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Raising Questions

Halladay’s Future

Posted by Eric Seidman, Mon, April 15, 2013 08:14 AM Comments: 22

Roy Halladay pitched relatively well on Sunday, scattering five hits and a single run over eight innings of work. He worked quickly, needing just 87 pitches over those eight frames, and threw twice as many strikes as balls. Doc also kept the ball on the ground, generating nearly 50 percent grounders on a day when he managed just two strikeouts.

Two schools of thought were formed after he exited the game. Some fans instantly wrote his performance off as being a byproduct of facing the punchless Marlins. Other fans took this as a big step in getting back on track.

As per usual, we’re looking at a little from Column A and a little from Column B.

Halladay no doubt threw better on Sunday but he still made several mistakes that an actual major league offense — you know, one that doesn’t include Placido Polanco and Greg Dobbs as the bread in a Giancarlo Stanton sandwich — would have exploited. Though the results didn’t bear this out, he struggled with both command and control during the first few frames, and if he makes some of those same mistakes against the Cardinals this coming weekend, we’re again looking at a potential 4 IP, 9 H, 6 ER outing.

Perhaps that is part of his current growing pains in adjusting to his lesser ‘stuff’ but it’s something he will need to figure out quickly. He adjusted on the fly, incorporated his curveball far more, and by the latter stages of the game had seemingly settled into a nice rhythm. He pitched well, but if you remove the end results and focus on the process this game wasn’t really that far off of his last start against the Mets.

However, maybe all he needed was a solid results-based outing to get some of his mojo back.

As fans in Column B were quick to point out, Halladay has repeatedly said that he feels fine, physically, and that he’s struggling with the mental side of things right now. I’m no psychologist but perhaps throwing eight effective innings of one-run ball was enough to prove to himself that he could still get batters out and go deep into games. With that reinforced knowledge perhaps his confidence grows.

We can’t simply discount this start because of who he faced but we also can’t assume he is anywhere near back yet. This may have been a step in the right direction but we’re dealing with a pretty big staircase. Getting Halladay right is a Chrysler Key to the Season and Sunday’s outing moved the needle in the positive direction.

However, during each of his three starts this season I have ruminated on his future. I’m trying to focus on his present and what he can do to get back on track but what happens to Halladay after this season has the potential to represent one of the most compelling free agent situations in recent history. Simply put, he is a big unknown this season and that carries material financial implications heading into next season.

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Rosenberg On Record Pace

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Sat, August 18, 2012 10:07 AM Comments: 11

After three straight solid outings, Rosenberg is struggling once again. Photo: AP

Vance Worley‘s struggles continued last night, as the Vanimal allowed 4 earned in just 4.1 IP. Worley has a 5.92 since July with opposing hitters hitting .342/.407/.490 off of the bespectacled hurler. This story could very easily be “Worley isBeing Hit Hard” but instead focuses on his 6’3″ teammate from Newport News, VA, B.J. Rosenberg. Unfortunately for Rosenberg, he is currently on the wrong side of a record setting pace.

Following the Phillies ‘pen is usually my favorite part of the season. Even in good years, the carousel of names makes things exciting, leading to a few “Who is that”s or “I saw him in Allentown”s each year. For instance, I’ll never forget Les Walrond‘s 2 IP, 4 K performance late in the 2008 season against the Nationals or the Marlins putting a three-spot on Mike Zagurski late in 2010. For 2012? I won’t forget Rosenberg’s unfortunate early June against Baltimore (an Adam Jones walk-off) and Minnesota (Trevor Plouffe with a damaging double).

Rosenberg was of particular interest of mine to follow because he wasn’t expected to be a Phillie. Rosenberg started the year in Double-A as a non-roster invitee with a number of right-handed options in front of him on the depth chart. At 26, it appeared he may stay in the minors for the foreseeable future. After a fast start to his career, injuries limited him to just 20 appearances in 2010. Rosenberg struggled in Double-A in 2010 and 2011 after showing signs of future dominance in a brief 10-game 2009 call-up but seemed to turn the corner in 2012. Equipped with a fastball, slider, and change-up, Rosenberg went 3 for 3 in save opportunities as Reading’s closer to start 2012 with a 1.12 ERA in 8 appearances and has struck-out 63 Triple-A hitters in 54 Triple-A innings as both a starter and a reliever. This should have been Rosenberg’s year.

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Hypothetical: What If Joe Blanton Isn’t Ready?

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Wed, January 25, 2012 09:20 AM Comments: 20

The Phillies have three aces at the top of the rotation, and a guy who is coming off a great first year in the bigs in Vance Worley as the 4th, or maybe 5th, starter. Joe Blanton is expected to be the final player in the rotation, but what if isn’t ready?

Blanton is coming off an elbow injury that kept him out of almost all of 2011. His health is a huge question mark at this point, which means his pitching skill and his spot in the rotation are as well – and it’s the reason for this post.

In his shortened 2011 season, Blanton posted the highest ERA of his career, the 2nd highest WHIP of his career, and the most hits-per-nine innings of his career. Conversely, he posted the highest strikeout-per-nine and strikeout-to-walk ratio of his career. What this tells me is that his pitches were around the plate, but were not good enough to get guys out consistently. Maybe he had a flat fastball or his curves weren’t breaking the way they used to. Regardless, if his elbow is the cause of these numbers, and this downward trend continues, he will not last very long in the rotation.

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Week In Review: NL East Looking Scary

Posted by Kieran Carobine, Sun, January 08, 2012 05:00 PM Comments: 1

Marlins intend on making it interesting this season. (Photo: Bocaratontribune.com)

With the official start of Spring Training a little more than 50 days away excitement levels are high in Philly and other baseball towns across America.  Even here in Virginia Beach, we are talking baseball on a regular basis.  People around here are tired of hearing me talk about the the Phillies and Doc and Cliff.  They would prefer to talk about the Nationals and Prince Fielder.

The fact of the matter is the National League East is slowly becoming the powerhouse of the Major Leagues.  It’s been a long drawn out debate about the toughest division in baseball.  The AL East has had bragging rights with the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays trading blows all season long for the past couple of years.

The Marlins have made the biggest splash this off season acquiring Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell and now Carlos Zambrano.  With a new stadium set to open the 2012 season with a bang, Miami has opened its wallet and declared ‘we want to win.’  The Marlins also brought in Ozzie Guillen to run this new look, new name, and new uniformed team.

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Early Exit for Lee, Phillies Come Up Short

Posted by Kieran Carobine, Mon, July 25, 2011 05:59 PM Comments: 3

(PHOTO: Philly.com)

I guess if something was going to give, it would have to be the Phillies.  Mother Nature has been pumping her hot breathe up and down the East Coast all weekend.  The Phillies stayed toe-to-toe with the beast for the first three games of the San Diego series taking all three heading into Monday.

Cliff Lee (9-7, 3.05) was on the hill looking to get all double-digit in the win column to join mound-mates Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels who both have 12 wins for the season.  Unfortunately for Lee, he was only able to last five innings in the Philadelphia sun giving up five runs on 10 hits.

The Phillies were unable to overcome the five run hole after four innings but didn’t go down so easily.  Offensively they spread out four runs over a three inning stretch but failed to come through in the clutch.  The team left runners in scoring position three times today.  Ryan Howard was thrown out at the plate and Jimmy Rollins was caught stealing in the seventh inning.

Shane Victorino had a three hit game to lead the Phillies and Raul Ibanez added two more right behind him in the lineup.

Ironically enough, it was the two relief men the Phillies have been scouting that would shut it down in the late innings nailing down the 5-4 win for the Padres.  Mike Adams and Heath Bell pitched the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, needing only 25 pitches and struck out three Phillies hitters; two looking.

Out of the Phillies bullpen, Michael Stutes threw two scoreless innings for the Phillies and now has 38 strikeouts in 36.2 innings.  He would have been in line for another win had the Phillies pulled it out.  Chatting with him Friday during batting practice, he said, when mentioning his five wins, ‘Yeah, I guess I keep getting lucky.’  Works for me.

A look ahead and the Phillies are welcoming in the World Series Champs for three games and America’s Team for another three.  Do I really need to explain who they are?

Now a look back….

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Week In Review: A Look Back

Posted by Kieran Carobine, Sun, June 26, 2011 07:00 PM Comments: 7

The Phillies have been dealing with injuries all season.  It is the nature of the game.  More often than not, I have heard players say this season is a marathon and it’s all about surviving to the end.  Recently it seems management has been filling out more disabled lists than line up cards.

The most recent, and most devastating entry might be that of Roy Oswalt.  Oswalt lasted only two innings of his last start against the St. Louis Cardinals before removing himself with tightness in his lower back.  It is the same injury that plagued Oswalt earlier in the season.  Oswalt has always been a gamer and the type of pitcher you could count on to pitch through almost anything.  While Pat Gallen points the finger to the dozer, he also states that only once in the past 10 years has Oswalt not started at least 30 games in a season.  The guy is durable.  He won’t, however, allow himself to become a liability.  Which is why we now wait to get the final verdict.  Rehad or retirement.

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What Did The Phillies Spend More Than 156 Million Dollars On?

Posted by R.C. Cowie, Fri, June 03, 2011 12:05 PM Comments: 11

Prior to the ratification of the 2006 Collective Bargaining Agreement, all major league teams had to abide by the 60/40 rule; that is, 60 percent of the teams assets couldn’t eclipse more than 40 percent of its liabilities (team debt). The new CBA signed in 2006 changed that rule from the previous 60/40 provision to debt being capped based on club earnings before interest, taxes, etc.

The rule stated verbatim:

DEBT SERVICE RULE
Section 1. The Rule. No Club may maintain more Total Club Debt than can reasonably be supported by its EBITDA. A Club’s Total Club Debt cannot reasonably be supported by its EBITDA if Total Club Debt exceeds the product of the average of that Club’s EBITDA over the most recent two years multiplied by the Cash Flow Multiplier applicable to that Club; provided, however, that a Club may elect, on or before April 1, 2007, to utilize, in both 2007 and 2008, the average of its EBITDA over the most recent three years.

What does this mean? Let’s use Forbes franchise estimations for the Phils team value to determine what their debt cap is. Remember, all of these numbers are estimates by Forbes. But, for this purpose I think they will give us the closest actually to what the team is up too.

Figuring Out Operating Cost Over the Last Two Seasons

Let’s average the Phillies operating costs from 2010 and 2009 and multiply by 10. We would get the Phillies debt ceiling for this year.

$14.5 (mil) (2010) + $16.3 (mil) (2009) = 30.8 million

2009-2010 values X 10 = $308 (mil).

The Phillies have an operating cost of $308 (mil) for the 2011 season.

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Week In Review: To hit or not to hit

Posted by Kieran Carobine, Sun, May 15, 2011 07:47 PM Comments: 46

This is not raising the red flag, just merely raising awareness.

It’s almost one fourth of the way into the 2011 Major League Baseball season and all seems well atop the National League East standings.

Right?

The Phillies are in first place.  They are leading the division by two games over the Florida Marlins.  And even after dropping two of three in Atlanta, they still hold a 3.5 game lead over the Braves.  The Phillies were the first team to 25 wins, and have the second best winning percentage (.641) in the majors.

So again I ask, all is well in Philadelphia right?

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Utley Receives Cortisone Shot; Panic Time?

Posted by Paul Boye, Sat, March 05, 2011 11:48 AM Comments: 17

If you weren’t worried before about Chase Utley’s lingering patellar tendinitis, well, this may change your mind.

Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that Utley’s condition has not improved in the five days since its initial diagnosis, and the team has upped the ante, administering a cortisone shot to the ailing knee. Just like Brad Lidge, Roy Oswalt and Placido Polanco before him, Utley now has a corticosteroid trying to soothe his wound.

As Salisbury notes in his article, no improvement in five days isn’t good. It’s not necessarily catastrophic or even indicative of Utley missing regular season time, but it’s certainly not encouraging.

Talks of Michael Young are sure to kick up again, but at $16M annually through 2013, he’s not a fit unless his salary is paid nearly in full. And maybe not even then. What seems most likely is more playing time for Wilson Valdez, should Utley miss time.

Does this latest news set you to worrying yet? Were you already there? Or are you still confident that Utley will be fine in 2011, and that this will prove to be nothing but a small nuisance, a speed bump?

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Howard’s Power Revisited

Posted by Paul Boye, Fri, February 18, 2011 01:30 PM Comments: 29

Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer has an interesting post up today on his blog, wherein he drops some quotes from Ryan Howard on his perceived (or real) lack of power production in 2010.

“It’s funny to me because everyone talks about my power numbers,” Howard said. “‘Oh, Ryan, your power numbers were down.’ I think everybody forgot I was out for a month, that I was hurt. I was right there with everybody on the leaderboard in home runs and RBIs. I don’t really think that was an issue.”

Gelb notes in the next paragraph Howard’s drop in slugging percentage from before (.528 in 407 AB) and after (.441 in 143 AB) the injury that cost him time.

Was Howard just unlucky; victim of a one-off fluke that shouldn’t hamper him in 2011? Is it a result of being pitched differently? Or, pessimistically, is Howard just declining, as early-30s sluggers are wont to begin doing? Dissection after the jump.

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