2009 Projection: Joe Blanton

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, April 03, 2009 09:30 AM Comments: 5

Joe Blanton, SP (RHP)
Age: 28

2008: 197.2 IP / 9-12 / 4.69 ERA / 66 BB / 111 K / 0 CG / 1.40 WHIP

Summary: Joe Blanton came to the Phillies carrying a 4.96 ERA and 1.417 WHIP from the American League. He improved upon that in the National League, recording a 4.20 ERA and 1.373 WHIP. It was a better than average year for Blanton in the National League; he was able to go six innings most times and keep the offense in the game long enough to win, which is why he finished his Phillies stint of 2008 without a blemish. Eleven of his 13 starts with the Phils went at least five innings. He had a bad season with strikeouts and walks, recording a low 5.05 K/9 and high 3.01 BB/9. His combined 1.40 WHIP was his second-worst mark.

Career Level: Ascent (Year 3)

Green Flags: He certainly improved in the National League, pitching against inferior offenses with a 4.20 ERA. … Blanton’s ground-ball rates remained strong at 44.3 percent. … As a Phillie, most times, he placed his pitches very well, using his moving fastball high to fool a lot of hitters. … Blanton surrendered two or fewer earned runs in eight of his 13 Phillies starts.

Red Flags: Blanton’s fly-ball rates rose from 32.5 percent to 35.3 percent from 2007 to ’08. … His HR/9 bumped up tremendously from 0.63 to an even one, meaning he was very likely to give up two homers in a few games. … The walk rates are not great, and they only became got in the second half (49:31 K:BB).

Prognostication: Blanton has four pretty good pitches that, if he uses them correctly and they’re mostly working, he can be incredibly strong. His postseason numbers (2-0, 3.18 ERA, 18 K, 6 BB) indicate he has the ability to buckle down and pitch great games. While he won’t likely outshine top-line pitchers, he might surprise many in 2009. He is nearing his prime, and with a full year in the National League, it’s possible we’re looking at the start of a big string for Blanton.

2009 Projection: 193 IP / 13-7 / 3.82 ERA / 62 BB / 108 K / 1 CG / 1.34 WHIP


2009 Projection: Jamie Moyer

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, April 02, 2009 07:30 PM Comments: 38

Jamie Moyer, SP (LHP)
Age: 46

2008: 196.1 IP / 16-7 / 3.71 ERA / 62 BB / 123 K / 0 CG / 1.33 WHIP

Summary: Still, nobody knows how Jamie Moyer did it in 2008. He quietly put together one of the top pitching seasons in the major leagues at age 46. He froze hitters with his changeup. He had hitters swinging early on his fastball. He dropped in a couple other pitches for good measure. It added up to a very successful campaign. It was his best season since his 21-win campaign in 2003. He held hitters to a .264 average — best since 2003. He let up just 0.92 homers per nine innings — best since 2003. He also left 76.6 percent of runners on base — you know, best since 2003.

Career Level: Descent (Year 5)

Green Flags: Moyer allowed less than 200 hits for the first time since 2003. … He is a workhorse, starting every game in 2008 and consistently starting more than 30 games every year since 2001 (only going under 30 once since 1997). … Moyer had a fine ground ball rate at 43.9 percent, his largest in a long time.

Red Flags: Scouring Moyer’s history since 2003 shows the 2008 season seems like an anomaly. … The innings are starting to decrease. … Interestingly, the fifth inning was by far Moyer’s best (opponents hitting .127 with a .335 OPS) while the sixth and seventh were horrendous (.855 OPS in sixth; .958 OPS in seventh). That indicates he’s five and done. … His walk rates remained high in 2008 at 2.84.

Prognostication: Moyer is a trick pony at this point in his career; he’s getting by on his limited arsenal, relying on hitters’ inexperience the first (and most times second) time around. The inning splits are telling — he’s good for five innings, crafting his game in hopes that guys swing quickly and often. And my guess is against more experienced hitters (who have now seen Moyer enough), he’ll be shelled harder in 2009. Don’t expect those 2008 numbers to return; if they do, the guy is the smartest ballplayer ever. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again — I expect a shorter season for Moyer.

2009 Projection: 86.1 IP / 3-3 / 4.69 ERA / 30 BB / 43 K / 0 CG / 1.44 WHIP


2009 Projection: Brett Myers

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, April 02, 2009 05:30 PM Comments: 3

Brett Myers, SP (RHP)
Age: 28 (29, Aug. 17)

2008: 190 IP / 10-13 / 4.55 ERA / 65 BB / 163 K / 2 CG / 1.38 WHIP

Summary: It was a crazy season for Brett Myers. The righty had a horrendous first half (5.84 ERA) and a fantastic second half (3.06 ERA). In the time between then he learned to become a pitcher in the minor leagues over a handful of starts. Sounds weird, but it’s true. Myers returned in 2008 to throw more curveballs, place his fastballs better and keep his head in check. Everything worked well and his finish was respectable, but not quite solid. Optimism reigned after the season, however.

Career Level: Prime (Year 1)

Green Flags: Everything in the second half was so much better than the first half. In four fewer starts he surrendered 37 fewer runs, walked 23 further hitters, gave up 33 fewer hits. … Despite giving up the most home runs in baseball for the majority of the season, Myers’ fly ball rates decreased from 35 percent in 2007 to 32.5 percent in 2008. His ground ball rates increased to 47.1 percent, his best total since 2004.

Red Flags: He can turn back around and be a horrible pitcher. Not much more to say. … His K/9 rate decreased below 8.00 for the first time since 2004. … At the same time, his walk rate increased above 3.00 for the first time since then.

Prognostication: Myers is the hardest cookie to crack, always. This time he can be very good, or he can be very poor. I will side with good, but not incredible. He is a solid No. 2-3 guy, and can record an ERA within the 3.00 range. His strikeouts won’t be as prominent, but maybe that’s a good sign — he might be turning into a ground-ball pitcher. Maybe.

2009 Projection: 214 IP / 16-10 / 3.74 ERA / 60 BB / 147 K / 2 CG / 1.32 WHIP


2009 Projection: Cole Hamels

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, April 02, 2009 03:30 PM Comments: 13

Cole Hamels, SP (LHP)
Age: 25

2008: 227.1 IP / 14-10 / 3.09 ERA / 53 BB / 196 K / 2 CG / 1.08 WHIP

Summary: Forget the wins and losses: 2008 was a breakthrough season for Hamels. His ERA fell close to below 3.00 while his BB/9 rate continued to fall close to below 2.00. Almost every start was a quality start, as he seemed to dominate most teams with his fastbal-changeup combination. The games he didn’t dominate were true ace performances — sticking through with marginal stuff while only giving up 2-3 runs. He carried that style to the postseason, ripping off a slew of solid starts that earned him two postseason MVP trophies.

Career Level: Ascent (Year 3)

Green Flags: The numbers continued to improve in 2008. That alone is a big green flag. … When balls were put in play, opponents were only hitting .270 — best of his major league career. … Hamels remained a ground-ball pitcher, throwing with a 1.02 GB/FB ratio. … Home run rates also dropped in 2008. … The curveball is slowly becoming an out pitch.

Red Flags: Hamels’ K/9 rates were down, and have decreased each season (down to 7.76). … Hamels threw more than 300 innings, combining the season with postseason and spring training 2008. … Hamels suffered some elbow pain during spring training 2009. … Hitters were striking line drives off Hamels at a higher rate than ever in 2008.

Prognostication: If Hamels remains healthy — a concern, for sure — he can duplicate his 2008 success and maybe improve upon it. Hitters are slowly starting to read him better, but if the curve becomes a prominent pitch, it’ll probably give Hamels another three seasons of baffling success. He’ll likely have another great season, but health and strikeout rates might caution us a bit.

2009 Projection: 203.2 IP / 15-6 / 3.31 ERA / 50 BB / 182 K / 3 CG / 1.10 WHIP


2009 Projection: John Mayberry Jr.

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, April 02, 2009 01:30 PM Comments: 4

John Mayberry Jr., OF (RHB)
Age: 25

2008 (AA / AAA): 519 AB / 65 R / 20 HR / 71 RBI / 34 BB / 106 SO / 10 SB / .263 AVG / .317 OBP / .479 SLG

Summary: Tall, athletic and powerful, John Mayberry Jr. enjoyed a nice 2008 in the power-heavy Pacific Coast League. The power was there, though, as he struck 30 home runs in 2007 playing in single- and double-A. He hit another 20 between double- and triple-A in 2008. He did strike out a ton; however, his strikeout rates dropped from 25.6 percent in double-A (2008) to 19.5 percent in triple-A. His walk rates jumped, too, as he moved to a 0.35 BB/K rate.

Career Level: Ascent (Year 1)

Green Flags: His power is real, and he has 25-homer potential in the majors today. … He can also run, and would probably steal between 10 and 15 bases in his first major league season. (He tripled seven times in the PCL in 2008) … His strikeout rates improving are a nice sign, but that could be more attributed to poor pitching in the PCL.

Red Flags: The strikeouts are the big flag, as he still has trouble hitting off-speed pitching. … He can work on getting on base more, being more selective at the plate. … Playing in the more pitching-powerful International League might show truer colors, for better or worse.

Prognostication: If Mayberry makes an appearance on the major league roster, it’s because of an injury to one of the starting outfielders. He should see at least 15 days. He’ll see more time in September. With that, he might show some power, some speed, but not much else quite yet. Here’s hoping most is pleasant.

2009 Projection: 53 AB / 8 R / 3 HR / 7 RBI / 5 BB / 13 SO / 3 SB / .264 AVG / .307 OBP / .429 SLG


2009 Projection: Matt Stairs

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, April 02, 2009 11:30 AM Comments: 3

Matt Stairs, OF (LHB)
Age: 41

2008: 337 AB / 46 R / 13 HR / 49 RBI / 42 BB / 90 SO / 1 SB / .252 AVG / .341 OBP / .409 SLG

Summary: The 40-year-old Stairs remained pretty consistent with much of his numbers in 2008, swatting home runs, driving in runs, striking out a bit, walking somewhat, keeping an average in the .240-.260 range. One number, however, that did drop was his slugging percentage, which fell from .549 in 2007 to .409 in 2008, his lowest total since 1995.

Career Level: Descent (Year 4)

Green Flags: His power stats have flatlined, so you almost know what you’re expecting, especially as he claims he guns for the fences. … He hits .286 in late-and-close situations. … His line drive rates rose to 20 percent in 2008, up from 17 percent in both ’06 and ’07.

Red Flags: Pitchers are throwing him fewer fastballs, in 2007 they threw him 58 percent, where as in 2005 and ’06 he saw them more than 60 percent of the time. … Stairs’ strikeout rate was at its highest ever in 2008: 26.7 percent of the time. … That low slugging percentage also sticks out.

Prognostication: How many at bats does Stairs collect? He’ll be a pinch hitter, rarely a fielder. So expect somewhere close to 100, if he remains with the team all season. His power should show, as should his on-base prowess, but don’t expect numbers to be high at all. He has slowly declined into a player ready to hang up the shoes.

2009 Projection: 89 AB / 17 R / 5 HR / 19 RBI / 19 BB / 25 SO / 0 SB / .269 AVG / .371 OBP / .417 SLG


2009 Projection: Jayson Werth

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, April 02, 2009 09:30 AM Comments: 33

Jayson Werth, OF (RHB)
Age: 29 (30, May 20)

2008: 418 AB / 73 R / 24 HR / 67 RBI / 57 BB / 119 SO / 20 SB / .273 AVG / .363 OBP / .498 SLG

Summary: Jayson Werth realized his potential in 2008, hitting 24 home runs and stealing 20 bases in a solid season. He reached career highs in almost every category, experiencing a dip in average and on-base percentage but a rise in slugging percentage. He continued to experience trouble with right-handed pitching, hitting .255 with a .407 slugging percentage. All those numbers are close to consistent with career norms. He did, however, keep a respectable on-base mark against righties, drawing a ton of walks. He flashed good leather in right field, throwing out nine runners as well.

Career Level: Prime (Year 2)

Green Flags:
Most signs point to an uphill climb that will likely peak this year or in 2010. Almost every number improved from 2007. … His fly ball rates ballooned to 38 percent from 32.8 in 2007, signaling a spike in power (he slugged 1.049 on flys). His selectivity is intriguing; he doesn’t take swings outside the strike zone (22 percent in 2008). … He can rake lefties (.652 SLG). … He was an average hitter late and close and with men in scoring position; in 2007 he was horrendous late and close.

Red Flags: Werth’s strikeouts and strikeout rates were poor, recording a 0.48 B/KK rate in 2008. … Werth’s line drive rate faltered from 27 to 22 percent. That can come up. … Obviously Werth still has trouble against right-handed pitching.

Prognostication: It’s hard to predict Werth, as he regularly swings bad, but sometimes gets bad swings on balls that find holes. So to that, he can be average. And with his power and speed, he can be above average. With a healthy season, he can be very above average. We’ll say the latter. It’s his prime prime season. He should deliver.

2009 Projection: 532 AB / 79 R / 26 HR / 87 RBI / 64 BB / 129 SO / 24 SB / .298 AVG / .380 OBP / .487 SLG


2009 Projection: Shane Victorino

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, April 01, 2009 07:30 PM Comments: 6

Shane Victorino, OF (SWB)
Age: 28

2008: 570 AB / 102 R / 14 HR / 58 RBI / 45 BB / 69 SO / 36 SB / .293 AVG / .352 OBP / .447 SLG

Summary: Playing more games than ever and given the chance to hit ahead of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell, Shane Victorino scored a career-high 102 runs in 2008. He set that up by stealing 36 bases, one off his career best set in 2007. He also helped his cause by improving his on-base percentage by five points. His walk rates actually dipped slightly, but so did his strikeout rates. His slugging percentage reached career-best levels, as well, especially as he grew hotter in the second half. He hit .311 with nine home runs, then parlayed that into a record-breaking postseason. He remained choosy at the plate, swinging only at 28.7 percent of pitches outside the strike zone, making contact 75 percent of the time, down from 2007. He remained a good hitter within the zone. He won a Gold Glove despite his range factor of 2.42 in center field, which was worst among qualifiers at his position. Still, he committed just two errors in almost 1,200 innings.

Career Level: Prime (Year 1)

Green Flags: Victorino’s slugging rose, especially toward the end of the season. As he enters ages 28 and 29, it’s possible the power surge can come. … His line drive rates rose from 16.6 percent to 19.2 percent from 2007 to ’08. … Victorino hit much better against right-handers in 2008, going at a .298 clip. Against lefties he was .282. His power remains from the right side.

Red Flags: Victorino was caught stealing 11 times in 2008, which might deter him somewhat from stealing in 2009. … Health has always been an issue for Victorino, as he missed some games last season, as well. … He remains suspect in tight situatons, with a .240 average in late-and-close situations and a .262 mark with two outs and runners in scoring position. Still, he came through a few times late in the season and in the postseason.

Prognostication: Victorino’s top comparable is Bernard Gilkey, who began to found a power stroke at age 28 before exploding at age 29. Victorino isn’t quite built for power, but he is a muscular hitter who likes to drive the ball more than chop or slap it, and he lives at Citizens Bank half the season. Does that mean he’ll hit 25 home runs? No. But he could approach 20. His averages might even reach their highs in 2009 — at least slugging. But expect his strikeouts to rise considerably, too. Most projections are saying he’ll play less — I’ll say he plays more.

2009 Projection: 603 AB / 106 R / 19 HR / 62 RBI / 44 BB / 87 SO / 33 SB / .285 AVG / .348 OBP / .455 SLG


2009 Projection: Raul Ibanez

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, April 01, 2009 05:30 PM Comments: 18

Raul Ibanez, OF (LHB)
Age: 36 (37, June 2)

2008: 635 AB / 85 R / 23 HR / 110 RBI / 64 BB / 110 SO / 2 SB / .293 AVG / .358 OBP / .479 SLG

Summary: Raul Ibanez remained somewhat consistent over his career averages, hitting 23 home runs and driving in 110, numbers around which he’s familiar. His strikeouts rose, however, to the second-largest total of his career. He did hit more doubles than ever (43, six more than his past career high), and even had a career high in hits. This might be due to rich plate vision — he raised his swing and contact percentages outside the strike zone to career-high levels while remaining a strong hitter (87 percent) in the strike zone. His fielding was arguably the worst of all major league left fielders in 2008.

Career Level: Descent (Year 1)

Green Flags: There’s no reason to believe Ibanez’s hitting and on-base abilities will decline in 2009, considering his average and on-base percentage remained higher than his career norms. … Ibanez’s walk rates have been much higher in the past four seasons, and have remained steady in the 9 percent range. … Ibanez is seeing even more of the plate, as his outside-the-plate swinging and contact has risen with each season. … He has grown as a breaking-ball and off-speed hitter, as more of his hits have come from cutters, sliders and changeups than usual.

Red Flags: Yet Ibanez’s fastball hits have dropped a bit, indicating his swing may be slowing. … Comparitively, his strikeout rates were at some of their highest levels since his earliest days. … Wear may become a factor for Ibanez as he approaches his 40s.

Prognostication: Don’t be fooled — Ibanez can stroke. And if the spring is any indication, he can hit to all fields. That shows those outside-the-plate numbers are giving results. He might even raise on his homer numbers in 2009, considering the way the wind can blow out to left field at Citizens Bank Park. It’s likely, though, that some of his numbers decrease slightly. But they’ll be quite positive.

2009 Projection: 562 AB / 79 R / 26 HR / 90 RBI / 58 BB / 101 SO / 3 SB / .293 AVG / .356 OBP / .468 SLG


2009 Projection: Miguel Cairo

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, April 01, 2009 03:30 PM Comments: 0

Miguel Cairo, INF (RHB)
Age: 34 (35, May 4)

2008: 250 AB / 34 R / 0 HR / 23 RBI / 18 BB / 32 SO / 5 SB / .249 AVG / .316 OBP / .330 SLG

Summary: Miguel Cairo has somewhat slid into the perfect 25th man role, showing little to no power (no professional home runs since 2005), average speed (capability for 10 SB) and light contact (settling into the .240-.250 range). Last season he earned over 200 at bats as a utility man for the Mariners, starting off extremely cold (0-for-14) and not hitting his stride until late July. He slugged almost 100 points higher against left-handed pitching, which is a much greater disparity than in years past. He did raise his line drives to 20 percent of his at bats, up from 14 percent in 2007. He also, however, lost more ability to hit breaking pitches.

Career Level: Descent (Year 1)

Green Flags: Cairo had his best contact season for fastballs (68.4 percent), but it still reads low. … His walk rate climbed to 7.5, almost the best percentage of his career. … All counting numbers rose with the increased playing time, while averages rose slightly.

Red Flags: Cairo had his post-prime bump season in 2007 (age 32/33), then quickly experienced a downward trend indicative of his 2006 levels in 2008. This doesn’t bode well for 2009. … Cairo had his worst contact rates for curveballs, sliders and changeups in some time. … His K rate rose to nearly its highest level yet (14.5 percent).

Prognostication: 2007 was successful for Cairo because he played a bit over the time he spent out there. In 2008 Cairo crashed back to Earth somewhat, despite having some of his more prominent numbers of his career. The power won’t be there in 2009; the contact offense won’t be abundant, either. Still, Cairo should be as good as Bruntlett, but with a tad more speed and a tad less power. He won’t play as much, either.

2009 Projection: 97 AB / 9 R / 1 HR / 5 RBI / 5 BB / 15 SO / 2 SB / .247 AVG / .310 OBP / .322 SLG

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