The Bullpen in a Nutshell

The following image shows each team’s bullpen’s aggregate strikeout rate and walk rate shown on a scatter plot. Teams to the upper left quadrant are the worst in these defense-independent departments; teams to the lower right are the best.

Click to enlarge

The Phillies, Cubs and Astros are floating by themselves as the worst on the chart. Their bullpen ERA ranks as follows:

  • Astros: 5.20, 30th
  • Phillies: 4.44, 28th
  • Cubs: 4.23, 27th

Here’s a look at the bullpen individually.

Click to enlarge

Note that the average lines are different than in the image shown above, as it is the team average rather than the MLB average for relievers. Because most of the team’s bullpen does not miss bats as often as relievers should and they walk them more often, Phillies relievers have allowed nine percent more inherited runners to score than the National League average (37%, 28%).

It will be interesting to see how GM Ruben Amaro addresses the bullpen after the season. He may continue to run with the young but unproven group of relievers we have already seen this year, or he may sign a handful of cheap free agent veteran relievers. As the Jonathan Papelbon era has gone sour and the Mike Adams signing has proven to be a huge mistake, hopefully Amaro has learned that pushing rich, multi-year contracts to relievers is bad strategy.

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48 comments

  1. Hog

    July 30, 2013 07:38 AM

    Yeah but Mike Stutes has extenuating circumstances…… I’ll make some up soon, I just need time

  2. Oskar

    July 30, 2013 07:46 AM

    I thought he was supposed to have learned that concept while apprenticing under Gillick?

    Uggh, this post makes my dislike of RAJ boil over.

  3. WayneKerrins

    July 30, 2013 09:40 AM

    Cheers have my new dart board overlay. And we can still use steel tipped over here in England. So many targets…

  4. Western Dave

    July 30, 2013 10:33 AM

    Numeracy question. Is it that the Phillies have allowed 9 percent more than the league average or 32% more (9/28) or almost a third-more runs than the league average?

  5. joecatz

    July 30, 2013 10:42 AM

    nice piece Bill,

    though I still have to nitpick a little here.

    If theres one thing I’ve warmed up to this year its the fact that its not all about a cheap controllable bullpen. I think there has to be a good mix of talent and cost, and for me, the biggest problem with the Phillies in this regard isn’t the spending, as much as who they’re spending it on.

    it all comes back to not using any analytics in regards to determining who to sign, and overvalueing scouting to me.

  6. Phillie697

    July 30, 2013 11:38 AM

    @joecatz,

    That’s because scouts, as professional as they are and as experienced as they are, are probably still prone to confirmation bias. Why people would trust scouts so implicitly is beyond me.

  7. Phillie697

    July 30, 2013 11:41 AM

    “If theres one thing I’ve warmed up to this year its the fact that its not all about a cheap controllable bullpen.”

    I would just ask for the awareness that “crap, I really have no freaking clue how to figure out who the good relievers are, so might as well go young and cheap.” At leas that would cost the team less. That’s my problem, asking RAJ to be aware of things.

  8. Pencilfish

    July 30, 2013 12:51 PM

    Phillie697,

    Aren’t most the pitchers shown in the charts above young and cheap? Maybe you meant to say young, cheap and productive, which so few of them are. Finding those guys has not been easy, aside from Bastardo.

  9. Phillie697

    July 30, 2013 01:21 PM

    @Pencilfish,

    No, I’m saying I rather go young and cheap and fail then old and expensive and fail. Looks like RAJ has done both. Might as well just go young and cheap then.

  10. Cutter

    July 30, 2013 01:26 PM

    That chart is somewhat strange when we look at real world results. Savery has actually performed relatively well (at least as far as Phillies relievers go) and Raul Valdes has been awful.

    And I’m not sure what you’re advocating. The Phillies bullpen has been a mix of failures by veterans as well as youngsters.

    If I recall, some of the Phillies young relievers (Aumont, DeFratus, Diekman) were actually rated pretty well in terms of relief prospects.

    Do these guys need more time, were these guys overrated, or have the Phillies just been unlucky?

  11. Phillie697

    July 30, 2013 02:18 PM

    “As of 3:05 p.m. ET, learned that Young would only waive his no-trade clause to go to Texas. He would only consider other teams if a trade to the Rangers doesn’t work out.”

    Anyone still holding out hope that we’d get ANYTHING of ANY real value at the trade deadline if we don’t trade Lee and/or Utley?

  12. Pencilfish

    July 30, 2013 02:34 PM

    Phillie697,

    Phillies have called up Cody Asche, and it’s possible he will at CBP tonight. Perhaps a resolution is near with Michael Young.

    “The Phillies’ reported asking price for Cliff Lee from the Red Sox — his most interested suitor — is shortstop/third base prospect Xander Bogaerts, pitcher Brandon Workman and a major-league ready outfielder. That according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.”

    You think the RedSox will bite? That’s a king’s ransom.

  13. MattTaylor

    July 30, 2013 02:37 PM

    They won’t bite. A different top 5 in their org guy, Workman, and an OF, maybe. Even that is probably too steep for them to bite.

  14. MattTaylor

    July 30, 2013 02:39 PM

    And now…

    •There is “very little chance” of the Phillies trading Lee, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said on MLB Network Tuesday afternoon.

    Yeah, he’s like 95% staying. It’s going to be pretty unbelievable if he doesn’t move anybody at all, but it’s starting to seem possible.

  15. Larry

    July 30, 2013 02:42 PM

    @697,

    I’m in shock that there have been no talks about Chooch? I was thinking maybe Chooch and Young go, but now I’m not even sure what’s going to happen.

  16. hk

    July 30, 2013 02:45 PM

    A king’s ransom? Two days ago, you said that all prospects were lottery tickets.

  17. hk

    July 30, 2013 02:49 PM

    I agree Larry. It makes no sense to hold onto Chooch if they can get anything for him. It’s not like the situation with Utley where, if they don’t extend him, they can at least make a qualifying offer and get compensation if he leaves.

  18. Phillie697

    July 30, 2013 02:53 PM

    @Pencilfish,

    I will stick with my prediction that Red Sox will bite in any deal involving Bogaerts if and only if we eat money. RAJ seems intent on not eating money, which is dumb.

  19. Phillie697

    July 30, 2013 02:55 PM

    @hk,

    I have maintained for over a month now that barring a trade of Lee (and Utley but I don’t want them to trade Chase), we are not going to get anything worth talking about. Looks like I’m going to be right.

  20. hk

    July 30, 2013 02:58 PM

    Phillie697,

    Unfortunately, the bloggers and those who comment on this site have been right much more often than the front office.

  21. Larry

    July 30, 2013 03:03 PM

    @HK,

    I know RAJ’s 1st move was “buy” – Gonzalez. So far he hasn’t sold anything yet and I’m only hearing about possible Lee and MY trades. Since I’ve heard nothing about Chooch lately, I’m wondering if he’s going into buy mode and he thinks they have a chance this year?

  22. Pencilfish

    July 30, 2013 03:32 PM

    “I agree Larry. It makes no sense to hold onto Chooch if they can get anything for him. It’s not like the situation with Utley where, if they don’t extend him, they can at least make a qualifying offer and get compensation if he leaves.”

    Extending Utley is more important because of the lack of alternatives, not because we get a lottery ticket. Who’s going to replace Chooch?

  23. hk

    July 30, 2013 03:36 PM

    Chooch is a free agent after the season. If they can acquire an asset for him now, I don’t care how they replace him for the last 1/3 of this season.

  24. hk

    July 30, 2013 03:38 PM

    Larry,

    I don’t see the Gonzalez signing that way. I see it as being about the future, so in my opinion, it is more like a seller’s move….building for the future without giving up anything.

  25. Larry

    July 30, 2013 03:46 PM

    “Extending Utley is more important because of the lack of alternatives, not because we get a lottery ticket. Who’s going to replace Chooch?”

    Which Chooch are you replacing, the cheater or this Chooch?

    The cheater Chooch is tough to replace, but that guy is gone. He has no power, bad OBP, SLG% – .280???? Wow .280? His ability to block balls is diminishing. He lost some weight since last year, he was all juice.

    We have a stop gap alternative with Kratz and some young prospects that might be able to take over. If not we can find a new catcher after the season is over. Do you really want to sign this old catcher who can’t hit to a 3 year deal?? I sure don’t. He should be traded right now.

    Another issue I have right now is, 2 weeks ago teams were interested in Delmon Young. What happened? Why are we not trading him???

  26. Dristone

    July 30, 2013 03:49 PM

    Larry, I would imagine that’s because we waited too long to declare our status as “sellers.” Has the market dried up for DYoung? Are those teams that were interested in him still looking for help? I can’t imagine other teams are much more positive about his abilities than we are here.

  27. Larry

    July 30, 2013 04:00 PM

    @HK,
    Here’s my take on what’s going on. RAJ wants to keep Utley, so his mindset is win within the next few years. he is in the win now mode. He figures he’ll only trade Cliff Lee if the offer is too good not to pass up. Again this is another sign that he’s in the win now mode. He buys a #3 pitcher for now and the future. I’ve heard nothing about a Kendrick trade so that also tells you RAJ’s mind set.

    Rollins won’t leave, then fine. MYoung should be traded but we don’t know if it will get done.

    My 2 biggest problems are Chooch and DYoung. You can’t compete now with those starters. That old defensive Chooch is declining. His offense sucks. Delmon Young besides having a good arm is soooooo slow in the outfield. I mean he is really, really slow. It must take this guy an hour and a half to watch 60 minutes. He is such a liability out there.

  28. Phillie697

    July 30, 2013 04:05 PM

    Oh we DEFINITELY held on to that impossible dream of $50 silver WAY too fing long. Had we discussed trading earlier, 1) we would have found a taker for Paps, even if the return isn’t too amazing (or semi-amazing of RAJ decided to open up the checkbook and paid half of Paps salary), and 2) we would be talk about king’s ransomS to choose from for Lee. Imagine if we were bouncing back and forth between the Red Sox and Rangers. I’m 95% sure either Profar or Bogaerts would be a Phillie by now.

  29. Larry

    July 30, 2013 04:06 PM

    @Dristone,
    You might be right. However, it doesn’t matter if we are buyers, sellers, or even both. When teams were asking about DY a few weeks back, they should have tried to get the best bid possible. He’s hurting this team. You can throw anybody else out there and it would be an upgrade, except Mini Mart. lol

  30. Phillie697

    July 30, 2013 04:06 PM

    @Larry,

    The problem with Douchbag Young is that you assume there is a market at all out there for him. I can tell you right now if I’m a MLB GM, I would tell you if you offered me Douchbag Young, “Well, I don’t know… I’m actually quite attached to this bag of balls here.” Yeah, that’s his value to me, and I’m pretty sure lots of MLB GMs feel that way too.

  31. Larry

    July 30, 2013 04:14 PM

    @697,

    The problem with Douchbag Young is that you assume there is a market at all out there for him. I can tell you right now if I’m a MLB GM, I would tell you if you offered me Douchbag Young, “Well, I don’t know… I’m actually quite attached to this bag of balls here.” Yeah, that’s his value to me, and I’m pretty sure lots of MLB GMs feel that way too.

    Agree 100% if we are talking about the NL only. He could have some value as a DH. There were 2 or 3 teams looking for a right handed bat in the AL. Why didn’t RAJ do anything??? Is this guy going to be on the Phillies in 2014?? I sure hope not.

  32. Phillie697

    July 30, 2013 04:42 PM

    @Larry,

    Unfortunately, you’re talking about a GM who decided Douchbag Young was who he wanted to start for us at OF at the beginning of the season, i.e. out of everything we had available, he’s the guy. A month ago, that situation hasn’t changed; we had exactly the same personnel on our MLB and minor league rosters as the beginning of the season. So put on your Think-Like-RAJ hat on, and presume a month ago, he still thought you had a chance to make the playoffs this year… He probably thought he need to hold onto DY unless and until he get a OF replacement first.

    Speaking of DY… Anyone remember how when we first signed him, there were some people here who defended the deal and said that it was a safe signing because even RAJ won’t be that dumb and give him significant PAs, exactly the harm that most people who criticized the deal thought would be the most egregious? So we’re now 263 PA into the DY era, still think RAJ won’t be that dumb?

  33. Phillie697

    July 30, 2013 04:52 PM

    Is it too late to ask the Red Sox for Will Middlebrook and JBJ for Cliff Lee straight up? :D

  34. Larry

    July 30, 2013 05:16 PM

    “The Phillies’ reported asking price for Cliff Lee from the Red Sox — his most interested suitor — is shortstop/third base prospect Xander Bogaerts, pitcher Brandon Workman and a major-league ready outfielder. That according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.”

    Red Sox probably wouldn’t do that trade, but if we threw in Paps and ate some of his salary then maybe. Or throw in DY and Chooch with Lee, then maybe they bite.

    Or a combination of Lee and MY for those 3 prospects. This deal could get done. If RAJ really wants those prospects there are ways to do this and not lose much besides Lee.

    @697,

    I heard Middlebrooks has confidence problems. Not sure Philly is the place for him.

  35. Pencilfish

    July 30, 2013 06:03 PM

    hk,

    Not talking about the remaining 1/3 of a season, but 2014 and beyond. Unless the Phillies go after McCann, there isn’t much out there. Internally, Valle and Joseph don’t seem close to the majors. Kratz? Well, maybe RAJ will try to resign Ruiz to a short-term deal and buy some time to get clarity on Joseph and Valle.

  36. hk

    July 30, 2013 07:49 PM

    Pencilfish,

    That’s my point about Chooch being a free agent, but how he differs from Utley. Trade Chooch now for whatever you can get and re-sign him in the off-season if he’s the best option at C. With Utley, unless another team offers a great return now, keep him, keep trying to extend him and make him a qualifying offer if you can’t extend him. Worst case is Utley leaves and at least you get compensated. If they don’t trade Chooch and he leaves, they get nothing.

  37. guy who knows where the beds are

    July 30, 2013 08:34 PM

    Hit a homer tonight, but who would want Chooch? Seriously, HK. Name a team that wants a catcher with the worst OPS among starters.

    Are you stoned? Can I get your weedman’s number? I want to be high like you.

  38. pedro3131

    July 30, 2013 09:26 PM

    I think at this point in the season running out the bat boy to play catcher would at least yield a higher slugging % then Chooch. It’s a little different then Chase, where you’re talking about replacing a top 5 player at his position

  39. hk

    July 31, 2013 04:47 AM

    guy who…,

    Are you aware that the Tigers are starting a C (Avila) who has accumulated -0.2 WAR this year or that Chooch is better than at least one of the C’s on the Rays (Molina), the Yankees (Stewart), the Rangers (Soto) and the A’s (Vogt, while Jason is injured)? Throw in that Yadier Molina is about to go on the DL and you have 6 contenders that would be helped by renting an experienced, solid defensive C like Chooch for the stretch run and the post-season.

  40. Cutter

    July 31, 2013 05:54 AM

    Why sell low on Ruiz?

    The Phillies have to ask if this year is just a abberation due to the suspension/injuries or if Ruiz is truly shot.

    If its the former, then they should re-sign him while his value is at its lowest.

    And consdiering his reputation, I could see a playoff team wanting Ruiz.

  41. hk

    July 31, 2013 08:43 AM

    Cutter,

    Why can’t they trade him now and re-sign him as a free agent?

  42. Cutter

    July 31, 2013 10:26 AM

    That rarely happens in baseball. It just doesn’t.

    And once he’s on the open market, there’s a good chance that his value goes up, and you have to worry about draft pick compensation.

  43. Pencilfish

    July 31, 2013 11:06 AM

    hk,

    Trading Ruiz is certainly more compelling than trading Utley, but you have to be realistic on the return for a 2-month rental on a 34 yr-old catcher. We probably get less than we got for Victorino. We won’t get anyone who can help the team in 2014, if ever.

    On the other hand, I see your point about getting something back and then searching for a catcher in the off-season. Signing him now would preclude us from going after McCann.

  44. Cutter

    July 31, 2013 03:16 PM

    Is McCann really what you want? He’s not coming cheap, and is giving a long term deal to a 30+ year old catcher a good idea?

  45. hk

    July 31, 2013 06:11 PM

    Cutter,

    The only way they can get draft pick compensation for Chooch is if they make him a qualifying offer and he turns it down and signs elsewhere. Speculation is that the qualifying offer will come with a salary of ~$14M next year. Therefore, they won’t be getting a draft choice for Chooch if he signs elsewhere.

    Pencilfish,

    Some return is better than no return. Trade him for a C prospect and keep your options open in free agency or in a trade in the off-season. Oh well…

  46. Cutter

    July 31, 2013 07:29 PM

    @hk -

    I realize that, but if they trade him with the plan to re-sign him, there’s nothing stopping the team he’s traded to from making a qualifying offer.

  47. hk

    August 01, 2013 07:16 AM

    guy who knows where the beds are,

    Read Bill’s latest blog entry about the Yankees interest in Ruiz.

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