Analysis

Rapid Reaction: “Blow Up the Phillies!”

Doc was crushed on Tuesday. He could be part of the "blow up" eventually. (AP)

Doc was crushed on Tuesday. He could be part of the “blow up” eventually. (AP)

From an injury standpoint, this spring has gone about as well as the Phillies could have hoped (except for Roy Halladay getting crushed on Tuesday by the Tigers).  After a disastrous 2012, optimism has begun to regenerate throughout the Delaware Valley and beyond, with a handful of national baseball pundits adjusting their previously underwhelming expectations for this team accordingly.  The key word there is some.

Perhaps by now you’ve read Jonah Keri’s scathing take on the Phillies from Grantland.com – titled “Blow Up the Phillies!” – which from a timing standpoint, almost seems like an intentional attempt at pouring cold water over the collective hopes of Phillies faithful.  Keri takes a big-picture look at the Phillies, but his question basically boils down to the following:

“Four months from now, if Philly appears on its way to another mediocre season, should the team cash in their biggest trade chips for younger players who could help build a winning team for 2014 and beyond?”

Keri’s answer to that question is an emphatic yes – so much so that he implies that, in Ruben Amaro Jr.’s shoes, he would even consider moving the non-expiring contracts of Jimmy Rollins and Cliff Lee in addition to Halladay and Chase Utley, who will be free agents after this season.

Essentially, should the Phillies disappoint, Keri is advocating a July fire sale – not a retool, but a rebuild, citing the age of the team’s core and a dearth of near-ready prospects as the reasons why.  Using historical examples, he says any other decision could be catastrophic for the competitive future of the team.  In doing so, Keri is undoubtedly a little harsh on the Phils.  But is he wrong?  The answer, as usual, is a little complicated.

While Keri doesn’t mention it, it is important to note the Phillies have already shown that they won’t hesitate to cash in their trade chips when a season’s outlook is gloomy.  Last year the team moved Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton once it realized the playoffs were an improbability.

But a fire sale is a whole different animal, especially in a baseball-crazed market like Philadelphia in which the home team is on the brink of a television deal that should boost their payroll for the foreseeable future.  If July rolls around and the Phillies are floundering 10 games below .500, they should absolutely look to cash in their trade chips, as Keri suggests, but they need to be strategic in doing so.

With names like Utley, Halladay and Carlos Ruiz in the final years of their contract, cutting ties with those organizational mainstays will be particularly painful.  But it might be necessary.  If it becomes clear this current roster won’t cut it from a performance standpoint, the Phillies need to carefully identify the veterans that are part of the future and sell the rest, regardless of sentimentality or name power.

That is where Keri’s logic is questionable.  A fire sale, from a public relations standpoint, would undoubtedly be a disaster with the fan base, particularly with the television deal looming.  The Red Sox did it last year – moving Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford – but that clubhouse situation was as toxic as any in recent memory.  The Phillies situation is a little different.

Players like Jimmy Rollins and Cliff Lee are still performing at levels that justify their contracts.  Assuming the health and production we’re seeing from Ryan Howard this spring proves real, he is also still a valuable centerpiece, albeit overpaid.  If 2013 goes wrong, and the Phillies sell the right pieces, they can supplement their existing veterans with an infusion of young talent and go into free agency with money to spend.

The result could very well be a competitive future in the near-term.  But most important, it would be a competitive future that doesn’t involve devastating a fan base that still desperately seeks a follow-up performance to 2008.  Keri is correct in pointing out that the path the Phillies took to get here is similar to that of many successful teams with financial resources at their disposal (a path which ESPN’s Jayson Stark recently advocated).  But using the same logic, there is also a path suitable for those types of teams to retool their roster after the previous regime falls short.  The fire sale that Keri calls for is not it.

73 Comments

73 Comments

  1. Adrian Martin

    March 13, 2013 at 9:07 am

    We’ll see how well the pitching does without Chooch in April, then decide if he’s part of the cut group.

  2. Bob D

    March 13, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Everyone says that 30+ is too old, Schmidt won MVP at 36. Even those in mid 30’s are/can be productive and win. This team I see as better than last years.

    Even if they fail, blowing up the roster is not the proper answer. They still can contend for the next few years with this core roster.

    • Chris Norton

      March 13, 2013 at 9:45 am

      The problem is that they don’t just have one or two aging players – a large portion of the roster is in their declining stage. Just objectively look at the numbers and try putting the warm & fuzzy memories of 2008 out of your mind for a second. Saying they can contend “for the next few years” is being very optimistic to say the least – especially with no farm prospects on the horizon to supplement the roster.

      Almost EVERYTHING would need to go right for them to contend this season. As we’ve already seen with Halladay, it’s rare to go through a season with no major issues. This looks like a very expensive .500 team right now.

    • Jaron B

      March 13, 2013 at 11:00 am

      We will have quite a lot of money to spend in the 2014 preseason: at least $50MM. We can make a splash next year if needed based on this season’s outcome and the older players can produce for at least another year or two (75% confidence).

      Needs in 2014: 2B, OF, 3B, two starters, back-up catcher, and relief pitching.
      2B – most likely Galvis & a free-agent…. possibly Utley (1-yr. $11MM) if no DH/IF AL-deal
      3B – Asche most likely ($150k)
      OF – Brown (arb1), Revere (arb1), Mayberry (arb1), Ruf (~$500k), Gilles, Collier
      Starters: Cloyd, Pettibone, and Morgan… possibly re-signing Halladay (1-yr, $15MM) or Lannan (1-yr, $5MM)
      Catcher: Valle or Joseph, possibly a free-agent
      Relief: internal options at ~$150k for rookies; ~$500k for sophomores; Bastardo gets ~$2.5MM; $6MM for Adams; $12.5MM for Pap, and Durbin has an affordable mutual option if we need him.

      So the splash will most likely be a 2B, OF, and/ or a starter.

  3. ETruxal

    March 13, 2013 at 10:43 am

    High-paid veterans are, as a rule, paid for past accomplishment in baseball (and other sports, but baseball lives at the forefront). That’s a an economic reality that does indeed force the hand of trading for youth – but it’s not time to overreact. The staples of this club are all young enough to have peak years, albeit no too many more of them – it’s not like Halladay is a twilight case. Pitchers have a period about halfway through the spring schedule of arm fatigue (you’ll hear the term “dead arm” incessantly over the next 3 weeks) which is a normal part of building arm strength early in the baseball calendar. If Roy is 2-7 with an ERA around 5.50 come June, and is getting his strikes clubbed all over south Philly, then a conversation needs to be had, and he’ll be the first one to have it.

    There are challenges – granted I’d love to see this club have the youth and energy of Kansas City just coming up and in to its own perhaps – but every MLB roster has questions and gaps. I’m maintaining a strong sense of optimism for 2013, and it will be time to respond if this club is dragging itself to the All-Star break. Remember the record this club had over the LAST 6 weeks of the 2012 season – which is much more important than the 18 weeks prior to that, given the injuries and roster churn.

  4. George

    March 13, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Everyone seems to think the Phils are ancient; they aren’t, and have lately edged toward getting younger. The current outfield has Revere and Brown. Galvis’ bat seems to be improving. The bullpen is mostly young. The farm system is not entirely devoid of talent, and some of it, like Valle, Joseph, or Asche might be ready sooner than everyone seems to think.

    Then there’s this: if the current team falters, it’ll be mostly because the vets have completely tanked or gotten injured. You don’t get much for a bad-kneed 2nd baseman in the final year of his contract, nor do you get much for a starter with no velocity left, also in his final year. And you’d have to eat too much money to move Lee or Howard. Tearing down the house isn’t the answer.

    • whitey01

      March 13, 2013 at 11:24 am

      That certainly is an optimistic evaluation oof the present Phillies, but realistically the 1st baseman is coming off major surgery and his best years are behind him. The second baseman will never perform the way he has previously, plus his injuries are not behind him. The shortstop will be prone to injuries also and will not hit better than .260. The third baseman is one year away from retirement. We already see the downslide for Roy. Yes, the outfield is young but very inexperienced. Hamels and Lee are the only saving graces to salvage a fair season. Ruben Amaro has had this team on a downslide since he took over.

      • schmenkman

        March 13, 2013 at 1:20 pm

        The second baseman and shortstop were arguably the best double play combo in baseball last year on a game for game basis. And the “prone to injuries” shortstop has played at least 137 games in all but one season, and has average 149 for the last two.

        The first baseman has been fairly consistent relative to the league since the start of the 2008 season, except for 2012 when he came back from injury too early.

        Further aging and decline will certainly come, but I don’t know that we’ve seen so much yet.

      • George

        March 13, 2013 at 1:58 pm

        whitey01, you say the outfield is inexperienced as if that’s a bad thing. Then you indicate that the infield is too old, hinting that it should be replaced. Sorry to have to tell you this, but trading Howard, Utley, Rollins, and Young for prospects would mean you’d also have an inexperienced infield.

        It’s also something of a contradiction when you say that Amaro has had the team on a downslide, but then say the only saving graces are Hamels and Lee. I believe it was that very Amaro who signed Lee and also that same Amaro who made dead certain that Hamels didn’t hit free agency.

      • Arc

        March 13, 2013 at 10:25 pm

        You will get no reality from this bunch.

    • hk

      March 13, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      I agree. Even if the Phils falter this year, there does not seem to be much value in a total demolition of the roster as opposed to trying to re-load. “Blowing it up” would involve dealing Lee, who will be nearly impossible to replace, and Howard, who is overpaid, but should still be productive and would only return value if the Phils pay a boatload of the money still owed to him. They can trade Chooch, Chase and Halladay for whatever they’ll fetch and spend to replace them next off-season. The only player who is signed for 2014 that they might possibly trade is J-Roll, but that would only happen if (a) they’re out of it by July 31, (b) J-Roll puts together a good four months and teams are interested in acquiring him and (c) the Phils are convinced Galvis can be a full-time SS.

  5. whitey01

    March 13, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Why would anyone allow Ruben Amaro to restructure this team? if re-structuring is what we must do Amaro must be part of the re-structuring.

  6. Tom

    March 13, 2013 at 11:31 am

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this organization has turned the corner and, with a new TV deal in the near future, poised to stay at or near the top revenue/salaried clubs like the Yanks, Red Sox, Dodgers, & Angels! A Marlins type fire-sale would be damaging especially to the fan base that now embraces this team and wants to spend quality time at CBP! Do we really want to be like the Astros, Marlins, Twins, Royals, or Pirates who constantly lose their stars to free agency and financially have to restructure every couple of years? Or do we want to mold young players like Joseph, Asche, & Galvis while continuing to woo free agents like Young, Adams, Papelbon, Halladay, Lee, etc? As someone who had to live through the lean years of the late 80’s through the early ’00’s, I’ll take the latter!!

    • Publius

      March 13, 2013 at 12:07 pm

      …how exactly have they “turned a corner?” Or are you just talking in terms of salary/financial concerns? Because there is no way anyone can look at the moves of this past offseason and breathe easy, knowing that this team is better in terms of on-field talent.

      Also holy smokes do you seriously think that Mike Adams went “wow, the Phillies have a lot of young mediocre prospects! I better sign with them post-haste!” Yeesh, talk about delusional. Young only signed here because no-one else wanted an anti-semitic, overhyped DH. Young and Paps got paid like crazy, Lee and Halladay signed because they thought they could win with the current team (which were accurate assessments 2 years ago).

      A firesale doesn’t preclude decades in the wilderness like the Pirates, Astros or Royals have gone through. Between Hamels, Rollins (overpaid though he is), Utley (who I would re-sign with the oodles of money this team has) and Brown, there’s enough talent on this team to contend very quickly, especially given the vast financial reserves this team has and the strong FA market next year. By 2014 they could probably field a better team than 2013 just by selling and signing.

      • Ken Bland

        March 13, 2013 at 12:14 pm

        “Utley (who I would re-sign with the oodles of money this team has”

        Publius,

        Do you have an opinion on how much and length?

      • Publius

        March 13, 2013 at 12:27 pm

        Just spitballin’ here, but I doubt he takes anything less than 3 years guaranteed, probably around 16-18mil range

      • George

        March 13, 2013 at 2:04 pm

        Publius: I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and guess that you wouldn’t re-sign Utley if his knees go out entirely.

        Even if they only prove problematic, I question whether he’d be worth $16-18 M/3 years.

    • Justin McElroy

      March 13, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      It would not be a “Marlins type fire sale”. The Marlins dumped expensive players who were statistically considered to still be in their prime seasons. The Phillies would be trading players who are statistically in their decline seasons, and in many cases at the end of their contracts. If the Phillies are out of contention at the trade deadline again, I think the best thing to do would be move Utley and Ruiz to contenders and try to beef up the farm system. There’s a shelf life to the 2008 nucleus and I think we’re pretty close to the expiration date.

      • George

        March 13, 2013 at 2:15 pm

        I don’t think anyone would compare a Phils firesale to a Marlins one. No ownership group in its right mind pulls the kind of crap Loria does.

        But selling off even a crew of aging vets would be a firesale of sorts. It would change the makeup of the team drastically, and probably alienate some casual fans (the frontrunners and what-have-you-done-for-me-lately types). This is the crux of both the Keri article and of Alex lee’s careful analysis of it: Phils management faces a complicated choice.

      • Justin McElroy

        March 13, 2013 at 2:38 pm

        In 2014 Utley will be a 35 year old second baseman with a history of knee problems, Ruiz will be a 35 year old catcher (the sport’s most grueling position), and Halladay will be a 37 year old starting pitcher with years of wear and tear on his right arm. I don’t think the decisions on their futures is all that complicated. At some point you just need to move on.

      • Chuck A.

        March 13, 2013 at 2:47 pm

        Let’s just see how they do this year before we decide whether or not to “move on.”

      • Justin McElroy

        March 13, 2013 at 3:11 pm

        I’ve never advocated trading anyone right now. However, if they’re not in contention at the trade deadline (a very real possibility), it becomes a much different scenario. At that point, if you can get a decent prospect for a 35 year old catcher or second baseman, why wouldn’t you do it? Holding on to guys for sentimental reasons is absolutely the worst thing they can do.

  7. Keith

    March 13, 2013 at 11:35 am

    The biggest issue I have with this article is saying J-Roll is performing up to his contract. I would agree if leading the majors in infield fly outs is performing up to his contract. The Phillies severely overpaid for him. No other team was going to give J-Roll more than 2 years. The Phillies were bidding against themselves.

    • schmenkman

      March 13, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      Overall, Rollins was one of the best shortstops in baseball last year and more than earned his contract. Some people get hung up on his popups, but If you combine his popups and strikeouts, they’re still less than most shortstops (and most leadoff hitters).

      • Publius

        March 13, 2013 at 3:26 pm

        Dude had a 98 OPS+ and a .322 wOBA (8th among SS). That’s not “one of the best”. That’s “average” and not worth $12mil

      • schmenkman

        March 13, 2013 at 3:34 pm

        Defense and base running counts too.

        Rollins had the 2nd highest fWAR among all MLB shortstops, behind only Ian Desmond. That certainly does make him one of the best.

      • Publius

        March 13, 2013 at 3:36 pm

        Defensive WAR measures are terrible, and I say this as a huge WAR advocate. We can’t simply look at those and declare Rollins elite because of one-year defensive WAR measures.

      • schmenkman

        March 13, 2013 at 3:41 pm

        I didn’t call him elite defensively, and neither do the defensive measures, which were in-line with his measures for previous years. But he does a lot of things very well for a shortstop, and for you put it all together for 2012 he was one of the 2-3 best shortstops in the game overall.

      • schmenkman

        March 13, 2013 at 3:41 pm

        and _when_ you put it all together…

  8. Ken Bland

    March 13, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Couple points in this article evoke a gimme a break type reaction..

    First of all, this is not time to be thinking of a fire sale. There’s zero wrong with Jonah Keri saying IF the Phils “disappoint”, a rather general term, he sequentially would thinnk in fire term sales. There’s more than adequate time to PRACTICALLY consider that even as late as late June, a full month before the trade deadline.

    Additionally, there’s a very misguided basis of thought in here about the pity the poor Philadelphia Phillie fan. It seems clearly suggested that the emotional core of the Phillies fan base would be beyond destroyed with a fire sale. Puhleeze. It’s not like a team meandering at a sub .500 pace, eons out of the two card would endear the public. It might inspire those that love to overreact on blogs and talk radio, but that’s life in the public figure game.

    Also, regarding this quote from the article…

    “With names like Utley, Halladay and Carlos Ruiz in the final years of their contract, cutting ties with those organizational mainstays will be particularly painful”….

    it don’t get much more clear cut visible that this is an attempt at a logic process with an abundance of emotion. Phillie fans have survived personnel turnover for many years, and know the realities of life that will always work that way. And mentioning Doc and Chooch in the same sentence as Utley in this regard is void of thought. Blessed as we’ve been to watch Doc in a Phillie uni, and it’s been great, he’s only been here 4 years now. Chooch is a very nice player, and everybody likes him, but it’s not like he’s an alltime Phillie hero. Chase, on the other hand, is a lifelong Phillie, and a centerpiece that took the club into a great era. Chase’s imminent departure will be sad, but even that will be gotten over in the short term.

    If a fire sale is right, it’ll become obvious. That it won’t is besides the point, I guess. But even if my having expressed that opinion proves wrong, it’s apparency might actually make for interesting times. In the meantime, Cliff versus Pettitte tonight, which is more than enough to look forward to, with Doc’s next start Sunday as icing. Tra la la, let’s live for today.

  9. Jay Floyd

    March 13, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Nice first contribution by Alex Lee. Nice work and welcome, once again.

  10. Old HC

    March 13, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    The game is glorious at any age and to watch great players, even as they age, is a privilege. Stop whining about what might be and enjoy what is.
    Halladay will be a top starter again, Chase will be back and Howard will be The Big Piece. Their thirties slump was inevitable and there is nothing in their makeup, both physical and psychological, that portends a continued mediocrity once they adjust to age induced problems
    Although this is not perfectly analogous, I experienced an “old at 32” slump while playing (don’t laugh) softball. I led my league in batting the year previous to the slump and tied for outfield assists. The year of the slump, I went through a divorce and the demands of my money job increased. I came to games tired both physically and emotionally. I didn’t have the resilience of youth to count on and little injuries nagged and further sapped my joy in the game. That year, what previously cleared the fence dropped into the left fielder’s glove and my throws were offline and without authority. I had a very bad year.
    The next year I had no more bad marriage, the job was in a more lenient contract and i paid more attention to my overall fitness over the winter. I had a very good year playing the game. My arm came back and throws were snapping again. Although i never again led the league in hitting for average I was driving the ball.
    I was among the top five centerfielders in fielding and hitting in two of the next five years and my team won three league titles in that time. The Phillies will play and the sun will shine.

    • Publius

      March 13, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      So if I’m reading this post correctly, the logical argument you’re making is that Halladay, Utley and Howard will be fine because you had one good softball season at 33.

      Ok then.

      • Old HC

        March 13, 2013 at 1:45 pm

        Your smarm aside, my point is that athletes playing at a high level have skills that will recover., although perhaps not to previous levels. My example was meant as “as above so below.” Everyone, with the possible exception of Pubes, goes through this and I was reminding that there is no need to jump off of a bridge when a burp happens. Although, Pubes, you can do as you see fit.

  11. Chuck A.

    March 13, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Rollins is not overpaid.

    • Ken Bland

      March 13, 2013 at 1:45 pm

      What is your problem, Chuck?

      Keith told us “The Phillies severely overpaid for him. No other team was going to give J-Roll more than 2 years. The Phillies were bidding against themselves.”

      Here you have a guy who obviously had to be a fly on the wall in all negotiations Jimmy’s agent had with any club, is gracious enough to break the news of the results to us, and you offer an opinion, versus what is presented as indisputable fact.

      My, oh my.. Let’s work on that reading ability.

      When you are exposed to facts, and can’t learn from it, and we both know we’ve had plenty of recent opportunity to do that on this site, it is a sad day.

      Love,

      Ken

      • Chuck A.

        March 13, 2013 at 2:33 pm

        Yeah, well…we all know just what a pompous ass Keith Law is. Hell, even Mr. Pubes (below) admits “probably not by much”.

      • Chuck A.

        March 13, 2013 at 3:29 pm

        Aaaannnnd….. I just realized, Mr. Bland, that you were NOT referring to Keith Law, but rather Keith the commentor when he said at 11:35 AM:

        “The biggest issue I have with this article is saying J-Roll is performing up to his contract. I would agree if leading the majors in infield fly outs is performing up to his contract. The Phillies severely overpaid for him. No other team was going to give J-Roll more than 2 years. The Phillies were bidding against themselves”

        To which I would add again (and it’s been agreed on by both Publius and schmenkman)…..Jimmy Rollins is NOT being overpaid.

        Mr bad for assuming that.

        Sincerely,
        A confused PhilliesNation idiot (maybe even the Village Idiot),
        Chuck A

      • Arc

        March 13, 2013 at 10:29 pm

        Chuck A= village idiot? not hardly; more like phillies nation idiot!!!

  12. Publius

    March 13, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Probably not by much, given the scarcity of his position, but these next 2 years could be scary if his swing slows down any or if his alarming trend of infield popups continue apace.

    • George

      March 13, 2013 at 1:43 pm

      Has it actually been a trend, or are the popups a one year anomoly? I don’t recall any complaints about Rollins’ popups until 2012.

      I’ll have to see if his swing actually does slow down or if he continues the “alarming trend,” or stops stealing bases, or loses most his range these next two years before I’ll ever make such a brash statement that he’s overpaid.

      • Ken Bland

        March 13, 2013 at 2:06 pm

        It’s actually a pretty fair statement, and the word alarming is not out of place.

        Here is Jimmy’s year by year infield fly ball percentage for his seasons in the bgs since 02.

        02 – 12

        03 – 10.3

        04 – 10.3

        05 – 9.9

        06 – 9.7

        07 (MVP) – 7.5

        08 – 11.8

        09 – 13.7

        10 – 10

        11-10.1

        12 – 19.0

        Those numbers from Fangraphs.

        It should be noted that Jimmy hit a popup in a WBC game I saw a couple pitches of the other night, so his infield flyball percentage for 2013 is already in positive territoey. That’s called a firesale red flag, I guess.

      • schmenkman

        March 13, 2013 at 3:10 pm

        Rollins’ popup rate has always been at about the league average, until 2012 when it almost doubled. Remains to be seen if it’s a trend or a blip.

      • Ken Bland

        March 13, 2013 at 4:27 pm

        There IS such a thing as an off year, but when a full season that involves doubling from 10-20 per cent as a possible blip rather than trend, that’s really pushing it.

        And for what it’s worth, and it does really look bad startistically, in 2012, Jimmy’s infield fly percentage broke down this way…

        With nobody on, he hit 16.1% infied fly outs.

        With men on base, it was 22%.

        With ’em loaded, he hit fly balls on the infield 26.7% of the time.

        Surely this is not the sort of numbers from which Charlie has said he likes Jimmy in certain places in the order because he can drive runs in.

        In 2011, Jimmy’s results were 9.2% with none on, or men on base, and just under 15% with the sacks full.

        Regarding Jimmy “more than earning his contract,” that’s debatable. It’s true, if that word is applicable in stating an opinion, that his overall (season long) numbers were good, and certainly justification of an 11 mil a year payment. That limit, I believe is more fair than kind.

        And there aren’t many seasons by many players that are a model of year long consistency, but his more often than not poor April, as the lnieup was more dependent on him with Howard and Utley out was up there on the list of reasons the team got out to a 9-14 start that it never recovered from.

        These are not reasons to think Rollins should be part of a possible fire sale, which a few cool heads have realized it’s either ridiculous or just chatter to discuss in mid March, and by no coincidence, 1 day after a poor performance by one of it’s maximum key players.

        Rather, they are reasons to realize how this game of inches works. The difference between the 10 and 20 per cent popups, on 500 at bats is a whopping 50 at bats. If, in a new season, once again under new batting coaches, and the burn of last year’s frustration fresh in mind, Jimmy can get his rate down to 15 per cent, that’s 25 extra at bats that might result in base hits. or at least ground balls that more challenge a defense and represent better possibility of advancing runners..

        If he does that, he’d be off to a good start to more than justifying year 2 iof his deal. But until then, he only deserves the optimism that the future tense carries. And it’s fair to look at his 2012 popup increase as a source of concern until he alters this trend, not blip.

      • George

        March 13, 2013 at 4:44 pm

        I fail to see where your numbers indicate a trend. Discounting 2012, for the most part they’re all right around 10% with the exceptions of a few years (2002, 2008, 2009) which averaged an “alarming” 12.5%. None of those years occurred in the two years prior to 2012. A trend is something that happens over a period of time, not something that happens every once in a while. I think your stats indicate “anomoly,” not “trend.”

      • Ken Bland

        March 13, 2013 at 5:02 pm

        I validated the word “alarming”, and categorized the statement as fair, so it’s fair to call me on it. But I didn’t validate trend. What I did so was definitely lean toward the word trend as opposed to Schenkman’s insertion of the word blip. But as I said, there IS suvh a thing as an off year.

        Whatever you wanna cal it, anomoly, trend, blip, it ain’t good, especially the men on ratios, which I will readily admit might not constitute many at bats (no idea) in the overall scheme.. But it was 50 hard to imagine productive at bats last year that we’ll look for a good deal of improvement on. I’m sure all of us lean in that direction on that angle of it.

      • schmenkman

        March 13, 2013 at 5:05 pm

        Ken, just to clarify something, those %s are the % of balls hit in the air which are infield popups (I got the impression you thought they were the % of plate appearances or balls in play). For example, last year 41.6% of the balls he put in play were hit in the air, and 19.0% of that 41.6% were popups, for a total of 42 popups on the year.

        Regarding your % of popups in various situations, these are the actual numbers we’re talking about:

        with men on base: 16 popups over the course of the season, of which 11 came with runners in scoring position

        And when you were in there looking at the splits, I’m surprised you didn’t also notice this in Rollins’ stats:

        .261/.343/.489 (.832 OPS) with men on base
        .277/.364/.545 (.908 OPS) with runners in scoring position

        So, yes, hopefully he can reduce from 42 popups back down to more like his usual 20-25 (which again is the league average rate of 10% of balls in the air).

      • Ken Bland

        March 13, 2013 at 5:13 pm

        True, I measured it against overall plate appearances.

        And that was nice sarcasm, saying you’re surprised I didn’t catch the overall lines with men on base when you know darned well I was just looking at the popups, the whole popups, and nothing but the popups.

        I have spent a lifetime trying to convince people I am not as dumb as I look.

        I’ll leave it to your newly discovered sarcasm expertise to figure if that’s sarcastic or not.

        Here’s to fewer popups no matter what.

      • schmenkman

        March 13, 2013 at 5:16 pm

        Huh? That was not sarcasm. That was giving you the benefit of the doubt.

      • Ken Bland

        March 13, 2013 at 7:00 pm

        then you were way, way to kind. I really did just look at the fly ball stuff, and obviously didn’t understand how the stats derived.

  13. Bruce

    March 13, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    I find all of this amusing on the subject of “July Fire sale” taking place here in the month of March. (chuckles)

  14. George

    March 13, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I found Keri’s piece rather annoying in it’s spoutings of “that happen, too,” because what he is really saying is “that happens if you’re GM is a bonehead like Amaro.” His entire way of expressing himself seems to be a with backhanded approach: being harsh and critical of one thing by pointing it out as if it’s universal. It’s a dishonest approach and I, don’t like it.

    I’d take more stock in Keri’s analysis if he just came right out and said what he appears to mean; that the Phils are in trouble. Then I’d expect him to back it up with honest assessments, with statistics, of just who happens to be past their expiration dates, just how much could be gotten in trade, and just who to rebuild around. I also would take more stock if he was more realistic about what could be obtained for a possibly washed up starter in his final contract year, a 2nd baseman with a degenerative knee issue, or a shortstop, who, if he’s really slipped, might have to have HIS contract eaten.

  15. betasigmadeltashag

    March 13, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    I think obviously if the Phillies have an April-May-June like last year, and you can get some value for some of these guys the FO will look into into it and not be affraid of what the fans think and make some deals. There is a problem with that and that is if they are playing that bad where you want to deal some of these guys, there will not be value out there for them because they are playing bad and their decline would be more evident. I doubt there will be a lot of need for Chooch since he will be suspended for the first 25 games.
    On Doc, is a 75% of Doc in his prime a decent #3 pitcher, I say yes. If you do not expect him to be the Ace he was three years ago and he pitches 30-32 starts and is 15-9 with a sub 4 ERA all be it a slighly over paid #3 is that really that bad. I think this is a better team offensivly then last year with Micheal Young and a more Healthy Howard and Utley actually playing spring training and not showing any signs of knee problems. I do not hold ST numbers either good or bad to mean much, but Revere has impressed me at the plate, I thought he would be of a slap swing hitter, like Pierre, but he really has a nice swing, and think outsided the power numbers can put up better numbers then Vic both OB and BA.
    I also have done a very scientific simulation of this up comming season, and the numbers look good, Rollins .268 12 HR 65 RBIs Howard .356 67HR 145 RBIs, Utley .380 61 HRs 130 RBIs Revere got Hurt so JMJ played most of the season and hit .275 18 HRs and best Ruf hits .354 35 HR 98 RBIs. Pitching had all five starters in the top 7 Cy Young Canidates, even KK with a 323 ERA and is 17-10 Cole 23-6 .237 ERA and Lannon 15-9 with a 325 ERA. So I am not worried

    In case some of you do not get Sacrasim, these are actually numbers from my MLB2K 2012 vidio game. I am a really good pitcher in that game, and do not use bull pen that much, Cole had 11 complete games and 7 shut outs, Lee 10 CG and 4 shut outs, I think alll my pitchers would be hurt by August in real life, I think they all had over 250 innings or there about, do not believe in pitch counts just like Nolan Ryan

  16. Fritz

    March 13, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    How about we give them a chance to play before we sell anybody.

    • Publius

      March 13, 2013 at 3:27 pm

      Nobody here is saying “trade them now!” This is merely speculating what happens if, in June/July, the Phils are waaaay out of it. Nothing wrong with it on a slow (non-Papal) news day.

    • Justin McElroy

      March 13, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      The premise of the original post was “Four months from now, if Philly appears on its way to another mediocre season, should the team cash in their biggest trade chips for younger players who could help build a winning team for 2014 and beyond?”

      • George

        March 13, 2013 at 4:54 pm

        My impression of the Keri article was more like him saying, “The Phils will suck, and Amaro should blow up the team in four months, but he’s probably too old school stupid to do that.”

        But maybe you’re refering to Alex Lee’s much more reasonable approach.

  17. Lefty

    March 13, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    I like Keri’s writing, I think he’s a bright guy. I don’t think he’s so far off on this piece. He has always subscribed to the “Branch Rickey” theory. And he’s not just a guy that looks back and says they should have done this and that after the fact.

    He actually wrote that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start slowly remaking the Yankees a month after they won the World Series in 09. He writes that standing pat doesn’t give usually net good results and proves it with stats. He wrote this November 21 , 2009 – He doesn’t mention the Phils specifically in this piece but you could apply the same theory.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/sports/baseball/22score.html?_r=0

    • Justin McElroy

      March 13, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      That’s exactly why some of us were less than thrilled with the Ibanez and Polanco signings. While the rest of the lineup was reasonably strong, it was the perfect time to fill LF and 3B was young kids who had some upside. They would have had time to develop (and struggle) at the big league level and the end result hopefully would be they could be productive players as the rest of the lineup declined.

      • Justin McElroy

        March 13, 2013 at 4:01 pm

        *with young kids, not “was”

      • George

        March 13, 2013 at 5:08 pm

        I never heard from those people you’re refering to. If they existed, they probably didn’t realize that there were no LF/3B prospects in the Phils’ system, nobody spectacular was available in free agency (Beltre turned down the Phils’ offer) and it would have cost a bundle to trade for “young kids” who were really good.

        Actually, most people I heard or read complained about those contracts because they were simply too long.

    • George

      March 13, 2013 at 5:01 pm

      Big deal. So Keri stated what was obvious to everyone: that the Yanks should slowly remake themselves.

      Even Cashman probably realized that, because the team is currently chockful of players they didn’t have back in 2009. There are a few obvious holdovers, but for the most part those Rivera and Jeter types have been pretty darned good, and probably better than what the Yanks could have replaced them with.

      • Lefty

        March 13, 2013 at 5:47 pm

        Obvious? I disagree. But let’s see how that relates to the Phillies back then. Let me ask you a hypothetical question.

        Would management have been considered crazy to trade Chase Utley at that same time, right after a 5 home run World Series?

        Of course, they would. They’d have been skewered, I would have been angry too.

        But what Keri has said in many of his writings is that it may have be a smart move for any team to trade it’s highest valued talent to keep the ball rolling. And I’m saying it’s hard to make the tough decisions, but I agree that sometimes you have to make them. Keri’s stats demonstrate that for many teams over the years, standing pat after a championship is not the way to go.

        A perfect example is the trade of James Shields for prospect Wil Myer. It could work either way, but the Rays have a pretty good track record with these things. Of course that hasn’t brought them a championship, but they are right there in the hunt every year. To me, that is all you can ask form management, because a championship involves getting lucky in the crapshoot that is the MLB playoffs.

        As it turns out, trading Utley then might have brought a haul that would have been very beneficial to the team now and for the future. The Branch Rickey theory would have been prophetic in this case. And I fully understand that it’s revisionist now, but I’m saying that with the Yankees, Keri called for it right then and there. My opinion is that gives legitimacy to his article this season about the Phillies. If you take away the sensationalist Title “Blow up the Phillies” which he probably didn’t even write, I don’t think the piece was “scathing” at all, I thought it was more than fair.

        George if you get a chance, google him, or check out some samples of his stuff on Amazon. “The extra 2%”, or “Baseball between the Numbers”, I think it’s really enlightening stuff.

      • wbramh

        March 15, 2013 at 5:28 am

        I agree, Lefty.
        The headline not withstanding, the concept makes sense.

        If you look at a team (any team) not as components but as a whole and that whole turns out to be mediocre and slipping and the farm team is thin, what are the options? Free agency often buys you one or two overpriced components and more often, another team’s cast-offs.

        If you’re giving away players in a fire sale you’ve waited too long to receive either the financial or young talent compensation you need to build with.

        So the issue isn’t whether Jimmy and Chase and Ryan and Chooch and Cliff can still contribute to a winning whole (and commensurate with their salaries) but when is it best to move those players still showing value and use that value to rebuild the entire organization?

        I don’t think the team had any choice but to hold onto Chase and Ryan because their injuries (particularly Chases’s chronic problems) diminished their trade value arguably below their actual worth. Jimmy’s infield pop-ups may not have diminished his actual standing as a an above-average shortstop as Schmenkman’s statistics appear to bear out, but the clock is ticking. Furthermore, everyone’s market worth likely drops when their part of a losing whole – fair or not.

        If the Phillies turn out to being going nowhere by mid July, It’s probably the time to sell those still productive and unscathed components at top dollar to contenders desperate for pieces and willing to pay with their own futures.

        Otherwise, Ruben is likely to be left with nothing more than a sidewalk sale “dollar table” come October. What doesn’t sell goes back in the basement along with the rest of the team.
        Not a good scenario. This team spent too many years in that basement over the course of franchise history – and history need not repeat itself if management stays ahead of the cycle.

        Get those seeds going on the farm. From this fan’s perspective, I could live with a few years of rebuilding if the foundation is as strong as it was in the years leading up to the last World Championship.

      • George

        March 15, 2013 at 9:27 am

        Lefty: Your Utley example isn’t exactly a good one. After the “5 home run World Series,” Utley was still rather young, good and playing at a level indicative of a lot of way-above average seasons. He would have been traded more like five seasons to early had his knees not given out. I’ll agree that he would have brought in a huge haul, but trading a premium player in his prime is,in my opinion, not the road even Branch Rickey would have taken. Other players Amaro did dump weren’t exactly been great for their new teams; Burrell, Brett Myers, for examples (and possibly Pence and Victorino, too), and many of the prospects traded have been less than stellar. This appears to be an area people ignore when trashing the man. He gets no credit for relieving the roster of mediocrity, but gets blamed for injuries beyond his control or playoff losses that are products of what is essentially a crapshoot.

        As far as reading the supposedly erudite Keri, I’m going to pass. I simply do not like his writing style or his backhanded slaps at baseball organizations that were so evident in this”Blow Up…” piece.

  18. CS

    March 13, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Is tonights game against the yankees on local tv?

    • Ken Bland

      March 13, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      Yes.

      Well, sort of.

      It’s on Yes.

      So if you’re asking from Staen, Long, or Fire Island, the answer is truly yes.

      I guess it depends on what you mean by local.

      MLB.com indicates it’s radio only in the Philly market. And if that isn’t specific enough, WPHT.

  19. CS

    March 13, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Thanks.

    • Ken Bland

      March 13, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      Your thanks is premature.

      IDon’t thank me yet. Ihave great suggestions and reason to make an effort to see the game.

      n this day and age, quick relocations possible as they are, I’d encourage you to relocate to Newark by game time anbd catch YES’s coverage of the action.

      This is must see TV tonight.

      Forget that Josh Fields is playing 3rd. Forget that John Mayberry is batting cleanup.

      The big story is that Ben “Travellin’ Man” Fransisco is batting 5 for The Empire.And, for further entertainment, playing right field.

      I still remember LA’s reaction to Bennie Fresh’s 6 homerun April in year one after JDub, which could have been 8, if not for the wind. His proclamation was it’s not Werth’s offense the Phils will miss, it’s his defense.

      Bennie Fresh. I can’t wait to see what home run call John Sterling comes up for him. All I know is he better hirry and come up with one. At Bennie’s rate of travel, he should see 3 more MLB uniforms by June.

      Now, you can thank me. I don’t know what for, but it’d be nice to hear. Pr read, as the venue allows.

  20. Andrew from Waldorf

    March 13, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    The problem is utside of Ruben no other team is going to over value the talent like he did.

    He is a historcly bad GM. Reminds me o Mike Milbur with the Islanders.

    That said.

    I am hoping Halladay and Lee and Coleare all top 10 pitchers again.

    If that happens anything is possible.

    If they wi a WS I guess I wont be able to call him crappy.

    But the odds are strongly against.

    If there is a mid season dismantling and another bad year then all of my rants for the last 4 years have come true.

    I wont be suprised.

    But as of March 13th the Phillies are still in first so there is hope.

  21. Bob in Bucks

    March 13, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    I am surprised at the reaction to what was essentially a reasonable argument based on facts (the Phillies are OLD) and historical trends as to what happens to old teams. Simply put these players are not what they were and they cannot be expected to regenerate their youth. Sooner or later you have to move on and we are now reaching “later”.

    I won’t complain of the risks taken by Amaro but we traded away our good prospects and now we have to pay the piper. It will do no good to trot out the same old, same OLD year after year. We will have to rebuild and that starts with cutting the payroll.

    To me Halladay and Utley have to go to make room for younger players or potential free agents. That is $35 million. I would not spend it all. We are not going to be able to catch the Nationals for a few years. Howard probably can’t be moved. The only one who has to stay is Hamels.

    I will still root for them but the window has closed. Let’s hope for 2020.

  22. "Big Ed" Delahanty

    March 13, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Let’s see some baseball before we start thinking about calling in a demolition crew.

  23. Ken Bland

    March 13, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    The Grandy Man checking in for 4th inning color commentary. Two sentences in, I’ve already learned more from him than I have in many moons of Sarge.

    The Grandy Man can.

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