It's common knowledge that Jimmy Rollins' contract is up at the end of this year and the Phillies will be in the market for a shortstop for the first time since George W Bush's first term in office. It's also common knowledge that Rollins is a guy who loves attention and loves the star treatment. The Phillies wrapped up the prime years of Jimmy's career with a rather team friendly deal back in 2006 that averaged around $9M per over 5 years. While Jimmy isn't really performing up to the same levels that he did during the first year or two of that deal, both offensively and defensively, he's certainly going to be looking for a raise going into free agency with a deal that gives him 4 or 5 more years at over $10M each. It's a steep price to pay for a guy whose career is in decline, but without much in the farm system and not much else available in the free agent market, the Phillies have backed themselves into a bit of a corner here. Or have they...
1,200 miles to the south, but within the same division lies a shortstop that has shown as much potential as Jimmy Rollins ever did in his prime. He's a career .300+ hitter who is a has been a shoe in for 20/20/80/100 throughout his career. His name is Hanley Ramirez.
Wait, are you serious? Well, yes... sort of. Hear me out on this one.
Hanley Ramirez has burnt a lot of bridges in Florida with his lackadaisical style of play and his generally poor/disrespectful attitude towards the game of baseball. He's been benched for not running out ground balls, he's been fined for showing up late to games, and he's been chastised by his teammates for giving up on balls defensively. There's a solid case to be made that Ramirez's days in a Marlins uniform may be numbered. First of all, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has never paid a player as much as the $15M that Hanley is due next season. That kind of salary in the Marlins current financial structure would equal something like 40% of their entire payroll for 2012. With a solid crop of other young talent that includes surprise power hitter Gabby Sanchez, fan favorite Logan Morrison, and the pitching duo of Anibal Sanchez and Josh Johnson, ownership is going to need to save a few dollars in the future. Secondly, Hanley's poor performance essentially forced his manager Edwin Rodriguez into stepping down from the job. Interim coach Jack McKeon is well known to be a guy who simply doesn't put up with the kind of antics Hanley displays. Now, we don't know if McKeon has any intention to be the manager beyond this season, but if he does, you can rest assured that Hanley's attitude would be a major riff in the clubhouse. I'd imagine if you were to ask Marlins fans whose side they're on, the guy who won them a World Series in 2003 or the guy who jogs to first base, they'd choose the former.
So if the dude's got so many issues, what do the Phillies want with him? Well if anyone is used to a shortstop who doesn't hustle, it's Charlie Manuel and the Phillies. To a much lesser extent than Ramirez, Jimmy Rollins has had his share of lazy moments in the game and he's been benched almost as frequently. Still, though, Charlie's reputation as a player's coach has mended any hard feelings he's garnered with his shortstop. Hanley has never experienced being on a team with veteran leadership around him. When Wes Helms and Greg Dobbs are the two guys giving you a hard time, it's pretty easy to tell them where to stick it. When it's Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard... you might just listen.
As for the contract situation, Hanley Ramirez is signed through 2014 with a deal that averages $15.5M/year over the next three. But that would be his 28-30 year old seasons, or what you might consider a player's prime. $15M for a guy who plays SS and puts up the kind of numbers you expect from a top tier outfielder is chump change. Especially once you factor in the likely raise Jimmy Rollins will command. If Jimmy can be had for 3 years @ $12M and a trade for Hanley Ramirez only costs you another $3M a year plus a few prospects, my question is where do I sign.
But I'd be neglectful if I didn't address some of the downfalls to this plan. The first thing baseball folks bring up talking about Hanley Ramirez is his declining defensive skills. It's true, he is just too big of a guy to be playing shortstop. His metrics rank him as about the 4th worst defensive shortstop in baseball over the last 5 seasons (oddly enough, golden boy Derek Jeter is the worst). But, a deal that sends him to the Phillies might only require him to play SS for one more year. Placido Polanco is signed through the 2012 season with a mutual option in 2013. He would be 37 in that year so the $1M buyout is a pretty likely option. The Phillies could let Polanco walk/retire, shift Hanley over to 3rd base after 2012, and either plug the SS hole with a placeholder like Wilson Valdez or hope to fast track any one of the handful of middle infield prospects they drafted this season and have laying around the low minors. Probable, maybe not. But it's certainly possible.
And perhaps the biggest hurdle to the little dream scenario I've painted is the prospect price tag involved. Make no mistake about it, the Marlins would be looking for a pretty epic haul if they were to trade away the cornerstone of their franchise. Up the price even further considering the Marlins probably wouldn't want to trade within their own division. Fortunately, the Phillies have a pretty stout farm system, especially at the lower levels. My best guess is that a deal would require 2 top prospects who are nearly major league ready, 2 that are highly touted low level guys, and a 5th guy as a throw in. Another 5 for 1 style deal. I don't know the Phillies farm system as well as I probably should, but if I were to venture a guess, Brody Colvin (projects as a #2-3 starter), Jonathan Singleton (1B/OF), Justin DeFratus (mid 90s bullpen arm), Vance Worley (#3-4 starter), and Freddy Galvis (MI) might be in the neighborhood of what it takes to get the job done. A steep haul, but also a series of guys who we can afford to lose if it means having a slugger like Hanley in the lineup for the next 3 years.
Okay, so it's not likely. But neither was trading for Roy Halladay last season or signing Cliff Lee this offseason. He bats right (which we need), he hits for average (which we need), he plays shortstop (which we will need in about 150 days). I'm not completely out of my mind, am I?
I'm pretty sure I've addressed this before, but Mandy Housenick from The Morning Call is probably the laziest, and most unfounded Phillies beat reporter out there. She frequently criticizes star players as a way of stirring the pot and almost always has no facts (or occasionally fabricated ones) to back her opinions. Earlier this week was nothing different when Housenick and Marcus Hayes were on Daily News Live and had the gall to come out and say that "you're not losing anything by playing Wilson Valdez at second base over Chase Utley." Crashburn Alley does a great job at breaking it down with a nice video mashup, but I don't think I need to bring up statistics like WAR or UZR to show you how asinine that statement is. How do people like them get paid to cover baseball while I sit here and blog about it for free?
Ever want to stick your hand inside Chase Utley? Sicko. Well, now you can, thanks to these completely ambiguous and maybe even slightly racist puppets and stuffed creatures. Seriously, cover the names for a second and tell me that the Ryan Howard plush doll doesn't look more like Ben Francisco and the Chase Utley 7" plush doesn't look more like Brett Myers than anyone capable of playing 2nd Base. Still though, these dolls are officially licensed and they're cheaper than the stuffed goods you can get on the 2nd floor of the Majestic Clubhouse Store so if you don't mind your kids thinking all white people look the same, go for it!
I found a neat little daily fantasy game on FanGraphs while reading through some twitter posts this morning. Just grab six players for the day under a salary cap and see how well you score. It's free to play, so if anyone wants in, I'll gladly set up a little daily group.
Did you know that the Marlins new manager is old? It's true, 80 full years to be exact. What would possess a guy like that to come out of retirement is beyond me unless he has some sense of debt owed to help the Marlins out for the rest of the season. With a team full of guys that could easily be his great grandchildren, you can expect a lot of age gap jokes like the one Logan Morrison tweeted last night:
With Interleague play in full swing, the yearly argument erupts once again: DH or no DH? It's a subject that splits baseball fans pretty much right down the middle depending on whether or not their team plays in the AL or the NL. Personally, I like the idea of having a pitcher pitch because it adds an extra challenge to the game that NL managers have to work around. That little caveat leads to some of baseball's greatest nuances; the sac bunt, the double switch, the pitcher actually getting a hit, etc. But then again, I'd probably pissed if my team strolled into an NL park and my best hitter was riding the pine because he's completely useless with a glove on his hand and my pitcher hasn't swung a bat since little league. Fans of the AL love the added offense and the lack of an "automatic out" at the bottom of the lineup. Fans of the NL love the purity of having every player on the field play two way ball.
With the All-Star Game just a few short weeks away and voting wrapping up in about 10 days, let the roster controversy begin! While I don't think either manager in this year's event is going to go the Omar Infante route, there are bound to be a few screw ups. With injuries aplenty among superstars, and a number of early stat leaders not even listed on the ballot, expect to see a few eyebrow raisers. That said, I've dedicated yesterday and today to my NL & AL All Star picks (respectively) and we'll revisit things in a few weeks to see how I made out...
Catcher - Alex Avila (DET), Russell Martin (NYY)
One position into the selection and I'm already annoyed by how the voters are voting. Martin lit the world on fire in April, but is a replacement level player since then. Avila is more than a half a million votes behind, but he's the best catcher in the AL right now not named V-Mart.
First Base - Adrian Gonzalez (BOS), Miguel Cabrera (DET), Paul Konerko (CHI)
Always a tough decision, but AGon is the best at the position right now and both Konerko and Cabrera get the edge over Mark Teixeira right now, though he's next in line should just about any offensive player fall.
Second Base - Robinson Cano (NYY), Howie Kendrick (LAA)
Cano is the best of the bunch, but I think Kendrick will get a spot in the mix because of his hot start and solid OBP. Dustin Pedroia has made a case for himself lately, but with Michael Young being a deserving All-Star and having some skills at 2B, I think he steals the show from either Pedroia or Ian Kinsler.
Shortstop - Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE), Jhonny Peralta (DET), Derek Jeter (NYY)
It's an absolute travesty that Jeter will make this team seeing how he's about the 10th best shortstop in his own league right now, but he's the leading vote getter. JJ Hardy deserves consideration though injuries have held him back a bit. Elvis Andrus is also an option for his speed and run scoring abilities.
Third Base - Adrian Beltre (TEX), Alex Rodriguez (NYY), Kevin Youkilis (BOS)
The three best will make the show here, though the order is a toss up. Voting will probably remain close until the last week. Evan Longoria has played himself out of contention for this year.
Utility/DH - Michael Young (TEX), David Ortiz (BOS), Victor Martinez (DET)
Young does it all (and quite frankly his owner/team owe him one), and the other two are just mashing the ball right now. Slide Teixeira in here if you don't like Young or Vmart. Not really any other options unless you want to throw Ben Zobrist into the mix for his flexibility.
Relief Pitcher - Mariano Rivera (NYY), Kyle Farnsworth (TB), Jordan Walden (LAA), Jose Valverde (DET)
Rivera is still the best in the game, Farnsworth is making hitters look foolish and Valverde & Walden are getting the job done with little fanfare, but plenty of strikeouts. Easy Choices.
With the All-Star Game just a few short weeks away and voting wrapping up in about 10 days, let the roster controversy begin! While I don't think either manager in this year's event is going to go the Omar Infante route, there are bound to be a few screw ups. With injuries aplenty among superstars, and a number of early stat leaders not even listed on the ballot, expect to see a few eyebrow raisers. That said, I'm going to dedicate today and tomorrow to my NL & AL All Star picks (respectively) and we'll revisit things in a few weeks to see how I made out...
Catcher - Brian McCann (ATL), Miguel Montero (ARI)
It's been a tough year for catchers. The normally thin crop was decimated even more with the loss of Buster Posey. McCann currently holds a sizable lead in the voting and the only other catcher worth the weight of hit bat at the plate is Miguel Montero.
First Base - Prince Fielder (MIL), Joey Votto (CIN), Ryan Howard (PHI)
I had to go back and dig through the numbers for this one. With Albert Pujols on the shelf for 4-6 weeks and a host of others spending time on the DL, I'm going with the three star first baseman that have played in just about every game for their teams. Fielder deserves it, Votto is getting credit for last year's snub, and Howard is just getting lucky based on numbers alone. I wouldn't be surprised/upset if he misses out, though.
Shortstop - Jose Reyes (NYM), Troy Tulowitzki (COL), Starlin Castro (CHI)
No Hanley or Jimmy this year. The best SS in the game right now is Jose Reyes. Tulo is up there, but his extreme hot and extreme cold streaks make him more of a secondary pick. Castro is a solid backup to both of them and deserving of the job.
Third Base - Placido Polanco (PHI), Neil Walker (PIT)
Polanco is the leader in the vote and rightfully so, though his recent performance at the plate has been lackluster. Neil Walker has played some 2nd and 3rd this year and put up impressive power numbers so I'm giving him the nod as the 2nd pick.
Utility - Michael Morse (WAS), Gaby Sanchez (FLA)
These two are likely to be members of the last chance vote and might come down to a manager's decision. They've both played out of their minds this season, though they unfortunately play most of their games at 1st Base. Still, I think you will find both of them sneaking into the game with Morse being the only worthy Nationals player at this point.
Starting Pitchers - Roy Halladay (PHI), Cole Hamels (PHI), Tommy Hanson (ATL), Jair Jurrjens (ATL), Cliff Lee (PHI), Ian Kennedy (ARI), Clayton Kershaw (LAD), Tim Lincecum (SFG), Anibal Sanchez (FLA)
I waited this long to get a San Francisco Giants player into the roster and that's likely an oversight since their manager is picking and choosing the players, but I just couldn't find a Giant whose offensive production warrants a selection. This crop of starters, on the other hand, are all deserving and include more than a couple of first timers. Most of all, it shows just how deep the NL East is in pitching!
Relief Pitchers - Jonny Venters (ATL), Brian Wilson (SFG), John Axford (MIL), Joel Hanrahan (PIT), Heath Bell (SDP)
I give the nod to Venters over Kimbrel because I honestly believe he is the better pitcher. The rest of the guys are among the league leaders in saves and strikeouts; my two metrics for a solid closer. Heath Bell lands the final spot as the lone representative for the Padres.
It's been a busy week, and I considered just mailing it in until Monday, but I'd like to get my thoughts on Divisional Realignment out there while the subject is still remotely current. Be prepared for jumbled thoughts, poor grammar, and incomplete sentenc...
First, let's state the obvious: MLB current alignment doesn't really work. National League teams have a 1 in 16 chance of winning the pennant, American League teams have a 1 in 14 chance. The Baltimore Orioles play either the Yankees or the Red Sox for 22% of their schedule. Meanwhile, the Rangers can sneak into the playoffs without a single other division opponent above the .500 mark.
The solution seems fairly simple, slide one team from the NL into the AL, and swap some teams from their current divisions. I'd probably flip/flop Detroit and Baltimore (the cities are close enough that coast to coast travel isn't a major issue), and I might even consider a Rays for Marlins swap. Before you call the 2nd move crazy, take the following into consideration: The Marlins build a team that can win every 5-7 years then blow it up due to lack of sustainable income. Well, they are about to move into a new stadium and the traveling fan bases of the Red Sox and Yankees could really breathe some new life into the franchise. The Rays moving to the NL East would provide the closest thing to a regional rivalry (Atlanta, though it's still a 6-7 hr drive) they've ever had and the NL would give the franchise a much better opportunity to make the playoffs. Suddenly, there might actually be interest in baseball in Florida.
The downside to two 15 team leagues would be that interleague play would have to happen every night, or two teams would be sitting out each and every series. But constant interleague play could actually prove to be a great thing for baseball. Think about the rivalries that go on during interleague play that are swept under the rug because ESPN is too busy covering a subway series. If every other team is facing a division opponent over a weekend, suddenly Nationals-Orioles might be a legitimate Sunday night baseball match up. Instead of cramming the LA v LA, NY v NY, and CHI v CHI battles into the same weekend, split them up so they all get the national coverage they deserve.
One idea I cannot get on board with is eliminating divisions all together. First of all, I get way too much joy out of beating the Mets and the Braves on a regular basis and collecting those pennants the Phillies give out on Opening Day. Secondly, taking the top 4 teams from each league and tossing them into the playoffs is far too similar to the free-for-all that is the NBA. If the idea is to give more teams a shot at making the playoffs, then I would prefer the adding of a 2nd wild card team to the playoffs. Let the two wild card teams square off in a single game elimination series for the rights to move on. That creates a single game playoff, which has historically been a ratings monster for MLB and brings that many more teams into the playoff mix. In recent years, the AL wild card has always been coming from the AL East. But with two wild card positions available, you don't have to be as good as the "worser" of the Yankees-Red Sox to have a shot at the post-season. You just have to go toe to toe with them for 9 innings.
Sure, there are tons of holes and problems with any/all of my suggestions, and the idea itself is in it's infancy. But it's nice to see Major League Baseball is not content with just sticking to the status-quo. If there's a way to stir the competitive pot, I'm all for it. Just don't try to fix what's not broken. The current system has been around since 2001 and I definitely think a few tweaks would be good for baseball.
Next week, Phillies Nation is hosting a tour of the ballpark followed by a block party for Kisses for Kyle. I don't think I can make the tour (though I really want to), but you can bet I'll be watching the Phils v. Cardinals from McFaddens. $25 gets you an open bar from 7-9pm and $1 beers afterwards with tons of giveaways, auctions, raffles, and live music. Be there!
You think you know your own backyard ballpark better than anyone, and then someone like Kurt Smith comes along and shows you just how wrong you are. I've browsed a few pages from the Citizens Bank Park Ballpark E-Guide, and I can assure you that there are some intricacies to the stadium that even season ticket holders don't know. Want to know where to get a $1 hot dog even when it's NOT dollar dog night? Spend $5 on this E-Guide!
If you play fantasy baseball, chances are your league probably sucks. COSFBA runs through a list of features in fantasy baseball leagues that really knock the sport down a few notches. If making a few mouse-clicks to set your lineup each day is too much work, go play fantasy football. I'm happy to report that the world famous "Pop's Fantasy Baseball League" seems to have all managers still active and attentive this late in the season. I've been at it for about15 years and I'm pretty sure this is a first. Normally, Bean would have a team full of Phillies players on the DL right now, but even he's paying attention.
Imagine for a second if they built Citizens Bank Park on the banks of the Delaware. I mean, sure there would hundreds of alcohol related drowning deaths each year. But is that really any different than the stabbing deaths we have outside of McFaddens now? Catching a game from McCovey Cove(preferable on a platform that also provides grilling sustenance) is definitely one for my baseball bucket list.
Now that the end of the world has come and gone without ending, it's nice to look ahead five years to see who the best players in the game will be. I would agree that baseball seems to be experiencing a renaissance of sorts with the fresh crop of young talent entering the league over the last few seasons and into the future. I've even heard this year referred to as the "year of the prospect." Gone are most of my childhood heroes, and in comes a new crop of studs. The list provided by MLBBlogBuzz is sadly lacking Phillies players other than Domonic Brown, but half of the guys on this list will play their way out of their current situation anyway. Bookmark this one and revisit it in 5 years to see where they stand. That is, unless we're all driving around in flying cars and we're playing baseball on the moon by then.
I've linked in the past to the Casual Fan project where one man is catching 100+ games in a season, but equally impressive is this guy who is completing a baseball biking tour of all 30 MLB stadiums over the course of a season. I rode about 2 miles yesterday and had enough. This guy logs 30+ every day and he's only on day 65. Both tours are great examples of a free spirit just going out and living a dream. If I didn't have all this baggage holding me down (a job, a house, a wife, etc...) I'd be right there with them!
Lastly, did you know that this summer marks the 50th anniversary of alcohol being sold at Phillies games? Baseball in general didn't allow beer sales until the 1930s, but Philadelphia was especially dry due to the state's ridiculous (still) alcohol sale laws. In fact, beer sales at ballparks only opened up because belligerent drunk fans were sneaking their own bottles into the park and using them as projectiles. So in that respect, not much has changed.
By popular demand, and the fact that the mention of "T-shirts" gets me more site traffic than pistachio girl, I've decided to compile a second round of Phillies related shirts for your amusement... and also because I'm tired of seeing you guys in your "ill" t-shirts and jerseys with your own name on the back.
Creators of the simple, but now famous, Cholly faced shirt as seen during the 7th inning of last Sunday's game, Philavania offers a different variety of shirts than most other companies out there. They're a 4 for 4 type of place, so the baseball selection is a bit limited, but there are some good ones you should get your hands on.
Bark Tees is one that's relatively new to me, but won't be for long. They do a lot of toying with the Phillies font, and offer a ton of unique designs. Apparently you can manipulate a Phillies "P" into just about any inanimate object you want! Have a dad? Well then I think the perfect Father's Day gift is pictured below! If you don't have a dad, buy one for me.
It was a gross miscarriage of justice for me to leave these next guys off the first list. Not only do they have a well laid out and visually appealing blog which I frequent, but the guys at I Don't Give A Schmidt also offer a series of shirt designs of their own. The "Pepsi-esque" Roy shirt is my favorite, though I could get on board with just about everything they offer.
Normally, I'd say that Joe Blanton has a face (and arm) that only a mother could love, but apparently Chick's Dig The Long Ball love them some Heavy B as well! Perhaps it's just their sentimental/maternal instincts as they also offer shirts for the Tuffy Gosewisch, Ben Francisco, and Wilson Valdez fans out there. All three of you.
One of my favorite podcasts to download on a daily basis has to be ESPN's Baseball Today. They span the full spectrum of baseball and Eric Karabell being a Phillies homer is a refreshing change of pace for the 4 letter network. Naturally, I was pretty stoked to hear that Phillies great, Mike Schmidt was going to be on the show yesterday. But as I listened, hoping to hear some words of encouragement and positive baseball news, all I could hear was the veritable whining of a borderline curmudgeon.
Mike Schmidt's disdain for the steroid era and those who chose to partake in performance enhancing drugs is well documented (meanwhile, his support for Pete Rose is equally well noted). But in yesterday's podcast, as in his most recent book, "Clearing the Bases: Juiced Players, Monster Salaries, Sham Records, and a Hall of Famer's Search for the Soul of Baseball" Mike Schmidt soft of comes off as a vindictive man with a chip on his shoulder about an era that really doesn't impact his legacy in the slightest.
Schmidt's biggest complaint about steroid era baseball has always been the power spike. He mentions in the podcast how even guys like Jose Bautista are a bit tarnished because of the legacy of other guys like Brady Anderson. But take a look at Schmidt's generation for one minute. George Foster was a guy who hit HR totals in the teens and twenties for his most of his entire career... except for the years he popped 52 and 40 to lead the league. Ben Oglivie averaged 20/season for his career... except for the season he doubled up and hit 41 to lead the league. Now, it's likely that Brady Anderson became an overnight sensation with a little "help." But to say that today's players have to live with the residue of the previous generation is a sham. He goes on to say that if guys like Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez hadn't taken steroids they might have made the Hall of Fame. Might? MIGHT? Barry Bonds could have retired at the end of 2000 (before the 73 HR anomaly) and been just a few shy of both 500 HRs and 500SBs and maybe a few percentage points shy of .300. He already had a mantle full of gold gloves, silver sluggers and MVP awards. Do you think that might have been good enough for the HoF?
The question is then posed to Schmidt about his lack of interest in coaching to which Schmidt replies that he was very interested in coaching, but was never given the opportunity. He sets the stage in 2004, when Larry Bowa was fired, and Schmidt was denied even an interview for a job with the big club by then Phillies General Manager Ed Wade. Mind you, Schmidt spend that 2004 season as the coach of the Clearwater Threshers, the High A team in the Phillies farm. How did they perform that year? Second worst in the league with a 55-81 record. Surely they hit the ball well, though, with a hitting guru like Schmidt at the helm? No. 2nd fewest runs per game, 2nd fewest hits in the season, 2nd worst OPS. All that, despite having the most seasoned team in the league with an average age of 24.4. Why WOULD you hire that guy? He interviewed for a job with the Rays and wasn't offered that one either. The Rays hired Joe Maddon who hadn't been a major league coach either. So after ONE WHOLE YEAR of chasing down the dream of being a manager, Schmidt hung it up. Quite frankly, I spent longer trying to be an architect. Schmidt's teammate (for about 5 seconds) and fellow Hall of Famer, Ryne Sandberg, has been working his way up the coaching ranks since 2006 and he's just now gaining consideration for major league jobs. These kind of things don't just get handed to you, Mike.
But what irked me the most about the podcast interview was Mike Schmidt's take on strikeouts. He makes the comment that today's players are far too willing to accept a strikeout as part of the game and that a lot of leading power hitters will strike out "one out of every four times." Quick math, what's 1883 / 8352? Oh... 22%. Mike Schmidt's career K rate. What if we just take the 8 years in which Schmidt led the league in HRs... 24% K rate. So you're telling me that when Mike Schmidt was at the peak of his HR game, he struck out nearly one out of every 4 ABs? But today's players are monsters for doing the very same thing? Schmidt goes on to say "it's easy to hit 45 HRs in you're willing to accept 200Ks in a season." Maybe there's some truth to that, but let's look at some of the most recent 50+ seasons to see just what their K rate was (Eliminating Bonds, Arod, McGwire, Sosa, etc for the PED use)
Ryan Howard 2006 - 58 HRs - 31% K Rate
Jose Bautista 2010 - 54 HRs - 20% K Rate
David Ortiz 2006 - 54 HRs - 21% K Rate
Jim Thome 2002 - 52 HRs - 29% K Rate
Andruw Jones 2005 - 51 HRs - 19% K Rate
Prince Fielder 2007 - 50 HRs - 21% K Rate
Mike Schmidt's career average falls right in line with those guys (Howard and Thome are well known K guys so I grade them with a curve). Include the PED guys and the rate drops dramatically. Whether Schmidt wants to accept it or not, he IS one of those "1 out of 4 strikeout" kind of guys. He's top 10 on the All Time strikeout list. Saying that it's easy to hit 45+ HRs if you take accept strikeouts by the bunches just sounds like sour grapes to me.
But Schmidt does redeem himself in one regard. We can both agree that guys like Ryan Howard need to show a little more effort in trying to correct their shortcomings. Ryan knows he can hit the ball 500ft to right field. Shouldn't he at least WANT to learn to hit the ball through the shift in left? Have a little more pride in yourself, man.
And maybe I'm taking everything out of context. And maybe I'm just cranky because it's 100 degrees outside and the Phillies can't score runs. And maybe I'm the one off my rocker. But hell, if Mike Schmidt's goal was to rile people up and sell some books, he succeeded. I scored this guy off Amazon.com a few minutes ago. Download the podcast and take a listen for yourself...
Matt Joyce - OF - Tampa Bay Rays
While Sam Fuld started the season as one of the hottest players in baseball, Matt Joyce is the Rays outfielder you should have been watching. Joyce is getting regular playing time in RF and has been hovering around 1.000 OPS since early May. While his previous years in the majors never gave any indication that he was capable of such numbers, Joyce is currently hitting .340 and the RBIs keep coming at a steady rate. At a little over the 1/3 pole for the season, we can expect his BA to drop and the rest of his numbers to level off, but 25 HR, 90RBI, 10SB, .300BA is a pretty realistic expectation at this point. For a guy who started as waiver fodder for all but the deepest of leagues, that's a heck of a stat line. ESPN Player Rater currently has him as the #9 ranked OF this season.
Mike Morse - OF/1B - Washington Nationals
Forget Jayson Werth, Mike Morse is the best fantasy baseball player on the Washington Nationals this year. Critics point to the fact that he doesn't walk nearly enough, but in most leagues, that won't make a difference. His stock is rising and rising fast. With Adam LaRoche on the DL, the 1B job is his on a daily basis. ESPN currently has him as the #1 Ranked OF and 1B of the last 15 days. He's raised his BA almost 100 points since the start of May. If you think 29 is too old for a breakout season, I don't know what to tell you. Mike Morse won't steal you any bases like Werth would have, but he's carrying the team in most every other fantasy stat.
Alexi Ogando - SP - Texas Rangers
I read a Yahoo story last week that indicated why it took so long for Ogando to make his way to the majors. Apparently he was an unwilling guilty party in some sort of human trafficking ring in Dominican Republic and Mexico. But that didn't matter to the Rangers who worked with him for years to get into the states and into the majors. After a decent year out of the pen in 2010 and a Spring Training that had him potentially pitching as a closer in 2011, the Rangers haven't had a reason to second guess putting him in the rotation as he's clearly been their best pitcher to date. Not only is he getting the job done in the W column, but he's also leading the league in WHIP! His fastball is one of the hardest in the league and his secondary stuff dances. Player Rater has him as the #7 pitcher for the whole season. Keep an eye on an innings limit toward the end of the season, but otherwise start every week.
Erik Bedard - SP - Seattle Mariners
It's been a few years since Bedard had a season worth noting. And there's really no guarantee that he finishes this season healthy, but ride the streak while you can. His season started rough, which garnered the usual moans and groans from Seatle fans, but since April 27th, he's 3-0 and going 7IP in just about every start. His last 5 games featured 7, 7, 4, 9, & 9 Ks which are a sign of the Bedard of old. If he can stay healthy for the full season, his projections are pretty solid for a #3 starter. ESPN has him as the #24 SP over the last 30 days. Give him a more starts and his numbers may look like some of the top guys in the AL. Take it all with a grain of salt of course, because his offense isn't scoring him any runs.
Fenando Salas - RP - St Louis Cardinals
The closer carousel in St. Louis finally seems to have come to an end. Salas has succeeded where Ryan Frankling, Jason Motte, and a host of others have failed. He ended May with a streak of 6 straight saves and only has one blown save on the season. But more importantly, he's not letting a whole lot of guys get on base and he misses an awful lot of bats. ESPN has him as the #3 ranked RP over the past 30 days. He's likely going to keep the role and with the awakening of Albert Pujols, chance are the Cardinals are going to be in position to win a lot of games. I expect him to be a top 10 closer for the rest of the season.
Not really someone that was predicted, but then again, most mock drafts don't take into consideration "signability." From everything I can find, he's a power hitting third baseman/outfielder that projects as an outfielder in the majors. He has some speed and a plus arm, but make no mistake, he was drafted for his power. He had a 3 HR performance in a State Tournament game last season and holds most every power number record at his school, though from what I understand, his league isn't all that impressive. Think Ryan Howard, in the outfield. 19 HRs, .562AVG in 30 games and only 8 Ks this year. I like the pick simply because they needed to go with a position player here. Their farm system was lacking in power OF bats. I'd still look for middle infield and catching help over the next few rounds. But overall, the Phillies have something like 48 picks left, so there's plenty of time to shop around.
Spotted: Dane Sardinha face down on a Pittsburgh bar. If you haven't been to PNC Park, then you don't realize that there is a plethora of bars within a 2 block radius of the stadium. It's part of the charm, but it may also explain why the Phillies are so terrible there. The Phils are now 13-32 at PNC following yesterday's win. When I was out there last year, following the game (another loss), we spotted Jayson Werth and Ryan Madson getting the VIP treatment to the upstairs lounge at a place called Mullen's accross the street from the Stadium. I made a poor attempt to slip by security and sneak through the kitchen to big dog it with the rest of them, but I wasn't successful. Still, I'd like to see someone compile a Phillies record when playing at stadiums that have nightlife within a 2 block perimeter. My guess is that when the "Philly Live" thing opens up at the site of the old Spectrum, we're looking at a 0-162 season.
The MLB Draft starts tonight. I don't claim to be a scout, but from what I hear, it's an incredibly deep crop of players. Specifically, there are supposed to be a ton of available pitchers. Everything I'm reading this morning seems to indicate that the Pirates have chosen to use their #1 overall pick on UCLA RHP Gerrit Cole. He projects to be on the fast track to the big leagues and could really benefit a developing Pirates team that already features Charlie Morton. The Phillies forfeited their first round pick when acquiring Cliff Lee, but they do have a supplementary pick at #39 overall. They've been good drafters as of late, but I still can't forgive them for choosing Jeff Jackson over Frank Thomas in 1989. Zero games in the majors or a Hall of Fame career. Nice choice! The Phillies will also draft at 66, 90, and 120. Not a ton of early picks, but a good mix to throw in with an already budding farm system. I would expect them to target depth and middle infield and catching over everything else. Of course, the MLB draft is pretty much a crap shoot anyway, but seeing as how I have nothing to do tonight, I'll probably tune in for a while.
This was too good not to share... a local duo has developed a self published comic series called "Dugout Phunnies" featuring tales and adventures of the 2011 Phillies. So far, Charlie Manuel has appeared with a mullet possessed by the devil and the starting five have gone on a camping trip. Definitely worth your $5 immediately! Also check them out on Facebook.
I had a few people ask me this weekend about the Phillies debt situation as the LA Times and ESPN outed 9 MLB teams for violating the MLB Debt Policies. I think David Murphy from the Daily News sums it up perfectly. Comparing the Phillies financial situation to that of the Mets, Dodgers, and Cubs is not accurate. And the debt leverage situation has nothing to do with this year's increase in payroll or the luxury tax or the possibility of trading for another player or two at the deadline. Player salaries do not count against the debt ceiling and unlike other teams, the only debt that the Phillies carry is a result of the operation of the team itself (read: They own the team outright). Long story short, nothing to see here, folks.
Lastly, if you're not using Twitter to get your baseball news by now, you're a fool. Here's a list of people you need to get out and follow ASAP!
@PhoulBallz - writer for PhoulBallz.com and Phillies Nation
I'm glad you asked... because today's lazy blog post just so happens to be about t-shirts! I'm working on one of my own (sample), but for now you're gonna have to shop elsewhere. You can slide on over to the Majestic Store and buy some sweet Cliff Lee Designed Camo Shirts... or take my advice and go with something a little more original (and a whole lot less d-bagish). Consider this my handy shopping guide to the summer season...
The Fightins/Birdland is always a good place to start. The resurrected TheFightins.com is back to their old tricks with timely t-shirt designs. They add a few new designs every month or so, though they've been known to get some of their artwork pulled by the man. Which only means that my "Uts" Chase Utley Hoodie is a collector's item! Their shirts are affordable, and always arrived for me within a few days. I have about 7 of them...
A new favorite of mine is Where's Weems? line of Weems Wear. They offer up most of their stuff in American Apparel shirts which fit a little more slim and have a bit of stretch to them. The slightly weathered look is what all the hipsters are going for these days. High quality stuff.
A favorite of my wife, Cheesesteak Tees does a nice job at covering all four sports and they also compile a lot of other designs from other web companies. Some of their stuff is a little cheesy for my taste. If you buy a shirt that says "ill" on the front and think it's clever than chances are you're going to be living at your parents house for the rest of your life.
One of my favorite shirts is the Uncle Cholly shirt that I have, but sadly I've pretty much worn a hole in it. And even more sadly, it doesn't seem to be available anymore. Philly Phaithful does, however, have some other pretty nice designs. Another site that churns out shirts for all 4 sports, but there are a few diamonds in the rough.
And what list would be complete without the classics from ZooWithRoy.com. Frequently on sale for us donkeys if you check out the bolg as well! I have about 6 of these shirts and get the same confused looks every time I wear one. What do penguins have to do with the Phillies? Well, if you have to ask, then you probably shouldn't know. Also known to be worn by famous local rock stars who pose with bloggers.
After a handful of rehab appearances and a Reading Phillies game in which he went 0-4, Shane Victorino was scratched from this morning's AA Game and appears to be en-route to Pittsburgh to meet up with the big club. As much as a give Victorino a hard time (dude takes the worst routes to fly balls of any CF I've ever seen win a Gold Glove), he offers a set of skills that no one else on this team is really capable of replicating. 20HR/40SB isn't really out of the question for him, and unlike a lot of guys in that category, he can mix in a .285+ AVG. He was arguably on that pace to start the season. And more importantly, the Phillies are 26-13 with him and only 8-9 without.
But less we forget that Victorino's stint on the DL is what resulted in the surprise call up of Domonic Brown. So who loses their job when Victorino comes back?
Domonic Brown: He's the obvious choice because he has the most options left and Charlie really wanted to see him get more ABs in the minors before coming up in the first place. But he's been hitting the ball well, even some hard hit balls against lefties. Were it not for what could possibly be the play of the year by Laynce Nix in yesterday's game, Brown would have been a hero.
John Mayberry Jr: Another guy with options in the minors, but he's really your best bench option at the moment and plays a pretty solid defensive outfield. The long legs really get him moving to the ball. His OPS is a bit low for a guy his size, which have kept his speed numbers down, but with Gload nursing a hip, Mayberry is also one of your only options to spell Ryan Howard at 1B.Which brings me to...
Ross Gload hits the DL: This is a solution that saves everyone's job. Gload has been limited as of late due to a tear in his right hip which is manageable, but will likely require surgery in the offseason. Chase Utley played through a similar injury... but he's Chase Utley. They do not need Gload to play through an injury like this and quite frankly, his doing so takes a spot away from a player who could probably do more to help the team. He's said in interviews that the pain won't land him on the DL, but it probably should. Give him a few weeks off, maybe the hip feels a little better, and he's useful around the AS Break.
Mike Zagurski: The Phillies currently carry 3 LHP on the active roster which is a little strange. My best guess is that Zagurski was called up temporarily for the last series and will be sent down shortly anyway. But it's doubtful that the Phillies go with only 11 pitchers right now so the Zagurski spot will be filled by a guy like Scott Mathieson once again.
Michael Martinez: This is the solution that makes the most sense to me. He's a Rule5 guy and in order to get rid of him, the Phillies would have to offer him back to the Nationals. But the Nationals have a pretty crowded outfield of their own and there's still a chance they wouldn't be interested in him. Martinez's only saving grace is that he's capable of playing the infield as well as the outfield. But quite frankly, I think Charlie can manage resting players just fine with one utility infielder in Valdez, and by plugging guys like Gload and Mayberry on the corners. If you bounced a ping pong ball around a SEPTA bus, chances are you would hit a guy with the kind of skills of Michael Martinez. Zero power and zero speed aren't good attributes to mix with a down offense.
I said 2+ weeks ago that a 12-8 run over the 20 games in 20 days stretch would be considered a success. I'm here today to say that 10-10 still isn't a failure. It's .500, and more than half of those games were on the road. They have 10 days of Sub-.500 opponents and then a day off at home before the Marlins come to town. Let's look at a little good and bad right now status report right now...
Cliff Lee does not look good. Lee earned massive recognition last season as a guy who didn't walk anyone. This year, he's regressed back to the norm. Not to say that his numbers are terrible, but 10.28 K/BB and 4.71 K/BB are completely different numbers. His K/9 rate is a career best which leads me to believe he's just doing a little too much of the work himself. When you try to strike batter out, you occasionally let one slip. And if you're walking guys more than usual, the one that slips can really do some damage. I expect a better second 3rd from Lee, but don't look for 2008 this year.
The bench and bullpen are too much of a revolving door. Mostly due to injury, but partially due to the juggling match that Charlie likes to play, the bullpen and bench just don't seem to have very defined roles just yet. Is RF a true platoon? Who's the first lefty off the bench? Who's the first lefty out of the pen? It's all just a bit confusing right now. Ballplayers are creatures of habit. Ryan Madson finally looks comfortable as a closer, and here comes Jose Contreras back to the team with Brad Lidge pitching scoreless innings of extended spring training. We need to know by the All-Star Break just where people fall in line.
Raul Ibanez can still hit a baseball. Since May 12th, Ibanez's BA has gone up 14 points and more importantly, his OPS has risen 79 points. He's a streaky hitter and these kinds of ups and downs can be expected, but for the start of May, Ibanez looked more helpless at the plate than he ever has in his career. It's a long summer and regardless of whether or not the Phillies trade for a little more outfield pop or platoon Ibanez with Francisco and Mayberry a little more when Victorino gets back, Raul will have some important ABs with this team down the stretch.
Domonic Brown has 4 multi-hit games since being called up. How many did he have last year? Three. He already has more doubles than he did last season and he's hitting the ball hard when he does get out. He's not missing the ball at nearly the same rate as he did last year and during the spring, and in the NL, there aren't a whole lot of rookies lighting the world on fire. Freddie Freeman looks over-matched and Brandon Belt has been up and down. As a fan of the hardware, I would really like to see Domonic Brown make a run at the ROY award. I think it's only another week or two before Brown rises to the top of the class and gets full time starts against lefties and righties alike.