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Writer’s Roundtable

Writer’s Roundtable: Bold Predictions

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, April 04, 2013 01:24 PM Comments: 4

Can McCutchen lead the Pirates to the postseason…finally? (mlb)

Q: What is your boldest MLB prediction heading into 2013?

Don McGettigan:

I think this is the year that the Pittsburgh Pirates finally return to the playoffs. It has been pointed out through multiple sources that in 17 of the 18 wild-card seasons, at least one team made the playoffs the year after a losing season. The Pirates have a roster full of young talent (Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, and Sterling Marte), a respectable 1-2 in the rotation (A.J. Burnett, and Wandy Rodriguez) soon to be joined by top prospect, Gerrit Cole, and an underrated closer in Jason Grilli.

On August 1st, the Pirates were 60-44, leading by a game in the Wild Card, on September 1st the Pirates were 70-62, and just 1.5 games back in NL Wild Card, but they would only win 9 more games, finishing the season 79-83, 9 games out of a playoff spot. This is the year that they hold on strong until the end.

Jay Floyd:

The New York Yankees finish last in the AL East. Injuries will leave the once dominant club struggling to keep pace with the rest of their improved division.

Alex Lee:

The Yankees will finish below .500 for the first season since 1992. The Bombers seem to be headed down the same path the Phillies took to .500 in 2012. The following group will start the season on the DL: Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Phil Hughes. Even the surest best in baseball over the past 20 years, Mariano Rivera, is coming off a season lost to knee injury. There are some things not even a $200 million payroll can overcome.

Jon Nisula:

My bold prediction for 2013 is…the Phillies will make the playoffs as at least the first wild card. I think that they’ve shown us enough in Spring Training to prove that Ryan Howard and Chase Utley–the two keys to this offense–are healthy, and that will be huge for them this season.

Pat Gallen:

Domonic Brown will hit 27 home runs this season. In the American League, I think the Cleveland Indians return to the playoffs with an 88-win season and hold off the Detroit Tigers in the Central Division. Bold!

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Writer’s Roundtable: Offseason’s Best

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sat, March 30, 2013 10:14 AM Comments: 13

Adams could be the best acquisition in the majors. (AP)

Q: Which transaction by Ruben Amaro Jr. this offseason do you think will reap the greatest reward for the Phillies in 2013? 

Jon Nisula: I think that Ruben’s decision to send Darin Ruf back to the minors will help the Phillies the most in 2013. The move means that Domonic Brown will finally be given an opportunity to play full time. It also means that the Phillies will (hopefully) play a Mayberry/Nix platoon at the last outfield position, which I think is better than what Ruf or Delmon Young would’ve given the Phillies this year.

Pat Gallen: Clearly, the correct answer is Mike Adams. No disrespect to Ben Revere or Michael Young, but Mike Adams has the ability to be a second closer and end games after seven innings for the Phillies. He says he’s healthy, and by the looks of his spring numbers, I believe him. The Adams acquisition has a chance to be not only the best move for the Phillies, but one of the best signings throughout baseball this offseason.

Alex Lee: I have to agree with Pat there.  By now, most Phillies fans have been inundated with the statistics on how many games the 8th inning cost this team last year.  Ruben Amaro Jr. either badly misevaluated Chad Qualls or totally discounted the importance of a setup man last year when he built that bullpen.  The addition of Adams, if healthy, not only makes this unit solid, but also really gives it a chance to be a team strength if one or two of the younger arms blossom

Jay Floyd: I also agree with Pat and Alex, the Phillies transaction from this past offseason that will prove to be the most successful will be the signing of reliever Mike Adams.  Without question the biggest hole on the roster last year that wasn’t injury related was a void in the 8th inning set up role out of the team’s bullpen.  Adams locks that spot down and, as a result, will be the greatest upgrade for the club this year.

Ian Riccaboni: I’ll go off the beaten path here – I believe the decisions to cut both Yuniesky Betancourt and Joe Mather were the best of the offseason. Then again, I would have never signed them to begin with. Does that make those moves and then counter-moves simultaneously the worst and best moves of the offseason?

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PN Roundtable: Major Concerns?

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Thu, March 21, 2013 10:00 AM Comments: 19

How comfortable are you with Nix manning a corner outfield spot defensively? Alex says corner outfield defense is an area of opportunity.

This week’s Writer’s Roundtable question was from Ryan Dinger and compiled by Don McGettigan:

“Aside from Roy Halladay‘s health, what is another major concern you have as you watch Spring Training wind down?”

Alex Lee:  This has been covered at great length, but my main concern is still the defense on the corners, particularly in the early part of the season.  I believe that both Michael Young and Domonic Brown will improve defensively throughout the year, but first base and wherever Brown isn’t look like permanent problems.  With Carlos Ruiz out for April, any additional lackluster defense could sink the Phillies hopes of a division title… and quickly.

Don McGettigan:  My biggest concern is getting Chase Utley all the way to Opening Day.  Utley is still arguably the Phillies best all-around player, and has missed the first month+ of the past two seasons.  With Carlos Ruiz serving a 25-game suspension to begin the year, the Phillies need Utley in the lineup to start the season. Continue reading PN Roundtable: Major Concerns?

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Roundtable: Besides Brown, Which Player Has Impressed Most This Spring?

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Thu, March 14, 2013 08:00 AM Comments: 25

Ben Revere has been everything the Phillies had hoped he’d be and more halfway through Spring Training. Photo AP

Our weekly Writers’s Roundtable is back and this time the topic comes from Don M.: Dom Brown has been far and away the best Phillies player this Spring by any measure. Other than Brown, who has impressed you the most this Spring?

Don McGettigan:  Perhaps because it’s potentially the year in Philadelphia for Carlos Ruiz, I was very impressed with what Tommy Joseph was able to do in the Grapefruit League (hitting .462, with a home run and two doubles in 13 at-bats) before being optioned to the minors.  Joseph also earned the praise of Roy Halladay  “He was very on top of things and aware of what was going on in games and situations. That’s what you want to see.”

Ian Riccaboni: Ben Revere has been as advertised for the Phillies. Despite an 0-fer last night, Revere is hitting .340, has four steals, and is playing great defense. If Brown wasn’t having such a great Spring, there’d be a lot more folks excited about the Phils speedy center fielder.

Corey Seidman: This is a tough question, but I’d say I’ve been most impressed by Freddy Galvis. I expected his extra-base hit power to go away after we found out about the PEDs, but he leads the Grapefruit League in doubles and legitimately looks like he could turn into a valuable starting middle infielder. It’s pretty exciting to see what he’s capable of this year.

Continue reading Roundtable: Besides Brown, Which Player Has Impressed Most This Spring?

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Writer’s Roundtable: Concerned About Doc?

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, January 30, 2013 06:25 AM Comments: 21

How worried are you about Doc and his shoulder injury? (AP)

Roy Halladay had a bad year in 2012. It’s just that simple. He dealt with decreased velocity, shoulder troubles, and never got on track.

This is a huge year for Doc as he’s staring down the barrel of a $20 million team option for 2014. Whether he stays with the Phillies long-term could be contingent on what type of year he puts together – but mostly if he proves that shoulder is completely healthy.

Are you worried? The Phillies Nation writers got together to talk about it…

Question: On a scale of 1-10 (10 being most) what is your level of concern with Roy Halladay heading into 2013?

—————–

Corey Seidman: 8. Not because I’m so worried about him, but because of how important he is to the success of this team. If Halladay isn’t the Roy Halladay of 2010 or 2011, there is a very small chance this team finishes higher than 3rd in the NL East.

Ryan Dinger: 3. Whenever a pitcher has shoulder issues, there is always reason to be concerned. However, if there is any pitcher in the game who can work himself back to health and make the necessary adjustments in his game to account for physical digression, it’s Halladay. His work ethic is legendary and he’s always been a cerebral pitcher. For that reason, I don’t think there’s is much reason to be overly concerned about Doc.

Don M. 3. Thanks to a rotation that includes Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, the Phillies don’t especially need Halladay’s name mentioned in the discussion for “the best in baseball,” they just need him to be a solid top-of-the-rotation pitcher. The Phillies improved bullpen should help save some wear and tear on Halladay’s arm.

Continue reading Writer’s Roundtable: Concerned About Doc?

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Writer’s Roundtable: Is Jimmy Worthy of the Hall?

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Fri, September 21, 2012 07:00 AM Comments: 53

Jimmy Rollins is one of the best shortstops in Phillies history, and will undoubtedly be on the Phillies Wall of Fame one day. But will he be in Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame as well? I say that he should get in eventually, though I don’t think he ever will. Our writers take a look:

Eric Seidman: Jimmy Rollins has 48.6 WAR in his career, which ranks 12th among shortstops in the expansion era (1961-now). However, he also has at least another three years left to play on his current deal. Assuming he averages the conservative estimates of 3 WAR, 140 hits, 20 SB and 13 HR per season, he would be at around 58 WAR, 2,450 hits, 470 SB and 240 HR. His WAR total would place him 8th among shortstops in the pre-defined expansion era, which when coupled with his all-star appearances, gold gloves, MVP and World Series title, seems like it should be enough.

However, he would also be right behind Alan Trammell in that WAR leaderboard, and Trammell is one of the posterchildren for players who deserve to get in but haven’t. It’s going to be hard to imagine voters considering Jimmy when they have mostly ignored Trammell. Rollins has had a fantastic career and he is undeniably one of the best Phillies of all-time, but he seems destined for that Trammell-territory of being deserving and getting HOF support each year but not getting in.

Donald McGettigan: I’d say no. Fair or unfair, that’s how I think the baseball writers will vote when the time comes for Jimmy Rollins. Don’t get me wrong, Rollins has put together a great career to this point (and is my favorite player), but I don’t think he has dominated the sport the way I feel a Hall of Fame player should. Hall of Fame players should be perennial All-Star and MVP candidates, they should win 10 Gold Gloves (not just 3), they should strike fear into opposing players, and should be the no-doubt-about-it best players in the game. I don’t think Rollins quite fits that billing.

I wrote in Spring Training that I think Jimmy Rollins is a sure thing Wall-of-Famer, and went a step further by saying I think the Phillies should eventually retire his #11. Barring injury, Rollins is within striking distance of becoming the Phillies all-time leader in categories like Hits and At-bats, and Top 3 all time in Games Played, Runs, Stolen Bases and Total Bases. His longevity and production with this organization should be recognized in a special way, but I don’t see how he can be viewed among the greatest to ever play Major League Baseball.

Pat Gallen: Rollins might get close, based on some of the numbers Eric put forth. But using the eye test, I just don’t see actual voters putting him in the hall. Even as he’s put together a fairly impressive resume for a shortstop that stands maybe 5’8″ (it’s hard to play the game when you’re small, right?), I agree with Don in that he hasn’t really dominated for more than just his MVP season.

If we’re looking at some of the other shortstops who have entered the hall before him, how many of them would you take over Jimmy? His numbers actually slide right in there with some of the best, especially in the power category. He’s also third among active shortstops in stolen bases. The Phillies should absolutely retie that #11, but if you’re holding a gun to my head, I’m saying he’s not quite a Hall of Famer – and I think the voters will vote that way, too.

Corey Seidman: No Hall of Fame for Jimmy Rollins. The last four shortstops inducted into Cooperstown were Barry Larkin, Cal Ripken, Ozzie Smith and Robin Yount.

Ripken was a tremendous hitter for his position and had a streak that will probably never be broken. Smith was the best defensive shortstop ever. Yount hit .305 during a nine-year peak and played the two hardest positions other than catcher. Larkin was a .295 career hitter who made 12 All-Star teams.

J-Roll is not on that level, counting numbers or no counting numbers.

As Eric said, Rollins will fall into the Alan Trammell category. This is the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Very Good. You can’t convince me that Jimmy Rollins is one of the best 300 players in the history of baseball. Sorry.

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Writer’s Roundtable: Replay in Baseball?

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, September 13, 2012 07:00 AM Comments: 23

Games are won and lost each year as a direct result of missed calls by umpires. So, naturally, this topic seems to come up every year. Should there be replay in baseball? If so, to what extent should replay be used? Can we use an alternative to replay? My opinion is that MLB should add an additional umpire that watches the game in real time on various monitors in a booth and can talk to the umpires on the field if a call should get reversed or at least looked at in slow motion. Here’s what the rest of our writers think:

Jay Floyd: The technology is there and it’s helpful in ensuring the proper calls are made in others sports and in certain aspects of baseball, so let’s get the appropriate changes in motion to give professional baseball the right results all of the time.

The basis of arguments against replay in baseball is often that it subverts the legacy of the sport or undermines the umpires that are, for some reason, held so sacred, despite constantly being proven unworthy of support for having exceptional judgement.

I don’t know what the best methods for expansion of video replay in baseball should be, but with the ability to get every call right, why not use it? Preserving history and officials’ feelings aren’t strong enough reasons to deny players, team personnel and fans a 100% accurate and legitimate outcome.

Pat Gallen: I’m all for replay being a part of the game. However, I do not want to see several stoppages per game as the game is slow enough already. We’ve come a long way with technology and it should be used when necessary. But let’s not completely remove the human element of the game. I like it for home runs and I like the idea of a few challenges for managers for calls at bases and fair or foul balls.

Perhaps 2 challenges on calls that do not pertain to home runs can be used per game and if both of those are correct a third can be given. You can not use a challenge on balls or strikes. Also, to keep the pace of the game, the crew chief should wear an earpiece and be hooked up to a 5th umpire or a “war room” like the NHL has implemented to get the call correct in a timely fashion.

That said, if MLB were to do little or nothing in the way of change replay, I’d be OK with it. We did without it for a long time and the game is still strong. Continue reading Writer’s Roundtable: Replay in Baseball?

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Writer’s Roundtable: What Should Phils Do With Ruf?

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Sat, September 01, 2012 07:00 AM Comments: 18

PHOTO: PhoulBallz.com

Darin Ruf is having one heckuva season down in Reading. He’s been named the Eastern League MVP, he’s broken Ryan Howard‘s home run record, and was named the Paul Owens award winner for being the best position player in the Phillies’ minor league system. But does he have a future here in Philadelphia? What should the Phillies do with him at this point? Our writers take a look:

Eric Seidman: Bring him up, play him in left field, see if he can potentially fill that hole for next season. He’s not playing first base here, but if there is any shot he could stick in LF, get him September experience now. Otherwise, move him while his value is high.

Jay Floyd: At the risk of duplicating my sentiments from this week’s edition of Phillies Nation TV, it would be a complete disservice to Darin Ruf if the Phillies don’t promote him to the big league roster once Reading’s season is done. Ruf’s August is legendary. It’s as simple as that. The man has more than earned the right to, at the very least, fill a Mike Cervenak or an Andy Tracy role, as a guy that can pinch hit or give a teammate a day off in the field.

Giving Ruf six to ten games in the field and another six to ten pinch hit at bats would be the right sampling to allow the 26-year-old slugger to show what he can do in the big leagues for a team that should have some roster openings next spring.

Ryan Dinger: Now that the Phillies have given Hector Luna his outright release, it seems apparent that they’re making room to add Darin Ruf to the 40-man roster. This is absolutely the right thing to do at the right moment.

If you’re going to see what Ruf can be for you, you bring him up right now and play him at a position where he could possibly contribute next season (most likely one of the corner outfield spots). You do it now because the team is playing meaningless baseball, and there isn’t a desperate need to have players produce at the plate.

The 2012 season has become all about seeing what things look like for the future, and Darin Ruf may play a part in that equation. So you see what he can give you. If he impresses, you may have one less hole to fill in the offseason. If he hits well, but is a disaster in the field, you at least know that he won’t work as an outfielder and can explore potential trades for him. If he flops entirely, then you know he’s still got more work to do before being a viable big league option. None of those results can hurt the team in any fashion.

Ian Riccaboni: The Phillies will exit 2012 with only five outfielders on their 40-man roster, with one of them being Tyson Gillies. Outstanding 2012 campaign aside, Gillies has more room to grow, and the Phillies should see what Ruf is able to do in left at the Major League level.

One thing is for sure: Ruf can hit, hit, and hit, but plays defense somewhere at a level between Raul Ibanez and Pat Burrell. If it’s a good match, the Phillies will have to fill one less roster hole in 2013. If not, he can head to Triple-A for 2013 until they find a trade partner as Ruf has three more seasons before he can elect to be a Minor League free agent.

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Writer’s Roundtable: The Domonic Brown Situation

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Sat, August 25, 2012 10:00 AM Comments: 33

Domonic Brown looks like he could become the Phillies full-time right fielder next year after trades of Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino have allowed him to be up with the big club for what looks to be a permanent stay.

However, it seems like Philadelphia is split on their opinions of him. Some say he stinks, some say he’s great, and others remain patient that he will reach his ceiling one day. Here are some of the opinions of the Phillies Nation staff on the Domonic Brown situation:

Pat Gallen: There’s no doubt he should play every single day, no matter the pitching he’s facing that night. If the Phillies want this guy to be an everyday corner outfielder, then it’s time to take the diapers off and lets him grow up. It means fighting through the inevitable highs and lows.

The way he’s been handled sucks. The Hunter Pence trade sticks out because it truly stunted his growth at the major league level. He lost his focus after that happened.

But that’s all in the past now and you can see Brown becoming acclimated with the majors nicely. I’ve been promoting patience to the fan base when it comes to Dom. Let him play every single day and around the middle of next season we’ll know who Dom Brown is as a player.

Ryan Dinger: At this point, I don’t think there’s any disagreement when suggesting that the Phillies haven’t provided Domonic Brown ideal playing conditions in his quest to develop into a big league ballplayer. This pattern of inconsistent at bats, coupled with his recent streak of injuries, has made it a rocky road to the majors for Brown.

But now that he’s relatively healthy, and the Phillies have nothing to compete for, there’s no one on the 40-man roster better suited to play everyday at one of the three outfield positions than Domonic Brown. You start him everyday to close out this season, and pencil his name in as one of the starting outfielders for 2013.

Eric Seidman: The entire situation is very frustrating. The Phillies were a great team before acquiring Hunter Pence, and the best half-season of his career made them an excellent regular season squad. But the trade had its drawbacks. For starters, the Phillies traded away two premium offensive prospects in Jonathan Singleton and Domingo Santana. Second, it meant that Domonic Brown wouldn’t get regular playing time at the major league level. Even if Brown struggled mightily for a month, the Phillies would have played well enough as a team to make the playoffs.

Brown is a very patient hitter, which is tougher to develop at the major league level. The power will come, but his ability to take walks, avoid swinging at slop, and post a .350+ OBP is very encouraging. Realistically, the silver lining to this mess of a season is that the team is now forced to play him everyday, without platooning him, demoting him, or messing with his game.

Ian Riccaboni: I think Domonic Brown is one of the most athletic, talented, and promising young players to arrive in Phillies pinstripes since Chase Utley. A lot of the criticisms that fans pinned on Utley early on in his career are similar to those that follow Brown: good-but-not-great plate discipline, bad defense, but not ready enough right now to contribute on a team that is ready to win now.

Yet, Brown has turned the corner in 2012. Brown is now fully-healthy for the first time since October 2010 and his improved plate discipline numbers are encouraging at worst and tantalizing at best. I am certainly excited that the best option to play every day finally is playing every day.

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Writer’s Roundtable: Grading Ruben Amaro Jr.

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, May 31, 2012 07:00 AM Comments: 80

Amaro gets his guys. But at what cost? (Photo: SI.com)

Right now is a critical time in the Ruben Amaro Jr. era in Philadelphia. His team is underachieving and in last place, the injuries are piling up and the best player on the Phillies’ roster will be absent for the next 6-to-8 weeks.

When grading his time here as the Phillies GM, we made sure we didn’t fall into the trap of factoring in things that weren’t under his control and looked at the complete picture. So here’s how we at Phillies Nation grade Amaro:

Corey Seidman: I’d give Amaro a B-.

He’s done a lot, but he’s had a ton of resources that every GM would give a kidney to have. He’s put himself in a position where there just aren’t too many fixes to make. You have to hope Howard, Utley and Halladay all get through their current conditions and age relatively well. Its tough.

Amaro took risks and was aggressive. He built a team that had enormous success from 2007-11. I’ll let the others break down each move, but Amaro’s done mostly well with trades and not too well with contracts.

Pat Gallen: I won’t put a letter grade on Ruben Amaro’s tenure a GM of the Phillies, but I will say this – it has been a ride. He acquires the best pitcher in baseball (Roy Halladay) and gets his “white whale” but deals Cliff Lee in the process.

He gets Hunter Pence from Houston, but gives up a ton of minor league talent in the process.

Amaro also gave odd contracts to Joe Blanton, Ryan Howard, and Jonathan Papelbon. (Yes, I know Papelbon has been lights out, but that’s still a ton of money for a 3-out guy, no matter how you look at it).

Continue reading Writer’s Roundtable: Grading Ruben Amaro Jr.

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