PN Mailbag : 11.13.08 – Phillies Nation

PN Mailbag : 11.13.08

Ladies and gents, the first ever Phillies Nation mailbag!

I took some of these questions from our comments over the past few days. But please, e-mail me at to get in on the action. Here we go:

“Tim, do you think the league caught up with Durbin or something else that made him get hit late in the year?”
— mikem

It wasn’t so much that the league “caught up,” but more the success of advanced scouting. I’m sure early in the season National League teams had trouble determining his stuff, but as the season wore on, teams knew what he had — pretty average stuff. Moreover, a lot of his worst outings came the day after pitching well against the very same team. For proof, he had a 4.58 ERA with no-days rest, while pitching much better with more rest. Batters were ready for him the second time around. That doesn’t bode particularly well for 2009.

“Utley in left, or first base? Is the time now?”
— pb

The idea made me think for a moment, but there’s no way I’d do it now. If you go back to that Beyond the Box Score piece about second basemen, you’d see Utley was worth 21 runs at second base — meaning, he likely saved 21 runs with his glove. Considering probably no left fielder will save 21 runs, losing Utley’s glove at second isn’t worth the experiment. I understand you want to keep him healthy, but it’s too early to make a move like that. Wait another two or three years.

“Does [Charlie] Manuel call the games, or does he let [Carlos] Ruiz?”
— Kate

Ruiz and his pitchers call the games, but there’s much more to it. Pitching Coach Rich Dubee works with the pitchers and Ruiz to strategize opposing hitters throughout the season. Manuel will offer his opinions, but I’d assume he stays away from calling much of the games. If anything, he makes more long-term adjustments.

“If Pat doesn’t return who would you prefer: Milton Bradley or Garrett Atkins? I know you are high on Bradley but to me Atkins seems to be the more attractive option. He could fit in nicely platooning with the lefties or completely take over the corner outfield spot just as Werth did this year based on performance.”
— Zach

Atkins is attractive, but Bradley is simply more proven as an everyday outfielder and offensive player. Atkins has decreased his productivity in the last few years, though it still remains solid. But I’m more worried about Coors Field — he slugs .527 at home, but just .424 away from Coors. Sure he’d be fine in a platoon role with Jenkins and/or Stairs, but the Phillies need a top right-handed producer. I’m not so sure Werth will take that fully; I’d rather see something concrete out there, and Bradley remains the best option for the best price (remember, Atkins would cost a prospect or two).



  1. Brian

    November 13, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    143 days and about 7.5 hours till opening day. not that i’m counting

  2. From Section 113

    November 13, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    I think there will be a massive fall off on Durbin in ’09. I think he will be reduced to Seanez/Condrey roles by year end. I actually could see COndrey giving us a another nice year. But with Durbin, I just don’t think he can maintain his groundball ratio that he did all last year.

  3. bull

    November 13, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    I saw a rumor, i think on espn that cameron could come to the phils. Werth in LF, Cameron in CF and Vic in RF. I don’t think a ball would drop out there, but i am not a fan of his low obs and avg.

  4. Maverick

    November 13, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    and btw.. Charlie does call the game when Manny is at bat.

  5. Johnny Snowden

    November 13, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Tim, forget that I’m brown-nosing for a second. Just want to say thanks. Thanks for this outlet, your sportswriting prowess and the way you make us all a little bit smarted by actually getting us all to actually do the research. Keep on keepin on dudes and dudettes.

  6. PhillyGirlinMichigan

    November 13, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Sorry, but I’ve got a soft spot for Durbin cause I got to watch him do a pretty good job (he just came out of nowhere) for Toledo then Detroit in 2007/2006.

    First off, if he’d kept his pace up from mid-Aug on, he’d have a 1.50 ERA for the season. Was that what everyone expected? Intead he got tired as he’d never pitched near that many games in a season b4 and ended up with a “horrid” 2.87. Everyone commented in mid-July that if Charlie kept using him each game that his arm would fall off – well it did. At least he didn’t go on the DL…give him some credit for doing what he did.

    Advanced scouting? I disagree. The decline on an adjacent night was due to fatigue (he’d never done it b4), not scounting. He pitched very well against the NL East (Mets, Braves, DC) in 2007 including an 8 inning start against the Mets. Funny, seems I remember him doing well agaist them in 2008. Check the #s against those teams.

    Ok – that’s it him. Also – Moyer – I know everyone loves him…but I’m far more concerned about him doing well in 2009 than Durbin, Condrey, etc… He can be very hittable and chances are he won’t be able to repeat what he did this year…and he’s much harder to replace if re-signed than one of the BP guys is.

  7. PhillyGirlinMichigan

    November 13, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Forgot to add – I respectfully disagree. I like most of your analysis, Tim.. 🙂

  8. Bruce

    November 13, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    To PhillyGirlinMichigan~ I was thinking along same line as you about Durbin. Aside from Lidge, he contributed as much as anyone else in the bullpen. He was a valuable asset to the team in their successful drive to WS championship. I think Manual/Dubee will benefit from the experience
    of 2008 season on how best to use Durbin next season.

  9. Gavin

    November 13, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    I wouldnt touch Milton Bradley with a Monopoly Money. Why mess with this team’s great chemistry with a guy that is obviously a mental midget?

  10. TOM G

    November 13, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    I would prefer Atkins over Bradley…though I have have always liked Milton’s game, I am cautious of his attitude and temper. Our clubhouse has been crucial in bringing a Championship to Philly, Bradley might not be as mentally equiped to handle the local media in Philly.
    Atkins, though perhaps a bit more of a reach on production is still entering the prim of his career

  11. Eb

    November 13, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    isnt atkins under team control for another 2 or 3 years?

  12. Manny

    November 13, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    I agree with PhillyGirlinMichigan… Durbin was simply exhausted and not used to pitching so often. He was BRILLIANT during most of the season.

  13. sean

    November 13, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    I feel okay about bradley actually. I don’t think he’s as much of a headcase as everyone makes him out to be. That incident where he tore his acl is not his fault at all, the umpire was asking for that. I think charlie would be a good manager for him too. I feel like he wouldn’t write him off as a headcase when he walked in but rather treat him like the rest of his players – with respect, I think bradley could use a manager like that.

  14. From Section 113

    November 13, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    PhillyGirlinMichigan- I really think he’s gonna come down on his groundball ratio. I could see if he consistently had that ratio his whole career but he hasn’t but to be fair he has been injured and up and down in the majors his whole career too.

    Just would like an arm equal to Durbin’s in the pen, I always wondered what Bisenius has, he’s always on the team just never pitches.

  15. Andrew R.

    November 13, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Chad Durbin, it was pretty clear what his deal was. There were so many times he would come in with guys on and get out of it. Most relievers that enter ballgames want to throw a fastball over for strike 1. That is the goal. That is their purpose. Come in, throw strikes. Hitters know that as well. Some hitter will wait and see it out of their hand a couple of times before swinging, while others will try to be aggressive and hack at that little first-piitch 89-mph fastball. I have seen Durbin on many, many occasions come in firing sliders. Guys would chase, and pound the ball into the ground. It was quite clear that as his arm tired, his slider was less effective, thus staying in the zone where it got hit. He was one of the most valuable relievers all year, and it’s a shame he wore down a little bit at the end, because while a 2.87 is great for a reliever, anything under 2.00 is extreme nastiness.

    As far as Bradley is concerned, on one hand I say he is an aging headcase, we dont need him. But on the other, he will be coming in as a complementary piece, not the big off-season prize. Maybe a role where he stays under the radar will do well for him, especially with uncle charlie there. I think Uncle charlie could maintain him.

    Screw Mike Cameron, he hasnt been good since his early 2000 days with the Mariners. Junk. And if anybody thinks we’re moving Victorino out of CF, you’re nuts. I never put any creedence into the ESPN “experts.” I;m very happy I dont pay for their “insider information.” Just listen to baseball tonite, 90% of their predictions are wayy off.

  16. Andrew R.

    November 13, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    1 more thing. We all know CONSISTENT relievers are really hard to come by. Durbin was great this year, but can we expect that again next year? maybe, maybe not. the best case is arthur rhodes. Check him out, almost every year is up-down. either he’s great, or junk. We got him coming off a great year, he was crap for us, and then great for the marlins. go figure. i dont expect our bullpen to be as good as it was last year. lidge will not be perfect again, i expect madson to be about the same, romero has really earned my trust, but thats about it. 3 above average relievers is pretty good. The mets didnt have any good relievers and look how many games they won last year. imagine if they had anybody decent.

  17. PhillyGirlinMichigan

    November 13, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    113 – I agree he’d have a hard time topping 2008 in terms of HRs allowed and how incedibly sharp he was at CBP; however, I don’t see him doing so poorly that he’s going to white flag status. I think a fill-in starter would be more likely than that.

    As for another reliever – definately. I’m for trying out Bisenius and some of the other youngsters for that last spot in the BP.. Also, there’s always potential injuries, etc. Overall we’re pretty set compared to most other ballclubs.

    PS – Bradley is ok w/me. I never saw him as a real head case…

  18. justin

    November 13, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    does utley even have a strong enough arm to play left?

    I cant imagine him gunning guys down from left to home plate like burrell or victorino can

  19. Andrew R.

    November 13, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    i dont like utley in the OF. power-hitting OFs can be had. having the best 2nd baseman in baseball is rare.

    i think his arm is decent enough. if you are quick to the ball, have a quick release and are accurate, you can play OF. Pat Burrell was only accurate. It might take him a second and half or two seconds longer to get to the ball, which is a big deal. if (lets just say) utley’s releasing the ball while at the same time burrell is just bending down to get the ball, utley’s ball will get tehre faster.

  20. RichieAllen

    November 13, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Dont even think of moving Utley….He’s best right where he is.
    The good thing is we have Utley and Rollind locked up for a while,so we have no problems in the middle.Now, lock in Victorino and we’re in an envious position.
    I know other teams wish they had these guys.

  21. NJ

    November 13, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    Moving a power hitting gold-glove calibre 2nd basement is about as logical as sticking a bad body 1st basement in CF… (unless it’s to short)

  22. KM

    November 15, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    1. I agree that advanced scouting caught up with Durbin by year end. I look for a big dropoff in his production next season.

    2. I like the idea of Utley at 1B, and Donald at 2B in 2-3 years. I say this, assuming that the Phillies trade Howard to the Yankees or another AL team when they see his cost in arbitration.

    3. I always thought that Manuel called the games from the bench, but I guess you have to let the players make the on-the-field calls.

    4. I agree with you on Milton Bradley, Tim. The cost for Atkins will be high, and there is no guarantee that he would be more productive than a Pat Burrell. Why not take a chance on Bradley, who is a career .280 hitter, and a proven on base guy.

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