FIRE JOE MORGAN: Trust Buster?


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Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Trust Buster?

Nothing special here...just some weird ramblings from Buster Olney's blog:

The Phillies are built upon old-fashioned scout values, which figures, because general manager Pat Gillick is still an old-fashioned scout, prone to traveling thousands of miles on late notice to see a low-level minor league player or an amateur prospect with his own eyes.

It's hard to make fun of Pat Gillick. He's won in Toronto, Baltimore, and Seattle, and he's close to winning in Philly, maybe. He's made some stupid trades, and some stupid non-trades, and he let Brett Myers pitch the day after assaulting his [Myers's] wife on a Boston street. But hey, nobody's perfect. And in the grand scheme of things, he's got a pretty good track record. Still, all this talk of traveling thousands of miles to see minor leaguers reminds me of something...Spideysense tingling...

...[W]hile most teams are relying on on-base percentage, the Phillies have traded some of the crown princes of on-base percentage (Jim Thome and Bobby Abreu), while making a concerted effort to create a lineup of players who score high in intangibles among scouts, like Shane Victorino, Aaron Rowand, Chase Utley and, of course, NL MVP Ryan Howard.

Is the best thing to say about Ryan Howard -- or Utley or Victorino, for that matter -- that "he scores high in intangibles among scouts?" Seriously. The premise of this paragraph is that while other teams go after high OBP guys, the Phillies and Pat Gillick are doing it another way -- they're building teams around guys with "intangibles." It seems to me that these OBPs --

Victorino: .346 (first full year...not great, but okay for a 4th OF)
Utley: .379
Howard: .425

-- are pretty freaking tangible. As is an MVP Award. As are chase Utley's 32 taters and .906 OPS as a second baseman.

Rowand is another story. Here are some of Aaron Rowand's 2006 tangibles:

OPS+ 87
OBP: .321
EqA: .256

So what is Buster saying here? The Phillies, instead of going after guys with high OBPs, have gone after guys with great intangibles -- like high OBPs. Or low OBPs, or MVP Awards. Or bad hitting skills, or excellent hitting abilities.

For the record, there is one Phillies-related intangible that I care about deeply; namely, Shane Victorino's nickname, "The Flyin' Hawaiian." That's a good nickname.

Wes Helms, who will share time at third base this year, is never going to be confused with Miguel Cabrera in his production, but he is a well-respected professional and of the players with at least 150 plate appearances, he led all major league hitters in average after the All-Star break last season, hitting .385.

Let me rephrase:

Wes Helms, who is a pretty good 31 year-old journeyman, had a very flukey 240 AB last year, posting an OPS 200 points above his career average. In 130 AB after the ASB, he did this:


In 110 AB before the ASB, he did this:


Wes Helms ain't bad, but he ain't great neither. (Not that Olney said he was, obviously.) The only important thing about his 2006 2nd half is that it ended in early October, and will most likely have no bearing on his play in 2007. And I refuse to believe that his well-respectedness as a professional will help the Phillies' offense, or outweigh his 101 career OPS+.

What will help the Phillies' offense: Ryan Howard's total dominance of the game of baseball, Chase Utley blowing past his PECOTA forecast, and the Flyin' Hawaiian getting better at taking walks.

Labels: , ,

posted by Unknown  # 9:39 PM
I would like to say, for the record, that I am very pleased with myself for the title of this post, despite the fact that the pun does not entirely work.
I think the title is some of the best writing you've ever done. Period.
OMG I'm soooo glad you said that! Because so do I!


P.S. Reader Jeff writes in to let us know that Victorino's nickname is actually:

"The Phlyin' Hawaiian."
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