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.
This is my blogchalk:
United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Chris Coste: A Phuture in Philly? 

I thought I might turn my attention to Chris Coste this morning. Coste has a terrific story that the media adored retelling during the 2006 season: career minor-leaguer from a small town in the Upper Midwest, he clung to his dream of becoming a major league ball player through years in the minor leagues. After years of toiling in the minors, he finally gets a chance to play in the big leagues and makes major contributions to the Phillies run to the playoffs. A real life Crash Davis who made the majors.

In his career, Coste played a lot of minor-league ball. He was in Triple-A Buffalo in 2000-2002 before going to Pawtucket in 2003, Indianapolis in 2004, and Scranton in 2005. Between 2000 and 2006, Coste played in 510 Triple-A games! All without achieving his dream of being a major leaguer. He played in several teams minor league systems before finding his way to the Phillies. It really looked like his career was over in 2006 before he made it to the majors. He had started the 2006 season as a minor leaguer once again in Scranton. After hitting well in Scranton in 2005 – 20 Home Runs, 89 RBI, .292 Batting Average – Coste was struggling in 2006, having hit just 2 home runs, 18 RBI and batting .177, but the Phillies called him up due to injuries and incompetent play amongst the Phillies regular catchers, Mike Lieberthal (injuries) and Sal Fasano (incompetence) along with Carlos Ruiz.

Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:
Isolated Power (ISO): .SLG - .BA = .ISO. Measures a player’s raw power by subtracting singles from their slugging percentage.
On-Base Percentage (OBP): How often a player gets on base. (H + BB + HBP) / (Plate Appearances)
Walks per plate appearance (BB/PA): BB / PA = .BB/PA Avg
Slugging Percentage (SLG): Total Bases / At-Bats = Slugging Percentage. Power at the plate.

As a Phillie in 2006, Coste hit a robust .328 (.376 OBP) along with 7 Home Runs, 14 Doubles and 32 RBI in 213 At-Bats. He hit .356 with runners in scoring position (BA/RISP). Coste also logged 434 innings behind the plate as the Phillies catcher. According to Win Shares, Coste had eight in his rookie season, four better than a bench player. He clearly made important contributions to the Phillies playoff march.

In 2007 the Phillies once more stuck him in their Triple-A affiliate, which now became Ottawa. Coste split time between Ottawa and Double-A Reading. Here is now his stats shaped up:

Ottawa: 0 Home Runs, 10 RBI, .233 BA (.317 OBP), .056 ISO in 90 At-Bats
Reading: 5 Home Runs, 31 RBI, .287 BA (.319 OBP), .185 ISO in 108 At-Bats

Simply put, they weren’t good, especially his performance in Ottawa. Interestingly, his struggles in Ottawa didn’t carry over into play with the Phillies. Called up once more due to terrible play from the Phillies replacement for Fasano and Lieberthal, Rod Barajas, Coste once more stepped into the breach.

Coste didn’t play as well in 2007, but that ought to have been expected: in 2006 .363 of the balls he put into play became hits (BA/BIP), a very high percentage. That regressed to .298 BABIP, a pretty average percentage, in 2007. Consequently, Coste’s batting average declined to a still-respectable .279 in 2007. He hit 5 Home Runs, 3 Doubles, and 22 RBI. His on-base percentage also declined to .311.

Coste’s problem as a player is that his is a far too aggressive hitter at the plate. He doesn’t work enough counts and draw enough walks. In 2006 he drew just ten walks in 213 plate appearances: .047 BB/PA. In 2007 he drew just four walks, a .029 BB/PA, one of the worst percentages I’ve ever seen.

In certain respects he played better in 2007 than the year before. In 2006, Coste logged 434 innings at catcher and committed four errors. In 2007, he logged 242 innings, but committed no errors. He also caught 29% of the base-stealers against him, against 19% in 2006, and he cut down on the wild pitches and passed balls he allowed per game from .270 to .190 in 2007. So there was improvement, but only defensively. His Fielding Win Shares per 1,000 innings went from 3.456 to 6.611.

In terms of overall Win Shares, Coste got four in 2007, just one better than a bench player. His Win Share Percentage dropped from .720 to .548.

So what does the future hold for Chris Coste? He is a good backup catcher, so if the Phillies don’t re-sign another catcher in the off-season, he’s the logical choice to back up Carlos Ruiz, who looks ready to assume the full-time mantle of the Phillies backstop. Somehow, I am skeptical of the Phillies plans for Coste. They don’t seem like they fully trust or believe in him, as evidenced by the fact that they went out and got Barajas, a mediocre player at best. If Chris Coste is playing behind the plate for the Phillies in 2008, it will be because the team could not find an adequate replacement for him and Chris Coste became an option of necessity.

It is a shame, because although Coste’s numbers in 2007 at the plate weren’t what they had been, he’s still a good bat and his defensive skills are steadily improving. I hope that the Phillies give him a chance to backup Ruiz in 2008. But I doubt it.


I gotta say, this is the best Phillies blog I have read, and this post is a great example of why. I'm a fan, so I love Coste; I want to see him on the team, and I'm likely to be ticked off if he isn't. What you consistently supply here are the cold, hard facts that often make the front office decisions make sense. Like us readers, you like Coste and want to see him succeed, but your analysis helps to prevent us from becoming rabid front-office haters if it doesn't work out our way.
in the articles that talk about barajas and nunez being let go gillick is quoted as saying that management is comfortable with the coste/ruiz tandem at the catcher position for this year. finally, because i love coste and they have bigger fish to fry this off season.
Good insight on Coste. Pete LaForest and Jason Jaramillo may push someone out via trade. I am nott sure how the Phils view each of these guys, but they do have a surplus that they could trade a valuable catcher for some pitching help.
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?