Posted on: October 9, 2008 6:33 pm

Phillies vs. Dodgers Analysis

The Phillies have made the NLCS for the first time since 1993. Time to trot out a position-by-position match-up analysis for the Phillies and Dodgers.

Player, Team, BA/SLG/HR/RBI
Carlos Ruiz, Phillies, .219/.300/4/31
 Russell Martin, Dodgers, .280/.396/13/69
Ruiz is a very good defensive catcher. However, Martin is even better on the field, and he can actually hit a baseball without grounding into a double play once in a while. He has the edge over Ruiz in almost every offensive category, especially batting average and over Ruiz's woeful .300 slugging. Big advantage to the Dodgers.

First base:
Ryan Howard, Phillies, .250/.543/48/146
James Loney, Dodgers, .289/.434/13/90
In the field, Howard committed a terrible 19 errors. If the Phillies want keep runs off the board, they must not let Howard throw the ball. Loney is a bit better at fielding, but Howard is a freak-of-nature home run threat every time he comes up to bat. Edge to Phillies.

Second base:
Chase Utley, Phillies, .292/.535/33/104
Blake DeWitt, Dodgers, .264/.383/9/52
DeWitt is a rookie who's filling in for Jeff Kent. He's an okay hitter. Utley is the premier second baseman of the National League, if not all of baseball. The Phillies' 2B has been playing hurt and struggled in the post-season, but he is still far better than DeWitt. Advantage Phillies.

Jimmy Rollins, Phillies, .277/.437/11/59
Rafael Furcal, Dodgers, .357/.573/5/16 (36 games)
Furcal missed most of the season with an injury, but was scorching hot when he did play. Both are good defensive shortstops and excel at stealing bases. J-Roll is the heart of the Phillies, so he gets the edge here.

Third base:
Pedro Feliz, Phillies, .249/.402/14/58
Casey Blake, Dodgers, .274/.463/21/81
Feliz, for the Phillies, is an improvement over Wes Helms last year, but still an average-at-best 3B. His fielding is good, and if you feed him a fastball, he can hit it, but Feliz is a one-trick pony at the plate. Blake was a midseason acquisition for the Dodgers and has panned out well. Edge Dodgers.

Left field:
Pat Burrell, Phillies, .250/.507/33/86
Manny Ramirez, Dodgers, .332/.601/37/121
Yes, Burrell is a good hitter, but do I really need to tell you why this is an edge for the Dodgers?

Center field:
Shane Victorino, Phillies, .293/.457/14/58
Matt Kemp, Dodgers, .290/.459/18/76
Kemp is Victorino with a little more power. Both play very good defense. Edge to Kemp.

Right field:
Jayson Werth, Phillies, .273/.498/24/67
Andre Ethier, Dodgers, .305/.510/20/77
Werth finally won the starting job in Philadelphia following Geoff Jenkins's injury. Ethier has graduated from a hot prospect into a good ballplayer. Ethier is a better hitter, but Werth is faster, going 20/21 on steals (Ethier stole just six of nine). Werth is playing against a team that gave up on him after a wrist injury. Edge to Ethier.

Pitcher, Team, Record/ERA/WHIP
Game 1:
Cole Hamels, Phillies, 14-10/3.09/1.08
Derek Lowe, Dodgers, 14-11/3.24/1.13
The staff aces had very similar regular season stats. Both ought to have had more than 14 wins. In their post-season openers, Lowe allowed 2 runs in 6 innings to the Cubs, while Hamels threw 8 shutout innings against the Brewers. Edge to Phillies, though barely.

Game 2:
Brett Myers, Phillies, 10-13/4.55/1.38
Chad Billingsley, Dodgers, 16-10/3.14/1.34
How does Billingsley end up with such better W-L and ERA than Myers with this similar of a WHIP? Allowing only half as many stolen bases might be part of it, but one suspects there's a little luck involved in both directions. Still, Myers has gone 7-4 with a 3.06 in the second half. Billingsley allowed one run over 6 2/3 and Myers two in 7 in their first starts of the post-season. Closer than a first glance would say, but still advantage Dodgers.

Game 3:
Jamie Moyer, Phillies, 16-7/3.71/1.33
Hideki Kuroda, Dodgers, 9-10/3.73/1.22
Moyer is the ultimate crafty veteran. His fastball hovers around 81 mph, sometimes climbing to 83 or 84, and his breaking ball is known to dip below 70. Kuroda is a Japanese import and serviceable pitcher. Both are clutch- Kuroda clinched the NLDS for the Dodgers, and Moyer has clinched the division in back-to-back years. I might take Moyer, but this ought to be a push.

Brad Lidge, Phillies, 2-0, 41/41 saves, 1.95 ERA
Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers, 3-5, 14/22, 3.13
Lidge has been lights out in Philly, and his team hopes he stays at 100% in save opportunities. Broxton's 3.13 ERA isn't bad, and he's gone 14/17 since the All-Star break, but that doesn't hold a candle to Lidge this year. Clear advantage Phillies.

Charlie Manuel, 574-484 total, 354-294 in Philly
Joe Torre, 2151-1848 total, 84-78 in LA
Manuel is a players' manager who helped the Phillies improve past their Larry Bowa-era performances. Joe Torre has four rings. Edge Dodgers.

Phillies: One championship in 125 years of existence. The city hasn't won a major sports championship since 1983.
Dodgers: Were on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week.

My call: Howard and Utley feast on right-handed pitchers. Phillies in 7.
Posted on: September 6, 2008 12:26 am

Roster edits

After September 1, when MLB teams are allowed to expand their rosters, the Phillies, like most other teams, brought up minor leaguers. The Phils opted to go short on prospects (only Greg Golson, Lou Marson, and J.A. Happ) in favor of career minor-leaguers like Andy Tracy, Mike Cervenak, and Les Walrond.
I like Happ's call-up because it will allow the Phillies to use two lefties in a game more often. Scott Eyre has been used for multiple innings at a time since his acquisition, so I think it'll help to have Happ around instead of making Eyre go back-to-back. Plus, they have another situation lefty in case they need one in the 6th or 7th, before they would want to waste J.C. Romero. Les Walrond is up now too, but I didn't like what we saw from him, as he was ineffective during his last call-up. I see Walrond as a guy who lets you rest everybody else on the staff if you get an 8-run lead.
I do wish they could have called up another good right-handed reliever. Ryan Madson and Chad Durbin have both been shaky lately, so more duties have fallen to Clay Condrey and Rudy Seanez. While Condrey and Seanez still have respectable 3.47 and 3.62 ERAs, I'd much rather see Madson and/or Durbin return to form, and somebody else to keep Durbin's appearances down would have been nice.
With position players, I'm assuming Charlie wants smart pinch-hitters right now instead of talent. Tracy and Cervenak have both been around average in bottom-of-the-barrel duties earlier in the season.
The Phils website says they got Tadahito Iguchi back. This is good, as he's a professional hitter with more experience and talent than Tracy or Cervenak. Plus, he'll hopefully take some at-bats away from Eric Bruntlett, who couldn't hit a softball at 60 mph.
The top prospects that got called up were Greg Golson and Lou Marson. Golson's fast, plays above-average defense, and has a decent average, but strikes out a lot. Look for him as a defensive replacement and pinch-runner for Pat Burrell late in games. I like this because it takes away So Taguchi, who is a worse hitter than Bruntlett and a very sketchy defensive replacement. Lou Marson, a high-average hitter and our top catching prospect, has also been mentioned as a possible defensive guy for Chris Coste. This rocks- Carlos Ruiz is in the Bruntlett/Taguchi category of "hitter," so hopefully we see Marson in a couple of games down the stretch.
Altogether I like the Phils' expansion. Their hot pitching prospects, Carlos Carrasco and Antonio Bastardo, are both young and were left in the minors. No sense in ruining them with playoff-race pressure in their debuts. The position players, however, were necessary, and the Phils added two vets I like (Iguchi and Matt Stairs).
Good luck Phillies, should be an eventful few weeks here.
Posted on: August 19, 2008 11:04 pm


My take on strikeouts and their relative importance to starters and relievers.

While many elite pitchers strike out a lot of batters, this is not the only way to pitch. A good ground-ball pitcher can be just as good as a pitcher who relies on the strikeout. Take Jamie Moyer or Greg Maddux. Both are solid pitchers who rely on their brains and good control to get people out. Also, the strikeout is not the most efficient use of pitches. If you can get a batter to pop up on the first or second pitch, great. Save the arm for later.
On the other hand, strikeouts can be an indication of success for power pitchers (this is probably obvious to you). Nasty stuff tends to make batters miss the ball, therefore striking out. For these types of pitchers, lower rates of strikeouts are a bad thing because it indicates that something may be off with their control (you can't strike people out very often with a 2-0 count) or mechanics (tipping pitches or otherwise debilitating the movement on your pitches). Probably the best use of the strikeout is when a pitcher gets into a jam with first base open. That's where a strikeout pitcher will have a shot at getting out of the inning. However, when there's a runner on first base, a non-strikeout pitcher may have the advantage in seeking a double play ball.

Unlike with starters, I firmly believe most relievers should be able to strike out batters. The exception I make is for long-relief men; they need to go two or three innings, and occasionally four, so they are as close to starters as to closers and set-up men. Their purpose is to retire batters without giving up runs, and they often have room to err and allow a few baserunners. For high-pressure 8th-inning guys and closers, you should be able to strike out batters. A reliever coming in with one out and a man on third base needs a good shot at getting that man out without putting the ball in play. Once in play, the only good result is a pop-up, and I have never seen a pitcher who specializes in them. Closers need strikeouts because they don't want to give the other team any scent of a comeback. While ground-ball pitchers might end up with a runner due to an error, they also have the chance at erasing the runner. However, if a closer puts a runner on base, he allows the other team to have hope. Also, if he surrenders a lead, there may be no chance at winning the ballgame. A dominating K on a good hitter in the first at-bat of a save opportunity can set the tone and lead to a more subdued opposing team.
Category: MLB
Tags: Baseball, MLB
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