Tuesday’s Game Showed Importance of Platoons

During the off-season, I suggested the Phillies should make heavy use of platoons in 2013 — at first base, in right field, and at third base. Throughout most of the season, Charlie Manuel has opted to give the starting job at each position to one player, Ryan Howard, Delmon Young, and Michael Young, respectively. The results have been a mixed bag.

Last night, however, Manuel held the left-handed-hitting Chase Utley and Ben Revere out of the lineup against Indians lefty starter Scott Kazmir. In a limited sample, Kazmir had been much better against lefties than righties (.458 OPS vs. .973). Replacing the two were Kevin Frandsen and John Mayberry, both batting from the right side. Frandsen staked the Phillies to a 1-0 lead with a first-inning home run to left field, and Mayberry put the Phillies back on top 3-2 with a two-run double to left-center.

You shouldn’t expect Utley to get anything more than the odd game off, and Revere should still get the lion’s share of the playing time in center field. Still, though, the results show the importance of paying attention to match-ups by handedness. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to sit Ryan Howard (.600 OPS vs. LHP this year) in favor of Mayberry when a lefty starter is scheduled to face the Phillies. And though it hasn’t been the case over his career, Utley has struggled against lefties so far this year (.568 OPS), so strategically scheduling a day off for the oft-injured 34-year-old could pay dividends the way it did last night.

It’s hasn’t been often these days, but every now and then the Phillies do play smart baseball. Let’s hope a little positive reinforcement in the form of a win encourages them to keep it going throughout the season.

The Future is Unwritten: Jesse Biddle Scouting Report

One piece of advice I always lend to those who seek to begin a serious scouting hobby is as follows:

“Watch baseball at all levels. High School, college, low minors, upper minors….everything. And above all, make sure you don’t stop watching MLB games.”

The last slice of that counsel is the most important. Too often will inexperienced scouting enthusiasts fully immerse themselves in prospects and lose sight of what a Major League player looks like. There’s a reason that you’re constantly looking at the box when you put together that jigsaw puzzle. You need to know what the finished product is supposed to look like while you work. Watching prospects is no different. Last Thursday, Jesse Biddle looked like a big leaguer. Drink it in.

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The Tradeability Index, Volume 1

Those of you expecting to see your regularly scheduled Tuesday 10 today, we’ll return you to your weekly broadcast next week. Instead, I’ve got something a little different for this week.

This weekend, I put it to Twitter to help me out with an interactive project: rank 20 members of the Phillies’ current 40-man roster on how “tradeable” they are. That’s a subjective term, but the basic object was to find out what everyone believes is the best current trade asset the Phils possess on their 40-man. A player received 20 points for a first-place vote, 19 for second and so on down the line to 1 point for 20th place. This is the first of three or four such posts from now until just before the deadline, so the cast of characters and typical point totals may vary between now and then.

The results were intriguing. Here are the top 15, as voted on by readers and Crashburn staff alike. Unattributed quotes in the “What They’re Saying” sections are mine.

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Graph of the Intermittent Time Period

It is May 13. The Phillies have played 39 games and only three players have crossed the double-digit walk plateau. Michael Young is the team leader in walks with 17 and he has a career-high of 58 in a single season (2005). As a point of comparison, former Phillie Pat Burrell walked 114 times by himself in 2007 — nearly double Young’s career-high. Burrell crossed the double-digit plateau on April 19 in his team’s 14th game in ’07. The Phillies have the third-lowest on-base percentage in the National League, and they have scored four runs or fewer in each of their last five games and in 28 of their 39 games overall (72 percent).

Yeah, it’s bad.

A cursory glance at the Phillies’ individual walk rates might make you think it’s not so bad as six of 13 players (min. 30 PA) have a walk rate above the 8.1 percent National League average. As the following chart shows, however, when you look at who is getting the majority of the plate appearances, it isn’t players prone to take a free pass.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 53: The Paper Jubilee

Happy news, everyone! On the second Friday in May 2012, I fielded Twitter questions in this space for the first time. Which means that today marks the one-year anniversary of the Crash Bag. Or rather, tomorrow is the actual anniversary, because years don’t work that way.

On this day last year, I was three days from finishing grad school, with no job lined up, nor prospects for one looking imminent. And five months into my tenure at Crashburn Alley, I hadn’t really found my niche yet. So, fearing the impending abyss of a completely unstructured life, I suggested to Bill that I start writing a weekly mailbag column. The first one was almost completely about the Phillies, and nobody read it. But just like in the old parable about boiling a frog, the past 52 Fridays have turned the Crash Bag into a smorgasboard of absurdity and whimsy, and one that I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing. So going into the 53rd consecutive weekly column (51 by me, one each by Ryan and Paul), I thank you for your continued readership, your questions, your comments.

Apparently the traditional first anniversary gift paper, which makes me think whoever came up with the traditional anniversary gifts should have consulted me first. That’s way too terrible a gift to give, way too early in a marriage. “Here, honey, I got you a ream of printer paper!” You’d earn every bit of being sued for divorce with that gift.

And I know it’s supposed to be nice paper, like stationery or something. But (and I know KTLSF won’t read this, so there’s still a danger of this happening) if I got stationery for a wedding anniversary gift I’d roll my eyes, point to my laptop and assure my beloved that I won’t get mustard gassed by the Jerries while I’m at the front. Because paper is a stupid gift best suited for a time when you had to crank-start your car.

In that spirit, come and celebrate the paper jubilee of the Crash Bag.

@Cody011: “What type of propect(s) can we reasonably expect to obtain during the inevitable mass fire sale?”

Well that’s kind of pessimistic. Though it looks like we’re right back where we were one year ago. Continue reading…

A Tactical Review of Wednesday’s Game

Over the years here, Charlie Manuel‘s decision-making has been a frequent topic of discussion, ranging from his overuse of starting pitchers, improper use of his relievers, reliance on the sacrifice bunt, and more, there is usually at least one or two controversial tactical decisions in any given week. There were a few in this afternoon’s series finale, a 4-3 extra-innings loss in San Francisco as Jonathan Pettibone opposed Barry Zito.

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Valuing Michael Young’s Season

Michael Young leads all Phillies hitters with a .360 weighted on-base average, a few ticks ahead of Chase Utley as we prepare for the series finale in San Francisco this afternoon. Young’s triple-slash line reads .330/.398/.426, certainly much better than most of us anticipated going into the season. The 36-year-old finished 2012 with a .297 wOBA and was one of the worst overall players in baseball, so his rebound is a welcome sight.

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