91 thoughts on “General Discussion – Week of 11-25-2013

  1. I don’t really understand what the Phillies are doing, unless this is the “rebuild for 2016 while maintaining 70+ win seasons to retain franchise television contract earning potential approach”

  2. Yes, it is very strange, because nobody in the fan base will give them half an ounce of credit for winning 80 games or less. That will be counted the third consecutive season of outright failure. You are correct — management seems to think that 79 wins puts them in far better shape with the fans than 69 wins would do. I really doubt that. The big thing would not be that the result is a little better than 2013, but that it is still worse than 2012 and wholly unacceptable. It is the sort of 5-year plan strategy-free approach which simply guarantees continuing mediocrity and a further decrease in 2014 attendance and 2015 season ticket sales. Either aim higher or rebuild.

    1. Let me first say that your comment below about this off season being less dreary than last is spot on. But on this point, it’s not so much that I disagree as that I think you’re asking the wrong question. The fans may not be much happier with 79 wins than 69, but what’s important (from a fan perspective and from the perspective of the TV contract) is at least attempting to put a competitive team on the field. I get why many people around here don’t care much about that unless the team can contend, which it can’t, but, as long as they don’t sacrifice the future to do so – and so far this off season they aren’t – then I don’t have a problem with it.

    2. That kind of leads into something I’ve been meaning to write about …

      I think a lot of people – not just here – are saying the same thing you guys are saying. Amaro’s not REALLY trying to field a contender, and he isn’t rebuilding either. So what is the strategy?

      Well as critical as I am of Amaro, I think there’s an answer to that. Both of the more “natural” strategies have problems. A “win now” strategy is problematic for obvious reasons. An “all out rebuild” strategy is more plausible, but also has problems which have been discussed at length on this site – among them the fact that the current veterans (a) aren’t blocking good prospects, and (b) don’t have much trade value. So that leaves … muddle through for now as we (slowly) rebuild.

      Now, none of that is an OVERALL defense of Amaro. One can criticize his execution of the “muddle through” strategy (cough, Marlon Byrd, cough), and of course in hindsight he made a number of strategic mistakes to get us in this situation in the first place. But I think one can make a strong case that, for the moment, the “muddle through as we slowly rebuild” strategy is the best of a poor set of options.

      1. I honestly don’t object to a “muddle through as we slowly rebuild to a championship team” strategy. My problem is that I don’t see a path being pursued to get us from here to there. If we had one of the strongest farms in baseball, with enough potential stars to form a new core, then just muddling through while that new core works its way through the farm will get us to where we want to be. Unfortunately, the farm is not nearly strong enough for that to be the case and potential stars are few. So something more needs to be done. There is the MAG signing, and that is nice, but in reality we don’t even know what we have there. So, for me, the problem remains, what is the strategy to get the team where we want it to be, while muddling through to preserve current revenue. Logic says, of course that’s what RAJ is doing, he just hasn’t laid it all out in public view. Then I see close to $1 mill in unspent international allocation and realize that ownership/management has still not taken seriously the need to scrape for every possible advantage to strengthen the farm and improve the team as fast as possible. That is the disconnect I see.

  3. This very well could be the Phillies’ dreariest hot-stove off season in the last decade.
    Or maybe since Y2K!

    1. I think something significant on the pitching front is yet to happen. All in all, I think last winter will turn out to have been drearier. I’m not a big fan of the number of years given to Byrd and Ruiz, but they at least have a realistic chance to be effective players in 2014, if they can stay healthy. I found no way last winter to pretend that the Youngs could be satisfactory. You just don’t give a guy coming off surgery the $ and multiple guaranteed years we gave to Adams. Durbin and Lannan were meh. I think this winter will at least be an upgrade over last winter. I also think we are odds-on to win more games in 2014 than we did in 2013. Certainly not a serious shot at post-season, but not as awful as 2013. It’s really hard to imagine a worse winter than the past one.

    1. An interesting and largely accurate column. Before the problem can be fixed, reality needs to sink in and all of management/ownership need to recognize the depth of the problem and come to a gut realization that there just isn’t going to be a last hurrah WS for the remnants of the golden core. Howard is not a 150 game player and hasn’t been for years. Rollins is very average, Ruiz has aged, and Utley’s 2013 bounce back in health was great to see, but it is more a matter of hoping it continues than counting upon it. It is not all that harmful to pretend the team can contend in order to sell tickets, but RAJ gives too many hints that he actually believes it.

  4. Although slightly heartened by a few of Amaro’s comments on the local radio circuit last week, I must say he took a step backward yesterday on CSN when he said he views Howard as hopefully a 150 game player this season. Hopefully Sandberg is smarter than that…

    1. mds13…..actually his words were ‘145 to 150′ games if healthy.
      RBTL…..i took it to mean that Howard will be platooned at times vs lefties.
      If the Phillies faced 72% of the time in 2012 vs right handed pitching, not sure about last year, but assumed it was somewhere around that number also, give or take 5%, then Howard’s 145 games is close to a platoon situation vs difficult starting lefties.
      But it begs the question again….what does Sandberg do with Howard vs the ‘Venters of the world’ late in the game!

      1. I would like Howard a lot better if he was a 125-130 game player sitting against all lefties but I take your point.

        Sandberg is the wild card here. He’s geting his first chance at a mangerial job which is what he’s always wanted. I have some faith that he will put the team out there that gives him the best chance of winning. My guess is that he will give Howard a shot against lefties early but have a short leash in that regard if Howard struggles like he has the past few seasons.

  5. He appears to be under the mistaken belief that Howard is the MVP candidate from 2007, and so are Chase and Rollins. He said this core is still very good, they just have to play that way. Unfortunately, they are no longer, at least as far as Howard and Rollins are concerned, very good players. You can argue about Chase. And, it isn’t even an argument of analytics vs. old fashioned scouting. They are not very good anymore by any standard.

  6. Let me preface this by saying that Amaro is a terrible GM. The idea of taking your world championship team and trading prospects for aging expensive stars is incredibly flawed. That said, I actually agree with RAJ’s approach this offseason so far. Byrd and Ruiz, while older, both play good defense, can hit in the middle of the order and are right handed. He did overpay some, especially for Ruiz, but there were no better options. Now if he can add a mid rotation starter (I like Nolasco, and with Haren going to LA, Nolasco probably has to look elsewhere) and 1 or 2 relievers without breaking the bank, that would be about the best case scenario. I also like Rajai Davis as a 4th OF. They would need a lot to go right to make the post season, but they would be a better team entering 2014 than 2013 (Nolasco, Byrd, Ruiz, MAG, Asche/Franco, Rajai would have replaced Halladay, Delmon, Kratz, Lannan, M Young and Mayberry).

  7. The game is different today – the free agent market is flawed with the great young players off the market. There are two ways really to acquire young talent – the draft and international markets. The draft is now mostly restricted by slot bonuses, etc so the one way the Phils can outspend their peers is in Cuba and Japan. This is how they can change their fate.

    1. Exactly correct. I think Phillies management still believes that it can wait to shed the big albatross salaries, then use their $ to buy major league talent and right the team. I think you are correct that that day has passed, with revenue sharing and the new TV contract giving more teams the chance to lock up their own stars. The Phillies are badly in need of a game changer. Plodding along with the old game plan seems highly unlikely to bear fruit.

    2. And Rube, of course, tries to bust out a big payday for MAG and it backfires into a, “Hmm…I really wonder if this guy is even any good and not a constant injury threat” kind of a contract.

      I hope someone in that FO is sitting around saying to themselves that with that ~$35M they didn’t get to spend on MAG, they should push for Tanaka. It’s money they wanted to spend in the free int’l market that they still can spend. $35M isn’t going to get Tanaka, of course, but it mitigates the sting of the posting fee a bit, and you’re getting a player whose floor is likely close to what the best case halthy MAG’s ceiling would have been.

      Not to say this will happen, but I hope someone is trying to convince the right people that this is a good move for a club that desperately needs to do something big to contend. Maybe even that someone is Amaro trying to convince Monty. If he is, more power to him, I say. If not, I hope he closes the checkbook and rides out the storm of 2014 and isn’t afraid to move whoever he can at the deadline for near-big league talent, in an attempt to…I almost said “continue” – lol…to build a younger core.

      1. Tanaka and other Japanese players from the NPL may not be here for awhile with the issues over the posting fee policy.
        Not sure if its the MLBPA, the owners or whoever, but someone is stone-walling the process.

        1. Yeah, that’s an issue that is obviously a problem for anyone looking to that market for talent. I think Ben Badler mentioned a proposal went back to NPL recently. Maybe progress. We shall see.

        2. And FWIW, Badler just tweeted that the Rakuten Eagles owner “intimates” in an article that Tanaka will be posted this winter.

          1. ‘The issue amongst the owners was that some small-market owners wished for posting fees to be counted against the luxury tax. This couldn’t happen unless the collective bargaining agreement was changed, and the MLBPA informed the owners that they weren’t going to re-open the CBA’

            1. That’ll be a point of contention between the owners in the next CBA, I imagine, and the players probably don’t want to curtail the big spending teams’ payroll by adding posting fees into them. Maybe an owner’s side agreement there, that posting fees above $X will be taxed or something, only affecting the incoming NPB guys, not existing MLBPA members, (the PA has little concern for future members, it seems, from how their minor leaguers are handled). A tax would be a sticking point with NPB as it would potentially depress their largest paydays, so I’m sure it will be contentious as it goes forward, even as it will likely continue to operate in some fashion. Japan’s not just going to let their best young players walk, but their leverage seems fairly weak, and their players will have something to say about it as well. Should be interesting to follow that issue for the next couple years.

    3. I had a second thought on your first sentence. I don’t think today’s free agent market is flawed. The game is different today than it was over the beginning of the FA period, but has gone back to more closely approximate what baseball was for more years than that. To me, FA was a needed fix to give players their fair share of baseball revenue, to allow players to get away from teams who they felt didn’t treat them well or where they were blocked and unable to be starters. FA always had a huge downside — it encouraged a return to checkbook baseball and it stripped stars from teams and reduced the identification of fans with their teams. To me, it is a big positive if baseball has moved to a system in which FA allows players to get the money due them, but with most of the stars remaining with the teams on which they became stars. I realize that this is not at all good for the Phillies in the moment, but I think it is very good for baseball and good for fans. It is good that revenue sharing and increased revenue from the league-wide national TV contract allow the smaller-revenue teams to hang onto more of their good players. The biggest problem baseball has is not stars staying with their teams, but teams like the Marlins, where the owners pocket the revenue sharing and TV $ and trade off their good players or let them leave as FA. That results in a churned club with no positive identity, which really has no chance to hook fans. It is bad for baseball.

  8. Agree or disagree, RAJ is correct when he says that this Phillies team will need Howard to be close to the old Howard for them to be successful. Can he be close to that player? I don’t know but I’m not positive that he can’t. He’s a proud player and one who I think will learn how to hit the ball to left field again. Charlie wanted him to swing for homers and hit into the shift if necessary but that’s just not smart baseball and I think Ryno will go a different way. Howard has to know that he’ll never pull those tough lefties, he has to go to left with the ball and I think he’ll try this year. I think he’ll be healthier and I think it will make a difference. However, its probably unlikely that he’ll play 145 games. Luckily, Ruf will be around to pick up a few of those games. As for Chooch and Byrd, years and dollars aside, I’m fine with both of the signees. They’re both going to give solid play and the alternatives weren’t good if you’re committed to not losing a 2nd rd pick (which they’ll need as they retool this team). They still need to sign a starting pitcher, and I think they’re trying, a reliever, although he’s gong to get 3 years it looks like, and another OF (Rajai still there). If they make these 3 moves, we’re probably looking at a 86 win team, plus or minus 5 wins, at best but a 76 win team is still possible too. Its hard to hope for good health when you’re starting 5 guys over 34, you know there will be unexpected injuries there.

    1. Which old Howard are we talking about?

      I’m going to use WAR to illustate this, not because it is perfect but because it is simple and IMO in this case reasonably accurate. By WAR, the least season he was an above average regular was 2009 (4.4 WAR). I think the chance that he can get back to that level is virtually zero.

      Now, he wasn’t horrible in 2011. If you squint, you can argue that he was an essentially average major league regular that season. (WAR would have him a little lower, 1.5 WAR, but if you give him credit for performance with RISP, which was good that year, he’s about average.) I don’t think it’s likely that he’ll be that good in 2014, but he could be. Would that be enough to lift the Phillies to contender status? If they sign a decent starting pitcher and everything else goes right … well, probably not even then. That is, I think your 86 wins is a reasonable best case, not a likely outcome.

    2. I’ve refrained from asking this question A LOT over the past few years but where did you (or a number of others that i’ve seen say this) hear/see/read that Manuel has told Howard to go up to bat and swing for the fences and if he hits into the shift oh well? I’ve heard people say that Manuel doesn’t want players talking walks or hitting singles but wants his guys swinging for HRs, show me ANYWHERE that hes said this. The fact is that he has NEVER said that, there’s actually articles and interviews where he wishes his players would see more pitches, work the count, walk, hit the ball where it’s pitched. He has ALWAYS said Howard is at his best when he’s driving the ball the other way, putting the ball that is away into Left field. Driving the ball the other way is something he took pride in teaching Jim Thome how to do. So why does everyone think that he wants his team to go up there trying to hit HRs all the time? I know i’m going to hear “because thats the kinda player he was” well thats not true either, look at his numbers, he was a high OBP guy and took walks (yes he hit HRs too and a lot of them but that wasn’t all he was). Sure he would have liked a team with guys who can hit 30plus HRs, EVERY manager would but he has NEVER been quoted in the public as saying “I want my guys hitting homeruns, going up to the plate with an all or nothing approach”

      1. Your point is well taken. Both he and Amaro made comments in the past about being “agressive” which can be taken to mean several things, but people seem to have assumed that means first pitch swinging and looking for home runs.

        Amaro was asked last week about whether he now cared more about OBP. He sort of evaded the question but said that it was difficult for established veteran players to change their approaches but that Henderson and Joyner preached it and that they are now preaching it to their minor leaguers (the implications being that they have a roster full of free swingers and that they didn’t preach patience in the past). We also now know that Sandberg is preaching to Rollins about getting on base, hitting the ball the other way, etc. that to me suggests a departure from manuel’s approach

        1. But looking back, Burrell and Werth walked a ton. Howard did as well in his prime because he was pitched around and intentionally walked a lot. Utely and Victorino had good walk rates for a number of years.

          Then you have two issues that effected the team’s ability to take walks:

          1) Some of those guys left and they weren’t replaced by players with the same appraoch (which IMO is probably indicative of Amaro not appreciating the value of BBs more so than charlie suddenly deciding to preach something different.)
          2) It’s natural for players to walk less as they get older and less effective as they are less feared by pitchers and more likley to be pitched to.

          Rollins is the really the only example of a player under Manuel who seems to have made a conscious decision to swing for the fences more often. Though, while this led to an increased K%, his BB% has stayed very consistent.

  9. OK, this is probably a dumb thought to bring up, but there is one marquee free agent on the market who hasn’t signed with anybody and who would presumably upgrade the Phillies considerably: Robinson Cano. Now, I understand that the Phillies resigned Utley, that Jay-Z is asking for the moon, etc. and that therefore this won’t happen. But I’m wondering what you all think would be a reasonable contract for Cano. Put it this way, if the Phillies offered him 8 years and $200 million, and he accepted, would you shoot yourselves? Jump for joy? Can anyone imagine a scenario in which the Phillies could land him? This just occurred to me because Tanaka isn’t the only big name still out there and since there’s such a gap between the Yanks and Cano, I guess I thought I’d float the idea.

    1. Well, it’s not happening for all of the reasons you say, but …

      The problem with 8/200 is that, from the team’s perspective, almost all the value of the contract is in the first 4 years. After that the contract becomes an albatross. If one assumes that the Phillies wouldn’t contend even with him, what’s the point of the deal? By the time they are ready to contend again, Cano will likely be in his decline phase.

      1. But could they contend with Cano on the roster? I guess that’s part of my question. To do so, I guess they would have to trade Utley and actually get some value in return. Which they won’t do. But as a hypothetical exercise, I wonder if it could work. But now, as I type this, I realize that even that scenario (trading Utley) would likely not be enough because they would still have holes to fill and no salary flexibility at all because of the hypothetical Cano contract. Huh. I guess I’m just trying to resign myself to the fact that there’s almost no way they could possibly compete this year.

        1. IMO if they wanted to compete next year, the strategy would have been to go after Garza and Choo. Choo isn’t as good as Cano, but a much better fit (and will be much cheaper). Choo is conservatively 3 wins better than Byrd. Hard to know who to compare Garza to,(as likely another starting pitcher will be signed) but one to three wins better than likely options.

          Now, that STILL wouldn’t be enough for contention, most likely. Only if just about everything broke right for them. And at the cost of a 2nd round pick and future payroll flexibility.

        2. the only way that they would be able to contend with Cano is if they could trade Howard (Eat around 50m of the contact, which might actually get them a few decent prospects) and move Utley to 1B or move Utley to LF however then its a question of what do you do with an OF of Utley/Brown/Revere/Byrd (And how would Utley be in LF)? You could move Revere but then you don’t have a CF in the bunch. You could trade Brown for prospects and fine a platoon match with Byrd but I really dont want to move Brown.

          1. You’re probably about $15 million short on the amount of money the Phillies would have to eat on Howard’s contract. And they will get non-prospects most likely, but maybe someONE decent if they eat $65 million of $85 million owed. Utley would move to 1B. Outfield is not an option on those knees. Brown can’t be moved. They wait all this time for him to play well. And he’s cheap.

    1. They are by no means done and, IMO, are trying to do something relatively big without giving up much or any young talent. That means either Tanaka (they are too risk averse, I don’t see that happening) or Garza (really, this is a good long term move – Garza will look just fine in that rotation as a 3 or 4 and, if, as I think might happen, Biddle becomes a big time pitcher within the next year or so, he along with Lee, Hamels and Gonzalez – and the underrated Pettibone too – could make the rotation look pretty good).

      1. With the 7th pick in 2014 they may go for an elite college pitcher who could be also be cracking the rotation in 2016 sometime.

  10. Checking out MLBTR and one lefty reliever that would be a good pick-up in the Rule 5 draft may be Brian Moran from the Mariners org. His K/9 rate is phenomenal. Him and Diekman in the pen would ease the possibilty of letting Bastardo be included in a deal.

  11. There is a lot of pessimism these days in Phila., and rightfully so, I suppose. But being the eternal optimist, here is why I believe the Phillies will be surprisingly competitive in 2014.

    1. Though they did not make any major upgrades offensively, with what they have they could return to about the run production they saw in 2012 of around 680 to 690 runs. I am basing this off of Bill James’ player projections for 2014. I am also assuming that Howard, Utley, and Rollins play between 135 – 145 games and about 100 for Ruiz.
    2. The Phillies were last in the league I believe in defensive runs saved, but they should show significant improvement in the field with Byrd and Asche replacing the “Youngs.” Although I am concerned with declining defensive up the middle, it would not be a surprise to see a nice overall improvement.
    3. IF they sign a name like Garza to go wth Lee and Hamels, then the SP with MAG / Pettibone / Kendrick at the back end is playoff caliber.

    Add a bullpen piece and combined with the improvement in defense, their runs allowed total could drop by as much as 100 runs from 2013 to say 650, which is in line with the 2012 season. That would imply a run differential of approximately +40, which is good for 85 to 86 wins.

    1. Unfortunately, a .525 winning percentage does not get you into the playoffs.
      It does, however, keep games meaningful until mid-September.

    2. It’s amazing how the same conclusions can read as optimistic from one person and pessimistic from another. I’m regarded as a pessimist, but my conclusion is similar. Except that the way I phrase it is different – even if EVERYTHING breaks right for the team, they are looking at missing the playoffs with around 85 wins.

      1. Yeah, but he’s posing it as an outcome that he believes will happen. And I don’t really see how we get to 85 wins even if everything breaks right. We had a run differential of a 66-96 team last year. This team got lucky LAST YEAR to finish with 73 wins. They had the worst run differential in the NL.

        We can credit the team hypothetical wins for the upgrades at 3B and RF, for signing Matt Garza to soak up innings that Roy Halladay and John Lannan pitched last year, for getting more ABs from mid-30s players. Even if all that is unlikely, it could happen. But we can’t ignore the baseline we’re working from is a team that should’ve lost 94-98 games last year.

        1. Pythagorean W – L % can be easily distorted by performance in either one-run games or in blow-outs. For example, in 2012, the O’s won 93 games when their run differential suggested only 82 wins. How did they do this? By going an unprecedented 29 – 9 in one runs games. The O’s were lucky in 2012, and it is why I was skeptical of their ability to seriously contend going into the 2013 season.

          On the other hand, the Phillies were 11 – 35 in blowouts. Those 46 games created a negative differential of 170 runs! To put that into perspective, the lowly Astros who lost 111 games last year were 13 – 34 in blowouts for a negative 148 run differential. The point is, the Phillies were not lucky last year to win 73 games.

          To readdress the point of team defense, the Phillies were dead last in the ML last year with a negative103 defensive runs saved according to the Bill James 2014 Hnadbook. The most vulnerable positions defensively ranked in order starting with the worst were: 3B, CF, and RF followed by SS. So with Asche, Byrd and Revere, we should see a significant improvement in the field that will, of course, help the pitching staff. Unfortunately, they are committed to Rollins even though his bat and glove no longer warrant him starting at SS.

          1. I don’t understand your point here. A team’s ACTUAL w/l is easily distorted by their record in one run games. You were rightly skeptical of the 2013 Orioles because they performed unsustainably well in one run games in 2012. Their 2013 record was evidence that pythag is more accurate than actual W/L records.

            Pythag record doesn’t discriminate between blowouts and close losses. It only takes into account (obviously) runs scored and runs allowed.

            1. You said that, “This team got lucky LAST YEAR to finish with 73 wins. They had the worst run differential in the NL.” My point is that the Phillies run differential was skewed by the number of losses in blow-outs (where a blowout is defined as losing by 5 or more runs).

              To illustrate my point, suppose a team finishes with a 81 – 81 record and every game they played was either won or lost by a score of 5 – 3, with the exception of 6 games where they were blown out by a 10 run differential (losing 13 – 3 instead of 5 – 3). The Pythagorean W – L % would predict a 75 W season. Was this team lucky to have played .500 ball or are they a .500 caliber team that simply lost in a disproportionate number of blowouts? Without deeper analysis (and since we are confining ourselves to run differentials) I have to go with the latter.

              I went back and looked at every season since 1960, inclusive. The 2013 season was the worst in terms of W – L % in blowouts and in run differential of neg. 170 runs. And there was some pretty bad teams during that stretch such as 1961 (47 W) and 1960 and 1972 (59 W). Fortunately, I am a little to young to remember 1960 – 61. BTW, the 1961 team was 11 – 29 with a neg. differential of 120 in blowouts.

            2. long…phan—-I will be interested to see what the Vegas line for ‘over and under wins’ will be for the Phillies in 2014.
              If it comes back to read 85.5 wins..then I know you are a bookie….ha

    3. I don’t know that the Phils’ defense will improve very much in 2014.

      Byrd is a defensive upgrade over D. Young, but Asche may not be over M. Young. Asche’s defensive debut in 2013 was unimpressive. Revere in CF full-time should be better defensively than Revere/Mayberry, but the jury is still out on Revere as a defensive CF.

      We are still stuck with Brown in left and Howard at first, although if we can get Howard off the field for 45 games by platooning him, that could be a mild improvement.

      Rollins slipped in 2013 both offensively and defensively. His DRS was second worst on the team. If he reverts to prior form, that would be an improvement, but we don’t know if he will.

      Utley and Ruiz will be a year older; so, I expect no improvement at C and 2B.

      The defense would improve if Galvis played more at any of three infield positions, but an already anemic offense would suffer.

      1. ‘Asche’s defensive debut in 2013 was unimpressive’……so it was average? Below-average? Poor?
        For a fact i can assume you mean it was nOT good or outstanding.
        Not sure what you mean by that statement.
        IMO, Asche’s defense was average. Not a liability.

        1. Asche is a little below average in the field right now and should be expected to become at least average with the possibillity of becoming above average. If he’s a little better than average in the field and does everything else at an above average pace, he has a chance to be quite good. I love how he plays the game and I think his swing and approach will hold up very well over the long haul. He has an outstanding, short major league stroke. No holes in the swing, very sound, quick to the ball and he’s an information and workout hound who lives to become a better ballplayer. Don’t underestimate this guy – he’s going to be good.

          1. Agree with your overall assessment on Asche.
            He made some spectacular plays, but unfortunately did flub a few routine chances.
            However, I still hold that he is currently an average defender by the eye test and will be better since he will incessantly work out it.

      2. M. Young was one of the worst if the not the absolute worst defensive 3B in baseball last year. Even a lawn chair out there at 3B is an improvement over him defensively.

  12. Here is a little sarcasm from the folks at Baseball Prospectus:

    Random Major Leaguer of the Day
    Michael Martinez, INF, Unaffiliated (Estrellas de Oriente, DWL): 1-4, R, HR, K. Mini-Mart batted second for the Estrellas, played both second base and shortstop, and hit a home run, which will probably get him a guaranteed contract from the Phillies.

  13. Nolasco signs with Twins for 4yr/49 mill. We should have grabbed him at that price. His career ERA is above 4, but likely inflated pitching for bad Marlins teams as his mid 3’s xFIP indicates. Also he isn’t a high velocity guy so he may age well. He’s been more durable than Garza and more consistent than Ervin and Ubaldo. Plus we wouldn’t lose a draft pick. I think we missed good value here. Look how well Anibal Sanchez pitched once he left the Marlins.

    1. Except it wouldn’t have been 4/49. The Phillies would’ve been bidding against an obviously interested Twins team. This isn’t a computer program. The price probably would’ve been closer to 4/55.

      It’s seems likely without a great deal of luck we’re not competing for at least the next two years. Looking ahead to 2016, we’d be paying a 33 Y/O Nolasco roughly 28 mil (probably a bit more) for 2 years. His declining fastball right now sits around 90 and although his K rate went up last year, it’s been (not coincidentally) in decline since his 2009 peak.

      This seems like the type of player we need to stay away from.

      1. Agreed. I’m glad I’m not a Twins fan. Why on earth would you spend close to $ 50 million to get a 4th starter when your team sucks already. It’s incomprehensible. But this is the team that signed Carlos Silva to that ridiculous 4 year contract so, for them, it’s consistent with their past history.

        1. It’s funny, the way the Twins evaluate pitchers almost perfectly mirrors how we evaluate hitters. Both teams seem to have a blind spot that leaves them about 15 years behind the rest of baseball in certain areas.

          1. Twins aren’t far from being competitive. They have two of the top-10 prospects in baseball who will probably be in the opening day lineup by 2015. Not Trout prospects, but very, very good ones in Sano and Buxton

            1. Sano and Buxton are great propects, and they aren’t far from being competitive, but I was referring to pitchers. Recently, they’ve almost entirely ignored strikeouts with pitchers and instead focused on guys who pitch to contact (seemingly with the belief that inducing weak contact is a skill). It’s kind of how RAJ has ignored the walk as an offensive weapon.

            2. They are prospects, not established players, a big difference in making your moves in fa, Imo they got a kenricks type, who is older and losing his fastball and committed for 4 years, a nice so great move for a medicore team,

            3. Inducing weak contact is not a skill? If that’s what you are saying, please tell how you know this.

            4. Buxton is a Trout level prospect in that the raw tools are better than Trout, the problem of course he hasn’t played above A-ball so there is still a ton of risk. But overall Buxton is in that same level that Trout and Harper were at 2 years ago.

            5. Buxton is not a Trout level prospect by any means. He’s simply “the best prospect since Trout”. Those are vastly different things. Trout is a once in a generation level talent. You simply don’t get those very often.

            6. Trout: 8 Hit 6 Power 8 Glove 8 Speed 5 Arm
              Buxton: 7 Hit 7 Raw Power 8 Glove 8 Speed 6 Arm

              Trout has actualized in the majors but Buxton can match Trout in the tools and feel for the game.

            7. I know matt but he still has to prove it at the major leagues level. look how fast trout did it, just a great player.

            8. I am not saying he will be Trout, but if it is Trout level prospect, then Buxton is there. He still has to do it in the majors, but that is the kind of talent that can make a franchise

  14. Three of the free-agent SP targets in the low-risk, high reward category that could have been good for the Phillies were Josh Johnson, Haren and Hudson, but these were not good matches from the players’ standpoint.

    Had I been advising pitchers trying either to re-kindle or prolong their careers, I would have told them to sign with NL teams that play in pitcher-friendly ballparks. Johnson, Haren and Hudson did just that.

    1. Smart Agents.
      Hudson I figured would go to a winner, regardless of ‘friendliness’ of ballpark but maybe LAD wanted Haren over Hudson since that would be the place to go.

      I was all for Johnson on a 1yr-$10M+ type deal but smart move for him.
      I’d also go after Gavin Floyd or Johan Santana (or Halladay) as ‘low risk – high reward’ guys.

      On the cheap I’d go after Jeff Niemann (or Edison Volquez on lesser deal) as a #5/BP guy. Maybe could get Niemann on $2M deal with incentives.

  15. A great article to read is Corey Seidman’s on CSN Philly and Phillies Nation is “For Phillies Getting Young is not so Simple” and their other articles about the Phillies getting younger was very objective and points how difficult it is to get younger in baseball as opposed to other sports. The other parts of the article were objective in their approach which was nice to read.

  16. Big day Tuesday. Lots more free agents after Tuesday. I’m guessing they’ll extend KK and JMJ but not Fransden. Revere and Bastardo are obvious. They’ll probably try to sign Fransden to a minor league deal. They can’t afford to let KK go.

    1. I’d keep Fransden to hold a bench spot over Cesar because he plays 3B but I’m hoping they sign Rajai for that OF spot over JMJ. To me KK is a no brainer especially after what the Twins paid Vargas and Hughes. Pitching is expensive.

  17. I’d actually tender Fransden. He’s actually been a decent player off the bench for the PHILS the last 2 years. KK I kinda understand if they don’t have another starter in place by then. Mayberry? I hope it’s a bluff and they don’t tender him.

  18. Does any one have the list of Rule 5 guys who may be available this week who could be worth a look?
    I am always interested in seeing who will be the next great Johan Santana, Roberto Clemente or Shane Victorino.

  19. BA has Cuban Omar Luis, LHP from the Yankees org, as an interesting Rule 5 guy.
    I would take a flyer on him since he should be there when the Phillies turn comes up.
    Also see were Seb Valle is hitting .293/.369/.431 in 65 trips to the plate in the Mexican Winter League. Though it is a SS, he could be a guy to come around if he still is Phillies property in 2014 since he is only 23-years old.

  20. Interesting qoute from MNLBTR:
    •The Red Sox and the Cardinals are staying flexible this offseason, writes Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. The Cards probably won’t re-sign Carlos Beltran while Boston seems likely to lose at least three of Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia this winter. As CEO Larry Lucchino put it, it’s all about not falling “in love” with your veterans.

    ………..interesting not falling ‘in love’ with your veterans. Now I ask, who would ever do that?

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