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2009 Year in Review

Year in Review: Shane Victorino

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, December 21, 2009 05:15 PM Comments: 9

http://blog.nj.com/timesupdates/2007/10/large_victorinoRarely will you ever see Shane Victorino end up last in a race.  However, one of the finest Phillies moments of the 2009 season was when he did.

Victorino was voted in as the final player on the National League All Star roster for the midsummer classic in St. Louis, receiving 15.6 million votes online. He was the fifth and final Phillie to join the squad, along with Utley, Howard, Werth, and Ibanez.

Fans around the country became aware of the Flyin’ Hawaiian because of his immense speed and that jovial expression.  His speed is evident in the 13 triples he provided last season – the most in baseball – to go with his ability to cover a ridiculous amount of ground when patrolling centerfield.  He earned his second Rawlings Gold Glove following the ’09 season.

Offensively, Shane has been one of the most consistent Phillies since his tenure began.  He’s hit between .281 and .293 in his four full seasons in Philadelphia, plus has stolen 102 bases in that same time frame.  His walks, RBI, on-base percentage, hits, and doubles have all risen each season he has been here.

In addition, he was one of the most steady Phillies in the postseason, hitting .293 with three homers in 15 games.  All of those qualities are making him a household name, but will also make him a rich man very soon.

That brings us to the contract situation.  Will Shane be here after the 2010 campaign?  He is eligible for arbitration this offseason and after making $3.125 million last year, that number will surely skyrocket following the intangibles and superlatives laid before you.  Figure that number to be somewhere in the $6 million range for ’10.  Beyond that, it’s unknown how much money the Phillies have to spend when other names like Werth, Rollins, and Howard all heading for free agency.  Is Shane expendable with the impending Domonic Brown take over in the outfield? We will soon find out.

Whether he stays or goes in the next 12 months, he is the heartbeat of this team.  He makes the blood flow, especially when Jimmy Rollins struggles, because of his speed/smarts at the top of the order.  Shane is a vital cog to the success of the Phillies, that much we know.  Let’s hope it continues for many years to come as part of this championship-caliber franchise.

2009 numbers: .292 avg., 10 HR, 62 RBI, 25 SB, 39 2B, 13 3B, 102 R, .803 OPS

GRADE: 8.4/10: Shane had an All-Star season from start to finish, although he did hit the skids at the end just a bit.  Still, he’s one of the best all around players in the game and is an integral part of the Phillies.

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Year In Review: Carlos Ruiz

Posted by Amanda Orr, Mon, December 14, 2009 11:39 AM Comments: 3

His offensive statistics weren’t eye popping, but he played a crucial role. Carlos Ruiz had arguably the best season of his major league career — and at a bargain. The backstop made just $475,000 in 2009.

In 2008, Ruiz struggled at the dish, batting .219 with a .620 on-base plus slugging percentage. Despite being plagued with neck, oblique, and wrist injuries, Ruiz had a huge turn-around. He batted .255 with a .355 on-base percentage and .425 slugging percentage. He reached career highs in home runs (9), runs batted in (43), and OPS (.780).

Ruiz grounded into eight double plays, but he made contact. Ruiz struck out only 39 times in 322 at-bats.

Always a reliable defender behind the plate, Ruiz did a tremendous job handling the pitching staff. He knew which pitch to call, where to locate it, and the appropriate time for a mound visit. Pitchers didn’t see many passed balls or wild pitches; Ruiz is skilled at blocking balls in the dirt. Because of this, extra base runners were limited, and he caught 23 people stealing. On a play at the plate, it was rare to see Ruiz unable to hold onto the ball. In result, he owned a 4.00 catcher’s earned run average.

Ruiz was solid through the regular season, but he took the postseason to a new level. It didn’t take long for “Choochtober” to take over. Ruiz, or Señor Octubre as they call him now, batted .341 with 2 home runs, nine RBI, six extra base hits, and had a 1.082 OPS during the playoffs. He made a case for NLCS MVP, batting .385 with four RBI.

In a sample of at-bats during the playoffs, everybody saw the type of offensive player Ruiz is capable of being. Chooch will remain behind the plate in 2010.

Grade: 7.95/10. Ruiz was under-rated in 2009. He was much improved at the plate and always provided stellar defense. For his performance and at his price, Ruiz deserves a high grade.

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Year in Review: Raul Ibanez

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, December 10, 2009 04:29 PM Comments: 9

If you’ve been paying attention to Phillies Nation during this wild offseason, you’ll notice the Top 25 moments of the year put together to celebrate the fantastic season the Phillies had in 2009.  One of the players you’ll see a good amount of is Raul Ibanez.

In Year One of the Rauuuuuuul Experiment, the man became a cult hero amongst the masses here in Philly. His first half of the ’09 season was MVP-caliber, bringing along a no-nonsense approach to the game – something that had been lacking from Pat Burrell’s arsenal.  Left field was now in better hands defensively and offensively, and Phillies fans felt good about that.

Raul finished the first half with 22 home runs, 60 RBI, and a fan base that couldn’t get enough.  He flourished so quickly that he was voted as an All-Star starter for Charlie Manuel’s NL squad, garnering over four million votes.  Ibanez was recognized not just here in our area, but worldwide for his contributions on the field.

Push past the midsummer classic, and you’ll find a different Raul.  His second half numbers paled in comparison as he went from an Albert Pujols-level back to being a mere mortal.  Injuries ravaged his season from mid-June to mid-July, while sapping his power and stunting his hand-eye coordination at the plate. His second half: .232, 12, 33, in 64 games.  The rock-solid 37-year old had become just another 37-year old by seasons end.

The playoffs were more the same for Raul, as he failed to prove he was past the injuries, primed for a World Series run.  Instead, he put up a .239/2/13 line in 24 games, and suddenly the mighty had fallen.

Overall, when you look at the surface numbers, Raul Ibanez had as good a season as anyone could have imagined before coming over from Seattle. His .899 OPS lent stability to a strikeout-heavy lineup (although Raul did K 119 times).  His .552 slugging percentage ranked 8th best in the NL.

However, the Raul that reared his ugly head by the mid-way point was the one who battled like a champ through leg problems and suffered through a tumultuous second half.  When he could play, he gave solid defense and willed himself through.  But it was not enough as the Phillies superman had been felled by a kryptonite of sorts during the long, hot summer.

The man is still revered here for what he did early on, plus, it’s not like he’s going anywhere.  Raul is still the Phillies left fielder and they will look to him once again in 2010 for veteran leadership and a keen eye in the batters box.  As for ’09, it was the ultimate game of high-low for Raul, but one that Phillies fans will remember for many years.

2009 numbers: .272 avg., 34 HR, 93 RBI, .899 OPS, 119 K, 56 BB

Grade: 7.8/10 – Raul gets a 10 for his first half performance and about a five for his horrid second half.  All in all, a fantastic season for Ibanez, although it was broken apart by some injuries.

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Year in Review: J.C. Romero

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, November 24, 2009 02:40 PM Comments: 5

It didn’t start well, and surely didn’t end well for J.C. Romero in 2009.

Romero began the season by sitting out the first 50 games after Major League Baseball suspended him due to a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs.  By the time the Phillies regular season ended, Romero had again been shelved, this time for a season ending elbow ailment.

When he was able to contribute, Romero did fairly well, although he was not the same lights-out pitcher that took over as the lefty specialist in 2007.  In 21 appearances, “Romeo” tossed just 16 2/3 innings in between layoffs, which basically gives him an incomplete grade for the year.  He struggled with his command (13 walks, 12 strikeouts), and his WHIP was sky high (1.56).  For someone who had been one of the lynchpins of the Philadelphia bullpen, his absence was a major factor in why that crew struggled all season.

Looking ahead to 2010, Romero will once again be counted on to be the thurd guy behind Lidge and Madson.  You’d better believe he will play an important role following a season full of rest.  That job becomes even more crucial should the Phillies decide against bringing back Scott Eyre.  Eyre took over as that specialty left hander and did well, but is currently considering retirement if the Phils don’t re-sign him.

It’s been a downhill trend since Romero was picked up in 2007, an amazing waiver-wire find by Pat Gillick at the time.  After 81 games in ’08, perhaps Romero’s arm was blown out, which was a precursor to the flameout in ’09.

Whatever the case may be, expect to see a lot of J.C. in 2010, provided his health is no longer an issue.  The Phillies certainly need to bolster their bullpen on the free-agent market as the off-season progresses, but adding Romero back to the roster is a decent pickup itself.

2009 numbers: 21 games, 16.2 inn., 0-0, 2.70 ERA, 12 K, 13 BB, 1.56 WHIP

GRADE: INCOMPLETE – Romero never did get settled in following his suspension and lost pretty much all of the season due to the injury following the 50-game setback. Better luck next year, J.C.

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Year In Review: Chad Durbin

Posted by Amanda Orr, Thu, November 19, 2009 09:19 AM Comments: 18

Over the next few weeks, Phillies Nation will break down each player on the Phillies roster and grade their 2009 season on a very unofficial 1-10 scale. The players will be chosen in no particular order.

Coming off a year in which he posted a 2.87 earned run average, Chad Durbin’s expectations were high coming into 2009.  During arbitration, Durbin was given a well deserved $735,000 raise.  Durbin wasn’t expected to duplicate his 2008 season, however he would serve as a reliable long man or right handed specialist.

Unfortunately, injuries played a part in Durbin’s season.  In July, Durbin was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right latissimus strain.

Overall, Durbin had a solid season.  He went 2-2 with a 4.39 ERA.  He saved 2 games in 3 opportunities, and had 8 holds.  He held opponents to a .234 batting average with runners on base.  He had a decent strikeout ratio: 8.01 per nine innings.  When he started to walk batters, he got into trouble.  Durbin did not allow many hits; his WHIP was high because he walked 6.07 batters per nine.

The bullpen was such an important factor, especially Durbin.  When Durbin did well, the team usually did well.  In both the division and championship series, Durbin did not allow a base runner.  However, when Durbin struggled, so did the Phillies, as shown in the World Series.  During the regular season, Durbin gave up at least one earned run in 20 games.  The Phillies lost 14 of those games.

2009 numbers: 59 games, 2-2, 69.2 IP, 4.39 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 62 K/47 BB, .220 BAA

GRADE: 5 — Durbin was pretty average.  There were times he came up big.  But there were also times where he was unable to.

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Year In Review: Jayson Werth

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, November 17, 2009 09:22 AM Comments: 27

Over the next few weeks, Phillies Nation will break down each player on the Phillies roster and grade their 2009 season on a very unofficial 1-10 scale. The players will be chosen in no particular order.

Jayson Werth steals homeWithout question, Jayson Werth had a career year in 2009 with many memorable moments. He was selected to his first All-Star game and reached career highs in home runs (36), RBIs (99), doubles (26), walks (91), hits (153) and extra-base hits (63). In terms of great games, many fans will most remember his improbable steal of home (after also swiping second and third) versus the Dodgers on May 13th; a close second would have to be his three run walk off home run in the 13th inning on July 21 to extend the Phillies winning streak to ten. Just four days earlier, his RBI single in the 12th helped to put away the Marlins.

Still, Werth’s biggest contribution to the 2009 season had to be his consistent overachievement at the plate. With more playing time than he’s ever seen, he finished seventh in the league in home runs, 10th in walks, and worked pitchers at a rate of 4.51 pitches per plate appearance (no doubt a page taken from Pat Burrell’s book).

In the field, Jayson Werth played a solid right field. His 11 outfield assists were tied for fifth in the National League; while his arm continues to instill fear into baserunners and third base coaches alike.

In the post season, Werth will certainly be remembered for his two home runs off Andy Pettitte in the Phillies Game 3 loss. Earlier in Colorado during Game 4 of the NLDS, he knocked in the game-winning run to cap off the Phillies three-run ninth inning.

Within the grand scheme of Charlie Manuel’s lineup card, Werth provides a highly productive right-handed bat to complement the Phillies’ lefty-heavy heart of the order. In 2009 he also provided value for front office’s bottom line, making $2.5 million coming off a $1 million signing bonus. Next year he is on the books for a hefty raise – to the tune of $7 million.  His current contract with the Phillies will expire after that.  He’ll be 31 years old and likely worth resigning. Considering this was a career year, how will he top it in a contract year?

2009 numbers: 159 at-bats, .268 average, .373 on-base percentage, .879 OPS, 36 HR, 99 RBI, 20 SB, 156 K

GRADE: 8.5/10 — Johnny Wacko played out of his mind this year – a career year across the board. Like a fine wine, Jayson Werth gets better with age.

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Year In Review: Matt Stairs

Posted by Amanda Orr, Mon, November 16, 2009 08:07 AM Comments: 10

Over the next few weeks, Phillies Nation will break down each player on the Phillies roster and grade their 2009 season on a very unofficial 1-10 scale. The players will be chosen in no particular order.

When Matt Stairs sent Jonathan Broxton’s pitch “deep into the night” during the 2008 National League Championship Series, he became a hero in Philadelphia.  When Stairs smashed a game winning home run off Huston Street on April 12, there was no doubt that he was the go-to guy for a pinch hit situation.  However, major league pitchers learned something: do not throw a fastball to Matt Stairs.

And that was the story for 2009. Stairs rarely saw a fastball that he could drive.  But if he got one, it left the yard for good.

It may be thought that most of his home runs were meaningless.  Afterall, he only had five.  There was a ninth inning home run against the Pirates that made it 7-4.  There was a ninth inning grand slam against the Nationals which made it 8-6.  He also broke up Dave Bush’s no-hitter in the eighth inning.  If anything, these were far from meaningless; it gave the Phillies hope and potentially started a rally.

The home runs and hits just didn’t come as often as he would have liked. Stairs  infamously went “0-for-the-summer,” going hit-less for 30 straight at-bats.

Stairs found another way to get the job done: he drew walks.  Stairs’ on-base percentage was .061 points higher than Jimmy Rollins’.  Consider the fact that Stairs’ batting average was also 0.56 points lower than Rollins.’

Stairs may not have gotten the clutch hit, but he drew key walks.  Many of the walks he drew started big innings for the Phillies.  A prime example is game four of the NLCS.  With one out in the ninth inning, Stairs drew a pinch hit walk against Broxton.  The walk started the rally, and the rest is history.

2009 numbers: 129 at-bats, .194 average, .357 on-base percentage, 5 HR, 17 RBI, .735 OPS

GRADE: 2.8/10 — Stairs didn’t get much playing time, but he didn’t do much when he was given the chance, whether it was a start or a pinch hit.

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Year in Review: Jamie Moyer

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, November 12, 2009 06:07 PM Comments: 29

Over the next few weeks, Phillies Nation will break down each player on the Phillies roster and grade their 2009 season on a very unofficial 1-10 scale.  The players will be chosen in no particular order.

http://blogs.mycentraljersey.com/mets/files/2008/12/moyer.jpgIt was this time a year ago when a quandary was born.  Give a 45-year old, soft-tossing lefty a two-year deal, or risk the idea of him walking and latching on somewhere else.  The Phillies chose the former, and are now dealing with what looks like a bit of a mistake.

In 2008, Jamie Moyer, now 46, led the Phillies in wins with 16 and his ERA sunk like a rock to uncharted depths for a man of his age; 3.71.  His ERA hadn’t been that low since 2003, the same season he won 21 games.  Could he do it again?

Didn’t work out that way in 2009.  Moyer finished with a team high 12 wins (tied with J.A. Happ and Joe Blanton) but his ERA was shade under five.  That ERA is somewhat misleading, as he lowered it late in the year as a spot starter and relief pitcher.  In the process, he allowed seven home runs more in ’09 than the previous season (20 to 27) and did so in 34 less innings.

Bullpen killer is the proper term to use here.  Moyer went seven or more innings just four times.  He gave up four or more earned runs in a game, count ‘em, 13 times.  Yeeesh.  Clearly, age caught up to the iron man, and fortunately for the Phillies, it did not harm them too badly. Sure, they will have to pay Moyer $6.5 million in 2010 as part of that two year, $13 million deal he signed this time last year.

You have to give Moyer props for what he has accomplished here.  Coming in as a trade deadline pick-up in 2006, it seemed as though the man would never age.  He started eight games that year, winning five of them.  In the process, his hometown was behind him, rooting on the native son.  The 2007 season didn’t go swimmingly, but he proved durable and won 14 games. His 2008 performance then pushed the Phillies into a hard decision.  They made the wrong one, but it was hard not to. Jamie Moyer proved his worth for so long, and it could be that the franchise felt they needed him around, not just as a fifth starter, but as a player-coach; one that could help the likes of Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, and just about anyone that would listen.

In that regard, it’s hard to fault the Phils for the contract extension. Next season, however, Moyer could find himself in the unemployment line.  Is it the right move to see if he can get that mojo back? Or is it too late?

Moyer is clearly past his prime, and it’s unlikely he regains the magic of 2008.  He seemed unhappy in the bullpen, and there is a chance someone picks him up as a fifth starter, but for the Phillies, it doesn’t appear he fits very well into future plans beyond Spring Training.  Given the contract situation and his desire to continue to play, he deserves a shot in Clearwater.

If it is truly the end of the line for Moyer in Philly, it was a hell of a run, to say the least. Not many players get to play in the Major Leagues for a decade, let alone two.  They certainly don’t get to play until they’re 46; but Jamie Moyer has done it.  Will he do it for one more season here?  It’s unlikely, but you can never say never because Moyer is a bulldog.  As for 2009, I’m sure he’d rather forget it altogether.

2009 numbers: 30 games, 25 starts, 12-10, 4.90 ERA, 94 K/43 BB, 27 HR, 1.36 WHIP, .279 BAA

GRADE: 4/10: It was not a great year for Moyer as he struggled out of the gate.  He did well at times later in the year, mostly spot starting, however, when he does not hit his spots or get the edges of the plate, it tends to be a long game. Moyer had several of those in ’09.

Pat Gallen can be reached via email at Pat@Philliesnation.com

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Year in Review: Pedro Feliz

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, November 11, 2009 08:25 AM Comments: 83

Over the next few weeks, Phillies Nation will break down each player on the Phillies roster and grade their 2009 season on a very unofficial 1-10 scale.  The players will be chosen in no particular order.

Philadelphia Phillies' Pedro Feliz (7) rounds the bases as his teammates cheer from the dugout after a solo home run in the eighth inning of Game 4 of the Major League Baseball World Series against the New York Yankees Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)The numbers don’t lie: .323, .302, .295, .290, .275, .267, .266.

Each figure represents Pedro Feliz’s batting average on the final day of the month.  The Phils third baseman started off smoking hot, and emitted that heat through the month of May.  For two months, he was perhaps the most solid batter in the order.

Then things clearly went south.  Feliz came back to earth and his average by the end of the season was at .266 – basically on par with his career numbers.  As the season wound down, so did Feliz.  Maybe it was his age (34), or his duties playing a tough position.  Whatever the case, it was a steady decline.

When swinging the stick, his numbers were decent.  In 158 games, Feliz hit 12 home runs and knocked in 82 runs.  A telling stat was his ability to come through with runners in scoring position.  Feliz managed a team best .336 average in that situation, a testament more so to the offense as a whole than his aptitude with the bat.  Pedro 7th position in the order clearly paid dividends, as he benefited nicely hitting behind Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, and Raul Ibanez.

Defensively, Feliz has been a rock at one of the most important positions on the diamond.  Many believe him to be near the top of his position when it comes to flashing the leather.  However, his numbers would prove otherwise.

The basics stats on defense show Feliz to be very good in comparison to other NL 3B’s. His 15 errors in 1364 innings are fine and his 35 double plays turned were tops in the league.  But if you go by The Fielding Bible, you’ll notice that Feliz is not among the leaderboard when it comes to plus/minus, a statistic which represents the number of plays a player made above or below the number that an average fielder would make.

Factoring in plus/minus, Pedro Feliz was above average at +5. That wasn’t even close to the guys at the top of the list, like Chone Figgins (+40), Ryan Zimmerman (+28), Adrian Beltre (+27), and Scott Rolen (+21).  His defensive zone rating is also average compared to those at his position.  While Feliz certainly did make a real difference offensively for half of the season and was a solid defender throughout, he clearly regressed from start to finish on both sides of the ball.

Ruben Amaro may have noticed the trend and therefore decided to decline his option for the 2010 season. That does not mean Feliz will not be back, but Amaro is making it clear he is worth less than the $5.5 million he was owed.  Two of those gentlemen at the top of the list, Figgins and Beltre, are available through free agency.  Could one be next at the hot corner here in Philly?

It was a productive season for Pedro Feliz.  The postseason was clearly a different story, as Pete Happy managed just nine hits in 54 at-bats in the playoffs, consistently killing rallies in October.  He is on the downside of what has been a serviceable career and it appears his time here in red pinstripes is over.

2009 numbers: 158 games, .266 avg., 12 HR, 82 RBI, 62 R, .694 OPS, .336 BA/RISP

GRADE: 5/10 – Feliz was average, plain and simple.  His defense was surely solid, but his bat, compared to other corner infielders (power positions) was well below the league average.

Pat Gallen can be reached via email at Pat@Philliesnation.com

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Year In Review: Eric Bruntlett

Posted by R.C. Cowie, Tue, November 10, 2009 09:20 AM Comments: 79

Eric Bruntlett’s contribution to the 2009 season can be summed up in the video below:

2009 numbers: 72 games, .171 avg., 18 H, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 15 R, .462 OPS

GRADE: .5/10 – Orchestrating one of the most improbable plays in sports helps Bruntlett garner feeble accolades for what has been otherwise a dismal season. His efforts will be remembered in such esteem with former futile ex-Phillie bench players Kevin Sefcik and John Zuber .

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