A Few Offseason Questions

Thumbnail image for werth 1012.jpgI’ve been away for a few days, so I haven’t blogged since last week. My apologies.

I’ve gotten plenty of questions about the Phillies’ offseason since their season ended. I’ll try to answer some of those questions the best I can.

Question: Are the Phillies going to resign Jayson Werth?
Answer: No, I don’t think they will. Somebody is going to give Werth a big contract. I don’t think he’ll get the seven-year, $120 million contract Matt Holliday got from the Cardinals, but he’ll get paid. The only way I see Werth returning is if the market simply isn’t there for him and he surpisingly accepts salary arbitration from the Phillies (Kevin Millwood surprised the Phillies when he accepted salary arbitration in 2003) or the Phillies get him at a team-friendly price. I don’t see either scenario happening.

Question: Are they going to do something big?
Answer: The Phillies are going to try to resign Cliff Lee, although I don’t see how they can beat the Yankees and Rangers in a bidding war. But the Phillies have been creative in the recent past — they have traded for Lee, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt and signed Pedro Martinez in the last 15-plus months — and they could get creative with Lee. If they don’t get Lee, I think it could be a relatively quiet offseason.

Question: But they’ve got to shakeup this roster in some way, right?
Answer: I’m in the minority on this one, but I don’t think the Phillies need a dramatic shake up to return to the World Series in 2011. The Phillies had the best record in baseball this season. In the past 13 seasons, just eight of the 26 best teams (the 13 best teams in each league) have reached the World Series. That’s just 30.8 percent. That means there is nearly no advantage to the teams that play the best baseball over six months once the postseason begins. The playoffs are a crapshoot. The Phillies simply played the hot team at the wrong time. That’s all. Don’t forget the Phillies had the second-best record in the NL in 2008 and 2009, but they got hot at the right time and went to the World Series. The Cardinals had the 13th best record in baseball in 2006, but got hot at the right time and won the World Series. The Phillies are a good team. I think Halladay, Oswalt and Cole Hamels will win a lot of games next season. I think the lineup should rebound a bit, too. If the Phillies do nothing other than tweak their bullpen, on paper they’re still one of the four best teams in the National League in 2011. And if they get into the playoffs, anything can happen. Recent history proves it.

Question: But the offense is going to take a hit if Werth isn’t back, right?
Answer: Werth is going to be tough, if not impossible, to replace. As much as he struggled with runners in scoring position this season, he is a very productive right-handed bat. I think his RISP numbers will rebound next season, too. But five everyday players had poor seasons this year, and I think some of them will bounce back. Ryan Howard had the lowest OPS of his career this year. Chase Utley and Shane Victorino had their lowest OPS’ since they became everyday players. Jimmy Rollins had his lowest OPS since 2002. Raul Ibanez had his lowest OPS since 2005. If you truly believe those five players have hit the downsides of their careers at the same time then bringing back Werth seems almost pointless to me. Because if those five players continue their declines in 2011, the Phillies are in major trouble with or without Werth. But if you believe like me at least a few of those players will put up better numbers next season, then the Phillies should be more productive offensively — provided Werth’s replacement does a decent job.

Question: Who will be in right field next season?
Answer: I think it’ll be Domonic Brown and Ben Francisco. Just a gut feeling. I know the Phillies will look outside the organization for help, but Francisco has hit left-handed pitching pretty well in his career. And the Phillies think Brown is going to be a star. They should hope he can handle right-handed pitching.

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Side note: Pat Burrell picked up his second World Series ring this year. He has hit just .037 (1 for 27) with seven walks and 16 strikeouts in his World Series career. Of the 503 players with 30 or more plate appearances in World Series history, Burrell ranks 503rd in batting, tied for 441st in on-base percentage (.235) and tied for 501st in slugging percentage (.074). Chase Utley ranks third in slugging (.795), Carlos Ruiz ranks 10th (.706) and Werth ranks 13th (.676).

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. My Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

13 Comments

Good analysis but why do they need Lee? How will that affect Cole Hamels being pushed back to a #4 and at the back end of the rotation? That means if they make the NLDS, the 2008 NLCS & WS MVP would be in the bullpen or off the roster. I think it could affect his bargaining in 2012 being a 4 & it could create some tension amongst the starters. Chemistry has been great with this team. Hey, they need a lefty in the bullpen. I just don’t think he is a 4th starter. Phillies didn’t score runs this year and I don’t see signing Lee changing that. Trade Hamels now to free up the space for Lee if that’s what they think they need. Cole Hamels deserves better and I think our starting pitching is more than fine without Lee.

Thanks Todd, solid analysis. I agree with almost everything you wrote, but especially: “I don’t think the Phillies need a dramatic shake up to return to the World Series in 2011.” and “The playoffs are a crapshoot.” Hope you take more than just a few days off this offseason!

Great analysis, Todd. It’s impossible to disagree with any of this, because it’s all true, without a doubt. Still unbelievable that Pat the Bat has more WS rings then he does hits…Oh well, the Phillies will have another outstanding year in 2011, I can feel it. By the way, just picked up your book, I love it! Can’t put it down!

You know… maybe it’s for the best they don’t sign Werth. Hear me out before you call me crazy. They’re going to lose power, obviously, but maybe they can get a guy who can play the leadoff spot like they haven’t had for years. Maybe a guy who has a high OBP and isn’t swinging for the fences at every at-bat like Werth used to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to miss Werth a whole lot (I have a Werth jersey that I will still wear), but maybe they can sign a guy who hits for high average over power.

I’d like to know where the fairy tale got started that Ben Francisco hits left-handed pitching. Over his career, he’s hitting .262 against RHP (.323 OBP) and .267 against left-handers (.347 OBP). Where’s the huge advantage? Like a lot of things, it’s a perceived notion without any statistical proof.

Todd…..Replacing Jason Werth’s right handed bat in that left handed dominated lineup would seem to be something Rueben will try to address quickly. It may sound “out of the box” and I am not sure how you would exactly fit him in…..but what about free agent Cody Ross?

a) The Philies will NOT sign CLiff Lee. They are “going” after him as a PR ploy to make fans happy, but we don’t need him, nor his salary.
b) The Philies will not sign any major bat for RF in off season. If tey were going to pay money for a RHB they’d sign Werth. They will go with Fransisco and Brown and sign a low level backup
c) The Phillies will spend money on bullpen this off season. We need a lefty and set up guy
d) in ’07 Victorino played so well we let Rowand walk at end of season. In ’08 Werth played so well we didn’t even notice that Geoff Junkins was one of the worse FA signings of all time. In ’09 we were WFC. In ’10 Valdez made us forget our infield was on the DL more then in the field. WHo will step up in ’11 to win themselves a place? This is the major question. WIll it be Brown, Fransisco, Gload, Mayberry? It had better be someone, though

Sorry f-i-j, but the Phillies were not WFC’s in ’09.
I don’t think pursuing Lee is a ploy because it is obvious that Amaro is obsessed with starting pitching. The problem is that the Stankees will give him CC Sabathia money to hold his nose and play for them. I really don’t think he wants to play there but the money will be ridiculous.
I agree with muleman that Francisco is an average MLB player at best and they will sign another player to at least platoon with Brown until he is ready to play every day. All the Phillies will need is reasonable production from RF. As Todd mentions, what they really need is for the other regulars to play up to their ability. If they all happened to get old together it doesn’t matter what they get out of RF. I’m pretty sure that Utley and Howard in particular are going to have big, bounce-back years.

I heard something interesting on ESPN radio the other day. Because of the tax situation, the Rangers can offer Lee substantially less than the Yankees and the “take home pay” will equal out. I think the two numbers I heard were $107 million Texas dollars equals $120 million NY dollars. Because the taxes are so high in NY, the Rangers have a slight edge in that respect. I think that’s a big deal, plus I believe Lee and the Rangers think they have unfinished business in 2011.

The thing that worries me about Francisco is that Charlie loves the guy, and we all know how loyal Charlie is to “his guys.” I don’t think Francisco is a good enough Major League hitter to platoon with anybody. Either let Brown play or find somebody else.

It’s my gut feeling that Ruben will make a big move during the off-season. He said they need to get younger, and that Brown will not be given the job, so it doesn’t look like he’s counting on him. Yes, they need bullpen help, but I wouldn’t object to bringing in a younger position player to shake up the lineup a little.

Who would have thunk it? Oliver W. Holmes, a Phillies fan?

http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/1157/

“If you truly believe those five players have hit the downsides of their careers at the same time then bringing back Werth seems almost pointless to me. Because if those five players continue their declines in 2011, the Phillies are in major trouble with or without Werth. But if you believe like me at least a few of those players will put up better numbers next season, then the Phillies should be more productive offensively — provided Werth’s replacement does a decent job.”

Yes, but this is a false choice. It’s unlikely, as you say, that all five players have hit the downslope of their careers simultaneously. But it’s certainly possible that two or three of them have. In fact, I’d say it’s very likely the case with Ibanez and Rollins. So you could get bounce-backs from Utley and Howard, and further decline from Rollins and Ibanez, in which case Werth might indeed make all the difference. I’m not saying the Phillies should sign him – I’m only saying this reasoning is kinda suspect.

phan, I didn’t mean that they won the WS in ’09, but that during the season they were living off of their win in ’08. They were the defending champions. THe only move they made was to sign lee and that had nothing to do with their starting 8. No one stepped up the entire ’09 season to win a place on teh team.

Who do think they can sign who will make a difference in RF who will not demand Werth money or close to it?

Crazy Burrell has only 1 hit….. but you all remember what that hit was right??
It was the double off the wall in the rain game of 08

I wouldn’t mind Lee, think they need a new Batting coach actually someone with some fire and someone that will reach these guys like Howard.

I also would like a new 3rd base coach think it is time for Sam to hit the road… many bad decisions.

We have the talent and team set for a great run next year.

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