2013 Phillies Report Card: B.J. Rosenberg

Many years ago, when I first started dating the woman who is now my wife, we were driving on a highway and passed a B.J’s Wholesale Club (pretty much a Costco as I understand it) that was under construction. Her father is apparently fond of shopping there for things, and, accordingly, she exclaimed “Oh! My dad loves BJs!” I laughed, a lot.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 78: Ted Williams Shift

The other night, when I was watching a Cardinal (I believe Carlos Beltran), hit a screaming line drive straight into the Ted Williams Shift for an out, I remarked that if I were dictator of baseball, I’d outlaw the shift, which generated this response:

@SamMillerBP: “Why?”

Fair question.

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2013 Phillies Report Card: John Lannan

We should probably have seen John Lannan‘s acquisition coming. The Phillies were intimately familiar with Lannan, for reasons both good (the Phils had smacked him around for a collective .899 OPS over 448 plate appearances) and bad (he was ejected from his debut for hitting Chase Utley and Ryan Howard consecutively, the former derailing a possible MVP season). So Ruben Amaro opted for the traditional boring fifth starter play, taking the divisional guy that could grind away some innings and, theoretically anyway, keep the game winnable. It wasn’t a bad idea, either. Prior to 2013, Lannan had been essentially league average in terms of ERA, which would have been more than effective enough for the last slot in the rotation on any team.

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Amaro Hints at Analytics Incorporation

With the way Major League Baseball operates in the year 2013, little things like this shouldn’t necessarily be news. But given the organization’s stubbornness and obstinance vis a vis the incorporation of analytics into player evaluation, this quote from a piece by MLB.com‘s Todd Zolecki feels important:

“We’re going to make some changes,” Amaro said. “I think we’re doing some stuff analytically to change the way do some evaluations. Look, we are going to continue to be a scouting organization. That said, I think we owe it to ourselves to look at some other ways to evaluate. We’re going to build more analytics into it. Is it going to change dramatically the way we go about our business? No, but we owe it to ourselves to at least explore other avenues. We may bring someone in from the outside, but we have not decided that yet.”

Whether this is the first step toward a total renovation of player evaluation or merely a placation of a growing portion of the fanbase remains to be seen, but it’s encouraging nonetheless. A moment of lauding for the much maligned RAJ, either way.

Relievers and This Winter’s Checkbook

The bullpen! It needs help! And although the lingering fear is that the best fix is to go with an influx of external candidates, pouring free agent money out the taps and dishing pint after pint of it to the latest and greatest relief arms to grace the free agent pool, there may actually be a way to avoid such a money dump.

Right now, the relief corps looks pretty crappy. September call-ups on tryout, lethargy in the air and the absence of other names via injury or suspension have rendered the bullpen a place of shame and dread, its gate-opening an act to be regarded with the utmost distaste. Hell, even the best arm currently available within gets booed nearly every time out, regardless of performance.

It’s a sad place. But the good news is that brighter days may be ahead in 2014! That’s easy to say about nearly any aspect of this Phillies club, but we need to go one thing at a time, lest our gripes pile upon our chests to a suffocating weight before we’re ready to bear them.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 45: Filling In For a Legend

Hello, pleased to meet you. My name is Paul, and I’ll be filling in for your usual host, Mr. Baumann, today. This column has always intimidated me, both because it’s the longest regular feature on the site and because Mike effortlessly references so many things that I couldn’t hope to duplicate him. But I’m what you’ve got and what you’ll have to deal with.

We’re coming up on a year’s worth of ‘baggery, and I consider myself honored to be part of this now-long-standing tradition. I’m not sure exactly how much I deserve to be soiling the name of this fine column with my own byline, but I hope my words do it proud. What I may not quite have in quantity, I certainly won’t make up for in quality. Or something like that. What follows is a mix of baseball, Oreos, Little Giants, revisionist poetry and Jennifer Lawrence. SEO, baby!

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Crash Bag, Vol. 41: Fleet of Foot, Absent of Neck

It is OPENING DAY! At 3 p.m. EST, Jordan Montgomery takes the mound against Liberty University and for the first time since last August, a team I follow will be playing meaningful regular-season baseball. Joey Pankake, “Hold Me Closer” LB Dantzler and the South Carolina Gamecocks, locked in mortal interscholastic combat with the Fightin’ Jerry Falwells! You know how that makes me feel?

Yes, sir. And remember, college baseball is now accepting callers for these pendant keychains, so if you want to hop on the bandwagon while there are still seats, you can start with my superb college baseball primer, for which the public had been clamoring, and I posted over the weekend, so you may have missed it.

Anyway, for ease of site navigation, you’re going to have to negotiate a jump to get to the rest of the Crash Bag, so click that little link and we’ll be on our way.

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Trimming the Fat

Instead of making that one big, impact move Ruben Amaro had come to make his trademark each offseason, the Phillies have turned to an alternative strategy of adding many players on lesser Major or Minor League deals. What that has produced, in turn, is a glut. Two gluts, if we’re being precise, in the positions of outfielder and relief pitcher.

At the close of business on Friday, here’s how the Phillies’ 40-man outfield situation shakes out:

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Delmon Young: The Links

The Phillies’ signing of Delmon Young this week was, by far, one of the most…well, it was something, and a lot of people (both on this site and elsewhere) felt compelled to write about it.

Here’s a collection of links to pieces from throughout the net-webs on everyone’s favorite new acquisition, typically listed chronologically, but in some cases not because existence is pointless.

Crashburn Alley

  1. Ryan Sommers: Phillies Sign . . . *sigh* to 1 year, *groan* thousand dollar contract
  2. Paul Boye: What Happened to My 100-Win Team?
  3. Paul Boye: Caring About Walks and Production
  4. Bill Baer: Failure in Philadelphia
  5. Michael Baumann: Crash Bag, Vol. 38: The Great Satan

The Good Phight

  1. Joe Catanzariti: Are You There RAJ? It’s Me, Joecatz: An Open Letter to Ruben Amaro Jr.
  2. Bill Parker: Delmon Young: A User’s Guide
  3. TheOrangeCone: The Biggest Loser: Phillies Edition
  4. dajafi: Defending the Delmon Young Deal
  5. RememberthePhitans: Love Triangle: Delmon Young, Ruben Amaro, and Domonic Brown
  6. Liz Roscher: Done With Ruben Amaro Jr: A Special Comment

That Ball’s Outta Here

  1. Ethan Seidel: Outfield Still Remains A Weakness After Delmon Young Signs 1-Year Deal
  2. John Stolnis: Ruben Amaro’s Disastrous Off-Season
  3. Justin Klugh: Delmon Young Saga Now Involves Dog Poop, Weight Loss

Phillies Nation

  1. Pat Gallen: Phillies Sign Young to One-Year Deal Worth $750K
  2. Ian Riccaboni: Big Money if Delmon Young Makes Weight
  3. Jay Floyd: Manuel Full of Gusto as Spring Training Nears

The 700 Level

  1. Andrew Kulp: Is Delmon Young the Answer in Right Field?
  2. Enrico Campitelli: Delmon Young’s Incentives Include Over Half a Million Bucks for Weighing Less

Aerys Sports

  1. Karilee Jeantet: Seriously Ruben?!?! Delmon Young?!?!

SB Nation

  1. Grant Brisbee: Delmon Young signs with Phillies
  2. Grant Brisbee: What are the Phillies thinking?

Philadelphia Daily News/High Cheese

  1. David Murphy: Breaking down the Phillies’ signing of Delmon Young
  2. David Murphy: Delmon Young, and the potential tragicomedy called the 2013 Phillies
  3. Ryan Lawrence: Worth the weight: Phillies outfielder Delmon Young’s contract
  4. David Murphy: Over the last two years, Domonic Brown has been better at baseball than Delmon Young

Philadelphia Inquirer/The Phillies Zone

  1. Matt Gelb: Video: Phillies pin right field hopes on Delmon Young
  2. Matt Gelb: Phillies outfielder Delmon Young has incentive to eat less

Delaware Online/Philled In

  1. Chris Branch: Delmon Young is getting paid to not be fat

NBC Philadelphia/Philthy Stuff

  1. Dash Treyhorn: What to Expect: Delmon Young

Sports On Earth

  1. Jon Bernhardt: Swing And A Miss

SI.com/Hit and Run

  1. Jay Jaffe: Winter Report Card: Philadelphia Phillies

Yahoo! Contributor Network

  1. Pete Lieber: Delmon Young a Skeptical Addition to the Philadelphia Phillies’ Outfield

ESPN.com

  1. AP: Phillies Sign OF Delmon Young

Had enough? Me too. But if you’ve written about this wonderful moment in club history and don’t see your piece listed above, poke me on Twitter with a link.

Shouldering the Load

twitter.com/JSalisburyCSN/status/289414094367367168

If you’re like me, seeing that tweet pop on your timeline last week was like sending a bolt of lightning through your chest. “Shoulder issue” and “Hamels” appearing in the same sentence is almost as frightening as the Three Scariest Words; those being “Dr. James Andrews.”

Everything seems alright, though. Ruben Amaro says he’s fine. We’re guessing Scott Sheridan is optimistic. Cole Hamels himself will probably tell you all is well and there’s no need for concern. On that, I’ll continue to hold my breath, but as for the comment that Hamels felt some of this discomfort toward the end of last season, was there any noticeable change?

To the eye test, I personally don’t recall Hamels looking adversely affected. The numbers seem to bear that out: a 3.32 ERA in 38 September innings with 44 strikeouts against seven walks are not typically the figures of an injured pitcher. He wasn’t given the Mark Prior treatment, either, throwing 110 pitches at most and fewer than 100 three times that month.

Of intrigue, though, is the note that Hamels’s overall fastball velocity dropped for the third consecutive season in 2012, down to 90.9 MPH from 91.2 in 2011 and 91.7 in 2010. September ’12 was also, on the whole, one of Cole’s slowest fastball months of the year, but no much slower than April that the concern pot should be stirred. Those same P f/x tables show that Cole’s FB movement hasn’t flattened out, either, so despite an uptick in line drives allowed against it, fewer fastballs left the yard for the ever-damaging dinger.

Above, we see graphical representations of Hamels’s horizontal (left) and vertical (right) release points, as documented over the years. The vertical graph shows little difference, but take a look at the horizontal graph on the left. At some point during the season (these graphs aren’t specifically detailed, unfortunately), Hamels reverted back to a release point more like 2011, slightly more three-quarter than over-the-top. While it’s not possible to tell given these tools exactly when this changeover occurred, there’s no clear statistical indicator (in terms of performance) that demarcates a noticeable change; Hamels was pretty consistent year-round.

I’m led to believe the front office when they say this issue is minor. At least, it’d better be.