2010 Player Reviews

Year in Review: Ross Gload

Posted by Brian Michael, Sat, November 06, 2010 10:00 AM Comments: 9

By: Jeff Nelson

Around this time last year one of Ruben Amaro Jr.’s main offseason priorities was to upgrade a bench that struggled mightily down the stretch and was later exposed in the World Series loss to the Yankees.  About a month later during the winter meetings, Amaro signed the reigning 2009 pinch-hit-leader Ross Gload to a two-year $2.6MM deal, which ironically was the exact amount of his option that the Marlins declined weeks earlier.

In 2010 Gload saw very limited playing time in the field, manning the outfield corners at times and platooning with Cody “give me back my son” Ransom at first when Ryan Howard missed time with a sprained ankle in early August.  With all the talent at Charlie’s disposal on a daily basis Gload’s value derives mainly from his bat off the bench, not his glove.  It also doesn’t take a disciple of the UZR gospel to realize the shortcomings of Gload’s defense.  Certainly he’s one of the last options if not the last option as a defensive replacement late in games.

There may have been a few people who expected Gload to be among the league leaders in pinch hits for a second consecutive season (here’s lookin’ at you, Rube), but I guarantee you nobody forecasted an increase in power for a 34-year old career backup.  Gload may have hit the same six homers as he did in 2009, but he did so in almost 100-less at bats.  I can’t put my finger on exactly why this happened, but put a gun to my head and my best guess was the move from the spacious Pro Player Stadium in South Beach to the hitter-friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park.  Look even further into the numbers and Gload hit five of his six HRs at home, while posting a robust .529 SLG% at home compared to .431 on the road.  In fact, Gload hasn’t hit for this much power since his White Sox days at U.S. Cellular Field.

Gload’s stats stem from a very small sample size, however he’s still a capable backup and a valuable hitter off the bench (if you don’t believe me, compare his numbers against righties to those of the $11.5MM starting left fielder).  He proved Rube’s hunch was right and was worth every penny and then some of last year’s $1MM salary.  The only downside last year was not being able to avoid a stint on the DL with a hamstring strain late in the season.

Even though Gload’s average was up a tick from the past two years, his BABIP was down from his career average.  Moving forward to next year those two stats probably cancel out and Gload should put up relatively similar numbers provided he can stay healthy.

JEFF’S GRADE: 7.6/10

NICK’S GRADE: 7.2/10 Gload gave Charlie Manuel a solid option off the bench at a reasonable price. With solid career numbers it is a reasonable assumption that he can put up the same kind of season next year.

KIERAN’S GRADE: 7.4/10 I liked Gload coming off the bench.  Even with the small sample size, I don’t think his numbers change given more opportunities.  He is a solid option for ole Charlie.


Year in Review: Domonic Brown

Posted by Paul Boye, Fri, November 05, 2010 10:30 AM Comments: 38

On a team composed of veterans quickly approaching or comfortably nestled into their 30s, Domonic Brown provided a jolt of youth after his call-up in late July. Unfortunately, due to inconsistent playing time and sparse use off the bench, Dom didn’t contribute much at the Major League level.

But, seeing as this is a Year in Review for a player who will still be considered a rookie in 2011, it’s only fair that we take his whole season into account, and boy, what a season it was!

Entering spring training as one of the best prospects in baseball – in a field that still included the likes of Jason Heyward, Buster Posey, Mike Stanton, Logan Morrison and Stephen Strasburg, among others – was an excellent start. Buoyed by a strong .318/.391/.602 line at Double-A Reading and the promotions of those ranked above him, Brown quickly found his way to the peak of some midseason prospect lists. All he did for an encore, then, was hit .346/.390/.561 in 28 games for the IronPigs in Triple-A, making him an easy choice for promotion when Shane Victorino hit the DL back on July 28.

Dom’s .210/.257/.355 line in his 70 Major League PAs seems out character, considering his minor league success. He struck out frequently – 24 times in those 70 PA – and is still considered a “work in progress” for 2011. Hey, that’s fine. He’s just 22, has tools and talent that are lauded across the scouting spectrum and, in all likelihood, a seat in right field and the starting lineup that’s being kept warm for him. Those 70 PA aren’t nearly enough to be discouraging, as Brown still has loads of potential. Oh, and did I mention that he’s got a hose? Or, that while his defense is still a bit rough overall, he’s got some legitimate athleticism? I have now, anyway.

Someday, Domonic Brown will be a star for the Phillies. It could be as soon as 2011 or 2012, but there’s little denying the man’s future is bright enough to require Ray-Bans (waiting on the check). So what if 2010 wasn’t a rousing success in very limited time at the Major League level? Dom’s destruction of the Eastern and International Leagues, vaulting to the top tier of prospects and softening the blow of Jayson Werth‘s potential (and likely) departure are plenty enough to merit high marks.

PAUL’S GRADE: 8.9/10

PAT’S GRADE: 7.6/10 – It’s hard to say what his true grade should be. On one hand, he vaulted from Double-A to the majors quickly after tearing up minor league pitching. On the other hand, he didn’t do much once he got here, although he wasn’t given much of a chance because of the outfield logjam. The future is still bright.

NICK’S GRADE: 8/10 This is a year in review piece, and Brown destroyed minor league baseball. While his time with the Phillies was more or less a learning experience, you can’t not grade his season without including his time in the minors this year.


2010 Year in Review: Greg Dobbs

Posted by Brian Michael, Thu, November 04, 2010 10:25 AM Comments: 31

Normally on a team that wins 97 games, there is a solid contribution from every player on the roster.

Greg Dobbs is the exception to the rule. Once a fan favorite, the Phillies faithful turned on the left-handed “infielder” for good reason. It’s tough to call Dobbs an infielder, simply because that would mean he had to field the ball, something that didn’t really ever seem to happen.

In a season riddled by injuries for the Phillies, Dobbs managed just a .196/.251/.331 season with 39 strikeouts in 163 at bats.

Many fans rejoiced when Dobbs was sent down in late June. But like a cat, he landed on his feet as he was recalled just five days later when Chase Utley and Placido Polanco went on the disabled list.

Dobbs defense was pretty laughable though. In 36 games at third base, Dobbs managed to put together an UZR of -5.1. Among the 51 infielders with at least 200 innings at third base, Dobbs came in at 40th. To put in perspective, had Dobbs been called on to play 150 games at third, he would have been 29.5 runs worse than an average fielder.

It’s easy to point out Dobbs’s inadequacies in roles he was never supposed to fill. However, Dobbs’s biggest downfall was in his main job, as a pinch-hitter. In 2008 as a cult hero, Dobbs led the majors in pinch-hitting at .355 (22-62) with 16 RBIs. This year, Dobbs managed to hit just .122 (6-49) with only four RBIs coming off the bench.

It is tough to go off a single season, especially as a pinch-hitter simply because you are going off such small sample sizes. However, when your job as a pinch-hitter is rewarded on mostly a year–to-year basis, those sample sizes can help you earn your next big paycheck, or they can be the reason that you are given your walking papers.

In this case, that is why Greg Dobbs will not be with the 2011 Phillies.

NICK’S GRADE: 0.5/10

Tomorrow: Domonic Brown


Year in Review: Mike Sweeney

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, November 03, 2010 08:35 AM Comments: 43

Arizona LeagueMike Sweeney has been (was?) a Philadelphia Phillie for all of 90 days. In those 90 days, Sweeney reached cult hero status, becoming more beloved than Scott Rolen, Bobby Abreu, and Mike Schmidt combined.

OK, jokes aside, Sweeney became a fan favorite nearly instantly. Understanding his career was clearly the downside, Sweeney took the term “role player” to a new level. He rallied around his teammates at every turn, was routinely the first person taking hacks at early batting practice, and always, ALWAYS had a smile on his face. The ultimate team player indeed.

Even a new term was born out of his love of baseball and his teammates: Hugs for Sweeney. In an interview I conducted with him during NLCS media day, I brought up the Hugs for Sweeney title that had become an internet sensation of sorts. Sweeney sheepishly attempted to turn the attention away from it all – he’d rather talk about how much he enjoys playing here and how much he enjoys his teammates.

The hugs thing, however, was awesome. If the team did something hug-worthy, Sweeney was the first one at the top step, ready to unleash his gorilla grip around the back of whomever deserved it. What a sight.

Statistically, Sweeney did little on the field to make him more valuable than the next guy, but that’s not why he was here. In his two months with the Phillies, he hit .231 in 26 games with two home runs and eight RBI. Pedestrian numbers, to say the least. However, everyone on the Phillies from the bat boy to the ownership will tell you it’s not about the numbers with Sweeney.

When Ryan Howard went down, the guy stepped in and attempted to take the place of a former MVP. Tough to do, but Sweeney gave it his all as he usually does. His effort was not lacking, although his bat has clearly slowed with age. Defensively, Sweeney looked spry, perhaps energized by his inclusion on a possible World Series champion.

In the end, it didn’t work out. The Phillies were unable to get by the Giants in the NLCS and Sweeney was unable to capture his first ring, which was the very reason he accepted a trade to Philadelphia from Seattle in early August. Still, it was a hell of a ride for Sweeney and for the new followers of Sweeney and his Hugs.

You can look at his numbers that say he had a down year – one that is – for a player moving nearer to 40.  It was the intangibles that made Mike Sweeney an asset to the team for a short period of time. And although its likely Sweeney won’t be back in 2011, the few memories he gave us will last quite a while.

Thanks to Todd Zolecki for the .gif

PAT’S GRADE: 6.7/10

NICK’S GRADE: 7.0/10 – I can’t remember the last time I wanted a guy to win more than Mike Sweeney. He is a professional hitter and a professional teammate who doesn’t take it for granted that he has the best job in the world.


2010 Year in Review: Wilson Valdez

Posted by Kieran Carobine, Sun, October 31, 2010 01:00 PM Comments: 24

It is almost fitting that the Wilson Valdez review would come on Halloween.  Valdez dressed up all season for the Phillies wearing a lot of different hats.  In one way or another Valdez saw action in over two-thirds of the Phillies games this year.  He started 59 games at shortstop, 42 at second and eight at third with Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Placido Polanco all seeing time on the DL.

It really is amazing to think back and Valdez was just a non-roster invitee to Spring Training.  He had major league experience and could play a lot of different positions so it seemed plausible the Phillies could hold onto his services.  And when Rollins went on the DL just the second week of the season, those services were needed.

Now at the end of the season, Valdez was Mr. Everything for the Phillies.  No one expected Valdez to come in and hit .300 and 20 home runs.  We all know that did not happen.  Before this season, Valdez never hit over .256 and never amassed 150 at bats in a season.  The Phillies asked Valdez to swing the bat over 300 times and play three different positions.  He responded with a line of .258/.306/.360/.667.

As a fan of Valdez and his bleached blonde goatee, I was very impressed with his defensive consistency throughout the year.  He had over 400 chances in 108 games, and Valdez committed only three errors.  One of the big things throughout the season was Valdez’s ability to hit into double plays (20), but on the other side he was involved in turning 55 of his own in the field.

When looking at Valdez’s value compared to other replacements he was above average in my opinion.  His WAR was not that high at 1.7 but when you think about a standard starter having a WAR of +2, Valdez definitely filled in beautifully.  In all the categories for numbers above replacement Valdez had positive numbers.  So it could have been worse.

When you insert a guy like Valdez in a lineup with the likes of Ryan Howard, Jasyon Werth and Utley it is easy to say he is an inferior player.  The Phillies knew there was no way he was going to go in and put up numbers similar to those he was replacing.  And that is not what he was brought in to do.  So with that said, my grade for him might be a little higher than a lot of people expected but I am extremely happy with the way he came off the bench and performed.  Personally, I hope he is on the bench again next season.


PAT’S GRADE: 6.4/10 – Valdez was a great fill-in for the better part of the season at multiple positions. He stepped up when needed, however I graded him slightly lower because of the 275 double-plays.

PAUL’S GRADE: 6.0/10 – His defense proved to be better than a lot of people were expecting (mostly, I’m sure, because no one knew what to really expect), but to grade a .258/.306/.360 line in 363 PA on the same level as Utley and Howard would just be silly. Nice season, Wilson, but you’re still a backup.


2010 Year in Review: Jimmy Rollins

Posted by Brian Michael, Sat, October 30, 2010 10:00 AM Comments: 29

What could have been?

Let’s go back to April, a month that had never seen Jimmy Rollins post early-season success. After the opening road trip, J-Roll was hitting .391/.516/.739 and was raking the ball. Then the home opener came around, Rollins pulled up lame during warm ups, and the early promise that he had shown was gone.

Jimmy’s season from Hell was upon us. Rollins missed 74 games due to injuries, and not surprisingly posted career lows in nearly every offensive stat. Fans kept hoping that Rollins was going to turn his offensive slumps around, but he just never got going.

Rollins slashes of .243/.320/.374 rivaled that of his backup Wilson Valdez and even led some to foolishly wonder who would be the better option in the postseason.

One thing that didn’t leave Jimmy during his struggles was his always stellar glove. J-Roll posted a 6.9 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating), the second highest number of his career. Despite the strained calf that lingered all season, Rollins still seemed to make almost play that came his way.

The scary thing is this, do we overvalue Jimmy Rollins because we see him on a nightly basis. The last three years have not been kind to the 2007 MVP. Since winning the award, Rollins has had an average season of .256/.322/.411. Was 2007 a fluke? Or did Jimmy Rollins just get old really quick? Keep in mind 2010 was the tenth year in a row that Rollins was the everyday shortstop.

Rollins has always been a favorite of mine that I defended to all ends, but after this year it’s hard to defend him. It’s tough to be a weapon as a switch-hitter when you hit .218/.297/.360 against righties.  J-Roll made a name in Philly by putting extra-base hits together at will, however this year he managed just 27 in 350 at bats.

2011 will be an interesting season for Rollins. It is the last year he is under contract, and at this point Ruben Amaro would be foolish to extend him without first seeing, what Jimmy has left in the tank. Can Rollins find the form that has been lacking for nearly two seasons, or will we see the end of Jimmy Rollins in red pinstripes?

NICK’S GRADE: 3.0/10

Tomorrow: Wilson Valdez


2010 Year in Review: Placido Polanco

Posted by Brian Michael, Fri, October 29, 2010 11:30 AM Comments: 90

Placido Polanco’s first year back in red pinstripes was definitely an interesting one.  And after taking this assignment to recap Poly’s first year back, I left myself wondering how to sum it up.

While his average didn’t drop much from the beginning of the season, Polanco lost any and all power he had before getting plunked on the elbow. Over the course of the season, Polanco missed 30 games, causing us to see a little too much of the now departed Juan Castro, and the new fan favorite Wilson Valdez.

Polanco peaked in mid August, sporting numbers like .325/.357/.430, however over the final six weeks of the season those numbers dropped to .298/.339/.386 as Polanco nabbed just nine extra-base hits after July 31st.

The one aspect of Polanco’s game that didn’t fade over the course of the season was his glove. Coming into the season, many, including myself, were very worried about the transition from second base to third base. Poly was the fourth best defensive third baseman in the NL, sporting a UZR/150 of 11.3. Not bad for a guy just turned 35 years old.

But how would you describe Polanco’s year to somebody who didn’t see him play one game. What is the first word that comes to mind? To me, I’d sum him up as: there. He was just kind of “there” this season. Unfortunately, the first comparison that comes to my mind is Raul Ibanez’s 2009 season. Polanco started off very hot before fading big time down the stretch after an injury.

Hopefully next season, Polanco can find the form he had earlier in his 2010 campaign, because if not, the Phillies will have a two full years of a slow third baseman who has absolutely zero power and struggles to draw a walk. Polanco will be the definition of a replacement player.

NICK’S GRADE: 6.2/10

PAUL’S GRADE: 7.0/10 – His defense was good, not great, and he made more outs than we’d like to see (just a .339 OBP with his .298 AVG), but I give the guy credit for playing a huge chunk of the season with an elbow rearranged by Tim Hudson. Hopefully he regains form for the last two years of his deal.

Tomorrow: Jimmy Rollins


2010 Year in Review: Chase Utley

Posted by Paul Boye, Thu, October 28, 2010 01:33 PM Comments: 45

Getting eliminated from the playoffs sucks.

In the moments immediately following elimination, it’s hard to stave off feelings of bitterness, anger and disappointment. It’s hard not to run with the overwhelmingly negative emotion and rail against the closest thing. For some, that opportunity arose when Ryan Howard stared at strike three. For others, their ire was directed toward Chase Utley and his disappointing postseason. Hey, everyone copes in his or her own way, but it’s important to maintain some perspective (especially when it comes to a franchise cornerstone).

Chase Utley played in 115 games, in large part because of a thumb injury that required surgery, and, as a result, recorded some stats that were not what we’ve become accustomed to seeing. All of these stats were Chase’s fewest since 2004, when he played in just 94 games:

  • 117 hits
  • 20 doubles
  • 2 triples
  • 16 home runs
  • .275 batting average
  • .445 slugging percentage
  • 124 OPS+
  • 3.5 oWAR

So the guy is human after all, huh? No one will argue that Chase had one of his typical years, just as I’m sure few will argue that injuries and fatigue probably had their fair share of effect.

What is most certainly arguable is the notion of trading Utley. One “subpar” season – or, microscopically, one bad postseason in which Chase hit just .182/.333/.227 in 27 PA – after a run of historically good ones is no cause to call for Utley’s head.

I won’t derail this post into a defense of Utley against the trading hordes, so instead I’ll just say this: in the land of arbitrary stat endpoints, Chase Utley has had six seasons with .275/.375/.445 or better, with a 120 OPS+ or higher to boot. Only Charlie Gehringer (11), Rogers Hornsby (10) and Eddie Collins (8) have ever had more seasons meeting those criteria as a second baseman than Utley (Utley registered his sixth such season of those numbers in 2010, too, for what it’s worth), and all three of those gentlemen are Hall of Famers.

Utley didn’t have a great season, be that because of injury, fatigue, aging, slight skill decline or demonic possession, but he’s signed to an affordable deal for a player of his caliber, and he’s a face of the franchise. We can be disappointed in 2010, but we can be assured of Utley’s dedication to returning to top form in 2011.

PAUL’S GRADE: 7.3/10

PAT GALLEN: 7.2/10 – Yes, the injury injured his chance at a productive season, however the writing was already on the wall for a down year before his thumb gave out. His not-so-good playoffs didn’t help, either.

NICK STASKIN: 7.1/10 – A down year for Utley, is almost an up year for any other second baseman in baseball. If you compare this season to almost any other second baseman in MLB, it still measures up…just not to the production we are used to.

Tomorrow: Placido Polanco


2010 Year in Review: Ryan Howard

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, October 27, 2010 09:50 AM Comments: 50

Three balls. Two strikes. Two outs. Bottom of the ninth. One run down. You’ve played the scenario out in your head hundreds of times as a kid. Maybe you were Ken Griffey Jr. Maybe you were Michael Jack. Hank Aaron. Brooks Robinson. Whoever. You know the situation – we all dream of being in that spot as a kid and launching a longball deep into the lights like Roy Hobbs once did. It didn’t happen that way.
San Francisco Giants

Ryan Howard had an opportunity to send the Phillies to a Game 7 with the swing of a bat. It didn’t come off his shoulder.

Howard’s 2010 season will always be remembered as a disappointment because of that moment, fair or unfair. Overall, it was a huge disappointment, even before he was unable to come through when they needed him the most.

Check these numbers out: .276 avg, 47 home runs, 138 RBI, .944 OPS

That’s Ryan Howard’s career average over roughly six seasons in the league. Needless to say, he didn’t come close to those power numbers in 2010. Really, it was a product of a dysfunctional offense from head to toe, although Howard didn’t help the cause much himself.

Howard’s .276/31/108/.859 stat line was by far the worst of his short, but illustrious career. At one point during the season, Howard went 15 games without a home run. He had only two (two!) multi-homer games. His OPS crept above .900 for just a short period before spiraling into the mid .800’s.

A freak ankle injury took Howard out of 16 games, but lets face it; he wasn’t the same guy before the DL stint.  Save for a super hot start to the season, he was unable to put together stretches of brilliance like we’d seen in the past. Even his normally fantastic September was sub-par by his standards. Howard hit only seven homers during Sept/Oct, a month in which he previously hit 52 through his first five-plus years in the league.

Something just was not right. Then the postseason came.

Howard’s playoffs were forgetful, to be nice. Everyone points to his .303 playoff average, but come on. Don’t be blind. Howard was downright awful with the stick and the glove. He did not have one RBI in the postseason. He struck out 17 times in 33 at-bats. He had only four extra base hits. All unacceptable.

Then came that final at-bat when he could have re-written the story of his season, and to a certain degree, his entire career. It didn’t work out that way. And in summation, it was by far Ryan Howard’s worst season start to finish.

PAT GRADE: 7.4/10

NICK “THE BEERMAN” STASKIN: 6.9/10 – Howard just never seemed to hit a groove this year. The power numbers weren’t really there, and in the blink of an eye he forgot how to take a walk. It is alarming to wonder what kind of production awaits us as he has already cashed in one a megadeal that could be crippling.

Tomorrow: Chase Utley

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