The Total WAR Project, Part VI: Milwaukee Brewers

Posted by Paul Boye, Mon, March 08, 2010 03:00 PM Comments: 7

The Total WAR Project is a series of posts that analyzes the closest competition facing the Phillies in 2010. The posts use Wins Above Replacement, a metric designed to use offensive and defensive production within a single stat.

The latest in the series of Total WAR Posts has us examining the Milwaukee Brewers, a team that has risen from irrelevance to prominence in near-meteoric fashion. Behind a core of homegrown prospects (so many, in fact, that they were able to trade the excess for CC Sabathia in 2008), the Brew Crew has established itself as a legitimate contender in the N.L. Central.

That was, at least, until last year, when nearly every player not named Fielder, Braun, Hoffman or Gallardo struggled to produce in a positive way. The Brewers found themselves on the outside looking in during the October playoff stretch, something their fans were likely none too pleased to experience following 2008′s playoff berth.

Will their offseason moves bring them back into contention for the Wild Card, or even the N.L. Central? Let’s take a look.

Continue reading The Total WAR Project, Part VI: Milwaukee Brewers


Milestone Watch: 2010

Posted by Paul Boye, Thu, February 11, 2010 11:00 AM Comments: 15

The football season is over, hockey and basketball are only now approaching the final quarter of their regular seasons, and pitchers and catchers are mere days from reporting to their Spring Training camp sites.

Oh, it’s time for baseball, all right.

With all due congratulations to the New Orleans Saints, the conclusion of the Super Bowl is usually just a signal that, yes, baseball really is that close. Well, to some of us it is, anyway. One thing I like to do prior to the start of every year is look for potential milestones; numbers that, despite being arbitrary and really no different from any other number, are nice, round, shiny checkboxes to mark off on a player’s career resume.

There aren’t too many historic or overly glamorous plateaus for members of this team to reach, as a great deal are still in their very early thirties or younger. They simply haven’t had the career length to compile 500 homers or 3,000 hits.

So, what Phillies players have milestones to reach in 2010? Let’s take a look at some numbers the players might reach in the coming season. Of course, injuries are always a possibility, so assume I note that caveat each time. These are all in no particular order:

  • Chase Utley, 1,000 hits (currently at 978)

This one’s almost too easy. Utley got his 22nd hit on April 27 last year, a mere 18 games into the season. All with a sore hip, too. Then again, that was one torrid start he got off to. I’ll expect something slightly more conservative, and look for hit No. 22 a little later.

  • Jimmy Rollins, 1,000 runs scored (currently at 945)

Even with an OBP as low as Rollins’s was in 2009, he still managed to cross the plate 100 times in 155 games. While it’s unlikely to think Rollins will hit as poorly again in 2010, it’s also worth contemplating Charlie Manuel’s new supposed conviction to giving the studs a few extra days off. With the great hitters behind him, he’ll cross 55 before the season is too old. He crossed 55 runs in his 80th game in 2009, back on July 20.

  • Raul Ibanez, 1,000 RBI (currently at 887)

Hitting behind Chase Utley, all things are possible, especially when it comes to RBI. Raul will need 113 ribbies in 2010 to cross this plateau, but if Ryan Howard has a bit of a power outage, Ibanez could easily scoop up his collateral RBI. A total of 113 would be his second-best total, trailing only his 2006 season in Seattle.

  • Jimmy Rollins, 100 triples (currently at 95)

Rollins hasn’t hit fewer than five triples in any season of his career, save a 14-game stint at the very beginning of his career back in 2000. Even though he’s aging, he sure doesn’t show many signs of slowing. Even though five triples really aren’t that easy to come by, Rollins should almost certainly get No. 100 here in 2010.

  • Roy Halladay, 150 wins (currently at 148)

Laughable. Halladay will start opening day against the Nationals, then likely faces the Astros, Nationals again, Braves and Mets in the four starts to follow. Even with the bit of uncertainty lingering in the air above the Phillies’ bullpen, I’d feel pretty good about Halladay notching at least two wins in his first five starts. You should, too.

  • Jamie Moyer, 4,000 innings pitched (currently at 3,908.2)

With the announcement earlier Wednesday that Moyer would be the fifth starter in the Phils’ rotation entering the 2010 season, this milestone seems a bit more feasible for Jamie to reach. Should he lose his grip on that spot to Kyle Kendrick, Drew Carpenter or any other number of viable candidates, things may get a bit murkier. Until then, though, it looks as if Jamie will get the remaining 91.1 innings onto his record after17-18 starts, if not a bit sooner. Remember: the man is 47.

Less glamorous milestones:

  • Jimmy Rollins, 5,000 outs made (currently at 4,532)

A by-product of leading off so often is that with more at-bats come more outs. During his MVP campaign in 2007, Rollins actually led the Majors in outs made with 527. He fell one short of that ignominious mark in 2009, all in 53 fewer plate appearances. Obviously, we can probably write off Jimmy’s 2009 as a blip; he shouldn’t perform that poorly again, you’d expect. However, Rollins needs 468 outs to crack 5,000 for his career, and has exceeded that 468-count figure in eight of the last nine years. The only exception, of course, was 2008, when Rollins played in just 137 games.

What would Jimmy need to do to postpone reaching the 5k peak? Well, assuming he gets the 717 plate appearances he’s averaged since his first full season, he would need to reach base 250 times for an OBP of .349. Funnily enough, that’s exactly his career high, a mark he achieved in 2008.

  • Raul Ibanez, 1,000 strikeouts (currently at 906)

Ibanez has only recently morphed into a high-strikeout player. Reasons for this are something I don’t know and am now interested in finding out (it could just be age), but it makes reaching 94 strikeouts for this season much more likely than it would in, say, 2002. Ibanez has had no fewer than 97 Ks in each of the last five seasons, but if he puts up power numbers even somewhat comparable to 2009, we’ll gladly accept that, I’m sure.

  • Ryan Howard, 1,000 strikeouts (currently at 878)

Sadly, Ryan Howard hasn’t played long enough to soften the blow of reaching this milestone. He needs 122 punchouts to hit No. 1,000, and has struck out at least 181 times in each of the past four years. We may yet see both Howard and Ibanez cross the 1,000 mark here in 2010.

Milestones to keep an eye on for 2011:

  • Jimmy Rollins, 2,000 hits (currently at 1,629)

He’s not getting 371 hits in one season – boy wouldn’t that be something – but as his 2011 option has already been picked up, it seems Jimmy will have a good shot to get his 2,000th hit in red pinstripes. He’ll need an average of 186 hits in 2010 and ’11, but he’s passed that four times before. He’ll certainly come close and definitely reach 2,000 by 2012.

  • Chase Utley, 150 HBP (currently at 107)

It’s a wonder the man hasn’t developed a Notre Dame-like hunch of bruising on his right shoulder, turning “away” from pitches that come too far inside. Hey, it’s part of his strategy. I’ll live with hits to the back and shoulder, so long as they stay away from his hand.

Looking at you, John Lannan.

  • Ryan Howard, 1,000 hits (currently at 750)

RyGuy just isn’t a 250-hit player. He’s just not Ichiro. But he does hit enough to get to 1,000 sometime in 2011, for sure.

  • Cole Hamels, 1,000 strikeouts (currently at 686)

Needing 314 Ks, Cole could be at 1,000 strikeouts before he turns 28. That doesn’t put him on pace to challenge Nolan Ryan or even have a likely shot at 3,000, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Hamels is currently second on the Phillies’ all-time leaderboard for strikeouts per nine (albeit in a shorter amount of time). The man he trails? Curt Schilling, who didn’t reach his 1,000th K until he was ten seasons into his career and 30 years old.

Am I saying Cole is the next Curt? Nope. I can’t possibly know that, but Schilling finished his career with 3,116 strikeouts, and Cole is (technically) ahead of his curve right now. It’s at least fun to think about.

  • Chase Utley, 200 home runs (currently at 161)
    Chase will need a huge power surge to break this in 2010. Sitting 39 dingers away, he’s a near lock to hit number 200 by 2011, at worst. I do not, however, see him swatting all 39 of those homers in 2010, though the usual 30 or so will more than suffice. Prediction: 2011.

Chase will need a huge power surge to break this in 2010. Sitting 39 dingers away, he’s a near lock to hit number 200 by 2011, at worst. I do not, however, see him swatting all 39 of those homers in 2010, though the usual 30 or so will more than suffice.

Chase will probably play in his 1,000th game in 2010 (he’s 109 away), and among second basemen who have played 1,000-plus games since 1901, only twelve have ever hit 200 homers. Jeff Kent holds the second base record at 377, a mark Utley could challenge in the latter stages of his career.

Any milestones that I’ve missed? Do you think any current Phils have a shot at greater benchmarks? Let’s hear what you have to say.


Whom Can We Trust?

Posted by Michael Baumann, Fri, February 05, 2010 02:46 PM Comments: 44

I’m not that easily shocked, but something happened to me Wednesday night that I think bears repeating here. I was at a bar with a couple friends, when, realizing that the famed “Pitchers and Catchers” was only a couple weeks away, I let out a sigh and said, almost without thinking, “God, I’m ready for baseball season to start again.”

Three tables away, a man overheard my comment, came over my table, and almost without warning launched into a three-minutes of some of the most hateful invective I’ve ever heard about one Cole Hamels. I began offering some counter-arguments (“Cole was distracted with the new wife and baby” and “Cole was unlucky with his high BABIP”), but this man was hearing nothing of it. He didn’t hear me, because he was screaming so loud and not stopping to breathe, and even if he had, I don’t think he would have cared much about the fact that Cole allowed two more hits per 9 innings in 2009 than 2008, despite almost all other peripheral stats remaining the same.

It occurred to me that the Phillies’ ascendancy in 2007 and 2008 was due in large part to three players who, for whatever reason, were all just abject disappointments in 2009. These three–Jimmy Rollins, Hamels, and Brad Lidge, will all be back in prominent roles in 2010. I don’t think it’s fair to blame these three for the failure to repeat (after all, a lot of things went wrong in that World Series), but I do think it would help if the Phillies had a leadoff hitter with an OBP over .300, a No. 2 starter who’s somewhat more consistent than two-hit shutout one night, then 7 earned runs in 4 2/3 innings five days later, and a closer who’s not having literally the worst year ever for a full-season closer.

So from these three stalwart Phillies, what can we expect? Whom can we trust?

Continue reading Whom Can We Trust?


The Total WAR Project, Part V: Los Angeles Dodgers

Posted by Paul Boye, Fri, February 05, 2010 02:20 PM Comments: 15

The Total WAR Project is a series of posts Mike and I began back at The Phrontiersman. In each post, we take a look at the biggest competition the Phillies will likely face – within their division, the National League and the American League – and evaluate their offseasons. Have these teams improved? Have they weakened? How good are the Phillies, in terms of WAR, in relation to their closest competition? Well, that last one will be reserved for the final post in the series. For now, we’re setting our sights on our competitors.

We’re using WAR – Wins Above Replacement – exclusively here, as it contains both offensive and defensive evaluations combined into one single, easy-to-use statistic. There are a few iterations of WAR, none differing greatly, and we use the one supplied by Fangraphs for our numbers and projections.

Typically, these posts begin with some sort of allegorical war story to tie in with the team we’re about to evaluate. You want a war story? Go read some of the comments on the last entry in the series, posted by Mike on the Cardinals.

In this episode, we’ll be taking a look at the National League runners-up in two straight seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Shall we?

Continue reading The Total WAR Project, Part V: Los Angeles Dodgers


If I Were a Las Vegas Sportsbook

Posted by Michael Baumann, Tue, January 19, 2010 08:45 PM Comments: 13

Greetings. You probably don’t know who I am, so let me take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Michael Baumann, and I’m one of the two new bloggers who have decided to sell out and go mainstream. My buddy Paul and I will be providing you with analysis (most of it sabermetric, but don’t tune out just yet), whimsy, projections, speculation, and other odds and ends in the coming months. I hope you enjoy having us almost as much as I hope I don’t screw the pooch on this one. I’m just happy to be here and I hope I can help out the ballclub.

But on to business. It’s now late January, and that means that the Super Bowl is bearing down on us. For some, that means wings, commercials, and debate over which one of Andy Reid or Donovan McNabb (or both) is to blame for the Eagles not being there. Not me. For me, it means prop bets. Now, sports betting isn’t legal in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, and even if it were, I’m not really much of a gambler. I find point spreads and money lines sort of boring, but during Super Bowl Week, you can bet the over/under for the number of the player who scores the first touchdown, or the set list in Bruce Springsteen’s halftime show. I love these wagers.

So it got me thinking, since there is no baseball going on right now, and the Phillies appear to be putting the finishing touches on their team for next year, what prop bets would I offer on the Phillies for 2010 if I were a Las Vegas sportsbook?

Continue reading If I Were a Las Vegas Sportsbook


Playoff Preview: Time to Tap the Rockies

Posted by Nick "Beerman" Staskin, Tue, October 06, 2009 11:10 AM Comments: 31

The real defense of the Phillies World Series crown begins Wednesday afternoon. While only one game separated the Phils and Rockies in the win/loss column this season, we decided to dig a little deeper and uncover just how close the matchup is.

The Phils finished first in the National League in runs scored with 820 or 5.06 runs per game. Colorado, however was second in the NL with 804 runs, 4.96 runs per game. Close. Some of the numbers are actually scary close.

  • Philadelphia: 1,439 Hits; 224 HR; 788 RBI; .258 BA; .334 OBP; .447 SLG; .781 OPS
  • Colorado: 1,408 Hits; 190 HR; 760 RBI; .261 BA; .343 OBP; .441 SLG; .784 OPS

While the Phillies have more star power on offense, the Rockies production is not far off.

The pitching numbers favor the Phillies, albeit by a very small advantage.

  • Philadelphia: 4.16 ERA; 44 SV; 673 ER; 489 BB; 1153 K; .265 BA Against
  • Colorado: 4.22 ERA; 45 SV; 675 ER; 528 BB; 1154 K; .251 BA Against

Looking at the fielding percentages of these two 90+ win teams and both are within .001 percentage points! Another small advantage for the Phillies – they come in as the second best defensive team in Major League Baseball with only 76 errors (fielding at a .987 clip).

Therefore, the only way to really break down this series – one that a lot of Phillies fans, myself included do not think is that close on paper – is to go through this position by position.


Carlos Ruiz is coming off the best offensive season of his young career. While some of his numbers in 2007 were a bit higher, this year Ruiz had his biggest impact on the Phillies lineup. Ruiz saw his numbers skyrocket after the All Star Break. Post mid-July, Chooch hit .276 with an .862 OPS with 25 RBI. By comparison, Chase Utley hit .246/.790 with 32 post All-Star Break RBIs.

In Colorado, Yorvit Torrealba started the season as the backup to Chris Iannetta. However, by the end of the season the roles were reversed. As a solid contact hitter, Torrealba can give some of the Phillies location pitchers a problem. One liability would be his arm. Carlos Ruiz throws runners out at nearly twice the rate of Torrealba which may give Phillies speedsters the opportunity to stretch singles and walks in to scoring position.

Slight Edge Phillies


Ryan Howard is coming off another monster season where he once again shouldered the load in August and September. While Howard’s on-base percentage still lacks for a player of his caliber, his defense improved this season, he continued to drive in runs (four straight years of 136 RBI+) and he stayed durable in season where injuries definitely maligned the Phillies.

Todd Helton is a solid player who is past his prime, but if you are putting players up against each other, he is not much of a comparison to Howard. His numbers were all down from his career averages, however at 36 years old .325/86 RBI/.416 OBP/.489 slugging is still pretty impressive.

Edge Phillies

Second base is more or less the same cakewalk for the Phillies. While Chase Utley has struggled through the month of September, I’m willing to bank on the All-Star getting it back together in October. Utley’s glove brings an intangible that can’t be measured (well it can, if you understand all those range statistics or listen to the latest podcast) and his range is second to none in my book. Rockies second baseman Clint Barmes has some pop in his bat, slugging 23 homers this year, but at a .245 clip and a 4:1 K to BB ratio, he can’t compare to Utley; not the least of which because he also tries get greedy on the base paths. In 22 attempts this year, Barmes was only successful 12 times; Utley was of course perfect in 23 attempts.

Major Edge Phillies

Shortstop is the one infield position that gives an advantage to the Rox. It’s a small one, but Troy Tulowitzki is a stud. Tulo had a season for the ages at the shortstop position that went much unnoticed. On the other hand, Jimmy Rollins had a season that was down from what we all know he is capable of. Rollins did rebound in the second half, but Tulowitzki had a very J-Roll-in-his-prime-type year, coming into the post season at .297/32 HR/92 RBI/101 R/20 SB. Furthermore, Tulowitzki is one of the only shortstops who can make the plays that Jimmy can. J-Roll’s glove was a little better this year, but this is a match-up of two of the best fielding shortstops in baseball. Don’t expect too many balls to get through up the middle this week.

Slight Edge Rockies

At third base, it’s Pedro Feliz over the combination of Ian Stewart and Chase Utley’s best man, Garret Atkins. We will probably see more of Atkins since the Phillies will be starting lefties for the majority of the series in Hamels, Lee and possibly Happ. However, both struggled to hit a combined .227 this season. Feliz was one of the Phillies who flew under the radar this season providing some pop at the bottom of the lineup along with Carlos Ruiz. His 82 RBIs provided some run support and his defensive range, while a little down this year, is still solid at the hot corner.

Slight Edge Phillies


The Phillies start three All-Stars in the outfield. The Rockies start two youngsters and Brad Hawpe. On another note, all three Rockies outfielders are left-handed. It seems we always hear a lot about the amount of left-handed bats in the Phils lineup but the trio of Hawpe, Carlos Gonzalez and Seth Smith in the outfield could be in for trouble and could lead Jim Tracy to turn to Ryan Spilborghs and Dexter Fowler.

Raul Ibanez seems to have righted his ship, while Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth coasted into the postseason. Regardless, on paper you have to play the outfield as a huge advantage to the Phillies.

One concern for the Phillies could be Werth’s inability to front constant production against right-handed pitchers. Odds are Colorado will start three righties over the course of the series. Werth struck out 123 times against RH pitchers this season and slugged .457 compared to .644 vs. lefties.

Major Edge Phillies


As Tuesday morning, Charlie Manuel hadn’t set a Game One starter. I’m hoping he leans towards Cole Hamels. While Lee had an amazing start to his Phillies career, over the last month-and-a-half the word pedestrian might be an over-exaggeration, as he posted an ERA over 6.00 in his last seven starts.

Hamels has been there, winning three game ones during last year’s World Series march. In what was definitely an underachieving season for the southpaw, Hamels nonetheless showed signs of what he is capable of from time to time. Whether it’s Hamels or Lee in Game One, they will be going up against Ubaldo Jimenez on Wednesday.

Whoever doesn’t get the start on Wednesday will most likely be going up against Aaron Cook in Game Two on Thursday. Cook made only nine starts after the All-Star Break, barely averaging five innings per outing while opponents hit him at a .296 pace. Any baseball expert is going with Lee and Hamels (or Hamels and Lee whichever it is) over Jimenez and Cook.

Game Three is another situation, as neither team has announced its third starter yet. However, if Jorge De La Rosa is back from injury, one would think he gets the nod.

Who Manuel tabs for Game Three is still a bit of a mystery. If the Phillies are up 2-0 in the series, I think its Joe Blanton. If the series is tied or if the Phillies find themselves trailing, I think it is J.A. Happ. While I’m a big J. Bleazy guy, he did struggle down the stretch. On the other hand, it was against the Rox that Happ put together his 10-K, complete game shutout this August. Either way, it leaves the Phillies in a good situation for a potential Game Four or Five if necessary.

Major Edge Phillies

The bullpen is a different story. The Phillies battled a combination of injuries and inabilities all season long in the bullpen. The Rockies, got as good a season out of their closer, Huston Street, as possible. Street converted 35 of 37 save opportunities this year and had a minuscule WHIP of 0.91.

There is no need to write about the struggles of Brad Lidge here, because any Phillies Nation reader is well aware of them. Interestingly enough, it sure seems like Manuel is going with Lidge when the game is on the line. As heartbreaking as all of those blown saves were this season, none will hold a candle to what a postseason blown save could feel like. Is Manuel being too loyal to last year’s team MVP? Probably, but he’s earned that right.

I’m going with the rest of the Rockies bullpen over the patchwork pen the Phillies will bring to the table when the roster is finalized. Perhaps if healthy, the Phillies would get the edge, but with Scott Eyre being the only lefty out of the pen that I trust, it is a troublesome matchup. I do like the addition of Pedro Martinez to the bullpen. Pedro is big time and in the postseason you want big time. If the game is on the line, it will be nice to have Martinez available to come in for a few innings rather than piecing it together.

Edge Rockies


While the Phillies didn’t have the strongest end to the season, it is tough not to like them in this series. Philadelphia won the season series 4-2, taking both series this in 2-1 fashion. I really don’t see the Phillies losing at home with Hamels or Lee going unless it comes down to a blown save of some sort. With everything tied together, I’m going with the PHILLIES IN 4.


Projecting Life With or Without Halladay

Posted by Corey Seidman, Tue, July 21, 2009 04:10 PM Comments: 29

I’ve been hearing Roy Halladay’s name so much that I accidentally filled his name out on my Penn State apartment lease yesterday. Whether or not that sentence was true, I’m sure many of you have also heard or uttered his name between 4 and 446 times per day since the beginning of July.

The reports change every six hours. One minute he’ll surely be a Phillie, the next he’s a future Cardinal/Angel/Dodger/Brewer. We were informed of his failed trade to the Mets only to find out the report was bogus during the next news cycle. Unfortunately, baseball in mid-July turns into “whisper down the lane” and many of the most credible baseball writers in the country transform into the cast of Gossip Girl.

Assuming Roy Halladay does not become a Phillie within the next ten days, what can be expected moving forward with a rotation comprised of Hamels-Blanton-Happ and some combination of Moyer/Martinez/Lopez?

Below are the ZiPS projections of the rotation during the rest of the season, followed by their combined totals. ZiPS “rest of season” projections are based on a player’s “true talent level”, which factors in his current performance so far this season, as well as his last three seasons.

  1. Cole Hamels: Rest of Season: 6-3, 3.66 ERA. His average line during his remaining 14 starts will be: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2-3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K.
    Final season stats: 11-8, 4.22 ERA, 194 IP, 174 K, 1.26 WHIP.
  2. Joe Blanton: Rest of Season: 5-5, 4.90 ERA. Average line over remaining 14 starts: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1-2 BB, 4 K.                                             
    Final season stats
    : 11-9, 4.64 ERA, 182.1 IP, 150 K, 1.38 WHIP.
  3. J.A. Happ: Rest of Season: 3-3, 5.10 ERA. Average line over remaining starts: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2-3 BB, 5 K.                                                             
    Final season stats
    : 10-3, 3.62 ERA, 154 IP, 114 K, 1.29 WHIP. (It should be noted that his K/9 rate is projected to rise from 6.22 to 7.35 the rest of the way.)
  4. Jamie Moyer: Rest of Season: 5-6, 5.01 ERA. Average line over remaining starts: 5.2 IP, 6-7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K.
    Final season stats: 14-12, 5.33 ERA, 180.2 IP, 107 K, 1.41 WHIP.
  5. Rodrigo Lopez: Rest of Season: 1-3, 5.54 ERA. Average line over remaining starts: 6.1 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.
    Final season stats: 3-3, 4.36 ERA, 43.1 IP, 32 K, 1.38 WHIP. It’s safe to say that ZiPS doesn’t think Lopez will remain in this rotation much longer.

No data is available yet for Pedro Martinez.

According to PECOTA, if the Phillies were to stand pat, they would finish the season 92-70, six games ahead of the Braves, and twelve ahead of the Marlins and Mets. They would have a 76% chance of winning the division, and an 80% chance of reaching the playoffs with this rotation.

If Halladay were to come to the Phillies in a deal not involving J.A. Happ, Lopez/Martinez would likely be removed from the rotation. Since Lopez is the definition of a “replacement player” and Martinez will likely be the same, we can accurately quantify how much better the Phillies would be with Halladay, using his WARP (Wins over Replacement Player.)

During the rest of the season, a replacement-level pitcher (Lopez/Martinez) is projected to give up 59 runs over 92 IP. Halladay is projected to give up 29 runs over those same 92 IP. Using the win probability formula, those thirty runs are worth three wins (the rough formula is ten runs = one win.) But for great pitchers like Halladay, that rough formula changes, and a rate of 7.5 runs = one win is more accurate. And to top it off, the 29 runs Halladay is projected to allow would almost certainly decrease if he made the switch to the NL, an easier league for pitchers. So the final win increase would be closer to four.

The conclusion to all of that? The addition of Halladay without the subtraction of Happ would change the Phillies PECOTA projection from 92-70 to 96-66, which would be better than every other major league team except the Dodgers. The Phillies would be a near-lock for the playoffs, where Halladay would be in a position to prove his REAL worth.

But even if they don’t sell the farm for Doc, the Phillies are still in a position to match last season’s record and win the NL East handily.


Home Run Derby Prediction & Gameday

Posted by Amanda Orr, Mon, July 13, 2009 06:00 PM Comments: 15

Ryan Howard will be participating in the 2009 State Farm Home Run Derby, and he has a good chance of winning. Howard won the derby in 2006 and lost in 2007.

The other contestants are Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Joe Mauer, Brandon Inge, Carlos Pena, and Nelson Cruz. There will be competition and a large power display with these participants (mainly from the NL competitors), but I think Howard will win.

In front of his home crowd, Pujols is the favorite.  All pressure is on him.  But Howard will be in his home town, St. Louis. He has had success at Busch Stadium, and could bring that success into the derby.

In 2006, Howard hit eight in the first round, ten in the semi-finals, and five in the finals, totaling 23 home runs. Howard had an advantage by batting last, so he knew how many homers he needed.

Howard returned to the 2007 derby trying to protect his crown, but he hit only three home runs. However, the 2007 Home Run Debry was one of the worst in recent memory. AT&T Park, a pitcher’s park, was not made for a home run competition.

At Busch Stadium, the dimensions are 336 in left, 390 in left center and right center, 400 in center, and 335 to right. It is a fair park, however Howard has 7 home runs in 63 at-bats at Busch.  His best shot at winning is pulling it to right, and occasionally to straight-away centerfield. He may get into trouble if he starts hitting to the opposite field or right-center like he did in 2007.

Here are my predictions for Howard for each round:

Round One: 13 HR (On a side note, I’m predicting Mauer, Pujols, Fielder, and Howard to advance to semis)
Semi-Finals: 8 HR
Finals: 7 HR, Howard edges Pujols for win.

Remember, the first two rounds are added together, but the two finalist start fresh in the Finals.

I expect it to be much like 2006, with the only difference being that Ramon Henderson will not be pitching to Howard. Howard will be bringing his former high school coach, Deron Spink.

If you’re worried about Howard falling into a slump after the derby, think again. Howard batted .355 with 30 HR and had a 1.206 OPS after the 2006 HR Derby. In 2007 he batted .280 with 26 HR and had a 1.016 OPS after the HR Derby.

Howard isn’t going to break Josh Hamilton’s record for most home runs in a round (28) or Abreu’s record (41 total), however I expect him to a put on a show.


A Look Ahead: Rivalry Week

Posted by Jason Bintliff, Sun, June 28, 2009 10:44 PM Comments: 23

Chase UtleyWhat started as a forgettable week ended with the first series win since the Phils took two of three to the Mets earlier this month. The Phils will get their chance to add to their current two game streak when they head south to Atlanta to take on the Braves  Tuesday. Following the three games down south, the Phillies will come back home for a weekend series against the New York Metropolitans.

The Phillies enter the week with a 39-34 record but are only 3-7 in their last ten games. The Braves sit five games back on the Phillies and are 4-6 in their last ten. The Mets meanwhile are sitting just two games back on the Phils heading into Sundays game against the Yankees.

Neither the Braves or the Mets have been especially hot and this week could provide an opportunity for  Phillies to put some space between their division foes as the month of July gets into full swing.

Pitching will be key this week with the Phillies throwing out right-handed Joe Blanton on Tuesday to face Atlanta’s ace, Derek Lowe. Wednesday, Cole Hamels will try to right his wrongs as he faces youngster Jair Jurrjens, who has been great for the Braves this season, despite his 5-6 record. It is reported that the Phillies will call up young pitcher Carlos Carrasco to make his season debut on Thursday. Carrasco struggled early on this season in the minors but has gotten better as of late.

Earlier it was announced that Jimmy Rollins would be starting Tuesday and will be leading off. Rollins as well as the rest of the line up have a tough test Tuesday against Lowe and have not hit well against him. Also this week, the Phils hitters will have to face one of the games best pitchers in Johan Santana. On a brighter note the Phillies will be receiving an injection of life when Raul Ibanez returns in time for the weekend showdown.

The Phillies could go 4-2 this week if their hitting stays consistent and the pitching finds a groove. Anything less and the Phils could surrender the division lead and be looking up at their northern rivals. The Phillies will be receiving a nice gift from the Mets in that Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, and Jose Reyes will not be playing due to injury. My advice to the Phils? Accept this gift and pounce on the Mets this weekend and the Fightins’ may finally begin to run away with the division. Hold on to your seat pennant race fans, this week promises to be a wild ride.


2009 Projection: Brad Lidge

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sat, April 04, 2009 05:30 PM Comments: 2

Brad Lidge, RP (RHP)
Age: 32

2008: 69.1 IP / 2-0 / 1.95 ERA / 35 BB / 92 K / 41 SV / 0 BS / 1.23 WHIP

Summary: In 2008 there was no more sure thing in baseball than Brad Lidge. You can count three poor performances by Lidge in 2008 — one was a one-run deficit that turned worse, one was a larger lead that got closer, the other was the division clincher, a real nailbiter. Every other time Lidge stepped on the mound? Money. He gave up just 17 runs on 50 hits in his 69 innings. And of course, 41 times he was asked to save a baseball game. Every single solitary time, he did it. Add a couple more in the postseason. He went 48-for-48 in save opportunities in 2008.

Career Level: Prime (Year 2)

Green Flags: He’s coming off one of the great relief seasons in baseball history. … His K rate remained tremendous, recording an 11.94 K/9 (he’s among all-time leaders). … His .204 average against was his best since his great 2004 season; the number has improved each season since 2006.

Red Flags: His fastball is losing velocity each season — now at 94.3 mph from 95.4 mph in 2007. Still, his slider is losing velocity at the same rate, which offsets this problem. … Lidge’s walk rate climbed to 4.54 BB/9, his worst full-season rate in his career.

Prognostication: Will Brad Lidge be perfect again? Probably not. But as long as the slider works with the fastball, Lidge will be an elite closer. Don’t expect anything life-changing, but Lidge should have a very good season yet again.

2009 Projection:
71.2 IP / 2-2 / 2.51 ERA / 36 BB / 90 K / 43 SV / 4 BS / 1.28 WHIP

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