6 Moves the Philadelphia Phillies Must Make to Keep Up with the Miami Marlins

December 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

After committing $191 million to three players this offseason, the Miami Marlins sure made a big splash. Whether or not it is enough yet to overcome 30 games in the standings is another question.

I’m going to say no, it’s not.

I do believe the Marlins already had better talent than a typical 90-loss team. Their position players match up well with the Phillies, but their pitching is still too far behind, even with a healthy Josh Johnson. 

While the Phillies don’t necessarily have to make moves to keep up with the Marlins this year, if the Marlins do succeed in attracting consistent crowds to their new ballpark and continue increasing payroll, the Phillies must make better decisions and moves in the future. 

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

MLB Free Agents 2012: 7 Contract Clauses to Convince Jimmy Rollins to Stay

December 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

Despite reports that meetings between the Philadelphia Phillies and Jimmy Rollins’ agent have not gone well, I believe it is only a matter of time before Jimmy Rollins is back in the fold. Even though there are not many serious competitors for his services, Rollins has significant leverage. His agent undoubtedly will use the Phillies’ lack of reliable replacements in landing a good deal for his client.

While I still doubt he’ll get five years guaranteed, I would not be surprised to see his agent out-negotiate Ruben Amaro. Seeing the deals Amaro’s given out over the last few years, he’s closer to Chumlee from Pawn Stars than Rick at the negotiating table. 

Even though Rollins has leverage, Amaro can and should be creative in signing a deal that doesn’t hurt his club in the future. Whether or not he will use such devices is an entirely different question. 

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

2012 MLB Free Agency: 10 Players the Phillies Wish They Could Sign, but Can’t

December 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

With free agency in full gear, Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has already made a quick splash, signing former Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon to a $50 million deal over four years. If Amaro had his way, I’m positive he’d make even more big signings. But with hefty commitments and only so many roster spots to go around, Amaro becomes handcuffed.

There are still tremendous free agents on the market that Amaro would love to sign but has virtually no chance at.

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MLB Free Agents 2012: Judging Reactions to the Jonathan Papelbon Signing

November 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

Unlike most of Ruben Amaro’s big moves over the last couple of years, the recent acquisition of closer Jonathan Papelbon for $50 million, instead of Ryan Madson, seems closer to split evenly between two sides. In addition there’s also a less populated third side, which was to forgo both relievers and instead use the money to fill other holes and go with a cheaper closer option. 

In this deal, I believe you can legitimize arguments on any of the sides. The problem is, few do that. Instead, they opt for either using factually wrong information, personal emotions or tired cliches that hold no merit or proof. It’s when people use these types of arguments that really irks me.

This article is a collection of such examples, followed by a more in-depth review of my opinion.

Note: All comments from reactions by Phillies Nation readers.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Cody Overbeck Not First Answer If Ryan Howard Misses Time

October 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

If the majority of fans had their way come spring, Cody Overbeck would be the favorite in-house substitute for Ryan Howard.

There’s options to choose from—from bringing up Overbeck or Matt Rizzotti, moving Utley to first while plugging in Valdez or Martinez at second or moving Mayberry to first and plugging in Domonic Brown in left.

Yet, the fans’ favorite choice could be the worst of the litter. 

There’s no doubt in my mind Overbeck would struggle in the majors. Many of his supporters see his .279/.331/.416 line in just under 250 plate appearances in Triple-A as enough evidence that he can adapt to tougher competition and continue his Double-A success(.275/.331/.532 in 257 plate appearances this year).

However, they fail to look deeper.

Two problems quickly jump out when looking at Overbeck’s Triple-A “success” last year. The first being his batting average of balls in play. It was a career-high .370.

Aside from a similar fluky half to start the 2010 season in High-A ball, his career BABIP has been a much more appropriate .300.

That begs the question: What would these fans think if his BABIP was more realistic?

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume his true BABIP skill level there is .305 and all of those extra hits were merely singles. His line would come to .235/.290/.371.

That’s not as impressive. 

The other major problem for Major League success are his strikeout and walk rates. Guys who strikeout a ton and walk very little don’t often reach the majors. If they do, they do not last long.

Last year Overbeck struck out 27.2 percent of the time while walking just 4.9 percent of the time. That strikeout-to-walk ratio was seventh worst in the International League.

Players with those numbers simply do not do well in the majors. Players in the Major League last year (among 150 plate appearances), who struck out five times for every walk had an average OPS of .632.

Their wOBA was an average .276 and wRC+ was 70, meaning they were about 30 percent worse than an average major league player. For Phillies fans, this is the kind of output Wilson Valdez gives you offensively.

Putting such a player at first base, where hitting is at a premium, is a huge mistake. 

It’s a common theme in his career that he struggles with plate control and power in his stints at a particular level. In his first season at High-A ball, he walked just under 6 percent of the time while striking out over 27 percent. His power was not there either, with a .169 isolated slugging percentage.

The next year at the same level, he improved dramatically. He increased his walk rate to over 11 percent while cutting his strikeouts to 21 percent with a .251 isolated slugging. 

His two years at Double-A showed the same trend. In his second year at Reading, he dropped his strikeout-rate from 27 percent to less than 23 percent. He increased his isolated slugging from .182 to .258.

Relying on Overbeck to improve or provide adequate offense replacing Howard in the majors, would be a huge mistake. 

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FJM’ing Howard Eskin- “If I Was in Charge of the Phillies”

October 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

With the offseason already beginning for the Phillies, weeks before many predicted it would have, it was inevitable that Philadelphia’s sports writers would have published their own solutions and offseason game plan for the Phillies. I’ve read a few of them, some better than others, but a couple have particularly caught my attention. Howard Eskin’s recent article is one such example.

The overall first impression is that of a high-school writing assignment where the student just has to pound out a 250-word essay. The student doesn’t really care about the details, just as long as it reaches 250 words. I’ve seen better, more thoughtful writing on this very site, even if I do not agree with what’s being said. 

“The Phillies were built to win a championship this year and they failed. If I were the GM, I’d have a lot of work ahead of me.

For starters, if I were in charge, I’d blow the team up. Here’s how:”

First paragraph is simple and gets to the point, no problem with that. The second half teases you to keep reading. I’m expecting massive change. Perhaps some overly drastic trade proposals along with a splashy free agent signing. 

“Resign Ryan Madson:
We have three really good starters — Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. I’d keep them and re-sign Madson as my closer. It’ll cost $13 to 14 million, which may not be easy to squeeze out of an inflating payroll, but it has to be done.

I’d also be thinking long and hard about how I’m gonna add more depth to the bullpen.”

The first step is rather ho-hum. Nothing too surprising. Madson has been the best Phillies reliever for a couple of years now, and is among the best relievers in the game. But $13 or $14 million is a bit steep, especially given the ample amount of solid relievers available this offseason. Heath Bell, Frank Francisco, Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, Darren Oliver, Francisco Rodriguez(option) and Jose Valvderde(option) are all possibly on the market. If Madson is demanding that much while a Heath Bell or Papelbon are looking for a little less, I’d rather opt for one of them. 

The second statement in his plan for the bullpen is a trend you will see throughout the rest of his article—very general and saying very little. Anybody can think long and hard about a position, but what exactly would your plan be? Who will you keep? Who would you look to sign?

“Beef Up the Bench:
The Phillies bench is terrible. We need power in the lineup.

I’d bite the bullet on Placido Polanco and get a better third baseman. Resign Jimmy Rollins for two years and an option year. I don’t want to get into a problem later with another guy getting too old and too costly.

I’d sign players like Detroit and St. Louis did this year that could actually help you when they come off the bench. In my book, Ben Francisco is done and Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez should never be on the same bench — two weak links in the lineup.

I wouldn’t resign Raul Ibanez and I’m not ready to name John Mayberry, Jr. or Domonic Brown as my left fielders, so I’m going out to get somebody better.”


Back when the Phillies signed their bench players in the 2009-2010 offseason, I stated that the bench would still be bad and provided no upgrade. I feel my assessment at the time proved correct.

Back to Eskin. How is he going to bite the bullet with Polanco? Trade him? Bench him? Release him!? Who are you getting that’s better and how?

There aren’t many better third basemen out there. Phillies aren’t getting Longoria, Zimmerman, Wright, Sandoval, Alex Rodriguez, Beltre or Youkilis. Chase Headley would be a slim upgrade, but the Phillies would have to trade for him. They cannot afford giving up more top prospects. Free agent Aramis Ramirez is also a long shot, but what Polanco lacks in offense compared to Ramirez and many of his third base counterparts, he makes up with defense, and at a very reasonable price. Over the past two years, only seven third basemen attained more fWAR than Polanco. With a whole offseason to heal, Polanco should be his typical self come April.  

I’d love to resign Rollins for two years guaranteed, but that is looking more and more like a pipe dream. What if you can’t sign him on YOUR terms, what are your backup options?

Here’s the current bench players the Tigers signed as free agents this year: 

And here’s the current bench players the Cardinals signed as free agents this year: Nick Punto, Gerald Laird. 

The Tigers and Cardinals bench players were either homegrown or traded for. Do some research when making such statements. The Nick Punto signing was very good, though, for how much he cost ($750,000) and what he brings. He’s certainly better than Valdez and Martinez. 

Ben Francisco is not cooked. If you were paying attention, you’d notice he actually improved in regards to walk and strikeout rates. If it wasn’t for a low .268 BABIP, his on-base percentage could have eclipsed .350, which is terrific for a backup outfielder. 

Speaking of cooked, at least he’s correct that they shouldn’t bring back Ibanez. And if you don’t want Domonic Brown (who improved his plate discipline and plate control a ton this year) or John Mayberry (third on the team in wOBA this year and higher than Howard), then who is this better player you are getting and how? 

“Develop New Talent:
We sucked our minor league teams dry. We have to find and develop new talent.

And if I’m in charge, I’m seriously asking myself if this team’s too old? I think the window is closing fast if it’s not already closed. Don’t change a thing and they’ll go on to be a good team next year. Maybe even make the playoffs, but they can’t win a World Series and that’s really what it’s all about.”

One word comes to mind when reading that first paragraph, especially the second sentence. That word is DUH. You think that is a novel concept the Phillies are not trying? Finding and developing new talent is easier said than done. Why do you think most draft picks fail? Have you heard of Carlos Tocci or the number of players they paid over the slot for in this year’s draft?

With all of his “blowing the team up” talk, the only changes he made were a new third baseman and a new left fielder, which was almost a certainty anyway, and a new bench, which is almost certain also. If you didn’t know who the author was, you’d quicker presume it was by a random Joe Schmo, and not “the King.”



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Reading Between the Lines of GM Ruben Amaro’s Recent Statements

October 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

Today, Philadelphia Daily News writer David Muprhy compiled a list of Ruben Amaro’s quotes from his recent news conference. Many of these quotes are interesting and telling if you read between the lines.

Ranging from the lineup to Ryan Howard to soon-to-be free agents and possible roster additions, his news conference delved into a myriad of topics. The conclusions derived from the statements are at times expected, surprising, and disappointing. 

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies’ Charlie Manuel Still Making Big Mistake

October 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

With the series tied heading into a decisive Game 5, people have begun finding their scapegoats. Chances are most of the blame is pointed toward either Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee, the lineup, Roy Oswalt, or the bottom of the order. Some of the blame is justified, some of it isn’t. 

The biggest mistake by Charlie Manuel isn’t the lineup. People tend to think there’s some magical lineup that will inherently score a drastic amount of runs better than another, unless you’re doing something crazy like leading off the game with Halladay, Valdez, and Martinez. The fact is, most managers do not optimize their lineups correctly all year and do not adjust properly. As for virtually all of fans’ lineup proposals I’ve seen, they make the same mistakes and the difference between what they think is best and what Manuel thinks is best is most likely only the difference of a single hundredth of a run on average, either way.

But the biggest, simplest mistake in my opinion is that for most of the series, Manuel has not put his best players in the field. Some people have been calling for Valdez or Martinez over Polanco, but that isn’t it. Even injured, Polanco is the better player. What if I told you he’s played an inferior player, both offensively and defensively, three times as much as a better player? 

Sadly, that’s what Manuel has done with his use of Raul Ibanez and John Mayberry. Sticking with a strict platoon, he’s started Ibanez three of the four games played with just Mayberry given the start against left-handed Jaime Garcia. The basic idea of the platoon is very simple. Match the batter up with the opposite-handed pitcher since typically, given equal players, a left-handed batter will do better against a right-handed pitcher and vice-versa. However, some players do not have a very high-split platoon, or are just simply better against a same-handed pitcher than their platoon counterpart. And this is what we have here. 

Here’s a little quiz. Which player would you rather have:

Player A: .256/.307/.440 with Isolated slugging of .184 and weighted on-base average of .322. Strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.27 to 1. 

Player B: .250/.330/.455 with Isolated slugging of .205 and weighted on-base average of .342. Strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.04 to 1. 


Player A is Raul Ibanez against right-handed pitchers this season. Player B is John Mayberry against right-handed pitchers this season. This goes against the very essence of having a platoon advantage. When opting for a platoon, your left-handed batter should not bat worse against right-handed pitchers than the right-handed batter you are platooning him for! Not only that, when the manager opts to bring in a left-handed reliever for Ibanez, he’s totally inept(.211/.232/.353). 

Not only is Mayberry the better offensive player no matter what hand the pitcher throws with, but when you tack on the drastic difference in defensive ability, the decision should be a no-brainer. Yet, Charlie Manuel’s loyalty to overpaid veterans has no end. 


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MLB Playoffs 2011: 6 Most Overrated Statistics in the Phillies-Cardinals Series

October 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

As the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals playoff series approaches and series previews are written, invariably many fans and writers will talk about random statistics based almost entirely on either small sample sizes or flawed metrics (wins, RBI, anyone?).

I don’t care what Ryan Howard’s average is in the fourth inning at Busch Stadium against Kyle Lohse, before the second inning and between 50 and 60 degrees, but whatever it is, I can tell you how he’ll most likely perform in the future.

Chances are he’ll hit about the same, as his numbers over the last few seasons suggest, against an above average, right-handed pitcher.

Please note I just made this scenario up and have no idea what it actually is, but it’s used to serve the point. 

Now, onto the stats.

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Analyzing Chase Utley’s Recent Slump

September 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

By now, I’m pretty sure everyone has noticed the Philadelphia Phillies‘ offensive struggles over the last couple of weeks. Of course, when you give Pete Orr, Michael Martinez and Ross Gload significant time, that’s bound to happen. However, one of the regulars is particularly struggling as well: Chase Utley.

Since August 31, Chase Utley has hit a meager .169/.239/.277 in 71 plate appearances. A certainly unsustainable and ridiculously low .182 BABIP is a culprit, but it goes deeper than just simple bad BABIP luck.

Typically, he can help offset such a low average with a good walk rate, but he has not done that either in September. Before last night’s game, he had only one unintentional walk since August 31.

That was his worst stretch since 2007.

A horrendous 11.5 line drive percentage will always hurt a player’s BABIP. His line drive rate has been poor throughout the season, especially when compared to his career mark.

Without the line drives, doubles have been harder to come by. For his career, almost 53 percent of his doubles have come off line drives, Therefore, when his line drive rate drops by almost half of what it normally is, the effect is huge.

The next question is finding out where the line drives have disappeared.

Line Drive % 2011 Career
Opposite Field 11.7% 16.1%
Middle 13.0% 19.6%
Pull 12.9% 22.8%


His line drives have been down across the board, but especially when pulling the ball. That brings us a hypothesis that maybe his bat and hand speed are slowing down. To prove it further, we’ll look at how many fly balls are being turned into homers.

Pulled Fly Balls 2011 Career
FB% 23.8% 26.4%
HR/FB% 17.1% 32.3%

Along with line drives, his power when pulling the ball appears to have dropped off a cliff. The amount of fly balls that turn into homers has dropped by almost half. In addition, he’s not hitting as many fly balls.

Couple that with his reduction in line drives, and it means he is hitting a lot more grounders to second and first base.

Some of you may say he’s just been unlucky, as HR/FB percentage can be a very luck-dependent statistic. Again, we have to take it another step further.

Looking at Hit Tracker, through his career, Chase Utley’s average speed off the bat has consistently hovered around 102.6 to 103.4 miles per hour. This year, it’s down to 100.1.

In addition, eight of his 10 homers have been classified under the “Just Enough” or “Lucky” category. By comparison, just four of his 16 homers in 2010 and six of his 31 homers in 2009 were classified the same.

Utley’s September slump is not just mere bad luck at play, but rather indicative of something more. The loss of power and reduction in solid contact when turning on the ball is alarming, and a season-long trend rather than just a one month trend.

Whether it is an undisclosed injury or simply old age is difficult to say, but I don’t expect Chase Utley circa 2009 to reappear the rest of the season.

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