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Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I figured you guys - clout especially - would enjoy this article...

JW - Any reason that you think the move to 3rd base is just an expariment?

Does he have more value in trade as a 2b or SS vs what he can provide for us at 3b in 2010?

To add on the Madson debate from last thread:

You don't just suddenly add 5 MPH to your fastball because of playoff adrenaline. He wasn't just amped up for playoff games. That's just false. Overthrowing the ball generally leads to worse control. Madson walked just one batter in 12.2 postseason IPs.

Madson also walked just one hitter in his last 23.2 IPs in the regular season.

CY: I'd say that depends on how the rest of the league values him. Jason Donald has no future as a middle infielder with the Phillies. I think his bat may be too good to be relegated to a utility infielder for the Phillies. I'm very hopeful that 3rd base is not just some short-lived experiment.

I'm hopeful that Donald at 3B IS a short-lived experiment. Why mess with a guy's development at a much more important MI spot just because we don't have a very good 3B situation right now?

Donald seems like a fine answer at 3rd right now, but if you start to get less production from Rollins and Utley in a couple years, you're going to have a pretty weak infield situation because you're only league-average at best at 3rd. Now you've got a 26 or 27 year old 3rd baseman with no value anymore as a MI since he's never played there in the majors, who is giving you only decent production at 3rd (and who knows about his defense). At SS or 2B, an .800 OPS puts you in or around the top 5 in baseball. At 3rd base, an .800 OPS puts you right around average. Clearly, there is much more value in that hitter as a MI, especially if he can give you good defense there.

Look, I'm all for an upgrade at 3rd base. But let's get a real one, not a marginal one that also wastes one of our most valuable prospects at a position where he's not nearly as good. If he doesn't have a spot in the MI here, then there will be a team that wants a top MI prospect. This front office needs to be creative and make something happen.

CJ- I would hope so as well. It would seem that the FO would want a young cheap player in our lineup at some point. I would think that defense wouldn't be the problem with Donald at 3rd, it would be if he can provide enough offensively to justify keeping him there.

What do people project out of him? I would hope that he could hit better than feliz. If he is a contact OBP kind of guy then he might be a welcome addition at 3rd.

Jack: What do you suggest the Phillies do with Jason Donald for the next two seasons? He's already 24 and it's not like we're going to be moving either Utley or Rollins for the next two years. Do you really propose he play in Philly as a utility guy? Or are you proposing he spends the next two seasons in AAA?

I don't care how his production at third stacks up against the rest of the league. I care about how it stacks up against what we have. To have a cheap third baseman for the next few years could go a long way to helping us keep the rest of our players.

Trading Donald could be a fairly decent mistake by the Phillies. Plugging him in at 3B could be a very smart way to make use of a decent bat. He might not get 30 HRs but he can chip in 15 HR with a good average and OBP.

Sure, his value as a player is better if he sticks in the middle IF but for the Phillies he might be best off as a 3B.

When I think of Jason Donald, I begin to wonder if Seattle would like to do a salary dump. Donald could accompany a few others (Stairs? Kendrick?) to the Great Northwest and bring to our city a player who does not wish to play on a "re-building" club. (Certainly Feliz would be adequate in LF.)

(That won't happen either.)

Phil Sheridan's article in the Inky today was ridiculous although I do agree somewhat in his assessment that the writers who vote often have agendas--i.e. the same that gave the MVPs to Barry Bonds all those years now have the power to keep him out of the HOF--so maybe something about the voting process needs to change.

Pujols was the winner IMO--I felt that way all season--but I do think it kind of odd that the Mets had 5 reps who were top vote getters and Utley only placed 15th.

Baseball awards season lasts too long and is too amorphous. Hand them out between the end of the season and the start of the playoffs and then there won't be any confusion that they are for the regular season only. And don't get me started on how BS the Gold Glove awards are...

Whatever--they are just consolation prizes--WFC, people!!!

Jason Donald strikes out a lot.

I don't know that Donald would necessarily be a weak bat at third. the NL line at third base (which is awfully top heavy with Atlanta and NY each getting a .900+ OPS from third) is .265/.335/.441, which I don't think would be totally out of line to get from Donald. if you're going to judge Donald on the Jones/Wright/Ramirez scale, then he is comparatively "weak". but there's a lot of ground between there and Pedro Feliz.

CJ: I propose he be traded for a pitching upgrade or an impact RH bat in the outfield.

I'm all for keeping young, cheap, talented prospects. I've argued many times here that we should focus on doing that. However, when you have a player whose value is higher to another team than to you, than you have to at least look into cashing in on that value difference. Look, if you can't get a good trade for him, then play him as a utility guy or at 3rd, by all means. But a good GM should be able to use a productive MI prospect to improve his team.

CJ: What do you suggest the Phillies do with him in 2009? Do you really think that Charlie will play him over Pedro Feliz as the RH 3rd Baseman? He won't. So then what's your plan? The fact is, his value is highest now, because he's not going to be an everyday player this year unless someone gets hurt.

We need to keep Donald, only because we have no other option if Utley or Rollins get hurt.

but who exactly do you propose Jack? I mean, that's the problem with these discussions--if it's a choice between Jason Donald plays third and Jason Donald turns into a nebulously defined "impact bat" or "pitching upgrade", it's awfully hard to have any kind of real debate.

if you're saying to trade Jason Donald plus the proverbial "some dudes" for Jermaine Dye (just to name someone, not necessarily suggesting that's what you're pushing) then say so, and we can actually debate that.

There was an interesting debate on Phuture Phillies last week regarding Donald's suitability for 3B. Let's just say I come down on CJ's side of the debate, but I'll link to my reasoning over there so as not to be redundant...

...I'd suggest reading the whole thread if you're interested though.

And JW: you're right about the others being non-prospects, but you're being facetious with the Slayden as the "darling of the Phillies minor league blogosphere" stuff, right? Phuture Phillies has him at #29 on his prospect list -- very low, obviously -- and anyone who follows the system at all agrees that there's a shot he could provide nice value as a 4th or 5th OF. That's all. If he doesn't pan out, then whatever, but there are late bloomers -- Ryan Church comes to mind -- who become useful ML players despite playing in the minors at an advanced age. Hoping that Slayden becomes one of them isn't unreasonable.

TI: I agree that Madson learned to use his pitches better and was going inside with the fastball more. I don't agree that his control was that much better. He got away with throwing some fastballs in very hittable spots because they were going 98MPH. I don't think Ryan is going to fall off the earth, but to expect the Sept.-playoffs Madson all year isn't going to happen.

I side w/CJ on the Donald debate. And Jack, I'd add that it's not completely out of the question that Donald could play 3rd base for 3 years, and then possibly slide to 2nd if Utley loses a step and eventually replaces Howard at first.

Brown leads the league in OPS...he might some day take Mathieson's mangled place atop AFL alumni who don the cherry pinstripes.

Expecting Slayden to become Ryan Church is a stretch since he can't run or throw. If Phuture Phillies has him 29, then it's a credit to the person who wrote that because 29 is about right where he should be. I've seen Slayden overrated everywhere from Phuture Phillies to Beerleaguer to the message boards. He's marginal.

Brown is in Hawaii, not Arizona. Still doing very well, though.

"I do agree somewhat in his assessment that the writers who vote often have agendas--i.e. the same that gave the MVPs to Barry Bonds all those years now have the power to keep him out of the HOF--so maybe something about the voting process needs to change."

Because I can't kill Sheridan enough I just want to point out this extra bit of absurdity. Perhaps it should be the case that writers shouldn't vote but Sheridan's reasoning is, again, ludicrous. The BWA gave Bonds the MVP four times because, in those years, he was far and away the finest player in the National League: they voted on the merits. And now because its been discovered that Bonds used steriods, it's somehow contradictory or unseemly or something for the BWA to decide whether or not Bonds belongs in the HoF. But the questions are distinct, and the answer to the HoF issue depends on information not available to the voters then deciding the MVP. So what is the problem exactly?

Really though this particular non-sequitur is just icing on the cake of a piece that regards an Albert Pujols MVP as proof of the INADEQUACY of present-day methods of MVP voting. Simply unbelievable...

I don't really understand the comparison to Church, since at age 25 Church was already in the majors, not at AA. granted he didn't hit well for the Expos, but he earned the callup by dominating AAA pitching (.346/.430/.622). really dramatically different from Slayden.

A friend of mine just said they interviewed a guy who didn't have Pedroia on his MVP ballot, at all. The guy said "i vote on power". Christ, its a crime that people like that are the ones voting.

Klaus: Really? You mean to tell me the writers, who are around the ballplayers all the time, had no inkling whatsoever that Bonds had used HGH or other illegal substance during his career? Sorry, I just don't buy it.

Yes, Bonds was undeniably the hands down best player in the years he won the MVP, but my point is that they will now hypocritically leave him off of the HOF voters ballots to make a point when they (and the rest of MLB) turned a blind eye to it all of those years.

My point was that was the only viable piece of info I could glean from Sheridan's otherwise poorly written sourgrapes article. The writer's assoc have proven themselves to be idiots tome after time (3 votes for Volquez for ROY, really? Apparently, they went to Syracuse with McNabb) so why should voting fall into their laps?

Slayden's OBP and HRS are nice, but I wonder if they look that much better because nobody else is the high minors is producing in those areas.

In response to the earlier question as to why Donald's move to third doesn't seem like much more than an experiement. Perhaps there's more to it and it could have been worded differently. I think they want to expand their options with Donald, but his best value is as a middle infielder.

thephaitful: Exactly. Power tripping people who often don't like certain players or want to "make points" as Seth Everett said.

That's why even though Pujols is the correct choice IMO, I never put much stock into any postseason awards anymore, because they are all subjective and have lost some of their luster with every passing year. The more articles I read of what goes on "behind the curtain" so to speak, the less magic they possess.

I definitely wouldn't rank Slayden as low as 29th in our system. What's not to like about a guy who has hit and gotten on base at every level he has played at? I actually see Slayden as sort of a poor man's Matt Stairs.

JW - Agreed about Slayden. Don't understand why he even merits as much attention on here. Personally I don't have anything except him but I would be surprised if he gets more than a cup of coffee at the MLB level. Decent hitter but likely not .300 hitter at the MLB level and doesn't have enough power to intrigue anyone to overlook his considerable defensive deficiencies.

@ JW and ae:

As I go to respond regarding Slayden, I realize the irony of it: we all more or less agree that he's not a good enough prospect for such a lengthy debate. That being said...

You're right, Jason, that he's not the same as Church because he's a poor fielder by all accounts. The reality is that Slayden is probably best utilized as a trade chip to an AL team, which can use him as a bench bat. That being said, if he does stick around the organization, and if he hits well at Lehigh Valley this year, then he warrants a shot as a 5th OF if Jenkins/Stairs goes down. That's a lot of ifs, obviously, but I'd rather roll the dice with Slayden than another T.J. Bohn, and that's the reason anyone talks about him in the first place.

And ae: to play devil's advocate, Church had played 5 minor league seasons (519 games) -- during which time he hit something like .290/.374/.503 -- before he got the call to the majors. Slayden has played 4 seasons (410 games) thus far -- hitting .294/.377/.480. Now I very much doubt Slayden ever becomes an everyday ML player, but Church is actually a pretty fair comp. A glass-completely-full outlook, to be sure, but a valid parallel.

Ahhh now I've gone and dragged the discussion on too long. Should we spend too much time discussing Pat Overholt next? (Tongue in cheek, believe me.)


As an ethical question, I think it would have been wrong of the BWA to deny MVP honors to an MVP player on suspicions that the writers themselves were withholding from the general public.

It would also have been wrong to deny a person an award on mere suspicion in lieu of proof.

The questions of MVP and HoF are entirely separate--not only in time and space, but in and of themselves. HoF consideration includes the evaluation of character. The MVP is straightforwardly the recognition of the most valuable player.

But really the key thing is "new information". However strong your suspicions of Bonds in 1998, it is undeniable that you are substantially better informed in 2008 about the ingredients to Bonds' success. And it would be quite anachronistic to judge a determination made in 1998 by present day standards of evidence.

And even if we grant that you're correct--that the hypocrisy is there--I still fail to see how the controversy has much bearing on the question of whether baseball writers should vote awards.

Jack: Last year, the Royals were apparently targeting Jason Donald in a deal for Ron Mahay. If the best we can get for Donald is a 37-year old setup man, then I think he has a lot more value to us than he does in the trade market. When you can tell me how much other teams value Donald, then I'm all for talking about trading him.

In the meantime, it makes no sense to leave him in the middle infield on the off-chance we'll need him to replace Rollins or Utley.

And to answer your question, I've said numerous times that Donald should start the season playing third at AAA and be prepared for a call-up during the season assuming things work out well.

And if in two years he's needed at SS or 2B, then we can transition him back. It's certainly not unheard of!

Donald won't start at any position in the major leagues, so who cares? If he hits well enough, he'll play 3B. If either Utley or Rollins get hurt,(which happens every year) he's the only logical replacement. There is no reason to take any further action.

Just to clarify- Donald won't start at any position for the Phillies on April 5th. I'm not saying he'll never be an everyday player, but he's not one yet.

PhillyFriar: except Slayden has been at least a level behind Church at comparable ages. Slayden made it to AA this year at age 25--Church was in AA (and hitting well) at age 23.

and he's hitting for some power, but he's not Ryan Howarding up the minors here...17 HR & .182 ISO is good but it's not phenomenal.

baxter: I agree. Donald shouldn't be on our 25 man roster to start the year barring some kind of amazing spring.

Why don't the members of the Hall of Fame vote for MVP instead of certain sports "journalists"? They would know what it's like to be a valuable player, and so would be able to identify one. At the very least, they have played in the pros. As a sop to the writers, we could point out that they get to pick the HOFers, so they have an indirect vote. Plus, the former players couldn't do a worse job of it.

To follow up, on the Bonds question, I don't really see how any alternative voting system would have evaded its apparent stickiness.

If GMs for instance, or an MLB sanctioned board of philosopher kings were the people determining the MVP award, the conflicts of interest and hypocrisy would only be magnified. Surely if the reporters had suspicions then so did the people within baseball. And if the GMs or phil. kings were to punish Bonds for his performance enhancement, what would that say about their apparent tolerance of steroid use writ large? Unlike baseball writers, these people would actually have some sort of power to outlaw the practice, and yet they didn't. But by fiat they'll single out Bonds and punish him by proxy. The GMs would indict themselves! Merely refuse Bonds an award? Why was he even playing in the first place?

And obviously these difficulties don't go away if voting was within the power of players.

Why don't the members of the Hall of Fame vote for MVP instead of certain sports "journalists"? They would know what it's like to be a valuable player, and so would be able to identify one.

first of all, hahahaha.

second of all, members of the HoF do vote. they make up the Veterans Committee. and actual former players have been responsible for some of the worst additions to the Hall in history. specifically, Frankie Frisch made it his goal in life to get all of his former teammates inducted, including so-so players like Rube Marquard and Jesse Haines and George Kelly.

Does anybody know how the Phil's first round pick Anthony Hewitt is doing?

Klaus: Although I largely agree with what you wrote--ethically, it would be wrong to deny the MVP to Bonds based on character--ultimately, it brings me around why should character have anything to do with the HoF? Don't you think some writers might let players' characters color their response on their regular season award ballots, too? These writers are human after all, and all humans are biased to a certain extent.

The reason I think writers shouldn't vote is because most are like Sheridan: uninformed, wannabe (or never could be, or formely bullied in school by) pro athletes. There are so few worth reading anymore who actually do their homework or care about current trends (blogs, stats, etc.) who just shoot from the hip or write blatantly homeristic pieces that it's hardly worth opening the paper anymore.

Of course, I say all this without having a real solution, so I guess I'm part of the problem. But perhaps instead of just 32 voters, it should be opened up to more. Maybe to ride new trends, select respected bloggers or stats gurus could also represent the voice of a new generation.

oops, I got my response a little confused there. anyway, my point still stands that the Hall of Fame itself should be more than enough evidence that former players are hardly great judges of other players.

(see also Baseball Tonight.)

Cruz: I think the latest report was, "Not well." He's young and very raw. Many consider it a long shot for him to turn his raw athletic ability in Major League baseball skills. I guess we'll see!

Hewitt is doing very poorly...

re: HoFers voting for MVP

The baseball writers, by virtue of their job, are supposed to be watching baseball on a regular basis. There's no guarantee that the HoFers actually watch much baseball.

I'm not saying the current system is perfect, or even idea... but I'm not sure adding HoFers to the mix helps at all.

ae- true, they might not be the best judges, or free from bias, but neither are the writers. Why not have the players vote on which journalist writes the best article?
cj- also true that HoFers might not be watching baseball, but there is no guarantee that a writer (who has never even played) knows what he or she is looking at.

squatter: Like I said, what we have now is not perfect, nor ideal. I'm just not sure how adding the HoFers to the list helps. No matter who's voting, you'll have a bulk of uninformed opinions.

CJ: Ok, so "assuming things go well", then we call him up to do, what exactly? Like I said before, if you think Charlie is going to replace Pedro Feliz as the RH 3rd baseman with Jason Donald, I think you're giving him far too much credit. Charlie sticks with his guys, so unless Feliz gets hurt, you're calling him up to be a utility man. Which was apparently proposterous when you thought I was suggesting it.

Of course I don't know who we could get for Donald in a trade. If we can't get anyone decent, then no, we shouldn't trade him. I would imagine, however, that we could get someone who could help the team now, which Donald isn't going to get the chance to do. Sure, having a league-average or so 3rd baseman (this is guessing on both offense and defense, we don't really know) cheaply for a few years starting in 2010 would be a nice thing to have. I just would like to believe that we could get more than that for a SS or 2B prospect with his bat, but maybe not. We'll see how it all plays out.

I've said before, it depends on what you think of Donald. If you think the stats from this year at Double A and the AFL carry up to MLB level, and he continues to improve, then he's a good investment at 3rd. If you believe the scouts who say his bat won't play there in the majors, then he's not. Again, time will tell.

Jack: No. I'm calling Donald up in September when rosters expand. There's no point to leaving him in the minors after that since the minor league seasons are done. Then he takes over third base full-time in 2010 when we let Pedro Feliz walk.

I'm still not sure what you mean by "his bat won't play there in the majors." What is the standard by which a bat will play in the majors... and how many starting 3B in baseball fall under that standard?

This particular controversy is amusingly reminiscent of the political science discipline, which is always trying to devise more effective voting systems--and always failing.

Elections are just dreadful as decision making mechanisms, if "making the right choice" is your object. People not only vote for, they vote against, they vote in combination, they vote in relationship to the order of choices, they vote in ignorance, etc.

And yet...

You can posit some board of philosopher kings who can make dispassionate, competent judgments (on baseball or politics) but it remains to seen if you can actually create one.

Anyway, I would think that the sports blogosphere and the work of such sites as BP and HBT will eventually have a kind of impact on the mainstream media's evaluation of baseball. I joked earlier asking the question: when can we expect to see the letters OPS in the Inquirer--in 2022? And yet surely it will be the case that as pigheaded ignoramuses like Sheridan and Ford find themselves put to pasture they'll be replaced by a younger generation of writers, familiar with the internet, who are knowledgable of sabermetrical evalutions and sympathetic to its reasoning (OPB>RBI for instance). Or perhaps that's unduly optimistic. At any rate, the new baseball logic, so long as they're being utilized by MLB clubs, can't be suppressed forever.

In projecting the future of media though, it's helpful to keep in mind that hiring biases toward stupidity, particularly in the sports press. I don't really see that dynamic changing.

"OPB>RBI for instance" Of course that's a crude formulation.

CJ: I'm just saying that committing a guy to 3rd base if all he projects to be is average, when he projects to be more than average somewhere higher on the defensive spectrum, is a misuse of a valuable prospect. And his bat is all we have to go by considering we have no idea how he projects defensively at a position he's never played before.

The point is, if all he is is average or below at 3rd, you can get that production elsewhere, while using him at a more valuable position. If he's blocked at those positions here, then presumably another team needs that. If no other team needs that, then sure, play him at 3rd, but note that you're also losing some of his trade value if you play him at 3rd instead of a MI position in the minors, so it may become a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. Then you're committed to him at 3rd. Let's hope he's the real deal.

Dempster re-signs with Cubs for 4-yr/$52+M (~$13M/yr)
Yankees offer Burnett 5-yr/$80M (~$16M/yr)
Yankees offer Sabathia 6-yr/$140M (~$23.3M/yr)

Where does Hamels fall on this scale? 5-yr, $20M/yr?

Damn Yankees.


The fact that the Royals were targeting him makes you think less of him as a prospect?

Shouldn't it also say something that the phillies never pulled the trigger on that trade?

Most ML clubs don't get the production from midle infield that we do, so maybe we are apt to overlook him.

Personally, Donald reminds me of Utley and Pedroia in the sense that neither were thought to be good fielders, but good hitters and possibly middle infielders.

I hope he's contributing to the phillies by midseason.

Jack: Except you seem to be attaching some mythical value to him as a prospect. Thus far, the only suggestion of trade value is in a package for Ron Mahay.

Believe me, I'd love to deal the guy for great value... I'm just not sure it's out there. We're talking about ML-ready talent, right? There's not much point to dealing one of our own prospects for someone else's prospects.

And playing Jason Donald at third base right now does not diminish his furture prospects. In fact, being able to play three positions likely increases his stock. Are you suggesting that he'd suddenly forget how to play the middle infield after some time at third?

When you find me a trading partner for Jason Donald, we can talk about that. For now, though, we have to decide what to do with Jason Donald for OUR future. There is little reason for him to spend any more time at 2B or SS when we already have Rollins and Utley.

The only reason you seem to come up with is this bizarre suggestion that it would diminish his trade value. That simply makes no sense.

Sam: It's not that it's the Royals... it's that equal value in the Royals' mind seemed to be Ron Mahay. That doesn't say much for Jason Donald. I'm glad the Phils didn't pursue that.

I, too, would like to see Donald contributing with the Phils by midseason. But two things will need to occur for that to happen.

1) Donald must prove he can handle the transition to third base.
2) Feliz would need to get injured.

This happens every offseason if a guy had a good years in the minors (does mean something) and a decent Winter League (means squat) but the hype around Donald is getting a little ridiculous.

He might be able to hit at the MLB level but I still don't see where plays at for the Phils given they have Utley at 2B for the foreseeable future. Maybe he could field well enough and show enough pop to be an average 3B defensively. Just don't see the ridiculous upsides comparisons to the likes of Utley or Pedroia.

Supposedly for the "shoe-in" last week to resign Moyer, it has been awfully quiet so far this week. I am willing to bet that if the Phils don't sign him by Thanksgiving, that Moyer will pitch in another uniform by next year.

MG: Age/level/OPS
Pedroia: 21/AA and AAA/.837, 22/AAA/.810
Donald: 22/A/.868, 23/AA/.888
Utley: 22/A/.734, 23/AAA/.790/24/AAA/.898

So Donald's been a couple years behind Pedroia but has also had higher OPSs. He's also white and scrappy like the other two.

(yes, I know the statistical comparisons really tell us very little, just trying to point out that they don't discount the possibility)

Just b/c he doesn't have a starting position with the Phils doesn't mean you have to trade him.

I'll have to go back, but PhuturePhillies looked at Donald's stats and looked around for a comparison, and Pedroia's MINOR league stats were similar. To say he will be Pedroia or Utley is far fetched, but I think Donald's a guy a lot of people can't quite make out how good he will be.

Mahay: He had a decent amount of value last trade deadline b/c he's under contract for this season and wasn't just a half year rental.

CJ: Well, as we've already established, and I assume we're in agreement about this, a 2B or SS is more valuable than a 3B given the same offensive production, because of positional scarcity. So therefore switching him to 3rd base DOES diminish his value.

But, if a team wanted to trade for him as a MI, which I assume is what you're saying, then switching him to 3rd in the minors does diminish his trade value. Teams have players in the minors to practice and get experience for the major leagues. Time not spent practicing SS or 2B therefore does diminish his value in the eyes of teams who want to play him at those positions. That seems pretty straightforward, no? Sure, it's nice that he can play multiple positions, but teams don't often trade for a guy because of their positional versatility. I would imagine most teams would much rather have Donald work on his fielding at SS where he could be an impact player.

Wow, I love the seeming obsession with certain prospects. Donald or Slayden? Who cares, really?

Personally, I don't care who is "contributing with the Phils by midseason", as long as someone is doing it.

I don't care which prospects make the big club and help out (bring on Golson if he can cut it), or become the next JRoll, Howard, Burrell, Hamels, Ruiz, Madson or Vic. I don't care - I just want a competitive team to watch - one that actually has a chance to win the WS.

I don't care if or which minor leaguers are dealt, as long as the FO does it to keep the team winning, both now and in the future.

With a payroll north of $100MM, the Phillies shouldn't have too much trouble staying in the hunt year after year as long as they draft and develop well, and there is enough inexpensive talent percolating up from the minors.

It remains to be seen whether the departure of Arbuckle will have a lasting impact on the farm (was he individually THAT influential within the system?), as Dallas Green's departure did almost a generation ago.

As is were, I leave it to the rest of you baseball junkies to debate which prospects are worthwhile and which aren't.

The truth is, while you can do your best to evaluate whether a prospect will ever make it at the MLB level, you won't ever know until he gets the chance - a chance that he may bever get.

There are very few "can't miss" prospects in any team's system.

There just aren't that many Cole Hamels to go around.

I'm drinking my way through the off-season. The Eagles are f'ing boring anymore.

To no one's interest whatsoever . .

Had a conversation with a Mets fan the other day. good guy. expects Philly to repeat, it seems.

He was dismissive of Howard - doesn't fear him evidently - he hypothesized Howard playing in a 'real park' and losing all those fence scraping oppo field homers. Granted, he gets a few of those, but, as frustrating as he is at times, and as titanic as the cumulative Ks are, Howard is a singularly great player in Phillies history. He is clubbing homers and knocking in runs like Babe f&*king Ruth. The only guy to wear red who came close is the guy whose job he wrested away. Thinking that someday Utley might "lose a step" and take Howard's place is to contemplate permanent deflation of our arsenal. Love Utley, but I'd rather have a big bopper at 1B. It's inevitable, this man will clean up again in arbitration. While pitching is always important, and will be how we win again, if we do, the top priority for this team needs to be finding(or signing) someone to bat behind him next year.

So, we shouldn't even bother discussing Donald in a Donald thread? Back to Feliz, I guess..

bob, yes, damn yankees.

To answer your question specifically, I think the best the Phillies will do (if they even want to) is to buy out Hamels' arbitration years, plus one of his FA years. That is, IF, IF they are willing to give a pitcher longer than a 3 year deal, and Hamels is willing to forego one year of free agency in exchange for some security.

Simply, I don't think the Phillies, given Cole's injury history, will go longer than that right now. But, they control him for three more years anyway, so the only reason to buy out the arb years is if he'll give up at least one FA year.

What is more likely to happen is that they do a one year deal this year, and then negotiate a LT deal next offseason buying out a couple of FA years.

They may want Cole to go one more full season DL free before they are willing to commit to the LT.

All this presupposes that Hamels and his team are willing to meet the Phillies half way.

Donald will be a good MLB player. Whether its for the Phillies or not is up for debate. He could very well be the next Mark Grudzielanek albeit with a bit more power than Mark's career .395 Slg. Good average, alright OBP, and a solid 2nd division starting Middle Infielder for the past 14 years. Coincidentally, Mark also debuted in his Age 25 season.

The Abreu trade sucked

Though Donald will be in his Age 24 season next year so that last sentence means absolutely nothing other than me f#*#ing up on their ages.

So according to MLBTradeRumors, Felix Pie is on the block. Would anyone take a shot on him? He's only 23 and had great numbers at AA and AAA. Pinella never really gave him shot to develop at the MLB level. I'd love to see what happened if he was given a chance to learn on the job like Span and Gomez for the Twins.

The whole "he's old for such-and-such league" stuff is a bit overblown.

The Phils are notorious for keeping their prospects in lower levels of the minors then most organizations. So what Donald is 24? Howard was stuck in AA and AAA for a long time too, and was considered "old" for his leagues. How'd that work out?

Donald can hit. That's all I care about. And, if he can play multiple positions, even better. The plan: If Rollins or Feliz goes down, he's the next guy up at both positions.

And, I wouldn't be so quick to say that Marson is destined for AAA only. Caught in all the Ruiz-hysteria for his postseason run, we can't forget how terrible he was for most of the season. Yes, he is a solid backstop. But, if he hits .219 again, with no power and no production, and you have a young kid, who hits for average and gets on base, pushing for time, you'd be crazy not to at least think about getting him to the majors soon.

And, lost in all of this, is the fact that Coste's days might be numbered. He looked old, most of this year and he can't throw anyone out. He's had a heck of a run and made a heck of career here the past few years. But, he's also a old man, with limited skills. Having Ruiz and Marson as your 2 catchers next year, looks good to me. Marson doesn't need to waste his time at AAA, unless he just sucks in spring training next year. He's a player and its about time to see him in Philly.

Jason: You don't think Jeremy Slayden could grow up to become Jack Cust? OK, Cust with fewer HRs but a higher BA.

"Decent hitter but likely not .300 hitter at the MLB level and doesn't have enough power to intrigue anyone to overlook his considerable defensive deficiencies."

If I didn't know you meant Slayden, I would have sworn this was a description of Dobbs.

Brian G: Key in your comparisons is age. Donald played in AA at age 23, old for the level. Pedroia played in AAA at age 22. This is night and day. Plus Donald's glove is just OK and he doesn't have the range to play SS in the bigs.

"I'd love to see what happened if [Felix Pie] was given a chance to learn on the job like Span and Gomez for the Twins."

Then go root for the Twins. The NL East is not a division for learning on the job when you're trying to three-peat as champions.

NEPP: The comparison between Donald and Grudzy is apt in the sense that both played old for their levels in the minors. However, Grudzy was a much better fielder who worked hard at hitting and gradually improved what was a weak bat. Donald's bat looks fine, but I'm not sure what position fits him. Jack is right: His best value is middle infield. But he doesn't have the range at SS and I have no idea if he has the footwork and instincts to play 2B.

Alby: You don't think Dobbs can hit .300 at the major league level? Did you check the final stats?

Clout: There's always a chance. Chris Coste was a 1 in 1000. Slayden better start hitting for quite a bit more power at higher levels if he's to follow in Cust's footsteps. Perhaps a trade to the AL is his best path to the majors because I don't think he's a fit for the outfield, even as a fourth or fifth.

Jack: Learning to play 3B, for a prospect whom most pro scouts say projects as a utility infielder, can only increase his value, provided he can handle it defensively. To suggest otherwise is odd, at best. You don't forget how to play SS -- not that he's particularly capable of it in the first place -- because you spend some time at 3B. Being able to play the position doesn't mean he's stuck there forever.

Clout: He said "likely not." If he played every day -- that is, if he were defensively capable of playing every day -- Dobbs would "likely not" hit .300.

denny b: You seem not to understand what it means when a player is "old for his league." It means that you must discount his numbers. A 22 or 23 year old player playing against 20 year olds is usually going to have inflated numbers that would not occur if he were playing against players his own age. That's why you cannot compare Pedroia's numbers in AAA at age 22 to Donald's numbers in AA at age 23 and conclude that Donald will be another Pedroia offensively.

Alby: I don't find the word "everyday" in this statement: "Decent hitter but likely not .300 hitter at the MLB level."

Jason: If Slayden has any future at all, it is in the AL.

Clout: I know nothing about Slayden, and I suspect we agree here. My comment was about a comment, not about the players. But if you're going to be an ass about it, let's note that Dobbs' ML career BA is .276, his .301 in 2008 notwithstanding -- and it's only that high because he has a career 781 plate appearances against RHP, vs. 55 (not a misprint) vs. LHP. Plus Dobbs is incapable of fielding even 3B effectively, let alone the middle infield positions. He also never reached AAA until halfway through his age 25 season.

So, you were saying?

I thought Brummett was still pretty young. He was doing fine until he got to AA. If he can ever figure out AA he could be a decent prospect.

I think Escanola could be a decent major league LOOGY.

Alby: What I was saying was both simple and obvious. Dobbs is indeed capable of hitting .300 in the big leagues.

Jack: Let's say the Phils fail to find a trading partner for Donald in the offseason. Are you suggesting he continue to play middle infield next year at AAA on the off-chance some team will suddenly fall in love with him as a prospect?

CJ: No, I'm not advocating that necessarily, although I would certainly consider it. I'm just expressing my opinion that having him switch to 3rd every day will lower his value as a major league player and as a trade chip. Which is why I would try and trade him now.

If you want to have him play 3rd base, that's understandable, but realize that your sacrificing much of his long-term value in exchange for a short-term marginal upgrade and a small chance that his bat develops ahead of where most project it. That's fine, it's just not necessarily what I would do.

The Rangers have 4 young catchers who are all projected to be good players, or already are. But are they switching positions just because there is a logjam there? No. The Brewers have a stud SS in the minors and JJ Hardy there, but are they switching their prospect? No. You keep your players where they make the most impact, and you work it out from there.

He may not forget how to play SS, but every day he gets older and doesn't get any better at it, is a day where he's a slightly less valuable baseball player. I find it odd that you can't comprehend that.

Jack: Well... the Rangers are desperately trying to trade their prospects without much luck thus far and have investigated moving Saltamacchia to first.

And the Brewers have put Hardy on the trade block.

None of that, however, has anything to do with what the Phillies should do to improve themselves. Keeping Donald at SS does the Phillies absolutely no good. None.

Of course they're shopping him. No one is saying they shouldn't. Barring a trade, however, he should start playing third because it's the only position at which he can likely help the Phils moving forward. And contrary to your stance, moving him to third will not make him harder to trade. You don't forget how to play SS.

JW (or any other Phillies farm system mavens):
All of this mention of young prospects Donald, Marson, Andrew Carpenter, etc. and I was wondering, somewhat randomly:
What has happened to Antonio Bastardo? It wasn't so long ago that he was one of the bright spots in the our farm system, with a ceiling as high as any pitcher in our minor league system (maybe except Carrasco).

Is he completely done? Is he on track for another year in the low minors? Is he showing any promise? I haven't heard any recent news regarding the guy who has the best name in the minors, so I thought someone here could provide some info...

Right now Donald is being groomed as a utility infielder. He was at second today. He had played 8 or 9 games at third and has two errors. So he is no gold glover right now. Amaro said that his value is as a middle infielder. He replaces Bruntlett in 10 if not before. In 09 like Marson, Donald likely will start at AAA and he will be the first call up if anyone in the infield goes on the DL. But I could see both Marson's and Donald's bats in ST forcing both of them on the 25 man roster at the expense of Bruntlett and Coste. Though in limited at bats in AFL they are both hitting lefthanded pitching well. Combined they are 14 for 21 against lefties there.

"Plus Dobbs is incapable of fielding even 3B effectively,"

How did Dobbs' defensive stats at 3B this season compare to Feliz? Not all that much different, although Feliz obviously had more time at 3B. Their Range Factors were very close (Dobbs actually a bit better), and their Fldng Pct was very close (slight advantage to Feliz). Given the difference in their offensive contributions, I'm surprised Dobbs didn't at least get a chance to play more at 3B.

Now I'm not suggesting Dobbs is better defensively than Feliz just based on this sample, but I also can't see why one would say he is 'incapable'.

Also not sure why Dobbs is assumed not to be able to hit LHP, when he hasn't had any real opportunity to try in his career. Dobbs strikes me as a 'professional hitter'-type, who works at his trade. If he was told he would be required to regularly face LHP, I'm guessing he would make what adjustments he thought necessary to at least be somewhat competitve facing lefties.
I think it would at least be worth the try considering the offensive situation at 3B. After all, how bad could he be? Worse than Feliz' .189 BA and .533 OPS in the 2nd half?

According to a source at we are in the AJ Burnett hunt. I'm not holding my breath, but what a staff we'd have with him.

clout: Dobbs would not hit .300 if he played everyday, meaning LHP and RHP. .280 maybe?

I liked Burnett in July. Hasn't lost any appeal since.

I expect Dobbs to get somewhere around 900000 this off season. In his first year of salary arbitration, Jason Michaels got 825K.

They had similar stats. Micahels reached career highs in nearly every offensive category: games (115), at-bats (299), runs (44), hits (82), HR (10), RBI (40) and walks (42).
Compared with Dobbs: 128 Games, 226 AB, .301 BA, 9 HR, 40 RBI, .333 OBP, .491 SLG, .824 OPS.

The key statistic is plate appearances, and we'll probably see a bonus for 400+ PAs.

definitely not getting the big deal over Slayden. not to belabor the point, but 17 HR and .480 SLG (.182 ISO) are just not that impressive for a poor glove corner OF who's old for his league.

and clout, Jack Cust? come on, man. at 22 Cust was playing in AAA and hitting .278/.414/.525 with 27 HR (.247 ISO). now if I remember correctly, the Arizona AAA affiliate is notoriously hitter-friendly, but still--that's worlds different from Slayden's numbers as a 25 year old at AA.

of course there's no reason not to keep an eye on him. he's shown good OBP abilities and his numbers are very consistent across levels. but if there's something in his stats that suggests he's ever going to be more than a sixth outfielder, I'm not seeing it.

diggitydave: Bastardo struggled some in his jump to AA this past year. gave up a lot of HR and had control problems. still can strike guys out and has some potential, but he was always more of a long shot than a sure thing; no different now. (also, I have to guess that they're going to convert him to a reliever sooner rather than later given that he's only about a 5-inning starter.)

"every day [Donald] gets older and doesn't get any better at [playing SS], is a day where he's a slightly less valuable baseball player. I find it odd that you can't comprehend that."

Really, Jack? I find it odd that you can't understand that every day he plays SS and shows that he doesn't do it very well makes him a less valuable baseball player. Your whole argument is predicated on scouts for other teams being morons. Unlike 2B, SS is not a technique position -- either you have the range and arm for it or you don't. Why continue to expose his shortcomings by grooming him exclusively as a SS, when most scouts believe his future is as a utility infielder?

Clout: Whoop-de-do -- Dobbs hit .301. Way to ignore everything else I posted. Larry Bowa hit .305 one year. Does that mean he was a .300 hitter?

George: Dobbs adequate at 3B? Who are you going to believe, those stats or your lying eyes? He reacts more slowly than Feliz, his glove is less sure and his arm is scattershot. Other than that, though, he's a whiz.

"Larry Bowa hit .305 one year. Does that mean he was a .300 hitter?


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EST. 2005

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