The Full Deal: The Doc For A Boatload Of Prospects

Everyone is focusing on the recent deal of Cliff Lee out, Halladay in, but keep in mind that the Phillies traded for General Lee in the ’09 season meaning that they have shipped out 7 prospects in return for Halladay, Ben Francisco, 3 prospects, and cash. Cliff Lee negates himself overall.

Additionally, keep in mind this concerning prospects. According to Baseball America’s Organizational Prospect Rankings of April 1st, 2009 (so, pre-trades) running from Texas at #1 to Houston at #30, the Phillies were #12, while the Mariners were #24.

Net IN:
Ben Francisco is a backup OF for the Phillies. Generally backup OFs tend to be defensive, but BenFran is a below average fielder and the Phillies starters were all above average last season. BF has good power, but he doesn’t hit for average and his OBP is neither great nor bad (in 3 PAs he will hop on board once). I would think this spot could be used to bleed in a prospect since Raul Ibanez is a year older.

Roy Halladay is basically the best pitcher over the past decade. Ok, you can make a case for Zack Grienke over the past couple years, but no one really comes close to Halladay for the full 2000’s (Santana has unfortunately fallen prey to the Mets syndrome – “I will regress”). He moved from the AL East where he was pretty damn good to the NL East where he could be pretty damn better.

$6,000,000 will get you Cliff Lee for 2009, the next two seasons of Pudge or Jason Kendall, or almost Oliver Perez for 2008. If the Phillies have set a cap for themselves for 2010 and Halladay is getting $20 million per year from 2011-13/14 then that makes and increase of $10.25. So they will either be raising that cap a bunch in 2011 or attempting to shed salary.

You may only take as much as you can compress into a baseball.

Tyson Gillies played all last year at high A and showed remarkable improvement in batting for average, getting on base, and speed. His power seems limited to doubles and triples (speed helps) and he plays OF (CF). In Baseball America’s Organization Top 10 Prospects for the Mariners from last year (update comes Jan. 22) he didn’t make the top 10 but was listed as Fastest Baserunner and Best Outfield Arm.

Phillipe Aumont is the gem for the Phillies in this trade. He split 2009 between high A and AA displaying great K rate but struggling slightly in AA. In Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects from early 2009 he is ranked #93. Unfortunately there are usually two or three other Mariners ranked ahead of him, but the Phillies weren’t able to wrangle those better choices. In the top 10 org. prospects he was #3, the top pitcher, and the Best Fastball. He can start, but is apparently being bred for bullpen duties. He is also 6’6″.

JC Ramirez, also known as Juan Ramirez, was the second best pitcher prospect in the Mariners org. and #5 prospect overall. He spent 2009 in high A with less than appealing numbers.

Overall: Halladay – Great, Cash – Whatever, 3 Prospects – Restocking system with 2 low-minors guys and 1 better guy who is a bullpen pitcher – Not Good.

Net OUT:
Carlos Carrasco (to Cle) hit BA’s Top 100 at #52. In their Jan 6, 2009 top 10 Phillies prospects he was #2 and had Best Fastball and Best Change-up. He has shown success at every level of minor ball and even made 5 starts for the Indians…going 0-4 with an 8.87 ERA and 2.28 WHIP. He’s not there yet, but is the best prospect out of the 10 involved in these trades.

Jason Knapp (to Cle) came in at #10 in Phillies org. rankings. He has had some troubles in his A ball adventures between Philly and Cleveland, but his K rates are great and his FIP (Fielder Independant Pitching) in comparison to ERA suggests less than decent defense at his back. He has had some shoulder issues.

Lou Marson (to Cle) hit #66 on BA’s top 100 and was #3 in the org. with Best Strike-Zone Discipline and Best Defensive Catcher to boot. He has seen limited time in the Majors (76 PA), but his OBP is usually better than average to Beane-desirable. There isn’t much power and his BA has zoomed all over the place in his minor’s life (.243 to .314). He would have been at best a backup on the Phillies or a starter for anyone signing Jason Kendall or Pudge. Cleveland already has a talented catching prospect so Marson will either enjoy the backup life or get traded again.

Jason Donald (to Cle) weighed in at #69 on BA’s top 100 and #4 in the Phillies org. He is an infielder (SS) who could hit for average before bottoming out at AAA or due to injury. He has also shown excellent plate discipline in the lower minors, but has less than average power (or average power for middle infield). His plate/injury troubles at AAA could just need time for him to play it out or he could just suck against better competition.

Travis D’Arnaud (to Tor) was the next best catching prospect for Philly. He was #7 in the older BA Philly org. rank and in the newer one he bounced up to #4 and took Lou Marson’s old Best Defensive Catcher status. He is young for a catcher and his offensive abilities have been fairly loopy in his few seasons of low minors. He did display a surge in power this past year.

Kyle Drabek (to Tor) is a name that I’ve heard in every trade rumor for the Phillies for some time now. He jumped from #5 to #2 in the org. ranks and held Best Curveball for both. Given some more time in the minors (at AAA) he should develop into quite a nice top-mid rotation pitcher.

Michael Taylor (to Tor to Oak) moved from #6 to #3 in Philly’s org. rankings and has been their Best Power Hitter for both of those rankings. He has displayed the ability to hit for power, average, OBP, and run. He unfortunately is missing out on great defensive ability, but would make a reasonable RF/LF. There is a good chance that he’ll see modest to significant time in the Bigs.

Overall: From the earlier Organization Top 10 Rankings the Phillies traded 7 of those. The other three were J.A. Happ (who will most likely not see the same level of success) and two OFs (Domonic Brown – #1 twice now (remember what I said about bleeding in new talent over Ben Francisco) and Zach Collier – dropped off second ranking). They traded away significant prospects, but some of them have enough question marks/injuries that this could still be a major steal.

Over-Overall:
Trading away large amounts of your farm system really sucks. Replenishing it with less than equal prospects is better than doing nothing but still kind of sucks. Look at it this way – 4 better ranked prospects from the #12 system were turned into 3 lower ranked prospects from the #24 system. Yes, Lee was in the final year of his contract and making $9 million would push the Phillies over some arbitrary cap limit they have, but look at the (better) alternative. Keep Lee (paired up with Halladay!) and when he walks get two great draft picks. Trade one of the less necessary starters…Blanton is due for a raise in arbitration and that would cut payroll slightly…for some of those prospects (not as great as a Lee haul, but better than nothing). Two draft picks plus 2-3 mid-grade prospects with upside seems like a better deal here. I respect wanting to keep a farm system stocked and payroll at reasonable levels, but at the same time, biting the bullet and putting yourself in prime position for a WS run (rematch) seems like a no-brainer.
Right now the only thing that went right is that the Phillies upgraded Cliff Lee into Roy Halladay and no team in the NL has made any significant enough moves yet to put them ahead of the Phillies.

This Scheduling Is Bogus, Man

Baseball players spend the entire season playing in strings of consecutive games with little rest. Then, when they get to the postseason, they get pampered. Needless to say, for a trip that takes less than 2 hours (assuming both teams spend the night in the ballpark), the players require a rest day of travel for their suddenly puny bodies.

Of course, the longer things get drawn out, the more attention MLB gets, which means dollar dollar bills y’all.

Dollar Shirt

The New Uniform of MLB Employees

I have an equally ambitious plan for the remaining WS games. Understandably, the next two games will be played at CBP to even things out. Then…

Game 5 – November 26th. 5pm ET. PNC Park, Pittsburgh. Everyone can be thankful that for once this quite nice ballpark will get to host a World Series Game for the first and possibly only time in it’s existence (at least the Nats and Royals try to form good teams).

PNC Park

Just one game, guys! I promise I won't let you down!

Get your food coma on at the ballpark! Move over NFL, baseball has bigger games to display.

Game 6 – December 25th. 5pm ET. Citifield, NY. Christmas present for the Mets…kind of. It will be a welcome discount on Yankee concessions and ticket prices. Also the beer is important. Apparently Yankee Stadium has a “Beers of the World” stand that sells Heineken, Beck’s, Stella, and other unimpressive mass-produced brews. If you’re uber-retarded you can pay $9 for PBR.

PBR Sucks

Don't call me stingy, that's a $27 Christmas present.

Meanwhile over at Citifield there is one concession stand that has a better selection than all of Yankee Stadium, not to mention the other micro brews you can find at other concessions. Note: I hear CBP has a damn fine selection of brews also.

Game 7 – December 31st. 11pm ET. The Vacant Lot next to the house I grew up in, Long Island. This’ll be an interesting one considering the fact that it’s not entirely a ballpark. Lighting may play a heavy role since it’ll mainly come from those dull orange streetlights. I recommend using neon green tennis balls (from experience) and pro ballplayers should be able to rocket those things at least a neighborhood or two away. The pitcher’s mound is actually lower than the rest of the field since a house used to exist there, so that may make things…awesome? Second base will have to share time with traffic on the street, but since it will be around midnight there won’t be too many vehicles futzing with Jeter’s fielding. I’m pretty sure there will be no stealing of second, so this’ll be a righty-heavy pitching game. The outfield will be across the street on the neighbor’s downhill front lawn. There are actually a lot fewer trees and bushes there, so instead of a miniature forest it is now a playable obstacle course. Get your tickets now, since seating is practically non-existent. BYOB.

Photo Booth

The Photographer's Booth

Additionally, all games are mandatory. None of this first-to-four-wins nancy-boy business.

The Tensi… – oh, who am I kidding – Depression Mounts

Mets fan? Yes.
Watching the World Series? I suppose.
Is this the worst thing ever? Since ’96 and ’99? Quite possibly.

Do I appease my Long Island friends and ‘root’ for the Yanks or appease my blogmates and ‘root’ for the Phils. Theoretically I could root for the Mets, but that’s just insane (mostly all still injured).

sad mr met

Money
Yanks: Payroll that dwarfs everything…including Ryan Howard’s desire for Subway Subs. The Steinbrenner family could buy me my own island…they would be jerks about it, but they could do it.
Phils: $8 mill less and they would be half of the Yanks. They play in Citizen’s Bank Park…nope, banks no longer have any money.
Winner: Yanks – They would overpay me despite the fact that I’m a scrawny white guy with poor vision. $200,000 a year would be pretty sweet.

Ballpark
Yanks: I went to the previous Yankee Stadium once. Hideki Irabu sucked and they lost 16-5. I don’t know what the new place is like besides ridiculously overpriced in all areas. I hear you have to pay for oxygen. Also, naming a stadium after your team is kind of boring; no identity is formed because you already know who plays there.
Phils: CBP. Nice place. Huge upgrade over the Vet. Cozy place. Great views from any seat. Affordable. Is this one obvious yet?
Winner: Phils – It’s a great park.

Looks
Yanks: Jeter – Herpes? A-Rod – Frosted Tips. Posada – He looks like a two-handled cup. Matsui – Ugliest thing since…Godzilla. Sabathia – Linebacker? The Rest – They’re all men.
Phils: Howard – Slimmed down…and besides his annoying affiliation with Jared this is very positive. Werth – Looks kind of like an alien. Utley – Ok, actually pretty hot. Feliz – Phils’ Matsui. Lidge – A man of Herodotus! Hamels – Needs a haircut. The Rest – I’m seriously not gay.
Winner: My girlfriend. I really do have one.

Talent
The Mets have more talent in their injured everywheres than both of these teams together….right?
Winner: Everybody loses. Except the World Series winner.

Luck
Yanks: I will go out on a limb here and say when you buy everything there isn’t much need for luck. And when several very obviously blown calls go your way over the course of several games…luck leaves the equation and you can start positing other theories.
Phils: Over the past two seasons the new Big Red Machine has managed to push through with no major injuries to any big player. Sure, some players have missed time, but no starting fielder not playing catcher has played less than 133 games. This season, Ibanez was the low at 134, but no one else played less than 155. In ’08 they had 4 starters with 30 or more starts. This season, the main reason they failed to hit that goal again was because they had to move healthy starters to bullpen duty for trade acquisitions. When Pedro is using the old “I’m the healthiest I’ve been in years” line (Mets fans know this one well) and it turns out to be true there is something afoot (the truth?). Perhaps there was some magic in those old red hats they wore.
Winner: Yanks. Who have also managed to remain eerily healthy. Matsui showed up for 142 games…and he looks like he’s 50…a real ugly 50.

Tabloids
Yanks: NYC…NYY…A-Rod…Jeter…that’s like a daily newspaper right there.
Phils: If a Phil does something it probably gets second status to a Yank scoop…unless you punch your wife in public. Although if Howard smashes Subway Jared’s face in then I will wholeheartedly root for the Phils.
Winner: Yanks – But this is a really stupid category to win.

Former Mets
Yanks: I was sad when the Mets traded Xavier Nady to the Pirates, but at least we got Oliver Perez. The Mets almost signed A-Rod, but some random agent (yes, Boras) convinced him to take more money instead of signing for the preferred team…Reyes softened that blow by missing large amounts of time because his hamstrings suck. Finally, the Mets, in a scouting move that was quite unlike them, snatched A.J. Burnett up in the 8th round of the ’95 draft. Before he could appear for them, Mets management made amends for actually picking a good pitcher and traded him to Florida in a deal where Leiter became a familiar face. Leiter, who won a WS with the Marlins in ’97 (against Lee and Sabathia’s former employers, the Indians), helped the Mets almost do that (against the Yanks), while Burnett, who never helped the Mets win anything, won a WS with the Marlins in ’03 (against the Yanks). Stupidly weird, right?
Phils: Well, there’s Pedro. Part of me hates him for all his failings as a Met and part of me wants him to do well because he was an absolutely brilliant pitcher (at least his first Met season wasn’t a washout). Chan Ho Park made one start for the Mets where he absolutely blew it. I saw that game. One game was enough for Park, but this past season they kept giving Redding and Parnell starts. Miguel Cairo, who isn’t on the WS roster, spent an unspectacular season with the Mets, sandwiched between two Yank seasons.
Winner: The Mets! It’s like we’re really there!

Being the Yankees
Yanks: …are the Yankees.
Phils: …are not a bunch of overpaid tax-evading twits.
Winner: The Bush White House. Spending tons of money with repeated letdowns and the very occasional success…who else does this?

Recap
Yanks have the money, Phils have the park, I have a girlfriend, Everybody can suck it, Yanks are slightly mysteriously luckier than the Phils, Everybody wants to read about Yankee players waggling their dicks at assorted women, The Mets had players that are now former Mets, 2000-2008 was a letdown.

Final Winner: Barack Obama! Is there anything he can’t do!

Who I Will Root For: Being a Mets fan I have to remain true to my roots. The NHL’s NY Islanders will help me stay in the losing groove.

What’s that, espn? Aces are important?

ESPN’s position as vanguard of in-depth baseball analysis continues with their latest gem: a top-10 list of players who are important in this upcoming World Series.

Baseball’s tea leaves being more subtle and multilayered than other professional sports, ESPN did not leave this important piece of prophecy to one writer. No, this gem of a post was composed by “many of ESPN’s baseball writers, analysts and contributors.”  Some of the key points:

  • Important player #1: Cliff Lee.  Reason: “Lee is the Phillies’ Game 1 starter; he would also likely start Game 5.”
  • Important player #2: CC Sabathia.  Reason: “Sabathia will start Game 1 for the Yankees and could start Games 4 and 7 if Joe Girardi chooses to [start him].”

Other important players ESPN wants the world to keep an eye on: Alex Rodriguez!  Ryan Howard!  And wait, Mariano Rivera!?!?

Thank you, ESPN, for reminding us that the most important players in this World Series are the best players on each team, particularly the ones who will play the most.  We had not considered this.

Perhaps ESPN is trying to educate those people who will confused the World Series with the World Series of Poker, and want to know who the Phil Iveys and Phil Hellmuths are.  Covering the top end so thoroughly, I thought I’d identify the bottom 5 least-important players to this World Series.   Note that the World Series rosters have not been released yet, but ESPN didn’t wait for them, so neither are we.

All Swings Considered asked many of its baseball writers, analysts and contributors who were on gchat at the moment to rank the players. Here are the results:

  1. Jerry Hairston Jr, bench, Yankees.  Why is he not important? He probably won’t play, unless Girardi decides to play him (<– analysis!).
  2. Francisco Cervelli, C, Yankees.  Why is he not important? He’s the third catcher on the roster, probably.  And Girardi wouldn’t even use #2 catcher Jose Molina if Burnett wasn’t such a head case and baseball didn’t have its One Catching Molina Per Postseason Series rule.
  3. Mike Harkey, bullpen coach, Yankees.  Why is he not important? If at all possible, the Yankees will use only Mariano Rivera out of the bullpen.  Rivera does not need a bullpen coach.  If the Yankees are forced to use other relievers, Mike Harkey is not going to help.  Which brings us to:
  4. The Rest of the Yankees bullpen.  Why are they not important? The Yankees spent $1.073 billion dollars on 9 players, and none of them pitch in the bullpen.
  5. The Easter Bunny.  Why is he not important? Baseball prostituting itself to television contracts, combined with bad weather, mean there is only a 15% chance that the World Series lasts until next Easter.

Honorable mention: Kenji Johjima, Lynn Cheney, Roosevelt’s Face On Mount Rushmore.

Don’t Tread on Philly

Don't Tread on Philly

A common flag in colonial America. Go Phillief! (image by Eric Nielsen)

A Philadelphia Phillies versus New York Yankees World Series creates a lot of rivalry hype. We’ve heard talk about “Cheese-cake vs. Cheese-steak”, a “statue of liberty vs. the liberty bell,” “Wall St. vs. Broad St.” etc. Implicit in all of this naming is a class-war between New York and Philadelphia, where the Yankees represent money and glitz, while Philadelphia represents stagnation and grit. Obviously, this can’t only be about baseball – it’s a war between cities whose fans border each other (see this particularly dichotomous article from the Associated Press: Cheesecake versus Cheesesteak). The author, the famous Jim Litke, goes as far to make this about New Jersey:

“To most of the nation, this year’s World Series sounds like a lot of work just to find out where New Jersey’s loyalty really lies.”

As an avid New Jersey partionist, I find this level of rhetoric a bit myopic.

This is about more than the current Philadelphia versus the present New York. No, it’s much deeper than that.

This is about the roots of AMERICA.

On July 1st, 1776, as the Continental Congress sat in PHILADELPHIA, they pondered if they should declare independence, forever severing themselves from the crusty teat of jolly ol’ England. By the next day, most states had been won over, all except NEW YORK, which postponed their vote while the other twelve voted for the United States of America, and thus, freedom.

But NOT voting for the Declaration of Independence wasn’t enough for NEW YORK. During the Revolutionary War, Washington found himself withdrawing from the island, while the British forces took over their Tory stronghold.

My selectively edited paragraph from a Wikipedia article proves the treachery of New York, a harbinger of the baseball team to come: “New York City and Long Island (the British military and political base of operations in North America from 1776 to 1783) had a large concentration of Loyalists…” “Loyalists tended to be older, more likely merchants and wealthier” “Loyalist civilians… harassed… the Patriots.” And finally, perhaps a last straw in this historic rivalry: “Two Philadelphia residents were executed…”

You’d think that once the war was over, New York would recognize its historic blunder and support the fledgling democracy. Again, like a high school student at midnight, I will allow Wikipedia to do my talking for me:

After the evacuation of the British, New York, then the nation’s second largest city, was briefly the capital of the United States of America, with Congress meeting in Federal Hall starting in 1785. However, the city’s and state’s status within the new union under the United States Constitution written in 1787 was under question when the Governor George Clinton proved reluctant to submit state power to a strong national government, and was opposed to ratification. Some New York City businessmen proposed New York City secession as an alternative to join the union separately, but Alexander Hamilton and others argued persuasively in the Federalist Papers published in city newspapers for state ratification, which after much dispute finally passed in 1788.

As if it wasn’t enough to oppose the Declaration of Independence, New York also had to try to sink the Constitution. In 1790, one year into Washington’s presidency, and perhaps the nation’s first off-season free agency signing, the first president left “The Big Apple” by carriage in the middle of the night.

Philadelphia was again the nation’s capital.

So, when you think of Wednesday’s World Series rivalry, think not of “NJ turnpike’s” and “Amtrak” series. Think of the birth of this great country, and how New York did all it could to stifle it.

This is the series of Ben Franklin (and Ryan Howard) vs. Nobody.

ryan howard ben franklin edit

Ryan Howard (2006 Most Valuable Player) and Ben Franklin (1776 Most Valuable Patriot) - (image by Eric Nielsen)

ESPN analysts take the coward’s way out

espn predictions

The only guy taking the Phillies is the fantasy guy from Philly? if this were the Spanish Civil War, Stark and Crasnick would be lined up against a wall and shot.

In any event, I’m looking forward to comparing this screenshot to the end result. These predictions have a convenient habit of disappearing from the homepage when things don’t work out according to plan.

ozziecanseco says: Phillies in 7.

Jayson Werth is not receiving constructive criticism

As my inaugural post to All Swings Considered, I’d like to mention my least favorite swing in baseball: Jayson Werth. It comes in two varieties.

  1. The Modified Crescent Position. In this one, he bends his back knee down to the dirt, approximating a yoga position I’ve seen my friends do.
  2. The Confident Stride (pictured). For higher pitches; the dramatic lean forward, pushing off his back foot and swinging the bat around like a shopkeeper cleaning his store while singing.

Note: it is important, in both swings, to puff your cheeks out like Louie Armstrong.

Dads (or moms!), don’t teach your son to hit like this man. If you see your son pantomiming Werth’s swing, take away his dessert and make him watch Albert Pujols in slow motion until he understands.

No!   Yes!

No! ----- Yes!

If Werth homers to right-center off Sabathia this World Series, I’ll throw my lager in excitement and frustration.