Your Twitter Questions Answered

Contracts and likelihood aside for a moment, who would you rather have at 1B: Ryan Howard or Jim Thome? (@TVGugs)

Ryan Howard, and it’s not as close as you’d think. Thome hasn’t played first base since 2007 and he hasn’t played there regularly since he was last a Phillie in 2005. I couldn’t see Thome being an asset defensively at first base. And for all the grief that Howard gets from the Saber crowd, he’s not awful defensively. It seems like first basemen are underrated defensively by UZR, so I take his 0.2, -12.6, and -4.6 marks from 2009-11 to tell me he’s about average. Offensively, the two players are about the same with Thome being a little bit better in the getting-on-base department.

With advanced metrics, where does Carlton’s ’72 season rank all-time? (@Pat_Donovan)

Unfortunately, FanGraphs doesn’t have a Play Index and Baseball Reference won’t let you search for FIP with its PI, so I can’t give a straight-up answer to that. However, I think it’s safe to say his 2.01 FIP (which was only four points higher than his ERA) is among the best. Not quite as good as 1997-2001 Pedro Martinez, but elite nonetheless. Martinez’s dominance was quite impressive because it came in the apex of the super-offense era (I refuse to call it the “steroid era”) when the average AL team scored five runs per game; in 1972, the average was 3.5 runs per game.

Jimmy’s injury… does this make it more or less likely he re-signs with the Phillies? Or, no effect? (@FelskeFiles)

Unless the injury is more serious than we think, and if it affects his performance, then it will be a hot button issue, but for now, it’s not going to affect anything. As long as Jimmy can use the off-season to recharge the ol’ batteries, there will be a few teams getting in line early to negotiate with him if the Phillies don’t get to him first. There just aren’t that many great shortstops in baseball, so if teams have to take a risk with an injury-prone player, they will. Jose Reyes is going to get a boatload of money in the off-season and he hasn’t even reached 100 games played this season.

what team is the least favorable post season matchup for the Phils? Giants? Brewers? Braves? (@bje79)

I think it’s pretty clearly the Atlanta Braves. The NL West may as well be the Triple-A of the National League, and the Milwaukee Brewers have been extremely lucky especially as of late. At the moment, they are out-performing their Pythagorean record by seven games. If the Braves are able to get Jason Heyward rolling (and in the lineup consistently), the Braves could be trouble in a best-of-seven series. On a good night, their starting pitching can go toe-to-toe with the Phillies’, so it is just a matter of a few favorable rolls of the die. And there is just no recourse once they get to the eighth inning with a lead.

Whom do you see as the Phillies closer in 2012? (@tholzerman)

That’s a tough question. I can see them going down any number of paths: re-signing Ryan Madson, going with Antonio Bastardo, or going after a free agent. At the moment, the Phillies already have $113 million tied up in 2012, going to nine players (assumes Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge‘s contracts will be bought out). I see the Phillies retaining Rollins at something close to three years, $39 million, so bump that up to around $126 million to ten players. The Phillies have been mindful of the luxury tax at $178 million, so that leaves them with a bit over $50 million for 15 roster spaces.

The next question is figuring out what it would take to retain Madson’s services. Given that his agent is Scott Boras and that he has emerged as a top-tier reliever with closer experience, I don’t see him settling the way he did back in 2009. If the Phillies have learned anything from the Brad Lidge scenario, it’s that bad things happen when you tie up a lot of money and years into a relief pitcher. It’s tough to say if they did learn that lesson; if they did, Bastardo will get the nod.

If I had to put it in percentages, I’d say 45% they stay with Madson, 45% they go with Bastardo, and 10% they go with a free agent closer.

Would it be too arrogant of the Phillies to let Cliff Lee DH a game in the World Series? (@skirkmcguirk)

Yes. But seriously, though, he can’t be any worse than Ross Gload, right? Lee’s .592 OPS puts him ahead of Pete Orr (.590), Michael Martinez (.550), Brian Schneider (.539), and Gload (.530) — and just behind Wilson Valdez (.592). Lee’s two homers tie or exceed everyone else’s total on the bench except Ben Francisco (6) and John Mayberry (10).

who is your favorite player excluding Ryan Howard? (@Giving_Chase)

Chase Utley. Not even close.

I’ll ask a serious question – What’s the max $ you’d give to Rollins? (@LoganDobson)

PECOTA sees Rollins as a ~2.3 WARP player on average over the next three years. At $5 million per WARP, he would be worth about $11-12 million annually. I would be fine between 3/$36M and 3/$42M but I could see him getting offered more than that if his health problems aren’t an issue and if Jose Reyes makes a killing on the open market. I don’t have a problem if the Phillies overpay Rollins a bit.

What do you expect from John Mayberry, for the remainder of this year and next? (@DashTreyhorn)

I have to play Debbie Downer with Yayberry. I think his success this year is a combination of a small sample size, pitcher unfamiliarity, and favorable conditions — he usually pinch-hits or starts games in situations that would favor him. He has had the platoon advantage in 41 percent of his plate appearances. To put that in perspective, among right-handed hitters with 200 or more plate appearances, only Xavier Nady (51%) and Matt Diaz (50%) have had the platoon advantage more frequently than Mayberry.

Remember how good Ryan Howard was when he entered the league? Pitchers tried to get him out every which way and Howard kept hitting the ball out of the ballpark. Eventually, though, they found his Achilles heel — left-handed pitchers throwing slop that breaks low and away, out of the strike zone. The same will happen to Mayberry. We have yet to see how he adapts, so the real test has yet to come.

victorino’s MVP chances? (@mikemcgoo)

Unless he goes on a tear over the next six weeks, I’d say pretty slim. Justin Upton is an outfielder having a better year and he is a much more well-known name, so if he keeps it up, I think he ends up with the hardware. If the Arizona Diamondbacks reach the post-season, he will only gain more favor of the “MVP must come from a playoff team” crowd.

Additionally, Victorino has missed time with two stints on the DL and a two-game suspension. While Upton has played in 127 games, Victorino has only played in 97. At FanGraphs, TangoTiger polled the readers to see how much playing a game was worth, and came away debiting a player 0.35 runs for missing a game. 30 games times 0.35 is 10.5 runs, or a little over one win.

Victorino should at least be in the discussion, though.

beyond this year, what would be the ideal lineup next season for the phillies (assuming no signings)? (@santo_caruso)

With the caveat that lineup construction doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, I’d go with Victorino-Utley-Pence-Howard-Rollins-Ruiz-Mayberry-Polanco-Pitcher. Not sure how that matches up with the most optimal lineup, but I think it makes sense.

Are the Phillies going to make ANY free agent signings this winter? If so, what position and who is possible? (@AntsinIN)

A lot of it depends on how the negotiations with Rollins play out. If Rollins leaves, they could go after a lower-tier shortstop; I don’t see them getting involved in the Jose Reyes sweepstakes. Also, as mentioned above, I could see them signing a free agent closer like Heath Bell.

Which reliever do you trust the most right now after Madstardo? And how would Worley figure in the playoff ‘pen?

Personally, I like Michael Schwimer even though he’s only pitched three innings in the Majors. He has decent strikeout stuff and good control, both two very important things to have as a reliever (and as a pitcher in general). If you want to hold his lack of MLB experience against me, my next answer would be David Herndon. I’ve been harsh to the guy in the past, but he found a way to miss more bats while still getting the same amount of ground balls. He is significantly better than he was last year.

If you could choose the stats shown on the scoreboard at CBP, what would you pick (keeping in mind the audience)? (@bsullivan_)

I’d just take RBI off. People don’t look at the scoreboard to analyze a player, so cluttering it up with more advanced stats would be pointless. But I would totally remove RBI because the continued ubiquity of the stat engenders bad habits.

Is mayberry making a case for the startimg OF job next year? (@CubeSide)

I wanted to answer “no” to this question, but really, he is. Domonic Brown isn’t doing so well in Triple-A right now (granted, it’s a small sample) and Mayberry has been on a tear. Everyone should hope that Brown has the left field job to himself going into 2012, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case. After all, teams love to add competition and making Brown fret may be another means of motivation.

What’s your stance on the cy young? Lee is making a statement so Doc isn’t such an easy shoe-in…

Overall, I really don’t care about anything the Baseball Writers Association of America gets involved with anymore. I used to care about the awards but they’re just not a big deal to me anymore. As to who wins, there’s still time for a late push, but Roy Halladay is the overwhelming favorite at this point.

What we do about power off the bench? (@Caoimhin89)

It’s not much of a problem. Everyone remembers the Matt Stairs home run, but 99% of the important plate appearances in the playoffs will be taken by players in the starting lineup. Having a bat off the bench who can pop a home run is a nice thing to have, but not a necessity. The Phillies are fine going into the playoffs with the bench they have currently, assuming Rollins is able to get back in the lineup.

realistic odds Phils add Thome on waivers? (@mthompson303)

Zero percent. Well, it’s non-zero, but virtually zero, anyway. Hard to see Thome not being claimed by 29 other teams.

should the Phillies leave Mayberry in and use Raul as a LHB off the bench or keep splitting the time bt them? (@yiliu5)

If there is anything to Ibanez’s monthly trends, going forward with Ibanez playing every day may not be so bad. Barring that, Mayberry is significantly more productive than Ibanez not just offensively, but defensively and on the bases as well. We’re at the point where Ibanez is simply a liability and the less playing time he gets, the better.

Twitter Q&A

As I was preparing to head into Philly to tape today’s episode of “Stathead“, I received note that the show was cancelled and would return next Tuesday. So, I have a bit of free time and there’s nothing in the blog queue. To fill both my free time and get some content up for you guys, I’m going to do a Twitter Q&A, completely stealing the idea from Craig Calcaterra. If you’d like to ask me a question about the Phillies, follow me on Twitter, then send me a question. I’ll try to answer them all, but don’t take it personally if I don’t get to yours.