Phillies Spring Training Winners & Losers

We know spring training stats don’t mean a whole lot. In fact, they probably mean nothing in the practical sense, but still baseball front offices, the players themselves, the fans, and the media still regard them to various degrees. With that said, I took a cursory look at the Phillies spring training numbers and made some evaluations on who best helped and hurt themselves going into 2010 and beyond.

HELPED

Tyson Gillies, OF

Gillies was one of the two “other” players received with Phillippe Aumont when Cliff Lee was traded to the Seattle Mariners. He hasn’t been graded highly by most prospect evaluators, but the Phillies liked the cut of his jib. He proved them right in spring training in a small sample of plate appearances, showing power, speed, and athleticism. He also showed baseball “smarts” when he quickly circled the bases after a home run so as not to show up the opposing pitcher, David Purcey.

In my opinion, I’m just trying to show respect to the pitcher. He knows he gave up a home run. He doesn’t need you to take about five minutes to run around the bases.

He will start the season in AA Reading. Shane Victorino, 29 years old, is a free agent after the 2012 season. The Phillies hope Gillies will be ready to take over in center field at that time. He has shown great on-base skills, including the ability to draw walks, and has recently developed power, raising his SLG in Single-A from .410 in 2008 to .486 in ’09.

Domonic Brown

Brown was so impressive in spring training that it became reasonable to suggest that he start the season with the Phillies in Washington. It won’t happen, mind you, but it’s not an outright crazy suggestion anymore. He posted a Barry Bondsian .417/.464/.750 line in 24 spring training at-bats, including one of the longest home runs (hit off of Justin Verlander, who finished third in last year’s AL Cy Young balloting) in spring training. Here’s another video in which, as The Fightins says, Ryan Howard and Charlie Manuel are “practically salivating over the kid.”

Brown’s spring training performance has given the Phillies organization and especially Manuel confidence to bring him up at some point this season if they in need of a full-time outfielder whether due to injury or trade. Do not be surprised if he not only gets called up in September but is added to the post-season roster if the Phillies are fortunate enough to make the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year.

Ben Francisco

Francisco, a part-time player, has racked up the seventh-most at-bats of anyone wearing a Phillies uniform during spring training. He has certainly made the most of them as his triple-slash line of .273/.373/.568 indicates. Francisco would be a starter on many teams in Major League Baseball; the Phillies are fortunate to have an above-average hitter — and he was “thrown in” with Cliff Lee last year in the trade with the Cleveland Indians.

He plays passable defense in left field and has gap power, compiling 62 doubles and 30 home runs in the past two seasons. Francisco can still get better, as he is just 28 years old. If he can cut his strikeout rate and increase his walk rate even by just a couple percentage points as well as pick his stolen base attempts more carefully, he may turn into a 2-3 WAR player.

As mentioned on Monday, the Phillies won’t want to start Dom Brown’s arbitration clock if they don’t have to, so if any of the outfielders miss an extended period of time, Francisco provides exceptional insurance and saves the Phillies money in two ways: he himself is not yet arb-eligible and he allows the Phillies to keep Brown in AAA. Add all this to an impressive spring and you have a bench player who has made the Phillies very happy.

HURT

Raul Ibanez

Raul’s just had a rough spring any way you slice it. He has had a terrible time at the plate, hitting .114/.264/.227. To add to the displeasure, he was hit in the right elbow by a pitch on Friday and just returned to the lineup yesterday against the Houston Astros. Ibanez turns 38 on June 2 and despite the great first half last year, he has GM Ruben Amaro grimacing when he remembers the three-year, $31.5 million contract he offered prior to last season.

Jonathan Atwood thinks the Phillies should trade Raul Ibanez and sign Jayson Werth (as opposed to my idea of trading Ryan Howard and signing Werth). The only problem is that he is old and injury-prone and expensive (owed $24+ million in 2010-11) and has historically been a streaky player. The market for a player of that nature is slim to none. His poor spring training performance limits that market even more. If the Phillies have any hope of trading Ibanez for any value, they will have to hope for another monster first half.

Jose Contreras

He has had an awful, awful spring training. In 12 innings, he has allowed 14 runs (12 earned) on 20 hits and 8 walks. The good news is that he has allowed only one home run and struck out 15 batters. Could be a case of bad BABIP. However, pitching coach Rich Dubee is concerned. Per Ryan Lawrence:

“His command hasn’t been good,” pitching coach Rich Dubee said. “His arm is still getting used to the workload. So does it concern me? Yeah, because I like to see better results. (But) I’m not ready to jump off any bridges.”

Contreras is expected to take over the role vacated by Chan Ho Park. Overall, the bullpen is a mess, so Contreras is not in jeopardy of receiving a demotion or being outright released. With Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero unlikely to be ready by Opening Day, everyone’s role in the bullpen gets bumped up two notches, including that of Contreras. The Phillies cannot afford to have him unable to command his pitches in high-leverage innings.

Of all of the poor spring training performances, this is by far the most concerning.

Antonio Bastardo

The Phillies went into spring training with three left-handers auditioning for the LOOGY role. It sounds reasonable that there would be a 33% chance of finding an effective lefty to use in the bullpen. And yet the Phillies found none they were really happy with in spring training. Sergio Escalona and Mike Zagurski pitched very poorly and were sent down two weeks before the end of spring training, intimating that Antonio Bastardo had earned the role by default.

Unfortunately, Bastardo has also had a poor spring. In eight and two-thirds innings, he has allowed seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits and two walks. The great news, however, is that he has struck out 15. Bastardo has won the role due to his higher upside, but the Phillies are still hoping that J.C. Romero is in top-form as soon as possible.

Leave Dom Brown Alone!

Outfielder Raul Ibanez is still hurting, so says Ryan Lawrence of the Delco Times:

Ibanez’s elbow now has athletic wrap, not ice like yesterday. Also wearing batting gloves & carrying bat, so he can at least swing today.

That news got Dash Treyhorn of The Fightins wondering if that was a  “Harbinger of the Dom Brown era?”

The Atlanta Braves recently promoted phenom outfielder Jason Heyward to their Major League club and he will be in Atlanta on Opening Day against the Chicago Cubs. If the prospect is good enough and there is a vacant spot, it is certainly not unprecedented that a team will take the risk with the young player. Would the Phillies make the move?

I am highly skeptical. Why?

Heading north with Domonic Brown would start his arbitration clock.

A player is eligible for arbitration if he has been on a Major League roster or disabled list for three years. For instance, this off-season, the Phillies had serveral arbitration cases to deal with:

*Note: Service time is written as Years.Days. In the example below, Joe Blanton is listed at 5.016. That means he has five full seasons of MLB service and 16 days.

  • Joe Blanton: Third year, 5.016 years of playing time
  • Chad Durbin: Second year, 5.102
  • Shane Victorino: Second year, 4.092
  • Carlos Ruiz: First year, 3.069

The Phillies will start Dom Brown’s arbitration clock if he is added to the roster. Furthermore, he may be able to qualify as a “Super Two” once he accrues two years of playing time and:

  • Played in the majors for at least 86 days in the previous season
  • Is among the top 17 percent for cumulative playing time in the majors among others with at least 2 years, but less than 3 years experience

That means that Brown will have four, instead of three, years of arbitration eligibility before he becomes a free agent. In other words, the Phillies will have to pay him more money sooner. The mindset of Major League general managers on paying their young players is best summed up by J. Wellington Wimpy who said, “I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

With Jayson Werth most likely heading into free agency, the Phillies would have to keep Brown in right field next year, ensuring that he would rack up the necessary amount of playing time. Furthermore, the Phillies do have outfield depth. If Ibanez is sidelined, he can be replaced by Ben Francisco on an everyday basis, and by Ross Gload, Greg Dobbs, and John Mayberry on a spot-starting basis.

Ruben Amaro knows the Phillies are going to be one of the best teams in baseball with or without Brown, so why start his arbitration clock unnecessarily early? The Phillies could wait two months and call him up in early or mid-June — if they still need him — which would make it highly unlikely that he would qualify for Super Two status.

Lawrence’s tweet leads one to believe that Ibanez should be ready to go by Opening Day, so there is no reason to fret. This is, though, a good thought exercise and one that the Phillies’ brass no doubt has had ad nauseam. It is simply smart business to keep Brown in the Minor Leagues for at least two more months, if not longer. Many fans cringe when they hear about ownership doing what’s “best for business” but those types of decisions were what brought a championship parade to Philadelphia in 2008. Sometimes, the best decisions benefit both the owners and the team and this is one of those cases.

Show Me the DVORP! (Phillies Style)

Eric Polsky at Baseball Daily Digest has done some great work with DVORP, which is VORP from Baseball Prospectus with a capital D in front of it. That D stands for “dollar” — Dollar Value Over Replacement Player. His latest work with DVORP can be found by clicking here, it’s a great read laced with some funny movie quotes. I thought I’d put a Phillies spin on it for my audience here.

It’s actually really easy to calculate this stuff. First, you take your players and you put them into an Excel spreadsheet along with their VORP, which is easy enough. I just copy and pasted the data from here, removing the pitchers from the hitters table. Then you multiply their VORP by the Major League minimum salary, $400,000. In another column, you punch in the players’ salaries which can be found here. Finally, you subtract their salary from their DVORP to find their actual value.

Now we can take a look at how much value last year’s group of Phillies brought to the table. Let’s begin with the starting eight.

Player Position VORP DVORP Salary Actual Value
Carlos Ruiz C 15.6 $6,240,000 $      475,000 $5,765,000
Ryan Howard 1B 47.7 $19,080,000 $  15,000,000 $4,080,000
Chase Utley 2B 61.7 $24,680,000 $  11,000,000 $13,680,000
Pedro Feliz 3B 3.5 $1,400,000 $   5,000,000 -$3,600,000
Jimmy Rollins SS 19.3 $7,720,000 $   7,500,000 $220,000
Raul Ibanez LF 38.4 $15,360,000 $   6,500,000 $8,860,000
Shane Victorino CF 37.7 $15,080,000 $   3,125,000 $11,955,000
Jayson Werth RF 42.8 $17,120,000 $   2,000,000 $15,120,000
Average 33.3 $ 13,335,000 $ 6,325,000 $ 7,010,000

The Phillies got more than twice as much value out of their starting eight position players as they paid for them. On average, the Phillies got $7 million of value, which is nearly 2 Wins Above Replacement in the free agent market. Unsurprisingly, Jayson Werth was the best value among position players, providing the Phillies over $15 million in value, nearly eight times what they paid him. His price tag will go up in 2010 to $7 million and definitely more after the season when he is eligible to become a free agent.

Moving on to the bench…

Player Position VORP DVORP Salary Actual Value
Andy Tracy BN 1B 1.7 $680,000 $      400,000 $280,000
Miguel Cairo BN 2B 0.5 $200,000 $      500,000 -$300,000
Greg Dobbs BN 3B -0.8 -$320,000 $   1,150,000 -$1,470,000
Chris Coste BN C 2.3 $920,000 $      460,000 $460,000
Paul Hoover BN C 1.8 $720,000 $      400,000 $320,000
Lou Marson BN C -0.1 -$40,000 $      400,000 -$440,000
Paul Bako BN C -1.7 -$680,000 $      725,000 -$1,405,000
Ben Francisco BN LF 3.4 $1,360,000 $      421,400 $938,600
John Mayberry BN LF -0.2 -$80,000 $      400,000 -$480,000
Matt Stairs BN RF 1.3 $520,000 $   1,625,000 -$1,105,000
Eric Bruntlett BN SS -9.3 -$3,720,000 $      800,000 -$4,520,000
Average -0.1 -$40,000 $661,945 -$701,945

*Note: Players are listed at the position at which they played the most defensively.

The Phillies bench last year was pretty bad and now you see why. The Phillies had four bench players cost them over $1 million, including Eric Bruntlett who cost them over $4.5 million. The good news is that the bench players were paid relatively little so their poor performances were barely felt. Fortunately, most of the offenders are gone, including Coste, Cairo, Marson, Stairs, Bako, and Bruntlett.

Player Position VORP DVORP Salary Actual Value
J.A. Happ SP 46.7 $18,680,000 $      405,000 $18,275,000
Joe Blanton SP 30.8 $12,320,000 $   5,475,000 $6,845,000
Cole Hamels SP 24.4 $9,760,000 $   4,350,000 $5,410,000
Cliff Lee* SP 14.1 $5,640,000 $      233,334 $5,406,666
Pedro Martinez SP 9.6 $3,840,000 $   1,000,000 $2,840,000
Steven Register SP 0.2 $80,000 $      401,000 -$321,000
Andrew Carpenter SP -3.5 -$1,400,000 $      400,000 -$1,800,000
Antonio Bastardo SP -4.1 -$1,640,000 $      400,000 -$2,040,000
Rodrigo Lopez SP -5.4 -$2,160,000 $      650,000 -$2,810,000
Jamie Moyer SP 8.7 $3,480,000 $   6,500,000 -$3,020,000
Brett Myers SP 5.7 $2,280,000 $  12,083,333 -$9,803,333
Average 11.6 $4,625,455 $2,899,788 $1,725,667

*Note: Cliff Lee’s salary is prorated for his time spent in Cleveland and Philadelphia.

The Phillies starting pitchers provided less than $2 million in value on average but it had more to do with heavy contracts than with actual poor performances. Only three pitchers compiled a negative VORP and they pitched a combined 59 and one-third innings, about 4% of the total innings pitched by members of the Phillies staff.

Brett Myers and Jamie Moyer were paid a combined $18.6 million last year, but combined for a DVORP of $5.76. That meant the Phillies got about $13 million less in value than they invested. On the other hand, J.A. Happ was the big winner for the Phillies, earning the Major League minimum but providing over $18 million in value. As you have no doubt heard by now, you should not expect Happ to repeat this performance no matter what the pinheads at Bleacher Report tell you.

Finally, let’s take a look at the bullpen.

Player Position VORP DVORP Salary Actual Value
Ryan Madson RP 17.7 $7,080,000 $   2,000,000 $5,080,000
Scott Eyre RP 12.1 $4,840,000 $   2,000,000 $2,840,000
Tyler Walker RP 9.3 $3,720,000 $      750,000 $2,970,000
Clay Condrey RP 8.3 $3,320,000 $      650,000 $2,670,000
Chan Ho Park RP 7.8 $3,120,000 $   2,500,000 $620,000
Kyle Kendrick RP 5.0 $2,000,000 $      475,000 $1,525,000
J.C. Romero RP 4.0 $1,600,000 $   4,250,000 -$2,650,000
Chad Durbin RP 3.9 $1,560,000 $   1,635,000 -$75,000
Sergio Escalona RP 1.2 $480,000 $      400,000 $80,000
Jack Taschner RP -0.3 -$120,000 $      835,000 -$955,000
Brad Lidge RP -15.6 -$6,240,000 $  11,500,000 -$17,740,000
Average 4.9 $1,941,818 $2,454,091 -$512,273

If you’re anything like me, your eyes darted right to that -$17,740,000 belonging to Brad Lidge. His nightmare of a 2009 season cost the Phillies nearly $18 million. Just for fun, I removed Lidge from the equation and the average actual value of the Phillies bullpen goes from negative $500,000 to positive $1.2 million, a net gain of $1.7 million. Excluding Lidge, the bullpen was actually slightly above-average.

Know any Ryan Madson skeptics? Show them this table. Madson has been the unsung hero of the bullpen over the past three seasons. He is a free agent after the 2011 season, which is when Lidge can become a free agent as well if the Phillies decide against his $12.5 million club option. Is Madson the closer of the future? I would not be surprised to see the Phillies aggressively try to retain Madson if he continues to keep up the outstanding work.

Additionally, the above table shows just how overrated relief pitchers can be. The top three highest-paid relievers last year (Lidge, Romero, Park) cost the Phillies a combined $20 million and provided -3.5 VORP. Ed Wade, take heed.

All told, the 2009 Phillies spent under $117 million but got $178.5 million in value, a most excellent figure.

Recommended Reading

Let’s head into the weekend in style. I’ll catch you up on my latest from around the Interwebs.

Elsewhere, I’m happy to announce that Crashburn Alley has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in The Phield. I am very grateful for all of the votes that have been cast in support of this blog; 408 of them were cast in the second round alone. The “odds” of Crashburn Alley winning it all are 12:1 but stranger things have happened.

I’ll post a link to the voting when it goes live on Saturday. Please continue to cast your votes!

Remember, you can follow Crashburn Alley on Twitter by clicking here.

Tightrope Walking with J.C. Romero

J.C. Romero came to the Phillies after he was released by the Boston Red Sox in early June, 2007 and was immediately given the ball in high-leverage situations. His average pLI more than doubled as a Phillie from 0.60 to 1.37 (above 1.00 is high leverage). While, as a left-hander, he was expected to retire other lefties, he also held right-handers in check as well. Romero became a stalwart of the Phillies’ bullpen and helped end the organization’s long playoff drought. His performance earned him a three-year, $12 million contract extension during the off-season.

He brought his magic to the Phillies’ bullpen again in 2008. In 81 appearances, he held lefties to a .346 OPS and .051 ISO. During the post-season, he did not allow a hit in his first seven appearances.

2009, however, was a struggle. He started the season serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance, wrongfully so he maintains. When he returned, he wasn’t exactly bad but he lacked control and had an inability to retire left-handed batters (.976 OPS). Romero was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a forearm strain after an outing against the Florida Marlins. He did not return until September 28 and was not able to help the Phillies in the post-season. During the off-season, he had surgery to repair the flexor tendon in his pitching elbow.

It appears that losing Romero for any period of time is a blow to the team, considering how great he has pitched for the Phillies. However, going forward, should we expect Romero to continue to dominate hitters the way he has over the last two and a half years?

Let’s start with his walk rate: it is simply way too high. In his six full seasons with the Twins and one with the Angels, his BB/9 ranged from 3.32 to 6.16. With the Phillies from 2007-09, it was 6.19, 5.80, and 7.02. Simply unacceptable walk rates for a pitcher who is brought in to high-leverage situations. He will be 34 on June 4. As they say, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” He is not going to improve his control by any substantial margin.

Additionally, Romero has benefited from abnormally low BABIPs.

2007 2008 2009
Overall 0.242 0.238 0.250
vs. LH 0.276 0.123 0.353
vs. RH 0.220 0.346 0.185

Pitchers have very little control their BABIP. It will generally hover around .300, but as Tommy Bennett of Baseball Prospectus noted, “Generally relievers have BABIP about .005 lower than starters”. I don’t know for sure but I would assume that BABIP would be slightly lower for specialty pitchers like LOOGYs, but Romero actually faced right-handed batters more often than left-handed batters, between 56-61% as a Phillie.

Even if we give Romero extra LOOGY credit, his BABIP has been unsustainably low. His career average, as one would expect, is .294 and it was never that low prior to coming to Philadelphia.

Some of the credit has to to go the Phillies’ defense — particularly the infield, as Romero has induced 55-64% groundballs. The infield’s UZR/150, from 2007-09:

2007 2008 2009
Howard 0.4 2.4 1.2
Utley 21.0 21.4 11.3
Rollins 6.3 15.0 2.9
Feliz - 9.3 5.0
Nunez 7.2 - -
Helms 0.6 - -
Dobbs -1.6 -9.2 -

The combination of good luck and the Phillies’ excellent infield defense have contributed a lot to Romero’s abnormally low BABIP. Logically, we should expect regression to the mean, especially since the Phillies’ infield defense in 2010 is unlikely to be as good as it has been over the past three years given aging and the replacement of Pedro Feliz with Placido Polanco.

As a result, the Phillies should not give Romero high leverage innings when he is fully healthy. He walks far too many batters and will no longer be able to perform the tightrope-walking act that has made him famous in his two and a half years in Philadelphia. Romero does have a legitimate skill in retiring left-handed hitters, though, as he has held them to an OPS .203 lower than right-handers. Additionally, Romero averages an extra strikeout per walk against lefties.

The best bullpen “lineup” for the Phillies would give Romero’s high-leverage innings to the trio of Ryan Madson, Danys Baez, and Jose Contreras, while Romero becomes the defacto LOOGY. This would also remove the pressing need for the Phillies to carry two left-handed relievers on the roster, thus Antonio Bastardo can go back down to AAA Lehigh Valley and go back to starting games while developing his change-up.

Believe it or not, it is good for the team that Romero will not be ready by Opening Day because it will force them to assign new roles in the bullpen in the meantime. Romero has been great, but he should be used strictly as a LOOGY going forward.

BDD: Someone Could Use Nelson Figueroa

At Baseball Daily Digest, I wonder why Nelson Figueroa hasn’t been picked up on more Major League radars.

[...] somehow, Nelson Figueroa — who, granted, is not Cy Young — is having trouble staying in the big leagues. Figueroa has a career 4.54 ERA, including a 4.09 ERA last year with the New York Mets.

He’s an average pitcher, and average pitchers have value. A study by Jeff Sackmann at The Hardball Times over three years ago found that the average #3 starter has a 4.58 ERA. Nelson’s career ERA, again, is 4.54. The average #4’s and 5’s have ERA’s of 5.10 and 6.24 respectively.

Rollins Was Better Than You Thought

I’ve been spending some time at Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, trying to figure out if it’s reasonable to expect Jimmy Rollins to rebound from a disappointing 2009 season. PECOTA is particularly bullish on Rollins, projecting him to put up an .808 OPS. The other projection systems have him in the .765-.780 OPS range, which is about his career average.

In perusing his stats, something has jumped out at me, an inescapable conclusion: 2008, not ’07 or ’09, was the outlier season for J-Roll. In fact, it seems to me that his ’07 and ’09 performances were eerily similar, just with different end results. Rollins’ OPS in those seasons were .875, .786, and .719. It appears at first glance that his ’07 was otherworldly, his ’08 was relatively normal, and his ’09 was part decline, part bad luck.

Let’s start with the walk and strikeout rates:

BB% K% BB/K
2007 6.3 11.9 0.58
2008 9.3 9.9 1.05
2009 6.1 10.4 0.63
Career 7.2 12.9 0.61

His BB/K in ’08 is at 1.05, the only time in his career he finished higher than 0.78. His ’07 and ’09 rates are very similar.

Batted ball rates…

LD% GB% FB% IFFB% HR/FB%
2007 19.9 35.9 44.2 7.5 10.7
2008 24.0 45.4 30.6 11.8 7.2
2009 19.2 39.7 41.1 13.7 8.5
Career 21.5 41.8 36.7 10.6 7.9

His LD/GB/FB rates are similar again in ’07 and ’09, but he has nearly doubled his infield fly ball rate (IFFB%) from ’07 which signifies that Rollins is making worse and weaker contact, potentially a sign of decline.

Plate discipline…

O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact% Zone%
2007 23.7% 60.8% 42.9% 68.5% 93.6% 86.9% 51.6%
2008 20.3% 58.6% 39.7% 78.0% 95.1% 90.8% 50.6%
2009 22.9% 64.8% 43.8% 72.4% 94.4% 88.7% 50.1%
Career 19.9% 64.0% 43.1% 66.1% 92.7% 86.9% 52.5%

*Note: The prefix O- means outside the strike zone; Z- means inside the strike zone.

Once again, ’07 and ’09 look like each other. As his K/BB rates showed above and as his Swing% shows here, Rollins had improved his strike zone judgment. Somehow, he lost it last year.

Finally, to cap it off, defense.

DP Range Error UZR/150
2007 1.1 0.7 4.8 6.3
2008 0.4 8.2 4.3 15.0
2009 -0.4 -1.4 4.5 2.9

Surely the 15.0 UZR/150 from ’08 sticks out at you, but look at the individual components: double plays, range, and errors. Double plays and errors don’t differ much. However, Rollins’ range wasn’t much in ’07, expanded considerably in ’08, and then shrunk down again in ’09. It is possible that this is a data error on the part of Baseball Info Solutions (from which FanGraphs derives UZR), but more likely that Rollins simply had a fluky year.

So we now see the similarities, but there’s still that glaring discrepancy to sort out. In ’07, Rollins had an .875 OPS; last year, he had a .719 OPS. If those seasons were so similar, why the 156-point difference in OPS?

I have frequently pointed to BABIP when talking about pitchers such as Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ, explaining why their results aren’t in line with their performances. Pitchers only have a tiny bit of control over BABIP and there’s almost no year-to-year persistence, meaning that when we see a very high or very low BABIP, there’s no reason to expect it to stay that high or low going forward.

For hitters, it’s different — they do control their BABIP. David Wright’s BABIP, for example, is .345. Pedro Feliz’s, on the other hand, is .269. Rollins is about in the middle of the two at .293. However, last year, his BABIP was at a staggeringly low .251. While his ever increasing IFFB% is a factor, it doesn’t totally explain why his BABIP was so low. The projections agree that it was a bit too low, as all five systems project his 2010 BABIP at .274-.285. That seems reasonable.

It may sound weird, but going forward, expect Rollins to perform like he did in ’07 but with results somewhere in between ’07 and ’09.

NL East Preview: Philadelphia Phillies

You’ve had a look behind enemy lines with the division rival previews that have been posted here this week. Now, you may be wondering just what to expect from your Philadelphia Phillies going into 2010. Thankfully, there’s an app a blog for that.

I have called upon members of the Phillies blogging community — 16 of them, to be exact — to share their insight on the various issues that the Phillies will address going into and during the 2010 season. What better way to learn about your team than by the wisdom of the crowd?

Be warned: this is epic. There are 15 questions plus predictions. You probably won’t be able to finish this in one sitting. I suggest bookmarking it, or clicking the “Print” link above and bringing it into the bathroom work with you. At the end, you’ll see the 2010 season with 20/20 vision.

If you’re looking for a specific contributor, use the following table. A “1″ indicates that they have answered the corresponding question. Clicking on any of the numbers in the top row will direct you to the specific question.

First Last Blog 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Peter Baker The Good Phight 1 1
Jay Ballz Phoul Ballz 1 1
Paul Boye Phillies Nation 1 1 1
Kieran Carobine Notes from the Diamond 1 1
Ryan Edmund Phillies Long Drive 1 1
Zaki Edwards Philly Gameday 1 1
Max Gallner Fire Eric Bruntlett 1 1
Tom Goyne Balls, Sticks & Stuff 1 1
Chris Jones Phillies Long Drive 1 1 1
Mike Mader Mike on the Phils 1 1 1
Tim Malcolm Phillies Nation 1 1 1
Kyle Martin Brawling for Brotherly Love 1 1 1
Kevin O’Brien The Good Phight 1 1 1
John Russo Team to Beat 1 1
Ryan Sommers Fire Ruben Amaro 1 1 1
Mike Stupendous Philliebuster 1 1

*Note: If the tables are too hard to read, hold Ctrl and press the + key on your NumPad to enlarge the text. Hold Ctrl and press the – key on your NumPad to reduce the text size.


1. How concerned are you about Cole Hamels going into 2010?

Kevin O’Brien: Less concerned than I was going into 2009. Cole’s disappointing 2009 has been deconstructed a ton of places, but the bottom line was that he: (a) didn’t do enough in the offseason to prepare himself; and (b) had some bad luck on balls in play. Statistical regression should take care of the second part of that equation, and Cole himself took care of the first part, as by all accounts he worked hard over the winter to avoid a repeat of 2009′s slow start. At 26 years old, he’s through the injury nexus, he’s not at risk for the Verducci Effect, and he’s a pitcher with a career xFIP of 3.63 — in short, I’m more concerned with roughly 15 other Phillies than I am with Hamels.

Ryan Sommers: Utterly unconcerned. I might have been worried had his K/9 or BB/9 undergone any significant change last season. Or his HR/9. Or his line drive, groundball, and fly ball percentages. Or any indicator that the man on the mound has control over. I might have even raised an eyebrow if his 4.32 ERA in 2009, the product of some downright abysmal luck, was significantly below league average, but it wasn’t.

Peter Baker: As concerned as any rational person needs to be about his favorite baseball team’s young second best starting pitcher. If I’m being asked to assess whether he’ll “bounce back” in 2010, I’m quite sure that he will. He’s motivated, and he’s likely to benefit from a little better luck than he had in 2009. If I could find a sportsbook that’d let me put $100 on Hamels to have a better season than Roy Halladay in 2010, I’d take that longshot bet. Not likely, but who knows?

Max Gallner: Actually, I’m not very worried at all. All Hamels will need to return to 2008 form will be a little more luck than he had last year. Between ’08 and ’09, Cole Hamels’s ERA jumped 123 points, his WHIP 21, his BAA 43. The stats that remained constant, however, were the ERA estimators, what his ERA *should have *been. FIP – no change. xFIP – 6-point change. tERA – 12-point change. This, of course, was due to a 55-point change in BABIP, which is impossible to control. League average is generally somewhere around .300. Both Hamels’s 2008 and 2009 seasons included BABIP’s at least one standard deviation from the average. In 2008, a BABIP of .270 was the cause of an abnormally lucky season that saw him with a 3.09 ERA, and, ultimately, the cause of abnormally high expectations for 2009, as well. Unfortunately, 2009 was on the complete opposite end of the spectrum for Cole, and he far failed to match the output from the year before. As he turned in a BABIP of .325, that similarly red-flagged the bad luck brought along with an ERA over 4.30. 2010 should be somewhere in the middle of the two, more or less, probably closer to 2008, actually, giving him the benefit of the doubt that he’s a good pitcher by nature. I’ll say that 2010 ERA is somewhere in the 3.40-3.60 range.


2. Give the Roy Halladay/Cliff Lee mega-trade between the Phillies, Blue Jays, and Mariners a letter grade and explain your grading process.

Tom Goyne: Right now I’d honestly give the trade an “incomplete”. I really think we are going to look at this deal differently in 2012 than we do now. I think we would all prefer to have both Lee and Halladay on the staff along with Hamels, but I certainly do see the point of needing to keep the farm system at least somewhat stocked and I certainly love the below-market contract extension Halladay signed. If Tyson Gillies, Phillipe Aumont and J.C. Ramirez become significant contributors, then the deal might get an “A+” from me.

Peter Baker: B+. It’s hard to understate just how much of a deal the Phillies got with the Roy Halladay extension. He left a couple years and about $80 million on the table. And with the Phillies’ self-imposed (and wise!) policy of not giving long-term deals to pitchers, there’s no way they could have gotten Halladay on the open market.

As for the Cliff Lee deal… it’s just strange. They could have kept Lee in 2010 and had a face-melting rotation, or at the very least flipped Lee for superior minor league talent. But they wound up somewhere in the middle. Aumont, Gillies, and Ramirez are totally okay, but not great, and I suspect the value they could have extracted from Lee in 2010 would have exceeded what they’re likely to get from the three prospects over the next few years.

Tim Malcolm: I’m sick of the Ruben-bashing over this deal. Go back to July 2009: Amaro slobbered over a Halladay Phillies uniform. He didn’t get it, thanks to JP Ricciardi. So last second he pulled off an amazing shocker. What a great deal that was, short term. Bottom line, though: He didn’t get what he wanted.

At a time when the Phillies own Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Cole Hamels, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson and Jimmy Rollins, they can’t afford everybody. They’re not the mega-global Yankees, Dodgers, Mariners or Red Sox. They just don’t have that reach. And yeah, thank history and years of ignoring foreign and racial markets for that one. Thank location, too. Philadelphia isn’t a world city. It’s not a destination for foreigners. And that absolutely affects revenue.

So the Phillies work with what they have, which is a deep but stitched pocket. And Amaro had a chance to grab Halladay, finally, so he did, and without giving up the prized offensive prospect and depth on the mound. Travis D’Arnaud? Carlos Ruiz can hold fort until the arrival of Sebastian Valle. Michael Taylor? I’ve prefered Domonic Brown since spring training 2008, and one had to go. Halladay was going to cost those guys, and he was going to cost Kyle Drabek. Luckily, Amaro knows there are some live arms in double- and single-A. Halladay, Hamels, Happ, depth.

Philippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and JC Ramirez might make the majors, but just as likely might make fine trading chips within the next 12 months. And that’s the point of prospects – build their resumes, figure what they’re worth, use accordingly. I trust Amaro in this game.

I can’t grade the deal yet because it’s far too early and childish. But if I’m running a big-market baseball franchise with limitations and a window that could remain open for another four years, I’d say this is a smart, calculated deal that offers options for the long term, something a duo of Halladay-Lee wouldn’t have given Amaro.


3. What should the Phillies do about Jayson Werth and his impending free agency?

Zaki Edwards: I always said Jayson Werth should have been the odd man out once Halladay came to town and not Cliff Lee. I would take a hit in rightfield and let Domonic Brown take over — or even Ben Francisco, temporarily — to keep Lee in town for a year.

I’m not sure there’s any way to financially work out a deal with him, so he’ll either have to be dealt or we’ll let him go and take the compensatory picks.

It doesn’t make sense to deal him at this point unless we get established major leaguers in return (like a #3 starting pitcher or a closer), and since that’s unlikely, I’d hold onto an All-Star outfielder in a contract year and just let him walk.

I’m sure a lot of what happens to him will hinge on how Domonic Brown performs at Lehigh, but unless Brown is hitting .350+ with 20 home runs by the All-Star break, I’d say hold onto Werth and let him walk after the World Series.

Kyle Martin: I would love to see the Phillies re-sign Jayson Werth if it’s feasible. Werth has been a very valuable member of this team for the past two seasons, and it’s great that he had such a solid year in 2009. I would not want to sign him to a big money deal if it means that we can’t re-sign Ryan Howard in a couple of years. Howard is a bigger part of this team than Werth is, and the Phillies have Dominic Brown waiting in the wings. The ideal situation would be to re-sign Werth, and move either him or Brown to left field to replace Ibanez, but my guess is that the Phillies won’t have enough money to make a move like that. So as much as it pains me to say it, it is probably best to let Werth walk in free agency. I’d rather see the Phillies be successful for a long period of time, than to get too attached to some of the more expendable players.

Mike Stupendous: With their current budget restrictions, the Phillies might be able to pay Werth about $10MM/yr., perhaps more with a backloaded contract, and still retain most of their core. But Werth should be able to do much better than that on the FA market ($15MM/yr., 4 years?). The Phils could try to trade him now, but that would likely leave a huge void in the 2010 lineup, and severely damage their WS chances. They should probably keep him for 2010, try to figure out a (reasonable) way to sign him, but be willing to let him go (and take the two draft picks they’ll get for offering him arbitration). With Domonic Brown probably MLB-ready in 2011, and Ben Francisco a decent stop-gap, the Phils could either fill RF from within, or pursue another (less costly) free agent. (Of course, if Shane Victorino takes Werth as a partner, in his foray into the apparel sales industry, Werth may be more willing to give the Phils a “home-team discount.”)


4. Jimmy Rollins says he wants to hit .300, accrue 200 hits, score 150 runs, steal 50 bases, and commit 3 or fewer errors. Give us your AVG, H, R, SB, and E predictions for Rollins in 2010.

First Last Blog AB AVG Hits Runs SB E
Peter Baker The Good Phight
Jay Ballz Phoul Ballz 660 0.288 190 120 41 7
Paul Boye Phillies Nation 636 0.275 175 110 25 7
Kieran Carobine Notes from the Diamond 625 0.293 183 130 45 5
Ryan Edmund Phillies Long Drive
Zaki Edwards Philly Gameday 695 0.285 198 120 35 8
Max Gallner Fire Eric Bruntlett
Tom Goyne Balls, Sticks & Stuff 685 0.270 185 130 35 5
Chris Jones Phillies Long Drive 678 0.289 196 128 33 2
Mike Mader Mike on the Phils 669 0.269 180 135 50 6
Tim Malcolm Phillies Nation 648 0.273 177 126 39 10
Kyle Martin Brawling for Brotherly Love 667 0.285 190 120 40 5
Kevin O’Brien The Good Phight 673 0.272 183 108 30 8
John Russo Team to Beat 678 0.286 194 121 34 7
Ryan Sommers Fire Ruben Amaro 636 0.272 173 118 45 9
Mike Stupendous Philliebuster 630 0.270 170 100 30 7
CONSENSUS 663 0.278 184 120 37 7
ROLLINS GOAL 667 0.300 200 150 50 3

*Note: AB totals derived algebraically.


5. Is the duo of Ryan Madson and Danys Baez reliable back-up for ailing closer Brad Lidge?

Paul Boye: Madson yes, Baez no. I think Madson has the best stuff of any reliever on the team right now, but it would actually be to our benefit if he were not handcuffed to the ninth inning. The best reliever should be available for the toughest situations, whether they happen in the 7th, 8th or 9th.

Kevin O’Brien: I’m a still a believer in Madson — whatever the WIP crowd says about “closer’s mentality,” I’ll gladly take my chances handing over the 9th inning role to a guy with mid-90s gas, a devastating change up, and a 3.55 strikeout-to-walk ratio (in 2009). As for Baez… eh, not so much. Don’t get me wrong — he’s a handy guy to have around, and his grounder inducing (60.9% ground balls in 2009), strike throwing (2.8 BB/9 in 2009) style should suit him just fine in the 7th inning, but I’m not entirely comfortable handing over the closer’s role to a guy who frankly doesn’t have swing-and-miss stuff (just 5.0 K/9 in 2009).

Ryan Edmund: I saw Baez be absolutely LIGHTS OUT early last season while pitching in the AL East for Baltimore. He was working as a set-up guy for George Sherrill, but had a streak of something like 16+ scoreless innings and looked completely unhittable until he was plagued by some nagging injuries and never caught his stride. I’m very high on this guy.


6. Which team in the NL East worries you the most?

Jay Ballz: The Marlins worry me the most. Florida is typically the underrated bunch that surprisingly hangs around second place and has an impact on the divisional race. They’ve given New York and Atlanta trouble late in the season in recent years. The Phillies could be their next victim.

Mike Mader: The Florida Marlins and there isn’t a runner up. Josh Johnson would be the best pitcher in the division if Roy Halladay hadn’t shown up (sorry, Johan who?) and Nolasco and Sanchez form a solid top of the rotation behind him. Hanley Ramirez is a stud and the lineup is full of solid hitters even if a casual baseball fan couldn’t name most of them. Dan Uggla, Chris Coghlin, John Baker, Jorge Cantu, and Cody Ross all scare the bejesus out of me for some reason. The bullpen sucks and the defense isn’t very good, but if they are in the race down the stretch they always seem to be able to acquire a player or two who can help them, like Nick Johnson last year. I could see Florida winning the NL wildcard, but the Phillies are too good not to win the division in 2010.

Kyle Martin: The Braves are the team that worries me the most. The Marlins don’t worry me too much because I don’t think they’re that deep beyond Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco and Hanley Ramirez. The Mets, despite adding Jason Bay, are a mess (and are possibly without Reyes all year). The Nationals… well they’re the Nationals. The Braves will have their traditionally strong pitching staff, and they will also have a fairly strong lineup. Add in the X-factor that it’s Bobby Cox’s last year as manager and we could have an interesting race on our hands this season.


7. Teams have been approaching Ryan Howard with a steady diet of left-handed pitching and breaking balls and by employing the shift on the right side of the field. Will this trend continue in 2010, or will Howard make the appropriate adjustments?

Chris Jones: I was actually talking the other day saying I really wouldn’t mind Howard taking an opposite field approach to up the batting average and taking a hit in the home run department. If Howard finished the season with an average in the .290s but only had 40 homers (only) I’d be pretty happy with that. But you know teams will still employ the shift and still throw him a hell of a lot of breaking balls.

Kyle Martin: I think opposing teams will continue to feed lefties and breaking balls to Howard until he proves that he can consistently hurt them when he tries that. The overshift on Howard doesn’t worry me too much because when Howard is hitting the ball well, he can go the opposite way just as easily as he can pull the ball. Hopefully he spent most the offseason working on hitting breaking balls because he’s just looked lost at the plate at times. I will be very disappointed if he doesn’t get better against the breaking ball this year, because he knows what’s coming and it’s up to him to work at it until he hit them consistently.


8. Placido Polanco is making the switch from second base to third base. How good will he be defensively?

Ryan Sommers: People who have read my prior opinions on this are going to double-take at this response. Right after this signing, I had a lot of gloom and doom visions of Polanco stumbling around the left side of the infield, muffing sharp grounders and blowing routine throws. My initial impressions were no doubt colored by my irritation at Ruben Amaro giving him a 3 year deal, and further by the fact that “hasn’t played the position since 2005″ just sounds really bad. The more I think about it though, the more my mind is at ease. Polly has been a very good second baseman, posting a career 10.0 UZR/150 at the position, as well as a +29 Plus/Minus rating from 2006-2008 (link), good for a fourth place tie. Though he’s put in 692 less games at third base, he has a career 9.9 UZR/150 at the position. All of this tells me that he has the range and reflexes to play third, particularly if we remember the defensive spectrum. It depends on his arm, and the toll that aging takes on his footwork. With the usual caveats about spring training evaluations, the early indications are that his arm will hold up at the position, and, despite a probable fluke of a knee injury, that Father Time hasn’t stunted his ability to translate his second base range. He may end up just being average at the position, but I don’t see Polanco’s third base defense being a liability for the Phillies.

Kieran Carobine: Polanco has a great glove. The biggest different between second and third is reaction time. I am not worried about his glove work but am a little concerned with his arm. He definitely does not have the arm strength Pedro Feliz had. Other than that, whatever other flaws come with him switching positions, his bat will make up for it.


9. Who should win the #5 spot, Jamie Moyer or Kyle Kendrick?

Jay Ballz: Moyer will begin the season as the 5th starter, based on his salary and experience. Kendrick will have firmly out-dueled Moyer, but will have to settle for a spot in the bullpen to begin the season. However, I fully expect Kendrick to make more starts this season for the Phillies than Moyer will.

Zaki Edwards: I’ve got nothing personal against Jamie Moyer since I hear he’s nothing short of a saint off the field, but on the field, he’s done.

No one is quite sure why he was given a two-year deal after 2008, but the best way for Moyer to help the Phillies in 2010 is to retire. Harsh words, but of the many that struggled in 2009 — Rollins, Hamels and Lidge — it’s Moyer that I think actually showed his true colors, which were screaming out that his career is at an end.

That said, Kendrick gets the job because the Phillies have no other option and because it looks like he’s become Scrappy Doo to Roy Halladay’s Scooby, which should pay off…I think.


10. The bench was great in 2008 but disappointing last year. Will the additions of Brian Schneider, Ross Gload, and Juan Castro help?

John Russo: Gload will have the biggest impact on the bench. He’s a .300 hitter off the bench from last year and his bat has a little pop. Schneider gives the Phillies a legit back-up catcher that will keep Carlos Ruiz fresh for the post season so he can have another great October. Castro will be able to spell Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, keeping them fresh for the long run. The bench is much better this year thanks to adding those three fresh faces and holding onto Greg Dobbs and Ben Francisco.

Ryan Sommers: I think, for the most part, that Amaro did a good job upgrading the bench for the 2010 season. In 2008, the Phillie bench managed a .253/.308/.400 line with 33 home runs, for a .708 OPS. That production dropped to .232/.307/.385 with 25 home runs for a .692 OPS in 2009. The weaker bench meant that it carried 370 less plate appearances in 2009, increasing the burden on the already heavily-used starters. Schneider and Gload are both likely to OBP over .300, which to my mind makes them upgrades for the bench. Juan Castro I am less than thrilled with. His .286 wOBA in 2009 was his highest since 2003, aided in no small part by a BABIP that was 80 points over his career mark. Sure, he’s a defensive replacement, but that won’t stop Charlie from giving him way too many plate appearances — see exhibit A, Eric Bruntlett. The notion that it does not matter how abysmal your defensive replacements’ bats are leads to some really silly personnel decisions. I wouldn’t mind seeing Wilson Valdez, whom Amaro signed to a minor league deal, compete for Castro’s spot, but it won’t happen. Count on Dobbs to bounce back from a rough 2009, and I think Mayberry has a good chance to have a mini-breakout year, if Charlie gives him serious opportunities. He has a small sample size in 2009 from which to judge (60 plate appearances), but he flashed some major power, with a .263 ISO and a .474 SLG. If he just develops more patience, I think he’ll be a big contributor.


11. Will J.A. Happ come close to his 2.93 ERA from 2009?

Kieran Carobine: A sub-3 ERA from J.A. Happ would be incredible. I am not buying into the whole ‘last season was a fluke’ thing or that it was based on luck. I think Happ is number 3 starter at best right now in his career. I also think a sub-4 ERA is very doable and we could very well see his win total rise from last year. Prediction 14-8, 3.69 ERA.

Mike Mader: I guess it depends on what you mean by “close”. Happ was lucky in a lot of the ways that Cole Hamels was unlucky last year, but it’s not just about the luck. It’s what you do with it. Happ did a good job of working his way out of jams and not letting mistakes compound on him last year and if you want to chalk all of that up to good luck you are more than welcome to, but I don’t think baseball works that way over a 162 game season. The league has now seen him for a full season, and will make adjustments. The counter-adjustments he makes will go a long way in determining how successful he will be in 2010. So far this spring, it appears that Happ is working more on his secondary pitches and trying to get outs with those as opposed to the obscene amount of outs he got with a 90 mph fastball he threw high in the zone last year. This is a good thing. I think it is reasonable to expect a 3.90ish ERA in 2010 and he’ll hang around in games long enough to get 14-15 wins. The Phillies will be in good shape if they can get that out of their 4th starter.

Mike Stupdenous: Would a 4.20 ERA count as “close?” Happ almost rode a tiny BABIP (.270) and a high LOB % (85.2) to a RoY. It’s possible that Happ can sustain these lofty numbers, but it’s probably more likely that Jimmy Rollins will post a .400 OBP. Happ’s BABIP will likely rise, his LOB % will likely fall, and his ERA will likely be in the 4.20-4.40 range.

(CHONE’s 4.36 projection seems about right.) That said, a #4/#5 starter who can post a 4.36 ERA, at a low cost in salary (500K?), is very valuable. Particularly to the Phillies, who have a lot of $$$ tied up in their superstar core.


12. The Phillies essentially swapped Chan Ho Park for Jose Contreras. Thumbs up or thumbs down and why?

Mike Mader: Thumbs down. Chan Ho was actually good as a reliever last year and had a track record of being good as a reliever previous to that. Jose Contreras pitched 7.1 good relief innings at the end of last year, but was a mostly miserable starter for 3 or 4 years before that. He might be 56 years old for all we know. I don’t get the Phillies’ obsession with multiple-inning relievers. Sure, it’s important to have a couple guys who can go more than one inning, but wouldn’t you rather have someone who is reliable for an inning at a time than someone who is capable of pitching multiple innings but is mostly mediocre in the process? This is an example of Ruben Amaro’s aggressiveness working against him. He should have waited the relief market out and re-signed Park after his price went down.

That being said, I think that Contreras has a chance to be a decent reliever this season because he can be a one or one-and-a-half pitch pitcher relying mostly on a still effective splitter. It’s just that Chan Ho Park was the devil we knew and I’d rather have that than the devil we don’t.

Kevin O’Brien: Thumbs down. I did like the Contreras signing, and I do think his stuff will play up in shorter stints out of the bullpen, but Park was the club’s second best reliever for most of last season, so he’ll be tough to replace. But I can’t really blame Amaro for the slight downgrade; he offered Park a 1-year, $3.25 million deal at the beginning of the offseason, and Chan Ho turned it down to ride off on his quixotic quest to become a starter.

Paul Boye: Neither. It could be a lateral move. Both have hard stuff out of the ‘pen, but Park’s home run rate in the ‘pen will be impossible to duplicate (both for him and the Phillies). Contreras’s ERA might not match Park’s in relief, but he should get Ks and be effective if rationed appropriately.


13. Which Phillie(s) is/are we most likely to see dealt by the July 31 trading deadline?

Chris Jones: Hopefully Aumont, Gillies, and Ramirez for Cliff Lee.

Tim Malcolm: One of either Tyson Gillies or Anthony Gose. Possibly a Trevor May or Philippe Aumont. That’s what I see, since the Phillies might want another bullpen piece or starter by July.

And major leaguers? Can’t see it happening.

Tom Goyne: I can’t imagine anyone on the big club getting traded. Perhaps a lower level prospect will get traded for a reliever at some point, but contending teams typically don’t trade big league players.

Ryan Edmund: If he stays healthy and Dom Brown looks like he’s ready to take over, I can see Werth going to an AL team looking to make a stretch run, maybe Boston, which would absolutely suck to see. But that’s an emotional reaction: he’s a fan favorite. Hell, he’s my favorite. But from a financial and player development standpoint, The Phillies can use the tons of money he’s going to make elsewhere and some high level prospects would be great to re-stock the farm.


14. The Phillies have had one of baseball’s best defenses for several years running according to most metrics. Does this trend continue?

Tim Malcolm: I believe it will continue for 2010, simply because they’re smarter than most – if not all – teams. Let’s go by position: Ryan Howard’s improved coverage of first base and Chase Utley’s ever-increasing tight defense at second should help in their favor. Placido Polanco won’t supply as much range as Pedro Feliz, but he’ll cut down on errors in his chances by taking safer routes. Jimmy Rollins will remain steady and among the shortstop leaders in zone rating. Outfield defense will also be steady, especially with the short patch of grass in Citizens Bank Park aiding Raul Ibanez.

What the Phillies do better than probably any team is position defenders correctly for hitters. I truly feel a lot of the Phillies’ success is related to pre-game preparation – the video room, scouting reports, etc. Those things are longterm indicators and show in many aspects of the game. We really don’t laud the Phillies defense as much as we should.

Chris Jones: I think this falls largely on Ibanez’s shoulders. He was looked at as worse than Pat in left field but ended up being pretty decent. UZR does tend to fluctuate quite a bit but Ibanez’s average UZR over the past 3 season before coming to Philly was -12.8 but somehow, maybe leaving a larger Safeco Field, he managed to put up a 8.0 UZR. I’m not sure he will be able to repeat that, but I sure hope he can.


15. What will the team get from Domonic Brown this season?

Paul Boye: Nothing at the Major League level, and that’s a good thing. We need more from Dom. His K rate rose and his BB rate fell in the move up the minor league ladder, and that could be troublesome if he doesn’t make adjustments this season. He needs a solid sample of good performance at the AAA level before the Phillies should even consider starting his option and arbitration clocks.

John Russo: If he has a monster year in AAA, it could lead to the Phillies trading Jayson Werth if they can’t work out a deal. Brown will see some time with the Phillies this year when they go on the road against American League teams with the DH. He’ll also be a part of the roster expansions late season.

Max Gallner: Barring an unforeseen injury or trade of one of the team’s current outfielders, I think he will be a September call-up. He’s never played for the Iron Pigs at AAA yet. He needs the at-bats, and he certainly won’t get them by sitting on the bench. He could be a very strong Rookie of the Year candidate in 2011, should one of the current starters be traded by next off-season.

Predictions

First Last Blog W L Playoffs MVP Cy Young Rookie Breakout Under Radar
Peter Baker The Good Phight 91 71 Lose NLCS Utley Hamels Carpenter Madson Blanton
Jay Ballz Phoul Ballz 94 68 Lose WS Utley Halladay Bastardo Kendrick Ruiz
Paul Boye Phillies Nation 92 70 Lose NLCS Utley Halladay Herndon Herndon Francisco
Kieran Carobine Notes from the Diamond 99 63 Win WS Utley Halladay Brown Brown Ruiz
Ryan Edmund Phillies Long Drive 92 70 Win WS Halladay Halladay - - Baez
Zaki Edwards Philly Gameday 98 64 Lose WS Utley Halladay Bastardo Bastardo Francisco
Max Gallner Fire Eric Bruntlett 97 65 Win WS Utley Halladay - Ruiz Kendrick
Tom Goyne Balls, Sticks & Stuff 93 69 Reach WS Utley Halladay Bastardo Kendrick Utley
Chris Jones Phillies Long Drive 96 66 Reach WS Utley Halladay Mathieson Mathieson Werth
Mike Mader Mike on the Phils 95 67 Reach WS Utley Halladay Bastardo Madson Lidge
Tim Malcolm Phillies Nation 96 66 Win WS Utley Halladay Mayberry Francisco Schneider
Kyle Martin Brawling for Brotherly Love 98 64 Reach WS Utley Halladay Brown Kendrick Blanton
Kevin O’Brien The Good Phight 90 72 Lose NLDS Utley Halladay Bastardo Bastardo Werth
John Russo Team to Beat 96 66 Win WS Howard Halladay Brown Kendrick Lidge
Ryan Sommers Fire Ruben Amaro 95 67 Reach WS Utley Halladay Mathieson Mayberry Francisco
Mike Stupendous Philliebuster 95 67 Win WS Halladay Halladay - Victorino Francisco
CONSENSUS 95 67 Win WS Utley Halladay Bastardo Kendrick Francisco

There you have it: the opinions of 16 Phillies bloggers on the 2010 season. I, for one, could not be more excited for regular season baseball.

If you missed the other previews that were posted this week:

Also, stay tuned for Phillies-themed previews that yours truly has authored for The Hardball Times and Baseball Daily Digest. ETA on those is the end of the month, likely March 29-31.

Addendum

Many of the contributors made the effort to answer all 15 questions asked. As you may expect, with so many involved, I couldn’t post 15 answers from 16 different people. Some of them have posted their answers in full on their own blogs, so I’ll link to them here.