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Odds And Ends: Jan. 27

Good Sunday, Phans at the Nation. I haven’t posted in a few days, but for good reason. Starting tonight, I’ll be posting everyday, doing some fun things, some serious things, basically, a little of everything.

Tonight I’m going to give a State of the Phillies, in honor of our State of the Union address tomorrow night. For now, here are some notes:

  • Pedro Feliz allegedly turned down a two-year offer from the Giants.

It’s possible that the Phillies could find a way to sign him to an incentive-laden deal; already the Phils have been said to offer Feliz a deal. He would play third base regularly and open Wes Helms to the trading block.

I never disliked Nunez as much as some, since defensively, he’s one of the games best corner sackers. On a team with such a deep offensive arsenal, cheap defense becomes prime territory. Hopefully Eric Bruntlett will fill those shoes well.

As far as Phillies catchers are concerned, Lieby is a top-five all-time guy, and supplied a nice drawer of memories during his tenure at backstop. He caught seven full seasons, posting two very good offensive campaigns:

In 1999, Lieby hit .300 with 31 HR and 96 RBI out of the six spot, gaining the first of two All Star trips. Though his power quickly evaporated, Lieby showed his hitting prowess in 2003 when he hit .313. In the future, it’s likely Lieby will more be remembered for being one of the foundations of the Ed Wade era, joining Bobby Abreu, David Bell, Jim Thome and possibly Pat Burrell as players who didn’t strike gold when we all expected it.

“Really, it was whatever the team needed me to do; I was going to do it,” Myers said, though he claimed he wouldn’t mind starting and relieving at the same time. Interesting idea, but that would kill Myers career.

When the Phils signed Brad Lidge, the question of Myers’ role took centerstage, but was answered when the team popped him back in the rotation. At first, I thought a Myers/Lidge back-end would prove potent, as long as the Phils could grab a No. 2 or 3 starter to pair with Cole Hamels. That never happened, and so Myers, back in the rotation, will have to channel No. 2 stuff.

I wonder out loud: Is Myers better as a starter or reliever?

I won’t simply go by Myers’ relief stats last year, since it’s still a small sample size. Instead, I’ll look at career splits:

First PA against hitter: 1600 PA, .225 AVG, .301 OBP, 1.968 ADJ-RA
Second PA against hitter: 1263 PA, .269 AVG, .328 OBP, 3.56 ADJ-RA
Third PA+ against hitter: 1100 PA, .300 AVG, .363 OBP, 3.21 ADJ-RA

(ADJ-RA is adjusted runs allowed; I multiplied games by three and used that for at bats in the ERA formula (ER*9/AB), using runs instead of earned runs.)

So Myers is definitely better earlier in the game, but is he bad later in the game?

I took his highest comparison for his age, according to Baseball Reference, who is Livan Hernandez:

First PA against hitter: 3446 PA, .266 AVG, .328 OBP, 2.82 ADJ-RA
Second PA against hitter: 3069 PA, .274 AVG, .340 OBP, 2.89 ADJ-RA
Third PA+ against hitter: 3745 PA, .292 AVG, .351 OBP, 4.11 ADJ-RA

Livan is very consistent until about the fifth inning, then drops off badly, while Myers usually suffers a bad inning or stretch somewhere in the middle of the game before slightly recovering.

Myers’ current comparable is Aaron Harang:

First PA against hitter: 1547 PA, .243 AVG, .294 OBP, 2.20 ADJ-RA
Second PA against hitter: 1385 PA, .277 AVG, .329 OBP, 2.79 ADJ-RA
Third PA against hitter: 1288 PA, .280 AVG, .336 OBP, 3.45 ADJ-RA

Harang consistently gets worse with each new plate appearance, pretty normal for a starting pitcher. The fact that Myers’ stats jump up during the second appearance shows that if he’s not on his game, he’ll only get about five innings.

The proof: In 2006, Myers started 31 games, finishing with a maximum of 5.2 innings eight times. In 2005, he started 34 games, and again, eight times he finished before six. So 25 percent of the time, he’s going to struggle.

To compare, I looked at his relief appearances in 2007, and figured out how often he struggled (gave up one run or let three or more on base): 13/41 times, or, 31 percent of the time.

It’s pretty close, and if you take into account that one or two of those 13 struggles ended with a save or win, it factors closer to 25 percent. What does it all mean?

Brett Myers is still talented enough to be a regular No. 2 starter, but shows tendencies that make him more of a No. 3 starter. As a reliever, he’s serviceable, but isn’t as reliable as the top closers in the game. Bottom line: He’s good in either situation, but most likely better off as a starting pitcher.

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