Phillies Looking for Rotation Depth

Via Matt Gelb:

So forget the Ryan Dempsters, Edwin Jacksons, and even Shaun Marcums on the market. They will sign for at least two – maybe three – years, given the demand. The Phillies are looking for a one-year deal having already invested $71.75 million in 2013 salary for their four starting pitchers.

No, there won’t be a fourth ace to bring back memories of 2010, but there are still some quality arms available that could be very helpful to the Phillies in 2013. Here’s a big ol’ table full of potential targets, showing data from 2010-12. I’ve taken the liberty of excluding some unlikely names, such as Aaron Cook, Brett Myers, and Roy Oswalt.

Name K% BB% K%-BB% BABIP LOB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA
Carlos Villanueva 21.3% 8.3% 13.0% .280 75.6% 4.20 4.30 4.08 3.76
Tim Stauffer 17.2% 7.1% 10.1% .278 77.5% 3.19 3.75 3.69 3.77
Francisco Liriano 23.0% 10.5% 12.5% .310 69.2% 4.59 3.73 3.77 3.80
Erik Bedard 22.1% 9.5% 12.6% .305 68.4% 4.31 3.85 3.80 3.86
Derek Lowe 14.3% 7.9% 6.4% .320 68.8% 4.68 3.95 3.87 3.94
Justin Germano 16.4% 6.5% 9.9% .302 64.8% 5.28 4.42 4.48 4.07
Jeff Karstens 15.0% 4.8% 10.2% .289 72.9% 4.02 4.23 4.05 4.15
Kyle Lohse 14.9% 5.6% 9.3% .286 70.2% 3.76 3.74 4.14 4.30
Dallas Braden 15.0% 5.6% 9.4% .274 71.8% 3.46 3.79 4.19 4.31
Freddy Garcia 15.6% 7.1% 8.5% .292 73.0% 4.42 4.51 4.30 4.39
Rich Harden 20.9% 11.7% 9.2% .293 74.3% 5.36 5.54 4.73 4.41
Jonathan Sanchez 22.2% 13.6% 8.6% .275 72.9% 4.31 4.55 4.51 4.43
Kevin Millwood 15.7% 7.4% 8.3% .308 69.8% 4.61 4.41 4.33 4.43
John Lannan 12.2% 8.7% 3.5% .306 71.6% 4.12 4.30 4.33 4.56
Carlos Zambrano 17.4% 11.1% 6.3% .294 71.7% 4.24 4.27 4.48 4.57
Daisuke Matsuzaka 19.1% 11.2% 7.9% .289 64.7% 5.48 4.56 4.79 4.58
Joe Saunders 13.4% 6.8% 6.6% .294 72.3% 4.07 4.50 4.38 4.58
Randy Wolf 15.0% 8.1% 6.9% .296 73.4% 4.39 4.63 4.58 4.60
Jair Jurrjens 14.4% 7.7% 6.7% .295 73.2% 4.18 4.31 4.47 4.60
Mike Pelfrey 12.7% 7.6% 5.1% .303 71.9% 4.10 4.05 4.38 4.61
Dustin Moseley 12.6% 8.1% 4.5% .269 70.3% 4.02 4.71 4.41 4.61
Chien-Ming Wang 9.5% 6.6% 2.9% .309 68.8% 4.94 5.00 4.60 4.63

I’ve mentioned Carlos Villanueva before, and he still looks pretty good compared to others in the same tier of pitching. He has under-performed his peripherals over his career due to a propensity to allow home runs. These heat maps shouldn’t be surprising:

Aside from that, Villanueva has great, underrated stuff. He leads the above free agent class in K%-BB% as well as SIERA. SIERA is very good at predicting future success for pitchers, so as long as Villanueva continues what he’s done recently, the results should catch up with the performance sooner rather than later.

Another interesting name on the list is Jeff Karstens. Having spent his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, his transformation into replacement-level dreck into average starter has gone mostly unnoticed. 2012 was his biggest stride forward as the right-hander boosted his strikeout rate to a career-high 18 percent and his walk rate down to a career-low four percent. In fact, his aggregate sub-five percent walk rate from 2010-12 is the lowest in the aforementioned table.

Oddly, over 26 percent of batted balls put in play against Karstens were line drives, a ridiculous rate. It was the second-highest total among pitchers with at least 90 innings pitched, behind Mike Fiers at 28 percent. Typically, Karstens has an even split of ground and fly balls — he is very Kyle Kendrick-esque in nature (Kendrick circa 2012, anyway).

Of course, the Phillies could always go with a #4-5 of Kendrick and Tyler Cloyd. Despite a 4.91 ERA, Cloyd pitched well in a small sample between the end of August and the end of the regular season, striking out 22 percent of the batters he faced while walking five percent. However, because nearly one in every two batted balls was put in the air, Cloyd allowed eight home runs in 33 innings.

Cloyd will not be able to rely on missing bats to succeed at the Major League level. This was former contributor Bradley Ankrom’s scouting report from back in August:

twitter.com/BradleyAnkrom/status/240841903652888576

twitter.com/BradleyAnkrom/status/240842207022702592

Unless the Phillies reach for an over-the-hill veteran like Kevin Millwood, it won’t be hard for them to grab an arm that can put up an ERA in the 3.75-4.25 range and solidify the back end of the rotation on the cheap. Villanueva and Karstens, at this moment, seem to be the best bets, but the Phillies have shown already this off-season that they are willing to go beyond the obvious.

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27 comments

  1. Jeff T

    December 12, 2012 02:21 PM

    Unfortunately, no one in our FO knows what any of those statistics mean . . .

  2. Pencilfish

    December 12, 2012 02:29 PM

    Bill,

    This is a great compilation, and it shows there are a bunch of pitchers who can take over Worley’s spot, hopefully on the cheap. There should be enough $$$ for the power bat in the OF, a bullpen piece and hopefully still some money for a July acquisition (if needed).

  3. LTG

    December 12, 2012 03:17 PM

    So, I wrote on here before that I didn’t think Villanueva could replace Worley’s production but would be a replacement for KK. After looking more closely I’m uncertain. On the one hand, Worley when healthy outperformed his RA-retrodicters because he did not allow the long ball. Villanueva gives them up with much more frequency and has consequently underperformed all his RA-retrodicters except FIP. We might think that Worley and Villanueva will continue these trends, in which case Villanueva will not be as productive as Worley. On the other hand, SIERA at least places the two pitchers more or less on par and perhaps Villanueva will surrender fewer long balls and Worley more. In this case, Villanueva is an adequate replacement.

  4. Bill Baer

    December 12, 2012 03:31 PM

    The HR spike is interesting. He’s allowed 56 in 1,633 PA with the bases empty (3.4%) and 40 in 1,163 PA with runners on base (3.4%). Pretty much everything else is also more or less equal. I was thinking that perhaps he becomes less effective (more homer-prone) when he’s put into the stretch, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Hmm.

  5. Phillie697

    December 12, 2012 04:47 PM

    I tried to find some consistent trends in his stats to explain the elevated HR/FB rate, but couldn’t. In fact, his pitch selection and even pitch effectiveness have been in flux: inn 2010 when he had a brilliant year by SIERA standards, he threw a mean curveball, and his fastball was terrible, whereas last year, the fastball became much more effective, but the curveball went the way of the crapper. His usage stats in those years reflected those numbers; he was throwing more curveballs when it was effective in 2010, but more fastballs in 2012.

    Last year he did out-perform retrodicters, when his HR/FB rate dropped all the way to 7.5%. It’s also the year he wasn’t striking out anybody either. His stats are all over the place, and I can’t make sense of them.

    However, maybe I’m thinking too much. He’s a decent pitcher, and we should sign him. I’ll keep it at that, LOL.

  6. LTG

    December 12, 2012 05:54 PM

    He also showed that he can be good out of the pen, if he washes out of the rotation or gets replaced by an in-season trade. Although, KK probably goes first.

  7. Hog

    December 13, 2012 06:00 AM

    Wang would be worth it for the penis jokes *Keeping it classy*

  8. Scott G

    December 13, 2012 06:33 AM

    I bet these names never crossed through the miss of the phillies brass, and it makes me sick.

  9. LTG

    December 13, 2012 02:24 PM

    At least, Jerry DiPoto isn’t our GM…

  10. hk

    December 13, 2012 02:36 PM

    I’m not listening to talk radio right now, but I imagine the airwaves are full of callers and hosts ripping RAJ for not offering Hamilton $125M for 5 years.

  11. Phillie697

    December 13, 2012 03:24 PM

    I WANT TO KNOW WHO KIDNAPPED RAJ AND REPLACED HIM WITH A GM WHO DOESN’T SPEND MONEY LIKE A WOMAN IN A SHOE STORE!!!

  12. pedro3131

    December 13, 2012 04:08 PM

    Here’s one reddit users take (edited for language)

    “I woulda done it. (obviously) It’s what it obviously was going to take a f- month ago. It was going to cost us. And it was going to be a bad contract in the long run. But it was going to be worth it in the extreme long run as WE would have been the ones rolling in it like the Dodgers are this year after their new TV contract. Now we’re f-ed. Get ready for Cody “slightly above replacement, but paid like a superstar because we need to outbid the cash-flush Red Sox” Ross. Or Nick “I want Werth money, and I’m gunna get it from SOMEONE” Swisher.
    Or nothing. That’s a possibility too. We may enter the season just with a BP pick up or two. Then we’ll be under the luxury tax line, and I, personally, will have to seriously consider if I can remain a fan of a team who makes such stupid f-ing moves.
    We. Are. F-ed.”

    The logic of “it was going to be a bad contract in the long run. But it was going to be worth it in the extreme long run” is particularly baffling

  13. Pencilfish

    December 13, 2012 04:13 PM

    hk, Phillie697,

    Seriously, giving 125/5 to Hamilton may price the Phillies out of the Swisher/Ross sweepstakes and lead RAJ down some other path. I hope the rumor of Soriano vs. Brown swap is just that…

  14. hk

    December 13, 2012 05:00 PM

    Pencil,

    I hope the $125M/5 that the Angels gave Hamilton prices them out of the Swisher and Ross sweepstakes. I also hope that it leads them to sign Anibal Sanchez and go with an OF of Brown, Revere and Ruf / Nix / JMJ.

  15. Phillie697

    December 13, 2012 05:14 PM

    @pedro,

    Would it be possible for you to invite this person to come and do a guest column on the “extremely long run” benefits of the Ryan Howard contract? Seriously, I want to know. It hadn’t occurred to me that there is a remote possibility that colossally dumb contracts may in fact have “extremely long run” payoffs that someone of my limited intelligence may have never even contemplated, let alone understand.

  16. Phillie697

    December 13, 2012 05:17 PM

    @hk,

    I hear Justin Upton hasn’t been traded yet :P

  17. LTG

    December 13, 2012 06:24 PM

    If my hermeneutic skills serve me I believe the “extreme long run” he speaks of, in the context of his utterance, refers to fans many years from now, alive to have seen the 2013 phillies in all their glory, and able to remember it fondly as we do the 1993 team or the teams of the late 70s and early 80s.

  18. shaw67193

    December 13, 2012 06:28 PM

    It’s pretty clear the guy is referring to the idea that a Hamilton-in-Philly contract would become a net positive for the Phils in terms of its impact on their upcoming tv deal, regardless of how much value the team gains or loses on the contract itself. He certainly didn’t articulate it well, but obviously the team’s performance this year has significant long-term spending consequences.

  19. LTG

    December 13, 2012 07:10 PM

    You would have to attribute to him two false beliefs for that to work:
    1) signing one player would move the needle on these contracts
    2) the dodgers acquired their new talent before the contract was negotiated and signed

    I prefer to minimize the attribution of false beliefs where possible.

  20. Phillie697

    December 13, 2012 07:24 PM

    @shaw,

    That’s why I brought up the Ryan Howard contract. I’m sure this clown would have used the same logic to defend the signing of that contract when it was signed. Anyone still want to attempt to offer a defense of that contract based on long term, extremely long term, or any positive value in any fashion at anytime in the future from now to eternity? Colossally dumb contracts cause teams to lose, not win, and WINNING is how you get big TV contracts if you don’t live in NYC or LA.

  21. pedro3131

    December 13, 2012 07:43 PM

    Yea I mean the logic is there, although it’s not very sound. I suppose if we had signed Hamilton and he had posted a season somewhere along the lines of a .450 avg, 100 HR, 255 RBI’s then maybe that would slightly boost the amount of money we’d receive for a tv deal?

  22. Pencilfish

    December 14, 2012 10:31 AM

    hk,

    Sanchez reportedly signed with Detroit for 80M and 5 years, so he’s off the board. Btw, Ty Wigginton reportedly signed with St. Louis for 5M and 2 years. RAJ is not the only GM overpaying this winter.

  23. hk

    December 14, 2012 10:48 AM

    Pencilfish,

    Thanks for the update. At this point, I think they should wait around until a few more pitchers sign and see if they can get an Edwin Jackson, Kyle Lohse or Shaun Marcum on a short-term deal at a reasonable price. Also, with Sanchez re-upping in Detroit, I would like to see them pursue Rick Porcello if the price is reasonable.

  24. Ron Green

    December 14, 2012 04:59 PM

    Stanton a Phil

  25. Pencilfish

    December 15, 2012 11:09 AM

    Ken Rosenthal reports the Phillies signed John Lannan, in addition to Mike Adams. This is great news. Now Lannan can’t break Utley’s hand, unless it happens in intra-squad games in Spring Training!

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