Tuesday, May 23, 2006

How's He Doing?

I noticed a little item in this morning’s Inquirer indicating the Phillies are on a pace to win 87 games this season, one less than last year and six games behind the target new GM Pat Gillick set when he was hired.

This projection made me wonder just how Gillick has done in helping the Phils achieve his goal.   In no particular order:

Alex Gonzalez retired out of the blue Sunday and slipped out of town under cover of a…well… bright blue sky.  His departure came as a complete surprise…at least until we thought about it, at which point it came as welcome news.

Fellow infielder Abraham Nunez is still reported to be in residence, however, seated somewhere along the bench at Citizens Bank Park.  To say that he is the forgotten man on this roster would be an understatement; generally, it is easier to find people in the Witness Protection Program.

Pitcher Ricardo Rodriguez, acquired in the Vicente Padilla trade, never even made it to town in the first place; the Phillies released him toward the end of Spring Training. His whereabouts are a little harder to pin down but it does not appear he caught on with any other club.

Arthur Rhodes is very much in evidence in the bullpen when he isn’t on the mound issuing roughly one walk per inning, not the most endearing trait from a relief pitcher.

Jullio Santana is on the Disabled List after suddenly developing elbow problems at precisely the moment when the Phillies needed a roster spot.  Pure coincidence.

David Dellucci is beginning to find his stroke as he adjusts to his role as a very part-time player.

Sal Fasano has somehow become the personal catcher for Jon Lieber and Gavin Floyd, two pitchers who could not be more different if they set out to be so.  As far as I can tell Fasano is their only common denominator.

Closer Tom Gordon has performed very well indeed, saving 13 out of 14 opportunities and pitching very badly in only one outing, which, unfortunately, was his most important one to date, a loss to the Mets.

Ryan Franklin has pitched decently, giving up almost a hit an inning (20 in 21.1 innings), surrendering a home run (3) every seven innings and yielding nearly the same number of walks (9) as strikeouts (11).  His advance notices were far worse than those numbers would indicate.

The trade that sent Jim Thome to Chicago for Aaron Rowand and two young pitching prospects may be Gillick’s crowning achievement to date.  Rowand has been everything advertised and more; the two young hurlers are doing well; Ryan Howard continues to flourish as the sole first baseman; and,  Jim Thome has made an astounding comeback in Chicago.

What does this all add up to?  It may be too early to say, but this much is known:  Gillick seems to have improved the starting lineup while further fouling up the bench.  He hasn’t necessarily improved the bullpen compared to last year, but no one should fault him for letting a certain Virginia-born loudmouth closer move further north.


Pawnking said...

Rowand is the only addition which has been positive, and IMHO his contribution has been far more with intangibles than on the field contribution. The platoon of Lofton/Michaels was much more productive than Rowand.

The biggest differences this year is we haven't lost our top-paid pitcher for the season, and haven't lost our top-paid hitter for the season.

Is it heresy to say that I'm less than impressed so far?

Rev. Smokin Steve said...

I put no stock in the "on pace to win" prediction.

If I remember correctly, their record now is a little better than at this point last year, isn't it? Maybe not by much, but slightly. Am I right or wrong?

Tom Goodman said...

They were 21 - 25 through May 23, 2005.

RickSchuBlues said...

If you look at the state of the bullpen (other than Gordon) and the bench, it's clear that not enough was done to address these weaknesses. The starting pitching has the next-to-worst ERA in the league, but on the whole it doesn't seem as drastic a flaw as those other two components. The sixth, seventh, and eighth innings are going to cost the Phillies a shot at the post-season if they continue to have to rely on the likes of Ryan Franklin, Geoff Geary, and Abraham Nunez in crucial mid-to-late game situations.

The team is on pace to win 87 games, and damned if they won't do just that. And miss the playoffs yet again.

Gillick did some good things in the off-season, but he didn't do enough. It remains to be seen whether he can patch and fill during the season. If he doesn't, this team goes nowhere as it stands today.

Rev. Smokin Steve said...

Now my next question...

Based on the records, how come nobody writes that we are 2 1/2 games better than last year's pace at this time?

It may be looking at it as a half full glass, but based on that fact, you can still make a legitimate case for a shot at a 90 win season.

Anything can be manipulated how you want it. The person who wrote the "on pace for 87" fact chose to frame it as a negative. One simple way of looking at it, and you can look at it positively.

Bottom line... the jury is still out on this team in a big way.

Tom Goodman said...

Smokin': I cannot believe what I am about to say, me, Tom Goodman, talking math, but here it goes: they've won 53.5% of their games to date and when you project that over 162 games you do not end up with 90. Sorry, but them's the hard cold facts.

RickSchuBlues said...

I don't see how it follows that since the Phillies had a losing record at a parallel point last season and wound up winning 88, the Phillies who now are 3 over .500 will therefore win more than 87-88 games. It doesn't follow at all.

Rev. Smokin Steve said...

It's not necessarily supposed to follow. It's just stating that this team still has a chance, and you can write things about numbers to manipulate them to fit whatever negative point you want.

Projections based on the first two months are bullcrap. If the Phillies played the rest of the season last year based on their projections through May, they would have had a losing record.

And I'm not saying they will win 90. My exact words were "make a legitimate case for a shot at a 90 win season."

That's a shot at a 90 win season. Not a guarantee. They won 66 games between May 23rd and the end of the season last year, and there's no reason they can't do that again this season.

There's also no reason they couldn't lose 67. But, let's not even try to judge things until September.

RickSchuBlues said...

I'm perfectly willing to judge things right now. Either they get some legit set-up relief or this team is cooked.

That's four in a row on the road just flat-out blown by the poor, poor excuses for late-inning relievers. It's just galling. There's no way the Phillies can overcome that kind of enormous weakness, regardless of the individual talents they have.