57 thoughts on “General Discussion – Week of 3-10-2014 – Man’s Hip Edition

  1. just saw projected opening day roster from matt gelb. No Ruf which would be ridiculous. He’s the only guy having a decent spring. Nooooo Bobby A. please.

      1. I can’t imagine a scenario where Ruf DOESN’T make the Opening Day roster. I’m not sure about Rupp, but that would depend entirely on what Nieves does – does anyone know what his opt-out date is if he doesn’t make the team?

        1. Well if you read the article he was referring to it sets out a logical case for why Ruf might not be on the opening day roster (and he is getting his information from organization sources). And, while I think he should be on the roster & have argued so pretty strongly, the team’s rationale makes some sense, even though I don’t agree with it.

        2. Nieves has a major league deal and no options, he either makes the team or they cut him and pay him his money.

          I have lots of scenarios where Ruf doesn’t make this team, and most of them have to do with roster construction and bench handedness (aka there are no lefties right now and no real backup OFs if Ruf makes the team)

          1. I have a reason why Ruf makes the team…

            wait for it….

            wait for it

            He’s one of 2 players that is likely to put up an .800+ OPS and have atleast respectible defense at their position (1B).

            1. Respectable defense at 1B is debateable. But here is the problem, you have 5 bench spots, two are claimed by Galvis and Nieves. That leaves the remaining spots up to Ruf, Mayberry, Abreu, Gwynn, and Frandsen. That leaves your potential combinations as:
              – Ruf, Frandsen, Abreu: You get a lefty (Abreu), but if any of Brown, Revere, or Byrd go down then you are forced to play Ruf or Abreu in the OF and that is a huge defensive risk.
              – Ruf, Mayberry, Frandsen: You have your OF defense in case of an injury (if you need a CF move Byrd to CF and Mayberry to RF), but you don’t have a lefty on your bench
              – Ruf, Mayberry, Abreu: You have your lefty, your OF defense, but Galvis is your lone backup at 2B, SS, and 3B
              – Ruf, Gwynn, Frandsen: OF defense and infield flexibility, but your lefty (Gwynn) can’t hit

              Most likely to go North Frandsen, Mayberry, Abreu, lefty, IF defense, and OF defense. It is a numbers game and Ruf’s lack of positional flexibility hurts him.

            2. I think this lack of a lefty on the bench is a red herring. Ruf should make the team to platoon with Howard, since Howard against a LHP is like sending a pitcher to the plate. Do that and Howard is your LH off the bench.

  2. After another beat down (8-0 today with 4 hits again), I’m really ready for the minor league games to start tomorrow to give me something else to follow.

  3. I believe that Franco’s throwing error opening the seventh inning today was his third in 9 games. It opened the gates for the Braves to score 5 unearned runs off Papelbon. I haven’t actually seen any of the games and I was wondering if people who have seen his play think that he is really that bad of a fielder or if is just having a bad run, perhaps due to nerves.

    1. Backed up fielded the ball cleanly, had kind of a side arm sling type throw with plenty of muscle, wasn’t airmailed but it wasn’t particularly close. Some scouts have raised concerns about the accuracy of the throwing motion before, wouldn’t surprise me if the Phillies look to clean it up and have it a bit more conventional.

      Overall I don’t think he has looked particularly bad or good at 3B or 1B, he is normally clean if he gets there but there have been a couple plays both at 1B and 3B where the slow first step cost him.

    2. He really isn’t as bad as the three errors in the 9 games would lead you to believe.
      He may be trying to impress too hard.

    1. Not even close. Red Sox were 90-72 in 2011. In 2012, they were 69-93 and then the World Series victory last year. The Florida Marlins ( right thru the Miami Marlin’s years) would also be well ahead of the Phillies. But… right now I’m not seeing much hope for a successful 2014 or ’15 or ’16 or …

  4. What could Dom Brown,and one of either a healthy Pettibone or Ethan Martin fetch on the open market?

    1. Probably one near elite (top 25-50) prospect and a lower tier prospect or two decent prospects (top 75-125). If Brown has a very good year this year, it would boost his trade value considerably as most of us (myself included), don’t know quite what to make of him; he’s as enigmatic as a young, talented, semi-proven younger player can get.

      1. Unfortunately, from this team, Brown would seem to be the one player that may have some quality redeemable value in a return trade.

  5. You should never look at stats at this point in ST. It’s like looking at a full eclipse of the sun. But I peaked this morning and I think I’m blind. Hitting is horrible. It’s not bad. It’s not stinky. It’s horrible. Top hitter is Mayberry and they’re trying to trade him. They’ll get a Class A prospect type with so many flaws that rain will flow through during a summer shower. Ruf is hitting well but there’s more talk about him starting the season in the minors. Let’s get this over with. The Phils need to platoon Ruf and Howard at 1B. Sorry but the jig is up. The Phils have a $25M player who is, for the most part, half a player. Admit it, face it and move on. Asche has outplayed Franco but that’s not saying much. Utley is running in place for now. I’m less concerned about him but Rollins is, as usual, starting the season slowly. He’ll hurt the team badly for the 1st few months unless someone’s got the balls to hide him. Maybe bat him 9th. Pitchers can out hit him early. Byrd may be the best player on the team right now and most people didn’t want him on the team. Brown has lost his hitting coach (Joyner). They meshed last year and I think he’s feeling the loss. Can someone get some smelling salts and try to wake him up? Wally is gone. Play on…

    Pitching could be the bright spot but, like Atlanta, we may not have an pitchers to put out there. Lee will be Lee. I have a feeling in the pit of my stomach that says Hamels is gone until, at least, the All-Stat game. Season’s over by then. All the injuries to the 2nd tier pitchers, or maybe I should have said up and comers, is painful. Morgan would have looked nice as a #5. Pettibone too. We may be down to Manship, Buchanon or Hollands. MAG has become a project and there is a good chance he doesn’t play in the Majors until September… maybe ever.

    I’m sorry if I sound like Denny Downer but this ST looks exactly like all of last year. You could take these stats and plug them into last year and it would look the same. It’s the same crap different year. I’m not assigning blame. I understand the financial side all too well. Everything is clearer in hindsight but we can only look forward. High drafts picks are a good way to turn the ship but this feels like trying to turn an aircraft carrier in a bathtub.

    1. I’m with you on Howard, to be honest, at this point I’d park him in AAA (though I think that’s against MLB rules, at which point the bench is just as appealing) and tell him, “I’m done dealing with your refusal to change, get your walk rate up to 8% to go with a minimum of a .260 BA or stay there the rest of your career”.

    2. I think I mostly agree with you but I’m not discouraged because it’s an opportunity to move assets and acquire younger talent.

      So while the team may be crappy in terms of wins you have inventory with a track record that would be in high demand near the deadline.

      Biddle looks ready to me but hold him off until June. I’m really excited with what I saw. Not that he will be Hamels or Kershaw but possibly with some maturation and experience he could be something close to Lee.

      Ryne will respect the veterans but he won’t cater to them if they are not getting it done. The move from Charlie to Ryne (IMO) was done with the mind set that this season is it. if they don’t take matters into their own hands and play to their career averages they will see themselves on another team.

      Fun times ahead!

      1. Well, as usual I am not optimistic about the “acquire young talent” part of “moving assets.”

        I will say this – if the team is as bad as it looks, the downside of a “fire sale” is lower. But the upside of a fire sale is still essentially zero. So I can’t share any of your optimism.

        Basically the hope was that we could avoid a Houston Astos phase while transitioning to the next wave of young talent. Increasingly it looks like we can’t avoid that (and the next wave of young talent is still mostly in High school and college. Or younger.). I know that makes some people happy, because they imagine that getting really bad will help us get better later. It won’t.

        Honestly I can’t see this team returning to contending status under the current ownership/management. It is that bad. The team’s financial resources are increasingly irrelevant given the current dynamics of the game. And that’s ALL they have going for them.

        Speaking of the Astros, they (along with at least 20 other organizations, probably 25, possibly 28-29) will be contenders before the Phillies will.

        1. Ok Larry…don’t keep me in the dark any longer….’possibly 28 29′ will be contenders before the Phillies….who is the other team the Phillies will beat out?

      2. And as for Sandberg, with every idiotic word out of his mouth I am getting more and more sour on him. He seems to think that one of Manuel’s problems was that he was too cerebral. He’s one of those players who parlayed tremendous natural gifts and a good work ethic to stardom ,and, along the way, forgot about the “natural gifts” part and imagines that all it takes is hard work. Hard work is great and all, but a team full of hustling no-talent players won’t win very often.

        I think he was a very bad hire, but in keeping with the second worst organization in major league baseball.

        What’s the over/under on 100 loss seasons for the rest of the decade? I’d say three, but that’s probably the optimist in me.

        1. I don’t think the Phillies short-term future is especially bright, but I don’t think that is at all because Sandberg is the manager. He is the only manager to put up a winning record in Allentown. I’ve come to the conclusion that a manager/GM are obligated to say stupid things to survive in Philadelphia. It is hard to try to give a remotely optimistic take on the team, half-heartedly justify recent management/ownership actions, or buoy up the spirits of the team’s players/scouts/coaches/GM without saying stupid things. Viewed through a logical lens, the current state of the Phillies is so bad, and ownership’s/GM’s fingerprints so all over that badness, that a manager is really at a loss for what to say. RAJ seems to have adopted the approach that the Phillies have just been the unluckiest team in the history of baseball.

          1. Well I hope you are right. I certainly agree that Sandberg is not a cause of the short term problem. And long term … I tend to think that managers have much less of an impact that people think, for good or bad. So my pessimism long term is not based on Sandberg either. He is IMO more of a symptom that a cause.

          2. Lot of insight there. People who think public pronouncements of managers, particularly new ones, represent their private thinking are the kind of people I’d love to pay poker against.

      3. In essence, the only player on the team with significant trade value is Lee. And maybe they should think of trading him. After all, is 105 losses significantly worse than 100 losses?

        1. I really don’t think this is true. If they are healthy and playing as they should when healthy, then Utley, Ruiz, and maybe even Rollins should have trade value at the deadline.

        2. Utley maybe. Not a top prospect but maybe a prospect in the back end of the top 100.

          Ruiz … well, I guess it depends upon what you mean by trade value. If playing well, they could get a minor piece – a bench guy or reliever, or a lower minor high upside/high risk guy. Not a top 100 prospect.

          Rollins can veto a trade and isn’t going anywhere, and wouldn’t have any value even if he did agree to a trade.

    1. They are trying to trade him. But what’s this “sell high” concept that you are referring to? They will be very lucky to get even org filler for him.

      Look, I was a Mayberry fan, but he is past his sell by date.

      1. Yeah, unfortunately this seems true. Whether he has aged this fast or the Phillies yo-yo treatment of his playing time killed his development, he doesn’t seem to have much left. Perhaps a change of scenery will help him. Even if he stays here, Sandberg could represent a change of scenery. Small hope, I admit. His trade value seems zilch, but we could have another iteration of the Golson/Mayberry trade.

        1. Some good news…Pettibone is now ready and feels he will be ready to pitch in the rotation by mid-April.
          A ray of Florida sunshine is starting to peek thru for the Phillies.

      2. My point is you should be able to get a better player for him today than you would have this time last year so sell high is relative term. I’m under no impression you get a major piece for him.

        Ruf frankly has more value in a bench role even if his OF defense is sub par than he does in AAA.

        Agree Lee is the best Asset today but come the trade deadline it could be any number of players. Keep in mind we have guys on short multi year deals so when you are talking to other teams about certain guys its not a half season rental. Under the new rules I say that gets you something marginally better.

        You need to get out of this mindset of top 100 prospects is the only way to turn a franchise around.

        There are so few can’t miss guys so rebuilding is more a matter of luck than being good followed by resources to capitalize on your good luck. Something we have that teams like Rays, the Astros, the Indians, the A’s, the Royals the Pirates don’t have. Those teams peddle and prey on their young talent.

        Easily more than half the league is below the Phillies in their chances to get back to the WS. Maybe another group of 10 is on the same level and probably 5 in a better position.

        1. I guess it’s a question of time frame. If you are talking getting to the WS in the 4 year frame 2014-2017, I’d argue that we likely are in the bottom 10 of baseball. Our revenue and the primo draft picks we will be collecting put us in a better position going forward, but some long-term weak organizations, like Pirates and Royals, are probably ahead of us in the short-term, due to all their young talent, and how really bad we are across the board today.

        2. Would be interested in a justification for those numbers.

          (1) Under 25 talent (in the majors and minors) was recently rated 29th in the majors. 29th.

          (2) Where would you rank the organization on organizational strength – scouting/drafting/development/talent evaluation? I think bottom five. If you want to be REALLY generous, bottom 10. Certainly not higher.

          (3) The only area where they are top 10 is financially. 5 years ago that meant a lot. The game has changed. Even the mid market teams have plenty of TV money, and the owners have succeeded (via draft/international/free agency/luxury tax rules) in almost eliminating the competitive advantage of money past a certain point.

          So who are you going to put the team ahead of? The relatively few organizations even worse than they are from an organizational strength perspective, and maybe a couple of the teams in really marginal markets. And even there, a couple of those teams make up for it by being exceptionally good in terms of organizational strength, e.g., Tampa Bay, Oakland.

  6. Praise to Skipper Sandberg for his apparent jab at the consistently lazy and disinterested Jimmy Rollins. Rather than watching an incumbent manager stand by and allow this poor behavior to continue, it is good to see a new manager take a bit if a stand in spring training.

    It is very discouraging to see a guy who personally lifted and led this franchise in 2007 to bigger and better things to now be an anchor of death holding this team back from further destiny. His lack of hustle and interest in working hard will not only keep him from producing at a level needed for the team to contend, but he is setting a bad example for future players by displaying this unacceptable attitude.

    1. Here’s a prediction on Rollins. Jimmy keeps up his ‘energy conservation’ approach and by June Sandberg is not even doing him the courtesy of keeping team efforts to get Rollins to waive his ‘no trade’ rights out of the press. Rollins embarrasses Sandberg and Sandberg will make his dissatisfaction with Rollins very public. This a move Sandberg or any baseball lifer probably would hate to do.

  7. Do we even trust RAJ to run a fire sale? When he trades Lee does will he be able to get better value for him then he did the first time. Should he also kick the tires on seeing what he could get for Brown or Hamels in the off season also?

      1. I don’t think this is true. Those who expect we’ll be able to trade Lee for a guy who becomes either our #2 starter or cleanup hitter by 2016 are bound to be disappointed. As LarryM repeatedly says, that is setting to high an expectation. It sometimes happens, but that is as much dumb luck as anything. RAJ got less than optimal for Lee in the first trade, because that deal had to be completed quickly, after most teams have exhausted their budget going into a new season. That deal was necessary for the Halladay trade to go forward, since the Phillies had their own budget issues. Still, Gillies and Aumont were both solid prospects. Injuries were an issue. Look at what the Phillies Blanton, Oswalt, Lee, Lidge, Halladay. Not a lot of future HOF talent there. I think he got ripped on the unnecessary trade for Pence, but by and large, what we gave up for established plus major league talent may be a good example of what one should expect to get back in trading Lee. Remember that current Lee isn’t the value of the Lee we initially traded for and discount accordingly. We may get lucky and get a future All Star in return for him, but that shouldn’t be the expectation. You can get a top-10 minor league talent in all of baseball in return, and then grouse that Domonic Brown has holes in his game and just isn’t good enough. Well, that is what a top-10, virtually major league talent often turns into.

        1. You just never know what a team in the playoff hunt and wanting to solidify themselves for a WS championship may want to give up. Sabean comes to mind with Beltran/Wheeler and the Mets. Then again there was the CC trade and wasn’t it Laporta who came in return…not sure…but he never came around. Its a risk no matter how you look at it. I do not see Ruben as a guy who takes risks.

  8. Giles mixed it up pretty good today with his 40 or so total pitches. And when he had to, he really brought up the heat. I can see him, if he stays healthy, up with the big club later in the year.

  9. The continued Rollins bashing, and Sandberg’s seeming partial endorsement of that (incidentally, it’s THOSE kind of stupid comments, not understandable over praise of his players, that makes me unhappy about the hire), have prompted this:

    Let’s contrast “hustle” and “hard work.” They are not the same.

    “Hustle” is visible, in game activity that goes above and beyond the normal expectation – crashing into walls, take-out slides, running out routine grounders full speed, and so on.

    “Hard work” is mostly invisible, not in game, working at conditioning and improving your game.

    There are some borderline calls – e.g., one wants to see a player run full speed defensively, etc. But, with very few rare exceptions players do that – and (rightly) don’t get extra credit for that.

    IMO the first is AT BEST neutral, most likely a negative that you don’t want to see in a player. (More on that in a moment). The latter is crucially important.

    But there seems to be a cult of hustle among some fans, and, sadly, some players and former players. Why is that? Well, I suppose one could disagree with my analysis of cost/benefit. I’m quite confident that I’m right on this. The rare instances where you get a small advantage from doing that are far outweighed by risk of injury.

    In fairness, I assume that most people realize this. Making the best possible case, they assume that hustle and hard work are correlated.

    And sometimes they are. But IMO not often enough and consistently enough for the former to be a stand in for the latter.

    Now, to bring this back to Rollins. No, he does not display visible “hustle.” GOOD FOR HIM. Yeah, maybe he could have added 5 runs over his career if he displayed more hustle. At the cost, probably, of about 100 extra games lost to injury. Not a good trade off.

    Is he a hard worker? Well, as I said, it is mostly invisible. But most probably yes:

    (a) The mere fact of a long. effective career suggests hard work. Lazy players flame out early (not the only reason for an early flame out, but one of them).

    (b) Sustained improvement in his game in his mid to late 20s. The fact that Rollins was unable or unwilling to make specific changes in his game desired by fans obscures the fact that he made across the board improvements in his game as he matured, hitting and fielding both. He also, specifically, became a more disciplined hitter, despite the perception of his critics.

    So what can you criticize? Well, he said he would veto a trade. Some people call that selfish. I call it loyal.

    Rollins has been one of my favorite Phillies of all time, and is, ironically given the criticism, a prime example of a player with good “make up.”.

    And if Sandberg thinks differently, that reflects badly only on himself.

    Oh and BOWA? At least Sandberg speaks from the vantage point of a hall of famer. Bowa as a player couldn’t carry Rollins’ jock strap. Look, I grew up with Bowa as the team’s shortstop, and I thought he was pretty good. That’s when I didn’t really understand the game that well.

    1. Let me first say that I like Rollins and have no agenda in that way, but I do disagree with on the hustle part…he gets 5 ab’s per game I don’t think it is asked to much from any player to sprint 5x 90 yards per day and if that causes any injuries than there is something wrong with his fitness or preparation.
      I am sure he works hard and probably harder then most or he would not have stayed in the Big Leagues as you correctly stated.
      As far as Sandberg goes why don’t we wait with any kind of speculation until we hear what it really is about.
      Personally if I was Manager I would like for a guy like Rollins to be a leader and even if he doesn’t like to hustle all the time, to do it right now, just to show support and leadership this spring traing.

    2. Bowa had some very solid seasons, but for most of his career he was not all that good. He got kudos for leadership, because he was a loud, excitable, in-your-face kind of guy, who was always talking. Almost everything I’ve read from his teammates suggest he was largely viewed as annoying, self-centered, and not a leader. He certainly was an awful manager.

      My rap on Rollins is that he pushes to play too many innings a year at his advanced age, pushed by personal rather than team goals. The team would likely do better and Rollins OPS would likely improve if he didn’t play as many innings. It is not just ST, he definitely seemed to take a conserve energy approach last regular season. That is necessary if he wants to play every inning, as he seems to desire, but it is far better for the team if he plays at full energy 70-80% of the time, with Galvis playing at full energy the rest of the time.

      We’ll see how Rollins does this year. Last year was probably flukishly bad, but the downtrend in his performance with age is very clear. In some ways 2012 was flukishly good.

      1. My question is did you see Larry bowa play??? saying he was not very good, is imo a false statement. great fielding shortstop with great range, strong arm, good speed, great base runner, adequate bat, really improved as a hitter as time went on, no power, but not many shortstops did have a lot of power back then,

        1. Yeah, I saw him a bunch.

          His range was not great. it was good. His defensive rep was exaggerated because he was sure-handed, important but not as important as we thought 40 years ago.

          He was fast and a good base runner.

          As he hitter, he was not good. He improved from awful to less awful. His best year as a hitter he was a below average hitter; on a career basis, basically replacement level. he was adequate, if by adequate you mean “good enough to be a decent regular for about a decade given his position, defense, and base running skills.” For a shortstop, that’s a low bar. A bar that Rollins has massively exceeded.

          Comparing the two, Rollins had an edge – mostly a big edge – in every area – defense, power, ability to draw a BB, even base running – except that Bowa had somewhat better contact skills. But make decent contact was ALL Bowa had going for himself as a hitter.

          WAR is far from perfect, but pretty good on a career basis, especially for players playing the same position. And IMO quite accurate in this case. Rollins’ beat Bowa there 45.9 to 16.7 (despite, at this point, a slightly longer career for Bowa).

          1. And the idea that shortstops of his day were light hitters, the truth is otherwise. It’s true that his era was somewhat f a transition period, as shortstops were increasingly expected to contribute with the bat, and it’s also true that the past decade or so saw a lot more power from shortstops.

            But even among shortstops of his era, he was light hitting. List the top shortstops of his era by WOBP+, the best overall rate stat for evaluating hitting, and he doesn’t show up on the top 30. Some of the guys over him came up in the early 80s, but even in the 70s there were plenty of shortstops who were much better hitters.Even limiting it to the 70s, there were 35 shortstops who were better hitters (the cut off seems to be about 1400 PA, and a few of these guys were not 100% shortstops, but even among full time regular shortstops from the 70s he doesn’t rank all that high).

          2. No question Rollins career far outshadows Bowa’s. However, Rollins is clearly on the downside of his career and IMHO shouldn’t be playing more than 80% of the innings. Before he aged into his 30s, he was a 100+ OPS+ guy. Now he is basically an 85 OPS+ guy and declining. More innings will show up his current deficiencies.

        2. Yes. I saw him a lot on TV and infrequently in person. I think your view of his stick is colored by a natural comparison to Ruben Amaro and Bobby Wine. I’ve also looked at his stats over the years and once again have them in front of me. They confirm my memory. He only had an OPS above .700 once in his career (only .711). He only had an OPS+ above 90 twice in his career (94 max). His career OPS is .620 and his career OPS+ is 72. For a guy with his lack of power, he didn’t walk enough (a bit over 6%) and had an obp of only .300 for his career. He stole a lot of bases and his 75% steal success rate makes his basestealing a small net plus. As a Phillie, in his 12 seasons, his average WAR was a little under two, grading him out as slightly below average starter quality. His WAR is split fairly equally between O and D.

  10. Here’s a thought .. maybe Rollins erred in actually attempting a change that many people were calling for.

    There was a school of thought that he should adjust his swing to hit fewer flay balls. Now, he certainly, and rightly IMO, ignored that criticism for most of his career.

    But in 2012 his pop up rate, which had been just fine, shot up. And there were more cries for him to adjust his swing.

    And then he had a horrible 2013 (he played at an all star level in 2012 despite the popups). As a hitter, his biggest problem was that his power deserted him.

    Maybe, just maybe. because he made the mistake to listening to his critics. His pop up rate plummeted back close to his norm (and close to league norms). His line drive rate was up, and his fly ball rate was down a little. And he lost his power.

    Coincidence? Well, it probably was. What really happened (whether from chance or a decline in skill or some combination of both) is that his HR/fly ball rate dropped from over 7% (career; he was over 10% in 2012) to 3.1%.

  11. Ironically, Brett Wallace was released by the ‘Stros this afternoon. He was originally a first round pick, of argueably the greatest drafting team in this last decade.

  12. Personally, I love JRoll and history will regard him very highly. All this talk about no hustle is irrelevant in my opinion. He always goes full speed on defense and on the bases where he’s an excellent base runner. What he doesn’t do, and I can relate to, is he doesn’t go full out on routine rounders and fly balls, both of which are routine outs 99% of the time. Once or twice a year maybe there’s an error on a routine play and he stops at first instead of being on 2nd. That’s it, the extent of the impact of his supposed lack of hustle. I say it’s not a big deal, very few players go full out on all routine plays. As for Sandberg, I like the fact that he’s making a point of something early with JRoll but I hope that the two will talk soon. A good manager communicates with his players

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