Baseball Super Nerd Says Phillies Could Miss Playoffs

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Author and stat head Jonah Keri, who wrote the current New York Times Bestseller "The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First,” a book about the rise of the Tampa Bay Rays, spoke with Phillies beat reporter Jim McCormick about the team's outlook for the upcoming season: [Philly Sports Daily]

“I think the biggest problem the Phillies face is that they’re getting old. I actually think it’s going to be a major problem. I’m not so sure they are going to make the playoffs this year. They are going to need to begin replenishing their talent at some point."

Sans superstars like Chase Utley and All-Stars like Jayson Werth, Keri said “this creates a potential top-heavy situation, not a ton of depth to rely on, which the Yankees have been successful with over the years. But a few major injuries can derail a season. I think the Phillies have built this roster that is top-heavy, maybe its not about replacing Utley or Werth at the top, but maybe it’s being proactive and finding that 19th or 20th guy on the roster that will step up and compliment the roster.”

 

Add Keri to the growing list of folks who see serious flaws in the Phillies' lineup.

But are we just pickin' nit?

While the loss of Werth and the injury to Utley are very concerning, the Phillies have a couple of pieces they didn't have for most of last year: A healthy Jimmy Rollins and Raul Ibanez.

Ibanez was admittedly in less than top shape last year after he underwent offseason surgery in 2009. The rehab and recovery affected his offseason workout program, and it took him a solid three months to get back to his former, streaky self:

First half: .243/.326/.397 (AVG, OBP, SLG)

Second half: .309/.375/.494

 

It's clear that once Ibanez had a chance to get back into shape, he hit for a better average and with more power. This year (thanks to his offseason workout program), he is in good shape and should be more reliable, if not streaky, throughout the course of the season.

Jimmy Rollins is healthy and in a contract year. Last year, Rollins was only in the lineup for 20 games over the first three months of the season. In total, the Phillies were 54-24 with Rollins playing, 43-41 without. Big difference.

The point is that while losing Utley and Werth will hurt, the Phillies still have plenty of proven, albeit aging, talent that is capable of protecting Ryan Howard in the lineup.

Keri has a point about the Phillies needing to do a better job with their fringe players. Ruben Amaro has been outstanding when it comes to landing the big-name players, but he hasn't yet shown us what Pat Gillick did so very well, which was find key role players that made big impacts, like Jayson Werth (at the time), Joe Blanton, Matt Stairs, etc.

The Phillies ability to fill the holes left by injury is what may prove to be the most crucial element this season.

Of course, the Four Aces can probably cover-up any ones the front office may miss. Everyone seems to forget that. 

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22 Responses

  1. Wilson Valdez did a pretty fine job filling in last year. Ben Francisco has done a solid job as a role player, and can now turn out to be a guy protecting Ryan Howard. Ross Gload had a fine year off the bench last year. I’d say Amaro has done a decent job with role players as well.

  2. @PhillyFan .160 w/ RISP is more than enough proof that Jayson Werth was NOT their best hitter and that Nationals over paid by roughly $80mil for his services.

  3. If somehow, some way, we don’t win the NL east for the 5th straight time, I’m pretty positive we will still win the wild card. Who am I kidding? 5th straight division title for sure.

  4. To Phillyfan, and all others criticizing the “Werth” inclusion in the role-players argument: he was a perpetual injury-prone minor league disappointment until he came to the Phillies. He began 2008 patrolling right field with Geoff Jenkins because he wasn’t even good enough to play outright everday. Sounds like a roleplayer to me.

  5. Well, now that the article was edited to say “at the time”, I agree. Werth was a role player at the time of acquisition. He was also definitely their best hitter last year.

  6. Someone said stats are for losers, and I believe in that bit of wisdom. Stats can’t measure heart, drive, determination and just plain stubborness when it comes to athletes, regardless of the sport. I wonder what this Keri clown said about the Giants a year ago today and whether or not they’d make the playoffs? BAH! Spare me!

  7. We need to start getting younger..our offense is aging and who do we turn to if Ibanez and Rollins go down?..We don’t have much youth to carry us..God willing we stay healthy and can go strong through the season.

  8. whoever said Werth was the best hitter last year is deceived..he disappeared with men on base ALL THE TIME…and last I remember, Carlos Ruiz led the team in batting average…and he was dinged up most of the season as well…

  9. wow..Werth this Werth that…that moffo aint worth nothin’…er’body seems to forget Chooch..he was getting those hits while er’body was sleeping at the plate..

  10. I get that not having Werth and having Utley out for the duration of the season is going to impact this team, but to say that it automatically puts them out of the playoffs is ridiculous. Statistically speaking, the chances that they have the number of injuries this year that they had last year is pretty low. And may I remind these stat nerds that they STILL finished with the best record in baseball in 2010?
    Add a half season of Oswalt, Rollins on a contract year, and replace all of Kendrick’s starts with Cliff Lee and I think we’ll be fine.

  11. This clown should keep his focus on writing about losers like the Rays. He didn’t once delve into the rotation, which is the beating heart of this monster of a team. Francisco will put up numbers, dare I say numbers rivaling those of Werth. Rollins will be back in form, and I see Victorino improving after having matured. NL East or bust.

  12. Baseball is an old man’s game. They don’t need blinding speed or big bats, they just need to get hits, draw walks, get on base and stay healthy.
    For the umpteenth time, this rotation is too good for us not to make the playoffs.

  13. Has anyone else been watching Spring Training? I know it doesn’t always equate to regular season but BenFran has been hitting really good- more then enough to make up for Werth. Valdez has proven his value and Ross Gload. I think they will give us enough depth, Remember they did last year.

  14. Pizza Bagel: Wonderful, ballsy calls, even stronger name. We talking bagel bites or homemade at some bakery I don’t even know about?

  15. To Andrew Rej, and all the other short-sighted clowns who deem Werth a role player…get a clue. Citing Werth’s platooning role THREE YEARS ago is meaningless. I guess theres no room for improvement in that time according to you, professor. As was stated previously, RISP is not the be all and end all. How was our RISP when we won the world series in 08? Making blanket statements based on RISP without relating them to other statistics smacks of Penn State logic…you must be friends with Joe Buck. Werth was the best all around player we had. He had the best arm in the outfield, played incredible defense, was one of the best base runners on the team, and he sparked many big innings. Did he not lead the national league in doubles? How about MOVING runners into scoring position? Bottom line is the team doesnt even make the playoffs in 2k10 without Werth. Get real.

  16. The Phillies do need to get younger. Anyone who ignores that is just being ignorant. The Phillies had a hard time making it through Spring Training this year. Our best position player is down indefinitely and who knows what else is really going on. It’s scary, but hey, why worry? Baseball is a funny sport and it’s not complicated. It’s not like football where winning 75% of your games is your best bet. The Phillies had a horrific slump last year and our leader was out for many, many games. We had the most wins int he majors. Who would have thought? Just keep your head up. Take care of the little things and the big things take care of themselves.

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