Quantcast


Commentary

Lee Continues To Cement His Awesomeness

Posted by Eric Seidman, Wed, April 10, 2013 09:15 AM Comments: 15

I’ll never forget Cliff Lee‘s first start with the Phillies.

He was just acquired from the Indians amidst a flurry of rumors that had the Phillies close to getting Roy Halladay. While his arrival carried excitement, many fans couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed for missing out on Doc. I was one of those fans, having only seen Lee from afar, and having considered him more of a good pitcher with a great season rather than a great pitcher.

His July 31, 2009 start against the Giants quieted all nerves. Lee ran out to the mound in his own patented fashion, did that bizarre fake pitch to the outfield that we learned was part of his routine, and prepared to face leadoff man Randy Winn.

First pitch was right over for a called strike. Winn then swung and missed at Lee’s second offering. In what felt like rapid fire succession, Lee then caught Winn looking with a fastball perfectly placed on the inside corner. It wasn’t a debatable pitch or one an ump usually calls a ball on an 0-2 count. It was just a flat out perfect pitch. My friend and I turned to each other with wide eyes. We had never seen anything like this before.

Lee rules so hard.

Sure, Cole Hamels was the World Series MVP the year before, but his ace-ness seemed built more on finesse. Lee was aggressive, worked quickly, and after three pitches had me convinced he was going to be the best pitcher I ever watched on a routine basis. Keep in mind I wasn’t alive when Steve Carlton pitched and I was too young to appreciate Curt Schilling during his heyday here.

Lee tossed a complete game that night and even settled for a double after coming close to a home run. He was dominant then, he remains dominant today, and over the last five seasons he has proven himself to be one of the very best pitchers in baseball. Watching him over these first two starts of 2013 has reminded me of what it was like watching him in his first outing with the Phils.

Yet, even with a Cy Young award and a lucrative contract under his belt, I can’t help but feel that Lee is underrated, even in this city. To help shake that feeling, let’s take a look at his brilliant time with the Phillies to put things in perspective.

Continue reading Lee Continues To Cement His Awesomeness

  • 15 Comments
 

Phillies’ Bench Too Weak to Keep Ender Inciarte

Posted by Eric Seidman, Mon, April 01, 2013 07:00 AM Comments: 17

The Phillies finalized their 25-man roster over the weekend, opting to use Humberto Quintero as backup backstop over Steven LeRud and going with Phillippe Aumont instead of Michael Stutes to round out the bullpen. The questionable decision was giving the final spot to Rule 5 selection Ender Inciarte, a 22-year-old prospect who hasn’t yet played above High-A. It’s not necessarily a bad decision but an interesting one given the current mechanics of the Phillies’ lineup and bench.

Inciarte looks like a decent baserunner and a solid defensive outfielder but the Phillies’ bench is quite weak and the team has a reduced need for the skill he provides.

He made the 25-man roster. Will he stay there?

The starting outfield has defensive maven Ben Revere covering the most ground, the defensively sound John Mayberry or the solid Laynce Nix — who has a career +6 UZR/150 — in one corner, and Domonic Brown in the other. Brown has looked more comfortable this spring and, while he won’t win any fielding awards, he could prove a decent gloveman with consistent playing time.

Outfield defense will take a hit when Delmon Young returns and presumably takes that NixBerry spot, but then John Jr. or even Nix would become available to defensively replace him in crucial late-game situations.

It seems unlikely that Charlie Manuel will replace Brown with Inciarte, at least early in the season when the goal is to give Brown every chance to nail down that starting role. It seems even less likely that he would choose Ender over Mayberry as a corner outfield replacement given the disparity in their offensive games should the game get extended.

When Young returns the Phillies will have to remove someone from the major-league roster. Mayberry is out of options, Inciarte can’t be sent down or else he is returned to the Diamondbacks, and Nix has a guaranteed major league salary and one of the only potent bats off the bench.

The questions I keep asking when trying to make sense of this decision are: When will Inciarte even play?, Is he worth potentially wasting a roster spot for the entire season in the hope that he blossoms into a worthwhile major-leaguer 2-3 years from now?, and Are there legitimate freely available alternatives, including in the Phils’ farm system, to retaining him?

Continue reading Phillies’ Bench Too Weak to Keep Ender Inciarte

  • 17 Comments
 

Is This Chase Utley’s Last Hurrah?

Posted by Ryan Dinger, Fri, March 29, 2013 09:00 AM Comments: 25

Is 2013 the last time we’ll see Chase Utley in a Phillies uniform?

Last week, I was having a discussion with an old friend about the upcoming Phillies season when he posed a question to me: Do you re-sign Chase Utley after 2013?

“Ask me in six months,” was my concise, detached response.

This type of exchange is not exclusive to my friend and me. All over the Delaware Valley, people are asking the very same question about Utley. Most Phillies fans have had the same uncertain response I did about whether to bring the long-time second baseman back.

There’s still time to decide and no reason to rush it.

But the common uncertainty surrounding Utley forces everyone to ask themselves the uncomfortable question: Is 2013 the last time we’ll see Utley in red pinstripes?

The thought causes a stir in me. It makes me reflect on the last decade watching Phillies baseball. Continue reading Is This Chase Utley’s Last Hurrah?

  • 25 Comments
 

Phillies Nation Endorses Domonic Brown for Right Field

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Mon, March 04, 2013 02:00 PM Comments: 0

http://philliesnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Dom-Brown-ST-2012.jpg

We, Phillies Nation, endorse Domonic Brown as our choice for 2013 starting right fielder.

The offense is slowly recovering from the 2011 meltdown, and the Phillies could suffer another regression if the wrong policies take hold. The Phillies are embroiled in unstable alignments that could easily explode into full-blown disaster. An ideological assault from the undereducated talk box, from Philadelphians who, because the results are not instantaneous, are not willing to continue the progress that started in 2010. Those forces are eroding even the most well-versed Phillies’ fans’ faith in a 25-year old. Nearly 40 years after a horrible start for Mike Schmidt and nearly ten after the horrible start for Chase Utley, all Phillies’ fans’ ability to cheer for a winner are cheapened by the front office bringing in two of 2012′s worst players in Major League Baseball to compete for an outfield position: Delmon Young and Joe Mather. Astonishingly, even the very right to suit up on the active 25-man roster is being challenged.

That is the context for one of the Opening Day outfield spots, and as stark as it is, the choice is just as clear.

The boxed and quoted text above comes in part from the 2012 New York Times endorsement of President Barack Obama. But the rest of it, the parts about Schmidt, Utley, Young, and Mather? That’s from our collective hearts and minds at Phillies Nation.

Before we wrote this and put it together, we went back and forth. Can a blog do this? Has any other blog done this? Did everyone on staff agree? We had one conscientious objector: our CEO Brian Michael. While we don’t want to disrupt the engine that drives our traffic and our TV show, we saw this as an opportunity to convince not only Brian but also the fans that may feel like Brian does.

So, for the first time ever, we are making an official endorsement: we are endorsing Domonic Brown to be the Philadelphia Phillies everyday right fielder.

Continue reading Phillies Nation Endorses Domonic Brown for Right Field

  • 0 Comments
 

Reconsidering Michael Bourn

Posted by Eric Seidman, Thu, December 27, 2012 10:34 AM Comments: 62

The Phillies made something of an effort to sign B.J. Upton and pushed hard for Angel Pagan before trading Vance Worley and Trevor May to the Twins for Ben Revere.

The move gave them a young, cost-controlled centerfielder who plays excellent defense and offers top-notch baserunning. He probably isn’t a finished product yet either, which lends credence to the belief that he could consistently produce at a 3-WAR clip as he enters his prime. The move came out of nowhere and was met with some criticism, but it was a risk worth taking if the team was opposed to doling out a lucrative, long-term contract.

One centerfielder the Phillies shied away from was Michael Bourn.

The former Phillies outfielder, who blossomed into an elite player with the Astros and Braves, was set to sign a big-time contract this offseason. Best laid plans haven’t come to fruition for Bourn, a Scott Boras client, and he remains unsigned. Granted, Boras likes to wait until late in the game, but the rumor mill has virtually dried up with respect to Bourn.

He’ll find a home somewhere but he may have to settle for a one-year deal that enables him to test the free agent market under friendlier conditions next year. If push comes to shove and that scenario plays out, should the Phillies consider him even after acquiring Revere?

Continue reading Reconsidering Michael Bourn

  • 62 Comments
 

Steer Completely Clear of Vernon Wells

Posted by Eric Seidman, Wed, December 26, 2012 03:30 PM Comments: 37

The Phillies filled their centerfield void by acquiring Ben Revere, bolstered the bullpen with Mike Adams and shored up the rotation with the cost-effective and underrated John Lannan. While these moves likely represent the bulk of their offseason activity, the Phillies have been linked to a wide array of corner outfielders given the obvious uncertainties in those posts.

They went hard after Cody Ross but balked at his lofty demands. They supposedly offered Josh Hamilton a short-term deal with a high average annual value. They have previously been linked to either Jason Kubel or Gerardo Parra, and that link will only grow stronger with the Snakes’ recent signing of Ross. There were reportedly discussions between the Phils and Cubs regarding Alfonso Soriano earlier in the offseason as well.

Some of these players make more sense than others, but the available corner outfielder the Phillies should stay completely away from is Vernon Wells. Unfortunately, the Phillies have expressed interest in the former Blue Jays all-star, though the extent of their interest remains unknown. Let’s hope it is nothing more than executives tossing a name around while brainstorming, because Wells has been one of the worst players in the league over the last two seasons and is signed to the very worst contract in the sport.

Continue reading Steer Completely Clear of Vernon Wells

  • 37 Comments
 

Does Kubel Fit the Phillies?

Posted by Eric Seidman, Tue, December 25, 2012 10:05 AM Comments: 33

The Diamondbacks signed Cody Ross to a three-year, $26 million deal over the weekend, giving them five starting outfielders for just three spots. With Adam Eaton set to start in centerfield and both Kubel and Ross signed to free agent deals, the Diamondbacks are more likely to trade one of their outfielders than use expensive platoons. Gerardo Parra‘s name was frequently mentioned as a possible trade target last year, when the Diamondbacks similarly signed Kubel to an outfield already including Parra, Chris Young and Justin Upton, but now it seems even more likely they make a move.

While Kevin Towers hasn’t officially put Kubel on the block, he noted that his phone didn’t stop ringing with requests for his outfielders after news of the Ross signing broke.

The Phillies were strong suitors for Ross but sources suggest they never really wanted to go beyond one or two years on a deal. If the Phils were seeking Ross’s level of productivity on a short-term and less lucrative contract, they could potentially find that in the form of the now expendable Kubel, whose numbers are quite similar over the last two seasons.

Continue reading Does Kubel Fit the Phillies?

  • 33 Comments
 

Effectively Using Young, Galvis & Howard

Posted by Eric Seidman, Thu, December 20, 2012 11:56 AM Comments: 51

Last week, Bill Baer wrote up a terrific idea he had at Crashburn Alley: the Phillies should play Freddy Galvis at third base whenever John Lannan starts. The thought makes perfect sense and represents the type of minor adjustment that could benefit the team and maximize the utilities of different rostered players.

As Baer outlined, about 78% Lannan’s batters faced put the ball in play, 53% of those balls in play are grounders, and over half of those grounders are pulled. Having shaky defense at shortstop and third base would hurt the Phillies run prevention with Lannan on the mound. Jimmy Rollins remains an elite defensive shortstop but the Phils are set to start Michael Young at the hot corner. Young hasn’t played third base regularly since 2010 and was a poor defender even then.

Young’s acquisition also leaves Galvis without a clear role. The Phillies could insert him at second base to give Chase Utley a rest and play him alongside Ryan Howard. They could also move Utley to first and play both he and Galvis on the right side of the infield. Rollins might need a day off every now and then as well. Where Galvis could really help the team in a more consistent manner is, as Baer suggested, by playing third base whenever Lannan starts.

I want to take that idea one step further. Not only should Galvis start at third base whenever Lannan pitches, but when Lannan is opposed by a fellow southpaw starter, the Phillies should sit Ryan Howard and play Young at first base. This alignment improves the offense by using Young against the lefties he crushes instead of Howard, who is quite poor against same-handed pitching, and clearly improves the infield defense.

Continue reading Effectively Using Young, Galvis & Howard

  • 51 Comments
 

John Lannan Minimizes Risk

Posted by Eric Seidman, Wed, December 19, 2012 09:00 AM Comments: 47

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.

Continue reading John Lannan Minimizes Risk

  • 47 Comments
 

Hairston or Nix Makes More Sense Than Ross

Posted by Eric Seidman, Mon, December 17, 2012 09:00 AM Comments: 64

The Phillies have long held an interest in Cody Ross and have amped up their efforts to sign him in the wake of Josh Hamilton‘s deal with the Angels. We discussed Ross’s numbers last week and found that he is really little more than a marginal upgrade over the inexpensive John Mayberry and Nate Schierholtz platoon the Phillies could have used.

Ross has some value but the advantages of using him over that platoon — saving a roster spot and adding perhaps a smidgen more consistency at the position — were not worth the additional $7-$10 million per year the Phillies would pay.

Ross could help the Phillies on a reasonable contract but he simply is not worth a three-year deal in the $24-$36 million range he is seeking.

If the Phillies are not going to make a major move, like signing Nick Swisher or trading for Mark Trumbo, they are better off sticking with some combo of Mayberry, Darin Ruf and Laynce Nix than spending what they figure to spend on Ross.

If they are dead-set on Ross, or the idea of Ross and what he brings to the table, there are cheaper alternatives: Scott Hairston, who is currently a free agent, and the aforementioned Nix, who is already on the Phillies 2013 roster at less than $2 million. Both Hairston and Nix have similar skill-sets to Ross and have been similarly valuable over the last three seasons.

Both would also enable the Phillies to utilize what they like about Ross without sacrificing financial flexibility now and into the future.

Continue reading Hairston or Nix Makes More Sense Than Ross

  • 64 Comments
 
Previous Page Next Page