124 thoughts on “Open Discussion, week of 23 April

  1. I have been away traveling for 6 months and when I got home I immediately checked this site to see about some of the players I was following. I was shocked to see that the Phillies released Eric Pettis who I thought had potential to move up in the system. In reading some articles I read that it was because of his age–it seems that they kept some older, less effective relievers. I wonder about the Phillies decision making these days–some questionable moves-Wilson Valdez traded, Tyler Cloyd in AA instead of AAA, signing Jim Thome and Lance Nye, trading for Wigginton. It is like the Phillies of old and it is showing in their performance so far this season.

    1. Every organization makes questionable moves. But 1) the Valdez trade is not questionable, and 2) all of the specific names you mentioned were meant to be bench players. What better place to take a gamble than the bench (in theory)? If they’re effective, they can help a lot. If not, they stop playing. Of course health issues have prevented the latter, but how is that the organizations fault?

    2. You mention Pettis but Eric hasn’t been picked up by any other club. Is it possible he doesn’t want to play anymore? We’ll see once the Independent Leagues start. If he wants to play, he’ll be on one of their rosters… maybe.

  2. Anyone else feeling pretty uneasy about Mayberry playing a significant role this season? Through 16 games, a .175BA with 13Ks. Not exactly what we wanted or expected out of that spot. Out of option or not, how long can you keep him in the big leagues?

    1. If your alternatives are Laynce Nix and Juan Pierre, I hope you keep him in the lineup for awhile.

    2. Does Mayberry really have zero options remaining? That sucks because I think he needs to go down and play every day to find his stroke back.

  3. In the off-season I argued for a Clint Barmes signing…boy was I off on that thought…..he hitting below .100 for April so far with Pirates.

  4. Austin Wright had an interesting start yesterday – 5 IP, 10 K, 3 BB, 2 ER. His k/9 is sitting at 13 right now. If he can get his bb/9 down closer to where it was last year (3 instead of 4.5), he could be ready for a mid-season promotion to Reading.

  5. Let’s talk about this column, entitled “What the Dodgers Can Learn from the Phillies.”

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/23285/what-the-dodgers-can-learn-from-the-phillies

    I generally like Bill Baer’s stuff for Crashburn Alley. He seems like a rational guy. But his conclusion here is: “If the Dodgers want to ensure they have success for many years to come, they need only look at the Phillies and do the exact opposite.” Really? Has the management been that bad? I love our prospects, but it seems like the Blanton, Halladay and Oswalt trades all paid undoubted dividends. The Pence deal looks bad right now, yes, but bad enough to hold up the Phillies–winners of five straight division titles–as paragons of ineptitude? I’m willing to be convinced, especially the way things are going right now, but this seems a bit extreme.

    1. I think the problem with the article is looking at each transaction individually. The goal with those trades (agree or disagree) was to extend the window of a contending core using money. One can justify each trade even if the Phillies overpaid on most (like the Pence deal). Without Pence this is not that good a team this year. Would Brown have done close to what Pence did? Probably not though his development would not have been as messed up.

      The one big problem was really re-signing Howard so early and for so much. There was no need to do that though the Phillies chose harmony with their core over efficient roster/money allocation. Unfortunately our only good options this year are waiting and hoping for Howard and Utley to get healthy so we have at least league average production at 2 more positions. I am not sure this is the year to double down on big contracts beyond that as we probably cannot acquire anyone better than those two without a huge cost.

      1. Although, am I the only one who thinks that Amaro was right in pointing out that Howard might have gotten a much longer-term deal if he had waited? Take out the big injury on the last play of the season–as much of a fluke thing as can possibly be imagined, and something that would have completely messed up his free agency. Would a healthy Howard have been able to get a megadeal someplace else, even with his declining numbers? I think that in an economy where the Tigers are going to be paying Prince Fielder until 2020, and the Angels Pujols until 2021, and the Reds Votto until 2023, it’s not at all ridiculous to think that the Phillies would have been looking at spending more total dollars and committing to more total years to resign a healthy Howard or a superior replacement. I am not saying that paying a declining first baseman $25 million a year isn’t insane, or that I wouldn’t prefer a healthy Fielder or Pujols in the lineup to a hurt Howard. I’m just saying that Amaro’s justification for signing Howard at the time–that they were committing to fewer years than he could get on the open market–probably holds up.

        1. Of course, all this takes place in an alternate universe where Howard doesn’t tear his achillies running out of the box in Game 5. In the real world, they could have probably resigned him to a one-year deal for 2012.

          1. You’re dreaming if you don’t think someone still would have paid him big bucks. He’s a power hitting first baseman, an achilles tear won’t hamper his careeer that much.

            1. Except that his slugging percentage has been declining the past two years. He hasn’t even led the team in slugging percentage or OPS the past two years.

        2. The article makes a good point on scarcity with Howard. There are a number of second tier offensive options there. You do not always need a Howard, Pujols, or Fielder level talent. Find a less expensive guy that hits you 25-30 HRs but does not cost you $20+ million. Think Mike Morse. Maybe trade for a prospect like Anthony Rizzo. There ARE options out there. It was just the wrong position to spend the money on.

          1. Right, you can criticize the contract on many grounds, including scarcity. But I’m just saying Amaro was right in his prediction about where the market was headed in 2011-2012: had he not been injured, Howard probably would have done quite well in the offseason as a free agent.

            1. Agreed. I think the main point on Amaro was that he did not consider how he could have used that money to build a more balanced offense in other ways. Even if Howard did not get hurt the age decline on his contract would have been a problem. I think Amaro was fixating on needing a classic slugger to anchor the offense. The time frame of the contract also opened us up to the injury possibility. I know why the Phillies did it (all the market reasons). They just did not get the discount they are supposed to get for doing that.

            2. The other miscalculation was in years past we had great production out of positions you don’t always get that production from – Rollins at SS, Utley at 2B, and to some extent Victorino in CF. At that time, we could live with a light hitting 3B like Feliz and then Polanco. But now as we moved into 2011 and 2012, having Polanco at 3B is a real offensive liability and RAJ should have anticipated a bit more of this decline and risk in other areas and when we had money to spend and an opening at 3B, there were other options to fill that gap that would have worked out much better. Having said that, Polanco’s contract has in no way been a disaster, he’s won a gold glove and done some good things offensively early in this contract.

            3. He WASN’T right. Pujols and Fielder used Howard’s contract as the FLOOR. If anything, Ruben set the market price.

              If Howard hit the free agent market healthy, he would’ve been lucky to get 5 years $20 million given his age and declining power numbers and lack of plate selection.

            4. If the contract was really irrational, the market would have corrected, especially with Gonzalez, Pujols and Fielder all slated to hit free agency at the same time. Instead, each of those players–admittedly, better players than Howard at this juncture–got an order of magnitude more total money/years. Twice as much in the case of Fielder and Pujols. That suggests to me that RAJ wasn’t just some crazy guy throwing hundreds of millions of dollars around irrationally and ruining the first base market for everyone. That’s just not the way economics work, even in baseball. You didn’t see anyone spend the same kind of money on a closer this year that RAJ spent on Papelbon, even though your logic would suggest he “set” the market by signing Papelbon first. No one else was willing to pay K-Rod, Madson, Bell, etc the kind of money that RAJ was, so they didn’t get it. By the way, have I mentioned how much I hate the Papelbon contract?

            5. Because every other closer on the market was inferior to Jonathan Papelbon. Jonathan Papelbon was the best closer on the market. If he signed Madson to that ridiculous contract that was rumored, Papelbon would’ve gotten Millions more.

              I couldn’t count how many times I read “if Ryan Howard is making $25 million, Pujols should be getting _____________”

              He overpayed Howard when he should have gotten a discount. Ryan Howard wouldn’t have touched a 10 year deal.

    2. I, like you, generally like the stuff Crashburn has to offer. But lately it all seems to be reactionary stuff with little-to-no significant analysis (the analysis is there, technically, but the stats cited are being used with far less than adequate sample sizes). I can give them some breathing room because it’s hard to have a stat oriented site at this point in the season, but there is a lot of doom-and-gloom talk for people who used to always subscribe to waiting for significant sample sizes.

      1. I agree with you. There was recently a very long article by Baer, I think, moaning and crying how much he hates the Phillies, RAJ, and everything connected with them, and basically how they have ruined his view of baseball. Please…get a life. Follow hockey or some other inane sport – how about curling ????

        Meanwhile the only worthwhile thing I have seen on that blog lately is a series of videos of Cliff Lee’s different pitches the other night during his 10 inning gem. Quite amusing. In the meantime, other than an occasional piece like the one above—– the constant moaning and complaining about Howard’s contract is just plain boring. The reality of these contracts, whether you want to sabermetricize them or not, is that they are FUTURES contracts. You are betting today on the state of the market, the state of the player, and even more dangerous, the physical and mental health of a human being. If these players were all robots it would be quite simple – moreover, one has to extrapolate what the other players at that position and their collective health to determine how long, and even when to grant a long term contract. Any more, when a 20 homer player reaches 2/3 years of ML service he immediately becomes a 10 million plus commodity – it has become forseeable that the cable and tv packages have unalterable consequences. Who in their right mind would sign a player till his age 39, 40, 41, and 42 – see Werth, A-Rod, Fielder, Pujols. Those deals are all disasters – having a 25 million contract for 5 more years is cheap compared to those !

        1. Your last sentance was brilliant, Those teams are all going to be screwed for the last 3-5 years of those contracts. Screwed as in, 25-30 million just sitting on the bench playing 50 AB’s per yr at best. That is, until someone invents the next steroid that’s “undectable”. (Clemens and Bonds are not the norm that they seemed to be during that period)

    3. That author is clueless. Reds/Madsen long term deal? really? Howards deal is an overpay, but 5 years not the 10 the other 3 big 1st basemen got. Lidge may have been a bad contract, but without him there; no WS ring in hilly, period. When one of the prospects that were dealt do something in the majors then you can call it poor management, but you simply can’t leave out they got Lee and Halladay and did go to another WS and are still the divisional champs until unseeded.

      1. I don’t understand what Lidge being good in 2008 (the year before his extension kicked in) justifies a horrible deal.

        The only real bad moves he’s made is Lee to Seattle (as it cost us Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar for Oswalt), Pence (though I love the guy… he overpaid) and the Ryan Howard contract… too soon to say whether or not he failed this offseason.

    4. The thing that I thought was detestable was if you read through the comments, Baer defends any criticism of the article by telling the critic that they are basing their acclaim “post hoc” and it’s therefore invalid. in other other words, if what he considers a bad move turns our well (ie 5 division titles and a WS win and another appearance) it does not overturn his criticisms of the moves. So then there is no criteria by which his premises could be overturned — if things go poorly, its as he expected; if they go well, then moves STILL aren’t justified. It leaves no room for real interaction.

  6. When you criticize Dom Brown it really comes down to criticizing the organization, doesn’t it? Remember, Brown was the untouchable 5 tool player that was going to be the linch pin of a youth movement. Do we know who in the organization made that call? 5 tools? Good hitter, but deficient in the field and on the basepath.

    The move that opened my eyes to what Amaro is all about was the Cliff Lee deal, where we traded this dominant pitcher…for peanuts. That said it all to me; and it laid the groundwork for the demise of the Phils. On top of that were the Howard and Rollins signings.

    JRoll, for whatever reason, is cooked. His 2011 numbers were contract year numbers. He’s become a .250 hitter. But we’re paying him 12 mil for doing a job Valdez could do for 1 mil. Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Beltran filled an actual need. Last year Lance Berkman was the right pick-up.

    Making the right moves at the right time is the mark of a great GM…not trading then resigning Lee for 120mil.

    When you look at the organization as a whole its pretty scary. 170 mil guaranteed to an aging roster…and nothing on the farm. The Braves are losing Chipper Jones but have McCann, Freeman and Heyward taking over; plus the best homegrown relief corps in baseball. The Nationals also look pretty good in the youth department, while the Mets made the smartest move this offseason by not resigning Jose Reyes.

    The Phils? Dom Brown is about it for a while… and its already been a long while since they hit on Rollins, Howard and Utley.

    Hunter Pence is a nice player, but not worth what they gave up…ah, whats the use. This ownership likes their good ole boys, brushed and scrubbed…with that newly minted MBA.

    That is until the numbers don’t crunch.

    1. Um, I guess the only thing I can say to this is, everyone who thought signing Lance Berkman and putting him in left field was a personnel masterstroke on the part of the Cards organization at the time it happened, please raise your hands. It’s really easy to be a general manager in retrospect.

    2. Hindsight is 20/20, but I said alot of this stuff when it was happening. Trading Lee then rushing to extend Howard were big mistakes that had cascading effects. Now, the team has no financial flexibility, the propsect cupboard is near bare, and they have no player flexibility.

      If you never trade Lee, then you never have to trade for Oswalt, which saves them Gose. Not signing Howard would have given them the financial flexibility to sign an Aramis Ramirez/Cuddyer or Beltran twosome. And instead of overpaying for Pence, they could have traded for Bourn, moved Vic to LF and played Cuddyer or Beltran in the other OF spot this year. Mayberry could play first until Utley returns. Singleton, Cosart, Gose, and Santana would still be in the system. This would have given them alot more flexibility from a financial standpoint as well as a roster standpoint.

      Now, they’re stuck with Howard’s albatross contract, still have to figure out a way to pay Cole, have a ssytem with no major league ready talent at the positions, and will need to overpay Pence at the end of the year.

    3. Your third paragraph lost you any and all credibility you might have had. You just compared Valdez favorably to Rollins? Really? Get out. I can’t in good judgment believe you are really a baseball fan after that.

      Sorry for being harsh, but really now. Valdez… REALLY???

      1. I’m uasually debbie downer, but I agree 100% with you here, Rollins isn’t cooked. He had a decent year last year, we had no one to replace him (forgive me, I want no piece of Reyes) and it’s not like we signed him for 5 years 100 million. As for Valdez, get the hell outta here… he’s a chump and can’t hold a candle to rollins.

  7. I actually agree with Bill on his post. The recent decisions may have doomed this team to mediocrity in the near future.

    1) Trading Lee. If they never trade Lee, then they don’t have to trade for Oswalt, which would have let them keep Gose.
    2) Extending Howard. If they let him walk last year, they’d have much greater financial flexibility.
    3) Trading for Pence. They should have targeted the cheaper Bourn and kept their top prospects.

    Under that universe, the Phils could have signed Aramis Ramirez and either Cuddyer or Beltran. They could play Mayberry at 1st until Utley was healthy. And they’d also have Singleton, Brown, and Gose waiting to move up.

    Now, they’re fiscally constrained and the upper echelons of their farm system are barren.

    1. I thought getting Bourne too would of been a great move. Expensive but Pence in left and Vic in right would have defensively superior.

    2. 1) Let’s assume they kept Lee, why does that guarantee they wouldn’t have still traded for Oswalt? Oswalt was not a piece that was added to get into the playoffs, we were getting into the playoffs. He was added to give us extra firepower to hopefully help us win another WS. Given the chance, we still assembled all four of the aces, so why wouldn’t we have done it half a year sooner had the chance presented itself?

      2) I’m not a fan of the Howard contract, but give Amaro some props. If not for Howard’s injury, he nailed the market way ahead of time. Howard would have gotten that money somewhere. Imagine for a moment we had let Howard walk and he was healthy, all other things being equal. Who would we have signed to replace him for this year? Anyone available not named Carlos Pena would have resulted in us calling for RAJ’s head. And I suspect Pena will fall off considerably sooner or later this year as well.

      3) What makes Bourn cheaper, exactly? That the Braves gave up “lesser” prospects than we did? Consider the fact that might be BECAUSE we weren’t in on Bourn. If we get into that bidding war, who knows how high the price would have risen. Both players were wanted commodities.

      See, it’s great to say all these things about what we should or shouldn’t have done. But there’s just so many things people don’t consider. Take, for example, the contracts given to Howard and Lee. Ideally, we shouldn’t have paid that much for them. But do you think the FO WANTED to pay them 20m+ a year? Absolutely not. Why did they? Because that’s what the market demands of us to acquire the high end players. If there were cheap superstars to be had, I believe the Phillies would sign them. But there aren’t. You either get superstars or you pay less for lesser players. The only exception to this is drafting a superstar, and even then the cost controlled aspect only lasts a few years at best. I don’t think any one of us could run this organization better than it’s being run.

      1. 1) The pitching was shaky past Halladay and Hamels that year. With Lee, there’s no way they go out and get Oswalt.

        2) Amaro didn’t nail the market, he set it by bidding against no one else. Howard was locked up for two more years when they extended him. The contract was widely mocked before the ink dried.

        3) Bourn would not have cost the three top 10 prospects that Pence did. And now, they’ll be forced to overpay Pence before he becomes a FA.

        Amaro assumed that Howard would continue producing. He declined the last two years as he has a one dimensional skill set that tends to age badly. They paid him like one of the top 10 players in all of baseball. He’s not even a top 5 first baseman.

        1. 1) You’re offering nothing other than an opinion. We had plenty of pitching when Lee was a FA, but we signed him anyways. What’s the difference?

          2) Again, I don’t like the contract. But if not for the injury Howard would have gotten similar money somewhere. And any of his potential replacements would not have been good. Fun fact, in terms of wOBA, our corps of 1B have been slightly above the NL average. Think about how bad our 1B production has been… that’s above the NL average at the moment. Really, let that sink in. We’re complaining about overpaying a 1B now (which we feel is extra justified because of an injury, but by that token we should feel justified about not signing Madson, and I disagree with both sentiments). If we hadn’t signed him, we’d be complaining that we didn’t sign Pujols, Fielder, or Howard this year (and really, I want none of the three long term, for different reasons).

          3) Again, speculation. We can’t say what Bourn would have cost us if we entered that bidding war. The Braves have more top-end prospects than we do. They could have afforded to up their price if we had bid against them. Who’s to say they wouldn’t have? Also, we’d have to overpay Bourn just like we’ll have to do with Pence, so what’s the difference there?

          And as much as I’m not a fan of Howard (well I am because he’s on the Phillies, but I don’t think he’s as great as a lot of his fans do), even with his decline he’s still an offensive force. Which is exactly what we’re all begging for at the moment.

            1. Gose is no more ready for the majors at the moment than Gillies. As for Brown, why would you expect the FO to let him replace Pence/Bourn when they won’t let him replace Mayberry/Nix/Pierre?

              So no, we’d be no better off with Bourn than we are with Pence unless you believe he’s a truly superior offensive player which I’m not convinced of (if Bourn is more valuable, it’s because of his defense, in my opinion). Not when it comes to the here and now at the very least.

          1. the Braves WOULD NOT have increased their price to get Bourn. They refused to part with what we were willing to for Pence and they’ve been stingy with their prospects lately.

            1. Except we don’t know that. If you want to deal in what-if’s, then you need to consider ALL of them.

            2. We DO know that. They didn’t want to give up the prospects that it took to give up Pence which is why they turned to Bourn.

              The Braves don’t trade their #1 prospects and they’ve been gunshy since Texiera.

          2. 1) If they needed extra pitching, then they would have traded for Oswalt and someone else. They were comfortable adding one pitcher that year. Which wouldn’t have been necessary if Lee hadn’t been traded. They signed Lee in the offseason, because a) he clearly wanted to come back and b) they knew Oswalt was gone after 2011.

            2) You’re too focused on 1B and not the aggregate. Letting Howard walk frees up money to sign at other positions of need. My idea would have been Ramirez and Cuddyer or Beltran. Utley could have moved to first when he returns, and they still would have had Singleton.

            3) The Braves may have entered the Pence derby if the Phils weren’t bidding for him.

            1. 1) They traded Lee in the first place because they obviously felt comfortable with their pitching. That changed, so they fixed it. And then they learned from their mistake and stockpiled pitching. And they knew Oswalt was gone after 2011 about as much as they knew Lee was gone after 2009. Which, by the way, was the main reason they traded him from what we know; they thought he wouldn’t re-sign, so they wanted to get more prospects back than they would have in a deadline deal. Have the prospects worked out so far? Not particularly. But let’s not pretend it looked terrible at the time. Aumont has absolutely DEVASTATING stuff. Gillies has speed to spare and is ridiculous on defense. And who would have figured that JC would be a bust at this stage?

              2) Ramirez, Cuddyer, and Beltran all represent older players. Cuddyer and Ramirez are essentially all offense with much to be desired on defense, so instead of having that at one (relatively unimportant defensively) position, we’d have it at two semi-important positions. Beltran is a very real health risk. Definitely not something I want more of on this team. Plus Cuddyer and Beltran would both represent yet another block for Brown. No thanks. I get your point, allocate the money spent on Howard to fill different positions. The problem is that it’s not a good time to need a 3B, and we need to get younger.

              I don’t think my point is quite clear. People are acting as though these decisions are made in a vacuum. They’re not. There is every chance that the FO wanted to do the very things we’re discussing, but didn’t because of reasons that we’re unaware of. They know better than we do the cost of, say, Bourn. All I’m saying is don’t say this organization is dooming itself prematurely. Our owners have two things that every team wants: money and a passion to win.

    3. Hey, I hear Pearl Harbor was bombed on 12/7/1941. Very easy with a rear view mirror. How do you know they are fiscally restrained with a 2015 tv/radio deal to renegotiate. Incidentally, they have the the best metrics for re-selling those rights of any team in baseball.

      1. Except its not hindsight. The Lee trade was roundly panned and the Howard contract was mocked by alot of people.

      2. Please don’t quote history if you don’t know the story . There many warnings that the Japanese were up to something big. When “TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT” couldn’t find five aircraft carrier there were immediate concerns.

        1. Cool story brospeh. Six carriers and radio traffic in the inland sea spoofed intelligence, but such detail loses the point.

    4. Am I the only one who thinks losing Gose wasn’t that big a deal? He still hasn’t learned how to hit. I don’t care how fast he is if he doesn’t get on base.

      1. I don’t like Gose as much as most but he does have a good walk rate the past couple of seasons. The question is whether he can maintain that in the majors. I’d take his AA numbers.

  8. Even if Howard had gone are there not other first baseman. Even a player with a little less power but a better fielder would of been a even draw.

  9. A bit of good news — Justin De Fratus finally rehabbing in Clearwater. Pitched an inning yesterday. No runs. One hit. Also, relievers Jordan Whatcott and Tyler Knigge have yet to give up any runs.

  10. I really think the Phils made many, many good moves prior to this offseason, the only thing that went wrong is we didn’t win another World Series or two. The offensive approach and utilization of the resources we had the last two years in the playoffs was not optimal. We made overly aggressive moves that should have yielded another ring or two, and we should be sitting here right now watching this debacle while we polish and admire all of our world series rings from the past 4 years.

    Looking back on it, and I don’t really blame the team for this because it wasn’t so obvious at the time, but well before Werth hit free agency we probably could have locked him up for 5 yrs, $65M or so, and we’d still have Singleton and Cosart. In the end, if we keep Pence we’ll end up paying him a very similar amount of money if not more, and we don’t have those two key prospects, along with the other 2 we traded. Again, I can’t blame them for this completely, but it sure looks like the organization over-valued the ability to fill Werth’s role from within with Brown, Francisco, and/or Mayberry.

  11. Lots of anger being spewed… Its hard not to be disappointed with the Phils’ play of late. I won’t get into a debate of Amarro’s work. The team won 5 divisions in a row and won 102 games last year. They got knocked out of the playoffs two years in a row because their bats went cold at the wrong time but they had a good chance to win both years. That’s the job of a GM. This offseason, he made some bench moves that obviously haven’t worked yet. However, he was counting on Chase and Chase led them to believe he would be ok. You can’t minimize that loss. He also counted on Polanco coming back although he signed Wig as insurance. The big gamble was that Mayberry had turned the corner and could be an everyday player with player. That decision was dreadful in hindsight but so many people also believed in Mayberry’s ability, Amaro wasn’t alone. Valdez? Who cares? Nix and Thome? Yes, they’ve been awful so far but so what. Chase and Mayberry are really the guys everyone should be mad at. What to do now is the real question. What ugly options… I’d put Jimmy back in the leadoff spot with Pierre in the two spot and Pence, who needs to stop swinging at balls at his eyes, in the 3 hole. Mayberry is so lost, I’d love to send him down but if he doesn’t have any wavers left, that’s a problem because he’s not a major league hitter right now. I’d probably bring Luna or Overbeck up to at least bat right handed on the bench and provide an occassional start for Polanco. Polanco needs to start hitting but I’d bat him 7th with Chooch 6th for awhile. Nix needs to get regular at bats against right handers and hope he starts to hit. If not, he could be gone. Thome? Retirement is a possibility. I’m positive that roster changes will come if they’re still not hitting a month from now but dealing from weakness is a bad time to trade. The Red Sox are a desparate team right now. Maybe there’s a deal to be made with them.

    1. Their best possible move is their cheapest move — the in-house option. Call up Dom Brown and substitute him in left field. I don’t care about his defense. He’ll figure it out.

      1. I agree. Dom showed a good approach at the plate last year – 25 bb’s, 35 k’s, and a 7.7 swinging strike percentage. He also had pretty decent power – .147 iso.

        While his defense was aggravating because the plays he missed he could have made – it’s better than having a guy like Ibanez out there who doesn’t have the physical tools to make plays, because there’s hope that consistent playing time can fix what’s wrong with Brown’s defense.

  12. The Phillies offense is downright deplorable right now. And much of that can obviously be blamed on injuries. But their offense hasn’t exactly been clicking even when Howard and Utley were playing. They’ve been in a dreadful offensive slump ever since that “meaningless” 8 game losing streak at the end of last year. Then they crank it up for 3 final regular season meaningless games vs. the Braves to get the 102 wins, give the Cardinals life, and then get knocked out in the first round when the bats once again fail. This offense has been incredibly inconsistent for the past couple of years now… and Howard, even when he was healthy, has generally been a no-show in the playoffs. And when he goes, so goes the Phillies.

    Even though I like the guy personally, I can’t help but question whether Charlie Manuel is the right fit for this team. Sure, he’s got some great qualities. He’s loyal to his players. He keeps them relaxed. And I can’t ignore the 5 straight NL East pennants. But he’s also clearly been out-managed by craftier guys in the playoffs for 3 straight years vs. Girardi, Bochy, and LaRussa. He’s suppose to be this great hitting guru… and yet the Phillies bats have struggled mightily for long stretches of time the past few years. They fired one hitting coach, got another one — result is still the same. Charlie’s been the one constant in all this. His laid-back approach isn’t gonna work with this group. He’s gotta get involved (if that is possible) and tell these guys over and over again to have better at-bats… take pitches, work a deep pitch count, draw walks, make contact, move the runners, foul off pitches. The Phillies hitters have never seemed to do that under Charlie. It’s frustrating to watch. This isn’t some knee-jerk panic reaction based on this year — I’ve noticed this over the past few years. The opposing pitchers have figured out how to pitch to the Phillies batters. And Charlie hasn’t adjusted. It’s only more noticeable now b/c of the injuries.

    1. Its tough to blame Charlie or any hitting coach when the players just do what they do. Rollins and Victorino are two very undisciplined hitters and that’s not going to change at this point in their careers. I actually think Jimmy is trying to be smarter and make the pitcher throw strikes, but only some of the time. Let’s face it, Werth and Chase were the guys that took pitches and made a guy throw strikes. Werth is gone and that Chase is probably gone too. Dom actually is very good at that too and hopefully we’ll get to see him back in Philly before the all star break.

      1. True, when you see the players bat the way they do, it’s tough to blame anybody but the players. Rollins and Vic have made me scream out loud in frustration on several occasions. Like you said, very undisciplined approach. And they seem too stubborn to change. Rollins has a new contract now (which I still contend was a mistake) so he’s even less motivated than before to change his ways. I was hoping for a new Jimmy but I guess that’s asking too much. That being said, that’s where Charlie comes — not allowing these horrible at-bats from veteran players to continue. If the Phillies want to contend with this current set of players, the batters must change their approach. Otherwise, we get the same sad result night after night. But how do they change? That starts with Charlie. He can’t just sit back and hope they’ll magically become disciplined hitters on their own. That clearly has not worked. He’s got to start benching guys and sending a message. Rollins had a weak pop-up swinging at the first pitch yesterday. Then bench him. I don’t care if Pete Orr takes his place. Gotta send a message that this is unacceptable. It’s not the losing that is bothering me… it’s the lack of effort and discipline. And it’s up to the manager to address it. Or it will continue.

      1. They’ve scored the most runs in the NL since he’s been manager. I agree the offense stinks right now, but blaming Manuel for it is kinda nuts.

        1. Come on, man, even the tv commentators were questioning some of Manuel’s lineup decisions this year. Remember when he kept Thome in verse lefty specialist Javy Lopez at a critical point in the game? I know he doesn’t have much to work with, but Cholly’s made some bad moves. And he did not adjust his lineup AT ALL in the playoffs last year despite their offensive failures.

  13. Any word on Ruiz?? If he is out there is another wheel off this three wheeled wagon. And by the way he is no spring chicken either.
    A lot of the Phillies success was done against a DEAD national league east which now has a pulse.

  14. I will take a time to try and talk people off the ledge. We are in the middle of the bottom and we are only 2 games under .500, that is the bottom people, the entire line-up is slumping and missing its stars, the fielding is horrendous, and the bullpen hasn’t exactly been great on a whole. Here are some things to think about.

    – 7 out of the 16 games have been in some of the worse offensive parks in the league
    – We have bench players/replacement level players starting because of injury, no team in the league takes losing an Utley and Howard well, take your favorite story and remove their two best hitters and evaluate their lineup
    – The fielding cannot get worse
    – The pitching has been good, and even better Worley not only doesn’t look like a one year fluke, he actually looks like an even better pitcher
    – Galvis’s bat is as expected, but his defense has been awesome
    – Every time you complain about the Pence trade, remove him from the line up (do the same thing for the Rollins signing)
    – This team has never known how to take a walk if they are Utley or Ruiz
    – Juan Pierre hasn’t been bad so far, a year of him…

    1. Every time I want to stop complaining about the Pence trade he swings at the first pitch with runners in scoring position, or rolls over a ball on the outside part of the plate with a runner on second failing to move him, or generally looks like he has no idea at the plate and just swings as hard as he can. Right now he’s their “best” hitter and yet is the personification of what is wrong with the offense. Work a damn count, if a ball is on the outside part of the plate, I dunno, go with the pitch. If a man is on third with less than 2 outs, hit a fly ball. It’s not just him, it’s Rollins, it’s Vic, it’s all of them.

      Yes, the line-up misses Utley and Howard’s production. But they also miss their example. They are the only two (exception maybe for Chooch) that will actually work a count. And for all the talk this offseason about being more selective and changing the approach, they send the one guy down who does all those things well.

      Sorry, a little fired up watching the game tonight. Rollins with 2 more pop outs, Polanco with another weak ground ball to second, Kendrick batting having already given up 6 in 2 innings, and some guy named Wade Miley only throwing 81 pitches in 6 innings of 2 hit ball. Way to make the pitcher work boys……God I can’t wait until Utley and Howard are back and Brown is recalled, it’ll be nice to see a good AB every now and than.

    1. Great, absolutely bloody great!…….Joe Thurston released! What next horrific move will this GM do!

  15. The 2008 Phillies, the team that won the World Series, started 8-8.

    Make sure you’ve all drawn up your wills before you hurl yourselves off a building/bridge. If you’d like to leave some of your belongings as a donation to phuturephillies.com email me and I will get you my information.

    1. Just to add, the 2008 team actually started 8-10 and were just 24-22 in late May. If we should have learned anything over the last few years, it’s not about how you start but rather how you’re playing come October.

      Did I mention that the 2011 STL Cardinals were 41-38 on June 28th.

    2. PP, sure some people around here are overreacting. But –

      (1) Without Howard and Utley, even assuming other slumping players rebound, this team is well below average offensively. That’s being kind. And we have no idea when either player will be back or how effective they will be when they return.

      (2) Without those two guys, the team is highly reliant on excellent pitching, and unusually vulnerable to further injuries. Some of which we are already seen.

      (3) Sample size is low, but for Polanco (sample size includes last year & the tail end of 2010 and suggests he is done as a hitter) and Mayberry (large minor league sample size and small prior major league sample size suggests that 2011 was a bit of a fluke, even though he is better than he has shown so far this year) there are good reasons to think that their performance so far is at least somewhat representative.

      (4) I’ve defended the off season acquisitions, and the point some have made about the constraints they were operating under is valid, but man the new players on the roster look questionable in retrospect.

      This is not the 2008 Phillies. Sure anything is possible – they could still make the playoffs, get hot, and win a WS – but the odds are lower than they have been in several years.

    1. I agree with the sentiment here.
      Flags fly forever.
      If you can win a world series you go for it, you can’t be constantly in rebuilding, the front office saw the opportunity and went for it, people you can complain but if you ask yourself that if five years ago someone offered you that success you would ask where to sign faster than they could finish.

      1. Sustained success is frowned upon in Philly, it raises expectations unreasonably high, just ask the Eagles. I think what is going on is more frustration than anything else. When you see the same mistakes over and over it gets to you. When you see your favorite players decline in front of your eyes it’s depressing. When you see a GM make moves that didn’t even make sense at the time, it’s like piling on. I’m glad for the last 5 years and look forward to seeing them fight for the playoffs this year, but I thought the whole point of blogs/message boards was to voice your opinions / frustrations / hopes? Honestly, if I can’t post here after watching Hunter swing at a ball over his head there might be a rash of kitten killings in NE Philly :)

        1. Stop the complaining but I guess you thought that the Phillies would always win the division and the players would always stay at the 2008 talent and health levels. I am relocated from the midwest and like the Phillies but do not live and die with them.

          1. Hmmm….how to respond to this….no, of course I don’t think the Phils will always win the division. No, I don’t think that players will stay at prime levels of health and production. No, I do not live and die with them. Clear ’nuff? Posting a paragraph on a blog I enjoy about my frustrations is, judging by the rest of the posts here, commonplace amongst fans. Sorry if you don’t feel that way and I’ll apologize further if you don’t mind the performance of the 175 million dollar team you root for. I’ll try to keep my “complaining” to a minimum in the phuture (haha “phuture”, get it? :p)

  16. Alright, so I’m going to give my 2 cents on this entire post. Obviously we’re all really upset right now, some are being more rational then others, and I personally, vacillate on it. I’m having a lucid moment right now, so I figure it’s as good of a time as any to share.

    1. And I can’t stress this enough, outside of a certain catcher who I really don’t have the courage to even speak his name, there wasn’t a single position player prospect we gave up that MIGHT (and I’m really stressing might) be an all-star right now. The only exception might be Michael Taylor, and that’s a pretty big might considering his last two years. That said, just evaluating our traded infield prospects (which is really where the pain is right now offensively) there wasn’t so much as an MLB “regular” in the group.

    2. Which brings me to point two; we are failing right now because of a combination of 2 things, first, a multitude of injuries, and second, crappy drafting on the offensive end over from 2006-2009 (at all positions, but especially IF).

    3. Related to the above two points, It seems Rubin over-estimated the length of time he had before players at the IF positions would be needed. This year, his 3B is playing significantly worse than last year, even post injury/surgery. His two biggest offensive threats when healthy are out, and when I say out, I mean for like half the season (1B & 2B).

    4. His gambit in LF really hasn’t paid off so far (hoping Mayberry could reproduce), and his bench signings which could have supplemented that position really haven’t amounted to much. (Can’t knock the signings, they looked like a decent bench in the off-season). And then there’s brown, who we all had high hopes for, and can’t play D to save his life.

    5. His starting pitching has been stellar (Worley, as mentioned by one of the above commenter’s really does look amazing), and the bullpen while not perfect, has been acceptable.

    Ok, so in summary ,we’ve got a mix of Injuries to key offensive players, under or par performance from the rest of the starting 8, and a farm system that hasn’t drafted a “STAR” position player in a really long time. (I’ve gotta yell this… IT’S NOT FROM THE TRADES!!!!)

    As to the current state of the farm. This past year’s draft is HUGE for this franchise’s future. I’m actually pretty content with the pitching side of our system, it’s really the position players that we need right now (the need will be no less in 2-3 years so don’t discount them because they’re young).

    I’m praying we can snag 2 perennial all stars at premium positions from last year’s haul, that sir, would be amazing.

    1. You don’t need to draft All-Stars to have a good team, just solid contributing players. Jason Donald isn’t a star player but I’m pretty sure the Phils could use someone like him in the lineup. No way I’m saying I would rather have him than Lee, just that role players do serve their purpose. All you have to look to are the Cardinals from last year. Descalso, Freese, Craig, Schumaker are no way considered players you would build your team around but they allowed the Cardinals to interchange their lineup without a significant drop in production.

      1. I’ll agree in a different way, we have traded away non-regulars and lottery tickets, some of those we may regret and others have withered away (Knapp, Jason). The real difference I see has nothing to do with production so much as it would be nice cost wise to be paying a Jason Donald or other bench player the minimum rather than paying a Nix or Wigginton. It is the nickle and diming that kill you, paying Blanton vs having some kid there is huge savings, you need young players to keep costs down.

        The problem with the Phils drafting strategy is that it tends to be boom or bust. You get stars or Hewitts, the system has not been producing a whole bunch of solid players, because they either flame out or have been traded at peak value. The good news is there are people in AA right now who still have the tools to put things together and be really good, even a player like Brown who can struggle has the potential that you can see of being an all-star.

        1. Always amused at the constant reference to guys like Nix or Wigginton limiting the Phillies financially. Nix is making $1.25M in 2012 while Jason Donald is making $484,000. I really doubt the extra $700,000 is the reason the Phillies can’t go out and get an offensive star.

          Phillies problem is that the $35M they are paying to Utley and Howard is all sunk cost right now, and in the case of Utley, is probably always going to be sunk cost.

          Yes, having good young, cheap players is preferable to having older, expensive ones but I don’t yet seen a good, young player that the Phillies have traded away that would be better than what they currently have.

        2. Your right the phillies are always looking for the Stars , instead they need to get good Avg players, guys that are hungry and they would be much further ahead.

      2. Jason Donald is hitting .212/.222/.212 in 37 PAs this season. I’m not sure that’s what the Phillies need right now.

      3. I’d challenge this thought. I think you absolutely do need stars to win and in baseball, you need a few relatively cheap ones at that. You also need good complimentary players but give me a roster full of those guys and I’ll give you a last place team. There’s a difference between buying a star who is just a mercenary and watching a young kid develop into a star and then carry your team, like Howard and Utley have done. We’ll really miss them when they’re done but we’re not there yet, they’ll be back later this year. The Phils have a small window left with this pitching staff and aging stars and they’re corredtly taking their shot but when the 2 stars are out hurt, it really shows their lack of depth. Who from our minor leagues could be good enough to be part of the next wave? I see some maybes but there aren’t any definite stars down there.

        1. To be fair, Utley and Howard weren’t definite stars either. Especially Utley. There’s always questions, even with the “sure things.” See Heyward, Jason. Great minor numbers, fantastic first season, and then it disappeared. It’s easy to dismiss that as a slump, but look at his peripherals. K% over 20%, BB% under 12%. That won’t fly. People are pointing to this year because his triple slash line looks pretty right now, but take a closer look. Over 24% K, under 10% BB, and a .390(!!!) BABIP. It’s not sustainable.

          Anyways, the point is the fact that we have those “maybes” is good enough for now.

      4. Mark, while I’m not knocking the value of role players, but I assume, since it’s obvious, that you conceed the fact that some “stars” are needed on a team to be a contender.

        Look at the phillies from 1-8 in the batting order right now, please tell me who is performing at a “Star” level? Because I’m having a damn hard time findind it. Matter fact, give me 2-3 players, becuase that’s what it takes to be a top offense in this league.

        I defer to my orginial post, the phillies need some stars on the offensive side of the ball, and they need them now. That said, the most realistic hope of us getting a sub-27 year old star is from our minor league system. I don’t see it coming from an infielder, atleast not for another couple of years. The reason the phillies offense was so prolific in the recent past was becuase we got insane performance from two of the least offensive positions on the field. 2B and SS, this allowed us to live with weakness (or average players) at other positions and still be a premier offensive force in MLB.

    2. That’s a great point. The last impact position player the Phillies produced was Michael Bourn. When the farm system stops producing it is hard to stay competitive no matter what you do.

  17. Joe Kerrigan shed some light on Worley’s effectiveness. He said that most pitchers will command one side of the plate but Worley can throw all his pitches on both sides of the plate. I would include the upper part of the strike zone as well and effective out of the zone low. That is the closest I have heard as to why he get so many called thirds.

    1. Vance just said on a segment on CSN this afternoon it is his two-seamer with the grip that Cole told him about. And the catcher that encouraged him to throw it to lefties with two strikes was Dane Sardinho.

  18. I liked the phillies but phillies are really struggling offensivley I really want to see John mayberry imprOve.

  19. Can someone tell me why Darin Ruf has just torn up the minors for years now and he’s still sitting in Double A? I didn’t even know who the kid was until I got bored and started looking at the R-Phils roster recently–why hasn’t there been any buzz about him?

    1. Because he is a 1B only prospect, to be an every day major league player at 1B the bat has to be special. Maybe some day he gets enough recognition to maybe get a couple cups of coffee as a pinch hitter but 1B prospects have a lot of pressure and must mash at an extremely high level year after year to have a future

  20. I remember when this site was about prospects. Can we move the MLB talk some place else? Maybe a different thread? PHUTUREphillies should be just that.

    1. If you don’t want talk about the big league team then I’d advise you stay away from the Open Discussion threads. They were created for the specific purpose of keeping big league talk out of the threads that are meant for minor league players.

    2. Wait… what? Plenty of people still talk about the prospects. In fact, most of the threads are specifically for that. This just happens to be the one thread in which we’re supposed to talk about current Phillies (or anything we want, really).

      If you want purely prospect talk, go to the box scores. That’s all about the prospects.

      By the way, current Phillies can also be “phuture” Phillies. Take Rollins, for example. Yes, he’s already a Phillies player, but he will also be one next year, a.k.a. a “phuture” Phillies player. Don’t get angry at people for caring about the big club. After all, what good are prospects without the big club anyways?

    3. This is the open discussion thread. James puts these up once in a while so people can vent about the big club, the weather, or fashion attire. If you want to discuss the Phuture Phillie Prospects, just add your 2 cents to any of the daily boxscore postings.

  21. Sorry! I hadn’t realized the open discussion was literally open to everything. I know when James started this site, he was pretty clear that it was just for prospect talk. But I get your points. Cheers!

    1. No problem. Looking forward to your thoughts specifically on prospects over in the box score section when you have the time.

  22. Harold Martinez is playing 1B for Lakewood tonight.

    I assume he’ll slide between 1B, 3B, & DH with Franco, & Dugan getting time off and @ DH as well.

  23. Some way, some how, Ruben has to pry Middlebrooks from the Sox…even if Domo Brown and one of the ‘Baby Aces’ has to be included in the swap.

    1. They would demand more than that. And why, exactly, would they give up their future 3B (while their current one is also slumping like ours) unless we vastly overpay?

  24. So Jon Singleton is batting .377 with 3 home runs, 12 RBIs and 8 extra base hits in AA at 20 years old. The question is, did he really need to be included in the Pence deal? Couldn’t we have given them Brown, May, Biddle or Colvin instead?

    1. Remember the concept of small sample size? If I remember correctly, Singleton usually starts out hot. Also, even with the great start, 20% of his ABs have resulted in Ks. This might also be a good place to mention that Domingo Santana is hitting .147 and has struck out in half of his plate appearances in high A. Again, a very small sample size, but you win some and you lose some. When it comes to trading away prospects, you win more than you lose. Acquiring prospects, unfortunately, just the opposite.

    2. And a BABIP that’s 100 points higher than his career average!
      He should regress to his usual (.290/.390/.470-ish) self. Which is still really good of course.

    3. He is a one position player..first base…..and the system already has Ruf, Murphy, Overbeck etc etc etc!

      1. Not one of them is half the prospect that Singleton is, but I find it odd that OP values Singleton more than Brown and May and Biddle (to a lesser extent). Colvin still has the tools, so even that’s a little iffy.

        May I remind you that Brown raked in every stop of the minors as well. He’s closer proximity to the majors, and, if I had to take a guess, I’d bet he could passably play 1B if he wasn’t blocked there (but, unlike Singleton, he theoretically should have plenty of ability to play the OF although that hasn’t translated yet for whatever reason). So basically you wanted to give up more value for Pence than we already did?

        1. According to numerous sources (not mine obviously, I’m not a beat writer) the Phillies would have rather traded Brown to Houston instead of Singleton… going as far as shopping Brown around the league to a third team.

          Houston didn’t want him.

  25. Personally, at this point, I’m shaking up the line up to look something like this:

    Rollins
    Pierre
    Pence
    Wiggington/Nix/Mayberry/Thome
    Victorino
    Polanco
    Ruiz
    Galvis

    Jimmy Rollins as a #3 hitter: .244/.304 /.320
    Jimmy Rollins as a leadoff hitter: .275/.333/.448

    Hunter Pence as a #4 hitter: .247/.288/.376
    Hunter Pence as a #3 hitter: .304/.357/.491
    Hunter Pence as a #5 hitter: .289/.349/.474

    Victorino’s best numbers are as a #5 hitter, so it’s probably best to leave him where he is. I think you need to move these guys to the spots they’re most comfortable and effective and sacrifice the clean up spot instead of both the clean up and #3 hole.

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