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.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Nice article at Yahoo! on the AL West, where the A's seem restocked and ready to contend again. Monday, I have thoughts on ... something. Tune in then.


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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Odds 'N Endys 

Click over to Top Prospect Alert to read to read Ben Lipson's interview with Jeremy Slayden, a player on the Phillies Single-A affiliate, the Lakewood Blue Claws. I certainly wish the best for Jeremy and hope that he accomplishes his goal of making it to the majors and playing with the Phillies.

I clicked around Top Prospect Alert and discovered that the only prospects the Phillies have on their Top 100 board are Carlos Carrasco at #50 and Matt Maloney at #98.

Nice preview of the 2007 Phillies from Athlon Sports on the SI website.

At the moment I am busy tooling up for the 2007 season over here at A Citizens Blog. Coming in the next month, articles about Abraham Nunez, Ryan Madson, Tom Gordon, previews of the Phillies NL East rivals, and then in March, my predictions and my massive, super-terrific 2007 Phillies preview. Stay tuned!

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Aaron Rowand Deal? 

Recently the Phillies and Padres discussed the possibility of sending reliever Scott Linebrink to the Phillies in exchange for center fielder Aaron Rowand. I’m mildly skeptical that the deal will actually happen – the Padres have apparently decided to table talks until Spring Training – but if it did the Phillies would solve some problems and create others for themselves. Here are a few thoughts on what the deal could do and why it probably won’t happen …

What the Padres are looking for is … outfield help. The Padres could definitely use help in their outfield, which is built around slow-footed slugger Russ Branyan in left, the aging Brian Giles in right and the equally aging Mike Cameron in center. The Padres would love to move Branyan to the bench and shift Rowand, a talented defender, into the mix in center field. The move would give the Padres a solid outfield and improve what is already a major strength for the Pads: defense. Last season the Padres led the majors in Plus / Minus, the stat from The Fielding Bible’s John Dewan tracking how teams and individuals play defense, but ranked twenty-eighth in holding runners and keeping them from advancing. Rowand’s enthusiasm and skill in the outfield would be a major help.

Incidentially, I think it is a testament to the Padres Sandy Alderson’s skill as a General Manager that he made the savvy decision to bring Cameron, a fairly unheralded player, in from the Mets. Cameron is a top-notch defender and a solid bat who has never gotten his due. Alderson’s decision shows what a sharp mind he has…Alderson, you might recall from Michael Lewis’ Moneyball, was the man who introduced Billy Beane to Bill James work.

The problem the Padres might have with Rowand is … those who read Moneyball know what a high premium sabremetricans put on the ability to draw walks, something Aaron Rowand is not capable of doing. Rowand is a tough, hard-nosed player and nobody doubts his courage or skill, but his aggressive nature at the plate leaves something to be desired. His career-high in walks is a mere 32 in 2005, when he struck out 116 times. Rowand doesn’t really compensate by bringing much power to the plate either, hitting just 12 home runs in 405 At-Bats in 2006.

The Padres are not an offensive powerhouse, so I am not sure they are willing to trade-off Rowand’s prowess with the glove for Branyan, a player who hit six home runs for the Padres in 72 At-Bats after being rescued from the Devil Rays.

The Benefit to the Phillies acquiring Linebrick is … If you haven’t noticed, there has been a lot of talk about the weakness of the Phillies bullpen this offseason. This is hardly new – there was lots of “the bullpen is in trouble” talk that turned out to be dead-wrong last season – but the ‘pen is a cause for concern. Linebrick would be a major asset. Linebrick has excellent stats and would definitely be able to help Tom Gordon and Ryan Madson. In 2006 he was 7-4 with a 3.57 ERA. His Fielding Independent Pitching ERA was just 3.76, which was very good.

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
K/9 – Strikeouts per nine innings: (K * 9) / IP
BB/9 – Walks per nine innings: (BB * 9) / IP

Linebrick did a nice job preventing home runs and walks and getting strikeouts:

HR/9: 1.07
BB/9: 2.62
K/9: 8.09

Naturally, those low home run totals might be Petco Park - influenced, but Linebrick has done well with the walks and strikeouts. His strikeout-to-walk ratio the last three years has been impressive:

2004: 3.19
2005: 3.04
2006: 3.09

Linebrick was probably the best middle reliever in the National League in 2006 and adding him to the Phillies bullpen would be a major victory for the team. However …

The problem the Phillies might have with dealing Aaron Rowand is … Imagine the Phillies going into the 2007 campaign with an infield consisting of Pat Burrell, who is probably over-due for a major injury; Shane Victorino, a talented defensive outfielder who doesn’t have much of a plate presence; and Jayson Werth, a player who didn’t even play any games last season and has a career total of 231 games played between 2002-2006. If that wouldn’t be the weakest outfield in the majors, then I don’t know who has it. The scary thing would be imagining if Burrell went down with an injury. How does Victorino, Werth and Chris Roberson as an outfield grab you?

That said, I’d be surprised if the Padres elected to part with Linebrick, but I am not so sure the Phillies would be that much better off if they made the deal. Rowand isn’t a force at the plate, but the Phillies need him healthy and they need someone in the center field spot to run down flies and get some outs. If the Phillies has a post-Rowand game plan, I’d be more enthusiastic, but that is where we stand.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Brett Myers Deal 

Today we are going to talk about Brett Myers 3-year, $25.5 million dollar deal which makes him a Phillie until 2009. The latest in Pat Gillick’s latest series of deals devoted to locking up key Phillies into long-term contracts, I generally like the deal and appreciate the wisdom in not committing big money in the long-term to a pitcher, always a risky proposition, though one that teams like the Mets (regretting that multi-year deal for Pedro Martinez now?) and Giants (how much money for Barry Zito?) didn’t seem to mind of late. The deal works like this:

2007: $5 million / Age 27
2008: $8.5 million / Age 28
2009: $12 million / Age 29

The deal helps the Phillies avoid arbitration in 2007 and 2008, granting Myers a salary probably beyond what he’d make in arbitration, but helps avoid the team and a player going head-to-head at the table and arguing over what that individual is worth. Myers wouldn’t be eligible for free agency until 2009, so the Phillies get to keep him for the first year he’d have been able to become a free agent and sign a massive ten-year mega-deal. Good idea.

For Myers, he’ll be 29 when his deal comes to an end and able to command $15 or so million a year on the open market (assuming that salaries in free agency continue to spiral upwards), so the deal makes sense for him as well: lock in some money now and then test the free agent waters in 2010, when the Phillies probably won’t be able to afford him.

The numbers suggest that the Phillies are going to get a pretty darn good pitcher over the next three years. Since the 2004 season, when Myers struggled to make the adjustment from the Vet to Citizens, Myers has pitched well:

2005: 13-8; 3.72 ERA; 1.21 WHIP
2006: 12-7; 3.91 ERA; 1.30 WHIP

Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:
WHIP – Walks plus hits by innings pitched: (BB + H) / IP = WHIP
ERA – Earned Run Average: (Earned Runs * 9) / IP = ERA
DER – Defense Efficiency Ratio: (Batters Faced – (Hits + Walks + Hit By Pitch + Strikeouts)) / (Batters Faced – (Home Runs, Walks + Hit By Pitch + Strikeouts)) How often fielders convert balls put into play into outs.
HR/9 – Home Runs allowed per nine innings: (HR * 9) / IP
K/9 – Strikeouts per nine innings: (K * 9) / IP
BB/9 – Walks per nine innings: (BB * 9) / IP

And take a deeper look inside the numbers…

2005 / 2006
HR/9: 1.30 / 1.32
BB/9: 2.84 / 2.86
K/9: 8.69 / 8.59

Consistency thy name is Brett Myers. These are just stunningly consistent numbers on Myers part, and they auger well for what he’ll do over the next three years for the Phillies. 200+ strikeouts and twenty wins are definite possibilities.

The Bill James Handbook predicts Myers will go 12-11 with a 4.29 ERA in 2007, and give up 1.30 HR/9; 3.07 BB/9; and 7.53 K/9. I deeply disagree with Myers ERA and strikeout totals. For one, I don’t think his strikeouts over the last two seasons are fluke totals. I think that Myers transitioned into being a power pitcher after he struggled in 2004, so I think he’ll hit in the 8.00 or higher range in 2007 and beyond. I also think that Myers ERA will benefit from an improved Phillies defense in 2007. The Phillies only gave Myers a .689 DER in 2006, below the league average of .693. I think the Phillies will do better than that in 2007 and provide Myers with a few more outs on those little pop flies that landed in for hits in 2006.

In the final analysis, I think that the Myers deal was good and will help the Phillies in 2007-2009 by locking up a quality pitcher, an outstanding compliment to ace Cole Hamels, and give the Phillies a great 1-2 punch for years to come.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl XLI 

I remarked to my wife before Super Bowl XLI began: “I hope we don’t have a blow-out.” My mind harkened back to the lop-sided Super Bowls of the 1980s, when the New York Giants humiliated the Denver Broncos 39-20 in Super Bowl XXI, when the Washington Redskins defeated the Broncos 42-10 in Super Bowl XXII, when the San Francisco 49ers annihilated the … well, Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV. This game, with the Bears conservative offense, had the capacity to be as dull and predictable as those games and the 34-21 victory the Tampa Bay Bucs won over the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.

My fears were allayed on the first play as Devin Hester ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown. No blowout. From there the game developed the way I figured that it would. The Colts overwhelming offensive firepower and newfound strength on the defensive side of the football enabled them to move the ball at will on the Bears. The Bears, offensively challenged with Rex Grossman as their QB, couldn’t do much of anything.

I think the story of this Super Bowl was really the inept offensive unit that the Bears ran all game long. Prior to the fourth quarter it managed just five first downs. Grossman simply lofted the ball into the air and allowed Colts defenders to knock it down or run under it and make the interception. The telling stat was that the Colts had the ball for 81 plays and the Bears for 48. The Bears offense left their defense on the field for Peyton Manning to slowly pick them apart. Aside from the blunder on Reggie Wayne’s 53-yard TD catch in the first quarter, you have to give credit to the Bears defensive unit for keeping the game close. Meanwhile, the Bears offense struggled to move the ball forward.

The Colts had a nice balance, smashing into the Bears 42 times on the ground for 191 yards.

Give credit to the Colts. They were definitely the better team and looked it. They had balance and were aggressive on defense. They really redeemed themselves for blowing that playoff game to the Steelers last season and for being man-handled by the Patriots all of those seasons past.

I think there were two MVPs of the Super Bowl instead of Peyton Manning. First, the award should go to Rex Grossman for completely killing the Bears offense. Second, the award ought to go to Domenic Rhodes and Joseph Addai jointly. Addai rushed 19 times for 77 yards and caught 10 passes for another 66. Rhodes caught a pass for eight yards and ran 21 times for 113 yards. They touched the ball on 51 of the Colts 81 plays and gained 264 of their 430 yards.

It was a good Super Bowl, but not quite the thrillers we had when the Patriots were in there against the Panthers and Eagles. Here’s hoping Super Bowl XLII is between the Eagles and Patriots.

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