Down Doc, Up Brown

Domonic BrownThe Phillies returned home last night, and most things in camp went well except for Roy Halladay. I don’t include Darin Ruf here because I think people in the organization hoped Ruf would fare well in the outfield, although they did not necessarily expect it. And starting him in Triple-A isn’t the worst thing in the world, nor is it a crushing blow to the team’s chances. But Halladay’s importance is obvious, and the fact he had so many issues and struggles leaves one enormous question mark on the mound.

I said a couple weeks ago I thought the Phillies would jump at the opportunity if somebody told them Halladay would finish 14-10 with a 3.80 ERA in 30-32 starts this season.

I believe that even more today.

I’ve never seen a premiere pitcher struggle like this in the spring. I mean, I’ve certainly seen great pitchers struggle in spring training before, but it never looked like this. He labored, he struggled to command his pitches, he lacked velocity, he didn’t have a feel for his cutter, which has been a money pitch for him. But if you’re an optimist, then you believe each of Halladay’s explanations for his struggles following his last five starts. He mentioned “dead arm” March 6, when his velocity dipped for the first time. He said he felt lethargic March 12, when the Tigers battered him in 2 2/3 innings. An extra bullpen session in between starts, plus the rigors of a more intense workout program, sapped his energy, he said. He promised he would pull back before his next start and there would be improvements. But he suffered from a stomach virus March 17, and lasted just one inning against the Orioles. Then last Saturday in a minor league game against Toronto’s Triple-A hitters, Halladay allowed 11 of 18 base runners to reach base. He blamed a “mushy mound” for his lack of velocity and said throwing more hard stuff against minor league hitters hurt him. Then yesterday he allowed two runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays with Toronto picking up three of those outs on the bases. He said he found it difficult to grip the baseball because the balls were not rubbed up with mud properly before the game. The Phillies also said he is still trying to recover his strength following his sickness.

Again, each of these explanations are completely plausible, but coming off last season’s struggles it would unwise to take them at face value.

If the over/under on Halladay’s ERA this season is 4.19 (average ERA for starters last year) I’d have to take the over.

Conversely, Domonic Brown has been Halladay’s polar opposite. He has looked incredible this spring. I wrote earlier how Brown’ spring training numbers could indicate a successful 2013. John Dewan said players that show a 200-point increase in their spring training slugging percentage from their career slugging percentage have performed significantly above their career marks in the upcoming season 60 percent of the time. Brown finished the spring with a .675 slugging percentage compared to a .388 career slugging percentage. That is a .287 difference, which puts him in that group. Like I wrote in my story, eight of the 12 Phillies previously on Dewan’s list ended up surpassing their career slugging percentages during the regular season. Of the four players that fell short, two were not everyday players (Eric Bruntlett in 2009 and Pete Orr in ’11) and one got injured midway through the season (Jim Thome in ’05). Maybe Brown will make Dewan 9 for 13.

If the over/under on Brown’s slugging percentage is .428 (average slugging percentage for outfielders last season), I’m taking the over.

Ryan Howard also had a great spring, compiling a .663 slugging percentage, but his career slugging percentage is .551 so he fell .088 short of Dewan’s mark. But Howard’s slugging percentage the previous two seasons is just .468, so maybe he is in line for a bounce back season, too.

Opening Day is three days away.

Predictions for Halladay, Brown and Howard?


I am willing to give Halladay the benefit of the doubt. BUT if you believe all of those various explanations, then the reality is that he’s NOT yet at 100% strength or endurance. And he’s obviously still rusty because of those issues. So if that’s all true, there’s zero reason for him to start the season with the team. Everyone would be MUCH better off if took 2-3 more weeks in Florida and joined the rotation in mid-April. There is zero urgency regarding making an April 3 start when you’re talking about one of your key players. That’s all I’m asking: Two more weeks in Florida. Then let him loose.

Halladay- 11-11, 3.99 ERA
Brown- 22 HR, 76 RBI, .286 AVG, .745 OPS

Halladay 13-12, 4.20 ERA
Brown 18 HR, 65 RBI, 15 SB, .275 avg, .725 OPS
Howard 35 HR, 110 RBI, .250 avg, .825 OPS

I really hate to say this,but in this all honesty I think this is what we’re going to see from Doc.Maybe a little better.However if he can get control of his pitches then the drop off in speed won’t be as bad.

Doc: 14-8 3.59 ERA
Brown: 22 HR 85 RBI 20 SB
Howard: 35 HR 121 RBI

The Phils fall short of the playoffs again though for the 2nd straight year

More teams have won WS in the last 10 years with two good SP, a solid bullpen, and timely, clutch hitting than with a dominant starting rotation. That includes this team in 2008. They won with decent-not dominant-starting pitching, a lights-out 1-2 combo of Madsen and Lidge, and consistent clutch hitting. What I’m saying is, this team has missed the clutch hitting for several years now, which is how most teams are currently winning WS titles. I hope the new guys give this lineup a new enthusiasm and confidence that has been sorely lacking.

Their biggest problem is that they are arguably third in their own division in terms of talent. But it is a long season, we’ll see.

Halladay’s excuses, when considered together, sound hollow. As much as I hate to say it, I have to wonder if there isn’t an underlying medical condition going on, one significantly more serious than, say, a rotator cuff or elbow issue. Of course it’s just a stab in the dark, but I’m surprised at how hard Halladay has appeared to be laboring for an athlete that has historically worked out so hard and kept himself in such good shape.

I think Halladay is done. All his explanations sound like excuses. I remember when Mike Schmidt lost it, he lost it in a hurry. It happens all the time in baseball. When it goes south, it goes south very, VERY quickly. I’m afraid it has gone south for Halladay. Makes me sad, because I thought it was worth the risk. But the downside of the risk looks like it has come in. Howard? I hope you’re right. I’m afraid that a good pitcher will usually get him out. He makes his living on ordinary pitchers. What are his lifetime stats against all-star pitchers? I’ll bet they’re really dismal. Brown? It’s now or never for Brown. He needs to know that he won’t be pulled after 30 games. Team isn’t a contender this year. They need to let him, Mayberry, and Revere play a whole season together and develop a chemistry. Baseball is never nearly as much an individual sport as the non-believers think. Chemistry and trust matter. I want to see all three get 500 at bats in one season as a group. Then I can make a fair assessment.
I am most optimistic about Michael Young. Either he will be comeback player of the year or a 220 bust. I think nowhere in between. I hope it’s the former.

We know that Doc reduced his usual offseason workout regiment. He should have known this would make him weaker coming into spring training. Now that I’ve read what Todd wrote about his conditioning now, it seems like he amped it up from the off season. Maybe it’s a case of too much too soon. If that’s the case, it may take him a little while to build up the muscle mass he needs in his pitching arm to throw faster………. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Doc will start 32 games, pitch 225 innings get 205 SOs, have an ERA of 3.37 with a 1.18 WHIP and a W-L record of 16-9.

If Halladay’s performance is going to fall between that of a number 3 or number 4 starter so be it. What we don’t need is an obsequious Charlie kowtowing to every Halladay excuse du jore. Charlie will have to do something he has never done – he will have to manage.

it always comes down to some Ruben or Charlie issue with you, doesn’t it?

You got me, muleman, You are just so fucking discerning. Isn’t it about time for you to give us your synopsis of pitching today as compared to days of yore? I would have expected you to tell us how Steve Carlton had pitched over 1000 innings more than Halladay through his age 35 season and that Carlton had four more productive years thereafter including a Cy Young Award at age 37 in 1982. Your slipping, buddy. But I guess you Charlie commiserate and compare notes on declining mental acuity.

What do want from Charlie, pherris? Maybe he can come up with some genius move like batting the pitcher 8th? Yeah, that’s the ticket to the HOF.
Throw the ball, catch the ball, hit the ball. It’s not that complicated.

You would make my task easier if you would provide some information about exactly what you think Charlie has done. Besides, the list would be shorter.

Why would I do it when you’re so good at it. And, it’s you’re, not your. I’m discerning in that way, too.
Thanks for making it personal. God aknows you can’t discuss actual baseball.

Muleman, it is only a matter of time before you chime in with one of your little gems. By the way, why does anyone posting here need spellcheck, usagecheck, syntaxcheck, etc., when we have you to did it for us? Someone has to do the scut work and it appears you are highly qualified to continue to do what you have taken upon yourself to do. Keep up the good work.

kyle kendrick has cy young in the bag. lol

keeping lance nix on the team and dumping darin ruf just shows you amaro does not care about winning. nix is the biggest waste of time in the history of mlb.

Well, it looks like the Pherrisphain v. Muleman rivalry has started to heat up. Just in time for the regular season.

Total mismatch. I disagree with him on occasion but at least muleman knows something about baseball and doesn’t let personalities shade his opinions. pherris is in a gunfight without any bullets.

nix and mayberry making the team over darin ruf was a definite injustice. i think mayberry hit .197 and nix 200 this spring. it is a good thing bryce harper plays for the nats instead of the phillies, you know that amaro would have him buried in reading.

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