Beerman’s Offseason Report Card

Beerman’s Report Card: Cliff Lee Trade

Posted by Nick "Beerman" Staskin, Thu, March 04, 2010 10:26 AM Comments: 96


Hello, dead horse. Prepare to be beaten.

As stated Tuesday in the Roy Halladay post – which prompted a slew of Roy Halladay vs. Cliff Lee and Kyle Drabek vs. Phillippe Aumont arguments on the comments page – the other shoe dropped.

Postseason hero and former AL Cy Young winner, Cliff Lee was dealt to the Mariners in a puzzling move on the same day that Roy Halladay was acquired. We were told it was to “replenish the farm system.”

Let me quote the former pro wrestler, Sid Justice, “JACK TUNNEY, THIS IS BOGUS!”

When is the last time you saw an NL Champion “replenish the farm system?” The term “NL Champion” means that the team was not good enough to win the World Series. Why? Well, pitching had a helluva lot to do with it.

This is the same Phillies team that had such little confidence in its starting pitchers against the New York Yankees, that Pedro Martinez started two games of the World Series.

For one year you could have had, without question, the best rotation in baseball. Who would want to play the Phils in a postseason series when you had to face Halladay, Lee and Cole Hamels? The rotation could have been set up to have not only the best top two in baseball, but the best 3-4-5 in Hamels, Joe Blanton and JA Happ. In actuality, it is not Roy Halladay that is replacing Lee in the rotation. It is either Jamie Moyer or Kyle Kendrick, cause either of them would have been the odd man out.

If Lee walked after this year, the Phillies would have received two-first round picks.

Those two-first round picks couldn’t have helped replenish the farm system?

Phillippe Aumont only pitched in 51 innings last season in the minors. How much further along could he be than a first-rounder? His size and stature are nice and he seems to have a powerful arm, but he is projected by many to never crack a starting rotation and pitch out of the bullpen for his professional career.

Tyson Gillies hit .341 in single-A ball last year, but is projected by many to be a fourth outfielder at best. The average looks nice and he has a lot of speed, but scouts have been quick to mention that the park he played in, Slater Bros. Stadium is one of the most hitter-friendly stadiums in the minors.

The other prospect in the deal was Juan Ramirez, another pitcher thought to be a reliever at best.

What it comes down to is the Phillies gave up an ace in exchange for three prospects. Since when can’t a World Series contender have enough pitching? Lee was due to make only $9MM this season. If the money was an option, then why not let Joe Blanton walk? Ruben Amaro gave up a $20MM pitcher, due to make a fraction of that. This is just bad business.

The Phillies have a stadium that is sold out nearly every night. Money should never be an option. Furthermore, the Phils are not in rebuilding mode for good reason. The team is built to win now. Look at the teams that have been a staple of success over the past few years: Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, Angels. Do any of them ever make a deal to bring in prospects? Look at teams with payrolls that are near the top of the ranks like the Phillies: Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, Angels, Cubs, Mets and White Sox. Do any of them ever make a deal to bring in prospects, especially coming off a year when they just weren’t good enough?

NO! They want to win now. The Yankees went as far as improving their rotation by bringing in Javier Vazquez. The Red Sox brought in John Lackey. At the deadline and all but eliminated last year, the White Sox brought in Jake Peavy to help them contend later.

This brings two more interesting thoughts:

- If Cliff Lee HAD to be dealt…and I mean HAAAAAAAAD to be dealt, why did it have to be done on the same day as the Halladay deal? In a year that had a very weak free agent class for starting pitchers, you couldn’t have done better than a projected relief pitcher and a fourth outfielder? Amaro made this deal right away because of the backlash that he knew was coming. Fans would be much quicker to remember the loss of Lee by looking at the headline on the opposite page that reads “PHILLIES ACQUIRE HALLADAY”.

Imagine the backlash had he pulled the trigger on a Lee deal a month later. Seems like the easy way out.

- The general consensus of people who back this trade (keep in mind, people who back it still baffle me), was that Lee was not going to resign, so it was a “smart move.” How are fans so certain of this? Lee himself said that he was shocked he was traded and that they had just begun preliminary contract talks.

If that is the answer to why you HAD to trade Cliff Lee, then why is Jayson Werth still on the roster going into this year? He is in the last year of a deal and in line for a huge raise as he prepares to enter free agency next winter. Under those circumstances, shouldn’t Amaro have looked at moving Werth in the off-season too? That way we could have even more prospects. Teams in the Phillies position should not be in the business of moving All-Stars out of town via trades.

Fans are quick to love Amaro, but he is no Pat Gillick. Like I said on Tuesday, Amaro inherited a World Series champion with a deep farm system. Ownership has let the payroll increase on a yearly basis. While bringing in Roy Halladay was simply awesome, this might be the deal that Amaro is most remembered for. It really makes you wonder what his plan for the Phillies is.

beermansGradefWhat happens when come mid- to late-July, the Phillies decide they need another starter. It is no secret, pitching costs more in July than it does any other time of the year. Will Amaro dig into his newly replenished farm system and overpay for a Jason Marquis/Jarrod Washburn-type?

Is the plan to win a World Series or simply contend for an NL crown? The Phillies are the class of the National League. Nobody can doubt that. But in a seven-game series, who would you really take? Our Fightins or the Yankees or Red Sox?

What could Roy Halladay do in the World Series that Cliff Lee didn’t? Now ask yourself this, what could Cliff Lee do in the postseason that Pedro Martinez didn’t?

I understand we want the team to be productive for years to come. But which year is more important right now, 2010 or 2014?



Beerman’s Report Card: Roy Halladay

Posted by Nick "Beerman" Staskin, Tue, March 02, 2010 08:32 AM Comments: 101


Little by little Twitter feeds were buzzing.

Little by little local media reported seeing Roy Halladay in Center City with his agent.

Little by little different players were thought to be part of a mega-trade to bring in Halladay.

And then it was official. It took a couple days, but finally Roy Halladay was sporting red pinstripes.

For the price of prized prospects Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor and Travis d’Arnaud, Ruben Amaro had brought in Doc. RAJ proceeded to sign Halladay to a three-year $60 million dollar extension, with a $20 million dollar vesting option.

Sure the prospects seemed hefty, namely Drabek. But at best Drabek could be a stud, and that was depending on who you asked. Others had the youngster as a number 3. You always go with the sure thing.

It’s no secret, I’m not a big Amaro guy. He had a World Series champion handed to him with one of the top farm systems in baseball. You can’t walk into a better scenario.

But this was his deal to make, and he brought in one of the top pitchers in baseball. He then proceeded to lock up his investment at a below-market deal, ensuring he wouldn’t be paying for a man in 2016 that was not the pitcher he traded for in 2009. This was a perfect trade. Hell, Toronto even threw in $6 million bucks.

Could the deal have been made in July? Maybe, but it would have cost more and perhaps Halladay’s desire to play in Philadelphia wouldn’t have been as strong; and he wouldn’t have agreed to a contract in which he left somewhere between $50-60 million on the table had he opted to become a free agent after this year.

I won’t get into the deal that happened to coincide with this as that’s another story. This is about the new ace.

How much should we expect out of the new top gun? Well…

  • Halladay’s never lost more than 11 games in a season.
  • Since 2005, Halladay has only had one year with an ERA over 3.20
  • In 287 career starts, Halladay has thrown 49 complete games. One every 5.8 starts.
  • During the last two seasons, Halladay has walked just 1.38 batters every 9 innings.

I can give you stats for days. And I’m sure that you could give me stats for days. In the National League, facing 8 batters a game instead of 9? The possibilities are endless.

Halladay will keep the ball in the ballpark, keep the ball on the ground and gives you a stopper that doesn’t come around very often. Halladay is in the same breath as Tim Lincecum, CC Sabathia and Johan Santana. I’m not going to rank them as any baseball fan would be foolish to not want any of them on his team. Each can give you something different. But doesn’t it feel damn good to have one of them on your team? Now if you compare the contracts that Sabathia and Santana have, and the massive one that Lincecum is going to sign and the deal that Amaro inked Doc to…good job, Rubes.

beermansGradeIt didn’t take long for the Halladay jerseys and t-shirts to start flying off the shelves. The last time a player brought this sort of excitement to Philadelphia upon his immediate arrival was Jim Thome, and that was because we hadn’t seen a big name come to town in forever. While “he who shall not be named” brought a buzz with him last season, it was nothing compared to Doc.

Now here is a question to ask yourself: as excited as you were when they brought in Halladay, how much of it was deflated by the second part of that eventful day? Just a thought, because we all know the other shoe did drop…



Beerman’s Report Card: Danys Baez

Posted by Nick "Beerman" Staskin, Tue, February 23, 2010 03:39 PM Comments: 38


The loose bolt in the 2009 Phillies arsenal was the bullpen. Call it the curse of the MLB Network, but the stars of The Pen did not live up to the standard they had set in 2008.

In this off season, Chan Ho Park made the decision to pass on the Phillies’ offer (turned out the joke was on him) and Clay Condrey was let go; so other arms had to be brought in.

RAJ looked in the direction of men who had experience closing yet refused to bid Ed Wade-like contracts. The Brandon Lyon signing is the worst contract I can remember in a long time. Fernando Rodney was not worth the money he signed for either.  After the dust settled, it was Danys Baez who was set to join the bullpen. Keep in mind, Baez hasn’t been a closer since 2005, so those thinking he can step up if Lidge falters again shouldn’t get their hopes up.

At $5.25 million over two years, the dollars aren’t overwhelming. Was it necessary to sign Baez to a two-year deal considering he missed all of 2008? Eh, maybe not. If the deal was for more money, the years would be a bigger issue; so it is still a low-risk level contract considering the dollars. However if J.C. Romero can’t return to the form that earned him his own multi-year deal, there is a lot of risk in the role that I think Baez is going to be asked to fulfill.

Last year, Baez rebounded from an abysmal 2007 season, in which he posted an 0-6 record with a 6.44 ERA and 1.57 WHIP to go along with 1:1 BB:K ratio by posting a 4-6 clip in 59 games with a 4.02 ERA and a very good 1.13 WHIP.

The strikeouts haven’t been there for Baez over the past few seasons though, and that is a factor that could lead to some problems. When your relievers are putting too many balls into play, nothing good normally comes of it.

Was last year’s 1.13 WHIP a product of good placement of his pitches or was his .232 BAbip luck? Maybe 2006’s .305 BAbip just bad luck?

Baez isn’t going to light the world on fire as he hasn’t had an ERA under 4.00 since 2005, but if he can perform like last year he could definitely fill a prominent role in the bullpen. Just a matter of which Baez did Amaro lock up for two years…



Beerman’s Report Card: Jose Contreras

Posted by Nick "Beerman" Staskin, Tue, February 16, 2010 11:25 AM Comments: 30


Last off-season when the Phillies brought in Chan Ho Park it raised a lot of questions. Park was originally signed to be the number 5 in the rotation, but wound up excelling out of the bullpen.  Personally, I would have loved to see him back in the red pinstripes, but he obviously priced himself out of the budget asking for close to $5 million and stating his desire to start.

This winter, Ruben Amaro brought in Jose Contreras to fill that role out of the bullpen with the understanding that he might be an insurance policy for some spot starts.  Yet for the most part, he will be starting games in the bullpen.

Prior to getting traded to the Rockies late last season, Contreras struggled mightily in the White Sox rotation. It is no secret that his best days are behind him; however he should still prove to be a solid arm out of the pen.

The sample size is too small to garner any real ideas of what we can expect to see out of the bullpen from the righty; nonetheless, he did manage to strike out 106 batters in 131.2 IP.

Beerman's Grade - BThe main reason this deal works is the length. A one-year deal at close to pennies on the dollar for an experienced arm gives you extreme low-risk, high-reward potential – much like the Pedro signing last season. If Contreras can’t hang, it’s easy to release him and cut your losses. However, should he manage to provide a spark out of the pen for an inning or two at a time – like Park did – then for $1.5 million you found a real contribution to the team that you can reevaluate after the season.

I might have higher hopes than I should for Contreras, but I’m expecting something along the lines of 3.75 ERA with about 80 Ks over about 100 innings or so.



Beerman’s Report Card: Placido Polanco Signing

Posted by Nick "Beerman" Staskin, Thu, February 11, 2010 07:00 AM Comments: 31

Beerman’s Report Card will be a biweekly series that will run up to Spring Training. We will look at the signings, resignings and trades that were orchestrated by Ruben Amaro, Jr. this off-season. They will be no particular order; however check back every Tuesday and Thursday for new entries.


Peter Gammons kind of stole my thunder with this one: Where was the market for a 34-year old second baseman with a .727 OPS to play third base on a multi-year deal?

With one of the first free agent signings in baseball this winter, Ruben Amaro jumped the gun to get his man. Seemingly outbidding himself (much like he did last year with the Raul Ibanez signing), he threw three years at a player on the decline of his career. After a hot start, we remember how quickly Ibanez came back down to Earth. And for those who don’t, just wait until Jayson Werth explores free agency after this season…but that’s another story.

Having looked at Polanco’s batting average in years prior, many people were quick to welcome him back to the City of Brotherly Love. However, those numbers may cause those same people to overlook Polanco’s rapid decline the past three seasons in Detroit:

- 2007: .341 BA .388 OBP .458 SLG .846 OPS

- 2008: .307 BA .350 OBP .417 SLG .768 OPS

- 2009: .285 BA .331 OBP .396 SLG .727 OPS

Compare those numbers to Pedro Feliz, the man who held down the hot corner for the last two seasons. The man who was given his walking papers almost immediately following this year’s World Series.

- 2009: .266 BA .308 OBP .386 SLG .694 OPS

Did Polanco really deserve a three-year deal with a $5.5 million dollar option for a fourth? The deal guarantees $19 million total to Polanco and seemingly shifts Shane Victorino down to either the sixth or seventh spot in the lineup. A spot where not only could his speed be wasted, but the bat could be taken out of either Vic’s or Ibanez’s hands for a lot of intentional walks to get to Carlos Ruiz.

That doesn’t even scratch the defensive side of this contract. Feliz manned a very solid third base, while Polanco hasn’t played the spot since 2005. This isn’t first base where old men go to pasture when they are moved from their natural spot. This is one of the most demanding positions in baseball.

During his tenure in Philadelphia, Feliz had an UZR rating (the number of runs above or below average a fielder is in both range runs, outfield arm runs, double play runs and error runs combined) of 5.3 in 2009 and an NL-high 7.2 in 2008. Easy translation: he was well-above average at third. Can we expect anything more than an average glove out of Polanco? Polanco’s glove has never been an issue at second, but how smoothly will that transition go moving over to third?

Beerman's Grade: C-It really comes down to two simple questions: Do you think Polanco can rebound to his 2007 and 2008 years? Or do you think as he gets older, his numbers will continue to slide?

One week later, former Phillies GM and collector of Phillies-past, Ed Wade signed Feliz to a one-year, $4.5 million dollar deal.

Personally, I’d take another year of Feliz at less than $5 million, than three years of Polanco at what amounts to at least $19 million. Especially after all we’ve heard about working under a budget, and the elephant in the room in right field that is set to explore free agency rather quickly.



Beerman’s Report Card: Carlos Ruiz Signing

Posted by Nick "Beerman" Staskin, Tue, February 09, 2010 09:39 AM Comments: 17

Beerman’s Report Card will be a biweekly series that will run up to Spring Training. We will look at the signings, resignings and trades that were orchestrated by Ruben Amaro, Jr. this offseason. They will be no particular order; however check back every Tuesday and Thursday for new entries.


When details of this contract extension first sprung, I really thought Chooch had parlayed a solid postseason into a three-year deal. To the initial eye, it looked like Amaro might have bid against himself, something he has done during his GM tenure before. However, like any responsible blogger/columnist/beerman, whatever you want to call me, I did my homework. Broke down some numbers. Compared some stats. Examined some contracts.

Ruiz will never be Joe Mauer. Hell, Carlos will never be Brian McCann. However, his on base percentage ranked third among full-time catchers in the National League at .355. Did you know that his .355 clip ranked higher than Raul Ibanez last year? Factor in the mere 39 strikeouts that Chooch accounted for and it is clear to see that the Phillies bottom of the order had a bat that could get the ball in play and help turn the lineup over.

Beerman's GradeHowever, it wasn’t Ruiz’s bat that garnered his new multi-millionaire status. Not many catchers in baseball can command a pitching staff like Ruiz can. Chooch can block the plate with the best of them, allowing only one ball to pass by him last season.

When it comes to holding runners, Ruiz allowed the fewest stolen bases of any catcher who started 100 games with 61 swipes allowed. He managed to throw out 23 attempted base runners as well.

In an era where the top catchers are seemingly going nowhere, and after trading away any and all catching prospects that they might have had, the Phillies locked up a very solid piece of the team at a very fair rate.