Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hitting Prosect #10: Kyrell Hudson

Kyrell Hudson is a classic Phillies draft choice as he is a high risk, high reward type prospect. This is always a risky approach to drafting, but the Phillies are known to use this approach early on in the draft. Hudson was drafted this year in the 3rd round out of Evergreen HS in Washington state. Hudson is an incredibly athletic outfielder and possesses all the tools to be an all-star at the major league level. At the same time, he is clearly viewed as a project and is not expected to see Philadelphia anytime soon. As is the question with all toolsy type HS prospects, if he develops the ability to make consistent contact, he will become an incredible player.

Due to the signing of Raul Ibanez, the Phillies forfeited their first pick this year. This is why the Phillies went for a more high ceiling type player in Hudson early on in the draft. Most high school players rarely play much, if at all, during the year they are drafted. This was the case for Kyrell, as he only played in 10 games, so it would be pointless to analyze how he performed. If Hudson develops successfully in the minors, he could project into a Bossman Junior type of player as he is incredibly raw but is also a potential 5-tool player. At the same time, he could be a repeat of Greg Golson. Golson was the Phillies 1st round draft pick in 2004 who never developed a consistent bat and is in AAA for the Rangers organization. Hudson was ranked the #1 baseball prospect and the #2 football prospect in the state of Washington. Based on those numbers alone is why I felt the need to put him into the top 10. In 1-2 years time, Hudson could be the top prospect in the organization, or completely off my radar.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Phillies Sign Juan Castro

It is reported that the Phillies have agreed in principal to a 1-year deal with utility infielder, Juan Castro. Castro was appealing to the Phillies based on his versatility and minimal price tag. Castro will be taking over Eric Bruntlett's responsibilities. The Phillies have said that they would like to give Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins more time off than they have in the past. Because of this, the Phillies were emphasizing an infielder who could successfully field both second and short.

Castro does fit the bill of that type of player as he can play the middle infield positions. Castro represents almost no increase over Bruntlett offensively or defensively. Castro did hit .277 last year, but in only 112 at bats, and is a career .230 hitter. It is sad to admit but Bruntlett is a career .231 hitter.

It was clear going into the offseason that the Phillies were not willing to invest too much money into this position. Still, the signing of a 38 year old infielder who scrapes to hit .230 isn't incredibly inspiring, especially for the first signing of the offseason. I was hoping for Jamie Carroll and still would rather have had Miguel Cairo. Juan Castro could have been quite possibly the cheapest option that existed. If this signing represents anything, it could be that the Phillies are more concerned about increasing payroll than previously thought. Hopefully this just means that the Phillies are saving money so they can invest more in other areas.

I was happy to see Bruntlett leave Philadelphia as he was an embarrassment to all professional and amateur athletes alike. I am almost equally as disappointed though, as we basically got the same player to replace him.

A note on the Phillies payroll. The 2009 payroll was $132 Million. The Phillies will not be losing much payroll as basically everyone is returning. Adam Eaton and Geoff Jenkins will not be getting paid by the Phillies anymore but the standard raises of the current players offsets the amount saved. If the Phillies don't add anymore payroll they will have about the same payroll as 2009. This represents a minor issue as the Phillies still need to address the bullpen and thirdbase and I can't see the Phillies willing to go much past $135 Million.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pitching Prosect #10: Jesus Sanchez

In my Arizona Fall League post I said that I would go into further detail on the prospects that are participating. Well, I am officially reneging on that idea as the AFL is over and I thought it would be a better idea to report on the top overall prospects throughout the Phillies system. I do not like how Baseball America and other such publications combine both pitchers and position players together in prospect rankings. As you can read in my Happ/Coughlan post, it is almost impossible to compare pitchers and position players. So in order to solve my own issues I will create two separate top 10 lists. I will do a player profile for each prospect in descending order and alternate between the pitcher and position player lists in order to build the suspense on who will be number one.

I have decided to rate righthanded starter, Jesus Sanchez, as the 10th best pitcher in the Phillies minorleague system. Jesus Sanchez is quite possible the most intriguing prospect in all of the Phillies system, he started his professional career as a catcher and switched over to pitching only one season ago. Jesus Sanchez came over to the Phillies from the Yankees as part of the Bobby Abreu trade. Honestly, Sanchez is the only player that has a legitimate shot at making a Major League roster of all the players involved in that deal.

Sanchez was born in Valencia, Venezuela, so he started his professional career fairly young. He came to the Phillies organization at the age of 18 and played catcher full-time until 2008. During the 2008 season while playing for the Lakewood BlueClaws, Sanchez made the decision to give up his catching duties in an effort to become a pitcher. The decision was very radical but as he was only hitting .220 with 1 homerun over his career, it appeared highly unlikely that Sanchez would find himself in the organization much longer. Sanchez played 35 games in 2008 as a catcher and after deciding to change his position he was removed from everyday competition and trained at the spring training facility in Clearwater to hone his skills as a pitcher.

2009 was Sanchez's first season as a professional pitcher and was immediately thrown into Lakewood's starting rotation. The move to insert Sanchez into the starting rotation was a shocking decision but proved to be a successful one. Sanchez led the Lakewood pitching staff in every single statistical category among pitchers with enough innings to qualify. In 2009, Sanchez was 4th in the South Atlantic League in wins with 10, while posting an impressive 3.44 ERA in 136 innings. Sanchez's 2009 season was astounding when you consider that this was his first season pitching as a professional. As you could imagine Sanchez did have some adjustment issues in the beginning of the season but finished the season in tremendous fashion as he was 7-2 with a 2.59 ERA, after the all-star break.

Sanchez became a workhorse towards the end of 2009 going past the 6th inning on a consistent basis. Sanchez is not an overpowering pitcher but has the ability to throw multiple pitches for strikes. His fastball usually comes in between 90-93 mph, he possesses an above average changeup, and an improving slider. The most impressive aspect of Sanchez's abilities is his command of multiple pitches along with his pitching efficiency as he pitches deep into ballgames. It is very likely that Sanchez will start the 2010 season in Clearwater and will be promoted to Reading sometime around midseason assuming he continues his success.

Current Pitching Rankings

10. Jesus Sanchez

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Arizona Fall League

As the Arizona Fall League has been in action for about a month or so, I felt it was time to address how the Phillies' players are doing. Before I go into the the players and how they are doing thusfar I wanted to go over what exactly the Arizona Fall League is. Below is the listing of the MLB rules surrounding the Arizona Fall League and the overall purpose of its existence.

Each Major League organization is required to provide 6 players to participate in the Arizona Fall League. The 6 players selected must be on the Double-A or Triple-A roster by August 1st of the current season. An organization is also allowed to select one player below the Double-A level. In addition to these players, an organization is allowed to select a foreign born player as long as the player does not reside in a country where Caribbean or Australian League Winter Ball is played. No player with more than one year of Major League experience is allowed to participate in the Arizona Fall League. The purpose of the Arizona Fall League is to allow a select amount of elite minorleague prospects an additional level of competition during the offseason. This league can almost be compared to the Major League version of spring training. Statistical results aren't the entire focus of this league. Many batters focus more on improving weaknesses such as plate discipline than overall offensive production and many pitchers work on developing secondary pitches.

For the purpose of the Arizona Fall League posts i will be including Michael Taylor even though he is currently playing in the Mexican League. Taylor played in the Arizona Fall League in 2008 and is in a similar situation as many of the Arizona Fall League players as the Phillies would like to continue to give Taylor professional competition.

In my next few posts I will be discussing the players representing the Phillies in the Arizona Fall League.

Below is the official site of the Arizona Fall League.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Finished Third Baseman Poll

I have decided to close out the thirdbase poll. Everytime that I start a new poll I will post the results. I am now posting a new poll on the 5th starter spot.

Who would you like to have at Third:

Chone Figgins - 5
Mark Derosa - 2
Placido Polanco - 3
Pedro Feliz - 3
Troy Glaus - 3
Other - 3

Who's Pitching on that 5th Day

An issue on the Phillies' roster that nobody seems to be addressing is the fifth spot in the starting rotation. As the 2009 season commenced, Pedro Martinez held the fifth spot but is unlikely to return. The Phillies have many internal options to fill this position which is very fortunate, and to be quite honest, necessary. The Phillies had 5 different pitchers that started in the 5th spot during the 2009 season.

The current options that exist for the Phillies at the 5th spot are Jamie Moyer, Kyle Kendrick, Drew Carpenter, and Kyle Drabek. It seems as if the Phillies will not be pursuing free agents to fill the final starting pitching role as they are concentrating on other areas of the team.

Jamie Moyer is about to be a card carrying member of the AARP but still finds himself competing in Major League Baseball. He has an astounding 258 career wins and will always be a fan favorite in Philadelphia as he grew up only 30 miles north of a row of Port-o-Potties, or where Veterans Stadium once stood. Moyer had a very successful 2008 season as he posted 16 wins and a 3.71 ERA, but declined significantly in 2009 as he had a 4.94 ERA and was demoted to the bullpen in August. Good pitchers are bound to have bad years, but with Moyer, any sort of failure will be associated with his age and whether or not he has lost his ability to pitch. A congratulations goes out to Jamie as he just turned 47 on Wednesday, not a welcome event for many, but Jamie has been considered an old player in this league for over 10 years so what's another year. Another concern with Moyer is that he recently underwent groin surgery, he still will be considered to have a very good chance to nail down the 5th spot in the roation.

Ever since Kyle Kendrick won 10 games as a rookie in 2007, the Phillies organization has been very high on him. Kendrick tailed off in 2008 though as it seemed the league was figuring him out and he eventually was pulled from the rotation. in 2009 the Phillies had an open competition for the 5th starter's spot and gave every opportunity to Kendrick to come away with it. Kendrick unfortunately floundered and was sent to Lehigh Valley. Kendrick pitched the majority of the season in Lehigh Valley in an effort to develop a changeup. Kendrick responded to this assignment exceptionally well as he finished the season ranked 5th in ERA, 10th in innings, and most importantly, 2nd in WHIP. The WHIP is most important for Kendrick as the reason he was demoted was because he allowed too many baserunners which led to his unsuccessful 2008 season. Kendrick did have the opportunity to pitch for Philadelphia toward the end of the 2009 season and performed very successfully. Kendrick pitched a total of 26 innings with a 3.4 ERA and it would have been a 2.66 ERA if it wasn't for an irrelevant, last day of the season, appearence. The Phillies would love to see Kendrick succeed as the 5th pitcher in their rotation and will give him the opportunity to do so.

Drew Carpenter is an interesting option as not many people have given him attention and he is well deserving of it. Carpenter made a spot start early in 2009 and earned a victory in a rain shortened game but was not particularly impressive as he yielded 5 runs in 4.1 innings. I don't believe you can take much out of debuts as it is a poor assessment of a pitcher and his abilities. Carpenter is only 24 years old and has had a very successful minorleague career. 2009 in particular, was a very good season for Carpenter, while at Lehigh Valley, he finished 6th in ERA, 4th in wins, 3rd in innings, and 6th in SOs. Carpenter does have the ability to succeed now in the majors. He projects to be a pitcher like Joe Blanton, as he has a large frame, throws in the low 90s, is very consistent while unspectacular, and can throw multiple pitches for strikes. Carpenter does seem to be the odd man out in this competition but don't count him out if he has an impressive spring training.

Kyle Drabek will find himself in a similar situation as Carlos Carrasco did in 2008. The Phillies will give Drabek an opportunity to compete for the final rotation spot out of spring training but Drabek will have to truly impress. The Phillies really love the abilities of Drabek but would like to give him a little more time in the minors. Drabek is currently rated as the #1 pitching prospect in the Phillies farm system. He is the pure definition of a power pitcher as he can throw in upwards of 98 MPH with a power curveball and an improving changeup. Even though Drabek's fastball usually sits from 94-96, his curveball is widely acknowledged as his best pitch. As Drabek is still only 21 years old, he can benefit from more time in the minors but is still expected to debut sometime in the second half of the 2010 season.

As the Phillies have multiple internal options, it isn't imperitive that they make the correct decision immediately, compared to other needs that will be filled through free agency. All of these players will remain in the Phillies organization so they may all get an opportunity to succeed. Jamie Moyer has had an amazing career and remains a great asset to the Phillies, but if the Phillies named Jamie Moyer the 5th starter, that would have to be viewed as taking a step backwards after demoting him last year before showing any significant improvement. Drabek is by far the most talented within this group but is not quite ready to start for Philadelphia in April. After a few more months in the minors, Drabek will be better suited to succeed as a starter for the Phillies. The best options that the Phillies hold at the beginning of the 2010 season are Kendrick and Carpenter. The Phillies should award the 5th starter position to the candidate who succeeds more in spring training between these two. If the competition remains close at all there is no doubt that the Phillies will go with Kyle Kendrick.

I believe that Kendrick will start the season as the Phillies 5th starter and Drabek will take over some time in the second half of the season.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thirdbase Discussion

As previously stated, The Phillies biggest need that will be addressed this offseason is the third base position. With all due respect to Pedro Feliz as he has been a significant improvement to what the Phillies have had over the past few years, Philadelphia has not had a legitimate contributor at third base since the non acrimonious version of Scott Rolen's career.

Once the Phillies declined the club option on Pedro Feliz it became clear that they were at least going to make an attempt to improve the position. At the same time, the Phillies have not closed the door on returning Pedro Feliz. It just seemed that the Phillies felt that either they could acquire a better player or resign Feliz at a cheaper price than his option. There are a handful of options on the free agent market that the Phillies could potentially acquire. The main options at third base that the Phillies could pursue are Chone Figggins, Mark Derosa, Adrian Beltre, Placido Polanco, Pedro Feliz, Troy Glaus, or Garrett Atkins via trade.

Chone Figgins will be viewed as the premium player within this group of free agents due to his age, 31, and successful 2009 season. Figgins had a great 2009 season as he paced the AL in runs scored and walks and was third in steals. He is clearly one of the elite top of the lineup hitters in the league as he hit .298 and had a .395 OBP. Another level of value that Figgins adds is his versatility as he can play basically every position on the field. If Figgins lacks anything it would be his lack of power as he only hit 5 homeruns last year while only posting a .393 slugging percentage. Figgins is listed as a type A free agent.

Mark Derosa has long been associated with the Philadelphia Phillies as he played football and baseball at the University of Penn from 1994-1996. Derosa is similar to Figgins in terms of his versatility as he can play most infield positions along with both corner outfield positions. When comparing Derosa to Figgins they are completely different hitters as Derosa traditionally posts lower averages but higher power numbers. Derosa has hit a respectable .275 over his career and hit a total of 44 homeruns over the past 2 seasons. Derosa is a risk though as he is currently 34 years old and is having offseason wrist surgery. Derosa is listed as a type B free agent.

Adrian Beltre is by far the most difficult player to analyze as his entire career has been defined by mediocrity outside of one monster year in 2004. Beltre was once one of the most highly touted prospects in baseball for the Dodgers, he did just enough early in his career to warrant a roster position but nothing more. In 2004 Beltre repaid the Dodgers' patience as he had an MVP caliber season posting career highs all across the board with a .334 avg, 48 HRs, and 121 RBIs. Since that point Beltre has been a severe disappointment based on his free agent contract but still consistently hits about 20-25 homeruns. Beltre is still relatively young at 29 and is an elite defensive third baseman. Based on his injury shortened 2009 season, Beltre will come at somewhat of a discount and would be a great signing if he could ever revisit his 2004 form. Beltre is listed as a type B free agent.

Placido Polcanco could be the most interesting of all the options as the only time he played third in his career was when he was on the Phillies at the time they brought up Chase Utley. Polanco is a similar type of player as Figgins as he always posts high averages but with little to no power. While in Philadelphia Polanco was a fan favorite, which is not hard to believe after remembering that he replaced Scott Rolen. It would be interesting to see how successful Polanco would be as a fulltime third baseman. Polanco is listed as a type A free agent.

Pedro Feliz has played for the Phillies for the past 2 years after signing a modest free agent contract coming from San Francisco. The Phillies were expecting more of a power contribution from Feliz as he was consistently hitting 20-25 homeruns in pitcher friendly, PNC Park. In his two years with the Phillies, Feliz only hit a combined 26 homeruns and averaged a .394 slugging percentage. Feliz has played gold glove caliber defense though and still posts good RBI totals as he is a very clutch hitter, he led the Phillies in avg with RISP in 2009.

Troy Glaus has been one of the most productive third basemen in the majors over the past decade. Over his career Glaus has hit 35 homeruns per 162 games played, along with a .500 slugging percentage, not many thirdbasemen can compete with those numbers. Glaus does not play great defense at this point in his career as he is 33 and has lost some range, he still does own a very strong arm though. Glaus is listed as a type A free agent.

Garrett Atkins is still under contract with the Colorodo Rockies and the Phillies have been associated with trade rumors surrounding Atkins for a few years so he is definitely worth addressing as an option. Atkins isn't necessarily being shopped around by the Rockies but he did lose his starting job to rookie, Ian Stewart, so it makes a trade possiblity more than plausible. The reason that the Phillies have been associated to Atkins in the past, outside of the Phillies always being in demand of a thirdbaseman, is that Chase Utley and Atkins are great friends as they played at UCLA together. Atkins has very good career numbers as he has a .290 avg and a .460 slugging percentage. From 2005-2008 Atkins posted great offensive numbers but in 2009 he had an abysmal season with a .226 avg and 9 homeruns in 126 games. Based on his 2009 statistics, the Phillies could acquire him for less than he is truly worth. Atkins is only 29 so his 2009 season cannot be attributed to a decline in abilities. At the same time it is always a risky move to trade for a player based on his offensive abilities when he plays in Colorodo.

As the Phillies sort through this list they have to consider things such as contract demands, free agent type, and potential lineup position. The Phillies are not going to deliver any large free agent contracts as they are not looking to increase payroll by a significant margin. The Phillies also have publicly stated that they would like to sign a type B free agent over a type A free agent as they would not have to potentially forego a first round draft pick. In terms of lineup positioning, whoever they sign will be hitting 7th in the lineup. Certain players such as Figgins or Polanco are great top of the lineup hitters but the Phillies will not replace Rollins or Victorino from the top 2 spots in the lineup. These type of players lose a significant amount of their value when placed in the 7th spot as power is more important than batiing average and speed. Since both of these players are not great fits for a the 7 hole along with the fact that they are both type A free agents, I would be surprised if the Phillies signed either of these players. In reference to Pedro Feliz, the Phillies will pursue better free agent options first. If their attempts deem unsucessful, the Phillies will attempt to resign Pedro. If anything, Pedro exists as a very good backup plan, assuming he doesn't sign with another team too early into free agency. I would not rule out a trade for Garrett Atkins but since there are enough free agent options it would make more sense for the Phillies to first pursue those. Glaus would be a great fit for the Phillies offense as he has a solid OBP and consistently good power numbers, but at his age and coming off an injury he presents too much of a risk, especially when he is classified as a type A free agent. This leaves the decision between Derosa and Beltre. Beltre is a much better option as he will not demand a much larger contract than Derosa but plays significantly better defense, is younger by about 5 years, and consistently provides more offensive production as he is almost a guarantee for 25 homeruns in Philadelphia. Dobbs, Ibanez, Beltre, why not make it a trend to sign Seattle free agents as it seems to have worked out thusfar.

After analyzing the third base options, it appears that Beltre is the best way to go due to contract demands, free agent type, and lineup position. That makes perfect sense as he is the only free agent third baseman that I left off the poll. Just imagine if Beltre could ever rediscover his 2004 talent. You could take bets on the amount of pitchers that coincidentally found themsleves on the DL the week they face the Phillies.

Taylor, Sellers, Named to Double-A All-Star Team

Today MiLB Named the Double-A All-Star Team in which the Phillies had two representatives, Neil Sellers and Michael Taylor. Both had exceptional seasons as they both hit well over .300 throughout the entire season.

Sellers, a good defensive third baseman is a good all around hitter but at the age of 27 he is viewed more as an organizational player than an elite prospect. Sellers led the Eastern League in hits and all third basemen in fielding percentage. The Phillies selected Sellers in the Rule-5 draft in 2007. Even though the organization does not seem to value Sellers very high as a prospect you could still see him being promoted to the majors as a bench player later in the 2010 season if the right situation arises.

Michael Taylor finds himself opposite Sellers, as Taylor is rated as the third overall prospect in the Phillies farm system. Taylor was also awarded the Eastern League MVP earlier in the offseason which is particularly impressive due to the fact that he only played 86 games in the Eastern League. Taylor is a 5-tool player who has the ability to be a perrenial all-star.

Below is the list of complete AA All-Star Team

1B Chris Carter Midland-OAK
2B Daniel Descalso Springfield-STL
3B Neil Sellers Reading-PHI
SS Eduardo Nunez Trenton-NYY
C Tyler Flowers Birmingham-CWS
OF Ezequiel Carrera West Tenn-SF
OF Desmond Jennings Montgomery-TB
OF Michael Taylor Reading-PHI
DH Brian Dopirak New Hampshire-TOR
P Travis Wood Carolina-CIN

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Initial Offseason Thoughts

On the brink of free agency, it is time to discuss what the Phillies need to do to address their current team needs this offseason. As the Phillies have won the National League the last two years there really isn't much to address especially when considering that only a few players will be departing. The Phillies will look to improve a few positions but not in any drastic manner as they will not want to add too much to their payroll. For Phillies fans this will not be an unfamiliar offseason approach.

First off, let's go over what has occurred thus far in the Phillies offseason. The Phillies exercised Cliff Lee's $9 million option for 2010. That quite possibly was the easiest decision Ruben Amaro Jr. has made since deciding that potty training was a good long-term decision. Brett Myers is officially gone which can't be too much of a surprise because he will be searching for a team that will allow him to start, where the Phillies were only interested in him as a reliever. It was interesting how things materialized though, it makes you think that something else happened between the two parties during his career in Philadelphia. I understand the idea of Brett Myers having an altercation with anybody is a difficult concept to wrap your mind around. The Phillies also declined the $5 million 2010 option on Pedro Feliz. The thirdbase position will, in all reality, be addressed with the highest priority followed by bullpen help. With that being said, the Phillies have not ruled out the idea of bringing back Feliz, but with a lower price tag. As the thirdbase position is garnering the most attention, I will devote my next post to analyzing those options. Scott Eyre, Chan Ho Park, Eric Bruntlett, and Pedro Martinez are the only significant roster players filing for free agency.

Scott Eyre is currently contemplating retirement and if he decides to return to baseball the Phillies will sign him. The Phillies are very interested in resigning Park as a reliever as he was extremely successful pitching in the 7th and 8th inning for the Phillies, but Park has publicly stated that he would like the chance to start again. The Phillies will not give Park an opportunity to start again as we all know that experiment failed miserably. It is more than probable that Park will fail to find a suitor who will provide him an opportunity to become a starter and then resign with the Phillies as a reliever. It is clear to many teams that Park is better suited to pitch as a reliever at this point in his career and it will be difficult for Park to find a team that will give him an opportunity. Now on to Eric Bruntlett, utility player extraordinaire, triple play maestro, and the only current baseball player to have his jersey retired to the hall of fame. Bruntlett, sadly will no longer be donning the Phillies pinstripes. The player who trailed 20 other Phillies in batting avg in 2009, within those 20 players, 3 were pitchers. I also feel obligated to remind you that Chan Ho Park hit more homeruns than Bruntlett in 2009. I also feel obligated to remind you that Chan Ho Park hit more homeruns than Bruntlett in 2009. No, that was not a typo, I just felt that repeating it was necessary as I wanted to make sure you grasped that. Pedro Martinez was definitely a pleasant surprise for the Phillies in 2009, mainly because Charlie Manuel did an excellent job monitoring his innings. Pedro has stated that he plans on pitching the entire 2010 season and will weigh his free agent options. I personally would be surprised to see Pedro back with the Phillies in 2010 due to management's lack of confidence in his durability.

It really is fortunate that the Phillies only have a few holes to fill on their roster because this free agent class is undeniably the worst class I have ever seen. Based on the players leaving and the severely limited news coming from the Phillies' management team, they will be pursuing a starting thirdbaseman, a utility infielder, and additional relief pitchers. As I said previously, I will address the thirdbase options in my next post, please control the anticipation.

The utility infield position is an interesting one because there are a few options. The players I expect to be pursued by the Phillies are Jamie Carroll, John McDonald, and Miguel Cairo. This becomes an interesting decision because these three players are completely different. Jamie Carroll probably has the best overall abilities as he can play all infield positions along with the outfield very successfully, he also is a good hitter for a bench player as he hit .276 last year with a .355 OBP. McDonald is a bit more specialized as he primarily plays SS and is an exceptional fielder but is below average at best in terms of batting as he has 13 career homeruns and posts a career .238 batting average. Cairo is the most familiar to Phillies fans as he played for the Phillies this year in a very limited role but did seem to hit well at the end of the season. He is probably the worst within this group defensively speaking but is still serviceable at each infield position. He is a much better hitter than McDonald but still falls short of Carroll in that category. I expect the Phillies to go hard after Carroll as he is clearly the best option as a bench player but if they fail to acquire him I wouldn't be devastated if they settled on Cairo as I believe he is a solid bat off the bench and is good enough defensively.

As for bolstering up the bullpen, how the Phillies approach this depends on two main factors. This includes how much the Phillies invest in a thirdbaseman and how confident they are in the abilities of Brad Lidge to return to his 2008 form. The popular choice within the free agent pool is Jose Valverde, closer for the Houston Astros. Valverde is an elite closer in this league with a career 3.1 ERA but the chances of Philadelphia landing him are not high. First off, Valverde will only sign to a team where he will be the primary closer and Philadelphia does not fit that bill. As we all know, Brad Lidge will be given a chance to close coming out of spring training. As is always a factor with the Phillies pursuing free agents, Valverde will probably be out of the Phillies price range as he will be the most highly touted relief pitcher this year. Two more realistic options are Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney. These two pitchers are ideal for the Phillies as they are both very capable relievers in the back end of the bullpen, both have closed and setup in their careers but are not necessarily looking to close, and both will be reasonably priced. As both pitchers will be priced about evenly, Lyon would be my choice as he is more reliable and durable than Rodney. Rodney by definition is a power pitcher as he can easily throw 100 mph but is extremely erratic and allows too many baserunners in comparison to Lyon.

My last thought on the offseason is that it is very likely that the Phillies will not be returning Matt Stairs. Granted he is now in his 40's and did not hit very well last year, but it's Matt Stairs. He still has a good OBP and you are crazy if you think that relief pitchers are not intimidated by him and his monster swing. If anything he is worth having around just to continue production on the, "In case of emergency use Matt Stairs" t-shirts. The other thing is, who are the Phillies going to replace Matt Stairs with? Outside of Russell Branyon there is almost nobody avaliable this year that can provide lefthanded power off the bench and even Branyon will not be likely to accept a pinch-hitting role. If Matt Stairs is not hitting 9th inning homeruns for the Phillies next year, let me be the first to say he will be missed and Philadelphia will never forget the pounding he gave to Broxton in the 2008 NLCS.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Coghlan Beats Out Happ for ROY

On Monday, Florida Marlins outfielder, Chris Coghlan, was awarded the National League Rookie of the Year with 17 first place votes and 105 total points. Coghlan beat out Phillies starting pitcher, JA Happ, who had 10 first place votes and 94 total points. Following Coghlan and Happ in the ROY voting was Tommy Hanson(37), Andrew McCutchen(25), and Casey McGehee(18).

Coghlan was one of the best hitters in the majors in the second half of the season as he collected 113 hits, most in the majors. On the other hand, Happ was amongst the league leaders with a 2.93 ERA and a .750 winning percentage. Both players had outstanding seasons and the voting was deservedly close. Coghlan was more than deserving of the award but this particular race does raise a few issues.

The voting for the rookie of the year award is by far the vaguest of any offseason award given to players. This issue mainly exists, because unlike other awards, the voters must compare the value of starting pitchers, relief pitchers, and position players. This act is very difficult because the responsibilities of each player are very different and therefore the statistics are almost impossible to compare. The other issue present is whether or not success throughout the season is weighted equally as success at the end of the season.

When comparing a position player who plays every day, to a starting pitcher who only pitches about once a week, it becomes very difficult to determine who provides more value to their respective teams. Certain voters feel that everyday players naturally provide more value to a team than a pitcher, and those voters, based on lack of competition amongst everyday players, leaned to Coghlan. The voters that traditionally believe that pitchers provide more value had to decide between Happ and third place finisher, Tommy Hanson. Therefore if Happ and Coghlan were the only two candidates being considered, Happ would have come away with the award because he would have received many of the first place votes that were given to Hanson.

When reviewing the seasons of both Coghlan and Happ, they displayed two very different levels of competition throughout the season. Happ was one of the most consistent pitchers in the league throughout the season, at no point did he have a losing record and after his ERA dropped below 3.00 on May 7th, only once did it rise above 3.00 throughout the entire season. On the other hand, even though Coghlan displayed very good season ending statistics, he was hitting only .250 through July 31st. This is also a testament to how great he was at the end of the season but it is hard to just ignore how inept he was for the first half of the season. Based on the outcome of this award it is clear that voters are willing to weigh the end of the season more than the overall body of work throughout the season.

When directly comparing the seasons of Coghlan and Happ it is obvious that one cannot compare their statistics independently as one is a position player and one is a pitcher. In order to compare the two players, one must compare their statistics in relevance to the league. When doing this, both players appear identical as Coghlan and Happ were both 11th in the major leagues in avg. and ERA respectively. Again, when comparing more secondary statistics such as OBP and WHIP, Coghlan ranks 25th, compared to 21st for Happ. So when analyzing these statistics for both players in relevance to the league, no clear advantage can be given.

The only appropriate way to directly compare these players is by utilizing the WARP statistic. WARP, is defined as the number of wins a player contributed, above what a replacement level hitter, fielder, and pitcher would have done, with adjustments only within the current season. This is an extremely valuable statistic in this situation as it compares pitchers and hitters on the same level. When analyzing these two players in reference to WARP, Happ has a very significant advantage over Coghlan as he possesses a 4.9 compared to only 2.7 for Coghlan. As some people may be unaware of a WARP, to give a point of reference, C.C. Sabathia who is a strong candidate for the AL Cy Young award has a 5.9 WARP.

When analyzing many of the statistics and issues surrounding this year's NL ROY, it is clear as to why Happ had lost out to Coghlan in the ROY race, even if Happ did have a superior season.

Welcome to Phillie Nation

Phillie Nation is a blog covering the Philadelphia Phillies and all that surrounds. This constitutes current, recent, and upcoming games, predictions of all kinds, analysis of whatever I deem worthy, the current MLB roster, the farm system, and the blasting of the media blasting the Phillies and their nation.

I would first off like to congratulate the Philadelphia Phillies on their third consecutive National League East Division Title and second consecutive National League Pennant. The division title streak may seem irrelevant in the shadows of the Atlanta Braves 11 consecutive titles but this is the longest current division title streak in baseball, tied with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Phillies are only the fourth National League team to appear in consecutive World Series since 1969 and second since 1979. This current Phillies team would have really reserved a place in National League history if they had taken home the World Series Title as they would have been only the third team since 1922 to win consecutive World Series Titles.

Currently it is a great time to be a Phillies fan as the organization is in a great position. You can count the amount of teams throughout Major League Baseball that can legitimately compete with the Phillies on one hand and it's not close to five. Not only are the Phillies an elite team and have a great chance to bring another World Series to South Philadelphia in 2010, but the long-term future is very bright as well. The core of the Phillies roster is in a great position to stay at a high level of competition for a long time as almost all current Phillies are either in their prime or just entering it. Of the 8 starting position players, only Ibanez is older than the age of 31, and even he is playing at an elite level and giving nobody a reason to believe his play is declining or will decline in the near future. Of the starting rotation and back end of the bullpen, again, only one position is occupied by an aging player. This position is by far the least concerning or valuable as it is the 5th starter spot occupied by Pedro Martinez/Jamie Moyer. This is not concerning to the Phillies organization, because without the contributions of either player, the Phillies would have been in the same situation at year's end. In regards to both aging players on the Phillies, the organization has multiple players to utilize as full time replacements. These replacements will be addressed in a later post. All in all, the Phillies roster will not see any sort of significant declines in any matter of time.

I understand that starting this blog after the season was in poor judgement as there won't be much to talk about over the next few months, but you can trust me that I will be able to fill the time. My next few posts will be predicting and analyzing roster moves as free agency is about to begin. Please stay tuned for some more Phillies knowledge.