Thursday, June 28, 2007
It was, on the other hand, a good night forRyan Howard, who became the fastest player to get to 100 Home Runs, about sixty or so games quicker than Ralph Kiner. Well done, Ryan.
We wrap up our X-Phillies series today with 2006 alumni. First, Bobby Abreu – the decision to deal Abreu to the Yankees will, in the long run, never result in the Phillies having acquired any significant talent. However, the decision to deal Abreu was unquestionably the correct one – there was no way that the Phillies could continue to pay Abreu his salary. This season the Yankees will pay him $15 million dollars, far too much for the Phillies to afford. The deal was a straight salary dump and it was the best thing to happen to the Phillies. Yes, they lost a key player in their lineup, but they gained valuable salary to spend on pitching, and got younger in the outfield. Shane Victorino, Abreu’s replacement in right field, is six years younger than Abreu and is a far better defender.
Abreu was a stalwart on the Phillies roster for years and helped power the ’06 Yankees to the A.L. East title: 9.4 Runs Created per 27 Outs (RC/27), .339 Batting Average with Runners in Scoring Position (BA/RISP), .177 Isolated Power (ISO) …
Thus far this season Abreu is off to a slow start … 5.6 RC/27, .109 ISO, .267 BA/RISP … His On-Base Percentage (.368) is well below .400 for the first time in years (.393 in 2001), and his slugging percentage is also a career low (.379, compared to his career average of .499). I think that Abreu’s struggles right now are simply the inevitable byproduct of him getting older and not seeing the same results he did when he was younger. It is worth comparing Abreu and Victorino so far this season:
Victorino / Abreu
RC/27: 5.5 / 5.6
BA/RISP: .257 / .267
ISO: .138 / .109
Not only did the Phillies get younger, shed some salary (they are paying Victorino $410,000, or 1/36th what the Yankees pay Abreu), but they also got better. Victorino might not outplay Abreu statistically this season, but the gap between them is pretty slight.
One other odd thing I noticed: Abreu has ground into 9 double plays thus far this season. In 2006 he hit into a total of 13 with the Phillies and Yankees in 686 plate appearances. If he gets to 686 PA’s in 2007, he’s on a pace to hit into 20 GIDPs. That’s a big increase for a player who’s career high is 13.
The Phillies let David Dellucci walk to the Cleveland Indians, a decision that I opposed and felt was a mistake, but proves that Pat Gillick is a much smarter man than I. After hitting 13 home runs, 39 RBIs and 6.2 Runs Created in 2006 with the Phillies, Dellucci is off to a terrible start with the Indians, with just 4 home runs, 19 RBIs and 3.7 RC/27. Dellucci was a terrible clutch hitter with the Phillies – .185 BA/RISP – and he isn’t doing too much better with the Indians: .167. In short, the Phillies have really made out under the deal, acquiring a draft pick as compensation and allowing deadwood to get out of town. That’s a win.
Mike Lieberthal, another long-time Phillies stalwart, is harder to evaluate. The Phillies couldn’t retain the oft-injured Lieberthal and needed to let him leave so that Carlos Ruiz could step into the role as the Phillies #1 catcher. Thus far Lieberthal has played sparingly with the Dodgers (just 35 plate appearances), so it is difficult to evaluate his performance.
Sal Fasano, Lieberthal’s replacement for much of 2006, likewise is a tough one to figure out: he had just 57 plate appearances in 2006 with the Yankees, and has just 49 with the Blue Jays.
Which brings us to Randy Wolf. Boy, couldn’t the Phillies use Randy Wolf’s arm right now? The Phillies let Wolf leave and sign with the Dodgers in the off-season after most of Wolf’s 2005 and 2006 campaigns were lost to Tommy John arm surgery. Wolf started 12 games in 2006 and went 4-0 with a 5.56 ERA. I suppose the team didn't want to take a risk on him after his crippling injury in 2005. At the moment, however, Wolf is turning in a dominating performance with the Dodgers: 8-5, 4.24 ERA. Impressively, Wolf's Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) ERA is 3.42, nearly three runs lower than it was last season (6.39). Very quietly, Wolf is keeping runners off the base-paths (2.7 BB/9), getting strikeouts (8.5 K/9, 3.1 stikeouts to walks), and isn't surrendering many home runs. He's a dominating pitcher right now and an important part of the Dodgers. Wolf's departure, not Abreu's, is the one that the Phillies might one day come to rue.
Tomorrow, a look at the Mets & Phillies.
Also, if Phils win 5 straight they'll be in first on Monday no matter what Mets do tonight. 3 1/2 gms can be made up in one 4 gm head to head series.