Blogging about the 5x NL East Champion Phillies

Monthly Archives: November 2010

Grading the Phillies: Bench

(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Ben Francisco – C+: His lack of playing time came as a surprise to fans this year, especially when Raul Ibanez had some early-season struggles. He’s the type of player who needs every day at-bats to heat up. It will be interesting to see what happens next season if the Phils don’t sign Jays Werth or think Domonic Brown will be ready to start.

Ross Gload – B-: Gload had stretches of brilliance but also had some stretches of poor hitting. He became their go-to guy late in the season and in the playoffs when facing a right-handed reliever.

Brian Schneider – B-: His job was simple: be good enough to spell Carlos Ruiz or when Ruiz gets injured.

Mike Sweeney – B: Acquired in August, Sweeney became an immediate fan favorite and got some solid playing time when Ryan Howard was hurt.

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Wilson Valdez – A-: Valdez stepped in beautifully when Jimmy Rollins was hurt for a majority of the season.

Other guys

Dom Brown – C+: He was making his making his major league debut so much wasn’t expected. Next year will be interesting. If he starts, expectations will be high. If he doesn’t, fans will wonder when he will be major league-ready.

Juan Castro – D: He didn’t last long so obviously his grade won’t be that good

Greg Dobbs – C-: There’s a reason why the Phillies let him go after the season. 2008 was more a fluke than what the Phils thought Dobbs was capable of.

Paul Hoover and Dane Sardhina – C-: These guys were bad replacements when Ruiz and Schneider were hurt.


No Surprise: Werth Offered Arbitration

The Phillies figured they will get something out of Jayson Werth this off season. With it highly unlikely they will sign the free agent right fielder, the Phils offered arbitration in hopes of getting something for him.

Werth is a Type A free agent which means the Phils will get the top pick and another of the team who signs Werth.

In other arbitration news, Chad Durbin was not offered arbitration. As Todd Zolecki said in his post, it was a move similar to what the Phils did in 2008 with Jamie Moyer. They are afraid Durbin will demand more money and with the good season he had in 2010, he could get a raise. They’ll take their chances in signing him as  free agent instead.

News Around Baseball 11/22/10

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

VOTTO WINS MVP — To no surprise, the Reds first baseman Joey Votto was awarded the NL MVP award today. Votto received 31 out of 32 possible first place votes (Albert Pujols had the other) to become the first Red to win the award since Barry Larkin in 1995.

Votto put up impressive numbers all season, batting .327 with 37 homers and 113 RBIs. He also slugged an impressive .600 and finished with an OPS of 1.064.

Roy Halladay, who won the NL Cy Young last week, finished sixth in voting. He and Ryan Howard received one second place vote apiece. Jayson Werth was eighth in voting, Howard was 10th, and Carlos Ruiz finished 17th.

LOPES BACK IN LA — Former Phillies first base coach Davey Lopes is going back to LA. Lopes signed with the Dodgers to be their first base coach today.

From 2007-2010, the Phillies finished top in baseball in base running due to Lopes’ expertise at reading pitchers and catchers. He helped turn Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino into some of the biggest threats on the base paths in baseball.

The Phillies replaced Lopes with Juan Samuel over the offseason.

SIZEMORE RUMORS — For the past week, there have been rumblings on MLB XM radio of the Phillies being interested in Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore. The Indians are shopping the 27-year-old around

Sizemore played in only 33 games last season due to injury. He’s a career .272 hitter with 129 home runs. He can give teams a .275 season with 20-25 homers and 75-85 RBIs from the left side of the plate.


Grading the Phillies: Starting Pitching

The starting pitching was the sole reason the Phillies were so good despite a heavily inconsistent offense and and injury-plagued season. Resting on the backs of the Big Three, the Phils were carried to their fourth straight NL East championship and boasted the best record in baseball for the first time years.

It was a magical night in Miami as Roy Halladay celebrates after throwing the 20th perfect game in major league history back in May.

Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, Kyle Kendrick, J.A. Happ, and Jamie Moyer pitched the bulk of the first half of the season. But a trade right at the deadline sending Happ and prospects to Houston for Roy Oswalt turned the Phillies rotation into the best in the game, rivaled only by the World Series champion Giants.

Phillies starters this year were 70-48 and averaged 6.4 innings pitched-per-start. It was that effort that kept the weak bull pen fresh and allowed the Phils to rely on their three-four best relievers without burning them out in the late run.

(Since Happ was traded and Moyer got injured, I won’t grade them)

Halladay (33 starts): 21-10, 2.44 ERA, 250.2 IP, 9 CG, 4 SHO, 219 K, 30 BB.

Halladay had an almost inhuman season. He led the league in innings pitched, complete games, shut outs, and wins to win his second career Cy Young.

I could go on for days what type of season Halladay had in comparison to his past accolades. Instead, I’ll just highlight some of his achievements.

Halladay pitched the 20th perfect game back in May in Florida. It was one of the most beautiful pitching performances in my lifetime. Halladay had a near repeat performance in his playoff debut. In the first game of the NLCS, Halladay threw a one-walk no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds, becoming the second player in baseball history to throw a no-no in the playoffs.

Halladay was brought over the Philadelphia in December in a trade that sent prospects to Toronto. The Phils also traded Cliff Lee to Seattle in return for prospects that really haven’t panned out. Halladay quieted the protests with his Cy Young performance. Hell, a fan blog was made to parody Doc and numerous fan-made t-shirts were created (and forced to be deleted by MLBPA).

No incoming athlete has taken over the city of Philadelphia like Halladay has, not since a certain left-handed pitched in the 70’s won four Cy Young awards in this city.

Grade: A+

Hamels (33 starts): 12-11, 3.06 ERA, 208.2 IP, 211 K.

Left-hander Cole Hamels pitches against the Reds in game three of the NLDS. He threw a shutout that game to send the Phils to the NLCS. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Hamels wanted 2009 to be over – simply because he wanted 2010 to come. Hamels silenced every single one of his haters, putting up the best season of his career and confiding in Phillies fans that the “2008 Cole Hamels” is back.

Hamels had a career best 3.06 ERA and career high 211 strikeouts. He posted an ERA under 2.80 in each of the last three months of the season as he lined the Phillies up for another World Series run. He pitched a complete game in game three of the NLDS, possibly his best performance of the season.

Hamels caught so much crap for the poor 2009 he had. Many doubted he was mature enough to handle the role of ace. With Halladay coming to Philly, the weight was lifted off of Hamels’ shoulders. Hamels showed maturity and composure as he pitched beautifully in clutch situations to show he has a good head on his shoulders and his a reliable No. 2 guy.

Grade: A

Blanton (28 starts): 9-6, 4.82 ERA, 175.2 IP, 134 K, 43 BB.

Heavy B had an odd season. Starting a month late, Blanton was rough for the first couple months of the season. He got stronger as the season went on and with the arrival of Oswalt, Blanton moved down to become a very reliable No. 4.

Blanton’s 4.82 ERA was his highest since 2006 and his strike-out numbers were down almost one per nine innings. His walks totals decreased a bit though but his hit numbers went way up.

Overall, Blanton had a set-back season. You could blame that on losing the first month to a strained oblique. If he has a bounce-back season in 2011, the Phillies rotation 1-4 could be among the best in the majors again.

Grade: C+

Kendrick (31 starts): 11-10, 4.78 ERA, 180.2 IP, CG, 84 K, 49 BB.

Kendrick wasn’t even supposed to be a starter this year. But with Blanton’s early injury, Kendrick fit into the five-spot, battling with Jamie Moyer until the old man’s season ended.

Kendrick was either brilliant or absolutely awful. One of his biggest highlights was his complete game against the Yankees but he also had starts that made the fans question his presence on the mound.

For a No. 5, he had a very normal year. The Phils may have confidence in him as a No. 5 for next year unless they see it fit to go after Cliff Lee. And with that highly doubtful, Kendrick’s spot in the rotation could be safe.

Grade: C+

Oswalt (12 starts with Phils): 7-1, 1.74 ERA, 82.2 IP, 73 K, 21 BB.

The Big Three was complete when Roy Oswalt was traded to the Phils before the deadline. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Oswalt was the savior of the Phillies in late July. Being traded for Happ and prospects, Oswalt’s impact on the Phillies was almost unmatched.

What made Oswalt fit in with the other two Phillies aces so well was that he was a third completely different pitchers. Halladay is a power-pitcher, Hamels relies on deception, and Oswalt uses the movement on his fastball to set up batters to take bad swings.

The Phillies will have Oswalt for another year or two and would love to see what a full season of him with the Big Three will do for the team. With the offense likely taking a hit in losing Jayson Werth, they will need all the good pitching they can get.

Grade: A

Doc Takes Home Hardware

Roy Halladay was named the 2010 NL Cy Young award winner today. Blowing away the competition with unanimous voting, the 13th player in history to do so, Doc became only the fifth player in Major League history to win a Cy Young in both leagues.

(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Halladay went 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA in 33 starts this past season. He led the league in wins, complete games (nine), shutouts (four) and innings pitched (250 2/3). He averaged under 7 2/3 innings pitched per start.

Some other great accolades this year include Halladay becoming the 20th pitcher in major league to throw a perfect game. He also became the second pitcher to throw a no-hitter in playoff history but that did not affect the balloting, which was finalized at the end of the regular season.

Other candidates for the Cy Young were Adam Wainwright of St. Louis, who had 28 second-place votes and Ubaldo Jimenez of Colorado, who had four.

It was Halladay’s second career Cy Young award, winning his first as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2003.

To add to the award, Halladay was also named the cover-player for MLB 2K11 next year.

Isn’t This Where I Came In?

Okay I’m sorry for the “The Wall” reference.

Ryne Sandberg is back at the beginning, literally. The Phillies signed the Hall of Fame second baseman as the manager of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Sandberg, a prospect when he left the Phils, is now back in the Phillies organization, grooming himself to probably be the next manager of the Phillies (face it, Chollie is getting old).

But this is exceptional news. Sandberg wants to be a major league manager and what better place to learn than in Philly. In the CSN article, Sandberg said he is excited to be heading back to Clearwater, FL for the first time since 1981.

So yes, Ryne: This is in fact where you came in.

Samuel to Coach 3rd

The Phils signed former second baseman Juan Samuel to be their third base coach. Former coach, Sam Perlozzo, will fill the void left by Davey Lopes at first.

I was never a fan of Perlozzo at third so this is good news to me. Other than that, carry on with your every day lives. That’s all for today.

Victorino Snags Only GG for Phils

Shane Victorino is the first Phillie to take home hardware his off season, winning his third career Rawlings Gold Glove Award today. Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, and Carlos Ruiz were all considerations for their positions but failed to take home the hardware.

Former Phil, Scott Rolen, won his eighth career award and his firs as a member of Cincy and first since 2006. Rolen won four with the Phils and three with the Cardinals.

Grading the Phillies: Outfield

In 2009, each of the Phillies outfielders made the All-Star game. This time, none of the three outfielders were honored in July.

In likely one of the las few posts about him, Jayson Werth had the best season of the trio. Raul Ibanez tried to get healthy and even showed some flashes of brilliance at the plate but age prevented him from being a daily threat. Shane Victorino had a typical year, taking over in lead-off situations for much of the season when Jimmy Rollins went down.

Overall, the outfield struggled. Werth may have put up some solid numbers and Victorino and Ibanez had bright spots but it was a disappointing effort and where they normally bat in the order were causes to why this team struggled offensively.

Ibanez – .275 AVG, 16 HR, 83 RBI.

Ibanez went through one of the roughest first halves in baseball. At July 1, he was batting .236 but had a tremendous July in which he batted .347 with four homers and 15 RBIs that month.

But Ibanez struck out, grounded, and flew out way too much. He did post a .304 average with runners in scoring position. His RBI and power numbers were down a bit and at times was an offensive liability. He still had a typical year slightly below what he has done throughout his career.

What Ibanez is to the Phillies is a liability. There are rumors that he could be swapped for another aging, over-payed outfielder that bats on the right side of the plate. If that’s the case, it will probably spell the end of Werth and the start of Domonic Brown.

Grade: C

Centerfielder Shane Victorino is one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Victorino – .259 AVG, 10 3B, 18 HR, 69 RBI, 34 SB.

Victorino is one of the more dynamic players in the Phillies outfield. Mixing ability at the plate with speed on the bases and field and a great arm has made him a dangerous weapon.

But Victorino didn’t consistently do his part at the plate. Batting in the lead-off spot and in the seven-hole for almost the entire season, Victorino saw his rolls change rapidly and therefor couldn’t get into much of a rhythm.

Victorino never batted over .300 in a month and only batting over .280 twice. This is not reflective of his career .279 average (that’s with factoring in the poor hitting 2010).

His RISP numbers were very good for someone who was all over the place in the line up. He batted .285 while driving in 50 runs with RISP and was a torrid .429 with the bases loaded. His 68 RBIs total were a career high along with his 18 home runs.

Victorino got comfortable in the lead-off spot, batting .276 with a .346 OBP in his 82 games as the lead-off man. But leading off the game, he had only a .297 OBP, an indication he needed time to settle into his role.

Grade: B-

Werth -.296 AVG, 46 2B, 27 HR, 85 RBI, 147 K.

This is a tricky season to grade. Werth put up great numbers but went long stretches without producing any RBIs or long balls.

Werth suffered much of a set-back from his 2009 season with 14 fewer RBIs and nine less home runs despite hitting a career-high .296 as a full-season starter. He also led the league with 46 doubles.

Free agent outfielder Jayson Werth could be running to a new team this off season. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

But despite the very good numbers, there were two big parts of his game that stood out that need to be corrected if he wants to actually deserve the money he will be getting.

Werth couldn’t drive anybody in from scoring position. He batted .186 with RISP in 140 at-bats. Yea, that’s your five-hole hitter; the guy who is supposed to protect Ryan Howard and drive in runs behind him. And to add to how unclutch Werth was, with two outs and RISP, Werth batted .139 in 72 at-bats.

His other number that was terrible were his 147 strike outs and the led the team with 31 backwards-K’s. Granted he’s no Howard in the K-category and it was actually a drop-off from last season, Werth is a much better hitter than Howard and should not be striking out as much as he does.

The big part about Werth’s game that causes him to go down on strikes is his patience. He led the majors with 4.37 pitcher seen per plate appearance (P/PA). That’s an incredible number. But by being patient, he puts himself in a better position to guess wrong and strike out.

Werth is as good as gone this off season barring a home-town discount. Whoever lands Werth will be blessed with a special player. But they could also be inheriting a lot of strike outs and a lot of failed RBI opportunities.

Grade: B+

Phils Interested In HOFer Sandberg

It’s like the Phillies are trying to make up for what they did over 25 years ago. They have expressed interest in Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg to become the manager of their Triple A club, Lehigh Valley.

Sandberg was famously traded away with Larry Bowa for Ivan DeJesus in 1982. DeJesus fizzled out and Sandberg went on to have a Hall of Fame career.

Sandberg managed in the Cubs minor league system last season, leading their Triple A squad Iowa to an 82-62 record. Sandberg wants to be a major league manager some day and with Charlie Manuel’s age, who knows if he could be groomed to replace Manuel.