Monday, February 28, 2011

Werth Hates the Phillies- Do You Care?

"I hate the Phillies too."
~Jayson Werth


The shaggy haired bearded Jesus wannabe Jayson Werth proclaimed his hatred for the Phillies this weekend. To be fair, this was said following a batting practice session in which GM Frank Rizzo initiated the notion by saying "I hate the f**king Phillies." Also, it wasn't an official statement made to a reporter either, it was merely on-field banter. However, this on the heels of sulking to reporters about how the Phillies could have had both him and Cliff Lee on the same team if they wanted to.

Charlie Manuel's reaction to Werth verbal venom:


So, Fuqua doesn't give a Fuq about it, do you?


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Brittle Utley & Baez Sucks


Brittle Utley:
Wanna make something outta nothing? I do. Chase Utley was scratched from the lineup again yesterday and is unlikely to play this afternoon either. Charlie Manuel is downplaying the injury by calling it soreness from the rigorous workouts the team did to start camp, but I think otherwise.
"He's getting there, getting better. He's fine. He's sore. He's got some soreness in his legs. He'll be ready in a couple of days."
~Charlie Manuel
Translation- Utley has a broken neck, cracked hip, and floating kneecap. He'll miss all of the 2011 season and hopefully be ready by the All-Star break in 2012.

Baez Sucks:
One dilemma WSBGMs had all last season was finding a suitable nickname for Danys Baez. Even after getting our creative juices flowing following the consumption of some beers, Corey and I were still unable to formulate a moniker. Truth is, Baez doesn't deserve the effort and from now on will be known as Baez Sucks. Why? Because Baez sucks! Last offseason he received an unwarranted 2 year $5.25M contract and awarded the Phils with a 3-4 record and a 5.48 ERA in 51 appearances. He's guaranteed $2.75M this year, but that money would be better off spent having him pitch batting practice. In a "B" game, meaning mostly minor leaguers, Baez allowed 5 runs on 5 hits and 1 walk in only 2/3 of an inning yesterday. Yep, Baez Sucks!

Phils Win:
The Phillies won their Grapefruit League opener yesterday over the Yankees by a score of 5-4. Winning pitcher was Schlitter while the loser was Wordekemper. Josh Barfield, Ross Gload, and Dane Sardinha had 2 base knocks apiece for the Phightins. Brian Bocock was 0-2. I'm hoping he goes hitless this spring and the Phils release his no-talent ass. Oh, how I love meaningless spring training stats.

More Yankees/Phillies action today, just different venues, as the Phils are on the "home" turf today. Slated to pitch are Joe Blanton, Justin DeFratus, Michael Schwimer, Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero and Brad Lidge. I'm predicting no-hitter.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sexy Grapefruit Action

Phillies versus Yankees, it doesn't get sexier than that. Unless of course we're not talking baseball, then I could list a buttload of things (Teletubbies, Rosanne Barr, Miss Piggy, etc.). Anyway, I digress...official Grapefruit League action begins today with the Phils and Yanks facing each other in the warm Florida sunshine (bastards!).

Lineup:
1) Jimmy Rollins, SS
2) Ross Gload, DH
3) Raul Ibanez, LF
4) Ryan Howard, 1B
5) Ben Francisco, CF
6) Domonic Brown, RF
7) Jeff Larish, 3B
8) Brian Schneider, C
9) Wilson Valdez, 2B
SP- Cole Hamels
RP- Vance Worley, Ryan Feierabend, Brian Schlitter and Mike Zagurski

*Chase Utley is still sore from workouts and is being withheld from game action.

*Bartolo Colon starts for the Yankees. If he and CC Sabathia end up in the same rotation that would have to be a new record for girth. They might have to change the name of the mound to the rotunda. Badabum-ching!

*The Chad Durbin Saga has finally ended with him signing with the Indians. He wanted 2 years, more money than past seasons, and to play for a contender. He got none of that. Cleveland sucks and he got only 1 year/$800K. For the second straight year a Phils reliever overplayed their hand and ended up with less (Chan Ho Park last year).

*Line up courtesy of Phillies.com and Colon card borrowed from More Hardball.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Name That Phillie: Who The Hell Is That Edition

Today's player is a challenge to name as I have never heard of this guy before randomly stumbling upon his minor league card a couple days ago. I assure you he was officially a Phillie, playing for them back in the day. He has the honor of being ejected from his final game in the Majors. Go ahead, give it your best effort and name that Phillie...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ready for Semi-Professional Baseball?

You may be asking yourself- Why exactly is today's game considered semi-professional? Well, it's not officially the Phillies Grapefruit League opener (that's not until Saturday against the Yankees), but it is a game against the Florida State Seminoles. Get it: Seminoles...semi-professional. I know- lame! Anyway, most the of the regulars will be facing some peach-fuzzed pimple-faced Noles pitchers, save for J-Roll and Utley. Game time 1:05 at Bright House Networks Field.

Starting 9:
C- Carlos Ruiz
1B- Ryan Howard
2B- Pete Orr
3B- Placido Polanco
SS- Wilson Valdez
LF- Raul Ibanez
CF- Shane Victorino
RF- Dominic Brown
DH- Ben Francisco
SP- Drew Naylor
RP- Eddie Bonine, Juan Perez, Michael Stutes, Michael Schwimer, Justin De Fratus and Scott Mathieson

Tid-Bits:
*Chad Durbin remains unemployed and is likely in panic mode while searching for a job. There's a handful of teams interested in him and the Phils are one of them, albeit on a minor league contract.

*With Adam Wainwright's injury the Cardinals are on the prowl for a starting pitcher...enter Joe Blanton. However, Ruben Amaro assured everyone yesterday that Blanton will be starting for Philly in April.

*WSBGMs NCAA Tournament Pick 'Em league is open for registration. It's through Yahoo and the ID # is 8850 and password- phillies. Join now!!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Phightin' Phils Crossword


ACROSS
2 Best Phillies blog
7 1950 NL MVP
11 Oldest MLB player to ever hit a homerun
12 Franchise brown-noser

DOWN
1 Joe Table
3 Named after famous Disney character
4 Grand Pappy
5 Fence-Face
6 Arguably Gillick's biggest mistake
8 Shipped with Bowa to Cubs for DeJesus
9 Tug's real 1st name
10 NL's winning pitcher of '94 All Star game

*Use last names unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Halladay Hates Bocock

Looking for some spring training drama? Well, WSBGMs has the breaking story, and it goes a little something like this...hit it!

Roy Halladay hates Brian Bocock. That's right, Mr. Soft Spoken Nice Guy has taken aim, literally, at Bocock. Yesterday the reigning NL Cy Young award winner pitched batting practice to some Phillies batters, with Bocock being among the group (rumor has it Doc requested him). The batters were there for formality sake, as there were no swings taken. However, Halladay did "graze" Bocock with a pitch.

C'mon, graze? Grazing is for buffaloes in Nebraska, there's no grazing when it comes to a Roy Halladay pitch. That pitch had a purpose, and its purpose was to send the message of "I hate you!". Doc has only hit 11 out of 1956 batters he's faced in the past 2 seasons. That's only .5%, not even a full percent! The man is a pitching genius with immaculate precision. His beaning on Bocock was no accident.

That leaves the question as to why Halladay hates Bocock. Perhaps it's his last name, I mean it does have cock in it. Maybe it's the fact that he's on the 40-man roster with a lifetime .134 batting average. Did Bocock try macking on Mrs. Halladay? Who really knows, but one thing is for sure- Brian Bocock is a marked man.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Revisiting WSBGMs History

Last year at this time we were awkwardly enjoying watching Charlie Manuel fondle himself over the sight of Roy Halladay tossing from the mound in a Phils jersey for the first time.

Then two years ago we were scoping some Phillies doppelgangers...

Just three short years ago we were examining the upcoming arbitration hearing for Ryan Howard; debating over $7 or $10M as the right figure for the slugger. Wish he was still only making one of those amounts. Hell, I wouldn't even mind if he made that amount combined.

Way back in 2007 we were actually advocating for Wes Helms as starting third baseman. Shows how scarred we from the David Bell era. Of course, the other option at 3rd at the time of this post was No-Hit Nunez, so you can understand our folly.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Name That Phillie: Replaced Edition

This man was replaced not once, but twice by two Phillies legends. The first time he had to switch positions to accommodate a brash kid shortstop. His second displacement was out of the city altogether as a young stud slugger took over his new position. He holds a unique distinction in Veteran's Stadium lore. He's now one helluva minor league manager that might get a shot at the Majors someday. So give it a try, name that Phillie...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Phillies Phlashback Phriday: Attendance

3,300,000 tickets are already sold for the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies season, with 15 games being sellouts. The Phightins are the hottest/toughest ticket in town...suck it Bon Jovi!!! Anyway, this is due to many factors: awesome ball park, winning, and big name players. I know we all loved JA Happ, but he doesn't have the sexiness as Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay, or Cliff Lee.

Attendance Over Past 2 Decades:
Year- Attendance (NL Rank)
2010- 3,777,322 (1st of 16)
2009- 3,600,693 (2nd of 16)
2008- 3,422,583 (4th of 16)
2007- 3,108,325 (6th of 16)
2006- 2,701,815 (7th of 16)
2005- 2,665,304 (9th of 16)
2004- #3,250,092 (2nd of 16)
2003- 2,259,948 (10th of 16)
2002- 1,618,467 (14th of 16)
2001- 1,782,054 (14th of 16)
2000- 1,612,769 (13th of 16)
1999- 1,825,337 (12th of 16)
1998- 1,715,722 (14th of 16)
1997- 1,490,638 (14th of 14)
1996- 1,801,677 (9th of 14)
1995- *2,043,598 (4th of 14)
1994- *2,290,971 (4th of 14)
1993- 3,137,674 (4th of 14)
1992- 1,927,448 (6th of 12)
1991- 2,050,012 (7th of 12)
1990- 1,992,484 (7th of 12)

# = 1st season in Citizens Bank Park
* = Strike shortened season

The players have spoken about the home field advantage of The Brick Cit House, and it's not because of the homerun factor, it's the fans. Philadelphia fans get labeled many things and have a bad reputation, but ask the current squad how they feel about the 10th man and they'll all echo the same sentiment- they love us!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pay The Man



Charlie Manuel is making $2.4 million managing the Phillies this season but after 2011 his contract expires. Talks are ongoing but Fuqua says that if a deal isn't done before the season starts it will have to wait until the offseason.

Manuel had this to say via Yahoo! sports, "Once the season starts, I don’t want to talk about my contract. Hopefully something happens in spring training, and if not, my extension and contract, I definitely don’t want it to be a distraction for our team."

Rube had this to say, "I’m not going to characterize it, but obviously we want to get it done and have Charlie in our uniform. We’ve been working at this thing since December. So, we’re hopeful we’ll be able to get something done soon."

You've been working on this since December? It's the middle of freaking February. How difficult could these negotiations be?

This should be very simple. Charlie should have the years and money he wants and the Phillies should have the years and money they are willing to give and either they agree on a deal or not. It shouldn't take three months.

Either way, the deal needs to get done this week and the Phils should just give Fuqua what he wants. We're talking about adding at most less than 1% of the team payroll by giving the skipper a raise. Is that amount of money worth the risk of not getting a deal done and having to talk about this all summer? I don't think so.

C'mon Rube, give Fuqua his cash and let's all move on.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Phillies Jersey Sponsorship

A little while ago, Philadelphia’s MLS franchise, the Union, announced a jersey sponsorship with Bimbo Bakeries. Bimbo is Mexico’s largest food corporation and the largest bakery in the world. They make Entenmann’s, Sara Lee, Stroehmann’s, and Thomas’ English Muffins, to name a few. The head of the United States division of Bimbo is located in Horsham, making them a natural fit for a Philadelphia soccer team.

This got me to thinking, why can’t the Phillies get themselves a jersey sponsorship? As far as I know, among the major professional sports leagues in the world, only the MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL do not allow sponsorship on their team attire. This needs to change. Cliff Lee ain’t free! The Phils need cash and I say jersey sponsorship is a reasonable plan. Here are a few suggestions for sponsors:

1. The Adult sponsor – You can’t go with Bimbo, but you can go to the bimbos – Cheerleaders Gentleman’s Club. The ladies of Cheerleaders already frequent the ballpark, handing out coupons and such to patrons as they walk around and to the stadium. It’s not a huge company so the Phils wouldn’t get as much money for the sponsorship, but sometimes money isn’t everything...

2. The Hispanic sponsor – If Bimbo goes over well with Philadelphians, maybe the Phils should stick with what works and go with Goya. When I think generic Mexican food products, I think Goya! Goya Foods is the largest, Hispanic-owned food company in the United States so they should be able to pony up some bucks for the sponsorship. Also, they could cater the post game buffet. I’m sure Chooch would approve.
3. The Big Money sponsor – Sometimes you have to go where the money is. In the world, the money is mainly two places: oil companies and Wal-Mart. Wally World grossed over $400 billion last year, more than any other company. They could easily throw $15-20 million at the Phils for a jersey sponsorship. Cha-ching!

4. The Image Conscious sponsor – Who has a ton of money and could benefit from the good publicity of being associated with the Fightin’ Phillies? Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, or the Democratic party could all use an image “pick-me-up” but nobody is richer and more unpopular than…China. That’s right, let the Chi-coms send some money this way that doesn’t have to be repaid! The Chinese send the Phils about $50 million per year and in return the team throws the flag on their jersey and renames “Ashburn Alley” the “Chinese Civil Rights Celebration Corridor.” Tibet what?
5. The Gambling sponsor – If you look around European club soccer, you see many, many gambling sponsors like Bwin, SBOBet, 188Bet, Mansion.com, Betclic, etc. Hell, look at We Should Be GMs! Simple fact, gambling gets people paid. Especially those that aren’t doing the gambling. And the last time I checked, Major League Baseball is totally cool with gambling. So, the Phils should get a gambling sponsor. I say Bodog because they have a cool name.

6. The Losing sponsor – Some people are desperate for their team to win a championship. Some people are desperate for their team to get close to a championship. Like Eagles fans, for instance. If the Eagles and their fans want the team, or at least their team logo, to win a championship, they might want to throw that bird head on the front of the Phillies jersey. In addition, if the lockout happens, this may be the only way Birds fans can see their “team” play. They can buy the sponsorship with the money they didn’t spend on Julius Peppers last year.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day: Phillies Style

Love is in the air and it's not just because it's that stupid holiday of hearts and otherwise mushy crap. Nope, love is abound because pitchers and catchers reported for spring training today and Todd Zolecki says all 33 are in camp and accounted for (meaning no Jose Contrera visa issues to resolve). Baseball is coming back!!!


You know, I couldn't resist taking a jab at the Mets...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

MLB 2K11

MLB 2K11 is gonna be badass...





Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday Fodder: Cory Sullivan

You may be wondering- Why exactly does Cory Sullivan deserve a featured post on WSBGMs? Well, it's Saturday, spring training hasn't started yet and there's really not much worth writing about. So, say hello to Cory Sullivan, the newest member of has-beens that Amaro has signed to minor league contracts to add "depth" to the organization. Hey, at least it wasn't Sarge Jr.

Anyway, the 31 year old Pennsylvania born Sullivan is a veteran of 6 MLB seasons; mostly with the Rockies, but also with the Mets and Astros. He's played all 3 outfield positions and owns a .271/.708 AVG/OPS in 476 games (although he hit only .188/.492 last year). Attempting to put a positive spin on this, I would like to point out that he's killed the horsehide in Citizens Bank Park (.372/1.030 in 50 plate appearances).

Bet you can't wait to see him patrol center field this season...in Allentown.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Phillies Phlashback Phriday: Satchel Paige

Yes, you read the title correctly- Satchel Paige was a Phillie. Okay, he never technically played for the Phillies, but he was in their minor league system for 3 seasons (1956-1958). If the Phils would have done the right thing and promote him, Paige would have been their 1st black player and possibly donning a Phils cap in the Hall of Fame. Instead this legend's talent was wasted toiling in the minors as a sideshow gate attraction. As many of you know, Paige was a Negro League great and didn't make his MLB debut until he was in his 40's. He's also the oldest pitcher to appear in a game at age 58. Truly remarkable.
"Bill Veeck once again came to Paige’s rescue when, after taking control of the Phillies' triple-A farm team, the Miami Marlins of the International League, he signed Paige to a contract for $15,000 and a percentage of the gate. Marlins manager Don Osborn did not want Paige and said that he would only use him in exhibition games. Veeck made a deal with Osborn that he could line up his best nine hitters, rotating them in from their positions in the field, and Veeck agreed to pay ten dollars to any of them who get a clean hit off of Paige. Paige retired all nine and Osborn agreed to make Paige a roster player. In Paige’s first game as a Marlin, he pitched a complete-game, four-hit shutout. Osborn, a former minor league pitcher, taught Paige the proper way to throw a curveball, which allowed Paige to tear through the International League. Paige finished the season 11–4 with an ERA of 1.86 with 79 strikeouts and only 28 walks. This time, when Veeck left the team, Paige was allowed to stay on, for two more years.

In 1957, the Marlins finished in sixth place, but Paige had a 10–8 record with 76 strikeouts versus 11 walks and 2.42 ERA. The following year, Osborn was replaced as manager by Kerby Farrell, who was not as forgiving when it came to Paige missing curfews or workouts. He was fined several times throughout the year and finished 10–10, saying that he would not return to Miami the following season."
*Courtesy of Wikipedia

Thursday, February 10, 2011

2011 Preview: Howard & Ruiz

Ryan Howard

2007 - .268 Avg, 47 HR, 136 RBI, .976 OPS
2008 - .251 Avg, 48 HR, 146 RBI, .881 OPS
2009 - .279 Avg, 45 HR, 141 RBI, .931 OPS
2010 - .276 Avg, 31 HR, 108 RBI, .859 OPS

2011 Salary – $20 million

Age - 31

If you believe the company line that Ryan Howard’s ankle injury was directly responsible for his power dip, then you shouldn’t worry about him 2011…unless you’re really a pessimist and think he won’t be healed by April.

I’m still sold on Ryan Howard. He had 198 homers and 572 RBI in the four years before 2010. He’s only 31 years old. He had an obvious reason for having a “down” year. Frankly, I don’t think there is a whole lot to say about Howard. Now, get back to me in about 2-3 years when those bad ankles are a little more brittle and the bat is a little slower… But until that time, expect more of the same. My prediction:

.274, 44 HR, 132 RBI, .915 OPS, 199 K



Carlos Ruiz

2007 - .259 Avg, 6 HR, 54 RBI, .735 OPS
2008 - .219 Avg, 4 HR, 31 RBI, .620 OPS
2009 - .255 Avg, 9 HR, 43 RBI, .780 OPS
2010 - .302 Avg, 8 HR, 53 RBI, .847 OPS

2011 Salary - $2.75 million

Age – 32

Back in October in a poll on this blog Ruiz got 95 out of 211 votes for team MVP. Only Roy Halladay got more votes, 98. That poll is a testament to how great of a season Ruiz had and to the fans of this team, specifically readers of this blog, who understand the importance of a good defensive catcher and appreciate the value of a good defensive catcher who can hit .300 from the 8-hole.

Unfortunately, I have some bad news you guys. Carlos Ruiz won’t hit .300 this season. He probably won’t hit .280. Ruiz is lifetime .275 hitter in the minor leagues and .246 in the majors without including 2010. Ruiz benefitted from .335 BABIP last season, just like he suffered from a .237 BABIP two season ago when he hit .219. Expect a significant reduction in BABIP in 2011 and conversely a return to previous levels of offensive production.

Than being said, a Carlos Ruiz batting around .250 and driving in 45 runs from the bottom of the order is still greatly valuable to the Phillies because he is so good behind the plate. My prediction for 2011:

.264, 8 HR, 45 RBI, .782 OPS, 1 happy pitching staff

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

2011 Preview: Francisco & Polanco

Ben Francisco

2008 - .266 Avg, 15 HR, 54 RBI, .770 OPS
2009 - .257 Avg, 15 HR, 46 RBI, .779 OPS
2010 - .268 Avg, 6 HR, 28 RBI, .768 OPS

2011 Salary – $1.175 / 1 year (avoided arbitration)

Age - 29

Anybody ever heard someone say this, “Ben Francisco could be starting on a lot of other teams.” I’m sure you have. Do you agree with it? I do, if those referenced teams are Pittsburgh, or Kansas City or Cleveland. Not necessarily the NL East Champion Phillies. Unfortunately, I think we may test the above hypothesis. I was going to write up a breakdown of the rightfield job, but in my research I found one written by Inquirer writer Matt Gelb. Check it out, here.

Francisco has average power, average speed, and doesn’t hit for high average. Unfortunately for the Phils, he doesn’t fit the “righthanded power/run producing” mold that suited Jayson Werth so well. Luckily for the Phils, they are still stacked offensively with a healthy Howard/Utley/Rollins and they have enough flexibility to mix-n-match hitters into the 5-hole depending on the pitching matchups.

If Francisco sees the majority of time and gets 400+ at-bats, he’ll put up numbers similar to 2009 but with better RBI numbers due to the volume of baserunners he’ll see. My prediction:

.264, 16 HR, 66 RBI



Placido Polanco

2007 - .341 Avg, 9 HR, 67 RBI, .846 OPS
2008 - .307 Avg, 8 HR, 58 RBI, .768 OPS
2009 - .285 Avg, 10 HR, 72 RBI, .727 OPS
2010 - .298 Avg, 6 HR, 52 RBI, .726 OPS

2011 Salary - $5.25 million

Age - 35

In what is a recurring theme when reviewing the 2010 Phillies, Placido Polanco had a relatively disappointing offensive year that was severely hindered by injuries. Before Polly was hurt, he was hitting .318. After he took a Tim Hudson fastball off of the left elbow and spent 3+ weeks on the DL, he hit only .279. And although he’s not known for much power, he managed only one homer after the injury, ending the season with no dingers in his last 250+ at-bats.

Polanco had surgery on the elbow at the end of October. Expectations at that time were that he would be swinging a bat by “early January” and completely ready to open Spring Training.

Predicting how injuries will affect a player’s career is an inexact science at best, especially when the player is in the later stages of his career and may not “bounce back” like a younger player. But one thing that goes in favor of Polly is that his game does not depend on power and speed. And even with a bone spur and tendinitis, he was able to hit .279. Therefore, I’m predicting a typical Polanco year:

.292, 9 HR, 64 RBI, .760 OPS

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

2011 Preview: Utley & Rollins

Jimmy Rollins

2007 - .296 Avg, 30 HR, 94 RBI, .875 OPS
2008 - .277 Avg, 11 HR, 59 RBI, .786 OPS
2009 - .250 Avg, 21 HR, 77 RBI, .719 OPS
2010 - .243 Avg, 8 HR, 41 RBI, .694 OPS

2011 Salary - $8.5 million (free agent after 2011)

Age - 32

A Phillies optimist would look at Rollins’ 2010 season and point out how great he started (9 hits in first 7 games), how much time is spent injured (74 games missed) and conclude that it is was one of those unfortunate lost seasons, a fluky thing that happens to best of them, like Josh Hamilton in 2009 or Ken Griffey in 1995.

I’m not so optimistic.

Even if you discount 2010 as a fluke season marred by injuries, his overall numbers still were decreasing in the previous two years. And Young James just isn’t that young anymore. Can you think of a 32 year old shortstop who improved his numbers after three consecutive down years? Don’t bother, there isn’t one. The closest example would be Cal Ripken, who had a real bad year in 1992 (age 31) following his MVP in 1993 but then was top 20 in MVP voting in 1994. The reality is, once middle infielders start aging and posting OPS’ of around .700, the offensive numbers generally don’t rebound. The defensive abilities often remain and these type of players can still be quite valuable (see: Edgar Renteria) but to expect anything close to 2007 ever again is foolish. My prediction:

.265, 13 HR, 59 RBI, .745 OPS, 30 games missed due to injury 



Chase Utley

2007 - .332 Avg, 22 HR, 103 RBI, .976 OPS
2008 - .292 Avg, 33 HR, 104 RBI, .915 OPS
2009 - .282 Avg, 31 HR, 93 RBI, .905 OPS
2010 - .275 Avg, 16 HR, 65 RBI, .832 OPS

2011 Salary – $15 million

Age – 32

See any trends in the above statistics? Average, homers, RBIs and OPS are all going down. Injuries? Fatigue? Dare is say, declining skills? Whatever the reason, the trend is real and it follows the same pattern of Jimmy Rollins, who is the same age. However, I see Utley’s 2011 going significantly better than J-Roll’s.

While Utley’s numbers are declining, if you extrapolate his worst ever full season, the injury plagued 2010, his numbers would only be slightly worse than J-Roll’s MVP season of 2007. Basically, less than expected from Utley is still better than most because he’s that good. Also, his decline is relative. Look at the 2009 season from above. That is still a terrific, All-Star caliber season.

Utley’s been pretty beat up at the end of the last few seasons. I’m hoping Fuqua gives him a few more days off this year. If so, his power numbers may dip slightly. But other than that, I’m expecting Utley to rake. My prediction:

.291, 24 HR, 94 RBI, .902 OPS

Monday, February 07, 2011

2011 Preview: Ibanez & Victorino

Raul Ibanez

2007 - .291 Avg, 21 HR, 105 RBI, .831 OPS
2008 - .293 Avg, 23 HR, 110 RBI, .837 OPS
2009 - .272 Avg, 34 HR, 93 RBI, .899 OPS
2010 - .275 Avg, 16 HR, 83 RBI, .793 OPS

2011 Salary - $11.5 million (free agent after 2011)

Age - 39

At age 38, Ibanez posted his worst OPS since .792 in 2005. Despite his significantly reduced HR totals, his overall numbers don’t look that different than previous seasons. A closer look at his splits reveals quite the bipolar season. He had three months where his OPS was less than .700 (that’s reserve middle infielder territory) his average was less than .240. A very strong July (.952 OPS) and September (.919) saved his season, numbers wise. So even though the numbers aren’t that different, the lack of power and loooooong stretches of weak hitting, combined with a strong age bias, has most of us thinking that 2010 was a big disappointment.

Is there anything that points toward a big rebound in 2011? Not that I can think of. I also can’t think of a player, outside of the Steroid Age, that got better at 38. Despite that, I predict that Ibanez will have a better upcoming season compared to 2010. Why? He’s going to get more days off this season. (He played 155 in 2010.) He’s going to see a higher percentage of righties with Francisco/Mayberry getting ABs against lefties. He’ll get more days off away from home. The result: lower HR/RBI totals but overall a better season. My prediction:

.277,14 HR, 69 RBI, .833 OPS


Shane Victorino

2007 - .281 Avg, 12 HR, .347 OBP, 37 SB
2008 - .293 Avg, 14 HR, .352 OBP, 36 SB
2009 - .292 Avg, 10 HR, .358 OBP, 25 SB
2010 - .259 Avg, 18 HR, .327 OBP, 34 SB

2011 Salary – $7.5 million

Age - 30

Not a great offensive year for Vic. Mainly because he couldn’t hit right handed pitching. Despite a career .275 average as a lefty, he hit .223 in 2010. Think having their leadoff hitter be an automatic out 80% of the games hurt the Phils offense in 2010? I’d say so. His OBP in the first inning when leading off was .298. And he hit .198 in Phillies losses versus .299 in wins. Also, despite a career high in HR, he slugged only .429 and his OPS was the lowest of his career. How did Victorino win a Gold Glove with these offensive numbers?

Victorino will be 30 this season. If he was an Eagle, at that age following that season, he’d be getting cut. But he’s a Phillies, so he’s going to be counted on to make 2010 and aberration, get on base and run, run, run. Also, with the departure of Werth there is a good chance Victorino will be leading off a significant amount of time so Jimmy can slide into the 5-hole. If Vic gets on base at a .327 clip again, there could be major offensive problem again.

That being said, there is nothing that suggests that Victorino won’t revert to pre-2010 form. He was so consistent from 07-09 that he’ll likely put up similar numbers. My prediction:

.279, 12 HR, .349 OBP, 32 SB

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Ranking NL East Benches

Finishing out the NL East rankings are the pine riders...the benches.

1. Philadelphia Phillies
Near Locks: Brian Schneider/C, Ross Gload/1B/OF, Ben Francisco/OF, Wilson Valdez/UTL, John Mayberry/OF.
Backups: Jeff Larrish/OF/1B, Mike Martinez/UTL, Delwyn Young/OF/2B, Dane Sardinha/C, Pete Orr/UTL, Robb Quinlan/1B/3B.
Schneider is a solid backup backstop. Gload is a proven pinch hitter (.279/.754 for career). Francisco may actually end up seeing a lot of starts. Valdez plays remarkable defense. Mayberry crushes lefties.

2. Atlanta Braves
Near Locks: David Ross/C, Jordan Schafer/OF, Eric Hinske/OF/1B, Brooks Conrad/UTL, Joe Mather/OF, Diory Hernandez/UTL.
Backups: Brent Cleven/OF, Wilkin Castillo/C, Matt Young/OF, Brandon Hicks/3B.
Ross is one of the best backup catchers in the game; he can hit and guns down runners with regularity (39% for his career). Hinske is a ticket to the playoffs (4 straight years with 4 different teams). Conrad sucks at defense, but damn that boy can clobber a ball when the game is late and close (1.115 OPS in such situations). The rest of the gang isn't anything special, but those top 3 are plenty.

3. Washington Nationals
Near Locks: Rick Ankiel/OF, Mike Morse/OF/1B, Jerry Hairston Jr./UTL, Wilson Ramos/C, Alberto Gonzalez/UTL.
Backups: Matt Stairs/PH, Jonathan Van Every/OF, Jesus Flores/C, Laynce Nix/OF.
Ankiel is now both a washed-up pitcher and outfielder. Morse is a career .291/.810 batter as a reservist. Hairston is versatile and joins his brother in the division. Ramos has upside and could push aside future Hall-of-Famer, Ivan Rodriguez, as the starter at catcher in DC.

4. New York Mets
Near Locks: Ronny Paulino/C, Luis Castillo/2B, Daniel Murphy/2B/OF/1B, Scott Hairston/OF, Chin-lung Hu/UTL.
Backups: Nick Evans/1B, Fernando Martinez/OF, Lucas Duda/OF, Mike Nickeas/C, Justin Turner/2B, Luis Hernandez/UTL, Willie Harris/OF/2B.
Paulino will likely split time with Thole behind the plate. Castillo should just be released. Murphy is an enigma. Hairston seems sorta pointless, as his at bats could be better spent on Duda or Martinez. This bench is lackluster.

5. Florida Marlins
Near Locks: John Baker/C, Emilio Bonafacio/UTL, Scott Cousins/OF, Bryan Petersen/OF, Osvaldo Martinez/UTL.
Backups: Brett Hayes/C, Brad Davis/C, DeWayne Wise/OF, Joe Thurston/UTL, Ruben Gotay/INF, Greg Dobbs/3B/1B/OF.
On paper this is one of the worst benches in the MLB heading into the season. I wouldn't take any of them over one of the Phillies bench players.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Ranking NL East Bullpens

There's a phrase- "the bullpen is a crapshoot", and I've gotta agree. If I were a Sports Betting man, I wouldn't put money down on guarantees in the bullpen. Only the top relievers are consistent and even they have down years (ex- see Lidge '09). So to truly judge the strength of a team's relievers is difficult. Therefore, I'm examining the top 3 of each bullpen (closer and 2 setup men). The ability to miss bats is important, as well as experience. So without further ado, I bring to you the NL East bullpens...

1. Philadelphia Phillies
Near Locks: Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, Jose Contreras, Danys Baez, JC Romero, Antonio Bastardo, Kyle Kendrick.
Backups: David Herndon, Scott Mathieson, Dan Meyer, Eddie Bonine, Vance Worley, Mike Zagurski.
When healthy Lidge is an upper echelon closer, and he seemed pretty damn healthy in the 2nd half last season (2.10 ERA, 21 SV). Ryan Madson, aka Mini-Mariano, is one of the top setup men in the game and his partner in crime, 53 year old Morgan Freeman Jose Contreras, has taken very well to relief as the two combine for a deadly blow in late innings. Also, Bastardo has struck out a buttload of batters at each level he's pitched and this could be his breakout season as the primary lefty if given the opportunity.

2. Atlanta Braves
Near Locks: Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, Scott Linebrink, Peter Moylan, George Sherrill, Erik O'Flaherty, Scott Proctor.
Backups: Christian Martinez, Juan Abreu, Anthony Varvaro, Jairo Asencio.
Kimbrel and Venters were rookies last season, but damn they were good (combined 1.65 ERA in 103.2 IP with 133 K)...real friggin' good! The rest of the cast is nothing to brag about, but with those two holding down the 8th and 9th, nothing much more needs to be worried about.

3. Florida Marlins
Near Locks: Leo Nunez, Clay Hensley, Ryan Webb, Randy Choate, Mike Dunn, Brian Sanches, Edward Mujica.
Backups: Burke Badenhop, Jose Ceda, Steve Cishek, Dustin Richardson.
Nunez and Hensley are decent, Choate shuts down lefties, and Dunn has mucho upside, but for now this group remains middle-of-the-road.

4. New York Mets
Near Locks: Francisco Rodriguez, DJ Carrasco, Bobby Parnell, Manny Acosta, Pat Misch, Taylor Buchholz, Oliver Perez.
Backups: Chris Capuano, Jenrry Mejia, Boof Bonser, Taylor Tankersley, Tim Byrdak, Ryota Igarashi, Blaine Boyer.
K-Rod likes to point to the heavens and beat up girlfriend's fathers, while the rest of the group is mediocre. Well, Ollie Perez actually sucks, but he's the exception.

5. Washington Nationals
Near Locks: Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett, Doug Slaten, Henry Rodriguez, Todd Coffey, Craig Stammen.
Backups: Ross Detwiler, Chien-Ming Wang, Collin Balester, Garrett Mock, Cla Meredith, Chad Gaudin.
The Nats might warrant a 4th place ranking here, but they're the Nats...nuff said.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Ranking NL East Starting Rotations

Pitching wins games, so here are the staffs that will be baring the brunt of the workload in the NL East in 2011.

*Stats: W-L, Games Started, Innings Pitched, ERA/WHIP, BB:K. "Backups" are not part of the combined stats for each rotation's starting 5.

1. Philadelphia Phillies
Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, and Joe Blanton.
Backup Plans: Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley.
67-49, 154 GS, 1059 IP, 3.17/1.20, 207:942.
A ton has been written about them already, so I'll keep it short and sweet. This rotation is friggin' awesome! I'm still in shock that R2C2 are heading the Phillies staff this season. Is it real or just a dream? Guess we'll have to wait until the season starts to find out.

2. Atlanta Braves
Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, and Mike Minor.
Backup Plans: Brandon Beachey, Rodrigo Lopez, and Kenshin Kawakami.
53-40, 129 GS, 782 IP, 3.68/1.27, 244:577.
The top 3 are solid, with Hanson still developing; and if Jurrjens can stay healthy an entire season and Minor continues to progress, this staff will be quite good.

3. Florida Marlins
Josh Johnson, Javier Vazquez, Ricky Nolasco, Chris Volstad, and Anibal Sanchez.
Backup Plans: Sean West, Alex Sanabia, and Adalberto Mendez.
60-46, 142 GS, 868.2 IP, 3.99/1.31, 276:713.
Josh Johnson is one of the best pitchers in baseball. Thing is he has to get the ball every 5 days to be productive, which is something he's found to be difficult due to nagging injuries. The rest of the staff is good and because of them the Fish will remain competitive all season long. Note- expect a bounce back year from Vazquez.

4. New York Mets
Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese, RA Dickey, and Chris Young.
Backup Plans: Chris Capuano, Dillon Gee, and Jenrry Mejia.
48-37, 122 GS, 771 IP, 3.35/1.29, 238:524.
Great earned run average from this group, but, and this is a huge Oprah in her hay-day sized but, they're injured, injury prone, or unproven. Pelfrey is good, the rest are question marks. Darth Santana will start the season on the DL. Young hasn't been healthy since the Bush administration. Dickey could be a 1-hit wonder. Niese is...well, Niese might end up being good too. To be fair/unbiased, this staff has the ability to surprise a lot of people this year and keep the Metropolitans around sea level.

5. Washington Nationals
Livan Hernandez, John Lannan, Jason Marquis, Tom Gorzelanny, and Jordan Zimmermann.
Backup Plans: Yunesky Maya, Craig Stammen, Luis Atilano, and Ross Detwiler.
28-40, 101 GS, 581 IP, 4.37/1.46, 215:362. Out of this group, Zimmermann is the only one to keep an eye on. Livan had fluke success last year, Lannan and Gorzelanny are mediocre, and Marquis is too easy to hit. Until (if?) Strasburg recuperates, this rotation is complete bleh.

*A collection of female Phils Phans too hot for regular WSBGMs readership.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Ranking NL East Right Fielders

The right field class of the NL East has the potential to be the best out of any other division in baseball. Let's check out these stars.

1. Atlanta Braves
Jason Heyward
(21)
.277/.849, 83 R, 29 2B, 5 3B, 18 HR, 72 RBI, 11 SB, 4.4 WAR. All-around talent that is just scary good. Best is yet to come with this young phenom. His #1 ranking is questionable, seeing that he has only 1 year of experience and the man behind him is proven, but I'm expecting MVP numbers from this kid.

2. Washington Nationals
Jayson Werth
(31)
.296/.921, 106 R, 46 2B, 27 HR, 85 RBI, 13 SB, 5.2 WAR. The Beard signed a lucrative 7 year deal with the Nats, but let's see how he fairs in more spacious Nationals Park and without the lineup he was accustomed to batting in while in Philly. His talent is undeniable, but I expect a drop in his numbers this year and for seasons to come.

3. Florida Marlins/Mike Stanton (21)
.259/.833, 45 R, 21 2B, 22 HR, 59 RBI, 2.8 WAR. Crazy off the charts power for a player this young; hit 43 homeruns between AA-MLB last year. At 6'5" 235 lb., it's crazy to think what type of season he's capable of. His defense is underrated as well.

4. New York Mets/Angel Pagan (29)
.290/.765, 80 R, 31 2B, 7 3B, 11 HR, 69 RBI, 37 SB, 4.8 WAR. Should have won a Gold Glove last season, but ironically didn't hit enough for consideration (figure that one out). This 4th outfielder finally graduated to starter because of opportunity. He's perfect for CF, but for the time being Beltran is stuck there.

5. Philadelphia Phillies/Domonic Brown (23)
.210/.612 in 70 plate appearances. The time in now for this highly touted young stud. He's competing for the starting gig with Ben Francisco, John Mayberry, and Ross Gload. It's clear to everyone that Brown has the most upside, but whether he's ready for the pressure of being a cog on a team destined for the playoffs is yet to be determined.