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Year In Review: Roy Halladay

Posted by Paul Boye, Tue, January 04, 2011 10:00 AM Comments: 22

“Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?” - Laurence Fishburne in “The Matrix”

It sure felt like a dream when the news first broke of the Phillies’ imminent acquisition of Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays. Dreams of sugarplums and a 2011 rotation highlighted by Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels were kicking off the two-week countdown to Christmas with a lion’s share of bliss. Those dreams, short-lived as they were with the subsequent trading of Lee, were reignited on opening day in Washington.

7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K.

And Doc was off and running on what would become a historic season. A 1.45 ERA through his first seven starts; a perfect game May 29; nine complete games and four shutouts, including one to clinch the division; a playoff no-hitter; a Cy Young Award.

So much can be made of the awesome numbers Halladay posted: 250.2 IP, 219 K, a 2.44 ERA, a 7.3 K:BB ratio, all of which combined to form a legitimately historic season. Since 1901, there have been two pitcher seasons of 250-plus innings, 200-plus strikeouts, 30 or fewer walks with a 2.50 or lower ERA. Roy Halladay has one, Cy Young has the other. The award seems even more fitting, now.

Sure, he had his hiccups. The mess in Boston following his 130-pitch outing against the Pirates, the struggles against the Yankees, Cubs and Rockies. Hey, the guy’s human after all, which is good, because I think using a real robot would be cheating.

Even in the playoffs, Halladay was nearly unstoppable. A no-hitter against Cincinnati, a close loss against Tim Lincecum, and a tough performance with a strained groin muscle.

I could wax poetic about Halladay’s 2010 from now until kingdom come. It was everything any of us could have hoped for and more, piled on top of enormous expectations. Doc made it publicly known that he wanted to come to Philadelphia, left money on the table, crushed most of his competition, won a major award and made more history beyond that.

I can only wonder what the coming years will bring.


PAT GALLEN’S GRADE: 10 – He came. He saw. He conquered. Roy Halladay was everything Phillies fans dreamed of, and more. Doc put together a historical season and we were lucky enough to have witnessed it here. Thanks, Toronto.

AMANDA ORR’S GRADE: 10 – He deserves a number higher than 10.  Work horse. Complete Games. Shutouts. Perfect Game. No-hitter in the playoffs. Cy Young.  Team MVP.  What more can you ask for?

KIERAN CAROBINE’S GRADE: 10.1 - (Gotta be different).



Phillies, Romero Reach Agreement

Posted by Paul Boye, Mon, December 27, 2010 01:14 AM Comments: 26

Following the failed signing of reliever Dennys Reyes, the Phillies have agreed to re-sign lefty J.C. Romero, according to CSN Philly.

Romero, who made $4.5 million in 2010, is expected to take a significant paycut to rejoin the Phils. Signed during the 2007 season after being released by the Red Sox, Romero has compiled 123 strikeouts and 105 walks in 148.2 innings in red pinstripes. Though he’s enjoyed success against lefty batter in two of his three full seasons in Philadelphia, problems with righties and his control have limited his effectiveness. He is expected to be used in a specialist role.


Year In Review: Ryan Madson

Posted by Paul Boye, Wed, December 22, 2010 10:30 AM Comments: 19

Ryan Madson was really, really good in 2010.

There may have been more graceful ways to start this homage to the Mad Dog’s 2010 campaign, but none seem quite as necessarily to-the-point. It’s a reflection on the seven-year pro’s promotion from “pretty good” to “elite,” a sudden transition that we probably could have seen coming.

Still, it was a pleasant surprise. Madson, who had ERAs of 3.05 (twice) and 3.26 in the last three seasons, posted or equaled career-bests in H/9, K/9, WHIP, HR/9, BB/9 and K:BB. A rather ridiculous foot injury – sustained in a moment of frustration, kicking a chair following his appearance in a wild game in San Francisco – forced him to miss a big chunk of the season and limited his total workload to 53 innings, a career-low.

In the nine games Madson appeared in prior to the injury, things hadn’t gone so well. The strikeouts were there, but the hits (and runs) were pouring in. A 7.00 ERA was left to linger for more than two months, and that, apparently, didn’t sit very well with Madson. In the 44 innings he threw after his return from the DL, Madson’s line looked like this:

44.0 IP, 54 K, 10 BB, 1.64 ERA, with a .182/.249/.245 opponents’ batting line.

In those 46 appearances, opponents recorded earned runs on Madson just six times, and only twice in 35 August/September appearances. Paired with a buoyed Brad Lidge late in the season, Madson was almost untouchable. For comparison’s sake, stacked up against the rest of the league, here’s where some of Madson’s numbers rank among relievers with at least 50 IP last season:

  • 14th in K/9 (10.87)
  • 17th-lowest BB/9 (2.21)
  • 8th in K:BB (4.92)
  • 18th in WHIP (1.038)
  • 13th in xFIP (2.89)
  • The 10th most-effective changeup, according to Fangraphs. BaseballAnalytics has opponents hitting just .161/.199/.257 against it in 2010.

He may not be Mariano Rivera or Billy Wagner, but all of those ranks place him in the upper echelon of relievers for 2010. Madson’s contract expires after the 2011 season, and he’ll certainly be due for a raise. His magnificent 2010, though abbreviated, played a huge part in that. Injuries and a sluggish start to the year, paired with a regrettable injury, are the only things weighing this grade down.

GRADE: 8.6/10

MICHAEL BAUMANN’S GRADE: 8.3/10 – Just like missing 4 or more classes in a semester, breaking your foot on a chair in the middle of the season drops you a full letter grade. Outside of that, he was nothing short of spectacular.


Domonic Brown Sits Atop BaseballAmerica's Top Phillies Prospects

Posted by Paul Boye, Mon, December 13, 2010 02:32 PM Comments: 52

Surprising no one, Phillies right field super prospect Domonic Brown topped BaseballAmerica’s list of the best players the Philly farm has to offer.

For the second straight year, Brown was named the organization’s best, topping a list of prospects that has seen its share of turnover in recent years. Brown, who hit .327/.391/.589 in the minor leagues in 2010, is the favorite to inherit the starting right fielder’s spot for the big league club out of spring training.

Second on the list was teenaged rising star Jonathan Singleton, who turned heads with a white-hot start to his 2010 season. In fact, spots two through seven on the list are all guys who played on the Lakewood BlueClaws in 2010, further cementing that team’s stacked legacy.

Jesse Biddle, the team’s first-round draft pick this past June, debuted at number eight. None of the prospects from the Cliff Lee trade made the list.

The entire list can be found after the jump, as well as BA’s “Best Tools” picks and 2014 projected lineup.

Continue reading Domonic Brown Sits Atop BaseballAmerica's Top Phillies Prospects


Keith Law on the Phillies' Future

Posted by Paul Boye, Fri, December 10, 2010 05:00 PM Comments: 121

Earlier this week in Florida, I had the opportunity to speak with ESPN’s Scouts Inc.’s senior baseball analyst Keith Law on a few odds and ends about the Phillies.

While it may still be safe to say the Phillies are in their “golden age,” it’s always prudent to keep a diligent watch on the team’s future. How will the aging core of veterans hold up? Is there really anything wrong with Domonic Brown? Are Jarred Cosart and Jon Singleton for real? We can speculate all we like, but to get a professional opinion, I asked Mr. Law for his take on a few things.

Continue reading Keith Law on the Phillies' Future


Notes From the Winter Meetings: Monday

Posted by Paul Boye, Mon, December 06, 2010 09:15 PM Comments: 42

A good Monday evening from central Florida, where baseball’s Winter Meetings have kicked into high gear. The Swan and Dolphin resort in Lake Buena Vista, not far from Disney World, is the center of the baseball universe through Wednesday. I’m here to look for a job, but that won’t stop me from moseying around the resort, trying to take in all that I can in this short time.

The Winter Meetings double as a job fair. We all know that players, agents and club executives are all present for negotiations, but the jobs available aren’t restricted to the ones on the field. I spent this past season working for Baseball Info Solutions, a company that converts every single pitch from every single game of a full season into data and numbers that can be used to evaluate pitchers in new ways. Now, as I look to move forward in my career, I’m talking with clubs and teams and their representation at the Major/Minor League job fair. It isn’t glorious, and few posted jobs are for immediate work at the Major League level, but it’s already a rewarding experience.

Across the way, in the second half of the two-hotel resort, there’s even more activity. The MLB Network, MLB.com and ESPN have all set up shop for live, on-site broadcasting, delivering news when it happens from where it happens. Not only that, the sight of reporters, players, agents, managers and broadcasters is constant. Charlie Manuel made an appearance, as did White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, superagent Scott Boras, national and Phillies reporters like Ken Rosenthal and Todd Zolecki.

I’ve yet to see Cliff Lee, sadly.

There is a palpable sense of excitement all throughout the resort area. Maybe it was just me soaking in every aspect of the scene that I could, but there’s a feeling in the air not unlike the one you get when you go to your seat at an actual ballgame. The pace is frenetic, and the news is constant. Even better, nearly everyone is accessible. In the course of one day, I managed to shake hands with everyone from Giants manager Bruce Bochy to former Philly and current broadcaster Mitch Williams to ESPN columnist Keith Law (who, by the way, I should be having a conversation with for PN this week. More on that another time). The entire baseball world is here, and it’s awesome.

The coming days should, hopefully, yield even better things. I’ll be tweeting as I go, but I won’t be there to break news; I’ll leave that to the professionals. There may not be much Phillies news to break this year, at least in relation to recent offseasons (unless, of course, you consider Jeff Francoeur newsworthy), but there will still be plenty of exciting things to come, and I hope to share them with you all.

UPDATE, 8:48 pm (Pat Gallen): Mike DiGiovana of the LA Times is reporting the Phillies have interest in trading for Juan Rivera of the Angels. With LAA serious about Carl Crawford joining an already deep outfield, the 32-year old could be on his way out, and at a friendly price to the Phillies.

Rivera hit 15 home runs and knocked in 55 runs a year ago in only 124 games (455 plate appearances).  Two seasons ago he was a major power source for the Angels, hitting 25 home runs. He’s in the final year of a three year deal which will pay the outfielder $5.5 million. It’s expected the Angels would pick up some of that salary making him another decent platoon option.

They’ve already shown plenty of interest in Jeff Francouer (perhaps too much) and have been linked to Matt Diaz.


The Best Phillies Pitches in 2010

Posted by Paul Boye, Fri, December 03, 2010 05:20 PM Comments: 21

At Baseball Analytics on Thursday, I took a look at the four best cut fastballs among relievers last season. Using their research tool and Fangraphs’ pitch run values, I assembled some heat maps that took a graphical look at what made each pitch different, yet similarly effective. I figured I could apply that same concept over here, where we all could take a look at the pitches Fangraphs ranked the best among the Philly staff. Why not?

The requirement is at least 40 innings pitched, and we’ll be using run value per 100 pitches to level the playing field among starters and relievers while ranking the three best pitchers per pitch.

Continue reading The Best Phillies Pitches in 2010


Year In Review: David Herndon

Posted by Paul Boye, Mon, November 29, 2010 03:30 PM Comments: 17

With the 17th pick in the 2009 Rule 5 Draft, the Phillies plucked Kenneth David Herndon from the Angels’ farm system. As the Rule 5 Draft rarely yields significant Major League talent, nothing much was expected of Herndon and, well, nothing much was delivered. Herndon was adequate, falling victim at times to equal parts bad luck and a shaky arsenal of stuff and settling for an ERA of 4.30 when all was said and done.

Having finished the year with the Phillies, Herndon is now a full-fledged member of the organization, no longer required to be on the active 25-man roster in order to be kept. For that, he deserves some recognition. Sometimes, Rule 5 picks don’t last the year, and are offered back to their original franchise, exposed to waivers, and subsequently lost. Herndon may not have had the most impressive rookie year, but doing well enough to stay up at the Show for an entire year shouldn’t be discarded entirely.

On the whole, Herndon pitched 52.1 innings with 29 strikeouts and 17 walks, inducing a big 56.9 percent groundball rate, a figure that came in 16th in all of baseball among pitchers with 50-plus IP. That’s what Herndon is: a sinkerballer who will only strike out a few more people than Kyle Kendrick, but get plenty of groundballs in the meantime. Of course, that philosophy can backfire quickly, and Herndon’s .354 BABIP against was the 12th-highest mark in baseball. Part of that was bad luck, part of it subpar stuff in some outings, but it’s clearly not all Herndon’s fault.

Herndon seems likely to start the season in Triple-A, where some talk suggests he may be stretched out to become a starter, a position he frequented in the minors before the 2009 season. Failing that, the organization may instead opt to refine his secondary stuff in the hopes of keeping him in full-time relief.

In any case, there seems to be some latent potential within Herndon. Being able to induce as many groundballs as he does is a valuable skill, and if he can somehow refine his stuff enough to increase his strikeouts even a little bit, Herndon could be quite useful. He won’t be a Madson; that just won’t ever happen, but a career of ineffectiveness is far from a foregone conclusion.

So, all that said, 2010 was far from a world-beating year for Mr. Herndon. He took his lumps, made a jump from Double-A to the Bigs and survived. I find that admirable, but that admiration can only obscure the end results so much. The numbers are simultaneously better than and worse than they appear on the surface, so it’s difficult to label just what Herndon was or forecast what he will be. Here’s to an improved 2011, David.

PAUL’S GRADE: 5.5/10


Trade Option: Matt Thornton

Posted by Paul Boye, Wed, November 24, 2010 10:00 AM Comments: 16

After taking a look at some free agent relievers, we present another reliever who may be a viable option, this time via trade. Matt Thornton, a late-blooming, flamethrowing lefty from the White Sox, would be a solid addition to the relief corps, especially if they deem the price on the better free agents to be too high.

Thornton, who debuted with the Mariners in 2004 at age 27, was a nearly anonymous figure for the first four years of his career. Spending two years in Seattle before being traded to the White Sox for super-bust Joe Borchard, Thornton pitched 200 innings on the nose through 2007. He racked up 191 strikeouts in those 200 innings, but also walked 114, limiting his effectiveness.

In the last three seasons, though, something seems to have clicked with Thornton. Pitching 200.1 innings since the start of ’08, Thornton has elevated his impressive strikeout numbers – 245 of them, in fact – while drastically improving his control and walking just 59 batters. Let’s reiterate that in a cleaner fashion:

2004-07: 200 IP, 191 K, 114 BB, 1.515 WHIP
2008-10: 200.1 IP, 245 K, 59 BB, 1.028 WHIP

That’s a tremendous difference, and it makes Thornton a valuable commodity under contract for just $3M in 2011. Among pitchers who made at least 80 percent of their appearances in relief and logged 150-plus innings since 2008, Thornton ranks highly among some impressive company.

  • 4th in K/9 (11.01)
  • 18th in BB/9 (2.65)
  • 4th in K/BB (4.15)
  • 14th in HR/9 (0.58)
  • 3rd in WAR (7.2)

The long and short of it is this: sometime around the 2008 season, Thornton flipped the switch and turned into an elite reliever. He’s affordable, potentially a Type B (or better) free agent after the season, and left-handed. It’s worth noting that Thornton not only held lefty batters to a measly .175/.221/.278 line in 2010, he also stifled righties to the tune of .203/.296/.288, so Thornton’s clearly no situational lefty reliever.

As for the likelihood of a deal, well, that’s another thing. There were whispers in July about the Phillies being linked to Thornton, but no real movement on that front thus far this winter. It’s entirely possible that the White Sox will hold on to Thornton as they look to contend in the perennially up-for-grabs A.L. Central, only listening to him if they fall out of contention this summer.

Whatever the case, Thornton is unlikely to cost premium talent (like Dom Brown, in spite of Thornton’s impressive numbers), and his presence would be a major boost to the Philly ‘pen; that much doesn’t seem to be in contention. The possibility of Thornton’s availability and Amaro’s interest in acquiring him, on the other hand, definitely appear to be in doubt. The fit is there, and the Phillies have what it would take to acquire Thornton, but this is a match that appears far, far away. Let’s give this a 3/10 on the Amaro Head Scale.


The Candidates for Righty Relief

Posted by Paul Boye, Tue, November 23, 2010 10:00 AM Comments: 7

On Sunday, we took a look at four southpaws who represent the cream of the free agent lefty relief club, so it’s only fair that we pay some attention to their counterparts.

Right-handed relief appears to be a less pressing than lefty relief – or, depending on your faith in Antonio Bastardo, perhaps more pressing – with Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson topping the current roster, and recently re-signed Jose Contreras providing support. Bullpen depth is never a bad thing, though, and filling out the roster with effective pitchers could go a long way toward eating innings and providing solid injury replacements.

The Phils could be looking for up to three right-handed replacements for 2011. Chad Durbin is a free agent and rumored to be getting interest as a starter; David Herndon, whose Rule 5 status has expired, will likely start the year in Triple-A, possibly to be stretched out for starting; Danys Baez is Danys Baez.

Who’s out there on the free agent market that could be a fit? Let’s take a look at some players who, while not all elite or big names, could provide stability to the Philly ‘pen. Again, these are four free agents. For trade possibilities, stay tuned to our Trade Option series.

Continue reading The Candidates for Righty Relief

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