206 thoughts on “General Discussion – Week of February 4 – the OH SO CLOSE!!! Edition.

  1. Who do you think sees some time with the big club this year.

    Pettibone – Yes
    Martin – no
    Morgan – no
    Simon – Yes
    Asche – no
    C Hernendez – no
    Gillies – no
    Joseph – no
    Cloyd – Yes
    However, if things go wrong this year, there is a good chance they start fresh next year and all these guys are on the opening day roster.

    I wonder what happens if Josh Fields hits well all year. Bench spot? He can play a bad left field as well, right?

    1. Pettibone – Yes
      Martin – no
      Morgan – yes
      Simon – Yes
      Asche – Yes
      C Hernendez – no
      Gillies – no
      Joseph – no
      Cloyd – Yes
      I agree with your list except Asche and Morgan. Unless both completely bomb, I think they are both going to be with the big club. If Young gets injured or has a season as bad as last year, I think Asche can step in about midway through the year. Morgan, maybe not as close as a lock, but I think he’s behind Cloyd on depth chart and could possibly move up that with a year like last year.

    2. That depends on how you define this year. I would agree with your list before September, but think a lot more of these guys will get a September call up. While I don’t think Asche will make it to the bigs before September roster expansion I do think he makes it afterwards unless he is a complete failure. The Phillies will need to get a better look at him versus ML pitching before going into next offseason when they need to figure out what they have here.

  2. Check out this scary young potentially 2014 roster lead by Ryan Sandburg

    1B- Howard
    3B- Asche


    RH Stutes/Simon

    1. alley defense is horrible.
      i would not want asche and ruf on the left side of the field with 3 LHP in the rotation and pettibone’s ground balls.
      also there is no #3 hitter. This makes me think that the Phillies will cash in on a big name next offseason as there are some high-profile free-agents. Cano?

    2. Strikes me as unlikely. If we get to trading vets at the deadline, I doubt we keep Papelbon and trade Lee. I could well see the other way around. I think Kendrick is in the rotation and doubt the Phillies rush Biddle. Hamels/Lee/Kendrick/two of Morgan-Martin-Pettibone. I think Valle is one of the two major league catchers. Schwimer and/or Rosenberg on the staff.

    3. And that team would lose at least 95 games. Over 100 if the rookie pitchers experience significant growing pains. Honestly I’m not sure if that \team would be much better than the 2012 Astros. Okay, the pitching would be a little better.

      Now, I happen to think that 2014 is the worst year to dream on anyway. 2013 I don’t think we contend, but you can construct a scenario where we do. Much harder to do in 2014, given a number of factors including an extraordinarily weak FA class. By 2015, you can dream a bit more on our prospects, and you have the possibility of a couple of FA pick ups.

      I’m not sure what my alternative scenario is, though, and that’s scary. Obviously JMIlls is right that, if you trade Lee, you would like to get back some major league ready talent. I think there’s a very good chance that Ruiz and Utley come back on team friendly deals, but of course while that may make you better in 2014, neither of those players are going to be part of the next contending Phillies team. It’s also obviously true that the team shouldn’t and won’t go with 4 rookie starting pitchers in 2014.

      As I’ve said before, this team needs to acquire 2 star level players via trade or FA. The problem with trades, of course, is that you have to trade prospects. Though IF they can turn Lee plus into a young potential star (probably dreaming there), absolutely go for it. The problem with FAs is that the next class is a horrible aside from Cano, and Cano will re-sign with the Yankees, and future classes are going to be much like this past one, flawed/risky players.

      I know I come off as negative, but I don’t see much hope until 2016 or later, and that only if some of the high ceiling position prospects develop.

      1. I agree, I don’t think that roster would be good either. Just pointing out how this team has the potential to get real young real quick. Realistically, obviously depending how 2013 goes, there is a chance that Asche, Joseph, Galvis, Brown and Ruf could all be starters in 2014. Asche and Joseph would have to light it up in AAA this year, Ruf and Brown would hit all year and out hit Delmon Young, Galvis proves his healthy and plays solid defense somewhere. Do I think all 5 will move forward in 2013? No. Is that a nice thing to hope for and follow? Yes. What will be nice is they will have some young major league ready talent to move in trades (none of these guys will be super stars but they will be solid young decent guys that can help a team)

        and as far as pitching goes. You’ll see, at least two of those spots will be filled in the rotation by Martin, Morgan, Pettibone or Biddle. Just think, if all those pitchers continue to progress forward this year, there is no way Martin, Morgan and Pettibone start the season in AAA in 2014. (and Biddle could probably be a mid season call up)

        1. Regarding the pitchers, one of three things will happen, the first two most likely:

          (1) One or more of the pitchers will have a setback, probably injury related. IMO this is likely, not just possible, and I am not being negative. The attrition/injury rate of pitching prospects is high.

          (2) One or more of them gets packaged in a trade for a position player. IMO not a bad thing if the position player is young and has some upside. Deal from strength to fill a need.

          (3) If all 4 stay on track, and if none are dealt, yes, two of them at least will be in AAA in 2014, even if it means repeating a level.

          There’s just no way an organization such as the Phillies goes with 4 rookie starting pitchers in the same season. Personally I think that the team errs somewhat on the conservative side, but in a case like this, some conservatism may be in order.

      2. It wouldn’t be a 95 loss team, more like a 500 team, but it certainly wouldn’t contend. I don’t expect them to trade Lee and a Hamels/Lee rotation will keep us in enough games to be a 500 team. One can also dream that Utley does well enough to be resigned for 14. I see the big drop off in 2015 but I do expect a big prospect for prospect trade as the Phils may have starting pitchers to trade and that would be a valuable commodity. There’s also the chance that Asche and Franco both do well and one can be traded for a middle infielder since I’m not sold on Galvis ever being a starting caliber player. There are definitely several dry years coming….

  3. Gotta love it

    Free_AEC (New Jersey): Kevin Brown Jon Garland Roy Halladay Derek Lowe Josh Johnson Jonathan Pettibone Which one does not belong and why?

    Jason Parks: I just wanted to post this question. I don’t have an answer.

    1. Somewhere Snooki, Ronnie, Paulie D, J Woww, Sammie, The Situation, Vinnie, and Deena are embarrassed for New Jersey…

      1. I am from NJ and I am insulted that you would blame New Jersians for the NYC trash that washed up on our shores. While i do not know for sure i have to assume that Free_AEC is from somewhere else and migrated to NJ since we do get large numbers of bird brained visitors. Luckily for New Jersians, most of these bird brained visitors are actually birds but as the jersey shore has shown not all of them are.

  4. How about the Phillies pick up the recently DFAed Reid Brignac. Very good fielder. This would let Galvis get 5 at bats every night with the Pigs, instead of sitting on the bench. What do you all think?

    1. I don’t know anything about this guy but I’m a big fan of Galvis starting at SS 7 days a week in LV vs being a utility guy in Philly in 2013

    2. I think Betancourt is the better utility guy than Brignac, but what would it hurt to bring him in as a NRI for a look?

  5. I’m not going to be as obsessive about this issue as I have been about Amaro, but I want to revisit the missed opportunities in this past free agent class:

    (1) Among the players who didn’t require the loss of a draft pick:

    (a) Pagan was signed for an affordable contract, and would not have cost us Worley. I have mixed feeling about how much of an upgrade, if any, he would have been over Revere (Revere obviously younger & better defensively, Pagan a significantly better hitter), Overall I’d be more comfortable with Pagan plus Worley (or Worley could have been traded to fill another need).

    (b) M. Cabrera is a risk but got an incredibly team friendly contract & represents a missed opportunity for the Phillies.

    (c) There were some pitchers with more upside than Lannan. I don’t feel super strongly about this, but, since the Phillies left a lot of potential salary on the table, spending some more resources on a starting pitcher could have made sense.

    (2) Among players who would have cost us a pick (obviously I put much less weight on the value of the pick than some):

    (a) Contrary to popular belief, Upton and Swisher got contracts that, given the current market, are reasonably team friendly. Given the money that will be coming off the books, and future increases in both revenue and the luxury tax threshold, neither signing would have dramatically effected our ability to compete for future free agents. Much of the opposition to signing these guys was based upon the incorrect assumption that this FA class was particularly weak and/or overpriced. That is not the case. The next class is worse, and the one after that unlikely to be better.

    (b) It looks like Bourn is going to be signed for far less than most people assumed. He is a risky sign in many ways, but if he is signed for 4/40 (and it looks like he might be), that’s an incredibly team friendly contract.

    Look, I know the counter arguments. I would NOT mortgage our future just to wring out one or two more years of possible contention. And even with two of these guys, the team would struggle to compete in 2013, more so in 2014-2015. But i look at this team over the next few years, and … yikes! Spending a few dollars in the FA market this year would have eased the transition, reduced pressure on the younger players, and not had significant long term costs. And prevented what could be a couple of ugly transitional seasons.

    1. Forgot to add Youk on the non-compensation list. he wasn’t on my radar early on, but, given that (a) the money wasn’t spent elsewhere, (b) the M. Young trade, and (c) the relatively team friendly contract that Youk got, not trying to sign Youk looks like another missed opportunity.

      1. Don’t disagree with this however, Yuk has played in about as many games as Polanco has over the past 3 years.

    2. Cherry picking, but with the loss of a draft pick also comes the loss of a signficant signing pool. I mean we can’t have our cake and eat it too. We can complain that the farm system is dreck and then turn around and say give up that first round pick which cuts into the draft pick pool. Of course there are other ways to circumvent that with international signings and the like, however the Phillies have placed an emphasis this year on the draft and don’t want to give up that pick. I believe that it is a defensible position.

      1. I think it’s a defensible position though I disagree with it. I wonder, though, if perhaps the corollary of that is that, if they’re not going to seriously try to compete for the next two seasons, maybe they should have tried to move Lee?

        Of course the alternative “make do” transitional moves would have been Pagan/Cabrera/Youk. They could have afforded all 3 – maybe going a little over the luxury tax threshold, but also remember that that means no need to trade for M. Young or sign Lannan, somewhat mitigating the cost (relatively low, anyway) of those three players. Sign those three (and keep Worley or trade him for another need) and you don’t hurt the team’s long term prospects at all. Obviously we don’t know for sure if you could have signed those three, but IMO they should have tried. Those signings (and retaining or getting value for Worley) probably add 3 to 5 wins in 2013 and 2014.

        1. By all accounts the Phils did try hard after Pagan. He got what he wanted from SF. Obviously he just won a WS there and that must’ve been a big factor. I think picking Cabrera up on the cheap would’ve been a good move but I can also see why teams would pass on a malcontent and PED user. Adding an injury prone Youk to an already injury prone team is a large roll of the dice.

    3. Pagan was never going to leave San Fran. All negotiating was just to drive up the price
      Melky is a bad guy that most teams don’t want in their clubhouse. The Braves didn’t want him for free.
      I like Lannan and wanted him all along. He’s getting better and wants to beat the Nats in the worst way.
      Obviously, most teams valued the pick more than you do. Here’s the thinking: Swisher is not a star, nor is Upton. Neither guy is really a difference maker and that’s what you need to win. There is a chance, and the %s are certainly better for a 1st round pick than a later round especially with the new drafting model, that a 1st round pick will become a star. Its that simple.
      No one could have guessed that Bourn would get frozen out and have to take a cheap deal to get signed. I still think he’s going to end up signing a one year deal.

      1. Youk? seriously? I’d much rather have Young for what they’re paying him. Havng Youk means you have to have a back up ready to go because he’s going to miss so many games. Say what you want about Young, he’s healthy and will play lots of games. I expect his defense will be passable when he gets the chance to practice it every day and only play that one position. He was a gold glove shortstop, he didn’t lose the ability to throw or field. His reflexes will probably be a little slow for 3rd but he’ll do everything else fine. They said the same things about Polanco when he moved over and he worked out fine defensively. Since when could Youk play a good 3B???

        1. The fact that he will play a lot of games is a bug, not a feature. And they do have two players fully capable of given them decent performance in the games Youk is likely to miss.

          Youk is a MUCH better player defensively than Young, and likely a better hitter also. More power, more walks, more than making up for less BA. Youk IMO is 1-2 wins per season better than Young.

          1. Do you think Young will be as bad as he was last year? Or be as bad as the combination that was at third for the Phils last year?

            1. First of all, the combination at third base last year was actually about league average, albeit probably not repeatable (Frandsen is going to regress). While I expect some rebound from Young, no, I don’t think he will be better than what they had last year. He will almost certainly, considering both defense and offense, be worse. The only question is how much worse.

              Now, with Polanco gone and Frandsen likely regressing, a case can be made that M. Young will be a slight upgrade over what the team could have fielded there in 2013. I don’t even buy that, but it is possible. But as I said elsewhere, M. Young is likely 1 to 2 wins worse than Youk would have been. IMO closer to 2 wins.

            2. I wouldn’t mind making a gentlemanly bet that Young will be better than the combination the Phils had there last year.

            3. His offense will be better than the Polanco/Frandsen duo, and his defense will likely be similar. His 2013 defense metrics (even though MY only played 25 games at 3rd) extrapolated over 145 games (what Polly & Frandsen played) was very similar: 2 more errors and about 8 more assists. I didn’t even factor in Wigginton.

            4. Wow, just wow. If you’re going to look at metrics, error rate and assists are hardly the place to start. Young has the range of a statue out there. I hesitate to place TOO much weight even on more sophisticated metrics, but if those metrics are even close to accurate, you’re off by probably 20 runs over the course of the season:

              Young 2012 UZR/150: -30.3

              Polanco 2012 UZR/150: 0.3
              Frandsen 2012 UZR/150: 4.1

              I think that may somewhat exaggerate the scope of the difference (Young probably isn’t quite THAT bad), hence 20 runs worse rather than 35 runs worse, but to suggest that M. Young is even is the same ballpark defensively as a Frandsen/Polanco pairing doesn’t pass the laugh test (substitute Galvis for Polanco this year; Wiggington was horrible, but did not play much third base).

              If you want to start comparing subjective impressions of their defense, Polanco is rightly regarded as a near GG level third baseman, Frandsen is adequate, perhaps a tad below average, Galvis unknown but a fielding whiz at 2B and SS, and Young as pretty bad even 3 years ago (and older & slower now).

              As for hitting, last year Phillies’ third basemen hit a respectable .289/..335/.370. Significantly better than Young in 2012. As I said, I expect a bounce back from Young in 2013, but I doubt he will be much better than those numbers.

              M. Young, at this stage of his career, stinks. That he doesn’t stink quite as bad as the hideous D. Young, was once a decent player, and doesn’t come with the non-performance negatives that the other Young does, is hardly an endorsement. The chance that he betters the Phillies 2012 third base performance is probably far less than one in twenty.

            5. Well that’s why I said that 35 runs is an exaggeration. But:

              (1) Polanco is better using a career sample (though arguably he may be suffering some age related decline).
              (2) Fransen is worse using a career total, but not THAT much worse.
              (3) Young is still the worst of the bunch using career data, granted that it is much closer, But OTOH, most of his data is from 2009 to 2010, and there are plenty of reasons to think he has gotten worse.
              (4) It is not as if this contradicts the subjective data. Young was regarded as pretty bad even in 2009-2010.

              On balance, I think 20 runs worse is a decent estimate – about +5 versus -15.

      2. Guess it depends upon your definition of “star.” It also depends upon just what you mean by difference maker. Both are “difference makers” in the sense that they are significantly better than what the Phillies are likely to throw out there. But realize also thatthey aren’t being paid like stars.

        You were the guy who responded to a comment I made about the 2015 Phillies by saying that “they will have plenty of money for Free agents. But who do you think they are going to get for that free agent money? What you would call a “difference maker” goes for 5 plus years AND 20 plus AAV. Even flawed difference makers like Hamilton. The guys that get the kind of contracts that Swisher and Upton got are … players like Upton and Swisher. Well above average players. You can defend the non-signings on certain grounds – the pick, the fact that the team is in transition – but YOUR defense, taken to it’s logical extreme, means either abstaining completely from free agents (aside from the D. Youngs of the world) or only going after the very few “stars” and paying them 120 to 200 million dollars. And there simply aren’t many of those players on the market any more in the first place (which is one of the reasons why when there are, they get absurd contracts).

        So if you’re not willing to sign those kind of players. then your basically saying that the team should abstain from the FA market. The FA market is NOT getting better. If anything, the opposite.

        Cabrera is a jerk. A team can afford a jerk if he can play, which Cabrera can. Instead the Phillies signed a guy 5 times worse as a human being and in terms of his clubhouse influence (at least Cabrera seems to care about winning, maybe TOO much) who can’t even play.

        1. To win you need star players. The Phils have shown a desire to go after star free agents at times but to lose a chance at drafting a star to sign Swisher wasn’t a smart long term decision. Swisher had very few teams after him for that very reason. Lohse, and Bourn, can’t even get signed. I didn’t invent the reason, I’m just explaining the rationale that most teams are adherring to.
          Btw, I agree that Young’s range will be limited but I think he’ll be fine with the balls he gets to. Don’t try to tell me that Youk has better range at this point though because he doesn’t move, he just sort of dives. I also expect that Young will hit much better than last year. He had a strong finish last season and I still see a guy who can hit and loves to compete and he will be energized by playing with Utley and Rollins. I would have been okay with Youk for a year but not at $10M. No way….

          1. Lot of here to disagree with, but let me simply focus on one thing, which IMO is explaining a significant part of our disagreements: 10 million dollars is not a lot to pay for a position regular. Under current conditions, it’s about what you pay an average position regular. But that average includes under priced players under team control; on the free agent market you have to pay more – supply and demand. An average position player on the FA market who will settle for a one year deal (or has to settle for a one year deal) is a bargain.

            Now, lots of people are uncomfortable with that, but THAT’S THE MARKET. You keep denying that you want to abstain from the FA market, but the combination of (a) the value that you place on first round picks, and (b) the belief that 10 million dollars is a lot of money mean that, IN EFFECT you don’t want to participate in the FA market. Obviously you don’t want to own that, but I can guarantee you that there will NEVER be a decent free agent available under the current rules that meets your criteria. Won’t happen.

          2. And Murray, I don’t recall your position on D. Young, but THAT’S the kind of human offal you get when you won’t give up a draft choice and think that 10 million dollars is a lot of money.

            1. LarryM…’human offal’…c’mon Larry, do I have to get the Webster out everytime I read your posts!

  6. At the risk of some repetition, I want to separate and focus on a particular argument that I find frustrating and problematic.

    We can, at the risk of some over simplification, separate the arguments defending the Phillies non-participation in the FA market this off season into two categories. The first is the “we can’t surrender the draft pick/we need to see what our young guys can do” argument. I don’t, at the end of the day, buy this argument, but it is, as I said, defensible,

    The other argument is a variant of Murray’s “these guys aren’t difference makers” argument. Why I find this argument so misguided is the underlying assumptions and the implications of accepting the argument. It seems to me that one of the following MUST be true for the argument to make sense, and I don’t buy any of them:

    (1) The market for Upton/Swisher was uniquely inflated – that the contracts for these guys were above market. This, for me, is the clearest mistake – I am confident to a near certainty that, if you want this sort of player in the FA market, that’s what you need to play.

    (2) If one accepts, as one IMO must, that that is the market price for similar players, then, if one thinks that the team should participate in the FA market, one should ONLY sign “bargain” free agents OR the “difference makers.” “Bargain” free agents are bargains for a reason, teams rarely hit it big with those types of players, and limiting yourself to “bargain” free agents doesn’t end up looking much different from abstaining entirely. The simple fact is that, looking at the past few years, the “difference makers” are few and far between, and, for that reason, end up going to absurd prices. Thing Hamilton, Fielder, Pujols. Of the three options that I am listing here, going after these guys is, i guess, the most defensible. But then again I don’t hear many people around here defending these types of contracts; quite the contrary.

    (3) If you don’t pay market price for either the “difference makers,” or for the somewhat better than average players such as Swisher and Upton, then who do you sign? No one except the D. Youngs of this world (and the Polancos,, I guess, somewhat more defensible). And what sense does it make for a high payroll team like the Phillies to virtually abstain from the FA market in the long run? Doesn’t that just squander one of the franchises main advantages?

    Some of the people making this argument are smart guys, but they never seem to spell out just which underlying assumption they are making. I’ve seem some people (not Murray) try to defend #3, but IMO not very convincingly. If people believe in #2, why so few calls to try to sign Hamilton? I have to think people believe #1, but I literally haven’t seen ANYONE actually try to defend it.

    So which is it Murray, and those who agree with him?

    1. Or, if you don’t like the way I frame the question, over the past 3 years, which free agents (given information available at the time, were “worth” their contracts, i.e., someone who (given the Philies’ needs) you would have advocated signing? And no fair just making a list of guys like LAnce Berman 2011 who signed bargain deals and ended up over performing. Until the Phillies hire Nostradamus to advise them on free agent signings, “sign cheap free agents who over perform” is not a legitimate strategy.

      1. I’m not of the same mindset of Murray, I’m more in the mindset that the Phillies have to restock the farm and are hoping they can have a string of strong drafts. Forfeiting that 1st round pick is a step in the wrong direction.

        As for the FA I would’ve gone after that fit that specific “profile” in the past few years, I would have to say that Carlos Beltran certainly did. Not crazily overpriced and it was only for a 2 year deal as opposed to a 4-5 year deal.

        1. But Beltran’s an example, I think, of the “bargain player who over performed” – coming off two years of injuries and one year of ineffectiveness. Actually a borderline case of that – in the sense that he was a guy (unlike, say, Berkman) for whom the rebound was at least somewhat predictable. But there aren’t many guys out there like that at all.

          Beyond that, as I said your position is defensible & honestly not one that I am currently interested in debating further. 🙂

      2. Beltran has been mentioned but here are some others off the top of my head:
        Adrian Beltre (both times)
        Lance Berkman (8 million is not sign a random cheap free agent) – would have been a good fit if they weren’t already paying Ibanez
        Josh Willingham
        Ryan Ludwick (sort of bargain, also musical chairs last man standing)
        Joe Nathan (instead of Papelbon)

        I’ll admit it isn’t a long list but free agency has been thin the last few years

        1. See, that’s the thing Matt. That’s 20/20 hindsight.* If those are the only kind of guys you sign, you are virtually abstaining from the FA market. Because you won’t get all of them, no one can, and you’ll also get a number of cheap “duds.”

          For years we have been told by some of the smarter people on this site that we need to stop thinking like a small market team. But no one seems to want to accept the full implications of that. Playing the FA game means paying market prices. And some of those contracts are going to look pretty bad in retrospect. But NOT participating, over the long haul that means mediocrity, except perhaps occasionally when all the stars align (pun intended). That’s true absent a front office that is truly exceptional across the board -and IMO there are onlyt two of those in baseball, the Rays and Cardinals.

          In this sense, as much as it pains me to admit it, a certain someone, while exaggerating the point to a massive degree, and being nasty about it in the bargain, has a point. (You know what they say, even a stopped clock, etc.)

          *Beltre the second time is maybe the one example that works for you, as he was coming off a good season and signed for serious money. Even there, the contract has worked out far better than anyone could have reasonably foreseen.

          1. I’m docking the Cardinals FO some points since they signed Ty Wiggington to a 2 year deal for $5 mil.

          2. I have not argued for abstaining (except this off-season where the writing has been on the wall and I just don’t think anyone was worth the contract + the pick for a team that has too many problems for a single player to fix). The only difference between then and now on that set of contracts is that I would have argued Cuddyer in that group (that hasn’t worked out great for the Rockies but he certainly would have been an upgrade in left). The problem has been that the Phillies aren’t playing the market well, Amaro locked into a guy and paid for him (Papelbon and Ibanez were market to slightly above value). Just because you are a large market does not mean you need to get the prettiest thing, sometimes you get the best value so that you can stretch your money across multiple problems. I would argue that a team like the Phillies should be better equipped than a small market team to take risks on a medium sized “risky” bargain contract, because they have the money to fix the problem.

            You overpay for “guys”, Cliff Lee is a “guy” you give him what he wants (so was Hamels), Grienke and Hamilton were “guys” (Hamilton has a large set of issues but he is still a near elite player), the Pujols and Fielder contracts will look bad at some point but those are guys you spend on. What you shouldn’t be doing is giving up picks and resources to sign the Ibanezs, Papelbons, Rowands, Tom Gordons (yes the Phillies gave up the #21 pick to sign him, that pick was Ian Kennedy), and Jon Liebers (#17 pick). It is the same with trades, if you lose a trade getting Roy Halladay no one will blame you (same with Lee) because you went out and got a stud, you get into problems when you pay too much for just good players (Pence).

            The Yankees have been held together by a “bargain” contracts to Hirouki Kuroda, Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones (there was your RH platoon OF), Eric Chavez, Colon, and Garcia. The Red Sox struck gold with Beltre and Ross. You can afford to take risks as a big market team something the Phillies haven’t done in free agency or developing their own players.

            1. So you’re basically endorsing option 2, the sign the “difference makers” option. Which is defensible.

              I see no reason, though, to stay away from the better mid range guys like Swisher and Upton. Neither of them are comparable to Ibanez (granted they are being paid more also). Even Papelbon, universally panned as an overpay, I don’t see as a bad pick up. Nathan is very much 20/20; the other options to Papelbon pretty much all don’t work out for the teams that signed them.

              I think we agree that going for the bargain guys, but itself, without ALSO picking up some of the difference makers, is not a winning strategy?

              The real secret is making SMART FA moves. No team can always be right, but I think we would agree that the Phillies, despite some good moves, have had more misses than hits.

            2. Ok but isn’t that the nature of the game to have more misses than hits? It’s just the impact your hits actually make?

              Or I guess can you quantify the Phillies in your last statment. Like the team in the last 3 years? 5 years? 10?

            3. The last 3-4 years.

              I would say that the Phillies are worse than the typical team in that time period, in terms of FA pickups and trades. Essentially a lack of exceptionally positive moves (even the Halladay deal, a good move certainly, was not cost free, and the last 2 years of the contract don’t look like such a bargain), a bunch of okay moves, and a few real clunkers. The most significant being the Howard contract and the Pence trade.

              But then I would say that given my opinion about Amaro.

            4. Are you arguing that Papelbon isn’t worth the contract because he is a reliever or because he isn’t that good? Because by your reasoning you spend for the best in the game (Lee, Halladay, Pujols, Hamilton, etc) and isn’t Papelbon the best at what he does?

            5. I think you’re right about that. However, while I don’t mean to speak for Matt, I think the distinction he would make is that you never pay a closer that much – that closers, even the best, don’t have nearly the value of a top starting pitcher or star position player. (And tend to have too much variance in performance to justify a long term contract.)

              My own position on that would take more time than I currently have to explicate.

            6. Oh I totally agree. The cost of paying someone for 60 innings a year is ridiculous. But the fact remains that Papelbon is one of the best closers.

            7. Relievers are weird in how they are priced, the value of a reliever is not their WAR value (I acknowledge this). You pay a premium for consistency (though there is very rarely consistency with relievers). I have a problem paying a premium for someone because they are a “established Closer”, you often are overpaying for a mediocre to just good reliever who has just had an established role. I have no problem with Papelbon the player, he is about as consistent as you can get out there. He is paid like a difference maker and he is a luxury item. The best teams have good bullpens not just good “closers”, for the price of Papelbon you could get 3-4 upside arms and build a bullpen. Look at the Reds they have a bullpen built on depth and young arms, same for the Rays, Orioles, and Athletics. You won’t get a guy to replace Papelbon but you can replace a reliever’s value with multiple players (it is the one position on a team where you can argue depth over star power). Also look at the best teams out there (2012), their closer roles comes in one of three types: the best pitcher in the bullpen that year (Giants, Rays, Athletics, Rangers, Angels), they have a pre-FA homegrown power arm (Reds, Braves, Nationals, Orioles, White Sox, Dodgers), or they have a “Closer” they paid for and are desperately avoiding (Tigers, and most of the teams from section 1 earlier in the season). The only true counter is the Yankees who have had the best reliever in baseball history (Rivera) or an overpaid closer they couldn’t wait to watch someone else pay (Soriano). You just don’t pay for a guy unless he is the final piece (Soriano is a luxury for the Nats, he is like buying a second yacht)

    2. I think there might another semi-legitimate reason for not participating further in free agency. I believe their payroll is in the $165MM to $170MM range when you factor in the additional $14.5MM for insurance, roster bonuses , and non big league 40 man guys. Please correct me if I’m wrong here. Leaving roughly $10MM of wiggle room allows for in season trades where we take on additional salary. RAJ, for better or worse, does have a track record of pulling off mid-season deals.

      Don’t get me wrong, I hate the way we’ve spent the little money we had this offseason, but I’m ok with leaving a cushion to make in-season moves.

      1. Well that is, I think, a variant on the first argument which I said was defensible. I could make some counter arguments, but I kind of want to focus on the larger issue. I would mention that treating the luxury tax threshold as an absolute upper limit is IMO a mistake as well, but apparently imposed by the ownership. Separate issue though.

        1. To be clear, I never said to avoid players like Swisher and Upton. I said to avoid them when they cost you your 1st round pick (and your pick is at 16). If Swisher wasn’t tied to the pick, he would have had offers from many teams. Bourn and Lohse are fighting that battle right now. Teams dream on those first round picks, especially now. Previously, teams could pick a high school guy late and pay him 1st round money but they can’t do that anymore. I really wanted them to sign Cuddyer or Wilingham last offseason though….

          1. Murray,

            That’s a bit like saying that I’m not against buying a Porsche, but not if it costs more that $10,000.00. I mean, fair enough, but you do realize that that pretty much means IN EFFECT no players like Upton and Swisher, since they will ALWAYS be attached to compensation. Always means 100% of the time. Players like Upton and Swisher are worth probably AT LEAST 15 million for a one year deal, certainly more than 13 million. Even Pagan was a bit of a fluke; given the eventual contract, clearly the Giants though the was worth the one year tender, Why they didn’t offer that to him, yet signed him to 4/40, is odd to say the least.

            But that leaves the other question unanswered. Are you advocating going after what you would describe as the true “difference makers”? (And paying them accordingly, i.e., 120 to 200 million.) If the answer is no, then ,sorry, call it what you will, but you are, as a practical matter abandoning the free agent market, except for some low priced “fill in” type players.

            And, even if you’re right strategically (I don’t think you are) that means at least a few years of sub .500 play for this Phillies franchise. AND it means they won’t be able to deploy their biggest edge, their ability to maintain a high payroll. Even if you are right.

            What it looks like to me is some extreme wishful thinking on your part about the free agent market going forward. Ironically, factor that out of the equation, and you are probably more negative than I am. If any free agent with draft choice compensation attached is out of the question, then the Phillies will be one of the worst teams in baseball until 5 years after the village idiot is fired. Even I am not quite that pessimistic.

            1. I’m still with Murray on this one. We’ve got to stop stealing from the farm, or we will never rebuild. Pagan was a perfectly reasonable addition without comp.

            2. I disagree – not in that the farm isn’t important, but that I think you guys are placing way too much weight on first round picks specifically. But I don’t expect to change minds.

              I just want to get you guys to accept the implications of what you are saying. That means no significant free agents. Period. And THAT means at least a couple of years – probably more – of under .500 play. Or worse. In which case, why not go whole hog and see what you can get for Lee?

              I just don’t think it’s possible to, at the same time, hold that position, and say (as Murray did), “the 2015 lineup won’t be that bad, because we’ll have plenty of money for free agents.” I mean, do you guys really think that teams are all of the sudden going to stop tendering decent free agents? Really? 13 million is chump change (that 13 million figure will go up, but probably not as quickly as revenue will increase.)

              The position you guys are taking pretty much implies the worst lineup in the majors in 2015. These first round picks won’t have any impact on the major league till 2018 or thereabouts.

            3. Again, if you guys are saying “I’ll make an exception for the real difference makers,” that’s a somewhat different story. But I’ve asked Murray a bunch of times if he favors that, and he hasn’t answered. Just acknowledge that (a) those guys are few and far between (one or two a year, for the most part), and (b) they are going to cost you a king’s ransom.

              And yeah, I know that some people say “we’ll hit the trade market instead,” but that tends to be MORE expensive in terms of prospects.

            4. Yes, I would pay whatever it takes to get Trout back to Philly or Stanton into a Phillies uniform. I think the Phils showed they would do that too when they signed Howard, Halladay (even though he came “sheap” at only $20M) Lee, and now Hamels. They get it, you need stars to win. Finding stars from within your system is still the best way to turn into a winner and high 1st round picks are the most likely stars, especially with the new drafting system.

      2. Whether we like it or not, and whether we think it is a sound strategy or not, I base my evaluation of Amaro on the premise that he must work beneath the luxary tax threshold as imposed by ownership. On that basis, the Pence trade, Howard and Paplebon contracts have given him very little wiggle room in the FA market.which is why I doubt they never even considered Upton or adding any significant contract this offseason.

        If the FA market wasn’t an option for higher end position players, that leave trades. Based on the lack of young talent on the roster, that means trading prospects. He dealt from a position of organizational strength to obtain Revere which looks to me as a solid move. The Michael Young trade probably fills a temporary hole without giving up much.

        Because of self imposed salary constraints/problems, the team must rely some internal prospects to make the jump n the early term. Ideally, you would supplement this influx by trading some prospects for a highend outfielder (at least). Unfortunately, we are not deep enough with desirable prospects to both (influx plus trade). So the short term reality is a declining roster mixed with young players who are far from sure things.

        So where does that eave us? The only hope for the short-medium term is 1) a healthy Howard and Utley return to reasonable form and can give the club a productive couple of years, 2) Ruf and Asche continues to improve and become above average major leaguers, 3) other lower level prospects make significant jumps which would give the club trade chips to obtain a star level *or close) outfielder, and 4) the club is able to string a couple of good drafts together.

        This a rebuilding on the fly strategy. I think the intent is to keep the club relatively competitive, and the stadium full, and hope the above 4 events occur. If they do, you are in good shape. If they don’t, it’s fire sale time come July (or next offseason) and you’ll have a few more prospects in-house, hopefuly a few of your own who have had breakout years, and a bit of coin to spend in free agency next year depending of course on who you are able to trade.

        1. By thew way, I would have included brown to #2 above of I thought he was in the club’s plans. (Even though I believe it is border line criminal if he isn’t)

          1. I agree with everything you say. The Phillies have made major errors in skimping on the draft and international talent acquisition, prior to last year. With the team aging and the handwriting on the wall, extra money should have been devoted to the draft in 2009-2011 and to international over the past five years. The team needed to resist the temptation of gilding the lily and assuming that adding an extra piece could ‘guarantee’ a championship for what was already a 100-win team. They foolishly adopted the attitude that they were a serious contender every year and so couldn’t afford to live through the growing pains of any rookie. That’s how we got where we are. Now what do we do?

            Continuing to patch for yet another run, at the expense of the future is a desperate and dumb low percentage gamble that has no more chance of success than betting on the kids. The saviors have gone from being very talented guys like Halladay and Lee, to talented guys with something left in the tank like Pence and Papelbon, to really pathetic reaches like the Youngs. It’s the doomed reflex actions of a team that is determined to go all-in one last time (until they do it one more last time the next year), but finds it has only crumbs in its wallet and undeveloped talent on its farm. It scrapes the bottom of the barrell, because it has few resources and the number of holes to be filled have grown. It is gambling, pure and simple, and against long odds. It is reliance upon the extreme luck of this being the golden year in which a dozen things simultaneously break right.

            There rarely are shortcuts that work. The team needs to rebuild, hopefully on the fly, but it is becoming late for that. It must acquire, nurture, and keep young talent. The days of trading even a Bonilla for a faded, out-of-position talent like Michael Young must be past. You go at a position with either the best you’ve already got or the best non-comp FA you can afford.

            1. Think how much its hurt the team that Dom didn’t step up to claim the RF job two years when he had the chance…. When Plan A doesn’t work, it really hurts the organization.

            2. The perception that Brown failed as a rookie is false. He had an OPS of .724, which isn’t great, but also isn’t an unusual start for a rookie. He may well have done better had he not been jerked up and down and in and out of the lineup. His OPS was better than Ibanez managed that season, but Raul was given far more AB. Brown is also recovering from a hamate injury, so there is every reason to expect he will have more power this season.

            3. As i see it, the team appears to have been trying to, and likley succeeeded in, buying themselves another year of competitive ball to use in figuring out what they have in the system- not just Ruf, Asche and the young pitchers, but also lower level guys that with big years could become valuable trade chips. Next year, IMO is the offseason to watch

            4. I think that was the strategy and I think that there is an argument that it was the right strategy (I disagree for reasons I will not repeat).

              But I disagree about “liked succeeded.” As I’ve said before, i think the execution was horrible. Depending upon how much D. Young plays. I think one could argue that the net effect of the moves was actually negative – that simply making NO moves would have been better defensively, offensively, and in terms of starting pitching. Only the relief corp was upgraded, and probably not by much.

              If D. Young rides the bench, the net effects of the moves may be mildly positive (mainly because we had such a large hole in CF; Revere over an out of position, full time regular Mayberry more than outweighs Lannan versus Worley.. But not by much. If the team had merely signed Upton and nothing else – yes, yes, I know, people don’t want to give up the pick – the payroll would still be under the luxury tax threshold, and the team would be better.

            5. I’m not sure if the above was the right strategy or wrong strategy, only thta it was the likely the “only” in club’s mind, assuming they didn’t love any of the FA optons. In fact, by adopting this strategy to me proves that they didn’t.

              I don’t think they valued Upton enough (rightly or wrongly) to enter into a long deal with him. When you already have bad contracts on the books, your willingness/ability to risk another goes down consederably. We’ll see in a few years whether they were right about him or not. I’m on the fence myself

              We agree on Delmon Young, disagree slightly on M Young (I’m not sure what other stop gap options were out there other than Youk, and I never liked the idea of playing Galvis there and think Frandsen’s season was a one-off).

              By “likely succeeded’ I mean remaining competive, partially by the additon of new acquisitons (namely Adams and Revere) and the fact that Utley/Howard/Halladay are liley to be healthier.

            6. Atown, don’t you think that the coming cable deal has alot to do with this approach? Ideally you are right but your approach does not work in a Northeastern city that demands results now and MLB is a business that exists for the owners. Lastly, I think you are overemphasing the negative to make your argument work. Do you really think iff Chase and Doc have bad years that the Phillies won’t replace them with comparable players for 2014?

            7. If the cash flow goes up, they don’t have to go into what was previously thought of as full scale rebuild mode. They can do a modified full rebuild on the fly. How do you do that? You use your budget power to bring in non-comp FA to fill holes and keep things propped up, while you are otherwise in full rebuild mode. You spend as much as the rules permit on the draft and international, fully utilizing every loophole. You leave not one penny on the table. You hoard and nurture your minor league talent. You trade only guys you have given up on or guys you can trade for equally young players in an area of need. You do not trade Bonilla for Young, although if you really like Revere and believe he is as valuable as Worley plus May, you do that. As you go after non-comp FA, you spend on quality not quantity with a view to filling needs multi-year and going for less aged FA. You don’t sign guys who block your youthful players. You don’t worry that every hole has been patched. Better to add one multi-year building block than to patch four holes. You keep spending up to the lux tax threshold in general, but you leave yourself a cushion for in-season maneuvering.
              Btw, the Dodgers signed their gigundo contract in a season where they had only 86 wins. The season before they signed the contract, they had 82 wins. TV contracts are forward-looking in assignment of value. A rebuilding team on the way up is worth more than a fading team of vets. As the Phillies continue to push their aging problem farther and farther into the future, the rebuild becomes tougher and longer, so that each patch at the expense of youth lowers rather than raises their bargaining position. If you behave as if your economic survival depends upon the core, and the core is obviously on its way out, then you have weakened your position. If you demonstrate that you have a realistic plan to get better and stay strong, then you are in a good bargaining position. One last hurrah in 2013 will not increase the TV contract. That contract doesn’t cover 2013.

            8. The cable deal starts in 2014 which means filling the stands and being competitive very important for 2013.

            9. Atown,

              I think the problem with that is that it doesn’t work with the current Phillies roster. Set aside the pitching side,which should be okay but no longer one of the top staffs in the league (I’m talking 2014-2015 here). Among the position regulars, you have no stars, and quite possibly no above average regulars. Who fits that bill now? A healthy Utley, Ruiz and Rollins. Two of those guys may be gone by 2014, all three are older players likely to decline. The young guys are for the most part players who you HOPE are average major league regulars. You have potential holes at 2B and C, and a center fielder who has value because of his defense but is decidedly below average as a hitter. And a first baseman who … even with a rebound, is likely to be a below average regular in 2014-2015.

              Adding non-compensation free agents to that crew is like trying to save the Titanic by bailing the water out with a tea cup. That strategy works better when you have a couple of stars but also a couple of obvious holes. The Phillies will have the holes but not the stars. And the holes look to be in particularly difficult to fill positions.

              Mind you, I agree that the team won’t go into full on rebuilding mode. But your alternative won’t stop them from having some sub .500 seasons. And as much as I am trying to avoid gratuitous jabs at Amaro, I can’t help but note that Amaro seems particularly ill suited to execute the strategy that you put forth.

  7. I have to say that the responses to my question are revealing but a bit depressing.

    If the organization shares that view, this franchise is so completely screwed.

    1. When we wait and pass on Cody Ross (who I didn’t really care for) so we could grab Delmon Young and hand him the job, you have to wonder if they do any thinking at all.

      1. Do you think Ross can hit better than Delmon Young? Would you pay Ross the money he got over the money Young got? Its a no brainer than Young was the better value. He’s 27 with a ton of talent. He’s the epitome of taking a cheap flier which is good business. The Phils wanted the chance to play Ruf and Dom but wanted insurance and that’s what they have with Delmon because of his contract. If he plays, he’ll get paid. i’m ok with that. Not every signing is a big one. I was ok with Ross until the money and years grew.

        1. Murray, I’m stunned that you would write this. I was not an advocate of signing Cody Ross, but he’s practically Babe Ruth compared to D. Young. Not THAT much better as a hitter, but better – more power and more on base ability – and far, far better defensively and as a base runner.

          And as nice as it would be to sign a cheap player with upside, Young isn’t that guy. Whether he has talent in the abstract I don’t know – if he does, he has squandered it. I’m all about arguing against giving up prematurely on prospects, But Young has failed miserably in over 3500 PAs. There is no chance, none, that he can be good, even for a single season. Freddie Galvis is more likely to hit 30 HR in a season. There is no chance, none, he could be even adequate over the long run. Through random luck. there is a small chance that he could be adequate over the course of a single season – think 2010 – but that is actually my biggest fear, because if he does that you know, just know that the village idiot will sign him to a 3/30 contract. Then our only hope will be a career ending injury. All that AND a clubhouse cancer and despicable human being.

          There are literally thousands of players I’d rather have. Cody Ross, while not someone I would have targeted, is worth 2 wins a year more than Young, even without considering the intangibles. I think his contract is on the steep side for what he is, but going after “bargains” like Young is the road to becoming the Huston Astros, except with less likable players.

          And you know what? I’m being easy on him.

          1. We’ll have to disagree. I think Young, if he comes to camp in better shape and understands that his career is on the line and he plays hard for his next contract, not from us hopefully, could put up a 290/25/90 season if he got the at bats. His defense will not be great but if he’s in better shape I think he could at least be adequate. This guy is 27 and was the #1 pick, you can’t tell me he doesn’t have ability. I don’t doubt that he might not be the greatest guy but I saw him interviewed and he looked like a guy that has grown up a lot and has been very humbled by not getting a legit contract offer. Often, that propels guys with talent to have a big year to show their ability before they get a big deal and drop off again. If I’m wrong and he regresses and is a bad guy, the Phils can just cut him with little financial pain.

            1. Here’s where maybe our disagreement is the most fundamental: I think he’s EXACTLY the kind of guy who, if he did put up those kind of numbers*, and was consequently signed to a multi-year deal, would then go back to being the lazy jack— that he is, and regress to what he has been over his sorry career. That’s what my biggest fear is – that he has a (superficially) decent season, and that Amaro, on the strength of that, signs him to a multi-year deal. Of course that would also be the end of any chance of Brown succeeding as a Phillie.

              I also don’t believe for a minute that he’s going to be benched if he has a “typical” Delmon Young season. The only hope that he rides the bench, where he belongs, is either both Ruf AND Brown performing exceptionally well while Young is recovering from his surgery, or Young performing below even the very poor standards which he has set.

              I also think it’s kind of absurd how many people (not saying you) are ready to give up on Brown after less than 500 PA, but not ready to give up on Young after more than 3500 PA.

              I don’t wish for failure for Phillies players, but with Young failure is his nature, and I am certainly wishing that he does not enjoy the superficial “success” that would (a) torpedo Brown’s chances, and (b) possibly result in a horrible contract from Amaro. I will be rooting for him to strike out in every at bat as a Phillie.

              *Unlikely but possible. But I also don’t think he would have much value even with THOSE numbers, because he was a lousy fielder even when younger and more in shape, because he has always been a poor base runner, and because his ancillary hitting skills – chiefly his ability to draw a BB – are so poor. That’s more or less what he did in 2010 (fewer HR and RBI but higher BA), and, per Fangraphs, that was a sub-mediocre 1.7 WAR season. I always try not to rely too much on WAR, imperfect as it is, but looking at that season and breaking it down, that seems like an accurate measure of his value.

          2. I’m not a supporter of D. Young for many reasons but you do like to pour on the hyperbole. Delmon Young’s 2010 season would be absolutely fine if you are a Phillies fan even though he very unlikely to come close to replicating it.

            It’s certainly on par with anything that Cody Ross has done over a full season.

            1. Fisrt of all, no it’s not. Ross has had 5 seasons better than Young’s 2010. Cody Ross in 2012 (his second best season) produced three times as much value in that season alone as Young has in his entire career. (Again using imperfect WAR, but WAR, if anything, is far too kind to Young, as Young is one of the few players in the game with real negative intangible value.)

              Secondly, a season like his 2010 season would be an unmitigated disaster, for the reasons set forth above.

              I am not engaging in hyperbole; I am bending over backwards to be fair to one of the worst players in major league history to accumulate over 3000 PA. The English language does not contain words to describe how horrible Delmon Young is.

            2. also depends on who’s WAR you use. Baseball reference has Cody Ross as a 1.6 WAR player in 2012 while D. Young was 1.5 in 2010…

            3. Though even rWAR for Young’s career is only 0.6*, so even so, Ross in 2012 was 2.7 times as valuable as Young is for his entire career.

              Any way you slice it, Young just looks horrible by WAR, and Ross looks a lot better. IMO entirely fairly so. To be clear, though, that’s not even part of the reason for my dislike of Young as a player. That illustrates his ineptness, but does not prove it. The proof, though, is ample.

              *Both versions have him with negative value for his career aside from 2010.

  8. Whatever happened or did not this team is not a contender for anything but maybe the last WC .Again I am at a loss to understand the treatment of a homegrown pitcher. If their plan was to get rid of Worley why let him pitch injured last year.A piece in obtaining a hopefully average CD is beyond sanity . He was as good than at least two of the big three in 2010. It is like they make a decision then try to alter reality to justify that idea. 85wins will be a stretch.

    1. 150 games apiece of healthy Utley and Howard….and 28/30 starts from a healthy Halladay..ensure 88/90 wins…3rd place in the East—but better then expected production from Brown and Ruf…well then look out!

    2. The Phillies would not have let Worley pitch if he had a chance to injure himself. Vance Worley had the same issue as Cole Hamels did in 2011 but Worley did not pitch as well. Worley was a good #4-5 pitcher which the Phillies have in their coming starters but I still wish the “Vanimal” good luck in Minnesota.

      1. You forgot Knapp. May I remind you that when Hamels was down they pitched him in a cold rainy exhibition game. Or do always adore management.

        1. No, I just don’t see any team, including the Phillies, intentially trying to injure guys they are paying millions of dollars to.

          Do you always hate management?

  9. Stupid point: With Chooch off for the first 25 games, the Phils will start all American players. All eight position players and all five starting pitchers are American. In fact, only Galvis and Humberto, the likely back up catcher, will start any games as non Americans. I’m not saying that’s good but it is interesting. Do any other teams fall into that category? any?

  10. The landscape of how FA’s are signed going forward has definitely changed. Prized FA’s, no brainers if you will are going to be few and far between in the years to come. Bourn/Lohse are classic examples.

    The aging curve method is definitely hurting these guys or limiting their # of landing spots. You would think a team with a protected pick has a good chance of getting either on a nice pillow contract. Lohse is prime to land back with the Cardinals they have him by the you know whats. They won’t lose a pick and they won’t have to go long term.

    I think the Phillies might have gone Bourn had he backed off his demands of a B.J Upton type deal, they would have given up that 16 pick for him on a reasonable contract. In a game of musical chairs Bourn/Boras roled the dice and lost as did Madson last year.

    The Phillies if they think they don’t have a super star in their system should go out and trade for him like the Tigers did to get Cabrera. Cabrera had his share of warts and the Tigers took a chance. The Jackson/Sherzer deal a few years back paid dividends. Jackson hadn’t played at all in the MLB when they identified him and flipped Granderson for him.

    Either way you have to take a chance on the unknown and hope you get lucky. I still say Tulo could be that guy Headley maybe. Don’t know if CO would give him up but they should. Risk obvioulsy to us is health. The time to make that move would be June. The Rockies should be way out of the race and wanting to trim payroll. They have a young SS in Story and a 3B Arenado. What future does Tulo have there? Hell you might even get to include Howard in that deal.

    If they want better prospects they kick money in the deal if not we kick in some fringe guys and take on the entire $140 or whatever it is he is owed. If not the best thing to do is be really bad so not only can you get a high draft pick but you can go hard after a guy like Ellsbury, Choo or maybe Cano. In the draft you hope to get a star from college that can move quick Braun/Posey/Zunnino.

    Voila you are back to being competitive again by 2015!

    1. DMAR,

      Okay, that’s a plan. I don’t agree with all of it, but it is at least a coherent plan.

      Let me digress a bit and say something maybe slightly counter-intuitive about the FA market going forward. I agree that a lot has changed. Let’s start by breaking players down into categories:

      (1) Stars;
      (2) Above average regulars/starting pitchers;
      (3) Average or slightly below average regulars/starting pitchers;
      (4) Cheap players with upside (cheap because of injuries/ineffectiveness/etc).

      We could add a fifth category for bench type players I guess. Anyway, there seems to be a reasonable consensus that we should target players in categories 1, 3 and 4 (three as long as no draft compensation is attached – an average major league regular is arguably worth a one year contract for 13 million). We also agree, I think, that categories 3 and 4 aren’t going to turn the team around – that’s for filling holes, and maybe hoping for lightning to strike. On category 1 players, my guess is that most people will blanch at what those kind of players will cost going forward, but that’s a side issue.

      Where we seem to have the most disagreement is category 2. This includes Upton/Swisher/Bourn. Some of you – really even Matt, I think – want to stay away from these players because of the draft pick compensation that will be demanded.

      Here’s the counter intuitive bit – BECAUSE of the draft pick compensation, some teams will indeed be scared away from these players. And for that very reason, there will be bargains. Upton and Swisher both got more team friendly contracts than other similar players have in recent years. Bourn of course may also, even more so.

      And these guys can be, yes, difference makers. You need stars, but you also need above average players. What’s the chance of a mid first round pick producing a star? 10%? less? Probably less. The last #16 pick to have close to a “star” career is … Swisher. I can see the argument THIS year – the team probably isn’t going anywhere anyway, and we need to restock the system. But in the long run, the flip side of teams being scared away by draft pick compensation is that these guys will go for less money on the open market. Simple supply and demand. And IMO a smart team with resources will take advantage of that. Not every year, but often.

      (I also think that a lot of the disagreement about Upton and Swisher is a disagreement as to how good each player is. I see both as near to being “stars;” others obviously disagree.)

  11. ATown and DMAR both made me think with their recent posts. What would a strategy to get quickly back to contention without unduly mortgaging the future look like?

    On the pitching side, obviously you hope that Hamels stays elite and the kids some through. I’m torn about Lee; I like him a lot, but could definitely see moving him in a deadline deal this summer if we can get an “A; prospect (I may be dreaming about the return). Relief looks good also.

    The challenge is on the position players side. Obviously we hope that they young guys come through. Rollins we need to have a gentle aging curve. That takes care of as many as 5 positions (Rollins plus Asche/Brown/ Ruf (maybe) and Joseph. I still have my doubts about Ruf, but we are dreaming here. Mind you, none of these guys looks real likely to be a star (maybe Joseph eventually, Brown still has that upside)).

    That leaves first base and second base, currently manned by the best players to ever play those positions for the Phillies. I think second base is a real key. I love Utley and would, in the abstract, love to see him end his career in Philadelphia. But I think we need to face facts – his knees aren’t getting better. He might still be better than a non-compensation FA or the sole internal options (Galvis, Hernandez), but if the Phillies are going to acquire a difference maker in the next 2 years, 2B is probably where it needs to be. Cano … sigh, His contract will be absurd, and I think he resigns with the Yankees, but I absolutely think the Phillies need to be on him if he hits the market.

    Are there any young or youngish second basemen, stars or near stars, or potentially so, who are reasonable trade targets?

    First base is the big problem and I know that many will disagree. I just think Howard, even with a likely rebound from 2012, is pretty much done. He is untradeable of course. It’s hard to imagine the Phillies just releasing him though. I think he is going to be a drag on the team for years, sadly. BUT if they could somehow ease him out, first base is the easiest position to fill. Heck, I like Ruf there more than in left field (and yes more than Howard going forward). Or a non-compensation FA.

    So that’t the strategy – hope for the best from the young guys, and Hamels and Rollins. Acquire an impact player to be your second baseman. And find a way to replace Howard. Possible supplement this by acquiring a solid left fielder (assuming either Ruf or Brown fails, or Ruf player first base), even if it means surrendering a pick.

    I think there is a chance that the next couple of picks could be protected as well, which obvious changes the FA dynamic.

    All of this is a long shot – I just think it’s going to be hard to avoid at least a couple of down season. And … Amaro.

    1. What the Phillies should do with Howard is to platoon him with Ruf, if his numbers don’t improve this year. They need to eat their own and Howard’s embarrassment that his underperformance has caused this situation, but his .604 OPS against LHP is antithetical to winning. Yes, he deserves the chance to see if he can do better in 2013, but if not, he needs to be platooned. To do otherwise is to say that winning is less important to the Phillies than organizational face saving.

      1. Agree. Don’t see it happening, but if we take an optimistic view of both players, a strict platoon of Howard and Ruf could be an above average first baseman. And with Ruf capable of at least filling in in left, you can afford to have two first basemen on the roster.

          1. Okay, I know you are trolling me, but ….

            Here’s the thing about the whole SABR “debate.” There are absolutely criticisms you can make of elements of it if you understand it. I’ve seen a number of critiques of specific things that the SABR community does which make sense, and of course, as with anything, you can find examples of specific people misusing it (for example, there’s a guy named Steve Toll who comments on Sixers basketball who is a text book example of how to misuse statistics). And obviously there are debates, some of which we have seen here, as to the extent to which quantitative analysis can help professional baseball organizations (there’s a distinction there that I want to tease out in a separate comment).

            But every example of the broader critiques – Donnellons’ very much included – are embarrassing mixtures of straw man arguments, lack of understanding of what he is criticizing, and statistical illiteracy. Actually, Donnellon’s article is particularly pathetic, almost reading as a parody of the statistically illiterate crowd, but I am afraid that he is serious.

            I’m accused of arrogance, but there are all sorts of things that reasonable people can differ about. There’s PLENTY that I could be wrong about. Heck, plenty that I AM wrong about. But Donnallon is the equivalent of a flat earther – its not a reasonable position, it’s not even coherent. Frankly that article is much more embarrassing for him than if he got roaring drunk, ran on to the baseball field in the middle of a game, and soiled himself. In front of 40,000 fans and a couple of million viewers on TV.

            1. I’m almost tempted to go through his article line by line. Almost. It’s kind of stunning, really. I used to be a lawyer, before that – long ago – a college debater – and more recently spend WAY too much time on baseball and political blogs. So I’ve seen a LOT of poor logic an poor argumentation. But I rarely, if ever, have seen such a concentrated dose of poor logic and bad argumentation. He’s also a decent writer, which makes it worse – he is economical enough with his language that the bad argument/word ratio is extremely high.

              I don’t know if I could have constructed a more elegant example of poor argumentation if I tried. At some level, you sort of need to hand it to the guy.

            2. Where is FJM when we need them? I have been, as usual, neglecting responsibilities, and can’t much longer. So I’ll pass over many, many, silly arguments, and jump to paragraph 11, where he says he saw Jack Morris pitch, and he was “great.” Of course, the mere fact that Donnellon is a sports writer is not reason to give his opinion any credence, we have no idea just how often he saw him pitch, and more to the point, he doesn’t give us even a clue as to what he saw that supports his conclusion. But the biggest problem here is that … no stat head would deny that Morris was great – well, some might, but only because they reserve the term great for the very, very best. Morris was, by any standard, at least very, very good, and, if being one of the best starting pitchers of his generation makes him “great,” then he was great.

              So then Donnellon at least asks the right question … was he great enough for the HOF? And his answer there … was that he is better than a lot of players already in the Hall. Which is true, but a really lousy standard. If “better than someone currently in the HOF” is the standard, we would need to add about 700 players to the hall, because there are some … well, no lousy players in the HOF, but plenty of mediocre players. By that standard. J.D. Drew is probably a HOFer (no, he isn’t really). By that standard Chuck Knonblauch is better than some hall of famers. Morris is better than those guys, that’s not the point. The point is that his argument stinks.

              This isn’t even the worst example, but just one that seemed particularly blatant. It isn’t even really about Jack Morris – a case can be made for him. It’s about – well, concentrated poor logic.,

          2. The distinction – I have argued extensively that major league organizations benefit significantly from using quantitative analysis. But there at least you have the counter argument that major league organizations have the benefit of (a) a large team of trained scouts, and (b) inside information about players “make up.” IMO that’s not enough to trump the argument that modern metrics are a good supplement to traditional scouting, but certainly a professional baseball organization has resources unavailable to the typical fan.

            But when we talk about debates among fans and sports writers:

            (a) We don’t have inside information – even, maybe especially, the sportswriters, who are routinely lied to by organizations.

            (b) 99% of us (and at least 90% of sports writers) lack the training and/or experience to properly evaluate players by watching them (hence usually fans and sports writers use mainly statistics to evaluate players also, but less reliable ones).

            (c) Even the rare fan/sportswriter who really can benefit from observing ball players only can see so many games a year. How many of us have seen more than a few games in which Delmon Young has played, for example? This goes double for prospects.

            Given a, b, and c, for most non-insiders, who don’t have the benefit of inside information, or scouting departments, modern statistical analysis first, and the opinions of experts second, aren’t merely the BEST way to evaluate players, they are the ONLY way to evaluate players.

    2. “Howard is pretty much done”. You’re right, I don’t come close to agreeing with you. This is a guy who tried to hit last year 20 pounds overweight with a leg that he dragged around due to an incompleted rehab and still had 14 knocks and 56 rbis in 250 or so at bats. I fully expect him to be in much better shape this year. After tearing an achillies (I know…), you can’t do anything while you let it heal. Howard sat on the sofa and ate himself into a bg load. In the past, Howard had been a very dedicated guy who worked very hard on his body, as well as his hitting and his fielding, which did improve over the earlier years, and i expect him to be that guy again. The achillies will prevent him from running fast, as if he ever did, but it shouldn’t impact his htting anymore. While I obviously agree he has all kinds of troubles with lefties and would benefit from sitting when tough lefties are on the mound, the reality is he is the guy that pitchers worry about and just being in the lineup impacts the game. I can almost guarantee that he’ll knock in over 110 this year and that’s not a guy who is done.

      1. Murray…understand Howard has lost 20+ lbs and has been working hard this off-season. Hopefully this translate into better production then last year based on comparable ratio of PAs or GP.

      2. Briefly:

        (1) I could be wrong. I hope I am.

        (2) As I said, I assume some rebound from 2012. I would add that, used correctly, i.e., sits against ALL lefties, he could have significant value. Why I think he is mostly done as a full time player:

        (a) Even the pre-2012 trend line was bad, pretty much across the board;
        (b) Defense and base running;
        (c) A torn achillies is the type of injury that many athletes never fully recover from;
        (d) Players of his body type, even if they work hard at staying in shape, tend to have steep aging curves and sudden declines;
        (e) Against lefties, he is a significantly worse hitter than Ben Francisco. That was 2011, pre injury.

        On top of that, as much as he has contributed to the Phillies, I, like a lot of stat oriented types, think he was always a little over rated.

        I hope I am wrong. Unlike D. Young, I will be cheering for him every AB. Seems like a nice guy also.

        1. And I’m also looking ahead to 2014-2015. That just reinforces the point about aging curves. Maybe he has a last hurrah in 2013. Less likely every year thereafter.

          Assume he does have 110 RBI. Well, you know I don’t place too much (any) independent weight on RBIs. Let’s say the rest of his line looks like 2011, but a little worse given that he is two years older. Say ..245/.335/.470 with 25 to 30 HR, with poor defense and base running. I agree that, it he did that he wouldn’t be “done.” But that’s a little below average for a first baseman. (A little above average as a hitter, but defense and base running bring him down.)

          But, yes, not “done.” The problem is that I think that that is close to his likely upside for 2013 – that’s what a rebound season looks like. And, given the ravages of time, it’s down hill from there.

          1. One of my reasons wishing for a big comeback from Ryno…is that perhaps he becomes an attractive piece of a puzzle for another contending team, maybe in the AL.

            1. You would have to think that that might be the best solution for him as well – he has become a natural DH.

    1. Enormous contract, I have mixed feelings about giving a pitcher that kind of money but if you are going to do it, the 26 year old ace seems the likely candidate. The Mariners had to do it, and since it only runs through his age 33 season the decline shouldn’t be age related. It is the Ryan Howard/Joey Votto contract(two years before FA), would rather have Felix.

      1. I agree with you. The two years out would make me nervous, but other than that this is a pretty good way to spend $175m. Felix hits free agency at an age where his interests and the team’s interest align perfectly. It will be the same for Kershaw. He’s gonna clean up.

  12. New stats I would like to see. Nothing fancy here, not “SABR” type stats, just new ways of looking at old data:

    (1) Out percentage – just 1 – OBP. Would highlight players who get a lot of outs.

    (2) Modified out percentage. Similar to #1, but incorporating outs that don’t show up in OBP: CS, DP, SH.

    This isn’t (quite) another Delmon Young rant – he wasn’t one of the ten worst in Out percentage last year (he was eleventh from the bottom among qualified players).

  13. So … to save time for readers who are sick of these topics, this is at the same time yet another swipe at Amaro and Young, with a dash of defense of advanced metrics.

    D. Young and J. Francoeur. Kind of similar players (except of course that even the horrible Francouer has actually has some decent seasons, mainly early in his career but also as recently as 2011). Both good prospects who never lived up to it. Both with similar “strengths” as players, and similar weaknesses. Both IN FACT rare examples of replacement level players with over 3500 PA.

    You don’t need advanced metrics to tell you that these are horrible players. The both have among the worst OBP in the game – that is, they make a lot of outs and don’t get on base often. They both have some power, but not much. Young is a horrible fielder; Francouer was a good fielder when younger, but has deteriorated, albeit not quite to Youngian depths.. They both are lousy base runners. They both are wild swingers who rarely walk. They are players with few strengths and many weaknesses.

    And they are recognized as such. Young just was forced to take a much lower contract than he expected, and was signed by the team with the worst talent judgment for position players in the game. Real franchises avoided him like the plague. Francoeur hasn’t had his value tested recently in quite the same way – he signed a two year contract with the horrible KC Royals, led by the only GM in the game that gives Amaro a run for his money as the worst in the game, and the Royals inexplicably don’t want to rid themselves of him – but the only reports of interest in him from other teams involve … the Phillies. (Sensing a pattern here?)

    So what do advance metrics add to evaluating such obviously horrible players? A reality check. So that people like Amaro, whose baseball instincts are not finely calibrated, avoid grievous errors. The irony here is that the one team in the majors that most needs a dose of quantitative analysis is the one team most opposed to using same.

    1. And Francoeur 2011 is an example of why I am actively rooting against Young having a superficially decent season. Young is not likely to, but could, have a season somewhat comparable to Francouer’s 2011 (maybe a tad more hitting with much worse defense and base running). But like Francoeur 2012, Young 2014 would almost certainly decline to the replacement level player that he is.

        1. I’ll amend that slightly – if they start Young in right, then yes, 100 losses are the goal, because making Young the regular right fielder will be final evidence that Amaro is so bad that the team will never be successful with the village idiot, in charge. In that case, more losses hasten his firing.

          If he has at least enough sense to realize that Young’s role should be limited to the bench, with perhaps an occasional start against a leftie, then I will go with my heart rather than my head and root for the team to win.

          1. I really can’t understand that concept as a fan regardless of who is in charge of the team. I really do find people who cheer against their favorite team because they dislike, or in your case hate, the people in charge of said team to be a sad state of today’s fan. It’s really a deplorable characteristic and shows that no matter what you will paint what that person does in a negative light. This is in no way an endorsement of Amaro’s tenure as GM before you try and spin it as that.

            1. I’m sure that this won’t convince you that I’m right, but you’re not understanding where I am coming from. This is about cheering for the team’s long term success. 100 losses in 2013 (as opposed to the more likely 80 losses) – 20 extras losses say – would, if it led to Amaro’s firing, lead to hundreds of fewer losses over the long term.

              And it isn’t anything personal against Amaro, who, for all I know, is a great guy. It’s about the team. They could make him GM emeritus, with no decision making power, and pay him 2 million dollars a year, and I would be as happy as a clam.

            2. The funny thing is that people laud Gillick as the second coming while he is one of the most anti-Sabr guys out there. He is still employed by the team as a senior advisor. Same with Dallas Green. I think it’s more inherent of the system than a person. Would you not agree?

            3. No. And that’s why I’ve been careful to argue that the problem with Amaro is NOT primarily his disdain for quantitative analysis. He simply has very poor baseball instincts, manifesting itself most negatively in position player evaluation and lack of understanding of aging curves.

              Gillick is probably a bit over rated, and less responsible than given credit for for the team’s successful run, but he is a MUCH better baseball man than Amaro. Obviously none of us know how much influence he has as an advisor, but my guess is that it is minimal.

            4. When you say that Amaro has poor position player evaluation, what exactly do you mean? Are you basing this off his FA signings of position players, trades, the drafting under him or a combination? I’m genuinely interested.

              Personally I think it’s way too early when it comes to drafts. If it’s based on FA signings, the only one that really comes to mind would be Ibanez. All other FA signings have been for small deals or minor league contracts. Of course the Pence trade was lunacy but I still say that was in part to the manager complaining on a daily basis about the need for a RH power bat.

            5. Not the draft (I gather he mostly delegates that anyway, and, if I am wrong, agree that it is too soon to tell).

              You mention Pence and Ibanez. I think the Howard contract qualifies as well. A lot of the lesser FA signings and trades might not be as actively harmful, but they are still evidence of poor judgment – there were better alternatives available. If we expand the list to include them, the list is long – Young, Young, Martinez, Wigginton … The screwing around with Brown. I could go on. And on. And I do.

              On the other hand, what do we have arguing for good judgment? You could say Polanco, but if that’s one of your best moves for a position regular, well, that says a lot right there. Revere maybe.

              Blaming all of this on Manuel doesn’t wash. Manuel isn’t the GM. If, indeed, Amaro made those moves against his better judgment to placate the manager, that is actually a bigger indictment of him than my criticism about his talent judgment.

            6. Though if you mean that the disdain for quantitative analysis is more inherent in the system, you have a point, but as I said I think the team could succeed despite that with a better baseball man at the helm. Heck, the lack of quantitative analysis hasn’t stopped them from having a better than average minor league operation (ranked lower than average only because of trades and low draft choices).

            7. I think what you miss is that those who laud Gillick as the second coming are not the same people who are criticizing the Phillies approach. In general, I think they are people who can’t separate 1) winning a WS from who built most of the team that won, and 2) losing consistently with a totally non-competitive budget and doing better with a nearly best-in-baseball budget. If you look at Gillick’s deals one by one, they are largely negative. Some, like the Garcia trade and the Abreu trade hugely negative. His FA signings were far worse than anything that RA has done. Jenkins? Eaton? Really? What Gillick was good at was convincing owners to give him the $ to make a meaningful deadline deal and bringing a great scout over with him who found Jayson Werth. Gillick also upped draft spending. His 2008 draft was the best in a decade.

            8. The same is true of rooting against Young. Well, in that case it is personal also, but he could be a saint in his personal life and I would still be rooting for him not to have superficial success, once again for the long term benefit of the team. Say that he contributes 2 wins in 2013. That’s an incredibly optimistic upside, and makes the incredibly pessimistic assumption that the alternatives would be replacement level players. If that results in a contract in the 3/30 range, that would cost the team somewhere between 6 and 12 wins from 2014-2016.

    2. “The irony here is that the one team in the majors that most needs a dose of quantitative analysis is the one team most opposed to using same.”

      I view this less as irony and more as cause and effect. The concept of starting Young in right makes me want to blow my freaking brains out. Incomprehensibly stupid.

      1. But my guess is that most teams don’t need their quants to tell them that Young stinks.

        Really, if we want to get into cause and effect, this is probably closer to a case of bidirectional causation. But it remains true that a good traditional baseball mind doesn’t need advanced metrics to tell them that D. Young should not be a regular right fielder (or regular anything).

        1. I think we have Young because RA was short of cash to fill multiple holes and acted in desperation to keep Cholly happy. Cholly really doesn’t understand stats and wanted a veteran. RA got him the veteran he could afford. YOung is worse than nothing, but Cholly is happy. Starting Ruf in LF and Brown in RF was going to cause Cholly to pout and badmouth RA to the media all season.

          1. Not disagreeing with you, but among the thousands of players I would have preferred to Young:

            Tagg Bozied. Yes, retired for 2 years and zero major league experience. But he is only 33 years old, was once a fairly well regarded prospect, before injuries derailed his career, and had an almost Ruf like season for Reading in 2010 (and was decent in AAA in 2011). And he likely has the advantage of at least giving a sh–, unlike Young.

            Give him a call and see if he has stayed in baseball shape. Would be vastly better than D. Young.

            1. But you answered your own question. Cholly would not accept Tagg. He’s not a vet. I’d be harsher on RA if I thought he had the authority to fire Manuel. It’s clear to me that he lacks that authority. For him to have tolerated all of Manuel’s media comments over the years, he’d have to be ball-less. RA seems to think much to well of himself for that to be the case. Clearly, when the owners made RA the GM, they told him that Manuel would be his field manager and that it was RA’s job to get him what he wants and keep him happy. At this point in his career and tenure with the Phillies, Cholly couldn’t give a flip what happens to the Phillies beyond this season or next. The owners have demonstrated their stupidity ever since Giles was allowed to assemble the group which bought the team. Giles got that right, because he was the commissioner’s boy through and through and because CRuly Carpenter was upset that salaries were getting out of hand and wanted his successor to support the commissioner in fighting the baseball inflation.

  14. I am getting flashbacks to the mid to late 80’s when the only reason i watched the Phillies was Mike Schmidt. I see a sinking ship with no hope. I get a sick feeling every time I see a Philly sports writer’s projected lineup with DYoung batting fifth with quotes from Charlie Manuel saying he can do it. We probably should have resigned Jason Werth.

    1. I said above that, if the Young signing (and other moves) was driven by Charlies’ wishes, then Amaro is an even worse GM than I’ve been saying. But you know, I think it’s even worse than that. Given who Charley is, as a GM you KNOW that he is going to play D. Young no matter what. Even if you have the bad judgment to think that, heck, maybe with a change of scenery Young will not be a complete disaster, you need to take into account that your manager is going to play him EVEN IF YOU ARE WRONG.

      It’s like buying drugs for a heroin addict.

    2. Of course there is the fact that it is February 8 and those writers need to fill up the space with something. It’s all just speculation.

  15. Here’s a question – If (and I know I’m in the minority on this site when it comes to believing that the Phillies will be competitive this year) the Phillies do make the playoffs, what does that prove?

    1. It proves that there is enough randomness in the game of baseball – and enough residual talent – and a big enough payroll – that even someone like Amaro can “lead” a team to the playoffs, at least if he has “only” had 4 years to screw things up.

      That said, the only way that it happens is if, aside from rebounds by some of the older guys – Howard, Utley, Halladay – M. Young to a lesser extent – and continued solid performance by Hamels, Ruiz (who will regress but hopefully not much) and Rollins – Manuel plays the young guys in the outfield and they come through. So EVEN THAT would, to some extent vindicate us haters.

        1. There’s lots of things I can be wrong about. The team’s performance in 2013? I could be wrong. Howard’s decline? I could be wrong. Even Amaro might not be QUITE as bad as I think, if he is lying about how he plans to use Young, and if he is even more constrained by ownership than we think he is. Maybe he’s only the fifth worse GM in the game.

          Can I be wrong about D. Young? No.

          As for the prospects of the team in 2013, even I admit that IF everyone is healthy and productive, and IF Manuel doesn’t screw up (by, for example, playing D. Young in right), this has the look of an 88 win team. And an 88 win team, with a little luck could make the playoffs. My pessimism is based on (a) the fact that good health all around is unlikely, (b) the fact that 88 wins probably won’t be enough, and (c) that I have no faith in management.

          But one of the beautiful things about baseball IS the unpredictability (that’s what people don’t get when they criticize advanced metrics, NO system, quantitative or traditional, can make perfect predictions). The team could make the playoffs in 2013, and it wouldn’t prove anything. (Flip side of this: as much as I dislike Amaro, I do NOT place all or even most of the blame for last year’s failure on him.)

          Now, IF the team was to turn around to the extent that they are contenders for (say) three of the next 5 years, then I would be proven at least partially wrong about Amaro. One year can be a fluke (and he is still riding to a large extent on decisions made by his predecessors). Three of five years, especially given the current roster and the length of his reign (and no, the first three years of his reign don’t count, for obvious reasons) would prove that he is at least mediocre.

          So, in the unlikely event that the team makes the playoffs for three of the next five years, get back to me – I would then need to grudgingly admit that Amaro was merely mediocre, rather than horrible.

          1. who’s talking about D. Young? You really need to get off the D. Young kick. As for the rest you do set yourself up nicely. If the Phillies don’t make the playoffs 8 out of 10 seasons, your right and its Amaro’s fault. If the team does win, its random luck and Amaro still sucks.

            My take, Amaro is a so-so GM who’s made some good moves and some bad ones. He’s in a difficult spot now because his core is on the wrong side of 30 and the system doesn’t have immediate replacements. The Phillies are trending down but it’s more a result a normal developmental cycle than poor decision making. All teams experience the same issues.

            1. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – He’s damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.

            2. Really, this notion that RA and Manuel just get reflexive criticism is getting very old. It is a substitute for any intellectual effort to defend them against specific and valid criticism. The two Young deals, as well as Durbin, are pretty much indefensible. Cholly’s going with Ibanez all season in 2011 is pretty much indefensible. Cholly’s forcing the Pence trade is totally indefensible. The way the team has treated Brown is indefensible. Somebody in the organization (I point my finger at ownership, since this is a problem that goes over multiple GMs) setting such paltry budgets for the draft and international bonuses in recent years, excluding the capped 2012, is wholly indefensible.

            3. Honestly, it’s hard for me to understand how smart people can continue to defend Amaro. Maybe a case of not wanting to believe it? Noticeably missing from the defenses are positive cases for him – just convoluted and unconvincing attempts to explain away the many bad moves (Michael Martinez anyone? No one has even TRIED to defend THAT one), along with wholly irrelevant references to the team’s success in his first three years (more on that later). Now the usually smart 3up wants to talk about him being “in a difficult spot now because his core is on the wrong side of 30 and the system doesn’t have immediate replacements.” As if that wasn’t something foreseeable that Amaro could have planned for. And it isn’t has if the various criticisms are in hindsight – every bad move was criticized at the time

              The D. Young fiasco just the latest example … the only half way plausible defense was the hope that he couldn’t REALLY be that stupid, but it’s increasingly clear that yes, making him the regular right fielder really IS the plan.

            4. As for “8 out of ten seasons,” it would be 6 of 9 (a quibble), except that you really can’t count the first 4 (for good or ill), for reasons which should be obvious (the main point).

            5. LarryM….I totally disagree with your assessment that RAJ is ‘the village idiot’…..Philadelphia is not a village!

        2. Oh, just remembered the biggest example of where I was wrong regarding the Phillies in recent years: my many defenses of Amaro. Embarrassing in retrospect how much I let wishful thinking get in the way of my critical faculties.

  16. I just want baseball to start that way we can stop arguing over the competencies of the General Manager and see live actual baseball.

    1. Agree on that point 1000% and lets see how they do this year. 2013 should an interesting year for the Phillies.

    2. Yes, I feel the same way. The one thing that I think I am really going to enjoy about this year is that for the first time in a while, we are going to see a lot of new players and a lot of competition for roles on the mound, in the field and on the bench.

      As much as this Delmon Young thing gives me a headache, Ibanez aside, Charlie actually seems to be focused quite a bit on fielding and fundamentals. I think crappy fielding, as much as anything else, helped get Pence and Victorino traded (is it just me or, at times last year, did Victorino. who was once routinely superb in the field, look like he was playing baseball for the first time – it was bizarre), Fontenot released, Wigginton relegate to Wiggintonville, and Mayberry some extra playing time. Charlie loves and appreciates guys like Ruiz and Galvis (he loves Galvis and rightfully so) who are highly competent fielders and I expect he will feel the same way about Revere. Also, even though Charlie is admittedly bad at using platoons and pitching specialists, on the whole, I usually agree with the players he decides to play and I think Charlie is as good as keeping the players focused, motivated and playing hard throughout an entire season as any manager I have ever seen. He’s certainly a below average game-day manager, but I can almost guarantee you that virtually no other manager could have orchestrated the late-season surges that we have come to expect each and every year – even last year, when the team was not good, but kept in there and rallied. Is he the best manager in baseball? No. Is he the guy you want managing strategy during a short series? Unfortunately, no. But he’s pretty darn good and is definitely underappreciated in my view. If Delmon Young sucks, I think (and hope) he won’t get nearly as much playing time as we fear he will.

      1. +1……..also if Utley plays the first few ST games then needs to have to ‘rest’ for 2/3/4 weeks…then Freddy Galvis, IMO, becomes the 2nd baseman for the year PERIOD. Do it or ‘get off the pot’

          1. You are going to be pleasantly surprised – in the long run, I think Galvis is going to more than hold his own with the bat and, as a fielder, he’s off the charts. Even if he’s slighly above replacement level with the bat he’s going to be at least a 3 WAR player. Freddy Galvis can play.

            1. Agreed for the most part, I don’t think that he will ever be an above average offensive player (there is some pop in the bat but the approach isn’t steller, and he is not fast), but if he is that he is a major league regular at short or even second on defense alone. If it was anyone other than Rollins at SS, I would be making huge arguments for Galvis to player there.

            2. You could be correct. Up until roughly a year and a half ago, Galvis looked like a disaster with the bat. Then he improved. Now we must await the post-PED Galvis to learn whether that improvement was anything more than better hitting through chemistry.

            3. The season he put together at AA as a 21 year old had a lot of promise. If the measure of PED use is added power a ISO from .128 to .137 is not an unreasonable jump for a player between their age 21 and 22 seasons, most of the spike was from a jump of doubles to singles (HR power stayed relatively the same, though small samples apply). His strikeout rate stayed the same, his walk rate plummeted. Then you are asking how much did the PEDs help (we are all assuming his intentional guilt, as opposed to contamination) vs the fact that he played a large bit of time with a fairly serious injury. There is really nothing to his stat improvements that are unreasonable given his age and development level.

            4. We really don’t know that he was clean when he was at Reading. All we know is that he wasn’t caught yet. A lot of PED users weren’t caught.

            5. My take on Galvis, who I like:

              (1) The extent to which his pop in 2012 was a product of the PEDs is an open question. If he ends up a .225 hitter without BBs or even the level of power he demonstrated in 2012, no amount of good defense will make him a regular at either SS or 2B;

              (2) However, given his age and progress to date as a hitter, it is certainly possible that he will become at least an adequate hitter. Elvis Andrus may get a 9 figure deal; I don’t think Galvis will become Elvis Andrus, but he doesn’t have to to be a quality regular at SS;

              (3) As a fielder he is the real deal. I do think that, with this Phillies’ team especially, the lineup is already so weak that adding Galvis would be pushing it. OTOH, with historically bad defense at the 4 corners (maybe the worst in baseball history) if D. Young really plays right and Ruf left), they sure could use a human vacuum cleaner in the middle infield;

              (4) Obviously at second base, as opposed to shortstop, the hitting is a bigger concern.

              On balance, I’d be very comfortable with him at second base if Utley can’t play. Especially given the alternatives – I’ve read speculation that Betancourt could start at second if Utley can’t go. THAT’S a truly horrifying thought.

              We’ll see. I am rooting for him.

      2. I don’t think this suggestion has merit. What got Pence and Victorino trades was the need to get below the luxury tax cap and the crap season the Phillies were having in 2012.

        1. That is only true in part – the bad season was the preciptating cause of the trades, but not the underlying reason they were made. If the Phillies thought they had studs in these players, either or both of them would have beem retained. They were traded because the Phillies concluded were not good enough to be cost effective based on their projected salaries and their fielding woes contributed to that conclusion.

      3. I can appreciate the defenses of Manuel more than I can appreciate the defenses of Amaro. He does have some real strengths, along the lines articulated here (even if I think Catch gives him a little too much credit, and I would dissent from some of what he says here about his choices of whom to play). Three buts:

        (1) He is particularly ill equipped to manage a team in transition like the 2013 Phillies;
        (2) To the extent that defenders of Amaro are correct in shifting blame for the bad moves from Amaro to Manuel, it is an indictment of both men; and
        (3) What he (and the rest of the organization) have done to Brown is just inexcusable, and mitigates a lot of the good that Manuel has done for the franchise.

        1. Manuel is said to have done a lot for the Phillies, because of the number of wins during his tenure, compared to his predecessors. But… his teams have had a lot bigger salary budget and a lot more talent. It is not unreasonable to ask whether or not Manuel has had more success than Francona would have had with the same talent.

          1. Well I don’t buy the “wins” argument. I agree with Catch that he does seem to do a very good job of what I would consider a field manager’s most important task: keeping a diverse group of high ego and highly paid ball players relaxed, focused, and motivated. He’s a good HR guy. Unless, of course, you are a young player who gets on his bad side.

          2. Historically speaking…this Phillies era can lay claim to the fact that it has the best ever….ss, 2nd baseman , first baseman and coach. And thats not even getting into a Cole Hamels vs Steve Carlton debate.

            1. Best coach? Yeah, I guess you can make a case for Davey Lopes.

              All kidding aside, no, I wouldn’t for a minute say that Manuel is the best manager in Phillies’ history. He has his strengths, but also weaknesses. The best thing you can say about him is that he was a very good fit for the personnel he had for the their 5 year run.

        2. Agreed on Browm being jerked around by the organization, but except for late 2010, when Brown has been up, Charlie has played him a lot. It is hard to know who is most to blame for messing with Brown – it could be Ruben, or Charlie or both.

          1. Or it could be Brown’s inability to win the job? I agree that Brown’s been bounced around too much over the last couple of years but he’s also failed grasp the opportunities and deserves some of the blame as well.

      4. We could have an “OFFICE” pool on who goes down first. Sorry but my choice is Adams.
        I believe that the things that go into throwing a ball in the MLB are not as simple as the team has broadcasted. I hope by summer he is productive.
        We are now “dumpster diving” like the Meta.

  17. I think it’s time to look back on Brown’s career as a Phillie. I would be shocked at this point if he played another inning as a Phillie.

    This is a case, IMO, where, in retrospect, we were too kind to the the organization.

    (1) 2010 – Really the way they handled him was just inexcusable. He probably was brought up prematurely. But if you bring him up, you need to let him play.

    (2) 2011 – Obviously the hamate injury looms large here, and you can’t blame the team for that. But then the team repeats the mistake of 2010 – arguably bringing him back too soon from the injury, then trading for Pence just when he seemed to be getting his stroke back. It also wouldn’t surprise me if his fielding woes (the error rate portion of those woes) was a direct result of the ham handed way he was handled by the team. His confidence was obviously shot.

    (3) 2012 – it’s pretty clear to me at this point that his disappointing hitting in 2012 (and he was STILL a better hitter than D. Young in 2012) can be blamed entirely upon two factors – residual effects of the hamate injury, and the team screwing up his swing. The former seems to no longer be a problem (see his power numbers from Sept/Oct; yes, a small sample size, but entirely consistent with the typical recovery time from a hamate injury). Whether the damage that the team did to his swing can be fixed is still an open question.

    As a hitter, Brown has a good eye, decent contact skills, plus power (not plus plus) and speed. He might – might – be sabotaged by a poor swing thrust upon him by the team, preventing him from making as good contact as he is capable of. If he can fix the swing, he can be Ryan Zimmerman as a hitter.That’s an upside, of course, I’m not predicting that, but that’s what he is capable of if he can fix the damage to his swing. Defensively, he isn’t going to win a gold glove, but I fully expect him to become at least an average right fielder defensively.

    We can only speculate as to why Manuel has an irrational hatred of Brown, but my best guess is that Brown was rightly resistant to the team’s attempt to tinker with his swing.

    1. The reason is simple. Like Mayberry, he posed a threat to Ibanez playing regularly. He posed a threat to Manuel getting the veteran OF, who turned out to be Pence.

    2. I don’t think it’s irrational hatred on Manuel’s part. The reality is Brown’s been ineffective at the big league level. A 90 OPS+ from a corner OF who’s been really bad defensively isn’t someone a manger will want to play for very long.

      SSS means both the offensive and especially defensive numbers aren’t necessarily indicative of his true talent, but it does accurately reflect his performance so far. I can completely understand why a manager on a veteran, playoff caliber, large market team would be hesitant to use him.

      However that’s where Amaro has to step in and insist that he gets regular playing time. There’s no reason we shouldn’t have a better idea of what we have in Brown right now.

    3. I do not profess to be a swing doctor, but the swing Brown used when he came up was long and loopy and semed to leave him exposed to pitches up and in. The old swing, however, seemed to generate some serious power. His new swing is more compact and seems to eliminate the hole. The question is whether he can still create the same or similar power. By the end of last year, he seemed to be turning the corner, but we shall see,

      1. I’m even less of a swing doctor – and on this part I could be wrong (not the rest, IMO, aside from the perhaps the speculation about his 2011 fielding woes). But here’s my case:

        Swings are complicated things. AND they end up being (eventually) very instinctive/automatic. If you have to THINK about your swing, you’re going to fail. As a minor league player, Brown’s swing generated a lot of good contact. As a major league player, not so much. IMO, power aside (the Hamate), that’s been his problem so far a major league player. You could also say hitting the fast ball, but IMO that’s another side of the same coin.

        Now it’s POSSIBLE that that just reflects better pitchers in the majors. But in my experience, when minor league performance doesn’t translate to major league performance (of course it doesn’t translate directly, but in Brown’s case he has under-performed even accounting for that), it;s usually one of three things:

        (1) The player can’t hit breaking stuff;
        (2) The pitchers exploit poor plate discipline;
        (3) The pitchers exploit poor contact skills.

        None of these are true with Brown. Instead, he has trouble making good contact on fast balls. How often do you hear that? Not often. Why? Because, by and large, pitchers in the upper minors have decent to excellent fast balls. Most of them will never make it because they don’t have good secondary stuff, or they don’t have good command or both. But the one thing a player sees in AA and AAA is a lot of good fast balls. Not from every pitcher, but from most. And Brown hit those fast balls in the minor leagues. Very well. He made great contact.

        So what changed? The swing. And, IMO, even if his new swing is prettier, I wonder if is is as effective. Maybe because it just isn’t a natural swing for Brown. This could even explain the perceived “slow swing,” which is more of a hesitation than a slow swing. And of course that could ALSO explain the problems with a fast ball.

        Hesitation on the swing is IMO a clear sign of thinking too much. And IMO that seems likely to be a product of all the tinkering with the swing.

        Again, I could be wrong. This is outside my core analytic strength. But this theory seems to fit the observed facts very well.

        1. I think this is a very likely explanation, and it’s all the more reason to think that more at-bats in the majors are exactly what he needs.

        2. I have some thoughts on this, but we agree on most of the key points. Domonic Brown has good talent. Domonic Brown has been jerked around. Domonic Brown needs to play and should stop being put in a postion where he feels as if the Sword of Damocles is constantly hanging over his head – it is not making him more motivated – rather, it only appears to make him more tenative and unsure of himself.

  18. I may be living in denial, but I just don’t believe that Delmon Young gets much playing time. Revere and Brown will be two regular OFs, and the others will compete for playing time at the third OF position. Nothing else makes sense to me.

  19. Did anyone else happen to catch the History of the Phillies last night on MLB network? It got me to thinking maybe this years team can pull off what the 1980 or 1993 team did. Either way it reminded me that the paper tiger teams in spring rarely pull off the wire to wire win.

    The Braves if you look closely at them have issues with their starting rotation and with McCann’s shoulder. Sure there BP is the best in baseball but you have to get the ball to those guys and with holes at 2B, and 3B the loss of Chippers leadership they can be had.

    The Nats, the darlings of the east with their flashy phenom Harper, Ian Desmond’s breakout year definitely look the part. Good pitching, good bullpen but will Gio be able to shrug off the distraction of being linked to PED’s? We’ll see.

    In that piece a lot of time was spent on Howards 06 season and the 58 bombs he put up. A lot of breaking pitches he was able to stay back on that year and put over the wall the opposite way. Makes me wonder if he would go back and look at the tape of himself that year and see what made him successful.

    And finally is it easier to perform when not much is expected of you?

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