Keith Law on the Phillies' Future – Phillies Nation
Odds And Ends

Keith Law on the Phillies' Future

Earlier this week in Florida, I had the opportunity to speak with ESPN’s Scouts Inc.’s senior baseball analyst Keith Law on a few odds and ends about the Phillies.

While it may still be safe to say the Phillies are in their “golden age,” it’s always prudent to keep a diligent watch on the team’s future. How will the aging core of veterans hold up? Is there really anything wrong with Domonic Brown? Are Jarred Cosart and Jon Singleton for real? We can speculate all we like, but to get a professional opinion, I asked Mr. Law for his take on a few things.

Traveling back in time to June for a second, we remember the Phillies having the 27th overall pick in the Rule 4 Amateur Draft. At the time of their pick, a few high-profile picks had slipped and remained available. The Phillies bypassed those players, including LSU righty Anthony Ranudo, picking local high-school left-hander Jesse Biddle instead.

“[Ranaudo] cost twice what the Phillies were going to pay at their slot,” Law said. Ranaudo, being a Scott Boras client, came with the stigma (of sorts) of having his representation be one of the most powerful men in sports. “When you draft a Boras player, you don’t immediately get the player, you get Boras.”

For a team that deals mostly in young, projectable talent with raw tools, Biddle seemed to be the more natural fit. After signing for $1.16M, less than half of Ranaudo’s $2.55M bonus from Boston 12 picks later, and posting some solid appearances in rookie ball, Biddle looks to be a very early bargain.

That wasn’t always meant to be, though. The hometown kid has a chance to play for the local club, but he wasn’t the Phils’ first choice.

“I know for a fact the Phillies wanted [Westlake H.S. 1B/OF Christian] Yelich. If the Marlins didn’t take him a few picks before, the Phillies were going to,” Law said. Yelich, who went 23rd to Florida for $1.7M, hit .362/.400/.468 in 47 professional ABs in 2010.

As for the most popular Phillies prospect, things have been a bit rougher. Domonic Brown was recently shipped back stateside after batting an ugly .069/.182/.103 in winter ball, though in just 29 ABs. Coupled with similarly lackluster play in an equally small sample at the Big League level, this cold streak of Dom’s has caused some panic, in spite of its relative lack of meaning, but Dom’s early departure from the winter league is not all that uncommon or damning.

“It happens all the time,” Law said. “There’s nothing to worry about.

“You get these sorts of struggles with power hitters…The guy is still a top-five player. He has a swing that should produce 20-plus homers.”

At just 23, Brown is easily the youngest position player on the projected 25-man roster for 2011. His struggles, while not good, certainly don’t spell doom-and-gloom for what should be a very bright future.

“He’s so gifted, and if he were 25 or so, it may be different,” Law said. “But at 22-23, it’s far too early to think about writing him off.”

Speaking of youngsters, teenage sensation Jon Singleton turned heads this summer when he hit .423/.494/.704 for Lakewood in May, and wasn’t going to turn 19 until the middle of September.

“I like his swing,” Law said. “I think it will produce contact and power, and he has the potential to be a well-above-average Major League player.”

The big question surrounding Singleton, though, is where he’ll fit on the Big League club, should he still be around when the time comes for his promotion. Ryan Howard’s contract extension carries him through the 2016 – and possibly 2017 – season, so Singleton would need to learn a different position if he were to be ready for a call-up before age 26. Can he handle the outfield? Law thinks so.

“I like to think he can handle left field. He’s young and athletic enough.

“He could probably handle right field, too, but the Phillies probably won’t try him there because they’ll have Domonic Brown.”

So, for a couple of players, at least, the future still seems bright. As for one member of the core, things may need to change in order for him to stay on the field and stay effective.

Chase Utley has now endured two hand injuries – including one that needed surgery – and hip surgery since 2007, two vital components in a hitter’s swing and power stroke. Utley, when healthy, is likely to still be an elite player in 2011. Even when he’s been dinged up in the past, Chase has found a way to remain among the top position players in the league. As Utley turns 32 this month, his health becomes even more of a concern than it has in the past, and handling his workload becomes critical.

“Maybe he should only be playing 130-135 games in the field,” Law said. “They should take the approach that the club should decide when he gets time off, not his body, and consider giving him one game off per week, minimum.”

That strategy seems a little jolting, considering how accustomed Phillies fans have become to seeing Utley in the starting lineup every day he’s healthy, but seems prudent upon reflection. Perhaps Charlie Manuel has ridden Utley so hard because of the lack of a suitable backup in the past, but even if that remains the case in 2011, the preservation of Utley’s career should be a priority.

“I don’t know if we’re past the point of calling him a top-five player,” Law said. “But there are questions about being able to keep him on the field.

“I’d like to say he could bounce right back and have an MVP season, but I’m trying to be realistic.”

Things look a bit brighter for another star, 2010 N.L. Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay. Though Halladay will turn 34 next May, there seems to be little thought that he’ll be slowing down soon. For starters, his legendary work ethic and conditioning programs seem to have Doc set up for a continued run of success.

“He’s durable and he’s athletic, but his body control is even better than his athleticism,” Law said. “He knows and controls every muscle in his body.”

It’s not every day you hear talk of pitchers being in such advanced command not only of their stuff, but of their bodies. Halladay, in his 250.2 innings pitched this season, walked just 30 batters. He’s just the seventh pitcher since 1901 to pitch at least 250 innings in a season and walk 30 or fewer batters in the process, and it’s all a result of this sort of “total command” Doc seems to have.

Halladay and his shiny, new Cy Young Award are two of the bright spots for this coming Phillies season. In a season that’s sure to have its questions – surrounding Brown, Utley or others – and celebrations – another “H2O” year of Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt in the starting rotation – the Phillies will look to retain their hold on the N.L. East as the teams around them make moves to catch up.

You can read more from Keith Law on his Insider blog on ESPN, as well as his (mostly) weekly chat archive. You can also check out some non-baseball thoughts and musings on food, music and board games at his personal blog, The Dish. Our thanks to Keith for his time and answers.

121 Comments

121 Comments

  1. Bart Shart

    December 10, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Good blog. I would like to get Law’s thinking about Oswalt and Hamels. Is Oswalt going to be a Philly in 2012 and 2013? Is Hamels learning and executing what needs to be done to be a superstar pitcher and a legitimate contender for 20 wins in a season? How about Howard and his future? Was last year a fluke? Is Victorino improving or declining? Is Ibanez capable of another productive year, especially IF he embraces a platoon role? Is Lidge done? Can we get another solid year from him? Lots of questions…. perhaps too many.

  2. NJ

    December 10, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Wow is that words for Keith Law that isn’t absolutely trashing the Phils? Must be someone writing in his name…

  3. Publius

    December 10, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Excellent write-up Paul, I’m so friggin jealous.

    Bart, those are the wrong questions to be asking a guy whose knowledge base is primarily the minor leagues. If you asked him about Hamels’ ability to win 20 games he’d most likely laugh, considering how little control pitchers have over their win total.

  4. Phylan

    December 10, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    I think Chase can definitely handle 140 to 145 games. Thanks for the quotes, always illuminating to hear what he has to say.

  5. Paul Boye

    December 10, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Bart,

    I don’t know if he has the answer to all of those, but he’s proven to be pretty accessible to questions. You can try catching him on Twitter (@keithlaw) or through one of those chats. It’s worth a shot, if nothing else. Just don’t be surprised if a certain question triggers a bit of snark in reply. It’s a trademark of his.

  6. Geoff

    December 10, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    They need to sign a good solid backup for middle infield. I do not think Utley can handle more than 130 games, and I am being generous.

  7. Bart Shart

    December 10, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Thanks Paul. I will give it a try. Also, Geoff, I am inclined to agree with you regarding Utley’s not hadling more than 130 games. Personally, I think he would do better in left field and hope he is amenable to that transition. We do need a reliable middle infielder as a backup and a potential starter.

  8. Phylan

    December 10, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    Yes let’s stick our amazing defensive second baseman in a corner outfield spot where he’ll be just another power bat instead of reducing his playing time

  9. Bart Shart

    December 10, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    How many pivots can Utley’s hip withstand ? He has been hurt the last two years. Other great players have changed positions. It is just a suggestion and an observation.

    Anyway, here are some utility type players who are available who have had success/experience at multiple positions:
    David Eckstein — ss and 2b
    Willy Aybar — ss, 2b, of
    Felipe Lopez — ss, 2b, 3b
    Christian Guzman — 2b, ss, 1b
    Ronnie Belliard

    At least one of these would probably fit in well in a utility role.

  10. psujoe

    December 10, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    I really like the idea of upgrading the reserve middle infield to spell Chase, Polanco and Rollins. Keep them fresh.

    Downs 3/15 to the Angels. That’s a pretty cheap closer option for them.

  11. Bruce

    December 10, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Why can’t we reduce Utley’s playing time to hopefully keep him strong not only for this year, but hopefully for a few years to come? Am I missing something as don’t we have Wilson Valdez still on the roster? I am also hopeful that RAJ goes after Willy Aybar as I feel he would be a nice upgrade over Dobbs who can also play middle infield.

  12. Dan

    December 10, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    It’s amazing how we take Hamels for granted all of a sudden. Wasn’t he one of the big question marks entering last year? Great job putting those doubts to rest by Hamels.

  13. George

    December 10, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    All this talk of switching Utley to LF is a little premature if you ask me. He still plays excellent defense, and it’s swinging the bat which is affected most by hand and hips. (He’d still be doing that a few times a game even if he were pitching.) Even in the outfield, a person has to make pivots to go back on a ball and to turn and throw it in, so that won’t be much different than being middle man on a double play.

    Also, Utley is the kind of player who will crash into walls to make plays, so even playing left would have its risks.

    If he needs rest, give him real rest. Playing left isn’t as relaxing or easy as a lot of people seem to think.

    The Phils have acknowledged the need for another infielder, and I’m sure they’re looking at all the names mentioned here.

  14. Andrew from waldorf

    December 11, 2010 at 1:07 am

    You move Utley to lf and his value falls to that of about 1 half of Ryan Braun. Before youd ever do that you trade him while he is still a commodity as a second baseman. Its moot though because hes not moving. Maybe when hes 38-40 and chasing some records or something but not before.

  15. Paul Boye

    December 11, 2010 at 1:47 am

    I have to say that that’s rather well-put, George.

  16. PhxPhilly

    December 11, 2010 at 2:29 am

    Since Polanco is a Gold Glove caliber 2B, the Phillies should really be looking for a capable pinch hitter/3B type. A re-incarnation of 2008 Greg Dobbs would be outstanding.
    I would really like all the players to get more rest. I thought last year that Dobbs and Francisco were ‘fringe’ starters and should each get a spot start each week or two. Dobbs was terrible and did not deserve any playing time but I think Francisco should have played more.
    Valdez is likely to be the backup at short but an Aybar type might be able to give Polanco/Utley some rest.

  17. Ted Bell

    December 11, 2010 at 8:20 am

    I think Utley, Rollins, and Polanco are all 135-140 game players at this stage of their careers. They’ve played demanding positions that just wear them down. Resting them during the season will pay off in the end.

    I’m Ted Bell.

  18. therookie300

    December 11, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Sign Adrian Beltre and then move move Utley to the outfield and Polanco to second. By moving Utley to the outfield you either have to just dump Ibanez for whatever or say the Brown isn’t quite ready yet. It also solves the dilemma of a right-handed power bat and the defense would improve across the board. If there was money set aside to get Werth, then there is no reason they couldn’t offer it to Beltre. That’s just my crazy off the wall idea.

  19. The Dipsy

    December 11, 2010 at 9:40 am

    @Rookie – I was told, when I proposed the exact same idea as you do, that you “just can’t take guys and dump them in the outfield” and “you just don’t take a good fielder like Utley and put him the outfield” and other reasons that, while may make sense as a rule of thumb, do not necessarily apply in the Phils situation. Beltre at 3B, Polanco at 2B, and Utley in LF is better, both defensively and offensively, to 3B Polanco, 2B Utley and Ibanez in LF.

    This is not a slight to Utley’s D. We need a RH bat and the best one out there right now is Beltre, who can only play 3B. Biggio kept moving to save his body and accommodate his team when other players came in. Pete Rose moved where the team needed him. You wouldn’t even consider the move unless Utley was such a good athlete. He can do it…with ease. Or move Polanco out there if can play LF, I don’t much care. Beltre is there, the market may be dwindling for him, and if he gets reasonable, why not think about it?

    I’m not saying do it, I just say don’t exclude it as a possibility. Put it on the table. Don’t think crazy, just think creative.

    The Dipsy
    The Dipsy

  20. George

    December 11, 2010 at 9:59 am

    My perception of Beltre is that he is all about the money. Every contract year he puts on a show, but in between he doesn’t perform nearly as well. He turned down $24 million and 3years of security from TWO teams in order to try getting $10 million from the Sox, (he would have gotten half that if he’d sucked). That way he felt he could go out this year and score a HUGE contract. The Sox would have kept him on, most likely at a big increase, but apparently being paid well on a potential winner in a big-market city wasn’t good enough for him. The Athletics have offered him quite a lot, but that’s not good enough either.

    You can keep Beltre, as far as I’m concerned. Or maybe that should read “BELTRE can keep Beltre.”

  21. George

    December 11, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Yeah, Biggio moved around a bit. He learned second early on because he was not really built for catcher. When he was moved to center, he was pretty bad for a few years, and never really did learn to go back on fly balls well.

    Rose was moved as he got older, but Rose was never a power hitter.

    Chipper Jones was moved to left for a year or two, but his legs couldn’t cut it and he was moved back to third.

    Sometimes you can move a guy, sometimes you can’t. It’s a risk that a team shouldn’t take with a star until health, age, or some other extenuating circumstances force a move. The Phils need a RH bat, but that’s not the kind of situation to warrant moving a star second baseman. If the Phils want a RH left fielder, they should sign one of those, not a third baseman. It might even be cheaper to do so.

  22. The Dipsy

    December 11, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Rose moved all over the place and it didn’t matter how old he was. Do you agree that Utley could make the move if called upon? I do. That is if RAJ is really thinking about Beltre, which he probably isn’t.

    The Dipsy

  23. Chuck

    December 11, 2010 at 11:43 am

    I am/have been on board with the Utley to LF idea….but ONLY if we were to get someone like Beltre….which I agree has a slim chance of happening.

    Need that big RH bat. What’s up with Maggs?? The fact that he hasn’t yet re-signed with the Tigers makes me wonder….

  24. Lefty

    December 11, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    I believe the a simpler solution for RH bat is to trade for Josh Willingham- He’s inexpensive and look at the career numbers.

    Werth
    8 seasons
    .272/.367/.481/.848

    Willingham
    7 seasons
    .265/.367/.475/.841

    With the benefit of our lineup surrounding him, he might perform better than Werth. Thoughts?

  25. Paul Boye

    December 11, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    This moving Utley thing is bordering on an obsession. No one knows if he can make the switch at this point in his career, especially since Chase hasn’t played an inning of OF defense in his entire professional career.

    Chase is a better 2B defender than Polanco, but the idea of moving Polanco to 2B with a backup at 3B works if you want to spell Utley for a game. That sounds like a good idea. The same can’t be said for considering the notion of trading an awful LF contract like it was nothing, signing a major FA with serious money interest from multiple teams with a bigger need and more payroll space, and moving your elite 2B to the outfield full-time is not only a practical idea but a favorable one.

    This push to move him will go nowhere, and continuing to advocate it is to continue rehashing a needless debate over a “controversy” that doesn’t exist.

  26. Chuck

    December 11, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Paul, why don’t you come forward then to squash another “rehashing of a needless debate” when Andrew from Waldorf is constantly ramming “0 RBI” (referring to Ryan Howard in the NLCS) down everyone’s throats??

    To me, that’s far more continuous, needless and ridiculous….and even childish….than a few of us coming up with POTENTIALLY constructive ideas as how to better the Phillies lineup.

  27. JAY-AKA-PHILLYBOY

    December 11, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    I HAVE TO AGREE WITH CHUCK ON THAT ONE………..LOL

  28. Paul Boye

    December 11, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    I’ve been through the RBI thing plenty of times. I try to give fair play to all ridiculous ideas.

  29. Chuck

    December 11, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    “0 RBI” is just plain silly and childish. Utley to LF won’t happen, but it’s really not THAT far-fetched of an idea at some point in his career. Maybe not now, but in 3-4 years it COULD be a way to extend his professional baseball life.

  30. Brooks

    December 11, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    George posted a little while back:
    “My perception of Beltre is that he is all about the money.”

    George, I think the number of players who don’t have $$$ at the top of their list is dwindling. As Aaron Rowand or better yet, how about Jayson Werth?

  31. The Dipsy

    December 11, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Paul, Polanco is a gold glove second baseman. Do you agree with me that if Chase made the switch this very day to LF that he would be a better LFer that Ibanez by Opening Day? My reasons are thus: Chase has greater mobility, is more agile, and can’t possibly have a worse arm that Ibanez. If we had a decent fielding LFer, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, but we are having it because it makes your offense better (I hope we can at least agree on that) and potentially our defense better. Everyone wants to cut him slack because he hustles and he’s good guy, and he is. But he has the range of a four foot cast net and he throws like a girl (no offense, Kate)

    The Dipsy

  32. Chuck

    December 11, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Kate can probably throw a missile.

  33. Chuck

    December 11, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Left, Josh Will would be an option. But is he THAT much better than Francisco??

  34. Chuck

    December 11, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    ^Left-Y

    Sorry, I left off the y, Lefty.

  35. The Dipsy

    December 11, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Kate has a gun. I’m in a mixed softball league with her. She plays right field and led the league in assists last year. She really likes draft beer, too.

    The Dipsy

  36. psujoe

    December 11, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Werth contract supposedly as follows. $4 million signing bonus.
    2011 $10 million
    2012 $13 million
    2013 $16 million
    2014 $20 million
    2015-2017 $21 million

    Beltre at 5/$65 would be hard to pass up, but Boras will find some sucker to go 5/75+

  37. The Dipsy

    December 11, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Actually joe, it would be easy to pass up. I for one don’t want that guy for 5 years. 3/36. Done.

    The Dipsy

  38. psujoe

    December 11, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Dipsy,

    Just pretend you’re paying him 16.25 for 4. Still $1.75 per year cheaper than what the Nats are paying for Werth over 7.

  39. Lefty

    December 11, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Chuck,
    I think JWill would be an upgrade but honestly have any of us seen enough of BenFran to know? Given a full season you may be right.

    But think of it this way.

    Platoon LF Willingham/Ibanez
    Platoon RF Francisco/Brown

    Or if we’re to believe RAJ maybe Brown doesn’t even make the team next year, then we really need someone else.

  40. psujoe

    December 11, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Thinking out loud here. What could the Phils realistically expect for Lidge in a deal? Anything of value?

  41. Lefty

    December 11, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    You could probably have Willingham for way less than Beltre. And you don’t have to change anyone’s position.
    I repeat- put Willingham in this lineup and he could be really good. (I admit he is not considered a great fielder)

    Werth- Career 8 seasons
    .272/.367/.481/.848

    Willingham- Career 7 seasons
    .265/.367/.475/.841

  42. The Dipsy

    December 11, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Lefty – Werth was horrible is first five seasons. Can you ring up the stats for the last three? Joe – I think you could get something for Lidge if you ate some salary.

    The Dipsy

  43. Lefty

    December 11, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Dipsy- I have to run right now. But I am not trying to say that Willingham is as good as Werth, just illustrating that you can get a guy for probably Matt Rizzotti or maybe less, that can help us for much less salary than Magglio, Beltre or many other options discussed here.

    PN won’t allow me to post two links, here’s Willingham to check out year by year.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/w/willijo03.shtml

  44. psujoe

    December 11, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    What was St. Louis asking for Colby Rasmus?

  45. George

    December 11, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Why trade Lidge? He was decent enough in 2010, and you’re not going to replace him easily. I don’t trust Soriano because of his injury history, Madson hasn’t been a successful closer, and Contreras might not be able to go more than a couple games in a row due to his age. Who else is out there?

    Besides that, how many teams would want to trade for the final year of a big contract when they could sign Lidge more cheaply as a free agent? They’d have to be awfully desperate to give up very much.

  46. psujoe

    December 11, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    George, Just thinking out loud. No matter how unlikely it’s prudent to go over all the options. As much as I like Ben Fran it’s my firm belief the Phils need another RH power bat. Just trying to come up with a way to land one while starting theprocess of getting younger.

  47. George

    December 11, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Lidge is not going to land a RH power bat. Even if he did, you’d then need a closer. It’s prudent to go over all the options, but to me, trading Lidge doesn’t qualify as one.

  48. The Dipsy

    December 11, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    George – If you could somehow land a RH power bat for Lidge, which wouldn’t happen, you could make Madson the closer. I don’t think Lidge is worth a whole lot. Soriano is an animal, though.

    The Dipsy

  49. Chuck

    December 11, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Dipsy, why not Beltre for 5 years? What are your reasons?? At the end of 5 years he’ll be 36, so age really isn’t that much of an issue.

  50. Mike N

    December 11, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Mike Cameron anybody? Redsox might move him now that they signed Crawford.

  51. betasigmashag

    December 11, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    I really think Ben Fran is our starting RF on opening day, and if then in May or June if it is not working out they look for a trade before the dead line. And I think that is the right way to go about it unless you find a long term solution to RF like on of the Uptons, or maybe Braun from the Brewers. If they can find someone younger and cheaper for at least the next 3/4 years than I do not think there are better options for stop gap solutions then Ben Fran.

  52. Chuck

    December 11, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    I agree. I think Ben Fran deserves his shot. The man DID produce for Cleveland before he came over here and it was with considerably more playing time. Unless you can make a huge move with either an Ordonez or a Beltre, Francisco is the way to go because who else out there is really better than him? I’d like to see more of Gload, too, and Ruben said that Gload could see more ABs.

  53. betasigmashag

    December 11, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Really Mike another 35 plus year old I say now have to look younger

  54. betasigmashag

    December 11, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Chuck did you see the few times I think it was two that he played RF, no thank you if he is an option for the outfield you better hope Doc is pitching a perfect game, can any ball to RF will be an adventure, you all give Raul a bunch of crap for his fielding, he is a gold glover compared to Gload, Maybe it means Ryan is going to have a few days off

  55. betasigmashag

    December 11, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    the post before is suppose to say No on Mike Cameron now it is time to look younger

  56. NJ

    December 11, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Ben Fran was pretty decent when Sizemore went down and he got to play everyday, but he played at the top of the line-up and produced as a gritty chippy player at the plate rather than as a guy who could handle the bat situationally and drive in runs. The Phils have two players like that named Rollins and Victorino and we are desperately in need of a guy who drive in some runs not just go up and hack with guys on base.

    We’re not signing Beltre, he didn’t want to come here last year and we have our hot corners set and there’s no way you move Utley from second and ask him to run around the outfield any time soon. Did Jeff Kent get moved to LF? Not once and he was a hell of a lot older than Utley

  57. The Dipsy

    December 11, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Kent got moved to first base, NJ. Even better. Whats so “gritty” or “chippy” about Rollins and Vic? Because they’re short and fast? Mark Lemke, Wally Backman, Scott Podsednik, Brett Butler were “chippy players”. True grinders. Rollins and Vic don’t grind. To me, “chippy” (like the word), to me, means guys that walk, bunt, work the count, stick their hip out to get hit by a pitch, hit the ball the other way, give themselves up, etc. The Glimmer Twins don’t do none those things. Chase is “chippy”. We need chippy players, too. Chooch is “chippy”….kinda.

    The Dipsy

  58. The Dipsy

    December 11, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    I meant to say “any of those things”….not “none”. Sorry.

    The Dipsy

  59. NJ

    December 11, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    I get your point Dipsy on Rollins and Vic. I think Vic is certianly gritty but I more meant their approach at the plate and swing, Ben Fran is very similar in his swing whereas we’re desperate for a guy who sees the pitch, lets it come to him and tries to put it where the situation dictates.

    Looking at Kent’s page he sporadically played at 1st but looks like he played less than 50 games there after turning 32 and retiring at 40. Utley is a 2nd basemen and he isn’t going all Chuck Knobbly on us so I really don’t understand the rush to move him.

  60. psujoe

    December 11, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    George,

    I didn’t say trade Lidge in a vacuum. It could’ve been one piece in a large puuzzle. For example,

    This is just an example of why I would like to know what Phils could get for Lidge.

    Phils could’ve signed Downs for 3/15 and he or Madson could close. That would only make sense if you could get a nice return for Lidge that you then package with prospects to get the RH OF bat. The 7.5 million you save then goes for a new #5 starter, another high end bull pen arm, next years salary or an offset to the new RH bat.

  61. NJ

    December 11, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Madson would be a great closer for us if he only got the chance… Oh wait

  62. Mike N

    December 11, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Cameron’s only got one more year on his contract, he has good platoon splits, and because his salary is relatively high we probably wouldn’t have to pay a lot in prospects. He would just be a stop gap, not a long-term investment. I like him as a righty bat/platoon guy who won’t hurt us defensively. I’m also ok with Ben Fran, it’s just that there’s been a lot of buzz about adding another righty. If they do that, I’d like to look at Cameron.

  63. Chuck

    December 11, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    I thought “chippy” referred to a certain type of woman. Urban Dictionary says, “a female prostitute, especially a young and inexpensive one.” If I was an athlete I’m not sure I would want to be referred to as chippy…even if it is a different definition.

  64. psujoe

    December 11, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    NJ, I agree on Madson, but between him and Downs or Soriano I think the Phils would be fine. If the return on Lidge doesn’t help you get an upper level RH RF then pass, but the Phils desperatley need a 5 hole hitter from the right side, IMO.

  65. NJ

    December 11, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    When it comes to relievers it has to be a hold fast and keep your eye on the prize for next year when the landscape of relief pitching could completely change including Lidge and Madson.

  66. Geoff

    December 11, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Eh, I’d sign Bill Hall as a roving utility player. We need a guy like that to fill in, because the core guys get injured a ton now. Just might as well bring in willingham on a trade. Why not? Hed be more than serviceable.

    Still want Greinke, did you see some jackarse made up that we got Grienke by posing as Jon Heyman and tweeting it the other day? Aggravating.

    And PLEASE no more Chad Durbin. I’d rather go and call Jose Mesa out of retirement and suffer through that again.

  67. Geoff

    December 11, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Some of these ideas are absurd. Might as well sign Cliff Lee and then release him the next day while we are it it. Then follow it up by releasing Ryan Howard and signing Jim Thome to a 25 year, 500 million dollar deal, and then releasing him the day day, and playing the season with Andy Tracy at 1B

  68. The Dipsy

    December 11, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    NJ – Respectfully, I don’t think that either is particularly “gritty” in his plate approach either. Neither is selective. Neither hits the ball where its pitched. Vic has a horrible swing I can’t believe he ever hits anything. Its just so hard to be an offensive catalyst where your OBP is so low. Offensively, to me, they’re just competent, short guys that can really run.

    The Dipsy

  69. psujoe

    December 11, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    No Durbin, in fact no more righty relievers. The next righty should come from the farm. Have to start using some younger players and Schwimmer, Mathiason or Defratus one has should make it.

  70. psujoe

    December 11, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    LOL on my English. Sorry, doing some legacy coding on a job and got side tracked.

  71. brooks

    December 11, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    beta,, Chuck – what has Ben done in the past that would warrant a chance as an everyday starter?

    I’m sorry, I don’t see anything appealing about his power or average that would tell me he is an upgrade from what we currently have but then again, if Raul starts to tank again, I sure would not mind an influx of Ben or whomever to pick up. Even Ben’s .250 – .260 average with mid teen home run potential is better than what Raul gave us for the first part of the season last year.

    Hey, we’re all guilty of this to some degree – seeing more into the player than what he has given us. But really guys, there is not much going on with Ben nor will there be while he is playing for the Phils (I hope).

  72. George

    December 11, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Psujoe, you asked what we could get for Lidge, and I offered my opinion. When I replied, you hadn’t said anything about “one piece in a puzzle.” My feeling is that Lidge wouldn’t bring back much of anything right now because of his soon-to-end contract, and the fact that Soriano is still out there. If Lidge could be traded, it also would create a puzzle I don’t think could be solved. The prospects you’d get would have to be added to other higher end prospects to get that coveted bat, and you’d still have the closer vacancy. Moving Madson doesn’t fix that, because he’s never shown he can do it, and if he could, then you’d have to find a set-up man. Moving Contreras to Madson’s spot would require finding a seventh inning guy…you get what I’m driving at?

    There are those minor league guys, I suppose, but guys like Mathieson or DeFratus probably should be eased into the job with some middle relief.

    I’ll agree with Dipsy that Soriano can be excellent, but he’s had too many injuries for my liking. Let someone else sign him. And Downs has very little closing experience and only about a 50% save rate. Even in Lidge’s bad years, he did better than that.

    That’s why I said trading Lidge doesn’t qualify as an option.

  73. George

    December 11, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Is everyone afraid the Phils’ lineup won’t produce ever again? It’s not like Ben Fran is going to stall out the entire team.

  74. brooks

    December 11, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    George, considering Ben to replace Raul or even play RF would mean there is a break somewhere in the lineup.

  75. Paul Boye

    December 12, 2010 at 4:08 am

    It doesn’t matter if Chase would be a better LF than Ibanez. A) We don’t know if he would be for certain and B) he’s the best 2B in baseball both ways. LF is no less taxing on the body than 2B. You’d just be robbing the defense of stellar D at a premium position.

  76. brooks

    December 12, 2010 at 7:37 am

    So Paul, when do you just want to scream?

  77. George

    December 12, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Big deal, a “break somewhere in the lineup.” Loads of other teams have more than one, including the World Champion Giants. Everybody is panicking because they’re used to Werth being here. It’s time to just get over it; Ben Fran isn’t like having Danys Baez up there swinging the bat.

    Look back a few years to when Werth wasn’t yet in a Phils uniform. I think you’ll find the team still scored a ton of runs.

  78. The Dipsy

    December 12, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Paul…, respected contributor, I will say it again. Placido Polanco is a gold glove second baseman! So you don’t lose any D. Thats one of the reasons this might make sense if our only RH bat comes in the form of a third baseman. If you don’t like it for another reason, I’m all ears. LF IS less taxing on the body. And less taxing on the mind. I suspect that you don’t like it because it just “sounds weird” or something. I asked you a question, sir: Do you think that if Chase Utley picked up the position today, that he would be a better LFer than Ibanez come opening day?

    The Dipsy

  79. Brooks

    December 12, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Easy big guy.. I just hope there will be better options for us than Ben and I dont really suppose we minded getting spoiled with the most potent lineup in baseball today.

    Last year I was actually in shock that the Phils did not do better offensively. No, more a broken man when they failed to score time and time again. Maybe I saw the Phils and what they have become, older, slower – or perhaps the underlying sentiment on this blog is totally incorrect and the Phils just had a bad go offensively and they’ll be back.
    That’s when I start to see Red.

  80. The Dipsy

    December 12, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Brooks, if Adam Zimmerman were available would you consider such a move?

    The Dipsy

  81. The Dipsy

    December 12, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Or would you just trade Polanco?

    The Dipsy

  82. Lefty

    December 12, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Dipsy, -Who is Adam Zimmerman? Ryan Zimmerman?

  83. The Dipsy

    December 12, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Hahashsahaha. Ryan. My bad. Yeah – him. I went to school with Adam.

    The Dipsy

  84. Chuck

    December 12, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Is Chase Utley REALLY the best 2B in baseball? According to several top 10 lists, which rank based on both offense and defense, Utley is #1.

    BUT….

    If you just look at defense alone, he’s actually near the bottom with fielding pct among those that are listed.

    Just fielding pct. alone here you go:

    1) Placido Polanco — 13 seasons/.993
    2) Dustin Pedroia — 5 seasons/.990
    3) Brian Roberts — 10 seasons/.987
    4) Brandon Phillips — 9 seasons/.987
    5) Aaron Hill — 6 seasons/.987
    6) Orlando Hudson — 9 seasons/.986
    7) Robinson Cano — 6 seasons/.985
    8) Chase Utley — 8 seasons/.982
    9) Clint Barmes — 6 seasons/.982
    10) Jose Lopez — 5 seasons/.981
    11) Dan Uggla — 5 seasons/.980
    12) Ian Kinsler — 5 seasons/.978

    Yes, our golden boy, Chase Utley, has the same fielding pct as Clint Barmes and is only 2 points above someone who we have destroyed at times on here, none other than Dan Uggla.

    Why is it that whenever Chase Utley is mentioned in a negative light that people discount that….as if the man can do no wrong? Everyone puts him up on some sort of pedestal and it becomes sickening at times. He’s our very own Teflon pan, I suppose.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love Chase Utley. His work ethic. His approach to the game. He’s a nice guy. The ladies love him, I guess, because of his butt (that’s what I’ve heard anyway).

    The point is and the question is………Is Chase Utley REALLY the best DEFENSIVE 2B in baseball?

  85. Lefty

    December 12, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Brooks, The underlying sentiment is on this blog is totally incorrect. What happened was 2008, and particularly 2009 were spectacular years.

    In 2010 the Phillies scored the second most runs in the NL. And everyone thinks the offense stunk.

    IMO -In reality we are in the midst of a pitchers era, and for the most part what you saw is what you’ll get. I think that’s why we hear rumors of RAJ attempting to further bolster our pitching staff. I see the big boys doing a little better this year, but guys like Ruiz may fall off, and Vic and JRoll about the same. That’s why I believe it is important to replace Werth’s RH bat.

    But if the club says it can’t afford a big $ replacement, and makes no moves in that direction, then as George said we have to just get over it and move on with what we have. -the second highest scoring team in the NL.

  86. Lefty

    December 12, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Chuck,
    I believe Utley is one of the top three defensive 2b in the league. He obviously had some weird jitters thing throwing to first in the playoffs this year, either that or Arnold Rothstein got to him.

    But overall, I would throw out anyone with less chances (i.e. years) when looking at fielding %- If you do that on your list he is fifth.

    Then add in the spectacular plays made, range, put outs, assists etc. etc. I would not move Utley from second until he requests it, or he really starts looking bad on a consistent basis. Just my take.

  87. Jeff of Nova

    December 12, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Chuck the answer is no he is not, but when he is healthy he is the best all-around 2B. That includes his ability to make the dynamic play like in the WS throw home that saved the game. He is one of the smartest players in the game!

    Chase will be at 2B dor sometime. they have no plans to move him.

    I am going to bet Charlie and RAJ are going to go into spring training with Ben and possibly Dom Brown as the platoon set up. Ross Gload is PH that is all he is not good out of that enviroment.

    We all take about Ben not being able to replace Werth, well my question is why does he have to? Werth had a great year last year and was one of the only consistent guys in our lineup and healthy ones at that. He was making up for the absence of JRoll, Utley, Howard. Pretty sure the management is not planning on having them out most of the year.

    We have never given Ben a chance as a regular player and when he was traded here he was on path to being a regular player in Cleveland, decent numbers in a crappy lineup.

    After reading everything on here, a lot of people seemed more enamored but what they have done in the past. Ordonez, Cameron, Beltre etc.

    We hear we need to get younger, well Ben is 29 not 30 till Oct. I can see our OF Ben, Vic, Brown in 2012.

    I would love Ordonez for what he was, but we won a WS because we had young unproven players step up in 08 Werth, Vic, Hamels, Ruiz

    Well
    moral of the story for me is that there is no reason to move staples of our lineup to add someone who was good a couple of years during contract years(Beltre)

    My prediction opening day lineup
    1-9
    Vic
    Polanco
    Utley
    Howard
    Rollins
    Ibanez
    Francisco
    Ruiz
    Halladay

    I would be shocked if it looked any different than that.

    No its not the sexy lineup we all want with the big RH bat from FA, but its time for Utley, Howard to earn their contracts

  88. The Dipsy

    December 12, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Lefty – Respected poster. Chase is a good fielding second baseman and that is it. Do I advocate moving everybody around to fit in Adrian Beltre? Unless Beltre wants to come here and will be reasonable (3y30-33m), then “no”. But I believe that the people who say that it can’t be done and that it shouldn’t be done are wrong. In short, I say it can but before the team decides to go through all the machinations of moving everyone around the field, there should be a damn good reason.

    The Dipsy

  89. Jeff of Nova

    December 12, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Well said Dipsy,

    I think alot of peeps here play too much MLB 2k, playing a video game and switching positions is easy but there are so many more dynamics in real life

  90. Chuck

    December 12, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Jeff of Nova, I agree with your point about the big plays. But you could make an argument that a lot of 2B in baseball can make similiar plays. (although the throw home play in the WS was in a class all by itself)

    Lefty, using your logic of years served, you have left Pedroia and Cano off the list. Those are two of the best in the game today.

    My list clearly shows that Chase Utley is a very good second baseman, but not the best in baseball as some of you on here are suggesting.

  91. Lefty

    December 12, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Dipsy- It would be an enormous understatement to say that you are the best on PN for thinking outside the box, and I appreciate that. Naysayers are always going to be there, especially when a concept is new or uncomfortable. Your articles/ comments make people think and cause the most hits on the site. That’s both good for lively debate and for business.

    You asked Brooks, but I’ll butt in and answer anyway. If you could magically make it Ryan Zimmerman and instead of Beltre. I’d do it in a flash, Utley to left. Under no other circumstance would I consider it right now.

  92. Jeff of Nova

    December 12, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Yeah if we had Zimmerman I would make that move too, but that is a dream amoung dreams

  93. Lefty

    December 12, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Chuck, I’m only leaving them off under the likelyhood of the “Law of averages” which implies they will go down in % as their number of fielding chances go up. They are both very good.

    Utley is indeed a teflon man here for sure, but I’ll stand by what I said before- given all aspects of his fielding, he is one of the top three second basemen in Majors right now.

  94. Jeff of Nova

    December 12, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Lefty,

    I will support you on that… Utley is definitely one of the top 3 2b in Baseball!

    Now if he has another year like last, that may change, but I don’t see that happening

  95. Chuck

    December 12, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Guys…Lefty and Jeff of Nova….No he’s not. Not based on defense alone. Factor in offense and some of the special plays (which they all make) and I’ll say he’s in the top 5. Bust based on defense by itself, which I believe started this whole debate, he in the middle of the pack among the Top 10 or 12.

  96. The Dipsy

    December 12, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Hey, thanks Lefty. What a nice thing to say. Can you me an address where I can send the check 🙂

    The Dipsy

  97. Lefty

    December 12, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Chuck, I guess we’re not going to break this stalemate, but as always I appreciate your baseball IQ. My opinion is based solely on what I see and perceive, but if you believe in stats like UZR, Chase was the top second baseman in regular season 2010. I wouldn’t go that far but they do.

    I know UZR is not perfect, I’ll admit I’m not even sharp enough to say I totally understand it! But surely the folks at fangraphs know something.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=2b&stats=fld&lg=all&qual=y&type=1&season=2010&month=0&season1=2010

  98. Lefty

    December 12, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Haha Dipsy, I accept paypal.

  99. Bart Shart

    December 12, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Bill Hall may be the best all-round utility player available. He can play all infield and outfield positions. He bats right handed and has some power. I think he would fit in well if we cannot get a legitimate right handed bat for the outfield, which at this point does not look that good.

  100. Geoff

    December 12, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Thank you, Utley isnt even the best 2B on his own team! And all around, Phillips and Pedroia are better at this point. Utley is no longer the best in the game, but he once was absolutely the best. Now, top 10 is about fair if he can stay healthy.

    Meanwhile. They really need a better plan in RF than Brown/Francisco/Gload. That is just dreadful. I’d even settle for a one year deal with Magglio at this point, even though it would make us older.

  101. Geoff

    December 12, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    And I would sign Bill Hall without thinking twice about it.

  102. Greg

    December 12, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Basing your “Best Defense” on Fielding Percentage is so flawed. Compare Utley’s Range to every other second baseman, and you’ll see he gets to twice as many balls in play, thus, two times more chances at failing plays. Let me find a detailed breakdown that Crashburn Alley posted:

    http://crashburnalley.com/2010/11/24/chase-utley-gets-no-respect/

    Read all that stuff.

  103. Chuck

    December 12, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    When I have time I will, Greg. Thanks!

    Geoff, thanks for the vote!

    Bill Hall might be a good option. Rather have Maggs.

  104. betasigmashag

    December 12, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    some one earlier ask what has Ben Fran done to make me think he could put up decent numbers. I base it on the fact when he was platooning on a somewhat regular basis and playing more then once a month he swung the bat pretty well. From what I saw he seemed to swing the bet a lot better when he was batting more then once in a game off the bench as a PH. And say he only hits .260 18 HR and 70 Rbi as long as eveyone else does not slump like last year this team will still be in the top three in offense in the NL, and with the rotationt that should be enough. But I think Ben would be more like 20+ HR 75-85 RBI and hit around .270

  105. psujoe

    December 12, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    George,

    Fuentes is still out there and he’s a heck of a closer, but I agree if the return on Lidge is minimal there’s no point losing a 1st round pick.

    I don’t see the Phils starting the season with Brown, Gload and Ibanez L-L-L when your two best hitters are Howard and Utley L-L. Oh and backup catcher L.

    Brown will start in AAA and a RH RF to be named will be acquired. Ordonez on a one year deal would be awesome, but he’d go to Detroit on a one year before Philly.

  106. The Dipsy

    December 12, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Was Fuentes offered arbitration? I really want that guy….bad. I’m sure you guys know that. If he’s Type B, I could handle losing a pick.

    The Dipsy

  107. Chuck

    December 12, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Dave, the author or that article is saying that Utley should be to the Phillies what Jeter is to the Yankees. Sorry, but you can’t even compare the two players. Jeter is a bonafide Hall of Famer. Utley….???? MAYBE at some point. But he has a LONG way to go.

    Fuentes??? YES. But now that we have Reyes and Bastardo is that even on Amaro’s radar?? I really want Magglio, too.

  108. jonnyboy

    December 12, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    fuentes would be great. a solid lefty and has been in some serious clutch situations.

    i dont know why people wanna mag ordonez so badly. The guy is getting old and wouldnt help our outfield at all. I guess he could be a one yr fix, but then next yr we replace him and raul.

  109. The Dipsy

    December 12, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    And that’s what we’re looking for…a one year fix.

    The Dipsy

  110. Brooks

    December 12, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    I’d take Zimmerman in a heart beat – Ryan not Adam though..

  111. psujoe

    December 12, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Fuentes was not offerred arbitration, Soriano was.

  112. George

    December 12, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Fuentes is another reason why the Phils wouldn’t get much for Lidge. I’d totally forgotten him. If Fuentes can be had without losing any players at all, that pushes Lidge even further down the scale of possibly available closers.

    Certainly the Phils could sign Fuentes and try to trade Lidge, but that might prove risky. If other teams knew the Phils were trying to move Brad, his value would drop even more. If they trade Lidge, THEN try to sign Fuentes, Fuentes then has them over a barrel and can just about name his own price.

    I suspect Lidge isn’t going anywhere until his contract runs out, unless the Phils fall totally out of contention by the trade deadline and have a fire sale.

  113. George

    December 12, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    Here’s another thing to chew on:

    Mid-season 2010, when the Phils weren’t doing too well, it seemed everday someone would cry for more playing time for Francisco and for Brown to be called up.

    Why is it that now, neither of them is good enough to even platoon?

  114. George

    December 12, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    …and for the grammar police who sometimes chime in here: can you spot the split infinitive in my last post?

  115. Mike N

    December 12, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    “to even platoon”
    should read: “even to platoon”

    😀

  116. Chuck

    December 12, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    Let’s just call this English Class Nation.

  117. Lefty

    December 12, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    You misspelled everyday too.

    Don’t get mad at me, you called the grammar cops. 🙂

  118. betasigmashag

    December 13, 2010 at 12:22 am

    Man I hate when that happens have a almost full post then my computer flips out and I lose it, so now I will basicly say, you do not need a one year stop gap, you have that in Ben Fran, if he does not work out you find something in June July through a trade or the farm, RAJ has proved he can make moves to fill voids so you have to have a little faith. If you find some under 30 year old that you can lock up for 3-4 years you make that move. But to sign a defensive liability in Mags, for a year does not make sense. I am sorry but I have seen Ben Fran swing the bat well when he comes to the plate in some consisitant manner.

  119. betasigmashag

    December 13, 2010 at 12:24 am

    how about Braun from the Brewers I would still like to see Upton, and I think Lastings Mildrege could be a steal and turn his career around. Those guys i could see makeing a move for.

  120. jonnyboy

    December 13, 2010 at 1:07 am

    is johnny damon still a free agent? if so, i’d rather have him to platoon in right or left over magglio ordonez

  121. Geoff

    December 13, 2010 at 1:53 am

    Damon is left handed, kind of an AL lifer though.

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