Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Q: Was the Phillies overall of their rotation the team’s big focus in the off-season?
A: Yep, they signed Adam Eaton to a three-year deal and dealt away two great prospects to acquire Freddy Garcia from the White Sox. The team obviously meant to team Hamels and Myers, along with late-season acquisition Jamie Moyer, with Garcia and Eaton in the rotation. The collapse of the Phillies bullpen sent Brett Myers into the closer role, while Freddy Garcia’s injuries have further stretched the Phillies rotation.
Q: How will the Phillies replace Freddy Garcia?
A: Apparently the short-term solution is to promote Kyle Kendrick from Double-A to the bigs. Poor Kendrick is jumping into a hornets nest by making the move to the show. We’ve seen pitchers make the leap from Double-A to the bigs rarely, so I am skeptical that Kendrick is going to survive his start and I worry that getting shelled might destroy his self-esteem.
In the long-term, I expect to see the Phillies try and redouble their efforts to secure a starter by dealing Aaron Rowand. The obvious target for the Phillies is Carlos Zambrano, who has apparently worn out his welcome with the Cubs.
Q: Any big surprises?
A: Seeing Jon Lieber back in the rotation qualifies. Lieber is pitching well, as evidenced by his complete-game shutout of the Royals the other night where he surrendered three hits and no walks while getting eleven strikeouts, in what was quietly one of the best pitched games of the season. Lieber’s Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) ERA is actually a little better – 3.70 vs. 3.71 – than Cole Hamels, by the way.
Q: Oh yeah, how is that Hamels guy doing?
A: Pretty ok. 8-2 with a 3.57 ERA. Hamels is absolutely dazzling these days on the mound. He’s lowered his walks allowed down to around two every nine innings (2.18 BB/9), and he’s getting 4.36 strikeouts per walk allowed. Lieber and Moyer need to rely on their fielders to make outs, but Hamels is the only Phillies starter who can simply go after batters fearlessly. It doesn’t matter who is fielding for the Phillies, because Hamels won’t allow the batter to put the ball into play.
Q: What about that Adam Eaton guy?
A: Eaton has dramatically improved himself. After an April which saw his ERA stuck at 7.71, Eaton has lowered it and seems to be on his way to getting it under 5.00 before the All-Star Break. Eaton is, by far, the weakest of the Phillies starters. He gives up a decent number of home runs (1.32 HR/9), which isn’t a problem, but when you couple it with allowing too many walks (4.45 BB/9) and not enough strikeouts (6.03 K/9), it is a problem.
Still, I look for Eaton to improve. Last night’s performance was big, but he needs to cut down on those walks before he can be called a dominant pitcher.
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).
HR/9 – Home Runs allowed per nine innings: (HR * 9) / IP
BB/9 – Walks per nine innings: (BB * 9) / IP
K/9 – Strikeouts per nine innings: (K * 9) / IP
More to the point, I think about the only people that the Phillies should consider trading are Werth and Nunez, though the market value of those is questionable.
I should hope Jose Mesa is 1 bad outing away from replacement. Wow he stunk it up.. but it was only 1.1 innings.