caught looking

a blog about the philadelphia phillies. not to be confused, exactly, with "caught looking" the debut album by independent/unsigned/unheard of singer/songwriter greg roth, who is, coincidently, yours truly.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Lim-bo, Lim-bo, Lim-bo

Who would have thought, in the dead of January, that Phillies fans would be on the edge of their seats waiting to see if their fourth OF was indeed going to be swapped for a 36-year-old lefthanded reliever? Caught Looking, that's who. Everyday is Phillies day here. Stay tuned. Oh the suspense. In all seriousness, though, how is it the club can be enamored with a veteran left reliever who can't get lefthanded hitters out (Arthur Rhodes' spilts: 155 vs RH, .286 vs LH), but aren't particularly interested in a solid starter for their incomplete rotation? It seems very short-sighted. Chances are, however, the flip side is true: Boston must have very little interest in Jason Michaels.

As spring training draws nearer, expect to see a lot of stories like this one, talking about the Ryano's prospects for a season of bonafide stardom versus his vulnerability to a sophomore slump. Maddening to say the least. Thank God Jim Thome was traded weeks ago. Just throw the ball and let's hit already.

Finally, Aaron Roward is ready to be everyone's bro. The first time he hits the wall, they should ring the Liberty Bell behind Tony Luke's.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Arms Race

We will withhold our official thoughts on the proposed Jason Michaels deal until its announced later today. Truth is, it's already been covered ad nausium in the phils blogosphere so any critiquing we would do (we don't like the deal all that much) would be repetitive anyways. Suffice to say, the biggest questions surrounding this deal are:

(a) is this the most we could get in return for Michaels alone?
(b) what would have it taken to get what Boston is offering Cleveland for their CF
(c) is Authur Rhodes the de facto player in return because he's a lefty and
(d) does Rhodes, with his low innings count the last 3 years, inability to get lefties out (they hit .286 off him last year), extended personal leave and high number of inherited runners allowed to score in '05 represent an appreciably better candidate to be set-up man than Aaron Fultz?

On point d, consider: Longer career? Yes. However, Rhodes is a rent-a-player with a one-year contract. Can he really be counted on to do something Fultz isn't capable of? Does this mean our 7th and 8th inning guys are left-handed.

For what it's worth, out on the lake, MLB writer Anthony Castrovince says he hasn't gotten a single email supporting this whole inclusive deal from the Indians perspective. On the other hand, despite the usual rumors to the contrary, this almost guarentees that Bobby Abreu will remain a Phillie.


The Nationals are eyeing former Phils Ugeth Urbina, despite his legal troubles in South America. This signing, outside of the obvious concerns with Urbina's relationship with freedom, would make sense for the Nats. Urbina can still be effective and would benefit from the extreme flyball-friendly RFK stadium for the next 2 years (or however long it takes DC to build a baseball stadium). This would also enable Urbina to be the next pitcher in a long line of vet relievers who tanked in Philly, but followed it up with success elsewhere.


NY Newsday is reporting that Philly is a possibly landing spot for Mike Piazza, who is seeking a $7 million deal. Let's see, hits .260, can't really throw anyone out, has big contract. Uh, I'm pretty sure we already got one of those.


Not to open old wounds, but Tim Worrell has left a scar upon this blog from which it probably won't ever recover (of only to make things more dramatic). Let's a take a trip down memory lane:

Nobody ever seems to know what Worrell is thinking, especially the Phillies, who employed him last year. About two months into last season, the ex-Giant asked to be placed on the disabled list to deal with "personal problems." For the next two months, the Phillies paid him about $1 million to not pitch. When they began to press the issue, Worrell asked to be released -- a convenient way out, since he would continue to be paid (if he had retired, he would have forfeited another million or so). That irritated the Phillies, who thought they had been more than fair, but they did him a huge favor by trading him to Arizona, his home state. The Giants took over from there.

Damn him.


Today's column shows that Bill Conlin is more than capable of amusing himself in the sports doldrums of January.


The Brett Myers Weight Watch continues.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Time Served in the Public Eye

While Jason Michaels is busy planning his community service time for this spring outside the stadiums of Florida, citizens have sprung into action inside the baseball park in South Philly, as old stomping grounds, members of the 2006 Phils talked to kids about growing up and the like. Nice to see. One suggestion, however. If any member of the Phillies' front office sees this story, they should contact the school and ask for an address to send some sort of autographed paraphanalia to that unlucky kids. Little things mean alot.

Someone's Got A Case of Wade-itis

This time around, it's Delco Daily Times columnist Jack McCaffery. Check out this paragraph from his column today:

If Ryan Howard does not sophomore-slump, and if Chase Utley continues his stampede toward becoming baseball’s foremost second baseman, and if Rowand adds that certain championship something in center, then there is reason to include the Phillies’ everyday eight in any conversation about worthy contenders. And should Mike Lieberthal and David Bell play to their capabilities, the Phillies’ lineup has the potential to dominate. So if Gillick’s plan is to see if all of that happens and then to adjust on the fly, it is not as outrageous as, say, panicking and paying the going eight-figure price for noted late-season wheezer Kevin Millwood.

Bleh!!! Give Jackeroo credit, though, he did manage to change it up a bit by slipping a "should" in before mentioning the Blackhole Sons in the middle sentence. Nonetheless, if he's begins to see stars swirling around Thomas Perez and develops expensive crushes on elderly middle relievers, he might want to fork over the co-pay and get some nice medication to play with.

I Told Him We Already Got One (Oh yes, it's-uh verrry niiiice)

As the Phils continue to search (presumably) for a top-flight starter to fill out their rotation and avoid handing the ball to Ryan Franklin -- ever -- it begs the question "do they already have one?" There are a few prospects in the minors, for instance Floyd, Hamels, and the dynamic duo from the Thome trade, the closest thing the Phils have had to a true ace since Curt Schilling was in town is, well, Curt Schilling junior. And while, Myers' maturity is a topic with potential for endless discussion (ditch the pizza, learn to cook, baby), exactly how does he stack up at this point in his career with other big name pitchers, keeping in mind that he is but 24 years old.

Well, at the risk of looking lazy, someone already ran the numbers for us. Not exactly sure what the blog protocol is for something like this, but commentor Shore in one of the threads on posted this on Myers.

Through age 24, Myers has 109 starts, 501 K, 235 BB. Those are pretty good raw numbers, so I ran a quick-and-dirty study. Only 10 other pitchers since 1945 have, through their age 24 seasons, made 100 starts with >500 K and <250>
Roger Clemens (104 / 694 / 216)
Bret Saberhagen (143 / 677 / 215)
Javier Vazquez (123 / 656 / 225)
Jake Peavy (106 / 635 / 218)
Ismael Valdes (118 / 613 / 228) S
teve Carlton (103 / 586 / 242)
Tom Seaver (104 / 583 / 208)
Andy Benes (108 / 542 / 220)
Jim Nash (103 / 528 / 219)
Bill Gullickson (109 / 510 / 204)

These guys averaged, as 24-year-olds:
15-11, 3.16 ERA, 176 K and 63 BB in 224 IP.
Myers: 13-8, 3.72 ERA, 208 K and 68 BB in 215 IP.

Age considered, his career to date is NOT out of line with some quality ace-level pitchers.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Son of a Howard, Starting Fresh

Out of the heartland comes a story on Ryan Howard's upbringing, his father, his days crushing the ball in college and his finally formally receiving the Rookie of the Year Award, joining Scott Rolen as the only Phillies to win the accolade in the past 25 years. Most phans are assuming big things from Howard this season, so it's probably good that he is projected to still hit in the sixth spot oin the lineup. One hope however, that he is eventually moved to fourth, giving Pat Burrell a chance to look at outside corner strikes lower in the order.

Meanwhile, the search for another starter continues. Of course, the Phils have a fairly well-pedigreed starter candidate already on their roster who they are currently grooming for a job, albeit with bullpen service as a backup plan still dancing in their heads. Signing an experienced setup man is still a possibility, but realisticly, it's just as likely that an aquilino lopez or chris booker emerges to fill the role through pre-season auditions. In other news, Ted Lilly signed a one-year deal with the Jays worth $4 million. Also, Erik Bedard inked a 1-year, $1.4 million deal to return to the Orioles. Granted, Bedard is an emotional retard and Ted Lilly stinks, but suddenly the Ryan Franklin signing looks that much worse.

That's the ugly news. The other side of things is that the Phillies were and are a bigger mess to clean than is fair. Gillick's comment that his team is not good enough to win the division has been given too much attention on the web today. Simply put, it's not news. Anyone who's watched baseball the past few years and half-paid attention this off-season knows that this team hasn't won anything and still has holes to fill. This year, for a change, the organization is addressing those not by recruiting specific players, but by inviting volume, competition, and to some extent, youth. Likewise, the claim that Gillick has tipped his hand in negotiations with other teams by admitting to his teams hurling shortcomings is a ridiculous claim. No one doesn't know it. What Gillick has done, in the meantime when it seems he's waiting for Godot, is to wait out a mediocre market to find he couldn't have spent his money any better and sooner and the time to trade is never imminent.

Patience is a four-letter word in Philadelphia, but it is still a virtue.

Friday, January 06, 2006

On the Other Hand...

...the Phillies may have needed to sign a starter quick to offset the loss of a Gavin Floyd, Ryan Madson, or Robinson Tejeda, in a package deal with Bobby Abreu to the Orioles for Miguel Tejada, our new David Bell-less third base option. Probably just the customary heresay as part of the continued rumblings of one Manny Rameirez, but the possibilities are intriguing.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

F is for Franklin

That rousing round of indifference you hear across the Delaware Valley (and parts elsewhere belonging in heart and mind to the Phillies' City-State) is the sub-tepid reaction to Pat Gillick signing starting pitcher Ryan Franklin. A quick look at Franklin's career suggests that, at $2.6 million for 2006, this righthander might as well be any one of his namesakes. You choose: either the token black kid from the Peanuts comic strip, the unsigned hard-core band from Philadelphia in the late 90s, the token purple (black) hipster on Sesame Street in 1971, the first American, or G.O.B.'s token black ventriliquist dummy from season two of Arrested Development. Obviously, this boat is already a bit crowded. No offense to Ry-Frank, but his only distinction seems to be that he is perhaps the worst pitcher ever to allegedly take steroids.

The 33-year-old was non-tendered by the Seattle Mariners after giving up too many home runs the past three years (95!) in a pitcher's park. Naturally, a team with one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the NL is a logical landing spot for the former 23rd round selection (in 1992, no less). However, since the Phils are moving their left field fences back a few feet for '06, this is entirely a moot point. Also, the Phils are planning on raising the mound ten feet every five games so Franklin's K numbers go up. Finally, CL has just learned that first base at CBP will be moved to 105 feet at the top of every inning in an effort to get Franklin's WHIP under 1.4.

Franklin had much better numbers in 2001 and 2002 when he was used out of the pen (in his late 20s, yes) as a middle reliever in 40 games each season. Since $2.6 mill is a lot to pay a guy who hasn't pitched in relief in 3 years to join a bullpen already swelling with average arms, we are going to guess this means Cory Lidle has officially been promoted to the number 3 slot in the rotation.

With less putrid options out there (Wade Miller) or minor leaguers invited to make the club (Floyd, Hamels, Tejeda), this signing gets a failing grade.