Carlos Ruiz. Image Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

TBOH Debate – Week Two


Welcome to another edition of TBOH Debate in which the writers at That Ball’s Outta Here discuss the key issues facing the Phillies this week.

Joining me are TBOH staff members Spencer Bingol , Alex Cheremeteff, and Michael Lecke!

 

How much of an impact do you think Scott Freedman will have on the Phillies?

Spencer

It’s been confirmed that Freedman is being hired on a temporary basis, after originally being suggested by the league office itself. This leads me to believe that the Phillies are being dragged kicking and screaming into his hiring in the first place, and I have no real reason to think he’ll be paid attention to.

It’s actually kind of embarrassing as a fan for your team to be so far back in the stone age while teams like the Astros have entire “decision sciences” department.

Alex

Freedman may have some impact with the Phillies, but I’m thinking it’s going to be very minimal.  As far as I know, he isn’t even a full-time employee.  Amaro is throwing the sabermetricians a bone here.

Ruben Amaro Jr. Image Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Every successful team in today’s MLB has an entire department dedicated to using advanced metrics as a tool to help mold the rosters.  (The Red Sox, Cardinals, Rays, Rangers come to mind.)  All of those teams are perennial winners.  I can’t see one person making a significant difference.  Plus, Amaro has already gone on record to say that the Phillies are a traditional, scouting and player development organization.

Michael

Hiring a numbers cruncher was way overdue for the Phillies. Freedman isn’t going to turn us into the Red Sox or A’s overnight, but he could help keep the Phillies brass from making a horrendously obvious mistake in grossly over or under valuing players( Jonathan Papelbon!!!) I’m struggling to remain optimistic.

Mike

I think it was telling that Amaro said that the hire was done mostly to help them gauge how other teams value players.  To me, this means that they’ll use his input to better judge the free agent market.

It seems clear that the Phillies misread the free agent market the past two seasons.  They overpaid Papelbon in 2011 and underestimated how much the free agent outfielders would cost last year.  While I think they’ll still rely on scouting to make their evaluations, this might give them a better idea of how much these guys will actually cost to acquire.

Jonathan Papelbon. Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Who will be the Phillies catcher next year?  And who should be?

Spencer

Will be: Carlos Ruiz. Should be: Dioner Navarro.

Navarro’s four years younger than Chooch, looks like he could cost $10 million less, and even if you think his line this past season is inflated (.300/.365/.492 in 89 games), for his career he still OPSs .778 against LHP. With 5-6 holes to fill this offseason, his price and production fits nicely in the budget.

I think the chances of signing him are pretty good, but Chooch is a fan favorite, and despite all of the talk about the Phillies “not waiting,” I’m sure there’s mutual interest in having him back.

Alex

Amaro always wants to make a splash.  He will probably offer Brian McCann a huge contract, get rebuffed, and throw lesser money at Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

My guess is that Saltalamacchia will be the primary backstop next season.  I don’t agree with that move.  He is not a top-notch defensive catcher.  There is a reason David Ross played ahead of him in the World Series…and it’s not just that he was struggling offensively.  In 2011 and 2012 he had triple slash lines of .235/.288/.450 and .222/.288/.454, respectively.

In my opinion, Carlos Ruiz should be the catcher.  He knows the pitching staff and he knows the hitters in the league.  He’s not going to put up 2012 numbers at the plate, but he’s no slouch at the plate.  Plus, you don’t expect a lot of offense from your catcher anyway.  I would sign Ruiz to a two-year deal and sign someone like Dioner Navarro to back him up.

Michael

“Big Mistake!” was my gut reaction when the Phillies declined to make a qualifying one-year offer to Chooch. Sure, he would accept arbitration and take the ~14mm for 2014 unless another team blew him away with a multi-year bonanza. But now the Phillies are in trouble because they may end up paying even more for a multi-year deal or signing a lesser replacement without a draft pick to console us for losing Ruiz.

Chooch is a fighter and a seasoned playoff veteran. He doesn’t wilt under pressure. His bat is more than adequate to go along with excellent game calling and defense. I would have offered him arbitration.

Mike

I advocated signing Ruiz to an in-season extension when his value was at its lowest.  Now, I think the only way he comes back is if he really wants to remain a Phillie (i.e. taking a hometown discount). Amaro seems to be playing hardball with Ruiz, and as we learned from the Ryan Madson/Jonathan Papelbon situation two years ago, Amaro will move on if necessary.

None of the alternatives really wow me.  They all have some drawbacks.  But if Amaro replaces Ruiz, then chances are, he’s going to do it with a name player.  And based on the whispers, that name will be A.J. Pierzynski.

 

A.J. Pierzynski. Image Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

There have been rumors that the Phillies are interested in trading for David Price.  Dom Brown’s name has been included in some of those rumors.  Would you give up Brown in exchange for Price?

Spencer

No. I have zero interest in trading for two expensive years of David Price, when adding another ace (and draining money towards the luxury tax and draining the Phillies of all promising prospects) is not a priority, it’s an added luxury that is impractical given the climate of the team.

David Price. Image Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

There are many more pressing offensive issues that could be dealt with through trades, and plenty of free agent starters who can at least put up competent numbers behind Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t trade Domonic Brown. If you are going to trade him, now is probably a good time to sell high on the guy, as the average distance on all those home runs he hit was unsustainably short.

I would require a good, major league (or AAA prospect) return on him though – maybe a trade centered around he and Yoenis Cespedes of the A’s. They could like how much less expensive Brown will be. I’d also consider a trade with the Rockies, as his left-handed power would perform very well in that ball park, and they have a lot of interesting major league ready trade candidates.

Alex

I would trade Domonic Brown for David Price in a heartbeat.  I think Brown maxed out in 2013.  Sell high!  Now is the time to trade him if you can get someone like Price in return.  Obviously somebody else would have to be thrown into the mix since this wouldn’t be a straight-up trade.

Michael

I’m in favor of putting Domonic Brown on the trading block for David Price. I’d consider trading anyone not named Lee or Hamels for Price. No other move is as important to the Phillies as getting a Big Three in the rotation. Starting pitching is always the key.

Mike

If they added Price, they’d likely have three of the ten best pitchers in the National League, and running Lee, Hamels, and Price out there would equal a lot of regular season victories.  Yes, that would be an expensive rotation, but sometimes quality costs money.  They could easily get rid of Kyle Kendrick to help defray some of the cost.

I am not sold on Brown as a superstar.  As mentioned, the second half of 2013 was not especially encouraging.  Trading Brown would drain the lineup of some power, but it would also free them to sign a lefty-hitting free agent outfielder (Curtis Granderson?) without fears of the lineup becoming too lefty-heavy.

Domonic Brown. Image Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

 

Thanks for joining us.  Feel free to chime in with your opinions in the comments section.  And if you there are any topics you’d like to see us discuss next week, feel free to share those as well!

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