Tuesday, January 22, 2008
After the Phillies starting rotation struggled as badly as it did in 2007, the Phillies clearly needed to move Brett Myers from the closer role back into the rotation to give Cole Hamels support. The move was a wise one. While Myers performed admirably as the closer in 2007 – 4.33 ERA, 5-7 with 21 saves in 24 tries – Myers is more valuable to the Phillies as a starter, where he can throw 200+ innings a season instead of the 68 he threw for the Phillies last season. To fill the void, the Phillies went out and snapped up Brad Lidge from the Houston Astros, the second time in four seasons the Phillies pilfered the Astros closer (see: Wagner, Billy).
The trade itself was somewhat controversial, with some critics arguing that the Astros got the better end of the deal by acquiring Michael Bourn, Mike Costanzo and Geoff Geary, while others (myself included) felt that the Phillies had made a good decision, acquiring something they needed – a closer – while parting with things they didn’t need – a reserve outfielder, a minor league third baseman, and a middle reliever. Now the Phillies turn to Lidge. What exactly are they getting?
The first thing that jumps out at you when you look at Lidge’s stats is what a power pitcher he is. Lidge struck out 31% of the batters he faced in 2007. That’s nearly double the MLB average of 17%. That’s better than Jake Peavy (27%) and Hamels (24%), and Myers (28%). Lidge has always been a strikeout kinda guy:
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
Lidge has been effective in his career too: after moving into the closers role in 2004 when Wagner left, Lidge began saving games at an impressive rate:
Saves / Opportunities
2004: 29 / 33 (88%)
2005: 42 / 46 (91%)
2006: 32 / 38 (84%)
2007: 19 / 27 (70%)
’04 – ’07: 122 / 144 (85%)
While Lidge blew eight saves in 2007 after blowing fourteen in the previous three seasons combined, I think this was an anomaly. Lidge’s ERA was actually better in 2007 than the previous season (5.28 vs. 3.36). Lidge’s walk and strikeout rates remained constant.
Let’s compare Lidge to Billy Wagner, who hurled for the Phillies in ’04 & ’05, and was the man Lidge succeeded in 2004 with the Astros. Just look at Wagner and Lidge’s stats for 2007:
Wagner / Lidge
ERA: 2.63 / 3.36
FIP: 2.95 / 3.73
HR/9: 0.79 / 1.20
BB/9: 2.90 / 4.03
K/9: 10.53 / 11.82
Wagner, with his 100+ mph fastballs, is well-known as a strikeout pitcher who wracks up a lot of K’s, so it is interesting to me that Lidge actually out K’s Wagner.
I think Lidge will pitch well for the Phillies and the Phillies rotation will be bolstered with the return of Brett Myers to help Cole Hamels. Who knows, maybe the bullpen will be a strength for the Phillies in 2008?
Also, this was a terrible move!!! How can you say otherwise? Lidge practically lost his mind after the 2004 walkoff-full-moon-postseason homerun to Pujols in the NLCS! He's never been the same since. Plus, when the Phillies dumped Costanzo, they also lost their only hope for third base in the near future. Geary was worthless to this team, he probably would have ended up in AAA. Bourn is a nasty speedster, and he's going to start for the 'Stros this year in CF. Can you honestly tell me this was a good trade for us?
Also, he gives up a bunch of homers.
I have also read that he is better suited as a set-up man.
I think the Phils would have been better served with Myers as the closer and Lidge in the set-up role.
THAT would have been a strong bullpen.
As for value in the trade the Phillies traded a 5th outfielder, for 200+ Innings of Myers. That is a great trade. Costanzo's fielding is so bad it will push him to 1st base or DH if anything. Things the Phillies cannot use.
We are not in an era where one can go out shopping with free-agent dollars and buy reliable pitching produce.
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