PN Roundtable: Major Concerns? – Phillies Nation
2013 Spring Training

PN Roundtable: Major Concerns?

How comfortable are you with Nix manning a corner outfield spot defensively? Alex says corner outfield defense is an area of opportunity.

This week’s Writer’s Roundtable question was from Ryan Dinger and compiled by Don McGettigan:

“Aside from Roy Halladay‘s health, what is another major concern you have as you watch Spring Training wind down?”

Alex Lee:  This has been covered at great length, but my main concern is still the defense on the corners, particularly in the early part of the season.  I believe that both Michael Young and Domonic Brown will improve defensively throughout the year, but first base and wherever Brown isn’t look like permanent problems.  With Carlos Ruiz out for April, any additional lackluster defense could sink the Phillies hopes of a division title… and quickly.

Don McGettigan:  My biggest concern is getting Chase Utley all the way to Opening Day.  Utley is still arguably the Phillies best all-around player, and has missed the first month+ of the past two seasons.  With Carlos Ruiz serving a 25-game suspension to begin the year, the Phillies need Utley in the lineup to start the season.

Ian Riccaboni: My biggest concern this year is the development the Phillies minor leaguer’s make. With such positive progress from Cody Asche, Ethan Martin, and Adam Morgan, the Phillies need big developmental years from Freddy Galvis, Tommy Joseph, and others as they hope to fill in the blanks with their own talent in the coming years.

Ryan Dinger:  Looking at how this Spring Training has played out, there’s not a whole lot to be concerned about outside of Doc’s health. However, one area where I’d prefer to see a few more positives is with the guys contending for spots in the middle of the bullpen. Perhaps the most undervalued aspect of a baseball team, the Phillies expect to have a lot of young talent in middle relief. But so far a lot of that talent hasn’t shown up this Spring. Whether it be Jake Diekman and Phillippe Aumont‘s inconsistency, or Jeremy Horst‘s downright bad efforts, guys who were thought to be key cogs to the middle relief this season haven’t stepped up and taking a firm hold on their position yet.

While the back of the bullpen looks to be formidable with Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon, the Phillies will need the middle relievers to find consistent positives results if they’re going to win ball games. There is still plenty of time to do so, but I’d prefer to see some of that potential dominance shine through sooner rather than later.



  1. Jeff of Nova

    March 21, 2013 at 10:25 am

    Gotta say I think some of you are grasping for concerns,

    Outside of Halladay, the only concern I have is who will be the other outfielder as I do not have faith in a JMJ/Nix platoon, personally I would rather have Ruf in there and learn on the job.

    Utley, Howard, Rollins, Young have not shown me any concern through spring.

    • Ken Bland

      March 21, 2013 at 11:02 am

      I don’t know that anyone’s grasping for concerns necessarily, but I agree with the few points you made.

      On paper, sending Ruf down makes near perfect sense. Options left, no Triple A experience (limited, actually), and a chance to keep working on a new position. Yet, he keeps getting playing time, and I wonder if they will be tempted to keep him at season’s start. I just can’t get away from this gnawing feeling that Mayberry’s roster spot just isn’t secure. Things still may shake a little with a late Grapefruit deal, or perhaps more likely, a pick up of a cut from another team.

      Basically, it’s been a darned good spring, and worrying about anything more than Doc, which is probably overdome a little borders on thinking a little too much.

  2. Dave P

    March 21, 2013 at 10:31 am

    I agree. The infield looks pretty settled, and Brown seems to have taken the reins on one corner spot. My concern is really who will take the other corner, and if it’s Ruf, how ugly that left side of the field’s defense will be (Michael Young backed up by Darin Ruf).

  3. schmenkman

    March 21, 2013 at 10:45 am

    To answer the question in the photo caption, “not much”. Nix has positive UZRs in both Left and Center (where he has still played more than any other position), and his UZR in RF is just below average at -1.3, but he only has 502 innings there, so not a huge sample.

    I guess I’d be more comfortable with him Left than in Right, but it’s not a huge worry. Mayberry is fine in the corners as well.

    Biggest worries, roughly in order:
    – Halladay
    – Howard: ST is encouraging but let’s see him get back to 2010-11 levels in the regular season (I expect he will)
    – D.Young playing full time and hitting at 2011-12 levels while butchering RF
    – Defense at 1st and 3rd

  4. Ken Bland

    March 21, 2013 at 11:10 am

    From Alex Lee…

    “I believe that both Michael Young and Domonic Brown will improve defensively throughout the year.”

    Perception’s part of recognizing improvement. Young made a pretty nice backhand the other day, but didn’t regroup correctly and threw one Manute Bol would havd needed a ladder to catch at first. Fact is, thre bitchers and moaners about Young’s defense, which isn’t great, would have yelped about that grab not being made in the first place if he were still playing 3rd as weakly as he did during times at Texas. But to me, making that play, and at least showing a little range improvement is the sort of thing that would validate this sense. By June, hell, maybe by mid April, he catches thew ball, and throws the runner out.

    I think he’s played a fairly good third so far. I expected it to be more of a mixed review bottom line, but it is early..

    • schmenkman

      March 21, 2013 at 11:22 am

      I didn’t know about Jim Umbricht and looked him up — that’s interesting (and tragic). I remember talk in the ’80s or so about the Astros being cursed, for the unusual number of deaths to active players. Article on the “parallel curse” of the Astros and Angels:

      • Ken Bland

        March 21, 2013 at 11:48 am

        Childhood readings have impact. Read a story back in the day on Umbricht, and his response to the doc telling him he had cancer was “keep me alive until Opening Day” He comes to mind every year at this time. Couple years ago, that quote was a basis for me setting a personal goal for Ernie Harwell to stay with us until at least that time, and the best way to go ever was by ump Big John McSgerry, whi died while umping home plate in Cincy on Opening Day. Opening Day is clearly the beginning of all time measures. I never take for granted making another one, and it’s a pleasure to think of the great contributors to the game that I take the liberty of associating with that all important date.

  5. George

    March 21, 2013 at 11:20 am

    As far as corner defensive concerns, I disagree with the thinking of many. The Phils have won before with Howard at first and the likes of Burrell, Ibanez, and Pence on the corners (although Burrelkl and Ibanez didn’t play at the same time). The only real area of concern might be 3rd base, but that’s still better than last year because Polanco was out so much, and the iron handed Wigginton and a host of other weak defenders mostly manned that spot. I also don’t think relief is a huge issue. Aumont’s been pretty consistent this spring, Horst and Stutes have both been better of late.

    The biggest concerns, to me, are D. Young playing RF, and of course, injuries. I’m just not that confident in the players the Phils have as depth.

  6. Bart Shart

    March 21, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Biggest concerns: Halladay’s health and durability, Howard’s continued improvement, Young’s defense and continued hitting ability, Middle relief, Brown’s development and Ruiz’ return. Also, large on this list — Utley’s knees.

  7. Don M

    March 21, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I understand how some would say we’re “grasping” to find concerns…(mostly because it seems slightly pessimistic just for us to voice those concerns), but to pretend like this roster a sure-thing from top-to-bottom would just be flawed thinking.

    Halladay is a question mark… I think Utley is a question mark too

    Michael Young’s defense?… Domonic Brown’s all-around game?.. overall Catching production while Ruiz is out.?…. OF platoons? … Delmon Young? …Which Bastardo will show up?…. Which of the young bullpen arms can be counted on?

    …..there are a TON of questions and concerns for this team in 2013.. though I choose to believe that things will turn out okay for this team and they’ll be in contention for one of the Wild Card spots

  8. Ken Bland

    March 21, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Getting away from specifics…

    If I were looking for areas of concern without prioritizing them, I’d go back to something I wrote a message about a year ago. In looking at the OBP of the club since this core and it’s former running mates joined forces, one statistic rolled out like this These are the team on base percentages of that time..

    2011 .323
    2010 .332
    2009 .334
    2008 .332
    2007 .354
    2006 .347
    2005 .348

    That led to the equal of a wasted beg, plead and cajole handicap of how much uptick the Phils could do in 2012. Instead, it dropped to .317.

    Eventually, by hook or by crook, the OBP has to reverse trend. Even if it’s through the passage of time with a new roster from what we know now. But with the pitching staff on the whole figuring to do better, but not necessarily significantly than last year’s NL 7th best ERA of 3.83, the club could use an uptick this year to reverse last year’s mirage of contention aided by a much better 2nd half and an I don’t want the 2 card, do you want the 2 card flavor.

    In unison, the 1-2-3 you’re out 2012 Phillies were terrible at coming from behind, and the threats to rename the park Montgomery and Sons Funeral Home seemed to have taken place by the quiet that came over the ballpar many nights. There are legitimate reasons to think the club will have more baserunners this time. Utley and Brown are masters at it, unfair as it is to include Brown in the same sentence as Utley. They figure to get to the plate a lot more than a year ago. Revere and D Young aren’t great at it, but the bar of improvement is Pence and Vic, who had pretty blase first halves last year. So concern over getting runners on, and taking some pressure off the pitchers, and getting the 10th man into the game would be on such a list.

    Another concern would be don’t be digging no early season holes. The Phils first quarter of the schedule is “easy”, leastwise relatively. The history of the Manual era is playing .989 baseball in the second half, but good luck counting on that this year with this Washington club offering competition. A quick start might be deceptive (wait ’til you see how crowded the bandwagon gets), but an inability to answer the bell is gonna be tough (not impossible) to overcome.

    • Lefty

      March 21, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      Adding two guys, Delmon Young if he gets significant playing time, and Ben Revere, will not help the team be better in OBP. Neither of them take walks at all.

      Unless a change in philosophy from the two new hitting coaches has been implemented, I wouldn’t expect improvement there.

  9. Lefty

    March 21, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    I see no major concerns at this time, only minor ones. Everything has been mentioned, no need to go over all that again. I don’t even see Roy Halladay as a major concern, I think slowly (by May 1st maybe?), he gets his strength and stamina back, and he’ll be fine.

    They are capable of winning 85-90 games and contending for the playoffs.

    But they won’t win 102, and they won’t win the East, unless something catastrophic happens to the Natitudes.

    • G7

      March 22, 2013 at 6:20 am

      I think they will be better offensively with a full season of Howard and Utley and Revere will help them score more runs..back end of bullpen is best it has ever been.

      • Don M

        March 22, 2013 at 9:36 am

        …back end of bullpen is best it has ever been. **ON PAPER**

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