed a 1 year, $5.5 M deal with the Cubs. He’s coming off Tommy John surgery, which is why he went so cheaply. But he’s been a consistent 2.5-3.5 win pitcher, despite his relatively low innings totals.

      When I hear Ruben say things like they were looking for a “low-risk, high-reward” type of pitcher Baker was the guy that popped into my head, because he’s been quite consistent, and very good, and has the potential for a really good season in him. I

      Lannan, on the other hand, is a low-risk, low-reward guy, because you know his ceiling is about 1.5-2.0 wins, under the most favorable conditions.

      Anyway, this i just a longer winded version of me saying, if they were going to commit $5 million dollars of salary space to a guy, I’d much much rather it had been Baker.

      • Posts: 0 George

        I don’t think Amaro wanted to spend $5.5 M without a guarantee of performance. As Eric S. pointed out, if Lannan piches well enough to earn his extra $2.5M he’ll likely be worth that extra money. It’s not like RAJ is totally against $5M for a #5 starter, it’s just that incentives make sure that if he does have to pay that much, he’s definitely gotten the performance. There’s still the chance that Baker’s health could cause him to miss time or not pitch as he has in the past. In that case, Amaro might be paying $5.5M and getting $2.5M in performance; not a good value in the least.

      • Posts: 1135 EricL

        Avatar of EricL

        Except we don’t really know what the incentives are, so we can’t say that Lannan will only get the $5 million if he pitches lights out. Bottom line is that they had to commit $5 million dollars worth of payroll space for him (because even if he doesn’t reach those incentives they have to have the money available just in case), and for nearly the same price they could get a guy who is consistently much better than John Lannan.

        Yes, Baker might get hurt, although elbow issues are usually not a problem for guys coming off of TJ surgery for about 5 years. But there are no assurances Lannan doesn’t get hurt, or suck, or whatever.

        I’m just looking at an EV standpoint, i think Baker offered the better value there. For the same price you get a lot better pitcher coming off a routine procedure that restores most players to 100% (or more) of their ability prior to the injury.

      • Posts: 146 Eric Seidman

        Avatar of Eric Seidman


        I love Baker for this role, too, but it was timing. Baker signed well before Worley was traded, so when he was still a free agent the Phils didn’t necessarily need him. Now, if the Phils knew they would have to trade Worley and still didn’t sign Baker, well… then I don’t know. But I took it as a pure timing issue, in that he was gone before the Phils realized they needed him.

  • Posts: 4 scott

    Avatar of scott

    Don’t disagree with anything that was said. Taking out his numbers against the Phils reminded me that he’ll now have to face the Nationals. I predict that Werth, Zimmerman, and Morse will crush this guy. In a very small sample size (24 ABs), Werth has a 1.345 OPS against Lannan. Not sure how much that matters in a long season, but it could factor into a tight race. Overall, I think it was a better signing than many of the options out there.

  • Posts: 0 George

    For what he’ll be getting, Lannan, to me, was one of the best options to fill the back end of the rotation. He’s never been great either statistically or by the so-called “eye test,” but he’s never been terrible, either (except against the Phils).

    Not much money should ever be spent on a #5 option. (#5 is always just an option, because so many of them can’t cut it the entire year and have to be replaced.) Amaro didn’t spend much, and actually got a guy who’s been pretty consistent, and hasn’t broken down yet like most the other available #5 starters have.

    • Posts: 872 schmenkman

      Avatar of schmenkman

      That does tend to be the profile of #5, but in the end a 5th starter pitches almost as many games as a #1 (32 vs. 25 starts or so). Is a #5 less important than say a setup guy who might pitch 60 innings?

    • Posts: 0 George

      It stands to reason that a number 5 pitcher is important, and it would be nice if teams could afford 5 excellent starters plus that very important setup man. But with a luxury tax and the dearth of excellent starters, that seems like it will never happen.

      That’s why 5th starters tend to profile as they do. It’s also why it’s good that the Phils got a guy who seems durable. Despite those number 5 people generally being cheap, most teams end up using more than one in a season, which can suddenly turn $2.5M into $3.5M or more. If you’ve signed #5 for $4M and his arm falls off or he stinks, you could be in even more trouble financially.

  • Posts: 5222 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    I like the signing, we’re certainly paying less for the #4 and #5 SP’s than last year.
    As for defense-
    Lannan will certainly benefit from having Jimmy Rollins and hopefully Chase Utley over Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa defensively, but not on the infield corners with Michael Young and Ryan Howard as opposed to Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche. Ben Revere should be better tracking balls down than anyone the Nationals had in CF, but I am told his arm may not meet up to Harper and Werth’s. The corner OF’s would go in favor of the Nationals too. But I understand you were talking about the defenses for all the years he pitched and Harper and Werth were not always there.

    Obviously he will have a better catcher once Ruiz returns, although he did pitch to Pudge for a short while too.

    So up the middle, which is most important, is where Lannan will see better defense. It should help some. Let’s hope he is spectacular and triggers all those incentives!

    • Posts: 0 George

      Lannan is a grounball pitcher, so the corner outfield spots probably won’t be a huge factor. The Phils’ middle infield defense could make some difference, but might not mean much when Lannan faces pull hitters.

      We’ll just have to wait and see.

      • Posts: 872 schmenkman

        Avatar of schmenkman

        It’s a matter of degree, of course. The difference between how many fly balls Lannan allows compared to a fly ball pitcher might be 10-15% of the balls in play, or 8-10% of all batters.

    • Posts: 146 Eric Seidman

      Avatar of Eric Seidman

      Also entirely possible that Galvis plays 3B when Lannan pitches to maximize the defensive value.

      • Posts: 0 hk

        I hope that Charlie employs this strategy like he did in 2007 with Abraham Nunez at 3B for many (most? all?) of Jamie Moyer’s starts. Also, if the opponent starts a LHP when the Phils start Lannan, it would be a good opportunity to sit Ryan Howard and let Young play 1B. Galvis’s WRC+ vs. LHP’s last year was 98 while Howard’s is 91 for his career, so this strategy would significantly help the defense and might even help the offense for 8 to 10 games.

      • Posts: 146 Eric Seidman

        Avatar of Eric Seidman

        hk, that’s a post I’m outlining as we type. Great minds.

      • Posts: 0 hk

        I don’t know about the “great minds” thing, but I am interested to read the comments if you put anywhere in the piece that Galvis over Howard is an offensive upgrade vs. LHP’s.

      • Posts: 0 George

        I’m sure Galvis at 3rd will be tried. But I’d also bear in mind that he’s never played that position. 3rd isn’t quite like the other infield spots in that it requires very quick reflexes. Galvis likely has the arm and range; I just hope he has the reaction time because he’d certainly help the infield defense for Lannan. (Actually, if he can man 3rd, he’d help the defense for all the pitchers.)

        As far as Young moving to 1st against lefties, I’d prefer Mayberry there. He’d be better on defense than Young and does hit lefthanded pitching pretty well.

  • Posts: 0 Psujoe

    Don’t stress guys Pettibone will take roll by the break.

  • Posts: 5222 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    A little (or maybe a lot) O.T.-

    Now that Kendrick is slated as a SP, who projects to be the new long man? Kendrick was pretty reliable in that spot.

  • Posts: 0 zoltek

    john lannan = what everyone wants kyle kendrick to be. Plain and simple.

  • Posts: 0 T. Martin

    Sorry, not a fan of this move. Not at all. The comparisons to Marcum are all well and good but there are two things that aren’t mentioned at all. 1) They already have Hamels and Lee and as of right now Kyle Kendrick is the second best RHSP on our roster. It’s hard to type that sentence and think we’re realistically talking about a World Series unless that changes. 2) Lannan is a stopgap on a team that could use more certainty and fewer stopgaps. Utley, Halladay, Ruiz and Young are all entering the final year of their contracts.

    I would have so much rather seen them target a young RHSP that would be under club control for a few years (ie Trevor Bauer, Rick Porcello, Wade Davis, etc) ESPECIALLY after they shipped out Worley and May for, of all people, Ben Revere (another move I hated).

    I know they still have Petitbone, Ethan Martin, Biddle and Adam Morgan among others. But again, a RHSP, somebody with at least some ML experience still seems like a need.

    • Posts: 0 psujoe

      Pettibone is a tank and expected to be in the rotation some time this year. No such thing as a can’t miss, but he’s ready. If Halladay is at the end then the Phils have $20 million to go in a different direction in 2014.

  • Posts: 0 bacardipr

    Lefty good question that was the first thing that popped into my mind. Perhaps they will try Cloyd and perhaps even Pettibone. This way they can audition either one.

    • Posts: 146 Eric Seidman

      Avatar of Eric Seidman

      If they go with a 7-man bullpen, we’re looking at Papelbon, Adams and Bastardo guaranteed spots. Two of the remaining four spots probably go to Aumont and Horst. That leaves two more spots. I would think one of them is Raul Valdes, who could certainly be a long man. He probably isn’t your spot starter if an injury comes up, but you can use him (already on the 40-man) as a long-man, and call up a MiLB starter for a spot start.

  • Posts: 0 bacardipr

    T.Martin you have some valid points. I have to think if the Phils deep into a playoffs they will some how rely on Cole, Doc and Lee. All the others you mentioned are still at least a year away with Pettibone( correct me if im wrong) probably been the most ready of the ones you mentioned. Biddle is probably 2 years away. Rube probably wasnt going to commit a ton of money for another starter.

  • Posts: 0 SouledOut1

    Why didn’t Scott Kazmir’s name surface in any of the Phillies’ trade rumors? He seems like a good low risk, high reward option. Would anyone care to expound?

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