Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Apparently, according to the Inquirer, the Phillies are discussing a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates that would involve sending Ryan Howard to Pittsburgh in exchange for the Pirates former ace, Kip Wells. Let’s assume the deal would be a straight Wells-for-Howard swap. Here’s what each team would be getting:
Wells is the White Sox former first-round pick in the 1998 draft. The Buccos, who acquired him in 2002, had high hopes for him, but he never quite seemed to reach his full potential. Wells best MLB record was 10-9 in 2003, and his ERA has ballooned in 2004 and 2005. Here are Wells current stats:
Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:
ERA – Earned Run Average: (Earned Runs * 9) / IP = ERA
FIP – Fielding Independent Pitching: (13*HR+3*BB-2*K / IP) + League Factor Evaluates a pitching by how he would have done with an average defense behind him by keeping track of things that a pitcher can control (walks, strikeouts, home runs allowed) as opposed to things he cannot (hits allowed, runs allowed). G/F – Groundball-to-Flyball ratio.Hr/9 – Home Runs allowed per nine innings.
K/9 – Strikeouts per nine innings.
BB/9 – Walks per nine innings.
The number that pops out at me are his walks and home runs allowed. Those are awful numbers to put into the Phillies rotation: simply put, for any pitcher to survive at Citizens Bank Ballpark they have to be stingy with the home runs and not surrender many walks, so home runs allowed can be kept in the solo category. Note that Wells career BB/9 is 3.98, a very high number in my opinion.
Clearly the Phillies have a hole in their rotation to fill with Gavin Floyd still recovering from his stint in the majors, Randy Wolf with Tommy John surgery and Vicente Padilla with … whatever his afflicting his career. Wells would round out a pretty decent rotation with Cory Lidle, Jon Lieber and Brett Myers, but his upside is pretty marginal. He’s a high-maintenance pitcher: he gets strikeouts, but he gives up a lot of walks and a decent number of home runs (to be fair, Wells career HR/9 rate is lower than this year: 1.05). I’d caution that Wells stats are achieved in a pitchers park: PNC Park. Seeing what he’d do at Citizens Bank would be a totally different story.
The Pirates need some help and Howard would probably be able to supply it: the Pirates are below the league average in pretty much everything: ISO, OBP, Batting Average, Slugging percentage, etc. Ryan is a monster talent, which is why the Phillies are loathe to part with him: he looks like another Jim Thome, a slugging first baseman with a talent for getting on base. If he played daily I know he’d get a chance to show off his tremendous skills.
Conclusions: For the Pirates this deal would be a no-brainer. They’d be shedding a decent pitcher (on a staff loaded with arms) and pick up what they need: a big bat. The Phillies, on the other hand, would make out worse: they wouldn’t be acquiring a pitcher who could help them much and they’d be losing a tremendous talent. Yes, Thome is the incumbent 1B and the team apparently thinks that Howard can’t play anything else., but I think he could step in and be a passable 3B or outfielder. The idea of Thome, Utley, Burrell, Abreu and Howard playing in the same lineup in 2006 is a tantalizing prospect. I’d hate to see it vanish.
Bottom-line: Bad idea.