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Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Why Bobby Abreu is going to be dealt... 

As I said yesterday, this is Bobby Abreu's final season as a Philadelphia Phillie. What makes me so certain that Abreu is on his way to another team? Consider the following:

1. Bobby makes too much money. The Phillies have the fourth largest payroll in the MLB at $92 million. Only the Mets, Yankees and Red Sox have larger payrolls. Of that, Bobby is by far the Phillies largest salary for 2006: at $13.1 million, he's paid nearly twice that of Mike Lieberthal, at $7.5 million. Bobby's salary is about 14% of the Phillies total salary.

Naturally the Phillies need to pare their roster and Bobby's $13.1 mil needs to go. The Chicago White Sox won the World Series in 2005 with a payroll nearly $20 million lower. This team cannot continue to spend as much money as it has without getting better results. Additionally, the Phils need to think about contract extensions. Chase Utley is due to make $345,000 this season. Ryan Madson is going to make $350,000. Brett Myers will make $445,000. These are key players to the Phillies future and their salaries have to be increased if the Phillies are going to lock them up to long-term deals. The Phillies need to take Bobby's salary and the $4.7 million they are wasting on David Bell and give Ryan Howard (who's salary information I cannot find), Utley, Madson and Myers long-term deals for 2007 and beyond.

2. Bobby is getting older. Okay, he's only 31, but he's played 150+ games for eight straight years. There has to be some wear-and-tear on his knees. The nice thing about trading Bobby now is that his trade value is at its zenith: since he began playing for the Phillies in 1998, his worst OBP was .393 in 2001. His worst SLG was .468 in '03. He's been a remarkably consistent player. Scope out his Gross Productive Average (GPA) stats with the Phils:

1998: .308
1999: .338
2000: .326
2001: .313
2002: .316
2003: .301
2004: .329
2005: .301
Career: .313

True, last year was his career-low in GPA, but he really doesn't show much signs of slowing down. Bobby has been a remarkably consistent player and teams know that. Teams in possible playoff contention know that and would pay dearly to have someone like Bobby on their team. If Bobby has an off-year, then his trade value is going to diminish rapidly.

3. Bobby is a defensive liability. Fielding isn't a huge deal usually, but I sense that MLB teams are begining to recognize good gloves as a low-cost means of improving rosters. The Oakland A's are pioneers in this respect, bringing aboard Mark Kotsay, a so-so bat, in center to improve their outfield defense. (By the way, Oakland's strategy of improving by defense helps them compete with the 21st largest payroll in the MLB, $40 million lighter than the Phillies.)

The Phillies pay Bobby his $13.1 mil because of his bat. Frankly, Bobby is a lousy defensive player. Out of eight regular NL rightfielders, Bobby ranked 7th of eight RFs in Zone Rating. (A stat I follow because it measures a player's ability to get to the ball and make an out in his defensive "zone".) (Click here.) Bobby also ranks 7th of 8 in Range Factor. (Range Factor: (Putouts + Assists) * 9 / IP. Essentially measures how much a player is involved in defensive plays.) (Click here.) George Will once asked why terrific defensive players weren't recognized for their contributions to their teams by asking why a double denied on defense didn't count as much as a double a player gets at the plate. Bobby is great at the plate, but his defensive miscues must cost the Phillies a few runs every now an again and that has to be considered when determining his value to the team.

4. It's not a bad thing to get younger. The Phils aren't exactly a team full of gray-beards - Pat Burrell is 29, Aaron Rowland is 28, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are 27, Ryan Howard is 26, Brett Myers and Ryan Madson are 25. We do have a young nucleus, but the team needs to get a little younger and look for additional help. Specifically, the Phillies need to look at some replacements for catcher (Lieberthal is 34) and third base (Bell is 33). Any deal that helps bring some younger players at those positions onto the team is a good thing.

5. Bobby is already alienated. It has kind of been a hard offseason for Bobby. The fact that the Phillies were interested in dealing him was the worst-kept secret in baseball and his best friend, who joined the team last year, is on trial in Venezuela on attempted murder charges. Bobby has denied being bothered, but I bet that he'd enjoy a change of scenery right about now.

For all of those reasons, this will be Bobby Abreu's final season. I anticipate seeing him with an AL team- maybe the Angels -before the trading deadline in late July.

* The news about Barry Bonds and Steroids caught me by surprise: I heard something on the news yesterday, but I didn't really read or hear about it until last night. I'll have some comments for Friday.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

The Return.... 

I've decided to return to the blogging arena to blog the 2006 Phillies. I've posted a little before today, but this is my first official day back bloggin'. Last year I had grown weary of blogging. Between work (I'm a prosecutor in Allegheny County) and fixing my house, I was fairly burnt-out. The idea of sitting down and figuring out stats and composing some thoughts on Bobby Abreu’s home run streak or Jon Lieber’s struggles on the mound no longer had any appeal. So I quit.

As I watched this season approach I got that itch again. This is going to be a fun season. This team has got the talent to compete and nobody seems to care or figure they have much of a shot. I’m intrigued. I think that Pat Gillick’s leadership will be interesting and give bloggers a lot to argue about. He’s already made significant decisions: dealing Jim Thome and Vicente Padilla and signing Ryan Franklin will have us arguing and debating all season. Almost certainly Bobby Abreu is going to be traded too. I'll talk about that tomorrow.

As always it is going to be a pleasure blogging with so many of my friends and colleagues: Jason Weitzel's Beerleaguer, Tom Goyne's Balls, Sticks 'n Stuff, Tom Durzo's Shallow Center, Tom Goodman's Swing and a Miss, Brian Peoples Philling Station, GR's Caught Looking, Brian Michael's Phillies Nation, Enrico's The 700 Level, and Dan Gattuso's PhogLights. When I began two years ago it was just the now-defunct Phillies Fan and myself, with my own comically inept thoughts. With a rush, Jason and the Toms burst onto the scene with me and the Phillies fan landscape was flooded with voices, each more unique than the next, each with a different prespective from the next. I love comparing what they've written and debating what they are thinking and what conclusions they've drawn. These guys are all sharp, far sharper than I, so it amazes me that I get even 1/10 of the attention they do. It is fun to be back in the fraternity again.

Mine is clearly a numbers-driven perspective. As Philadelphia Magazine said about me, I do want to be Bill James. I love numbers. I always have. When I was younger, I'd scribble numbers on a page and calculate batting averages, slugging percentages, ERA, etc. Now I look inside of the numbers to understand what is going on. Reading Moneyball had a big impact on my thinking. These days I'm trying to go beyond Moneyball and embrace a deeper understanding of baseball and stats. This season I can promise an examination of fielding stats and the concept of defense.

There are big happenings afoot at Citizen's Bank Ballpark and the baseball establishment is curiously disinterested in them. So that’s why I’m back. Got the job thing mostly under control. Got the house thing mostly under control. I'll only post 2-3 times a week, however, not the 4-5 I used to. I'm concentrating on quality over quantity these days. Looking forward to this season...

PLAY BALL!

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