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2014 Player Reviews: Jerome Williams

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Mon, November 03, 2014 11:00 AM Comments: 11

PHOTO: AP/Chris Carlson

PHOTO: AP/Chris Carlson

The Phillies claimed pitcher Jerome Williams off waivers from the Rangers back on August 10. They needed starting pitching help, and likely didn’t want to go with Sean O’Sullivan for the 5th spot in the rotation.

Williams, however, didn’t appear to be all that good of an option at the time. He posted a 6.71 ERA for the Astros and Rangers up to that point in 2014. Many Phillies fans didn’t even know who he was, had never even heard his name before. We cleared that up, though.

But then something great happened. He was good. Not good-for-a-fifth-starter good, either. He posted a 2.83(!!!) ERA for the Phils in nine starts. The 32 year old averaged just over 6.1 innings and about 2.2 runs (including unearned) per start. For comparison, Cole Hamels averaged between 6.2 and 7.0 innings and exactly two runs per start, and A.J. Burnett averaged just under 6.1 innings and 3.58 runs per start.

Williams, who generally used his fastball and sinker the most, never really pitched that well, despite his outstanding ERA. His K% was just 16.5% and his BB% was 7.4%. League averages for NL starters were 19.5% and 7.1%. His K-BB% was 9.1%, with the league average being 12.4%. Many of his other stats were at or close to league average.

One thing that sticks out, however, was his BABIP. While he was surrendering around the league average in line drives, ground balls, and fly balls, the ones that were in play were turned into outs at a higher rate than average–his BABIP was .257, and the league average was .294. .257 was the 8th-lowest among NL starters with at least 50 innings pitched. Combine that with his solid (8.5%) HR/FB rate, and we’ve got a pretty good explanation for his great ERA, despite his average peripherals.

GRADE: A+

I don’t see how Jerome Williams can receive any other grade. He came to the desperate-for-starting-pitching-help Phillies and gave them all that they could ask for and way more. I would feel pretty comfortable saying that Williams’ performance-to-expectations ratio was the highest on the Phils. He was outstanding, and pitched himself into a new contract in Philadelphia.

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Gillick: Phillies Wont Contend Until 2017

Posted by Pat Egan, Thu, October 23, 2014 06:32 PM Comments: 63

Phillies interim CEO Pat Gillick doesn't believe the team will contend until 2016

Phillies interim CEO Pat Gillick doesn’t believe the team will contend until 2016

Pat Gillick has always been a brutally honest man. When he traded franchise corner stone Bobby Abreu, along with starting pitcher Corey Lidle during the 2006 trade deadline Gillick stated that the Phillies wouldn’t contend for two years. Two years later they were hoisting the World Series trophy. So folks, get your lawn chairs ready for that parade in 2017!

In an exclusive interview with CSN’s John Clark, Gillick said that the Phillies won’t seriously contend until 2017. He followed that up by saying everyone on the roster is available in a trade. That includes, of course, ace Cole Hamels. Ruben Amaro Jr., not wanting to make a liar out of Gillick, inked starter Jerome Williams and outfielder Grady Sizemore to new deals this week. Both moves are an indication that a 2015 run might not be in the cards.

The Phillies are coming off a 73-89 season which saw them finish dead last in the National League East. The Phillies need a shakeup and it could come soon. We mentioned earlier today that the Phillies were the favorite to land Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas. The 23-year old is a start, and he would be in his prime (26 years old) in 2017. Aaron Nola is likely another reason for Gillick’s proclamation. The right hander who the Phillies took seventh overall in the 2014 draft should be in the rotation at some point next season. He would turn 24-years old during the 2017 season.

Its no secret that the Phillies will likely look to move ace left hander Cole Hamels this winter. Hamels is coming off the best season in his career (2.46 ERA) and his value has never been higher. The Phillies, mainly GM Ruben Amaro Jr, has never had much luck trading proven players for prospects, so lets hope that trend will stop if the Phillies move Hamels. The Boston Red Sox are likely the favorite to land Hamels, and their farm system is deep.

Then of course you have the few pieces in the Phillies system that could contribute soon. Can Maikel Franco make the jump to the majors and be the guy that smashed 31 home runs in 2013? Can former first round pick Jesse Biddle rebound after his tough 2014 season? Will JP Crawford be in the majors by 2017? Can Roman Quinn, and Kelly Dugan stay healthy enough to reach the majors in three years and contribute?

Obviously no one knows just yet. But if you combine Tomas and Nola, with the package the Phillies could get for Hamels, mixed with the prospects they have in the system, then Pat Gillick might just be onto something. The Phillies could theoretically turn this old team, into a young nucleus this offseason. Give that nucleus a few seasons and who knows. Just in case, I’ll be camped out on Broad St. claiming my spot. Stop by and say hi!

 

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How The Braves Could Impact Amaro’s Future

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Tue, September 23, 2014 09:00 AM Comments: 11

On Monday, the Braves fired GM Frank Wren after being officially eliminated from the 2014 Postseason. Wren spent 15 years in the Braves organization, and was GM since 2007.

Similarly, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has been with the Phillies since 1998, and GM since 2008.

The Braves made the playoffs three times under Wren, and were up near 90 wins several times. Under Amaro, the Phillies also made the playoffs three times, and averaged 97 wins from 2009-2011 before the team fell off.

Wren gave out big contracts to Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton–both who have greatly underperformed. Amaro gave big contracts to Ryan Howard and Cliff Lee. Howard hasn’t performed anywhere close to as well as he should based on his contract, and Lee–who is injured right now–has done well, but his contract has hurt the Phillies in trade discussions and in money allocation for the rest of the team.

Amaro also handed out difficult contracts to guys like A.J. Burnett and Marlon Byrd, and has had several failed signings like Delmon Young and Jim Thome (still love ya, Jim), among others.

The point here is that the Braves firing Wren during a poor season, after a rather successful stretch of seasons, sends a message throughout Major League Baseball and fans alike. Especially fans of the Phillies. I think the pressure on Amaro and the Phillies has gotten that much more intense with the firing of Wren.

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Phillies Recent Winning Ways Could Prove Costly in the Long Run

Posted by Pat Egan, Mon, September 15, 2014 02:35 PM Comments: 24

Ruben Amaro Jr. could stay put thanks to the Phillies recent winnings ways. (AP Photo).

Ruben Amaro Jr. could stay put thanks to the Phillies recent winnings ways. (AP Photo).

Lets face it, this has not exactly been a fun year for Phillies fans. The aging team that we all thought would struggle to compete has lived up to our expectations. The GM that fans thought was incompetent did nothing to diminish that philosophy at the trade deadline when he failed to make a move on one of the most active trade deadline’s in years. The baseball legend turned manager has made questionable calls, and come under criticism by his own players. Yes this has certainly not been a fun year for Phillies fans. Yet the Phillies have been doing something lately that has been out of the ordinary this season; They are winning. Not enough to actually make a run, but enough to have a possible negative impact on the future.

In 1968 Eagles fans jumped into the national spotlight when they threw snowballs at a Santa Clause look-a-like. Yes, I am here to dispel the myth that Eagles fans threw snowballs at the real Santa. It was not him, but a skinny guy in a bad Santa suit. What does not get mentioned by the national media when this story gets brought up a few times a year is the reason why. In 1968 the Eagles were terrible, arguably the worst team in the NFL. The saving grace for Eagles fans was a running back from the University of Southern California named Orenthal James Simpson. The Eagles however did not end up with the future Hall of Fame running back, but instead they drafted Leroy Keys (who?!). The Eagles ended up winning the final two games of the season, which dropped their draft stock from first, to third. Sitting in frigid temperatures, watching a terrible team lose out on Simpson was the last straw for those fans that day. The Phillies are doing the same thing that the Eagles did in 1968.

On August 19th the Phillies held the sixth pick in the draft with a record of 55-71. After a series win against the Marlins that ended with a loss on Sunday the Phillies now hold the eleventh pick in the draft. Thanks to the Astros failing to sign their first round pick Brady Aiken they will be awarded the second overall pick in next June’s MLB draft, pushing the Phillies draft pick back by one pick. So while the Phillies have the tenth worst record in Major League Baseball, they hold the eleventh pick thanks to the Astros ineptitude.

The immediate impact is obviously not the same in Major League Baseball as it is in the National Football League. But the long term impact of the Phillies recent winning ways doesn’t stop at the draft, but could also bleed into the front office. The Phillies 16-14 record is tied for the eleventh best record in baseball over the last 30 games. This could possibly give the front office reason to not only not change a thing, but actually believe the team can compete in 2015. Because of the recent mediocre success of the team we could be looking at déjà vu come 2015.

The top 11 picks in the 2015 MLB Draft will be protected. So if the standings stay as is Phillies fans wont have to worry about Ruben Amaro Jr. giving away the teams first round pick for a Type A free agent. Since Ruben Amaro Jr. will likely be feeling the burn of the hot seat that he currently sits on, he will likely look to sign a top free agent, and then once again tell fans this team can compete, the window is not closed, and 35 is the new 25.

If you are hoping for change this offseason the Phillies are doing just enough to ensure there wont be any. The depleted farm system could certainly use a top five pick in the draft, but likely wont get one at this rate. For sheer sanity’s sake Phillies fans need a major change in the front office, but the seventh worst team in 2013 is now the eleventh worst team in 2014 and to this front office that is seen as “improvement”. Watching the Phillies win these meaningless games in September is fun. But the long term impact might prove that these games are not meaningless at all. If you are hoping for change this offseason you need the September Phillies to play like the May Phillies.

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Crawford, Garcia Named Paul Owens Award Winners

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, September 10, 2014 03:25 PM Comments: 0

The Paul Owens award is bestowed upon the best of the best in the Phillies organization. It was a rough year for all levels, yet a few names stood out.

J.P. Crawford, named by several publications to be the Phillies new top prospect, won the award for best position player. He becomes the youngest to do so since an 18-year-old Jimmy Rollins won in 1997.

Crawford, 19, hit .285 with 23 doubles, 11 home runs, 48 RBI, 69 runs scored and 24 stolen bases in 123 games this season with low-A Lakewood and single-A Clearwater. Crawford is one of the youngest players in the Florida State League.

Luis Garcia is a bit of a surprise, winning the award for best minor league pitcher at age 27. The righty went 2-1 with a 0.96 ERA in 39 games for triple-A Lehigh Valley.  He converted 22 of his 25 save opportunities and tied for the International League lead in saves.

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Inquirer: Phillies to Promote Franco

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, September 01, 2014 01:52 PM Comments: 2

Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that two sources have told him Maikel Franco will be promoted to the major leagues, and he could start on Tuesday. This season, Franco has played both third base and first base.  He would be the youngest position player to make the leap to the majors since Jimmy Rollins in 2000.

Franco, 22, started extremely slow but has picked up the pace dramatically. Overall, Franco is hitting .257 this season with a .298 OBP, but after working with Charlie Manuel has hit .324 with 11 home runs and 47 RBI since July 2, a span of 54 games.

This is what everyone in Philadelphia wants to see, but as usual, temper expectations.

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Phillies Uniforms, and the Color Blue

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Mon, September 01, 2014 12:30 PM Comments: 11

Happy Labor Day, Nation! Here’s a little change-of-pace post on the Phillies uniforms.

I was browsing the Phillies hat selection on Lids.com and came across this. That hat was worn by the Phillies in the 2000′s as an “Interleague Hat”, as they wore it, as an alternate, for when they played teams from the American League. It got me thinking: what would the Phillies look like if they added more blue to the uniform?

In recent years, they have worn the new “Diamond Era” batting practice (BP) hat for a few games, both home and away. But it kind of looks out of place, since the rest of the uniform lacks any kind of blue, save for the blue stars that dot the i’s on the front logo.

So, my idea is to add more blue to the entire uniform. Let’s start with hat. I would change the normal red hat with a white “P” to something that resembles the current BP hat. Something like this.

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Now for the home pinstripes. I’d like to see blue outlining on the “Phillies” script on the front, and on the name and number on the back. It would look like this:

cliff lee

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For the gray away uniform, I would make the same changes, and add a little blue to the stripe on the pants.

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Some History

The Phillies have had blue in their uniform in the past, as well. The current “day game” home alternate uniform is based off an old Phillies uniform from 1948. (H/t Uni Watch). Also, the classic throwback jerseys that you see around Philadelphia and at Citizens Bank Park are powder blue, and were worn for road games in the 70′s and 80′s. The Phils also had an away jersey prototype that featured “Philadelphia” across the chest (the norm for away jerseys in MLB), and a blue outline on the sleeve numbers. That is taken from this, by Bill Henderson (via Dan Fuller here).

What do you think? Do you want to see more blue in the Phillies uniforms? Or should they stick with the classic red look?

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Ken Giles, And The Battle For Closer In 2015

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Fri, August 29, 2014 11:00 AM Comments: 7

PHOTO: (AP/Chris Szagola)

PHOTO: (AP/Chris Szagola)

Ken Giles has been good this year. Really good. The 23 year old, flamethrowing reliever was called up on June 8 after Mike Adams was placed on the disabled list with shoulder issues. Giles had a 1.88 ERA and 12 saves in the minors for Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley prior to the call up.

He was only expected to fill in for Adams and provide some spark in the late innings ahead of Jonathan Papelbon.

But he’s done so much more.

In 32 appearances and 33.2 innings, Giles has given up just six runs–five earned, good for an ERA of 1.34. He doesn’t give up many home runs (0.27 per 9), and doesn’t allow much contact–battersare making contact at a rate 67.4% against him, 4th in the NL. He has a 5.33 K/BB ratio, which is 8th in the NL (relievers, min 30 IP), and largely due to his absurd amount (48) of strikeouts. Among NL relievers with at least 30 innings pitched, both his K/9 (12.83) and his K% (38.1%) are in the top five. An interesting and unrelated note–Jake Diekman is right up there with Giles in both those categories.

Giles has an average velocity of 97.1 on his fastball, second in MLB to only cyborg Aroldis Chapman of the Reds. He also throws a nasty slider, and, according to PITCHf/x data, is the 16th most valuable in the league. 32 of his 48 strikeouts (two thirds) have come via the slider, and opponents are hitting just .137/.154/.157 against it. He’s given up just one extra base hit in 208 sliders thrown (0.48%).

The fastball-slider combo reminds me of another Phillies closer–Brad Lidge. His fastball velocity hovered around 95 MPH before he began to lose it (the average fell to about 89 MPH by 2011) and his slider was valued at 4th in all of baseball from 2007-2011. About 81.8% of his strikeouts came via his slider, and opponents hit just .190/.251/.301 against it. They’d only make contact on 54.8% of swings against it, and hit just 35 extra base hits in 2202 total pitches seen (1.6%).

PHOTO: (AP/Laurence Kesterson)

PHOTO: (AP/Laurence Kesterson)

The current closer for the Phillies–Jonathan Papelbon–has been as good as ever in 2014. He has an ERA of 1.60 (11th in NL), a K/BB ratio of 4.15 (21st in NL, and a fastball valued at 4th best in the NL. Many of his numbers this year are somewhere near his career bests, even though his fastball velocity is down. I should also mention that a few of his numbers are somewhere near his career lows as well. He gets a lot of flack for his comments to the media and his slow pace on the mound, but there’s no denying he’s been good this year.

But what about next year? The Phillies have been openly trying to trade Papelbon, or “Cinco Ocho”, as he likes to call himself–no no avail. In that article, Ken Rosenthal ponders that the lack of interest in Papelbon might be due to his falling velocity and his personality, but that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. doesn’t think so.

Regardless, the Phillies will have to make a decision on Papelbon for next year, because Giles seems ready to take over at closer and I don’t think it’s likely that Papelbon can continue to pitch at this level. If they want to go with Giles, they will have to get rid of Papelbon in some capacity, whether it be via trade or release, because Papelbon will not want to be a setup man, even though he’s really helped groom Giles this year.

I think Giles deserves it, and I think Papelbon will regress next year, and has rubbed Phillies fans the wrong way too often for the Phillies to sell him as the closer over Giles in 2015.

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Papelbon’s Legacy in Philly

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Wed, August 27, 2014 12:56 PM Comments: 40

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Love him, or hate him, Jonathan Papelbon is quietly having one of the best seasons of his career, and is climbing the ranks on the Phillies’ all-time closers list.

Last night, Papelbon converted his 33rd save on the season, and his 100th save overall in a Phillies’ uniform, which ties him with Brad Lidge for 4th all-time in Phillies’ history. Since signing a 4-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies back in November of 2011, Papelbon has been great despite a “down” year last year when he only recorded 29 saves in 36 opportunities while posting a 2.92 ERA and a 1.135 WHIP.

This season, Papelbon has truly been “lights out.” His 33 saves ranks 9th in MLB, while his ERA (1.60) ranks 2nd among closers with 20+ saves, and his 2.9 WAR is tied for first among all closers.

Since giving up three ERs against the Giants back on July 23rd, Pap has been almost untouchable, giving up just one ER, while recording 10 saves and 17 strikeouts in 15 innings pitched over that stretch.

Papelbon’s best season in terms of ERA came back in 2006 with the Red Sox. That season, Papelbon finished with a .92 ERA while converting 35 of 41 save opportunities. His career high in saves came back in 2008, when he saved 41 games in 46 opportunities with the Red Sox while posting a 2.34 ERA

Jonathan_Papelbon-1

This year, Papelbon is having a hybrid of his 2006 and 2008 seasons, and it is resulting in one of the best seasons of his career. With 29 games left to play, Papelbon could set a new career high in saves if he is able to record nine more.

At age 33, Papelbon’s fastball velocity is not what it used to be, but he has been able to consistently hit 92-93 with his fastball, and has utilized his breaking pitches effectively. He has learned to become more of a pitcher this season instead of relying on a 95+ fastball to blow by hitters. This is proven by his strikeouts. With only 54 SO in 56.1 innings pitched this season, Pap is on pace to finish with his 2nd lowest number of SO in a full season.

It seems like he has finally adjusted. Pretty nicely I might add.

So where does this leave Papelbon on the all-time Phillies’ closers list? Pretty high.

With his 100th save in a Phillies’ uniform last night, Papelbon is now only 12 behind Jose Mesa’s franchise high 112 saves. With one year still left on his 4-year contract, Papelbon will be the Phillies’ all-time leader in saves when it is all said and done. However, what will his legacy be in the minds of Philadelphia fans? His attitude, and some of the things that have come out of his mouth have rubbed some fans the wrong way during his time in Philadelphia. Love him, or hate him, Papelbon is having one whale of a season, and could very well be the best closer in Phillies’ history when his time in Philadelphia comes to an end.

 

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Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, and RBIs

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Tue, August 26, 2014 11:00 AM Comments: 76

It’s a been argued over and over again, especially in Philadelphia, where Ryan Howard–one of the best RBI men in MLB over the years (2nd overall to only Miguel Cabrera since 2006) calls home.

And no, I’m not talking about whether to refer to multiple runs batted in as “RBI”, or “RBIs” (I’ll be using the latter in this post). I’m talking about the meaning of the stat.

“RBIs don’t matter!”, say many believers in advanced metrics and Sabermetrics.

Those that disagree tend to favor, from what I’ve seen, all the more traditional statistics, like batting average, pitcher wins, and things of that sort.

Continue reading Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, and RBIs

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