Jonathan Papelbon allowed three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning yesterday, allowing the Rangers to walk-off happy winners for the second night in a row. Papelbon allowed three runs on four hits and two walks. That Papelbon was in trouble again was not very shocking, considering how often he was found on the tightrope last season. What was concerning, however, was that his fastball velocity remained in the low 90′s where it was last season, when discomfort about his viability began.
When the Phillies replaced Charlie Manuel with Ryne Sandberg as manager last seaeson, no one expected a completely new modus operandi. Both are cut from the old-school cloth. But there was the hope that a changing of the guard would signal a willingness to adapt and modernize. To the Phillies’ credit, there has been some of that with the implementation of an analytics department and GM Ruben Amaro acknowledged a potential willingness to platoon Ryan Howard. Through the first two games of the 2014 season, however, Sandberg has shown the same flawed bullpen management that plagued Manuel during his tenure with the Phillies, particularly in the last few years.
Not that you needed yesterday’s 14-run outburst against the Rangers to identify that. The premise of the title does requires some suspension of disbelief. No, this is not an April Fool’s Day article. Now that the legal stuff is out of the way…
The Phillies scored 610 runs last season, the fewest they’ve scored in a live ball era, non-strike-shortened season since scoring 597 in 1988. They scored double-digit runs in a game only five times and exceeded yesterday’s 14 only once. And as our own Corinne Landrey pointed out on Twitter, those 14 runs represented a whopping 2.3 percent of their total runs scored in 2013.
The reasons for the lack of offense, of course, are obvious: they were ravaged by injuries to key players (Ryan Howard and Ben Revere most noticeably) and were ill-equipped to replace them, and they also somehow forgot about properly addressing right field.
Vance Worley. Remember him? The begoggled right-hander who racked up the backwards K’s with reckless abandoned in his 277 2/3 innings with the Phillies from 2010-12? The Phillies sent him to the Minnesota Twins in the Ben Revere trade in December 2012, but the Twins recently outrighted him to Triple-A after he went unclaimed on waivers.
Worley’s star has fallen fast. He posted a 3.01 ERA in 2011 with the Phillies and was the Twins’ Opening Day starter last year, and now he might be starting Opening Day in Rochester of all places. With the Phillies in need of starting pitching — they’re dangerously close to calling on Jeff Manship to join the rotation — Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggests that a Worley reunion would not be out of the question. Would it make sense for the Phillies?
The Phillies are set at every position except for the #5 spot in the starting rotation, making it the only interesting battle going on in spring training. After his latest setback, Cole Hamels is unlikely to make his 2014 debut in April. As a result, the Phillies have pushed everyone up in the rotation. Kyle Kendrick is now a #3 and Roberto Hernandez is now a #4, not exactly the plan they had when spring training began in mid-February.
Over the next two weeks, the Phillies will be putting their fifth starter candidates to the test to see who is capable of treading water until Hamels is ready to return. Just who are these mysterious candidates?
It’s been a while since we’ve had our last major, quantifiable or technological advancement in the public baseball sphere. It’s allowed us, certainly me, to become totally comfortable with just about everything presently on the statistical menu, knowing how everything is cooked and what other stats compliment it. I was comfortable, almost bored. Then, this week, two rather significant valuation bombs have been dropped on the baseball world. Continue reading…
Recently, GM Ruben Amaro was on MLB Network Radio talking about the Phillies as they start spring training. Among other topics, Amaro discussed the team’s age and their starting pitching depth. In particular, he credited the team’s new analytics department for the signing of starter Roberto Hernandez.
The full quote can be read after the jump:
Recently, I wrote about why spring training stats can be misleading. There aren’t many reasons why one should ever need to take a player’s spring training stats with anything less than a gigantic grain of salt, even just to look at strikeout and walk rates, which stabilize faster than most other stats and the only ones to stabilize in fewer than 240 trips to the plate.
Note: Formatting look weird? It’s a feature of the new website design. The header above is a direct link to the article I discuss below. We’ll be trying out some different styles throughout the year, so make sure to let us know what you think.
In a simple add-up-the-WARs operation, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs sought to find baseball’s most- and least-improved teams. Surprisingly, the Phillies came in as the second-most improved team. He credits this to positive regression to the mean, the addition of some productive free agents, and the lack of actively harmful players who had significant playing time last year, such as the injured Roy Halladay and the terrible Delmon Young.