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Top Moment #9: Addition of Hunter Pence

Photo: Philly.com (Ben Margot/AP)

July is a crazy month for baseball.  With the trade deadline at the end of the month, hundreds of rumors and potential trade scenarios are revealed.  With all the transactions and rumors, the end of July is sure to spark a lot of debate.

Jayson Werth signed with the Washington Nationals in the 2010-2011 offseason, leaving a gap in right field for the Phillies.  Ruben Amaro didn’t fill the void, giving Ben Francisco and Domonic Brown an opportunity.  However, it wasn’t enough as the Phillies were struggling to produce runs.

In result, the Phillies were in need of a right-handed bat and names like Hunter Pence and Carlos Beltran came into the conversation.  Initially, it seemed unlikely that the Phillies would land Pence.  As rumors developed, it was believed that the Phillies would need to trade Domonic Brown or Vance Worely in order to obtain Pence.

I remember sitting in the 200-level of Citizens Bank Park on July 29 watching the Phillies beat the Pirates.  Following trade rumors on Twitter, everyone in the section speculated that the Phillies made a move.  After the final out of the game, 45,000 remained anticipating the fireworks show.  Dan Baker came on the loud speaker and made the announcement: “The Philadelphia Phillies have acquired HUNTER PENCE from the Houston Astros!”  The crowd erupted in excitement of the new right fielder.

In a somewhat surprising move, the Phillies acquired Pence (and a million dollars) in exchange for Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zied, and a player to be named later.  The Phillies gave up two of their top prospects, but were able to hang onto Brown and Worely.

After the addition of Pence, Phillies Nation commenter Chuck A wrote, “Pence reminds me of Utley, Lenny Dykstra, Ty Cobb and Pete Rose all rolled into one. Philly is gonna fall in love with guy fast.”

It will be interesting to see how the prospects the Phillies gave up will pan out, but Pence didn’t disappoint, as Michael Baumann explained in his analaysis of Pence’s 2011 season.  He batted .324 with 11 home runs and a .954 OPS in 54 games with the Phillies.

The development of the trade rumors and the addition of Pence was certainly something to remember in 2011.

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  1. Manny

    January 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Love Pence. Love the way he brings a new energy to the club and the fact that he’s a righty you can slot right behind Howard in the lineup. Maybe not as crazy about him as most phans are (and after a very solid 2011 we probably are already overrating him)…

    But we gave up a LOT to get him: it looks like we gave up more talent for him than we’ve done in the recent past, including Halladay and Lee (Cy Young winners…)

    Singleton and Cosart were and still are very valuable pieces… Zied is no filler, and the player to be named later turned out to be Domingo Santana, a very promising prospect. And we really didn’t need to pull the trigger… we were gliding to the post-season, comfortably in 1st place with an offense that had improved remarkably since Utley’s comeback… Had we been in 2nd place in the division, then yea.. go for it without a doubt. But we really didn’t need to pull the trigger considering the price tag was definitely high (we got Pence when his value was at his career peak).

    But we did. And I’m happy with Pence.. I like him on our team and I enjoy watching him play. Still, I wouldn’t have made the deal.

    • schmenkman

      January 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm

      Agree on all points.

      One note about this comment in the article:
      “… it wasn’t enough as the Phillies were struggling to produce runs.”

      runs per game by period:
      3.82 …through May 22nd (i.e. before Utley returned)
      4.77 …May 23rd through July 29
      4.54 …July 30 through end of season

      Caveats:
      – the spike to 4.77 wasn’t just due to Utley, as others also improved, but replacing Valdez/Orr/Martinez with Utley (3rd best hitting 2B-man in the NL) helped quite a bit, and may have helped others around him as well.
      – not to imply that Pence didn’t help — he certainly did, and the 4.54 includes the 8-game skid after they clinched

      Point is that a) they were scoring runs just fine, and b) they were already virtually assured of making the playoffs (99% or so at the time, IIRC). So if you believe, like I do, that the key to baseball is making the playoffs and that it’s a crapshoot once you do, this was a very high price to pay.

      I wouldn’t have made the deal either — but I do like him.

      • EricL

        January 18, 2012 at 9:56 pm

        Dammit. I should have read the comments before I went and calculated the RPG stats you just posted here.

        I was going to make the same point, in that it’s just blatantly wrong to say that they were struggling to produce runs, even though that narrative seems to have spread like novovirus.

        The deal was unnecessary and a mistake, IMO, and his bug-eyed, impatient, spastic mannerisms and style of play kind of grates on me as well, to be honest. Let’s go eat!

      • George

        January 19, 2012 at 8:05 am

        The Phils maybe gave up a lot. But these players were all prospects, and that means they were all question marks and still are. In addition, Singleton was blocked at first base for six years.

        Please remember, too, that when the trade was made, the Phils had no regular right fielder and the player combination they were using wasn’t producing. With the potential that Utley would continue to need frequent rest and the fact that Ibanez was to be a free agent soon, the team really did need to pick up a productive and healthy player, rather than relying on an unproductive platoons for what looked to be 2011 AND 2012.

        Comparing this to what the Giants paid for only a half-season of Beltran, my conclusion is that mid-season deals are always costly. But when what you’ve got looks as dismal as a lineup with question marks in RF and 2B, sometimes a deal looks like a necessity.

      • EricL

        January 19, 2012 at 9:25 am

        Maybe gave up a lot? Maybe?

        The package they gave up to get Pence is widely accepted as being very, very good, and probably slightly better than the Cleveland deal in which Lee was acquired. You see, you’re evaluating minor-league talent incorrectly. You’re looking at those guys and saying, “Welp, they’re just minor leagures, might never amount to nothin’! And lookie here, you’ve got a real Every-Day-I’m-Hustling Dirtball™ kinda player back for these unproven kids who might all suck!”

        The problem with this outlook is that those guys hold a lot of value despite their being “question marks” and even if none of them turn out to be star players they’re still quite valuable to other teams as trading chips. Other teams covet them because they have the potential to turn into the Holy Grail of baseball players – young, producing, cost-controlled players. There’s a lot of value in that mere POSSIBILITY, even if it never bears fruit. So if the value of the prospects was on par with the package that was sent to acquire Cliff Lee you should expect to get a player of that caibre in return–remember, Cliff Lee was coming off of a Cy Young award and is one of the most dominant pitchers in the game. While Pence is a nice player, an above-average talent, he’s no MVP candidate nor is he what anyone would consider a dominating player. You can really see the reason people claim the Phillies overpaid when you see the relatively meager return the Astros were able to pull for Bourn, who is 3rd in fWAR (behind Matt Kemp and Josh Hamilton) amongst CF over the last three years. (Pence, btw, is 6th amongst RF over that same span)

        Now, let’s move on to your second paragraph. You say that “…when the trade was made the Phils had no regular RF and the combination they were using wasn’t producing.” Well, that’s just wrong. From the time the Phillies lineup was more or less in tact (May 23) through the day of the trade (July 29th), Domonic Brown had a triple slash line of .251/.341/.402 for an OPS of .743. For comparison, over that same period of time here’s how the other Phils hit:
        Howard – .249/.350/.442
        Polanco – .200/.278/.255 (with significant time missed to injury)
        Francisco – .233/.321/.342
        Utley – .288/.379/.505
        Rollins – .267/.329/.440
        Ibanez – .255/.290/.458
        Mayberry Jr. – .270/.309/.517
        Victorino – .324/.412/.541 (with significant time lost to injury)
        Ruiz – .286/.397/.393

        So, as you can see, for those two+ months the only Phillies who were “producing” at a pace significantly higher than that of Domonic Brown were Utley, Mayberry and Victorino. That’s it. And, as you can see from schmenkman’s post above, their offense as a whole was producing at a very proficient clip leading up to that trade. To that you must also add the fact that the Phillies were already in first place by 5 games and had a 99.1% chance of making the playoffs at the time of the deal. Your claims of a “dismal” lineup are just empirically wrong; the team was excellent at that point, in great position to make a postseason run. Pence’s addition was therefore costly and unnecessary.

      • George

        January 19, 2012 at 6:32 pm

        I don’t mind a legitimate debate, Eric, but when someone starts putting idiotic words in my mouth like “welp,” “lookie here,” and, “nothin’,” I get disgusted. Especially when that someone doesn’t seem to realize that “maybe” is not a definite evaluation and allows for other possible results. I might even be tempted to call such a person an arrogant @sshole.

        I thought you were better than that.

        I’ll still take the time to point out some problems with your own arguments. First, when the trade was made, Brown was only somewhat productive, (743 OPS isn’t exactly great) and he was NOT the regular right fielder. He also couldn’t play decent defense. He shared time with Francisco, who was absolutely dismal, and sometimes Mayberry, who was also subbing a lot for Victorino and so couldn’t always play right. With unproductive bats and injuries in other positions, and potential lingering problems with Utley’s knee, there did appear to be a need. Now, with Ibanez gone, there is definitely a need, something Amaro was addressing by getting a player still under team control.

        Also, you’ve omitted a point about Bourne being #3 and Pence being #6. There may actually be more elite right fielders than there are center fielders, which would render this argument irrelevant. I haven’t looked into the stats for RF and CF, but neither, I suspect, did you. If there’s ten excellent bats playing right and only two playing center, then being #6 is actually better.

        And you can’t compare trades so easily. Those you mentioned Pence, Lee, and Bourne all play different positions, and all, therefore have entirely different skill sets. It’s apples and oranges. Different trading partners also put different values on players they wish to trade.

        I’ll sum up by saying that prospects are called prospects because they are just that. To me, someone who even might turn out good still could turn out bad. My point was not that it WOULD happen, but that it COULD happen; thus the term “Maybe.”

      • EricL

        January 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm

        A few things, George:
        First, don’t take this so seriously. It’s the comment section of a Phillies fan page, not Panmunjom.
        Second, I know you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Unfortunately, it’s just not my style. The comments I put in quotations aren’t meant to be ascribed to you personally, but more as a caricature of the whole subset of people who take those positions based on what I consider to be an unlettered approach to the game. It includes 700-level mouth-breathers, the dregs of the WIP-caller fanbase all the way up to moronic beat writers (I won’t any specifically, but I will say that one of them turned in an empty HoF ballot this year, while arguing that Dave Concepcion should be in the Hall).

        My incredulity over your use of “maybe” wasn’t because they might turn into good players because that’s irrelevant. You can’t judge the package they gave up 5 years from now, because neither side making the deal is privy to the information that will come out in that time. You have to evaluate a deal when it’s made, and by just about every account the package of players the Phillies gave up to pick up Pence was immense. There is NO debate in the baseball community that the Phils surrendered “a lot” in that deal because those pieces, even at the time the deal was made, were quite valuable.

        Now, to your points:
        At the time of the trade, and contrary to your assertion, Brown was essentially the starting RF. Again, using the May 23-July 29th time frame, the Phillies team played 59 games. Domonic Brown appeared in 53 and started 48 of them. If someone starts 5 out of every 6 games at a particular position, they’re the starter. Ben Francisco, on the other hand, had by that time played himself out of the regular rotation. In that same span of 59 games he played in 37, starting in a mere 17 of them with only 9 of those 17 starts coming in right field. Mayberry was not an issue; of those 59 games he started 2 in right. Second, as evidenced by the stats above, Dom was performing at the nearly the same offensive output as Ibanez, Rollins and Howard, yet nobody was clamoring for an upgrade at those positions. I’m not sure what the injuries to Polanco and Victorino, or the lessened production from Howard and Ibanez had to do with trading for a RF, so I’m not sure how that’s even germane.

        Nor was Utley a concern. Over those 59 games he sat out 4 – May 29th, Jun 8th, Jun 16th (after playing in both games of the doubleheader on the 15th) and Jun 26. During the month of July he played in every game and was amongst the top offensive weapons on the team. There was no concern about Utley and the trade had nothing to do with him.
        You bring up the need for an outfielder now that Ibanez is gone. Well, ok, maybe. Had Brown been allowed to stay up for the last few months of the season he may well have performed at a level well enough to be considered in the mix for the starting RF job. It’s also possible that he might have improved to the point where you wouldn’t want to put anyone else there. You just can’t assume that everything would have played out in the same way if you remove a piece here or there. That’s the fallacy of the predetermined outcome. Or, alternatively, you might have a need for another outfielder. But you’d also have those 3 major prospects in your system and nearly $1o,ooo,ooo extra to spend, so perhaps Cuddyer is signed to man that position, or perhaps the Phils are able to make a deal with another team at more favorable conditions, not under the gun of a trading deadline in which Wade knows he can leverage as much out of the Phillies as possible. There are too many other possible scenarios to say that we needed Pence, and Pence specifically, to man RF this season.

        Now, I don’t really know what you’re trying to prove when you say that there might be more elite RF than CF. Well, ok, that doesn’t really help your case. If there is an abundance of talent at one position it should be easier to find someone very good at that position, and therefore cost LESS to acquire a player at such a position than it would cost to acquire a player where there is a scarcity of talent. So, if there are more talented RF than CF, then it stands to reason that acquiring a talented RF should cost less than acquiring a talented CF. But it didn’t; Bourn came at a significantly cheaper price, in terms of talent surrendered by the Braves. While they’re not all that different in terms of on-field value (Pence has been worth 9.5 bWAR/11.9fWAR since 2009, Bourn 8.8 bWAR/13.8fWAR), and you’re paying for the more abundant asset, the price should be cheaper, not more expensive. Again, this is a mistake by Amaro; paying MORE for the 6th best RF by WAR than another team did for the 2nd best CF by WAR, at a more scarce position is really mind boggling.

        And finally you can evaluate trades for players at different positions. You look at how valuable one player is and you see what kind of package was required to trade for his services. Then you look at the second player, even if he plays a different position, and you see how much value he adds to a team, and then you see what kind of package was required to trade for his services. Then you can compare both the players received and the packages sent. Player #1 value compared to player #2 value and trade package #1 compared to trade package #2 allows you to make quite accurate apples to apples comparisons.

        So, just to reiterate, they most certainly did give up a lot, regardless of what comes of those players, and it was in all likelihood too much for what they got in return, and the evaluation only gets worse when you include the monetary costs and unnecessary nature of the deal.

      • George

        January 21, 2012 at 11:33 am

        EricL: While you make SOME valid points, you are still skewing t6he statistics to favor your arguments.

        1. Just because Utley had only missed a few starts, his health was still; a major concern. It was obvious t6he entire year that his injury was still affecting his power.
        2. When no one one your team is producing, you have to get somebody who will. Upgrades were impossible at the other positions because of a large contract in the case of Howard, no interest in an antique right fielder, lack of available talent at 3rd and short, etc. A right fielder, however, w3as available; a MUCH MORE PRODUCTIVE outfielder than Brown. And Brown needed more development defensively, had options left, and could thereore be sent down.
        3. You fail to grasp that when a team wants to upgrade a PARTICULAR POSITION, that that position becomes more valuable to all parties. The team with the need will pay more (and sometimes overpay) and the team with the player will demand more. The Astros may have gotten less for Bourne because they wanted to get rid of his probably arbitration millions, and the Braves only had somewhat of a need.
        4. Your argument about Brown performing well enough to be in the RF mix for 2012 flies in the face of your argument about foregone conclusions. Isn’t it a foregone conclusion to think he’d improve enough, or a foregone conclusion the Phils could have used Pence’s pay to sign someone else for 2012? Personally, I don’t think Cuddyer is even as decent as Pence, and he’s a lot older.
        5. Yes, you can judge a package five years from now. It’s exactly what you have done for trades like Ferguson Jenkins for Bob Buhl and Larry Jackson. Jenkins, at the time of the trade, was not universally thought to be a HOF player; he hadn’t even pitched very well.

        I never once have said that the Phils didn’t overpay. MAYBE was my word. I think the real issue is that you didn’t, and still don’t, see a need for Pence, whereas a lot of others did, including the front office.

        Lastly, I don’t care that you supposedly weren’t addressing me in particular with your alleged humor. You said it in response to MY comment; that’s pretty specific. I also don’t accept that I shouldn’t take it so seriously. No one wishes to be equated with illiterates, even on a comment page. Even though “names will never hurt me,” it’s still crude, rude, and the tactic of a person who can’t engage in a real debate.

    • George

      January 19, 2012 at 5:18 pm

      What’s this “Welp” crap? That word has never been a part of my vocabulary. “Maybe” still indicates that there is a possibility that they did overpay; or are you unfamiliar with the meaning of the word? There are no definites with prospects: even the ones that are labeled “sure thing.”

      Two things you missed: at the time of the trade, Brown maybe was decent, but couldn’t field for anything, and so he wasn’t the regular right fielder. He alternated time with Francisco and Mayberry, but only when Mayberry wasn’t subbing for Victorino, who had “significant time lost to injury.” With the injuries the team had already had, it was pretty important that they find someone who could add to the lineup.

      The other thing you didn’t look into is the probability that there are mor productive players around to play right than there are to play center, so your argument about Pence being numbver six while Bourn was number two would be irrelevant. I haven’t looked into the stats for all those outfielders, but neither have you. CF and RF is an apples/oranges comparison.

      Trading less for

  2. Pat Gallen

    January 18, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Interesting take Manny. I agree, it probably wasn’t a necessity, but I think he’s a guy you keep around long term since it’s unknown if Victorino will be back.

    • Manny

      January 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      I was actively trying not to sound too negative 🙂

      And I agree with you… now that we have Pence, I really hope we make a good effort to keep him long-term. (Of course, after we extend Hamels.)

  3. Don M

    January 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    what are the odds the Phillies can resign both Hamels AND Victorino ???

    I always though it was a forgone conclusion that Victorino is gone…as its easier to replace Speed and Defense than it is Pitching -or- Power…

    • Lefty

      January 18, 2012 at 7:51 pm

      Victorino has morphed into more than just speed and defense-

      17 HR’s, 16 triples, 17 doubles, and a career high .491 SLG and .847 OPS

      If we can trade him he could bring back some real value. I will miss him, but you’re right, he probably has to go.

  4. Don M

    January 18, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    @Lefty… Definitely true about his power… I meant that more in the fact that he has no set spot in the lineup, he’s not counted on to drive runs in with the long ball. And I’d imagine someone will pay him $10+ m next year, I’d be shocked if that team was the Phillies

    I think his #2 bat in the lineup can be replaced/Polanco… Maybe after next year we seek a 3b that can bat 2nd and a CF that plays good defense, has wheels, and would be ok hitting 7th or 8th…. I wonder if mini-Mart could even be that guy. Batting 8th would anyone care if he only hit .230

    • Lefty

      January 18, 2012 at 8:37 pm

      I would hope D Brown would be his replacement, with JMJ sliding over to CF. We’ll see if he can improve his defense this season I guess. Charlie mentioned once that he thought Brown was ready offensively, just needed to shore up his defense.

    • EricL

      January 19, 2012 at 9:40 am

      Um, you cannot replace Victorino’s bat with Polanco’s bat. The only similarity between the two is that they’re made of wood. It doesn’t really matter where they bat in the lineup, as that’s generally irrelevant. (Over the course of a season an optimal lineup versus a generic sub-optimal batting order worth about one win.)

      Victorino was arguably the MVP of the team last season, so his loss will definitely hurt in 2013 unless Mayberry/Pence are able to step up and contribute.

      I’d also say that the best option available next season for 3B might be to pick up Polanco’s option. Sure, a lot of that depends on how his body holds up this season, but Placido is still one of the best defensive 3B in baseball, and the free agent crop of 2013 looks to be quite thin at 3B. Wright might be available, but really, would you rather have another year of Polanco at $5.5 million or Wright, and his below-average defense and declining offensive production for >$10 million? I think, depending upon salary constraints–which are themselves contingent on what happens with Hamels and Victorino–there might not be a clear-cut upgrade available.

      Oh, and finally, MINIMART CANNOT PLAY AT THE MAJOR LEAGUE LEVEL. AT ANY POSITION. EVER. FOR ANY TEAM NO MATTER HOW AWFUL THEY ARE. He is not “ok” at hitting. He is bad. Just clueless. And he can’t even do the small things right, like bunt or play situational ball. He’s an okay player if you’re a AAA club and might be acceptable as a late-inning defensive replacement. On a bad team. That is missing half of it’s players due to the plague. Maybe. And that’s being generous.

      • schmenkman

        January 19, 2012 at 9:45 am

        This.

  5. Don M

    January 18, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    3 man platoon next year LF-CF ?? Could work I think and that’s the kinda stuff you need to do I you want $65 m tied up in 3 pitchers

  6. Don M

    January 18, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    Not knowing if you’d have Rollins past this season… Or if Mayberry was a guy they could count on, if Utley was going to hold up….. I can’t fault them for getting a guy to help the offense

  7. bacardipr05

    January 18, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    If JMJ has a good year next year, do you think RAJ will go with him and a unproven Brown to be a starter. Its not typical RAJ thinking to go with a unproven and barely proven player to be a starter. I dont know if resigning Victorino is the answer or not just putting it out there. I also suspect unless Shane has a career year, he could be willing to take a fair market value deal for 2 years. He seems like that type of guy to me but i could be wrong. I dont think he will go all Jayson Werth on us but who knows.

  8. Don M

    January 18, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Uhhhmmmm By “go all Jayson Werth on us” you mean have somebody make you an offer you can’t refuse… $126 m ……. I’m fairly certain Victorino would take that offer as would every other player in every other sport

  9. bacardipr05

    January 19, 2012 at 12:24 am

    No i mean demand more money than he is Werth.

  10. bacardipr05

    January 19, 2012 at 1:33 am

    Wow Moyer was picked up…Good luck to Jamie..

    • EricL

      January 19, 2012 at 9:41 am

      The bad news for him is that it’s in the thin air of Colorado, which means his pitches are going to have less break and the balls that are put in play are going to have a lot of room to fall in, if they manage to stay in the yard.

      Not an ideal fit, IMO, but I wish him the best of luck regardless.

      • Bruce

        January 19, 2012 at 2:04 pm

        It’s nice to see that Jamie Moyer agreed to terms on a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. i too wish him the best of luck. Since Colorado Rockies began humidifying the balls use in Coors Field and having some success, maybe that might help Moyer. At least it will stay in the yard for him.

      • schmenkman

        January 19, 2012 at 2:18 pm

        They haven’t had that much success with reducing homeruns. Basd on ESPN’s park factors, it’s been one of the top 3 homerun parks in three of the past 4 years.

        http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/parkfactor/_/sort/HRFactor

      • Lefty

        January 19, 2012 at 2:46 pm

        While that little tiny bandbox the Phillies play in remains middle of the pack.

      • schmenkman

        January 20, 2012 at 8:27 am

        Yep. Over the past 4 years there have been 2.5% more HRs in the Phillies’ home games (by both teams), than there have been in their away games. Not in the same “ballpark” so to speak as the home parks of the White Sox (+32%), Yankees (+31%), Rockies (+29%), or Rangers (+27%).

  11. Brooks

    January 19, 2012 at 7:20 am

    I remember watching as Brown continued to get his chances at the plate and in the field. It was a perfect setup for the young man to show his mettle and he was pretty consistent. Sure, he hit 2 hrs (solo shots) in one game but there were so many other chances for him to step up.

    Pence was a PIA while on the Stros. Always a headache and always a gamer. When the Phils were able to sign him I was sure that Brown would be in the mix but was really relieved that he wasn’t. I too want to see Dom Brown succeed as a Phil. Where exactly? I suppose like most of you are saying its inevitable that Vic is going to leave us, I just hope its in the AL. He has all the makings of a royal PIA. An OF of Pence, Brown & Junior in the near future? Sounds appealing – and young.

  12. TheDipsy

    January 19, 2012 at 7:34 am

    The problem with Shane is that he is trying to hit home runs, which he should not be trying to do. He should be trying to hit the ball hard on the ground and use his speed. As should Jimmy be doing. But they keep the ball in the air and negate their speed. Shane had a real good year last year. Personally, I need to see him do it again.

    I think he gets traded. As mentioned in a previous post, he is the expendable guy when you talk about who to sign long term.

    Pence – HAD to have that right handed bat.

    Th Dipsy

    • schmenkman

      January 19, 2012 at 9:01 am

      “He should be trying to hit the ball hard on the ground and use his speed. As should Jimmy be doing. ”

      What do you mean exactly? Beating out infield hits? Because if it goes through the infield even Charlie Manuel can get a hit. Infield hits are such an extremely rare occurrence even for fast guys I don’t know why you would focus on that.

      But maybe you mean something else.

      As you say, Vic had his best year last year — did he do that by getting a lot of infield hits? No. he did it because he had the lowest ground ball rate of his career.

      League wide, here is OPS by where the ball is hit:

      – ground balls: .492
      – fly balls: .777 (excluding line drives)
      – line drives: 1.672

      Victorino last year:

      – ground balls: .544
      – fly balls: .791
      – line drives: 1.973

  13. Brooks

    January 19, 2012 at 7:52 am

    Absolutely!

    • Jeff Dowder

      January 19, 2012 at 8:21 am

      If you believe in WAR, Victorino was the best player on the team last year. If they do sign Hamels long term, I don’t see any scenario where they could afford to keep him though.

      • Lefty

        January 19, 2012 at 8:45 am

        “War- Huh, Good god, what is it good for? Absolutely nothin, say it again” Sorry couldn’t help myself, I guess you can tell what era I grew up now?

        Seriously, I’ll believe in it a lot more when there is one single agreed upon formula. I think the formula I like best right now is the Baseball Prospectus one -WARP. But I switch from time to time, there needs to be just one. BTW Vic’s WARP was 5.3 last season.

    • George

      January 21, 2012 at 11:38 am

      Lefty:
      Nice post. I liked your reference.

      I, too, will believe in WAR (and put more faith in other sabermetric numbers) when a sensible formula is agreed upon.

  14. Chuck A.

    January 19, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Thanks for the shout-out, Amanda….don’t think I’ve ever been quoted in an article on here before. Yes, I do remember saying that about Pence….that he “reminds me of Utley, Lenny Dykstra, Ty Cobb and Pete Rose all rolled into one.” And that Philly would “fall in love” with him fast.

    While some have made the argument that we didn’t need him…..that we were solidly in first place and that our offense was fine…..I would argue that we really needed, not only that RH bat, but the ENERGY and PASSION that this guy brings to the park every single day. I think this was a necessary trade for the next few years and that he’ll be an integral part of a playoff contender and hopeful World Series winner.

  15. TheDipsy

    January 19, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I would be curious to see how many times Shane and Jimmy fly out each year. Just because you hit 15 HR’s doesn’t mean you are a power hitter. If you are always trying to hit the ball as long and far as you can, my momma could hit 16 HR’s that way. Shane has a horrifyingly loopy swing. He doesn’t bunt (Refrain from the chorus: But thats not his game!), his swing is not leveled in order hit singles.

    Shane had a good year last year. Hats off to him. But my guess is that it won’t happen again this year. But I believe he would do more good for the team if he concentrated on OBP, stealing bases, and just hitting the ball hard and level. Then the singles come more. I’m not talking about infield hits. Thats silly. He’s a speed player who tries to play like a power player. Don’t cite Canseco and Bonds and HoJo and Soriano (back in the day) as guys that could do both. Shane is not one of them.

    The Dipsy

    • schmenkman

      January 19, 2012 at 12:14 pm

      Dipsy, I guess I don’t worry so much about categorizing him as this kind of player, or that kind of player. His power has improved consistently over the years, and largely because of that (he also about matched his career high OBP), he had his best year offensively.

      He added more value to the team with his bat last year than he ever has. I’m not sure why you would want to mess with that.

      Whether he gets on base by hitting a ball through the infield, or by a line drive to the outfield, he can still “use his speed” as you say.

  16. Bob in Bucks

    January 19, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Strange comments. We should not have done the deal but we want him long term? Just how were you going to get him long term? Continued overvaluation of prospects is a problem here. I would rather take an established solid MLB player than the chance on prospects any day. Sure sometimes you give away a star but if you get one in the trade where is the loss? Looking long term you have Pence which makes the possible loss of Victorino not as threatening. None of the players mentioned would fill the the RF positions.

    • Manny

      January 19, 2012 at 3:37 pm

      Now that he’s ours, we better make the most out of it. How’s that strange?

    • EricL

      January 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm

      Sure, there’s nothing contradictory in wanting to keep him around while still thinking the deal was ill-conceived. I have to adjust my desires for this team with the reality as it stands, so while I would have preferred to go with an OF of Mayberry, Brown and Victorino this season–which, BTW, would have cost something on the order of $10.3 million for this season, now that Pence is here it makes sense to keep him even if that pushes the total outfield payroll toward $20 million.

      The problem with giving away prospects–especially ones very highly regarded–is that if and when those guys develop they’re MUCH more valuable than the guy you got. You have to compare the total value produced from the guys you got to the guys you gave up, and do so with their salaries in mind. You cannot operate a continually successful team with payroll constraints without manning a number of positions with players who are significantly underpaid. The way the market in baseball works is that the underpaid players tend to be the young, productive ones. And so losing one or two of those is a huge loss to a franchise that has finite funds.

      Further, the prospects don’t have to be able to fill in RF. My gripe with the Pence trade is that it was an unnecessary overpay. We can disagree as to whether Dom Brown would have been adequate in RF going forward, but the value of the prospects could and should have been able to fetch a far greater return than a costly above average RF. So, if at some point it would have become glaringly obvious that Brown can’t play RF, you’d still have assets which could be used to fill that void. Seeing as the team was already in a position to make the playoffs and Brown was producing at a reasonable level offensively, that unnecessary trade removed valuable assets from the organization that could be used to either play or in a later transaction for a more important piece, if such a need arose.

      You’re essentially saying, “What good is a gold brick? You can’t eat a gold brick. And you can’t pay your mortgage with a gold brick.” And you’re right. Except that other people place a lot of value in that brick, and it can be traded for food or money or other assets you might need. Or the price of gold might skyrocket and you end up keeping it for yourself as you’ve then got a brick of gold that you paid little for and watched turn into something great.

      Your mindset is the same one that would agree with having sent Sandberg to the Cubs for Ivan DeJesus or Furgeson Jenkins to the Cubs for Bob Buhl and Larry Jackson (credit: TGP). I’ll admit that trading well regarded prospects is sometimes beneficial and can be a smart move provided you get enough of a return (For example: Roy Halladay), but when you do so for mere “established solid MLB player[s]” and when you do so to fill a non-existent “need” you’re asking to go down in the annals of baseball as someone who made a colossal mistake. Sure, Glenn Davis was a solid MLB player–an All-Star even, but can you really say that the Orioles won the trade in which they received him in exchange for Curt Schilling, Pete Harnisch and Steve Finley?

      On September 1st, 1990, the Boston Red Sox were in first place by 6.5 games. They felt, however, that they could use some help in their bullpen for the stretch run. As it turned out, they were right, as the race came down to the wire, finishing the season a mere two games ahead of the Blue Jays. Luckily for them, the guy the acquired pitched lights-out down the stretch, holding opponents to a .220/.256/.244 line. So, you know, they got a solid MLB player. Unfortunately, Larry Andersen was on the tail end of his career, whileJeff Bagwell, the player who went to the Astros and was a very well regarded prospect at the time, turned into the hall of famer we watched dominate the NL Central for 15 years. As someone running a franchise, you cannot afford to do that, just because prospects are prospects and you might be able to get a decent player in return.

      • EricL

        January 19, 2012 at 3:45 pm

        Or, you know, what Manny said in like 700 fewer words.

      • Lefty

        January 19, 2012 at 7:44 pm

        Living near Baltimore, I remember that Glen Davis trade. I was never an Orioles fan, but the locals here were livid. And as bad as that was, it only gets honorable mention in this piece. (three sports included, but mostly baseball)

        http://bleacherreport.com/articles/232346-10-worst-trades-of-all-time-all-sports-folks-a-good-read

      • Lefty

        January 19, 2012 at 7:53 pm

        Oh, and good comment, (gold brick tangent withstanding) . My only argument to it would be that at that time we all felt that we really did need a right handed presence to balance the lineup.

        I can’t argue that we probably paid too much. Maybe Ed Wade’s specter in the FO will sway Ruben to re-evaluate these moves before doing them in the future.

      • Lefty

        January 20, 2012 at 8:19 am

        Ugghhhh- It’s good thing I read that over again this morning. I was trying to be funny, and totally blew the punchline! – “Notwithstanding” Doh!

      • EricL

        January 20, 2012 at 11:53 am

        That’s ok, I knew what you meant.

        And I suppose that portion of the post sticks out like a sore…brick of gold! Ha!

  17. betasigmadeltashag

    January 19, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    I also did not think the deal had to be made. IMO the FO thought was that the deal was for the post season, not the regular season, but it did not work out that way, not sure if it was due to the injury that he had surgery on this off season, or the putting him in the three hole(which I disagreed with at the time by the way) Or maybe it was just the pressure of being in the post season for the first time. I also not a big buyer of a guy who is in AA or A is blocked by any player, many players switch positions as they move up the minors, Chooch was a second basemen for christ sake. I know they tried Singleton in the outfield for a short time, but I think some of these young athletes can become competent defenders at other positions if they and the francise put the time in to it.
    I also do not think it is strange that once the trade was made that it is in the Phillies best interest to keep him long term, because that had to come into the decision process to make the trade. I know it would be hard for at this time to trade Vic with so many unknowns in the OF, but how do you weigh that with losing his talents to FA next off season.
    On a side note did Either really sign for 8 million? And could you make that trade for him and Vic straight up?

    • George

      January 19, 2012 at 7:06 pm

      Ethier had somewhat of a down year. The Dodgers have a great center fielder already, so why would they go for Victorino?

      I think the Phils weren’t just thinking about the playoffs when they got Pence. They were thinking that Brown and Mayberry were still going to be big question marks in 2012 and that they should acquire someone proven.

  18. TheDipsy

    January 19, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Eric places too much value on prospects. They are, especially at the A and AA levels, unknown quantities. But just because they are unknown quantities doesn’t mean they don’t have value. When you place value on these guys, I think you have to ask yourselves questions like: The value you are getting back; where your team is as an organization, now and for the next few years; the depth of your minor league system. In the Pence trade:

    1) Pence is a damn good player, not above average;
    2) The team had to have a RH in order to make the big push for the WS. Had to have it. Guys on here point out all the time how well our offense played one Utley came back and Pence arrived;
    3) Singleton was blocked and couldn’t play another position other than first, Cosart was a good AA arm. We have more of them. Zied – You can take him.
    4) While we have traded good minor league talent away in the last few years, trading those guys still left us with a superior farm system. Ranked 5th by someone for 2012.

    If you play chess, AA players are pawns and guys like Pence are bishops. You’ll trade your pawns for a bishop anytime. The Phils needed a RH bat and they had the prospects to get it done without DENTING the farm system and its obvious the Phils are not that concerned about being abale to pay for players.

    Don’t fall in the love with minor leaguers.

    The Dipsy

    • schmenkman

      January 19, 2012 at 9:38 pm

      Dipsy, to your points:

      1) He’s somewhere between BJ and Justin Upton. It’s a very good bet that his 2012 will not be as good as his 2011. His batting average on balls in play was .319 through 2010, and .361 last year. That kind of spike typically means it’s not sustainable.

      2) You seem to think that there was universal agreement that a RH bat was needed. Actually many disagreed at the time; partly because they had been scoring as well as they were, and also since Victorino had like a 1.200 OPS vs. lefties and had been hitting 5th. Again, as noted in the second comment in this thread, they had scored 4.77 per game from May 23rd to July 29th. They scored 4.54 per game after the trade.

      3) SIngleton could still play OF, and even if blocked would have been a valuable trade piece in the future. Word was that the outfield experiment last year was cut short to let him focus on his hitting, and improve his stats so he would look better as a trade chip.

      4) I know they were ranked 5th by Keith Law a year ago; any idea where you saw the #5 in a recent ranking?

  19. Chuck A.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Schmenk, how many runs per game BEFORE May 23rd?? Seems as though that offensive boost came when Utley came back off the DL?

    I agree that minor leaguers are just that. They’re prospects and prospects only. None of these guys have played one game at the major league level yet. So to say that we gave up too much is really just guesswork at best. There is no way to know for sure how any given prospect is going to perform at the MLB level until he actually does and produces a good enough body of work.

    I would do this deal again….in a heartbest. Let’s go eat!

    • schmenkman

      January 20, 2012 at 8:01 am

      Before May 23rd they averaged 3.82 per game, and that’s exactly the point — that they were scoring just fine for the over two months once Utley came off the DL on May 23rd, at 4.77 per game.

      No, you don’t know how anything will happen until it happens. But of course prospects have value, which is why teams are willing to give up major leaguers for them. But a trade like this can haunt the organization for decades, and for what?
      – They had been scoring 4.77 per game since Utley came back
      – They had Victorino hitting 5th and putting up a 1.032 OPS vs. LHPs
      – They already had a 99% chance of reaching the playoffs.

      The trade may have improved their chances of winning it all from 20% (on the high side) to what — 25%?

      The question of prospects has much less to do with how they may contribute on the field for the Phillies some day than whether the Phillies got enough back for the value they represent. And concensus is that the Astros made a killing (unlike in the Bourn trade with Atlanta). Here is how the 3 main prospects rank in Houston’s farm system:

      – #1 Singleton, #3 Cosart, #7 Santana http://www.minorleagueball.com/2011/11/21/2578508/houston-astros-top-20-prospects-for-2012
      – #1 Singleton, #2 Cosart, #6 Santana
      http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/organization-top-10-prospects/2012/2612582.html

      • George

        January 21, 2012 at 11:47 am

        Who give a crap where these players rank in one team’s particular system? I want to know where they come out when compared to all teams’ systems. If a team has lousy prospects throughout, who cares if someone suddenly becomes their number one?

      • schmenkman

        January 21, 2012 at 12:18 pm

        And what did you find when you looked that up?

  20. TheDipsy

    January 20, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Schmenk-

    I, and many others, and going by past history, felt that the Phils were vulnerable to the LH pitcher, especially in the post season. I regarded the RH bat as an essentil in order to succeed in the post season more so than the reg. season.

    I thought that #5 ranking was for 2012. My bad. I believe that we still have an excellent farm system.

    Singleton – I, for one, do not believe for a second that the reason Singleton was moved back was to let him concentrate on his hitting. Think about it like this: If they move him to the outfield and he can play there, he is very valuable and less likely to be traded. But they move him back so he can concentrate on hitting to build his trade value which naturally insinuates that they are looking to deal him. If they are looking to deal him then he probably couldn’t play the outfield because at that point they’d love to keep him. Just speculation mixed with some common sense on my part.

    The thing about minor leaguers is that they are much more apt to fizzle out as they climb the minor league levels then adapt. I don’t get really hype about a prospect until they’ve blown away AA.

    Advanced Metrics. Well, the numbers are what the numbers are. I happen to think the Pence is a helluva player and a great fit for the team.

    The Dipsy

  21. Chuck A.

    January 20, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Exactly!! “A great fit for the team” That’s the whole point , I think, with Hunter Pence. He brings a UNIQUE passion, hunger and energy to this team that’s infectious to the team and the fanbase. That was missing. Say what you want about Dom Brown and his skillset and what he did in the minors and that he should have played instead. In my opinion, he was/maybe is missing that energy. He didn’t/maybe doesn’t have it. SOMETHING needed to be done to infuse new blood into the lineup….RH blood….and Carlos Beltran certainly wasn’t the answer.

    • schmenkman

      January 20, 2012 at 8:38 am

      Like I said, I like him too now that he’s here. He’s like the “surprise” baby.

      But WHY did something need to be done? Because the team wasn’t entertaining enough despite having the best pitching AND best offense in the league?

  22. Lefty

    January 20, 2012 at 8:43 am

    At the trade deadline these are the left-handers for possible play off teams we could have faced-
    Venters, Oflaherty, Sherril
    Bumgarner, Sanchez, Affeldt, Lopez
    Garcia, Rzepczynski, Rhodes
    Saunders, Patterson, Zagurski (oh the irony)
    Wolf, Narveson, Parra

    I can only speculate, but my guess is that this is why RAJ made the trade. At the time we all felt the same, every blog, every forum, every news outlet with a columnist. They all said we needed a right handed presence in the lineup, or we would get chewed up by the left handers we faced in the playoffs. I can’t argue that they paid too much for this particular player, but they pay too much ( either in trade value, or salary) for every player, why does this surprise anyone?

    • schmenkman

      January 20, 2012 at 9:00 am

      Two dissenting opinions from July…

      The Phillies Don’t Need a Righthanded Bat
      http://www.thegoodphight.com/2011/7/25/2291849/the-phillies-dont-need-a-righthanded-bat

      Dr. Strangeglove: Hunter Pence and Terms of Enrampagement
      http://philliesnation.com/archives/2011/07/dr-strangeglove-hunter-pence-and-terms-of-enrampagement/

      • Manny

        January 20, 2012 at 10:53 am

        Thanks for sharing, schmenkman. That last paragraph of the first article sums up my approach to this franchise:

        “Contrary to what you might have heard, this is not the Phillies’ “window” to win a World Series. The Phillies are a relatively wealthy team with a good minor league system. They can continue to win for years to come – if they try. People only insist that the Phillies are in a temporary window because that’s what they want to believe, so as to rationalize their base desire to indulge in profligacy. Those future teams may very well have opportunities to win the World Series. It might be worth it to hurt those future odds a little to help our present-day odds a lot, but it isn’t worth it to hurt our future odds a lot to help our present-day odds a little – which is exactly what you’ll find yourself doing if you falsely tell yourself that the future is hopeless no matter what when it isn’t.”

      • EricL

        January 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm

        Ding ding ding, we have a winner!

        “People only insist that the Phillies are in a temporary window because that’s what they want to believe, so as to rationalize their base desire to indulge in profligacy…it isn’t worth it to hurt our future odds a lot to help our present-day odds a little – which is exactly what you’ll find yourself doing if you falsely tell yourself that the future is hopeless no matter what when it isn’t.””

        Seriously, this is the mindset of a large number of posters here, and it’s exactly why this team is going to suffer in a couple of years.

        I know a lot of you think I harp on about the stupid moves this team is making and it sounds ridiculous because the team just won 102 games and has had a lot of success and the product they’re currently putting on the field is still very good. I understand that. What I’m saying is that the last 5 years of dominance NEVER HAPPEN if Ed Wade had spent his tenure dumping guys like Utley, Rollins, Howard and Hamels. This is what Ruben Amaro is well on his way to doing, with the sole exception of Domonic Brown whom the crowd I’m speaking of generally hates because he lacks grit or hustle or energy or some other unquantifiable nonsense.

      • Lefty

        January 20, 2012 at 12:59 pm

        Very poor wording on my part-

        “They all said we needed a right handed presence in the lineup, or we would get chewed up by the left handers we faced in the playoffs.”

        I should have noted it more like this-
        “The overwhelming majority said we needed a right handed ……….”

        The fact that dissenting opinions existed at all- is due to the common view that so many others felt that way. If there wasn’t a huge groundswell, Mike and Taco’s posts would never have been written.

        Anyway, the bottom line is that RA Jr. still made the trade. It’s a medium-high risk gamble, most trades are. So, now I guess- we go eat 🙂

      • George

        January 21, 2012 at 11:53 am

        I never thought Dr. Strangelove had anything worthwhile to say. He took contrary positions at times just to generate debate. (He was also, in my opinion, a lousy writer who delighted in his own self important and irrelevant references.)

  23. TheDipsy

    January 20, 2012 at 11:12 am

    “WHY did something need to be done”? I think I, and others in the “commentariat” believe that the Phils were gonna need a RH bat to advance through the post season. And I think so did Ruben did to. As to the timing, there is a trade deadline to deal with.

    The Dipsy

  24. Chuck A.

    January 20, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Schmenkman, having the best offense in the league doesn’t mean you don’t try to improve it even further if you feel that it’s necessary to to bolster the lineup for the postseason. That’s exactly what Ruben did.

    • schmenkman

      January 20, 2012 at 11:40 am

      Chuck, it depends. There are always costs and benefits, and in this case, as Manny quotes a couple comments above, the costs far outweighed the benefits, IMO.

    • EricL

      January 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm

      “…try to improve it even further if you feel that it’s necessary to to bolster the lineup for the postseason. That’s exactly what Ruben did.”

      And how’d that work out for him? If you’re saying that Pence was acquired mainly to help int he playoffs the trade would unquestionably be a abject failure.

      Playoff series are subject to a high level of variance due to their short length. In short, that means you need to be lucky to win a playoff series, and the inferior team frequently wins.

      Making big trades for a slight improvement raises your chances of winning any one particular playoff series by a very small amount. Thus, paying a kings ransom for that small chance is foolhardy.

  25. TheDipsy

    January 20, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    “Kings ransom” – What?
    “Slight improvement” – “What?

    Need a redefinition of terms here.

    The Dipsy

  26. Don M

    January 20, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    The “open window” etc was due to the fact that most of our homegrown players are/ were coming towards the end of their contracts… Rollins, Utley, Victorino, Madson, Hamels… Once you add Halladay and Lee you’ve decided that because your franchise has won only two titles its 128 year history… That you want to make moves NOW that you think can give you a better chance at winning another World Series, instead of playing and planning to “be competitive” five years from now. By adding Pence last year we solved the RF question while giving Brown the luxury of improving without the pressures of performing on the MLB stage. If Brown is as good as advertised, he alone should help us be competitive in years to come …. But how anyone can truly find fault with this team trading prospects for proven players while trying to secure another World Series title.. I just can’t understand. An organization going balls-out to try to win a title right now, and people worrying about how it effects us in the year 2017

    • EricL

      January 20, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      The problem with this kind of thinking is that YOU CANNOT GUARANTEE A WORLD SERIES.

      You want sustained success because that gives you the best shot at making the playoffs year after year, and that’s all the organization can control. The playoffs themselves are very reliant on luck. I’ve said that over and over and over and it doesn’t seem to sink in.

      In a 5 or 7 game series the better team frequently loses. That’s because it’s a short sample size and the variance inherent in the sport can cause big swings over the short term that obscure the actual level of talent on a team. Football and basketball are not like this, because there is much less variance in those games, and the better team more often wins. Sure, there are still upsets, but nowhere near the number that baseball has, because you can play strategies in those sports, attacking the other team’s weaknesses. If you know a team has a poor RF, you can’t attack that position, because baseball doesn’t work like that. It’s very dependent on luck.

      The 116 win Seattle team of 2001 lost in the ALCS to the 95 win Yankees in the ALCS. Do you really think that a team 21 wins better than another is in any way shape or form the less talented team? Things like that happen a lot in baseball because SHORT SERIES ARE CRAPSHOOTS.

      Thus, if you want to win the World Series YOU NEED TO ENTER AS MANY CRAPSHOOTS AS POSSIBLE.

      It’s better to make the playoffs 5 years in a row with an 88-win team than to make it once as a 116-win team.

      Thus, “going balls-out” to win a championship in baseball is stupid and does not work.

      • Manny

        January 20, 2012 at 2:31 pm

        “Thus, if you want to win the World Series YOU NEED TO ENTER AS MANY CRAPSHOOTS AS POSSIBLE.

        It’s better to make the playoffs 5 years in a row with an 88-win team than to make it once as a 116-win team.

        Thus, “going balls-out” to win a championship in baseball is stupid and does not work.”

        ^ What he said.

      • schmenkman

        January 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm

        To augment that point, I had this in another thread, but I think it’s worth repeating.

        Other successful teams’ last 5 playoff appearances:

        Braves (last 10 years): 0 WS appearances, 0 WS wins
        Red Sox (last 8 years): 2 WS appearances, 2 WS wins
        Cardinals (last 8 years): 3 WS appearances, 2 WS wins
        Yankees (last 6 years): 1 WS appearance, 1 WS win
        Giants (last 15 years): 2 WS appearances, 1 WS win
        Angels (last 8 years): 0 WS appearances, 0 WS wins
        Dodgers (last 16 years): 0 WS appearances, 0 WS wins
        Rangers (last 16 years): 2 WS appearances, 0 WS wins

        Phillies (last 5 years): 2 WS appearances, 1 WS win

        Lessons from this list:
        – Phillies aren’t the best, or the worst, at capitalizing on playoff chances
        – They’ve actually been more fortunate than 5 of the 8 teams
        – Playoffs are not predictable — all you can do is get there and take your chances

      • George

        January 21, 2012 at 12:01 pm

        No one has said you can guarantee a world series. But you can improve your chances. The Phils aren’t the only team that tried to do this. The Giants, Braves, and Cards all made deadline deals, and gave up some promising players to do so. The Cards, as we all know, succeeded.

        And Manny, winning 88 games per year does not always equate to five years of playoffs. Sometimes it doesn’t even get you the wild card.

  27. Don M

    January 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    While I frequently argue about the dangers of short series, better team doesn’t always win, etc…. The phillies are trying to Mae sure that they remain among the “88-win” teams with their recent acquisitions… And while there is some luck involved in the postseason, some of these comments would have you believe that it’s ALL luck… It’s not

    • Manny

      January 20, 2012 at 4:26 pm

      Rockies in the WS in 07 –> crapshoot
      Phillies and Rays in 08 –> crapshoot
      Yankees and Phillies in 09 –> ok fine
      Giants and Rangers in 10 –> crapshoot
      Rangers and Cardinals in 11 –> crapshoot

      Conclusion: it is a crapshoot

  28. Don M

    January 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Hottest team heading into the postseason…. Rockies 07… Phillies 08…. .Cardinals in 11 …

    People are saying crapshoot as though you have no chance to control your own destiny.. which is false. I’m acknowleding that A LOT of the postseason has to do with matchups.. i’ve said before that I don’t think the ’08 Phillies would’ve beat the Red Sox – we matched up well with the Rays …

    and that the Brewers and D’Backs would’ve been an easier draw last year than the Cardinals – who, for whatever reason, had our number last year.

    The Phillies have made moves the past few seasons to give them a team they think will -help their odds- in the postseason …. but to call it all luck just isn’t accurate

    • schmenkman

      January 20, 2012 at 9:23 pm

      There is certainly luck, as in any game, but no, it’s not all luck, and I don’t think anyone was saying that.

      Yes, matchups matter to some extent, although of course you can’t control that (unless you lay down, but let’s not get into that).

      So that leaves trying to adjust your team to improve your chances. So how much did a trade like this one improve their chances? Earlier in this thread I suggested that their chances of winning the WS might have improved from ~20% to about ~25%. That’s based on the average team starting at 12.5% (1 of 8), and adding something for a 102-win team with an very high run differential, and an excellent starting rotation.

      Another way to view that is that the difference between a 102-win team and a 90-win team over a 5-game series is the difference between 3.2 and 2.8. And it’s probably even closer to that, since the 102 wins are against the league-average, while the NLDS is against another top team.

      So it’s all a matter of shifting the balance between winning now and winning in the future, and the Pence trade moved a lot of chips from the future side to the now side. It turned out not help very much, but what many of us are saying is that even without knowing that ahead of time, the improvement to this year’s chances was not worth the very high cost.

    • Brooks

      January 21, 2012 at 6:48 pm

      Think about it Don, the Giants really sucked until late September into October of 2010. The Cardinals, with some of the worst relief pitching in the majors last year were very much a mediocre team but going into September late October, they found the “zone”.

      I really am not saying its a crap shoot but, given the teams that get scorching hot at the right time, you have to be able to make some adjustments to counter the pitching you’re facing, basically tweak the offense just enough to win. The Phils are guilty of doing nothing.

      • Don M

        January 21, 2012 at 10:24 pm

        Guilty of doing nothing? The whole argument here is that they’ve done too much, tried too hard, and traded everything …… I have NO idea why the lineup got tweaked right before the postseason with Utley then Pence then Howard… If it was due to a struggling Polly then Vic shouldve been the one batting second in my opinion. I’m a firm believer in the theory of “dance with the girl that brought you”, and Charlie basically switched his date as soon as they got to the dance last year

  29. TheDipsy

    January 20, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Schmenk, you keep saying that but you have no idea how good, or bad, these prospects are gonna turn out. They are “unknown variables”. As we all know from our algebra and such, if you have an unknown variable in an equation, then you can’t come up with an answer. If we are talking about chips, then Pence is a $100 chip and the minor leaguers are $10 chips.

    “Potential” gets managers fired.

    And I’ll go this far – as long as the Phils keep bringing in good talent, as they did last year, you can keep trading your prospects, for Its when you stop drafting well and being able to replace those prospects that you start running into trouble. That hasn’t happened to the Phils yet.

    The Dipsy

    • schmenkman

      January 20, 2012 at 10:10 pm

      Prospects are assets, and they have value. And their value varies quite a bit, depending on their age, position, performance, upside, etc. The Phillies gave up very valuable assets (the Astros’ 3 of their top 6 or 7 prospects), for not much improvement to their playoff chances.

      Is it possible none of them pan out? Sure. Just as it’s possible one or two turn into stars. But that’s all irrelevant because we won’t know that for years. What we know is that they have value today, and it feels like that value was given away for not much in return.

      • Don M

        January 20, 2012 at 10:32 pm

        Hunter Pence …. All Star RF…. “not much in return” ???- for prospects …. a guy that wasn’t a rental- he was controlable past this year – for prospects

        those guys might turn out to be great – but that was said of Carrasco, Donald, and Marson once too ….

        Filling a team need with a controlable all star caliber player… and not subtracting anything from the MLB roster is a “win” from every fan base except ours I guess

      • schmenkman

        January 20, 2012 at 10:50 pm

        EricL has laid out the alternatives already. I’ll just say that signing Cuddyer or Beltran as a FA may not be quite as attractive, but their farm system would be much stronger today.

      • schmenkman

        January 20, 2012 at 11:05 pm

        I was curious and looked up their projections for 2012…

        “Bill James” projections from FanGraphs:

        – Pence: .292/.349/.486 (.835) — $9-$11.8 million
        – Cuddyer: .275/.347/.451 (.798) — $10 million
        – Beltran: .279/.369/.480 (.849) — $13 million

        And again, they would still have those prospects to trade for other needs.

      • Don M

        January 21, 2012 at 9:45 am

        For what it’s worth… Cuddyer was the guy I wanted dating all the way back to last offseason, knowing that the Twins wouldn’t contend, and assuming they would be Sellers at the deadline….. They didn’t contend, but they didn’t sell either.

        I really wanted Beltran at the deadline but rumors had them asking for Domonic Brownand the Phillies said no as Beltran was only a rental

        …..so I was happy with the Pence deal. It’s not often that the core of your team has such sustained success, and we know that Rollins, Vic, Utley, Howard, Ruiz, Halladay, Hamels, Lee (damn that’s a lot of talent) wont last forever.. So again, they tried to improve their odds of winning it all while they had the talent to even make that a consideration.. It like the boxer with a bad record (2 world series in 128 years) going for the knockout when he thinks he has a chance even though he’d be more exhausted in the later rounds, somewhere down the line… Can’t fault the guy for going after the knockout instead of just trying to extend the fight

  30. Lefty

    January 20, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    I thought the Giants gave up a very good pitcher for Beltran, No?

    • schmenkman

      January 20, 2012 at 11:19 pm

      Yes, Zack Wheeler to the Mets.

      Then he was signed as a FA this offseason by St. Louis for 3yr/$30M.

      • Lefty

        January 20, 2012 at 11:21 pm

        I was just reading about him, number 6 pick in 2009 draft. Wheeler is a heavy price, and that was only for a rental.

      • schmenkman

        January 20, 2012 at 11:46 pm

        Actually the 3/30 is Cuddyer; Beltran signed for 2 years/26 million.

  31. TheDipsy

    January 21, 2012 at 7:20 am

    I wish you guys could remember the 80’s and 90’s when we had NO prospects in the farm system. We used to get worked up over guys like Tyler Green and Bruce Ruffin.

    If we went by the “this guy represents only a .0000000001% chance in the team doing better in the playoffs”, then lets never make it trade since it doesn’t matter so much. I don’t buy into that math or the premise it is alleged to support. I have seen acquired players carry teams into the playoffs and win the WS.

    To my knowledge, n all these trades we have made over the last four years, we have not given up one quality major league position player. We have given up Gonzalez, Outman, and Floyd. Thats one really good pitcher and two ok ones. These are the ones that spring to mind. And look at all we’ve gotten back.

    The Dipsy

  32. Don M

    January 21, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Anthony Gose and Travis D’Arnaud are both supposed to be legit from what I’ve read..

    Sincerey, DevilsAdvocate

  33. Chuck A.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Well, I’ve read all or most of these comments and I see all sides to the argument. But, at the end of the day, I would STILL make that deal to get Pence. The guys we gave up are PROSPECTS ONLY and, until we know for sure how good or bad they will be a few years down the road, they will remain PROSPECTS ONLY.

    By the way, one of the guys we got back in the Cliff Lee trade, Phillippe Aumont, looks like is gonna be a good one. Just thought I would throw that in since just about everyone on here criticized that deal from Day One.

    • schmenkman

      January 21, 2012 at 10:49 am

      Again, it’s really irrelevant today (i.e. 7/29/11) whether they ever amount to anything or not. What is relevant is that due to their status as some of the best prospects in the organization, and in top 60 or so in baseball (maybe better, I don’t recall offhand), they had a lot of market value.

      A big chunk of the organization’s value was squandered (IMO) for little gain.

      Prospects have market value, by the way, and not saying anything people don’t already know, because some of them turn into the holy grail of baseball team construction, the young, cheap, player who is controlled for their best early years. Those would be nice to have around 2013-2015 as the team struggles to stay under the luxury tax threshold.

  34. Chuck A.

    January 21, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Schmenk, this was already brought up but how can you actually say that Hunter Pence is “little gain”. ??

    Young, All-Star OF, under control for 2 more years. He came in and played his a$$ off and put up great numbers. Plus infusing a brand of enthusiasm that we haven’t seen here in awhile and that was sorely needed.

    • schmenkman

      January 21, 2012 at 11:21 am

      I say little gain because:

      – they were already scoring very well (best in league after Ut returned)
      – they were already virtually assured of making the playoffs
      – it only improved their playoff chances marginally
      – they could have signed a player of similar value as a FA this offseason (cost controlled doesn’t mean when you have to pay them $9-$11.8 mil.

      • schmenkman

        January 21, 2012 at 11:30 am

        …Doesn’t mean much, that is.

  35. Lefty

    January 21, 2012 at 11:07 am

    You know, when I think about this in more depth, while the Phils traded many prospects, they really haven’t traded away a position of immediate need. For instance, very soon Utley’s knees will no longer allow him to play. Have we traded a really good second base prospect? Polanco is not going to last much longer, how many 3rd base prospects have we traded? We traded Singleton, but he was blocked. We have a guy to eventually replace Jimmy. In all the big trades I think the only infielders we gave up were Jason Donald, a utility guy/DH for Cleveland, and Villar, who although good defensively, will seemingly never learn to stop hacking at everything he sees.

    Shane could be gone soon, but we kept D Brown. JMJ and Pence can play for many seasons yet. Traded a couple outfielders but beside Gose, no one of note so far.

    It’s true we traded our best catching prospect, and that could soon be a position of need soon as Chooch can’t keep taking the beating he takes everyday, but we got Roy Freakin’ Halladay for him! And we still have Valle, a decent prospect. I’d like to have Gose and D’arnaud back, but would make that trade 1000 times over again without giving it a second thought.

    Pitching, yes we’ve given up really good pitching prospects, but it’s not a position of need at the moment and there is no shortage of young arms in the system nearly ready to go.

    So while it’s also true that we traded away 2 of our 4 prospects listed in the 2011 top 100 for Pence, at this point I’m not sure that’s as much the issue, as our farm system’s inability to provide guys at positions we need.

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/top-100-prospects/2011/2611328.html

    Oh, and this old man’s memory isn’t quite what it used to be, if I missed someone important we traded away, I encourage you to point it out, just go easy on me. 🙂

    I truly believe if our system produced better results in positions of need, we would not be all that bad off. I know it’s a hit and miss job, but some teams employ a more sabrmetric approach, and I’d like to see our scouting dept. update in that area.

  36. Chuck A.

    January 21, 2012 at 11:23 am

    And, Lefty, while we gave up “value”…..not gonna say that the prospects don’t possess value…. to get Pence, getting him filled a “need’. We NEEDED that proven RH bat. WE gave up positions of no immediate need to fill a position of more immediate need.

    • Lefty

      January 21, 2012 at 11:50 am

      I was certainly on the side that thought we did need a good RH bat. Remember how we battled MB on this?

      But I can also see schmenkman’s POV that we could have got Beltran as a FA if we waited.

      • George

        January 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm

        Beltran? He of the perpetual leg injury? How would he have been better than the healthy and much younger Pence? How much more than the $26 million/two year contract would it have taken to keep him from the Cards?

      • Lefty

        January 21, 2012 at 1:56 pm

        To clarify, I can also understand the other guy’s POV that they could have kept the 2 top 100 prospects and waited for FA. Beltran, Cuddyer, whoever.

        But- I like the Pence trade better. He’s an awkward one, but if he had the determination and courage to fight through coaches that looked at him the first time they saw him and said get this uncoordinated guy out of here his whole life, and still make it to the bigs, he’s got what it takes to be capable of greatness. (whew- what a horrible run-on sentence, I didn’t think that one would ever end.)

  37. Chuck A.

    January 21, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Schmenkman, who would you have signed instead as a FA this offseason?

    • schmenkman

      January 21, 2012 at 12:02 pm

      I don’t know. Let’s say Cuddyer for argument’s sake. I’m at aphone and don’t’ have their records handy but I think he may stay healthier.

  38. Chuck A.

    January 21, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Ok, so the argument is always made on here that the Phillies need to get younger. Yet Carlos Beltran and Michael Cuddyer are quite a bit older than Hunter Pence yet it’s being suggested that we should have signed one of those two instead??

    Plus Beltran is at what?? ….2/26 ? And Cuddyer 3/31.5? How is that all that much different than what Pence will get? In fact, Beltran is a great deal MORE EXPENSIVE.

    I’m just not sure I undersatnd the argument of signing another free agent in the offseason when that free agent is older and about the same money or evn more…

    • schmenkman

      January 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm

      Sigh. We’re going around and around, now but…

      Because you would still have 2 very valuable trade chips to either develop or use to fill other needs.

      (not even counting Santana and Zeid).

  39. Chuck A.

    January 21, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    So you would rather have trade chips………….sigh, I DO get that argument………… and have another older, expensive player on the payroll….(you guys always argued AGAINST the Ibanez signing)….as opposed to a younger player at least compared to Beltran ??? Infact, most people on here were totally against Cuddyer signing here because he was too old and too expensive.

    • schmenkman

      January 21, 2012 at 12:47 pm

      I would rather have trade chips than NOT have trade chips, absolutely.

      Pence turns 29 in April. We’re not talking Mike Stanton here.

      Cuddyer IS too old and too expensive… now that we no longer need a rightfielder. If he was signed in addition to Pence, he would be taking time from cheap young alternatives like Mayberry and Brown.

  40. Chuck A.

    January 21, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    I don’t think Cuddyer would have been signed in addition to Pence. I think the Phillies realize that JMJ is part of the solution in left field. Thankfully. And Cuddyer is 33-34. Beltran 35, right? That….in baseball years….is a great deal older than Pence’s 29. Especially when you’re talking about the same money for Cuddyer and Beltran at even more $$$.

  41. TheDipsy

    January 21, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Pence was the guy. If RAJ had wanted to trade something so so to rent Beltran, I would have been OK with that, too.

    I guess the arguments revolves around how much value you put on A and AA prospects. If somebody will something I have plenty of in exchange for something I need, I’m doin it.

    Onto the next topic. Or not.

    The Dipsy

    • schmenkman

      January 21, 2012 at 1:07 pm

      If you have a lot of cards, I’ll take your ’52 Mantle for my 2012 Pence.

      • Chuck A.

        January 21, 2012 at 1:18 pm

        I haven’t looked at my baseball cards in years. Love my 55 Mantle (NOT mint)….it was one of the first cards that I bought at an auction and didn’t get inside of a pack with a stick of gum and it really got me into the hobby for awhile.

  42. Don M

    January 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    so basically, I think the Phillies are going to win the World Series in 2012

  43. Brooks

    January 21, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    I agree, lets rock!

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