Friday, December 13, 2013

Phillies Sign Roberto Hernandez aka Fausto Carmona

Yesterday, the Phillies signed starting pitcher Roberto Hernandez to a one year deal worth $4.5 million with $1.5 million in incentives. People may forget or not know but when he was Fausto Carmona in 2007, he placed fourth in the American League Cy Young Award voting, but he has never had a season close to that since. Last season Hernandez pitched 151 innings with a 4.89 ERA and a 4.63 FIP,  but a xFIP of 3.60. Those numbers are not astonishing in the least, the xFIP is lower because xFIP is more in favor of ground ball pitchers and Hernandez induces a lot of ground balls. Since 2006, Hernandez is 6th in Major League Baseball with a ground ball rate of 57.5%. Yesterday, Cory Seidman pointed out in a tweet that since 2006 Hernandez has the lowest line drive rate out of any pitcher in baseball. Another stat to point out is Hernandez has the 11th lowest fly ball rate since 2006 which is good since his home ballpark for 2014 will be Citizens Bank Park and that rate is at 25.8%. This signing has me wondering if the guy the Phillies brought in to analyze the statistical side of baseball has been making an impact because this is not a typical Ruben Amaro Jr. move. This could end up being a very underrated signing, and if not, Hernandez is only signed to a one year deal not worth too much, so low risk, high reward.

Hernandez's raw stats based off of wins and loses (6-13 in 2013) and ERA does not look promising and this recent signing by the Phillies is not a signing that will get fans super excited but if you dig a little bit deeper into Hernandez's stats it will show that he has the potential to be a decent pitcher for the Phillies. He will not be an ace but he could fill a hole in the rotation and hopefully he will eat up innings and have a successful year along the way. If Hernandez continues throwing ground balls like he has in past seasons than I expect him to be a successful number three or four starter in the rotation.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Phillies Re-Sign Carlos Ruiz

The Phillies must be reading this blog because a couple of weeks ago I encouraged them to re-sign Carlos Ruiz. Although I must say I was a little surprised to see that Ruiz signed a 3 year deal with a club option for a 4th year worth $26 million. I'm thinking that Ruiz is unlikely to be in Phillies pinstripes in that 4th year because it is a club option and he would be 38 years old and the buyout is only $500,000. I know $500,000 what's that right? Not much to the Phillies.

The good news for the Phillies is that Ruiz is a productive player. If Ruiz can stay healthy and play the majority of the season then this deal will work out for the Phillies and Ruiz but if injuries sideline Ruiz then this will be a bad signing. One positive from this signing that some people may overlook at this time is that Ruiz knows the Phillies pitching staff extremely well right now and all of the pitchers feel comfortable with him, and since the Phillies will eventually get a pitching coach, Ruiz will already be on page with the pitchers and hopefully it can help the new pitching coach learn the Phillies pitching staff.

I wouldn't be too surprised if the Phillies signed another catcher to back up Ruiz. Obviously another catcher would not be a big name or anything special but someone better than Erik Kratz and someone who could fill in for Ruiz on rest days or DL stints.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Phillies Sign Marlon Byrd

Earlier today, the Phillies christened the off-season by signing former Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd to a two-year deal worth $16 million. Byrd, age 36 is coming off a "career year" where he hit 24 home runs and had 88 RBI. That's pretty good production for a 36 year old guy like Byrd but considering that 2013 was his best season and he hasn't had too many seasons similar to that and questions have been raised as to whether this signing was worth it. For a team that might be a small piece away from being contenders I would say yes this is a good signing but since the Phillies have so many holes in their roster, I do not see his being that good of a signing. Is Marlon Byrd an upgrade over what they have in right field right now? Yes he is, but it isn't a huge upgrade. I think Phillies fans were hoping for the Phillies front office to sign a big name right fielder such as Nelson Cruz, but who's to say they are done in the outfield? There is still a possibility that the Phillies could look to sign a player like Nelson Cruz because they know that Marlon Byrd is not the long term solution in right field but I highly doubt that Marlon Byrd would sign a deal like that to be the fourth outfielder especially after coming off of a 24 home run, 88 RBI season.

I cannot say I like this move cause there is nothing to like. Byrd had a good 2013 season there is no doubting that but if you look at his track record from seasons prior to 2013 he is extremely inconsistent. 2013 he had a 4.1 WAR, 2012 he was -1.0, 2011 was 1.8. Chances are Byrd will have one decent season with the Phillies and have one horrendous season. The signing of Byrd isn't necessarily a high risk or low risk signing. Considering that the Phillies are coming off of two seasons where they missed the playoffs, there is probably more pressure on Ruben Amaro Jr. to have a good off-season and make good signings and from the naked eye Marlon Byrd does not seem like a good season and if signings like this do not work out this year Amaro could be looking down the barrel of a gun. Hopefully not. Best case scenario is that Byrd plays between a 2.5-3.5 WAR player for the next two years. Worst case scenario is that he becomes another Delmon Young. We'll have to wait and see.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Phillies 2013 Review: First Base

First base used to be a position of strength for the Phillies but ever since Ryan Howard tore his achilles tendon in Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS, first base has been a weakness for the Phillies. Since Howard tore his achilles tendon in the last game of the 2011 season he missed about half of 2012 while he was recovering from his injury and people were not expecting big things when he returned in 2012 because it was going to take a little while to get used to playing again. And in 2012 Howard was not extremely productive. His best stat was that he had 56 RBI in 74 games but he had a -1.1 WAR, a .295 OBP, and only 14 home runs.

With having an entire off season to prepare for 2013, fans and colleagues around Major League Baseball were expecting Howard to have a good season with 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI. This did not happen. In 80 games in 2013, Howard hit 11 home runs and 43 RBI with a .319 OBP. Howard injured his knee in the beginning of July and did not return for the remainder of the season. 

So now moving forward there are a lot of questions surrounding Ryan Howard. Can he stay healthy for a full season? If he does stay healthy can he produce like the way we are accustomed to seeing? Nobody knows. In 2013, Howard was only on pace for 22 home runs which is extremely rare for someone as big and strong for Howard. From 2006-2011 he had at least 30+ home runs in each season. Although his home run total has gone down from being in the 40's from 2007-2009 to 30's in the 2010 and 2011 season. I am not as concerned with home runs from Howard as I am with him driving in runs. His RBI total was 56 in 2012 in only 74 games so over the course of a full season his RBI total would have most likely been over 100, which is the magic number here. We need Howard to drive in 100 runs or more. And as stated earlier, in 2013 he only drove in 43 runs in 80, which is worrisome. 

Right now it seems like the Phillies are stuck with Howard. Over the next three seasons he is owed $25 million in each season, which makes Howard unmovable. To me, I think if Howard produces like the way he did in 2013 then the Phillies have a clog in the middle of their line up. You have to play him because there are no other options. Yes, they could play Darin Ruf against left handers from time to time but Ruf has not shown much that shows that he can play consistently. 

If I am the Phillies front office I am trying to trade Howard and offer to eat between $8-10 million of his salary for the next three years which would be about a third of his salary and if Howard was able to produce at all then the  $15 million or so the new team would pay him would be about what he should make. Getting rid of Howard would open up a lot for the Phillies. Right now, the Phillies can't sign any left handed hitters because of the surplus they have. With Utley, Howard, and Brown in the middle of their line up, they cannot afford to sign another one because they can't have a line up with four left handed hitters in the middle of it. 

If Ryan Howard comes back to the Phillies in 2014, which will most likely happen and he can produce like we have seen in the past then the Phillies will be in business but if he does not produce and continues down the path of injuries then the Phillies are stuck in a big hole.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Phillies 2013 Review: Second Base

Ah finally, second basemen, Chase Utley *in Dan Baker voice*.  2013 was a pretty successful year for Chase. He played in 131 which is the most since 2009. He did spend about 4 weeks on the disabled list from the end of May to the end of June but for someone as injury prone that Chase is playing in 131 games is pretty good.

I think we can all agree that Chase Utley is still a very good player but he is not as good as he was a few years ago. This is expected due to the amount of injuries that he has had and the natural decline players have when reaching a certain age. Utley turns 35 in December and last season he signed a deal with the Phillies that will keep him in Phillies pinstripes for at least two more seasons. He has options for years 2016, 2017, and 2018. The options become guaranteed with at least 500 at bats in the previous seasons. That would mean Chase would have to play in about 120-125 games to reach 500 plate appearances.

In 2013, Chase Utley had a 3.9 WAR and .348 OBP. Both of those stats are respectable and above league average. Phillies fans are used to Chase having higher stats in both of those categories but like I said Chase is a step below the player he used to be, but still very good.

In the Phillies line up, Chase bats third. I do think in a "good" line up he would be the number two hitter, but with the players that the Phillies have he is their best hitter and fits the third hole well, but I believe he would be suited better in the second spot in the line up in this point in his career.

Like a lot of Phillies players the big question with Chase is always IF he can stay healthy. And going into 2014 and beyond, IF Chase can stay healthy he will continue to be one of the best second basemen in baseball and will be a fan favorite throughout Philadelphia through he "dirt ball" style of play with his relentless hustle, dropping infield fly balls on purpose in hopes of getting a double play, crashing into catchers, and playing the game the right way.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Phillies 2013 Review: Catcher

In 2012, catcher Carlos Ruiz had a breakout year. Ruiz made his first All-Star team and had a WAR of 5.2. Ruiz had a career high with 16 home runs, 68 RBI, and a batting average of .325. During the off-season Ruiz was charged with a 25 game suspension for taking an illegal substance. This gave Erik Kratz the chance to be the starting catcher for the first 25 games.

2012 was the first time Erik Kratz was giving a chance to play at all in the major leagues. In 50 games, Kratz hit 9 home runs in 50 games and played well enough to earn his first full season in the MLB. Kratz did not follow up his solid 2012 performance with a good season. In 68 games he posted a WAR of 0.7 with 9 home runs in 68 games. Kratz did go on the disabled list for about 6 weeks but in all reality there was not much hope for Kratz other than him being a solid back up catcher and that's all he is. Kratz is 33 years old with minimal major league experience and in 2014 he will either be the Phillies back up catcher or on another team.

Carlos Ruiz came back from his suspension on April 28 and when he returned he struggled hitting. After being back for three weeks Ruiz went on the disabled list with a hamstring injury and missed the next month. When Ruiz came back he hit pretty well. In the last ten days of June he had a .357 OBP but when the calendar turned Ruiz went into a hitting slump. In July, Ruiz hit .232 with a .274 OBP. Ruiz got out of his slumped and really proved why he should be the starting catcher in the future. In August Ruiz got hot. He had an OBP of .370 and a batting average of .333. For the most part, fans were not expecting to return in 2014 prior to August but as of right now the fans are expecting the Phillies to resign Ruiz.

Although Ruiz did not have a spectacular 2013, it would be wise for the Phillies to resign him. Out of all of the free agent Catchers, Ruiz has the second highest WAR for catchers over the past three years at 9.5. There has been mumblings about possibly inquiring about recent world champion Jarrod Saltalamacchia but I think the if the Phillies are going with the choice between Ruiz and Salty I would go with Ruiz. Chooch is a better defensive player and Salty has only had one decent offensive season, that being this past season.

Mike Napoli is also a free agent but he plays first base more than catcher and I do not see him wanting to play catcher every day when he can play first base. The Phillies need to resign Ruiz soon because it would be unfortunate for him to get to free agency and sign with someone else and leave the Phillies in a bind.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Phillies 2013 Review: Shortstop

The Phillies shortstop remained quite healthy in 2013. Jimmy Rollins played in 160 games and had arguably the worst season of his career statistical wise. Without a doubt, 2013 showed the decline of Jimmy Rollins offensively. Rollins had a batting average of .252, an OBP of .318, hit 6 home runs and drove in 39 runs. The biggest stat that went in decline was his runs scored. Rollins only scored 65 runs and in the previous 12 seasons Rollins has scored 80 or more runs in 10 of them and 100 or more runs in six of them. Players in previous seasons have praised Rollins for being the teams spark plug, and the Phillies chances of winning games when Rollins scored a run was exponentially higher than the games when he doesn't.

There is another side to the runs scored stat. Unless you are a home run hitter, a player cannot score a run without his teammates. With the lack of offensive production behind Rollins he was unable to score more runs but nonetheless Rollins struggled to score runs in 2013.

In seasons past Rollins has always had a home run stroke which was a good and bad thing. Rollins has always frustrated fans by popping out to infielders or shallow outfield. Typically, when Rollins pops out to the infield this means that he was trying to hit a home run and through the course of a season when he tries to hit for a home run as many times as he has in past seasons he connects on 15 to 20 of them. But with only 6 home runs last season, Rollins "pop" in his bat has completely disappeared. Whether it's due to old age or declining abilities Rollins is not the same player is was two years ago or even one year ago. Fortunately for the Phillies, the 2014 season could be Rollins' last with them. He has an option for 2015 which becomes guaranteed with 534 plate appearances in 2014 and is not on the disabled list at the end of the season. If he is on the disabled list at the end of 2014 a mutual doctor will have to agree that he will be healthy by the 2015 season.

Rollins' defensive skills have not diminished much. His overall range may not be as good as it once was but Rollins can still pick it with the best of them. I feel like Rollins can still play and contribute to the Phillies. How much can he contribute? That is up to him. Rollins said he is playing for records last season and if he wants to break those records he is going to have to play better than he did in 2013.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Phillies 2013 Review: Third Base

Ever since the Scott Rolen trade back in the day the third base position has not been a position of strength for the Phillies. 2013 was no different. I am getting tired of writing up these blogs and talking about all of these negatives about this Phillies team but there are not many positives this team has right now.

During the off-season the Phillies made a trade to acquire 7 time All-Star Michael Young. Young has been known for his consistency throughout his major league career decided to waive his no trade clause to join the Phillies for the 2013 season. One of Young's strengths has been his ability to play multiple positions. He had experience at first base, second base, shortstop, and third base.

Overall, Michael Young's season with the Phillies in 2013 was mediocre at best. Young showed that he could put good at bats together at times and had a decent OBP of .336. But his defense was a tick below average. Young made most of the plays a third basemen should make but he never made an outstanding play and would occasionally miss a ball that should have been snagged.

After a few months of mediocrity from Young, the Phillies called up prospect Cody Asche to play third base everyday. Young, moved over to first base because Ryan Howard was out with an injury. On August 31, the last day where teams can make trades to teams Michael Young was traded to the Dodgers.

As stated, prospect Cody Asche was given a chance to play third base everyday for the Phillies in the final two months of the 2013 season. Asche took the opportunity to show the kind of player he is and showed flashes that he has potential to be a solid major league player but he did struggle at the plate. With only hitting .235 and posting an OBP of .307 Asche has a lot of room to grow offensively. Defensively, Asche showed a lot of promise. He made several great plays and in his small sample size of 50 games Asche will be a competent defensive player.

As of right now, Asche is the lead candidate for the starting third base spot for the Phillies next season. If Asche takes the chance and runs with it the Phillies can have a third basemen for several years, but if he flops, they will be back to square one.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Phillies 2013 Review: Right Field

The right field position for the Phillies in 2013 might have been one of the worst in recent franchise history. Seven players played the right field position for the Phillies at some point during 2013 and they combined for a -2.8 WAR which was the worst in Major League Baseball by .7.

Darin Ruf led the Phillies right fielders with a .1 WAR, not impressive in the slightest. Ruf did not play right field every game. He played first base and played some games in left field. Ruf's natural position is first base but the Phillies have been playing him at the corner outfield positions because first base has been occupied by Ryan Howard over the past several seasons.

In 2012, Ruf had a breakout year in the minor leagues. In 139 games in Reading, he hit 38 home runs and late in September he got a chance to play for the Phillies and he played in 12 games and hit three home runs and a .351 OBP. Small sample size, yes, but Phillies fans were hopeful that Ruf could potentially be the answer in right field after trading Hunter Pence at the 2012 trade deadline.

In the off-season the Phillies signed Delmon Young to a one year deal with some incentives based on performance and weight. However, Delmon "Twinkle Toes" Young was suppose to miss the first month of the season. To most, Ruf was the obvious answer to fill in at right field because he had potential that the other back ups did not have like John Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix. With that being said Ruf started 2013 in Triple-A.

In Triple-A Ruf played better than any right fielder that was with the big club. Ruf had a .343 OBP in 83 games, but he only hit 7 home runs. Since the Delmon Young experiment failed miserably, Darin Ruf finally started playing every day. Ruf had high expectations and everyone was hoping that he could fit into a role for the team. However, Ruf did not meet the expectations and at the end of the season Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that he would not be starting for the Phillies next season. Hopefully, this means they plan on getting help from the outside for RF because right now they have absolutely nobody to play that role everyday efficiently.

I do not understand what the Phillies front office was thinking going into the 2013 season with John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix, and Delmon Young playing everyday. These players are at best bench players and it is scary to think the front office thought Delmon Young could be the answer.

Final Stats from Phillies Right Fielders in 2013:

Darin Ruf: 73 Games, 293 Plate Appearances (PA), 14 HR, 30 RBI, 11.3 BB%, 31.1 K%, .247 AVG, .348 OBP, .458 SLG%, .1 WAR

John Mayberry Jr.: 134 Games, 384 PA, 11 HR, 39 RBI, 7.0 BB%, 23.4 K%, .227 AVG, .286 OBP, .391 SLG%, -0.4 WAR

Delmon Young: 80 Games, 291 PA, 8 HR, 31 RBI, 4.8 BB%, 23.7 K&, .261 AVG, .302 OBP, .397 SLG%, -1.0 WAR

Laynce Nix: 81 Games, 136 PA, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 5.9 BB%, 32.4 K%, .180 AVG, .228 OBP, .258 SLG%, -0.7 WAR

Those were the main right fielders in 2013. You can see they all played bad, with Ruf playing the best of the worst.

Here's a pic of Delmon Young's Dad (not his actual dad just a look alike, you might recognize as Karl Winslow from Family Matters)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Phillies 2013 Review: Center Field

For the first time since 2008 the Phillies had a new center fielder. After trading Shane Victorino at the trade deadline to the Los Angeles Dodgers during the trade deadline in 2012 the Phillies acquired Ben Revere from the Minnesota Twins for Vance Worley and pitching prospect Trevor May.

Revere, who is turned 25 last May is a player who the Phillies have control over for several years. Meaning he cannot hit free agency until 2018. Victorino was free agenct bound after 2012 and with several extremely large contracts the Phillies thought it may be better to deal Victorino for a prospect or two and get a young guy like Revere who does not command as much money as Victorino would since he is not eligible for free agency and is just starting his first year of arbitration this off season.

The book on Revere is that he is extremely fast and a contact hitter. Revere, has zero power and has never hit a major league home run. The Phillies were hoping that Revere would take over the lead off spot because he is more of a conventional lead off hitter than Jimmy Rollins. Early in 2013 Revere struggled. Through the month of April, Revere was only batting .200 with an OBP of .234. Revere found himself batting lower in the order come May.

The month of May was a successful month for Revere. He got out of his April slump and showed the Phillies why he can be part of the future. Revere, started to consistently hit for average and get on base as well as anyone on the team.

Then on July 13, in game one of a day night doubleheader with the Chicago White Sox, Revere fouled a ball off his foot in extra innings and would not play the rest of the season due to a broken foot. This was a turning point in the Phillies season. Once Revere went down the team plummeted.

This left a hole in center field for the Phillies. Cesar Hernandez was called up and got a chance to play center field. Hernandez started 22 games in center field for the Phillies and personally he did not impress me. His defense in center field was mediocre at best and his arm is not very strong due to him primarily being an infielder for the majority of his baseball career. Revere, does not have a strong arm either but he can make up for it with his speed and good routes to baseballs. At the plate Hernandez was inconsistent. Overall, Hernandez logged a .344 OBP however he posted a -0.4 WAR, which is poor.

I do not see Hernandez being very successful in the big leagues. He has not shown a whole lot to fans that signify him being an everyday player. I think he will spend the majority of his career as a bench player who can play multiple positions and can run a little bit, not a lot but a whole lot better than the average runner. Hernandez could get a chance to play everyday at some point in his career with some team but I do not think the Phillies have big plans for him.

I saw Ben Davis of Comcast Sportsnet say that he thinks Cesar Hernandez should start at CF next year for the Phillies. I respect Mr. Davis and his opinions but this one is not very logical. Ben Revere has shown that he can get on base, hit for average, steal bases, play center field well defensively. While Hernandez has not shown much of anything and definitely not better than Revere.

Ben Revere will continue to grow as a player and I do see him develop into a good major league player. How good? I do not see him being a top 5 center fielder but possibly top 10, hopefully a Juan Pierre like player.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Phillies 2013 Review: Left Field

Today, I am going to review the Phillies Left Field position from 2013. Left field was one of the bright spots for the Phillies in 2013 because for the first time in his Major League career top prospect Domonic Brown showed the kind of potential that fans have hoped for. In 139 games, Brown slugged 27 home runs, 83 RBI and sported a .494 SLG%.

2013 was the first full season in which Domonic Brown was going to get a chance to play the outfield everyday. Before the season started Brown told reporters that all he needed was 500 at bats and he will show everyone what he could do.

April was a rather pedestrian month for Dom Brown. But Brown quickly got out of his early season struggles when he posted 12 home runs and 25 RBI in the month of May. Towards the end of May, Brown hit eight home runs over the span of seven days. After showing a huge display of power in May, Brown earned the honors of being the Player of the Month for May.

Brown had a successful month of June. His power numbers were not the same as May but not too many players have the ability to hit 12 home runs in a month at any point in their careers. Brown had an above average OBP at .347 and because he had another solid month of baseball a spot in the All-Star game was solidified.

In a game in St. Louis on July 23, Brown got a concussion after diving for a ball in left field. He would then miss the next the next 11 games. When Brown came back from his injury, he played well. Brown only hit three home runs in the month of August but he hit for aveage and got on base.

At the end of August in Chicago, Brown injured his Achilles' tendon and missed nine games. Brown came back and similar to August, Brown did not hit for power and did not hit any home runs. Brown did have a .356 OBP.

Overall, Brown had a productive 2013. The Phillies hope that Brown can grow from this season and become an even better player. Brown posted a 1.6 WAR, which is not tremendous but it is a good starting point for a player who just played his first full season in the big leagues. One thing that Brown needs to improve on is his fielding. Whether if it's in right or left field, Brown is too athletic to be making so many errors in the outfield. Hoepfully, Brown is more comfortable with the outfield position now that he has a full year under his belt. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Phillies 2013 Review: Relief Pitching

Another bad year for the Phillies bullpen. The Phillies bullpen was plagued by injuries, suspensions, and overall bad pitchers who should not have been in the major leagues but were thrown into the fire.

In 2012, the biggest hole in the Phillies bullpen was the 8th inning. They were missing a set up man who could give the ball to Jonathan Papelbon. During the off season the Phillies went out and got a viable option for the 8th inning and that was Mike Adams. Adams was coming off an injury that removed a rib but he was ready for Opening Day. With health as a concern, Phillies fans were hoping Adams could stay healthy for the entire year because as shown in the past he is a good reliever when healthy.

At the start of the 2013 season the back end of the Phillies bullpen was going to be Michael Stutes, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Adams, then closer Jonathan Papelbon.

First, as stated above, Mike Adams was suppose to be a good option out of the bullpen when he was healthy and at the start of the season he was healthy but did not pitch well. He did not pitch poorly but fans were expecting to see a little bit more consistency out of Adams. About half way through the season Mike Adams went on the disabled list with an injury and did not return for the remainder of the season. He finished with a 3.96 ERA. This left a big hole in the 8th inning.

Side Note: Mike Adams should be ready for the start of Spring Training.

Left hander Antonio Bastardo was left to fill the role of the 8th inning exclusively. Bastardo was primarily a 7th or 8th inning pitcher already and would come in to get a left handed batter out in the 8th inning when needed so he had the experience. Bastardo pitched well for the Phillies in 2013 and when Adams went on the disabled list Bastardo filled in nicely. But on August 5, Bastardo was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball as part of the Biogenesis baseball scandal. Bastardo ended the season with a 2.32 ERA, very respectable.

In 2011 Michael Stutes got a big league call up and contributed big time to the Phillies 102 wins. He was a steady arm out in the bullpen and could be used in different situations. He could give you two innings out of the bullpen, he could come in when you have a big lead, or be the set up man for a night.  But after only pitching 5.2 innings in 2012 Stutes had a right shoulder injury and was shut down for the remainder of the year.

For some odd reason Michael Stutes, who proved to be a good option out of the bullpen in 2011 and was hurt for the majority of 2012 started the 2013 season in the minors. This made zero sense to me. Stutes was a pitcher who could be counted on a lot better than players like Justin De Fratus, Joe Savery, Jake Diekman (at the time), and other fill in the blank pitchers who did not perform well. But the Phillies decided to pitch him in Triple-A, which makes absolutely zero sense. Eventually on May 24, Stutes made his season debut and over the next month Stutes made 14 appearances out of the bullpen and he didn't pitch all that well. However, Stutes was then placed on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis. He did come back to pitch two scoreless innings for the Phillies at the end of the season. Hopefully in 2014 Michael Stutes can stay healthy for the entire year and prove that he is a good option for the Phillies in the 7th inning and have the ability to pitch in many different game situations.

This all leads to the always interesting never know what he's gonna say on the Phillies Phanavision, Jonathan Papelbon, who claims that his favorite place to take a vacation is on the moon. Possibly the most disappointing part of the bullpen in 2013 was Papelbon. From the naked eye it does not look like Papelbon pitched bad. With a 2.92 ERA and 29 saves, it looks like Papelbon had a pretty productive year. However, Papelbon blew 7 saves and lost velocity on his fastball. Whether if it had to do with the lack of high leverage situations he was put in due to the lack of success of the team or an increase in age; Papelbon's average fastball velocity was 92.0 which is down from 93.8 the previous season and his K/9 was down to 8.32 in 2013 where as in 2012 it was 11.83 (courtesy of In 2014 and beyond Papelbon will have to learn to locate his fastball a little bit better if he wants to remain as a major league closer since he is no longer a big time strikeout pitcher.

The rest of the Phillies bullpen was pretty horrendous except for the emergence of two pitchers: Jacob Diekman and BJ Rosenberg. Both of these pitchers pitched well late in the season. In Diekman's final 19 appearances he only allowed one run. Diekman's BB/9 improved tremendously, by going from 6.59 in 2012 down to 3.76 in 2013.

B.J. Rosenberg pitched well for the Phillies up until the final couple of weeks when he surrendered six earned runs combined in his last six games pitched. Prior to then he pitched 14 scoreless appearances.

Diekman and Rosenberg are both have very good fastballs and have potential to help out this bullpen in 2014. If they can locate their pitches well these two pitchers will serve big roles in 2014.

Pitchers like Justin De Fratus, Phillippe Aumont, and Joe Savery have all proven to be inconsistent and have difficulties finding the strike zone. I do not see these players having very successful major league careers. De Fratus most likely has the most potential and has pitched the best out of these three but he is still too inconsistent to start thinking that he can contribute a lot for this team.

I won't even mention pitchers like Luis Garcia, Cesar Jimenez, Chad Durbin, J.C. Ramirez, and Raul Valdes who all pitched absolutely terrible in 2013 and deserve to be in either Triple-A or at a regular 9-5 job.

Overall, the Phillies bullpen ranked 27th in baseball in ERA at 4.19 and there BB/9 was the highest in baseball at 4.30. Having a good bullpen is crucial in having a good team because the bullpen is relied on nearly every night to hold the lead for a pitcher, keep the team in the game, or bail the starting pitcher out.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Beginning Sabermetrics

On this blog, I intend to use some statistics used by sabermetricians. To the common baseball fan, they will not be familiar with some of these terms so in this post I will try my best to explain some of the most common stats used in sabermetrics.

WAR (Wins Above Replacement): I touched on this in my most recent post, but I am going to dive a little bit deeper into it. As stated in my last post I got a definition from and on that website regarding WAR it says, "(WAR)is an attempt by the sabermetric baseball community to summarize a player’s total contributions to their team in one statistic." For example, last season Chase Utley had a WAR of 3.9. According to this stat if you take Chase Utley off of the Phillies then they lose about 4 more games. 

OPS: This stat is On Base Percentage plus Slugging Percentage equals OPS. On Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage are both stats on their own but together they make OPS. The stat OPS attempts to  account a players abilities for all aspects of the game when hitting. On Base Percentage takes into account the players hitting and patience at the plate and Slugging Percentage takes into account the players hitting for power. OPS take into account patience at the plate, hitting (singles, doubles, etc.) and power (home runs). After some research I learned that sabermetricians are not a huge fan of this particular stat due to the fact that OBP and SLG% are counted as equals when in reality OBP is really 1.8 times more important than SLG%. 

FIP: Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is what a player's ERA should have been had everything he was going against or working with was league average. Pitchers have very little control on what happens when a ball is put into play. If a hitter breaks his bat but gets a hit the pitcher technically did his job by making such a good pitch that the hitters bat broke but sometimes the hitter finds a spot in the field where nobody is or a spot in the field where a fielder might be below average. Cole Hamels ERA from 2013 was 3.60, however, his FIP was 3.26. Since FIP takes more things into account than ERA, Cole Hamels had a better year than his ERA indicated. 

This is my break down of a couple of the most popular stats used in sabermetrics. If you have any questions, comments or corrections then leave a comment. I am not a professional by any means and if you think you can do a better job at explaining something then me, please leave a friendly comment below and let me know.

Phillies 2013 Review: Starting Pitching

Last year, for the first time in a few years the Phillies starting pitching was not very good. In ERA the Phillies starting pitching ranked 25th in the MLB. This was primarily due to the lack of depth they had. Besides Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, no starting pitcher from the Phillies posted an ERA lower than 4.04.

Kyle Kendrick pitched tremendously in the first half of the season. In 18 starts, Kendrick pitched at least six innings in 15 of them. Kendrick's name even came up as a potential All-Star but he did not make the team. From months July through September Kendrick struggled with consistency. Kendrick began getting hit around by the opposition more regularly and late in the season word came out that Kendrick has been dealing with a shoulder injury. Mid way through September Kendrick was placed on the DL and did not pitch for the remained of the 2013 season. Kendrick's final 2013 stats were 10-13 with a 4.70 ERA with 182 innings pitched.

To me, a pitchers record means absolutely nothing. A pitcher can pitch 8 innings and give up one run and get the loss. Several times a year we see Cole Hamels or Cliff Lee go deep into the game, surrender one or two runs and get the loss. On the other hand, we can see Tyler Cloyd pitch 5 innings give up 7 runs and get the win. Now that would require the Phillies to score more than 7 runs and let's be honest that is not happening very often.

Cliff Lee had a very good 2013 season. Lee made his fourth All-Star game and in September he posted a 54/1 strikeout to walk ratio. Let's take a moment to let that soak in.......54/1 strikeout to walk ratio, unbelievable! With 222 innings pitched Cliff Lee ended up with a 2.87 ERA and more importantly a 5.1 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) which was eighth best in the MLB for pitchers. For those who do not know what WAR is I will do my best to explain it. Here is the best definition that I found for WAR: "is an attempt by the sabermetric baseball community to summarize a player’s total contributions to their team in one statistic." It also says, "You should always use more than one metric at a time when evaluating players, but WAR is pretty darn all-inclusive and provides a handy reference point. WAR basically looks at a player and asks the question, “If this player got injured and their team had to replace them with a minor leaguer or someone from their bench, how much value would the team be losing?” This is courtesy of, which is the best site for students to learn about the sabermetric community of baseball.

Yet again, Cole Hamels had a very interesting year. If there is ever a game when a quirky play happens or something out of the ordinary happens, then Cole Hamels must be pitching. As a major victim of broken bat base hits, infield hits or bad defense Hamels struggled for part of the 2013 season. Hamels was deemed the 2013 Opening Day starter but he did not pitch like an Opening Day starter. With posting an ERA of 3.60 and a 4.2 WAR it seems that Cole Hamels may not be the ace that Phillies fans once thought he might be. Although Hamels is a terrific pitcher he may at best be a number two starter in a major league rotation. Cole Hamels turns 30 this December and he is no longer considered "young." Hamels still has many years of being productive left but I must raise the question whether he has the potential to be a number one starter or if what we saw in 2013 and years past is what he really is, which is a number two starter. 

The rest of the Phillies rotation was atrocious to put it nicely. Jonathan Pettibone pitched solid when he first came up from the minors in the beginning of 2013, but his "stuff" isn't exactly something that gets fans excited. Personally, I do not see him being anything more than a number four starter who can eat up innings and keep them in the game. Besides Pettibone, the remainder of the bottom of the rotation belonged in the minor leagues. John Lannan, Tyler Cloyd, and Roy Halladay pitched like pitchers who have never pitched before. First, John Lannan had some games where he would give his team a shot to win the game and in all reality the Phillies signed Lannan to be their number five starter and when Lannan was healthy he did a moderately good job at doing so. Health became an issue for Lannan and he will not return to the Phillies in 2014 because he would like to go to a club and compete for a spot in a rotation and the Phillies were not able to give him a chance. Next, Tyler Cloyd pitched absolutely terrible for the Phillies, at the end of the season Cloyd was given multiple chances to start and show that he is not terrible and he proved everyone right when he failed time and time again and pitched terrible. For whatever reason, the Cleveland Indians claimed him off off waivers after the season ended. The Indians must be miracle workers because I cannot believe there is a team that thinks they can turn him into a major league pitcher. Finally, the hopes for Roy Halladay to return to his old self in 2013 were shut down when he started 2013 extremely poorly which were capped off with a long trip to the disabled list. Halladay worked extremely hard to come back and pitched for the Phillies at the tail end of 2013 but he pitched so poorly it became hard to watch. To see a guy like Halladay who has a tireless work ethic, and has pitched so well in the MLB for so many years is tough because you know he wants to pitch again and thinks he can but when he pitches like the way he did in 2013 the question is still up in the air whether he can still return to some form of Roy Halladay. 

During this off-season the Phillies need to add at least one reliable arm to add to the pitching rotation with Lee and Hamels at the top. Kyle Kendrick is returning and if healthy he should be a viable option and a couple months ago the Phillies signed Cuban pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, who is projected to be at best a number three starter but most likely a number four pitcher in the rotation. Injuries will occur like every season and hopefully the Phillies can sign a couple of potential veteran arms that will pitch in Lehigh Valley and if needed can do a serviceable job with the big club. Also, keep in mind that Jesse Biddle is getting close to the big leagues and I would not be surprised if we saw him with the Phillies at some point in 2014.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Hello and welcome to the home of the 2013-2014 Philadelphia Phillies off season. On this blog I will be writing and analyzing the Philadelphia Phillies free agency, trades, personal ideas, and players. I hope you enjoy your stay and make this off-season as quick as possible.