Brian Bannister Is Awesome

Not Phillies-related, but since this blog uses Sabermetrics so heavily, I thought this may be of interest:

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Brian Bannister talks about how he uses Sabermetric principles and statistics to aid him in improving as a starter. He has some work to do as his 5.73 ERA and 4.86 xFIP aren’t encouraging. But it’s still cool to hear a Major Leaguer talk about how he applies this stuff to his job on a daily basis.

Hat tip to Repoz from Baseball Think Factory.

Analyzing the Phillies’ Lesser SP Targets

With July 31 on the horizon, the Phillies have been mentioned in a flurry of trade rumors. They were obvious candidates to acquire the services of Cliff Lee and Dan Haren, but they have since changed addresses in cities not named Philadelphia. Among big names, only Roy Oswalt remains. Oswalt presents a bit of a problem to the Phillies because he is expensive both in terms of prospects and in terms of money. So they have turned their attention to some lesser pitchers. Let’s go through the rumors and see if they’re worth acquiring.

Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse tweets:

Hearing possible Ted Lilly for JA Happ deal. NOT confirmed.

Lilly is owed $12 million in the final year of his four-year, $40 million contract. There is about $5 million left, all of which the Phillies would most likely have to pick up.

His K/9 has declined from 8.1 to 7.7 to 6.9 this year. He has decent control, but he allows a metric ton of fly balls (above 50% in each of the past two seasons). Because of the extreme fly ball rate, he has a lower-than-normal BABIP (.285 career), but he has even been lucky on that this year (.261). His SIERA is at 4.14 which is above-average but the Phillies can get that production from J.A. Happ, whose SIERA last year was 4.37.

The one good aspect of a Lilly trade would be that he will likely qualify as a Type-A free agent. Should the Phillies offer arbitration to him and Lilly declines to sign elsewhere, they will get a first-round draft pick and a sandwich pick as compensation. However, given GM Ruben Amaro’s prior apprehension to offering arbitration (see: Pat Burrell, Jamie Moyer), it’s hard to imagine him extending such an offer to Lilly.

The verdict on Lilly: pass.

Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated tweets:

#indians, #phillies talking trade. westbrook, carmona possibilities

Let’s start with Fausto Carmona, who starts tonight against the New York Yankees. He is signed through next year for $6.1 million, with club options for 2012-14.

Carmona is well-known for his ability to induce ground balls, his rate reaching as high as 64% in 2007 when he finished fourth in the American League Cy Young race. Aside from that, he has a Kyle Kendrick-esque K/9 of 5.0 and doesn’t possess great control with a BB/9 closer to 4.0 than 3.0. His SIERA, 2007-10: 3.52, 4.78, 4.82, 4.44.

Why give up prospects for a clone of Kendrick?

The verdict on Carmona: pass.

Carmona’s teammate Jake Westbrook has been mentioned in trade rumors for a while. He will earn $11 million this year, about $5 million of which remains.

Westbrook, like Carmona, has a penchant for inducing the ground ball with a career 59% rate. And, like Carmona, he has Kendrick-esque strikeout and walk numbers with a career 4.9 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. In fact, Carmona and Westbrook may as well be brothers as their respective SIERAs are within one one-hundredth of a point of each other, 4.44 and 4.43 respectively.

The verdict on Westbrook: pass.

AstrosCounty tweeted:

What would you do if Brett Myers and Roy Oswalt were packaged together for the Phillies?

The Phillies haven’t been officially linked to Myers, but the storyline is set: he’s cheap, will be a free agent after the season, and has significant history with the Phillies. It just makes too much sense not to happen, right?

Of the pitchers mentioned in this article (Lilly, Carmona, Westbrook), Myers is easily the most attractive option. He has pitched legitimately well this season as his 3.83 SIERA indicates and he has a long track record of success as a starter. Myers has been chronically underrated as his career ERA is 40 points higher than his career xFIP (4.26 to 3.88). Additionally, he has good strikeout and walk rates, 7.0 and 2.6 respectively. And he induces a lot of ground balls (career 48%).

The Astros aren’t likely to package Myers with Oswalt. Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports write, “two sources said the Astros will need to be overwhelmed in order to move him, citing the team’s hope that he could be a foundation for future rotations.” That, however, doesn’t make much sense since Myers is a free agent after the season and the Astros would need to use a large sum of money to convince him to stay with a team that, right now, is on pace to win 66 games.

The verdict on Myers: take.

Make it happen, Ruben!

Domonic Brown: Curb Your Enthusiasm?

UPDATE: Brown has been called up. (via Jim Salisbury of Comcast SportsNet)

Shane Victorino came up limping last night. Given the Phillies’ season-long bout with bad luck, it was to be expected. The reactions to the injury on Twitter were less than “to be expected.” In fact, some people were downright giddy because it increased the likelihood of phenom prospect (#1 in baseball actually, according to most prospect mavens) Domonic Brown getting his much-anticipated call up to the show.

Prior to Victorino’s injury, fans were looking forward to a trade of Jayson Werth. Why? Well, the majority of Philadelphia — including the sports media — had developed some kind of hatred for the bearded fellow but also because it signaled Dom Brown Time. The prevailing thought was that Werth was an expendable part and Brown would have no problem coming up and replacing the lost production. After all, Brown has a .951 OPS in Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

The problem is that Minor League statistics don’t translate exactly into Major League statistics. Context is very important. You wouldn’t consider 20 home runs in the confines of Safeco Field equivalent to 20 home runs at Yankee Stadium. Nor should you consider Brown’s production at Triple-A equivalent to what he will produce at the Major League level. He could; it’s not impossible. But it’s not likely.

To get an idea as to how a player’s Minor League stats equate to Major League competition, we use a method called Minor League Equivalency (MLE). Steve Slowinski of DRays Bay has written a nice overview of MLE at SaberLibrary. A snippet:

For example, if a minor leaguer is playing in the International League (Triple-A), their numbers will be adjusted to account for the fact that the competition isn’t as strong as in the major leagues, but is marginally stronger than the other Triple-A league, the Pacific Coast League.  If that player was to go on to the National League, their adjusted numbers would be different than if they went to the American League, since the National League is a slightly weaker environment than the American League.  Park effects are also taken into account, meaning that an offensive player’s numbers will be adjusted higher in Fenway Park than they would be in PETCO Park.

I went to Minor League Splits, where they have a MLE calculator. Brown’s current .346/.390/.561 triple-slash line for Lehigh Valley changes to .306/.348/.479 at the Major League level. An .827 OPS isn’t bad at all, but it also isn’t enough to make us forget about Jayson Werth.

It is, however, more than enough to make us forget about Victorino, who has been very underwhelming offensively. Shane’s .250 batting average is about 30 points below his career average; his .311 OBP is 30 points below; and his .438 SLG is right near it. Overall, his .749 OPS is one of the reasons the Phillies haven’t quite lived up to expectations offensively.

As much as it pains me to say it, Victorino’s injury couldn’t have come at a better time for the Phillies. Right before the trading deadline, Ruben Amaro will now be much less likely to trade Werth unless he receives a ridiculously good offer, i.e. Jesus Montero and six of his clones. (Be honest: you were afraid that the reports were true, that Amaro would flip Werth for as little as a “#4 starter“.) Additionally, the Phillies retain that all-important right-handed bat in the middle of their lineup. Sans Werth, the team’s most fearful right-handed hitter is Placido Polanco. He’s not chopped liver but he also doesn’t OPS .900.

All that remains is for Amaro to send Brown a car to get him to Philadelphia in time for tonight’s game (otherwise the Phillies would be operating with a 23-man bench, given Jimmy Rollins‘ recent limp). A team very rarely gets such an easy opportunity to upgrade the offense, essentially for free. This is a lay-up the Phillies should easily make.