Best. Rotation. Ever?

After a six week dance with New York and Texas, Cliff Lee has apparently decided to spurn them both and sign with the Mystery Team Philadelphia Phillies. If the Jayson Werth deal was a shocker, this one breaks the Richter Scale. It is perhaps the most surprising, and one of the most interesting, free agent signings in baseball history.

Once we get financial terms, we’ll be able to break down the costs and benefits of the signing. Until then, though, there’s one question staring us in the face – is the best rotation we’ve ever seen?

Roy Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball. Cliff Lee is in the mix of guys right behind him for #2. Hamels and Oswalt aren’t quite in that class, but we’re still talking about All-Star caliber starting pitchers. Over the last three years, here are their WAR totals and where that ranks among starting pitchers:

Roy Halladay: +21.5 (#1)
Cliff Lee: +20.9 (#2)
Cole Hamels +11.9 (#16)
Roy Oswalt: +11.2 (#21)

Total: 65.5

All four of them could be legitimate #1 starters on a playoff contender, and now they might all be teammates. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen anything like this.

The obvious parallels are to the great Braves rotations from the 1990s, but it is actually hard to find a group from those teams that compares to this one. The 1993 to 1995 version of their staff is one option, giving us this breakdown:

Greg Maddux: +23.1
Tom Glavine: +11.6
John Smoltz: +11.0
Steve Avery: +10.3

It’s nearly identical at spots #1, #3, and #4, but this Phillies roster would have a significant edge in the #2 spot, where Cliff Lee’s last three years best the early career version of Tom Glavine, even if you adjust for the fact that those totals are depressed by the 1994 strike. What if we fast forward a few years to when Smoltz and Glavine had really hit their stride? Here’s their 1996 to 1998 totals.

Greg Maddux: +23.7
John Smoltz: +20.6
Tom Glavine: +13.9
Denny Neagle: +8.6 and Steve Avery: +2.4

Avery pitched in 1996, and then was essentially replaced by Neagle for 1997 and 1998. They combined for +11 WAR over that three year span. So, that five-man/four-slot rotation was on par with how the Phillies foursome have performed over the last three years. However, that rotation never took the hill for Atlanta in 1999, as Denny Neagle was traded to Cincinnati after the 1998 season. By the time the Braves had four established high-caliber arms, they found it necessary to ship one off.

That was part of what made that Braves run so spectacular. They kept swapping out guys behind The Big Three and getting high-level performances even with all the changes. There were times where they got equivalent production to what we might expect from Philly’s rotation in 2011, but they never had four guys who had established themselves at this level going into a season.

If there’s a four-man rotation that has ever looked this dominant heading into a new year, I can’t find it. It is almost certainly in the discussion for the greatest four-man rotation of all time.

There is one big asterisk on all this, though: as those great Braves teams show, a ridiculously great rotation is not enough to start planning a parade. The Phillies are certainly contenders, but they’re going to need more than just their Big Four to win it all. It will be interesting to see what the rest of their off-season looks like now that Lee is back in Philadelphia.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Anthony
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Anthony
5 years 6 months ago

Wow

JoeS
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

Says it all.

v-Skippy
Guest
v-Skippy
5 years 6 months ago

It’s funny how different I feel about this signing than I would have if it were a Yankee signing.

With the Phils signing the “Wow” “OMG” “think of the rotation” exclamations all pop to mind but if it were the Yankees I would definitely respect the rotation and team as a whole but would not be as stunned. I’m not sure if that is because I expect the bottomless wallet that is the Yankees to bring in every targeted free agent or if it is because even the Lee led Yankees would have potential equals in the Sox and Rays.

I cannot think of another team where the news of this singing would have shocked/impressed me more. Maybe the Giants. OK…with more thought it would have to be the Giants as they are the only team I can imagine where this news would make me say “World Series Team” like this did for the Phils. The AL East teams all have to compete with each other and there’s not another team out there where Lee puts them “over the top”.

sfar505
Member
sfar505
5 years 6 months ago

While I will excuse your baseball stupidity and cast a few throwbacks that would be superior. Dodgers staff of Koufax, Drysdale, Podres Osteen, Sutton. Indians staff of Lemon, Wynn, Garcia, Score, Feller. We could outline more but it is pointless. The Phillies have a extremely talented staff. But greatest! Far from it. Beyond that, how about seeing what they achieve as a unit before you rate them among Baseball’s greatest.

Jason B
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Jason B
5 years 6 months ago

“While I will excuse your baseball stupidity”

Does that mean we have to likewise excuse your arrogant asshole-ishness?

Bob R.
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Bob R.
5 years 6 months ago

Both of those teams had great rotations, but I don’t think the comparison you suggest is valid. You have to look at a particular year and see whether those names represent pitchers still pitching at a very high level for some 3 year period that includes that season.

In the Indians case, if you choose 1954, Feller was essentially through as a great pitcher and Score was not yet there. If you select 1956, Garcia was clearly in decline with Lemon not far behind and Feller of course irrelevant.

With the Dodgers, if you select 1966, it is Koufax’s last year and Sutton’s first so there is no history on which to draw for him, while Podres is a non-factor and has been for 3 years. If you prefer 1964, neither Sutton nor Osteen are there and Podres is already in serous decline.

I don’t know if the 2011 Phillies rotation will be the best ever, or even the best in 2011, but all 4 pitchers were outstanding in 2010, all four have a history of excellence and none seem to be on their last legs.

Matt
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Matt
5 years 6 months ago

Do you have any idea how dominant Halladay and Lee would be if they pitched on the mound that Koufax and Drysdale used to rack up their numbers?

JoeyO
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JoeyO
5 years 6 months ago

I’m glad sfar505 mentioned the team because the 1955 Cleveland Indians probably need to be included in any comparison. This is what that club was working with for a starting 5 rotation (using FIP since we don’t have xFIP stats posted for the 50s)

(stats from 1952-1954, leading up to 1955)
2.91 FIP over 822 IP – Mike Garcia
3.47 FIP over 854 IP – Bob Lemon
3.58 FIP over 808 IP – Early Wynn
3.68 FIP over 586 IP – Art Houtman
3.88 FIP over 507 IP – Bob Feller
With rookie Herb Score ready for a spot as well

And what the 1955 Indians actually saw
3.12 FIP over 210 IP – Mike Garcia
3.29 FIP over 227 IP – Herb Score
3.46 FIP over 230 IP – Early Wynn
3.59 FIP over 211 IP – Bob Lemon
4.02 FIP over 83 IP – Bob Feller
4.19 FIP over 124 IP – Art Houtteman

Where this is the current Phillies (2008-2010 stats)
2.85 FIP over 667 IP – Cliff Lee
3.03 FIP over 735 IP – Roy Holladay
3.60 FIP over 601 IP – Roy Oswalt
3.70 FIP over 629 IP – Cole Hamels
with either
4.44 FIP over 568 IP – Joe Blanton (until he is removed)
5.07 FIP over 362 IP – Kyle Kendrick

It will probably be difficult for Halladay, Lee, Oswalt and Hamels to surpass what Garcia, Score, Wynn and Lemon actually produced for the 1955 Tribe, and Kendrick (or outside chance, Blanton) should be hard pressed to top the Feller/Houtteman combo.

But overall, the two rotations match up pretty dang well and (with those 90s Braves clubs) have definitely jumped into the Top Rotation Ever Assembled argument.

Bob R.
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Bob R.
5 years 6 months ago

I don’t have any data on comparable FIPs, Matt, but when BB-Reference neutralizes each pitcher’s statistics to account for eras it has them with the following career ERAs, perhaps not the best stat, but in a neutralized form it may have some value.

Halladay: 3.26
Lee: 3.98
Koufax: 3.00
Drysdale: 3.42

It does not suggest that Halladay/Lee would be more dominant than Koufax/Drysdale were. Perhaps there are other comparisons that would suggest otherwise.

P. Hertz
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P. Hertz
5 years 6 months ago

1971- Orioles.
McNally -21-5
Palmer -20-9
Dobson -20-8
Cuellar – 20-9

JoeyO
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JoeyO
5 years 6 months ago

P.Hertz,
The problem is that the Baltimore rotation wasn’t really all that good.

3.46 ERA – 1971 AL Average
3.87 FIP – McNally
3.75 FIP – Cuellar
3.19 FIP – Palmer
2.92 FIP – Dobson

You can see that Cuellar and McNaully were actually pitching worse then the league average pitcher. Basically putting them on par with like a modern day Jon Garland type. (An extremely average pitcher who won 18 twice by benefiting from the same things the Baltimore rotation did)

And while yes, the Four are historical because they each won 20 games, there are three real reasons why:

First,
Top-notch Defense

Second,
.261/.347/.398/.745, 112 OPS+, 4.70 R/G – Baltimore Offense
.254/.325/.405/.730, 102 OPS+, 4.33 R/G – Second best AL offense from 1971 (Detroit)
.247/.317/.364/.681, 93 OPS+, 3.87 R/G – Average AL club in 1971
Baltimore’s offense was so far and away superior to the other clubs that wins were inevitable for the rotation

Third,
142 – that’s the number of starts Palmer, Dobson, Cuellar and McNally made; winning 81 for a win percentage of 57%. Is that really any better then say the 2001 Mariners starting 4 of Freddy Garcia (3.48 FIP), Jamie Moyer (4.17 FIP), Aaron Sele (4.35 FIP) and Paul Abbott (5.01 FIP) – those 4 won 70 of their 127 starts, or 55%

When you make that many starts in front of a superior fielding team while your offense scores an average of just about a run higher then the average club (and even a half run more then the next best)… well, its hard not to win as long as you are posting anything close to average production yourself.

joele
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joele
5 years 6 months ago

for what it’s worth, baseballreference.com asks more or less the same question, but tweaks the (teams with 4 sp with 30+ gs and era+ of >130). they credit the ‘braves (maddux, smoltz, glavine, neagle) as being the only other team comparable to the ’11 phillies (based on their ’10 stats). nine other teams came close with 3 sp’s.

RMR
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

Looks like you’re missing a held shift key on that “./strike>”

D4P
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D4P
5 years 6 months ago

Yep. The Phillies’ offense isn’t looking so hot right now.

D5P
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D5P
5 years 6 months ago

Yep. The Phillies’ opponents’ offense isn’t looking so hot right now.

D4P
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D4P
5 years 6 months ago

I see*.

*what you did there.

MooseWithFleas
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5 years 6 months ago

This is going to be fun.

NJ Andy
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NJ Andy
5 years 6 months ago

Will the players union allow this? According to what I’ve been reading, the Phillies deal is for way less than the NYY or the Rangers deal. I dunno exactly how they work, but don’t they get upset when players sign for less than they could?

George Purcell
Guest
George Purcell
5 years 6 months ago

They kvetch but they have no power to block it.

Nathaniel Dawson
Member
Nathaniel Dawson
5 years 6 months ago

What would the players union say if the Comissioner’s Office voided the Jayson Werth deal because it was too far out of line with other offers?

They may not like Cliff Lee’s decision, but they have nothing to say about it — it’s the players’ right to choose the situation that they feel is best for themselves.

Mojowo11
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Mojowo11
5 years 6 months ago

I think they’ll probably bitch and moan, but I don’t think they actually have any power to stop Lee from signing where he wants.

Jay Levin
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5 years 6 months ago

Hopefully this will put a stop to the utter horseshit we always hear about how the union has influence over these things.

AA
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AA
5 years 6 months ago

The AAV the Phillies paid is higher than the Yankees or Rangers, plus the vesting offer is easier to get to than the Ranger one was. The Yankees offered the most guaranteed money and the Rangers the most overall potential value. Basically, they were all essentially equal offers but differ in how they get there.

Yanks Suck Balls
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Yanks Suck Balls
5 years 6 months ago

Didn’t the Yanks sing Tex for less than the Nationals (or was it the Os) were offering? I don’t remember all the Yank fans whining back then…

NY Yankee fans are bunch of whiny bitches. Am glad you resigned your overrated short stop though.

Beau
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Beau
5 years 6 months ago

And the Giants beat all of them in the playoffs

Barry Jive
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Barry Jive
5 years 6 months ago

SHOULDA GOT COLBY LEWIS

neuter_your_dogma
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neuter_your_dogma
5 years 6 months ago

But not all in one series.

merizobeach
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merizobeach
5 years 6 months ago

But now they can.

Mike Benjamin
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

Phillies are a lock to win the World Series. There’s no way a team could beat all four of those guys in a single postseason.

jimbooo
Member
jimbooo
5 years 6 months ago

heehee

Christian
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Christian
5 years 6 months ago

There’s a chance you’re being sarcastic, and I don’t want to look like an idiot, but someone did it last postseason.

Ryan
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Ryan
5 years 6 months ago

The Giants could probably still manage to pull an upset.

But wait ...
Guest
But wait ...
5 years 6 months ago

Didn’t the Giants just do that?

Matt Defalco
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Matt Defalco
5 years 6 months ago

Never heard that one before.

NWS
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

ZOMG U SO STOOOPI—-

takes .4 seconds to scroll over your name
Giants blog!
Doesn’t miss joke

ODog
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ODog
5 years 6 months ago

pay attention benjamin, San Francisco already has…… and often.

Bert
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Bert
5 years 6 months ago

Tim Lincecum: 22.8 WAR

Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball?

Bert
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Bert
5 years 6 months ago

Disclaimer: I don’t know how to add.

Ryan
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Ryan
5 years 6 months ago

Halladays numbers vs AL east teams a majority of starts vs Lincecumbs numbers vs NL West a majority of starts. I am leaning Halladay.

Anti-Ryan
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Anti-Ryan
5 years 6 months ago

How’s this for a number? 6.6 That was Halladay’s WAR last year which was almost one full win less than his WAR against the overrated AL East. If he was really the “best pitcher in baseball”, why didn’t his WAR go up in the supposedly inferior NL?

In addition, his strand rate was unsustainably high, his GB% is trending downwards and his BABIP was too low for his LD & GB rates. I’ll take the pitcher who’s 7 years younger and on the way up instead of a pitcher on the downside of his career.

Teej
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Teej
5 years 6 months ago

Lincecum’s on the way up? While you make fun of Halladay’s 1-win drop in WAR, you didn’t notice that Lincecum’s WAR droped by nearly 3?

And while you’re looking at Halladay’s slightly declining GB%, you’ll see that it corresponds with the best K% and BB% of his life.

If you want Lincecum for the next five years, I could understand that, but Halladay is the better pitcher right now.

Dann M.
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

Lincecum being a power pitcher, it’s also necessary to point out that while he has 200 fewer starts and 1500 fewer innings than Halladay, Lincecum has thrown only 15,000 fewer pitches. What that breaks down to is 39% of the starts; 36.7% of the innings; and 47.7% of the pitches. While it’s dangerous to talk about bullets in the gun, calendar years are only part of the age discussion. Halladay’s 6’6″ and 230 pound build is better equipped to handle aging than is the Iversonian body of Tim Lincecum. And Tim Lincecum has already in his MLB career thrown almost half as many pitches in just 3.67 years as Doc has thrown in a bit over 10 years of service time spread over 12+ seasons.

The word of the day: economy.

And that’s what makes Philadelphia that much more dangerous in 2011: by pushing Hamels back to #4 in the rotation, Charlie Manuel will be required to make fewer calls to his bullpen, both for middle relief and for his late-inning specialists. Economized usage. The only remaining question is what to do about the 5-spot, as Blanton is probably too expensive to keep and Kendrick too unreliable to throw out there 26+ times.

mowill
Member
mowill
5 years 6 months ago

Except that lincecum is about two minutes from a shoulder or elbow injury. My date in the pool is April 28th of this year. After that Lincecum will only be talked about in memory.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 6 months ago

Except that lincecum is about two minutes from a shoulder or elbow injury. My date in the pool is April 28th of this year. After that Lincecum will only be talked about in memory.

If people keep saying this each and every season, eventually someone will be right.

There’s a whole lot of teams that did not draft Lincecum because of his mechanics and fear of injury. They keep waiting, year after year, to be proven “right”.

Of course they ignore the 2 CYA and continued excellence.

Lincecum’s mechanics are weird and he’s an injury list. Pujols was a fat JuCo shortstop that had questionable work ethics and was without a true position.

Sometimes people convince themselves of things they do not know.

Anyway, keep saying Lincecum is due for an injury, and eventually you’ll be right. We’ll have the parade ready.

Giant Torture
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Giant Torture
5 years 6 months ago

+109

I’d rather have the Giants under 30 staff, than the Phillies over 30 staff. The Giants have 4 potential number 1’s and a former Cy Young winner (hey, you stop laughing at Barry Zito and his unicorn). Seriously though, that staff would have helped the Phillies finish in exactly the same spot they did last year, except they lost Jayson Werth. I guess when you look at counting stats over the last three years it skews the comparison a bunch because the Giants pitchers are young, while the Phillies aren’t, but Madison Bumgarner actually outpitched Lee in the WS, even though they didn’t go head to head, and I would bet a lot of money that he’s more likely to get better, while Lee is likely begin to regress….right….about….now.

AustinRHL
Member
AustinRHL
5 years 6 months ago

Holy cow. “Breaks the Richter scale,” indeed. I’m absolutely stunned – I had no idea that the Phillies were anywhere close to having the payroll necessary for a move like this (and for that matter, maybe they don’t really have the money, and this is going to come back to bite them). But yeah, the idea of Roy Oswalt as a fourth starter just makes me giggle; this is a truly outrageous rotation now. Certainly, if all four stay healthy and the Phillies happen to win the World Series (which is still just as unlikely as it is for any other good team), this rotation will be remembered pretty much forever.

Matt Defalco
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Matt Defalco
5 years 6 months ago

Spoiler about the Phillies having the necessary funding:

They don’t.

They just saw an opportunity and took it. Championships last forever.

BlackSwan
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BlackSwan
5 years 6 months ago

They can just have the players defer their salaries like Colangelo did after the D’backs won the ’02 world series with Johnson, Schilling & Company. That worked out well.

Diamondhacks
Member
Diamondhacks
5 years 6 months ago

@ BlackSwan

It worked out exceedingly well for Dback fans. We owe the most successful modern expansion run to those deferred salaries. We never could’ve acwewky weAs a Dback fan

Diamondhacks
Member
Diamondhacks
5 years 6 months ago

(part 2)

We never could’ve acquired Randy Johnson et al without them.

Jeff Moorad threw $95M at Eric Byrnes, Russ Ortiz and Shawn Green. In my view, that relative failure to augment a pretty good farm* bequeathed by Colangelo/Rizzo is responsible for much of the recent failure.

*
Webb
Valverde
Drew
Reynolds
Uggla
Cargo
Montero/Snyder
Hairston/Quentin

Even Upton landed in their lap as a consensus #1 following Colangelo’s 2004 flame out.

AustinRHL
Member
AustinRHL
5 years 6 months ago

But now I’m reading that they don’t, in fact, have the payroll, and would probably send Oswalt or some other highly paid player elsewhere, so perhaps all of this talk is premature. And considering that the rumors are putting the contract in the neighborhood of 5/100, the idea of the player’s union nixing the deal actually seems plausible. There’s a lot to follow over the next few days.

Teej
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Teej
5 years 6 months ago

The players’ union has no jurisdiction to nix the deal.

Oddibe McBlauser
Guest
Oddibe McBlauser
5 years 6 months ago

Player’s union won’t; why do you think Lee waited for Werth and Crawford to sign?

AustinRHL
Member
AustinRHL
5 years 6 months ago

So what’s the worry on the part of bloggers everywhere? It seems like people are mentioning it quite a bit, but I don’t understand what the issue is if the player’s union can’t do anything to the deal.

phoenix2042
Member
Member
phoenix2042
5 years 6 months ago

what is the union’s actual jurisdiction in deals?

Teej
Guest
Teej
5 years 6 months ago

None at all. They just pressure high-level free agents to take the highest offer because it improves the market for more middling players. But they can’t actually veto a deal or anything like that.

mowill
Member
mowill
5 years 6 months ago

All the speculation is simply Yankees lovers crying over spilt milk.

The Yankees don’t get guys by offering market value, they get guys by blowing everyone else out of the water. If the Yankees wanted Lee they should have offered 7/175 million. I knew that is what it would take to get him in pinstripes I don’t know why they didn’t.

Jon
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Jon
5 years 6 months ago

From what I’ve read, they are trying to unload Blanton and/or Ibanez.

Even if they only dump just one of the following, the Phillies would be able to afford it. They sell out every game and they’ve already increased the ticket price.

Okra
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Okra
5 years 6 months ago

The Yankees have got to pissed. Unless they go and trade for someone significant, I can realistically see them finishing 4th in the AL East. Tampa, Boston, and Toronto all have better rotations and comparable lineups. The Yanks are in trouble.

BermudaDelta
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BermudaDelta
5 years 6 months ago

The Yankees are returning pretty much everyone from a 95-win team (albeit a year older). The Rays just lost Carlos Lee and Carl Crawford. Toronto’s lineup is short a few all-stars. Tell me again how they Yankees are finishing 4th?

Jim
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Jim
5 years 6 months ago

The Rays had Carlos Lee?

Surprised they did so well with him in LF. ;)

phoenix2042
Member
Member
phoenix2042
5 years 6 months ago

4th? yea theyre going to cruise into second place the whole season as the red sox cruise in first! its almost a lock barring catastrophic injuries on both sides.

Genius
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Genius
5 years 6 months ago

yeah, but they just re-signed jeter!!! no way they finish less than 1st.

v-Skippy
Guest
v-Skippy
5 years 6 months ago

(I’ll give the Carlos Pena/Carlos Lee mistake a pass, I think we can all figure that out)

When I look at the Yankees I keep thinking about player age but I don’t believe we are at a point where they start paying the price…which is most likely a price they will be able to afford. I see that Yankees (current roster) as a mid 90 win team which is also where I put the Red Sox. The Rays are a few wins back from that. This is also on Dec 14th so a lot of roster movement can/will happen.

All that said: I would really like to see the Yankees finish is fourth but I’d wager the national debt against it.

Geoff
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Geoff
5 years 6 months ago

Jays could easily win 90+ games as well. We had 85 last year with off-seasons from Lind and Hill (granted, Bautista’s explosion did help). Jays are one bat away.

Andrew
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Andrew
5 years 6 months ago

Not to be a wet blanket, but I would hardly point to the Jays as a team that stands to improve in 2011 due “bad luck” in 2010.

The season from Bautista was legendary, Vernon Wells had his second best season by WAR, John Buck had a career year, plus they had the better half of Alex Gonzalez’s career year. Adam Lind was awful, but he’s not really a player with an established baseline, so who knows what will happen with him going forward.

This offseason they’ve subtracted some of the best from their rotation (Marcum) and their bullpen (Downs, likely Gregg). I don’t see how much better should be expected in 2011.

neuter_your_dogma
Guest
neuter_your_dogma
5 years 6 months ago

Mets, Braves and Nats are more pissed.

neuter_your_dogma
Guest
neuter_your_dogma
5 years 6 months ago

Marlins are not pissed, they don’t care.

Spanky
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Spanky
5 years 6 months ago

What I don’t understand is why the Phillies essentially dumped Lee last year? They could have just resigned him last year and we could have avoided all this circus.

Scott
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Scott
5 years 6 months ago

Please refer yourself to the billion or so news stories and blog posts asking the same question about Lee and Halladay that you’re bringing up.

Ruben Amaro sinned, but he has repented, and now with Lee and Halladay together finally, we shall never speak of this again.

Barry Jive
Guest
Barry Jive
5 years 6 months ago

Um, maybe it’s because I’m celebrating this by drinking lots of beers but I accidentally clicked the downvote instead of replying.

Anyway, the revisionist theory is that Ruben Amaro knew Lee would be an attainable FA in just a year, and that Halladay was an attainable commodity last December. When Lee’s agent rubbed him the wrong way, he took the sure thing for four years instead of Lee for just one followed by a risky negotiating process.

I have no idea if that’s true. But no one can prove it false, so as a Phils homer I’m going with that.

Spanky
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Spanky
5 years 6 months ago

Oh…and the Phils would have been in the WS rather than the Giants.

Oddibe McBlauser
Guest
Oddibe McBlauser
5 years 6 months ago

Really? Cuz, you see, the giants still beat all four of those pitchers soundly.

Giant Torture
Guest
Giant Torture
5 years 6 months ago

Except, they would’ve had an even tougher time scoring runs without Jayson Werth, but hey they’ve still got the two most overrated position players in baseball (no one can challenge Jeter), so they’ve got that going for them. Also, Domonic Brown is not the real deal, he’s the super toolsy outfielder who everyone projects to be great, but never is. The Phillies rotation is good, but get ready for lots of 2-1 and 1-0 games next year against league average staffs.

exxrox
Member
exxrox
5 years 6 months ago

Ruban Amaro is very confusing as to how he goes about his business, but he sure can get the job done when he has something in mind.

First he trades Lee to restock his system after the Halladay deal, only to be lambasted…he instead retains and resigns Joe Blanton…then he trades prospects for Oswalt…then he goes out and signs Lee anyway. This is all during a time where the Phillies’ payroll seems stretched to its limits, and Ryan Howard gets a $25 million annual salary.

I will never understand it, but having 4 All-Star pitchers, 3 with year in and year out Cy Young aspirations (Oswalt used to be in this category, but no longer is), an infield full of MVP trophies, and a very good back-end of the bullpen is a hell of a noteworthy roster.

Joe L
Guest
Joe L
5 years 6 months ago

Check those number man, Howard is getting 20 mill not 25, he wont get 25 million until 2014.

exxrox
Member
exxrox
5 years 6 months ago

what a minor detail to nitpick…I hope that extra 5 million dollars didn’t ruin the essence of my post for you

rectin
Guest
rectin
5 years 6 months ago

Ages of the Phillies playoff rotation in 2011 (assuming that 1) they stay healthy, and 2) they actually make it that far)):

Halladay – Age 34
Lee – Age 33
Oswalt – Age 34
Hamels – Age 26

Given that we’re no longer in the Steroid Era, the Phillies’ window to contend is really narrow. It’s now or never for them.

neuter_your_dogma
Guest
neuter_your_dogma
5 years 6 months ago

Nothing wrong with a one night stand, especially if the rotation is really really hot.

Was on the Phillies’ D-Plan last year and sat through a couple of Kendrick/Blanton/Moyer starts (although I enjoyed Jamie). Nice to know that I have an 80% chance of seeing one of these 4 pitch, barring injury or another move.

Also, I believe Phillies have one of the best farm systems A ball and below. Hopefully these cost controlled players will be ready once the older players are phased out.

Anti-Ryan
Guest
Anti-Ryan
5 years 6 months ago

A very good back-end of the bullpen? Really?

Argive
Guest
Argive
5 years 6 months ago

Ryan Madson says hello.

Giant Torture
Guest
Giant Torture
5 years 6 months ago

Ryan Madson is also very lonely in the bullpen, he’s the only big-leaguer down there other than LOLidge.

Geoff
Guest
Geoff
5 years 6 months ago

Hamels a Cy Young contender?

Mettle
Guest
Mettle
5 years 6 months ago

How do they late 80s As and early 70s Os compare here?*

Or did the Sox ever have schilling, Pedro, Lowe and wake *slotted* as their starters?

* I don’t have the stats handy on my phone

AA
Guest
AA
5 years 6 months ago

1) Put Pedro first. Schilling couldn’t carry his jock.

2) Lowe as inconsistent and spent a good deal of time closing back then.

3) Wakefield has always been overrated. Decent 4th starter for years, but completely overrated. Forget comparing him to Wilhelm or Niekro, he couldn’t even compare to Tom Candiotti.

Hecubot
Guest
Hecubot
5 years 6 months ago

Late 80s A’s: Dave Stewart, Bob Welch, Mike Moore, then some falloff but decent #4 pitchers like Storm Davis.

Early 70s A’s: Catfish, Vida Blue, Ken Holtzman and then some drop off but including Blue Moon Odom.

Early 00s A’s: Hudson, Mulder, Zito and Lilly was the best combo. But also not-hurt Harden.

I think there are some Mets rotations that would match up pretty well: Doc, Darling, Sid, Cone, Viola in various combinations.

Oddibe McBlauser
Guest
Oddibe McBlauser
5 years 6 months ago

What a stunner of a move. You gotta think Cliff woke up after the last two postseasons and went with the best pitching staff that would be pay him 100+. Credit to Ruben for making an entertaining gamble for us all to watch.

matt
Guest
matt
5 years 6 months ago

“Until then, though, there’s one question staring us in the face – Why did they trade him in the first place?”

Fixed.

fred
Guest
fred
5 years 6 months ago

I look forward to see the eventual assessment of the net value from the Phils on the various Lee transactions

1 year of Lee last year at 9 (or 11?)mil + losing #1 pick vs the 3 prospects they got. (not to mention they may not have had to go to a 5yr 100mil, with a reported 6th vesting year if Lee was extended instead of signed as a FA)

Also worth fixing Cole Hammels is very good but legit #1? Is ryan Dempster a legit #1 (he has a higher 3 year WAR then Cole)? Mark Buerhle? Danks? (both about the same WAR totals) One has to be careful about simply using WAR to determine #1 pitcher.

Oddibe McBlauser
Guest
Oddibe McBlauser
5 years 6 months ago

Seems like that last Phils’ championship grandfathered him in to #1 status, doesn’t?

bsizzle
Member
bsizzle
5 years 6 months ago

Considering Hamels’ ratios and xFIP over the past 3 years compare pretty well to CC Sabathia’s, I don’t think it’s a stretch to call him a #1.

fred
Guest
fred
5 years 6 months ago

So do Ricky Nolasco’s (in fact he has better ratios and xFIP)

How many playoff teams/contenders would have had Cole Hammels as a # 1 starter last year? The Reds?

Cole Hammels has exceeded 4 WAR exactly once in his career – excellent pitcher, but let’s not be a slave to predictive #’s. There are a lot of pitchers in the 10-12 WAR range over the last three years, and i have a hard time believing that stat (or FIP) is fine enough to really distinguish that small a difference over a cumulative 3 year period)

AdamM
Guest
AdamM
5 years 6 months ago

Being the 16th best pitcher in baseball the last three years isn’t good enough to be a #1? Aren’t there 30 teams in MLB?

bsizzle
Member
bsizzle
5 years 6 months ago

“let’s not be a slave to predictive #’s…”

it’s funny you say that while referring to Fangraphs WAR which is based on FIP. B-R’s WAR totals have Hamels 4+ in 3 of the last 4 years.

fred
Guest
fred
5 years 6 months ago

So we’re clear Ryan Dempster, higher WAR than Ham(m)els over the last 3 years, is an even more legitimate #1 FOR PLAYOFF CONTENDERS, which is what Dave C characterized him as.

He had the 17th highest WAR total (not 16th), if folks are going to confuse that with him being the 17th best pitcher, than meet the 15 best pitcher and legitimate #1 starter on playoff contenders… Ryan Dempster!

And I refer to fangraph WAR totals because:
a) That is what this article was based on
b) We are on Fangraph’s site

(I know…. crazy me… if you want to look at BR’s WAR, you may need to re-work your earlier CC Sabathia comparison and how high Hamels is on the WAR list)

The Bunk
Guest
The Bunk
5 years 6 months ago

The NL Cy Young race…In one rotation.

steve
Guest
steve
5 years 6 months ago

what an idiotic comment. Team out west that might have an arm or two in that race.

The Bunk
Guest
The Bunk
5 years 6 months ago

I was just exaggerating how impressive the phillies rotation is, calm down.

markdash
Guest
markdash
5 years 6 months ago

Yeah, you gotta respect the Dodgers.

Bryz
Guest
5 years 6 months ago
Oddibe McBlauser
Guest
Oddibe McBlauser
5 years 6 months ago

On trying to understand Amaro’s (and Lee’s) approaches; what makes this deal so fascinating is that it shows an about-face change in both their perspectives from a year ago (exactly!) until now. I think the Giants really affected the opinions of both Amaro and Lee a great deal on what it takes to get a ring in the next few years.

Ronald
Guest
Ronald
5 years 6 months ago

Do you think they’re going to keep all four? The last time there was an ML rotation that looked like this, one of the components was traded for prospects…

Paul
Guest
Paul
5 years 6 months ago

Here’s what’s scary: They have enough elite arms to get Kansas City to take Blanton and Ibanez along with at least three legitimate #3 or better young arms, all right handed, which the Royals need since they are very lefty heavy, plus a couple toolsy outfielders, not Brown. Royals have tons of payroll space. I see this as a legitimate option since Ruben now made anything possible and nobody else is going whatever it takes, for example Texas taking Martin Perez off the table in the Grienke talks, Drabek off the table for Toronto. Ruben Amaro is my new favorite GM.

JGH
Guest
JGH
5 years 6 months ago

Amaro is a top 5 Worst Gm in MLB….great move here, but all else points to him being an imbecile. The Lee trade last yr was an awful panicky move, the Ibanez deal was bad, the Blanton deal was bad, and just his overall knowledge of how to evaluate ML players is pretty bad. He has absolutely ZERO knowledge of statistical analysis, as he still looks at RBI totals to make evaluations, still looks at Wins and ERA for pitchers for evaluations, and actually stated this offseason with a level of sincerity that Ibanez was just as productive as Werth, based on RBI totals. This is NOT a smart GM by any means of the imagination. If you have the resources the Phils do, with the great scouting department they have, its not hard to make a trade for Halladay, or sign someone like Lee, and give away a sub-par package for Oswalt (as Happ is a #4 starter in the long-run and thats bieng generous, Villar has upside but a long way to go with the bat, and Gose could turn out to be a valuable player, but he still also has a ways to go). Amaro is NOT a good GM AT ALL.

Barry Jive
Guest
Barry Jive
5 years 6 months ago

Agreed, locking down Jayson Werth for $10 million for the 2009 and 2010 seasons was clearly the work of an incompetent jackass

William
Guest
William
5 years 6 months ago

No, I think you’re wrong. The Ibanez contract, the Howard extension, and the Cliff Lee trade were all excellent moves.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
5 years 6 months ago

So Amaro has no ability to evaluate major league players, but accurately looked past ERA to determine that Happ may be overvalued and got Oswalt (along with a good deal of money) for Happ and prospects? And at a time when Amaro was in negotiations, which would have led him to want to portray Werth’s value as lower and Ibanez’s as higher, he’s stupid because you take at face value his attempts to negotiate through the media by citing Ibanez and Werth’s RBI totals? And Joe Blanton has been worth 9, 9, and 7.5 mm the past three years. But Amaro’s stupid for signing him to a three year 24 million dollar deal last offseason? I agree Amaro’s made some poor decisions (the middle of the three Cliff Lee decisions, Howard’s contract extension), but to kill him on some of these is just silly.

Evan
Guest
Evan
5 years 6 months ago

Amaro good moves: Trading for and extending Halladay, Trading for Lee in 2009, Trading for Oswalt, Signing Werth for 2009-2010, Signing Victorino to 3 year deal before 2010, signing Ruiz to 3 year deal before 2010 and signing Cliff Lee in 2010 (though that may play out to be a bad deal 5 years form now, everyone agrees it was below market rate and he’s the best free agent available). Minor league pickup of Wilson Valdez before the 2010 was a small move, but a huge win for the team in 2010.

Amaro push moves: Polanco signing (good pick up too many years), Blanton signing (market rate for middle of the road pitcher).

Amaro bad moves: Trading Lee (epic fail), Howard extension (why???), signing Ibanez, Signing Danys Baez (why!), not utilizing minor league arms in bullpen.

I would argue that signing Ibanez wasn’t even a bad move. The insane value he put up in 2009 and a slightly below average 2010 have almost made him worth his 3 year deal in only two years. People criticize the signing because it was a bad idea, too many years and too much money for an old outfielder without much defensive value, and then fail to look at the actual value that Ibanez put up for the team. Its like the sabermetrics version of racism. Contractism.

Anyway, Amaro’s two biggest mistakes were very big, but he’s done a lot of good. I’m not sure he’s a good GM because I can’t tell if he’s lucky or smart, but he has improved the Phillies a great deal.

JGH
Guest
JGH
5 years 6 months ago

Wow, Great, he signed Werth. That was a good move, but guess what? He was the NOT the GM that picked him up in the first place. Gillick was. It’s not hard to lock him up for a few seasons when Werth was playing great baseball on both sides of the ball. So that should barely be considered a plus for Amaro when any GM would have done the same thing.

The Ibanez signing was awful, as no one should give a 37yr old poor defensive OF a 3 yr deal.

Why anyone would give Polanco a 3 yr deal is beyond me, even tho he is a decent hitter, but avg. defensive 3B at best

He panicked and traded away Lee (only to resign him a year later), and got an awful package for one of the best starters in the game. This resigning just goes to show how he has NO plan.

So he gets credit for Ed Wade being one of the worst GMs in MLB for taking Happ in the trade for Oswalt? What AWFUL logic. Amaro does NOT at all deserve props for that. Wade deserves to be smacked for taking that package in the first place.

Then he signs Blanton for 3 years and 27M, instead of keeping Lee for 9.5M last year—-so lets get this straight, he trades Lee bc he doesnt think he can resign him, and wants to build back up the farm, then trades him away for a shit package, then resigns Blanton for the exact same salary as Lee, then resigns Lee a year later, so now having to give up his 1st Rd pick in the process? So he wanted to get “prospects and build the farm” after trading a bunch of guys, only to get a bad package of prospects for Lee, while also giving up your 1st rd pick? This shows absolutely no clear sign of a plan AT ALL and shows how panicky he really is.

OHHH and to top it off, he resigns a declining and deterioating Ryan Howard to a 5YR extension for 25M!!!!! a year 2 years before he becomes a FA!!!!??!!??!! This was possibly one of the worst contracts extensions in history and shows again how panicky Amaro can get.

Also, he has shown that he uses stats like RBI’s, and Wins, and ERA, and garbage stats that no one should use anymore to base his decisions. He actually said Ibanez was just as valuable as Werth bc of his RBI totals!!! This man is a JOKE.

You can say he made a good move by locking up Halladay and then resigning Lee (even tho the way he went about his resigning the past yr was awful), but he IS NOT a good GM AT ALL. Easily one of the worst 5 GMs in the game. Hands down.

nolanryan
Member
nolanryan
5 years 6 months ago

Now dump blanton on the royals, giving them a few solid spects, and get Greinke. HaHa

Oddibe McBlauser
Guest
Oddibe McBlauser
5 years 6 months ago

twitticism:
SI_JonHeyman: “lee received about $115 mil for 5 years plus 6th yr vesting option w/ makeable incentives. thats slightly higher AAV than yankees offer”

Oh, Saint Cliff!

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
5 years 6 months ago

I’m going to assert my right to be slightly offended as a Braves’ fan still religiously attached to those 90s era teams. The 1993-1995 you used as comparison isn’t a three year timespan. There was a strike in there which helps depress the WAR from those Braves starters by approximately 13.5% (since that’s how much playing time was cut from that three year span.) Greg Maddux could have been over 26 WAR with another 13-14 starts, and as good as Halladay has been, it’s not right to compare him to THAT Maddux. I’m also not sure if Fangraphs’ WAR is fair to Tom Glavine who was notably able to outperform his peripherals year to year.

Still, I’m a little shocked at this. Phillies’ management looks kind of brilliant, since they were able to trade Cliff Lee, get something for him, then get him back at below the going rate.

Bert
Guest
Bert
5 years 6 months ago

With ERA-based WAR, the Braves were clearly way better than this Phillies rotation. Based on his 2010 season and career numbers, Cliff Lee would have been the fifth starter on the ’97 Braves by ERA+.

nathan
Guest
nathan
5 years 6 months ago

He was one of the greatest but that Maddux also had that old strike zone that gave him six inches off the plate. And the bastard hit it whenever he wanted! I wish someone had told him that he was throwing a baseball and not darts.

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
5 years 6 months ago

Glavine really benefitted from this, too. Maybe moreso, because he really started to fall off when technology was introduced and umpires started being graded, while Mad Dog still had some dominant years before his decline.

But things still certainly aren’t perfect. I remember watching a good bit of that perfect game Halladay threw against the Marlins and being shocked by how wide of a strike he was getting, especially with full counts to Hanley Ramirez.

Bert
Guest
Bert
5 years 6 months ago

I’ll never understand this ridiculous criticism of Maddux. If he was somehow good enough or smart enough to get a huge strikezone (which I think is largely a myth at this point) that is just part of what made him so good.

Maddux >>> Halladay > Lee

Not even close.

AA
Guest
AA
5 years 6 months ago

Halladay compares to THAT Maddux. They are actually very similar, only Halladay throws harder fastballs and more breaking balls, while Maddux used his change and shutto.

Geoff
Guest
Geoff
5 years 6 months ago

Maddux>Halladay, no they aren’t anywhere near similar.

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
5 years 6 months ago

That cross-slice of Maddux is probably the best three years of his prime, and he was one of the five or so best pitchers ever. The strike is the only reason he was below 24 WAR over that three year span. You can’t find three years of Roy Halladay that add up to 24, much less three straight. And since WAR is based on specific run environments, you can’t claim it’s because of the different era.

Don’t get me wrong, Roy Halladay is a great pitcher, but he comes up very short in a comparison with the best of Maddux’s prime years.

Bubba
Guest
Bubba
5 years 6 months ago

Agree with the Glavine being underrated comment. When a guy beats his peripherals once or twice, it might be a bit of luck, but Glavine did it for 20 years. He’s much better than his WAR suggests.

Rey22
Guest
Rey22
5 years 6 months ago

I can hardly get this rotation in MLB The Show. Flat out ridiculous.

Clifton Floyd Lee
Guest
Clifton Floyd Lee
5 years 6 months ago

ROFL, a commentator on ESPN just said “There was some question about whether Cliff Lee had the makeup to pitch in Yankee stadium” That is just ludicrous lol.

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
5 years 6 months ago

They’re already working on the spin…

Rob
Guest
Rob
5 years 6 months ago

yeah cause philly is so laid back..

NEPP
Guest
NEPP
5 years 6 months ago

Lesson learned for Yankees fans: DO NOT spit and throw stuff at the wife of the top free agent pitcher on the market. Sometimes, that type of behavior backfires.

Anyone else think its ironic that poor fan behavior from another team likely helped the Phillies?

neuter_your_dogma
Guest
neuter_your_dogma
5 years 6 months ago

They were probably Mets fans.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 6 months ago

Yeah, he was so nervous a couple of years ago when he was catching infield pops underhand, blowing bubbles, and yawning as he dominated the NYY in Yankee Stadium.

Do broadcasters really think that pro pitchers in the world series look around and say “Well, at least it’s no in Yankee Stadium or I’d be pissing down my leg right now.”

There comes a point where a non-life threatening situation just doesn’t get more nerve-racking.

steve
Guest
steve
5 years 6 months ago

Phillies won’t make the series

erich
Guest
erich
5 years 6 months ago

obviously the best team doesn’t always win, but they generally give you a chance. isn’t that all you can ask for?

baty
Guest
baty
5 years 6 months ago

These guys haven’t even pitched a game together yet…

Disco Burritos
Guest
Disco Burritos
5 years 6 months ago

Actully, they probably won’t pitch any games together while they’re on the same team…

Tarrsk
Guest
Tarrsk
5 years 6 months ago

Philly’s next move is to add a second pitcher’s mound. HOW WILL BATTERS HANDLE HAVING TO HIT TWO BALLS AT ONCE??!

Nadingo
Guest
Nadingo
5 years 6 months ago

All-Star Game?

Nate
Guest
Nate
5 years 6 months ago

When they do hit them, they’ll get caught by the CF Blimp.

baty
Guest
baty
5 years 6 months ago

haha… There has yet to be even one Phillies game played with this rotation in tact.

Is the 5 man rotation a myth also?

Blow Me
Guest
Blow Me
5 years 6 months ago

The players union has no say over whether a player signs for a lower figure with one team versus another offering a higher salary – they can’t force a free agent to choose one team over another.

However, if like Alex Rodriguez and his dance with Boston, a player has a contract in place and requests to lower or defer payments, they can veto the deal.

Bodhizefa
Member
Bodhizefa
5 years 6 months ago

I’m just as guilty as the next guy for knocking Amaro in the past, but wow. Way to go, man. He’s made some strange decisions in the past, but he has a damn fine team to run out there. And in the end, I suppose that’s what matters most.

A year ago, Lee was interviewed and said a player would be stupid to leave money on the table. And now he goes and does just that to return to a team he loved. Good on him. And good for Phillies fans everywhere.

Oddibe McBlauser
Guest
Oddibe McBlauser
5 years 6 months ago

I get that the total’s less, but crasnick just tweeted the deal’s actually 5/120 with a vesting option 6th yr. Good on him? Sure, he’s the highest paid pitcher in baseball now, not a saint though.

DT
Guest
DT
5 years 6 months ago

Lets start guessing how may no hitters the phillies rotation will throw.

filihok
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

Over / Under .5

fred
Guest
fred
5 years 6 months ago

I’ll take the under

Barry Jive
Guest
Barry Jive
5 years 6 months ago

fred, you don’t even know how to spell Cole Hamels’ goddamn name

fred
Guest
fred
5 years 6 months ago

Who cares… does he get better with only 1 “m”? Look the guy is a damn good pitcher,but this #1 pitcher on most playoff contenders is hyperbole. His advanced stats look a lot like Nolasco…. his three year WAR #’s (the premise of this article) put him in Buerhle/Danks range. Is he better than those guys? Sure. #1 pitcher on a contender?

bw
Guest
bw
5 years 6 months ago

fred – Hamels was the number one pitcher on a team that won the World Series, so it’s probably a fair characterization.

neuter_your_dogma
Guest
neuter_your_dogma
5 years 6 months ago

“Who cares… does he get better with only 1 “m”?”

Actually, adding the extra “m” (and deleting the ‘s’) adds 0.1 WAR over the last two years (Jason Hammel).

JGH
Guest
JGH
5 years 6 months ago

This front four is clearly the best in MLB, but if all reverts back to normal and with slight improvement from one pitcher the Red Sox could have a staff pretty close to this one—

Lester-could easily be in discussion for top 5 pitcher in MLB
Beckett- if he pitches the way he did from 07-09, and is healthy (he has a lower xFIP than Lee did from 08-10)
Buccholz-this is whom I talk about for improvement, as I want to see him improve his k/9 to 7.5+/9, which he easily could given his stuff and repetiore
Lackey- if he reverts back to LAA form (remember Beckett had the same type of year when he first came to Boston), and yes, Lackey needs to improve against lefties

But, is all goes right, a rotation of Lester/Beckett/Buchholz/Lackey is not that far behind Halladay/Lee/Hamels/Oswalt

The Sox rotation is probably #2 right in MLB

exxrox
Member
exxrox
5 years 6 months ago

except every pitcher except for Lester there is a question mark to perform at an elite level…none of the Philly pitchers, save for Oswalt maybe, has any question marks at all. Except for health, but every staff has to have that question, and the top-4 on the Phils are actually quite durable.

rogerfan
Member
rogerfan
5 years 6 months ago

The Red Sox absolute best-case scenario is about even with the expected Phillies scenario.

Philly is going to be scary.

JGH
Guest
JGH
5 years 6 months ago

I agree…..thats all I was saying

Harold
Guest
Harold
5 years 6 months ago

I agree with you to an extent. Assuming the Phils keep this rotation intact, they will have the best rotation in baseball regardless of who their fifth starter is. The only other rotation that I think is at all comparable to this one is that of the Red Sox for the reasons you stated above, but they are still inferior to the Phillies’ by a good margin. The only advantage the Red Sox have is:

1) Age, the oldest is Lackey and he is younger than Halladay and Oswalt and the same age as Lee, and
2) Daisuke is probably better than whoever their fifth starter will be.

brendan
Guest
brendan
5 years 6 months ago

hahaaaaa you just needed to come convince yourself your red sox are still good, right

JGH
Guest
JGH
5 years 6 months ago

I dont need to convince myself or anyone, its a fact that they are awesome. They scored the second most runs last yr, with Peddy out for half the season, Youk out a 1/3 of the season, Cameron out 2/3 of the season, Ellsbury out the whole season, and on the pitching side, Beckett was not healthy all year, and Lackey pitched the worst season of his career. Ohhh, and they still won 89 in the AL East. No other team in MLB could have sustained those injuries and won 89 in the AL East.

Now they have added AGon and Crawford, will get a healthy Beckett, and hopefully a substantial improvement from Lackey, and a slight improvement from Buchholz. They could easily win 100 games this year.

So no, I dont need to convince myself or anyone that the Sox are still the team to beat in MLB.

And Ill take the Red Sox offense over the aging and deterioating Phils O any day of the week.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
5 years 6 months ago

“its a fact that they are awesome.”

Well at least we got that cleared up. Any other questions? Anybody?

JGH
Guest
JGH
5 years 6 months ago

I never said they will be….I said if all goes well, they easily could be close to their level.

No one thought Lackey would pitch as poorly as he did (and Beckett had the same struggles), and I fully expect him to be better than he was last year.

If Beckett is healthy, and all indications point to him being fully healthy, there is no reason to believe he cant pitch the way he did in 07-09 and a be a 5+ win pitcher

If you have ever watched Buchholz pitch, you can clearly see that he has the ability to strike 7.5+/9 out. He was a monster at the end of the season and pitched brilliantly. He could easily improve next year.

If all goes well, and Lackey and Beckett pitch like they did the previous 3 years, plus a slight improvement from Clay, they could easily go toe-to-toe with the Phils.

Lackey is still in his early 30’s, Beckett is only 20, and Lester and Clay are in there mid 20’s. There is no reason to think they cant perform to the level we all expect.

I fully expect Beckett to pitch like he did from 07-09 since he is healthy, and I expect a increased performance from Buchholz.

The only pitcher I am skeptical about is Lackey, but last year could prove to be an outlier, just as Beckett 06 season was. Lackey is a competitor and I know he was very disappointed in how he pitched last year, so I am expecting a better year next year, but Im just not sure it will be that of the #1 pitcher we saw in LA, but he very well could be.

JGH
Guest
JGH
5 years 6 months ago

Beckett is only 30*

kcee
Guest
kcee
5 years 6 months ago

So you are claiming that the Boston Redsox pitching rotation is #2 in the MLB behind the Phillies? Can you honestly say they are better than the Giants rotation

It’s more like

1/2 Phillies, Giants
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.Red Sox

JGH
Guest
JGH
5 years 6 months ago

You are crazy…..and obviously are not viewing this in an objective manner

JGH
Guest
JGH
5 years 6 months ago

Lincy is better than Lester, but not by a huge amount, and both are #1’s
Id rather have a healthy Beckett than Cain- repeat a HEALTHY Beckett
Id rather have a healthy,effective, and pre-2010 Lackey than Sanchez
And Id rather have Buchholz plus 97 MPH FB, plus-cutter and plus-CH than MadBums’ ineffective 90 MPH FB, and his plus CU, SL, and CH.

If Lackey pitches like he did last yr, than Id rather have Sanchez, but Id still rather have a healthy Sox rotation any day of the week.

Nate
Guest
Nate
5 years 6 months ago

Depends a lot on how MadBum trends this season. His velocity kept trending up throughout 2010. He was clearly throwing harder in Sep/Oct than earlier.

Actually there are several late season trends that we need to see how they play out. If Lincecum’s improved training regimen and new slider continue, his CY odds take a massive jump.

And with Sanchez it’s still the exact same story, on days when he keeps his arm in the right slot, he’s the most unhittable pitcher in baseball. From 2009 to 2010 those days came more often. If that continues, he’ll be better in 2011.

You’ve got much much better odds on those trends continuing as opposed to hoping for improved pitcher health for the Sox.

AA
Guest
AA
5 years 6 months ago

The Dodgers rotation wipes the floor with the Red Sox.

JR
Guest
JR
5 years 6 months ago

Lackey?!

Don’t forget, the Phils still have Blanton. If he ever reverts to his Oakland form, look out!

gnick55
Member
gnick55
5 years 6 months ago

Lackey was worth 4 WAR last year.

Will
Guest
Will
5 years 6 months ago

Am I the only one that feels that the post above is over-stating/over-valuing what Roy Oswalt is likely to do in 2011?

Granted, still an awesome group, but I think the Phillies would be thrilled to get the average of 08-10 Oswalt.

Scout Finch
Guest
Scout Finch
5 years 6 months ago

You’re not alone. He’s got some serious mileage under the hood and you’d think he will lose stuff and spend some time on the DL.

And if Hamels looks more like the Hamels of 2009, then you are really just looking at a superb 1-2 punch.

Same scenario for all the elite staffs though…

suicide squeeze
Member
suicide squeeze
5 years 6 months ago

Cole Hamels by FIP:

2007: 3.83
2008: 3.72
2009: 3.72
2010: 3.67

He’s been basically the same pitcher his whole career.

fredsbank
Guest
fredsbank
5 years 6 months ago

cole hamels by bWAR:

07: 4.1
08: 4.4
09: 1.9
10: 4.9

1 is pretty much the same as 4, right?

FIP fail

suicide squeeze
Member
suicide squeeze
5 years 6 months ago

babip by year:

2007: .289
2008: .270
2009: .325
2010: .296

That spike in 2009 would explain the off year according to bWAR. I don’t really see anything in his batted ball profile to suggest that that variation was his fault (LD rate was higher in 2008, best IFFB% of career in 2009).

BennyG
Guest
BennyG
5 years 6 months ago

Please, we all know the Mariners are the best team in baseball. We have Miguel Olivo! Just try to sneak a breaking pitch past him! I dare you!

steve
Guest
steve
5 years 6 months ago

i think it’s dumb to think the players association will be mad about this – i mean, they DO know that he was OFFERED more money, so its not like agents wouldnt point to the higher offers and the fact that lee chose the best situation for himself…otherwise your agent sucks. he COULD have earned more than 120M easily, had he wanted to.

www.Paapfly.com
Guest
www.Paapfly.com
5 years 6 months ago

Will the Phillies be good? Yep. Darn good. But this isn’t the powerhouse it would have been two years ago, nor the powerhouse some people are automatically making it out to be. That lineup is getting old and regressing a ton, and that’s when they aren’t injured.

JGH
Guest
JGH
5 years 6 months ago

One that I want to point out that no one has mentioned. Will Lee be as dominant pitching in a park that is as hitter-friendly as is in Philly.

Why do I say this?

This is why:

Lee is a Flyball pitcher, as he hovers around 40-45% GB rate, and has had around a 6-7% FB/Hr rate over the past few seasons. He also pitches around 88-91 Fastball, and doesnt have an “out” pitch. Will he be able to sustain such a low HR/FB rate in an environment like Philly with such a low GB rate? He is a plus-plus command guy, but that is still a silly low HR rate with such a low GB rate. He very well could, but I wouldnt bet on it, and more HR means a higher ERA and more runs given up. He will still be a great pitcher for most of this contract, but dont be surprised to see that Hr rate increase in an environment in Philly.

B
Guest
B
5 years 6 months ago

Is this real life?

Is this a post from July 2009? I sure hope so.

fredsbank
Guest
fredsbank
5 years 6 months ago

SSS

AA
Guest
AA
5 years 6 months ago

Like Jered Weaver and Clayton Kershaw, Lee puts up a >10% average IFFB rate. Most recent research shows that inducing pop ups is actually a skill for a fair number of guys, especially pitchers who throw moving fastballs up in the zone. That doesn’t make a guy a “flyball pitcher”.

Add to that the fact that Lee’s sublime control combined and climbing K numbers mean no one is on base anyway and you really don’t have to worry if his HR rate climbs anyway. Pedro Martinez gave up plenty of solo shots.

fredsbank
Guest
fredsbank
5 years 6 months ago

no, pitchers have ZERO control over their batted ball types, dont you pay attention?

www.Paapfly.com
Guest
www.Paapfly.com
5 years 6 months ago

Lee will also be facing inferior hitters compared to what he faced in 2010, and pitched great in Phillie for a few months in 2009. He still seems like a slam dunk to be an elite pitcher for at least the next couple seasons. I also disagree that he doesn’t have an “out” pitch, which is completely false.

JGH
Guest
JGH
5 years 6 months ago

I never said he wasnt going to be great in the next few seasons. I agree that he most likely will. I was only drawing attention to the fact that someone with his arsenal, with his flyball tendencies, in that hitters environment, that his most unsustainable 6-7% HR/FB rate, will most likely increase over the next few years, if not next year, which will result in more runs given up. That is all I was trying to bring to everyone’s attention. He will be a stud, and a top 15 pitcher in MLB over the next few seasons, but that HR/FB rate should increase bc of the factors I named above.

He doesnt have an “out” pitch. You say it is false, but fail to mention this so-called “out” pitch. He has plus-plus command of all of his pitches, which is why he is so good. His FB was his best pitch last yr, but you can hardly call that an “out” pitch when he throws it 88-91 dude. He has great control of his CH and Curve, but those are hardly out pitches. His command is why he is so dominate. He doesnt have a true “out” pitch. That is just the truth buddy. Sorry to dissapoint. Please, show me data that shows he has an out pitch. Even looking at his pitch type values proves my point.

JGH
Guest
JGH
5 years 6 months ago

Please, show me what his “out pitch” is……he doesnt have one dude.

exxrox
Member
exxrox
5 years 6 months ago

oh c’mon man, it can be rationalized that ALL of his pitches are legit out pitches, because of the confidence he has with each one in any count. It’s like saying Roy Halladay doesn’t have an out pitch…how does he get all of his outs then? wizardry?? No, he gets them with his cutter, curveball, 2-seam/sinker and now his changeup…judging by the effectiveness, I’d say they are all out pitches

if you’re thinking of a “Strikeout” pitch to put batters away with…look at his k/9 and tell me he doesn’t have one of those either

neuter_your_dogma
Guest
neuter_your_dogma
5 years 6 months ago

Seems to me Cliff caused a lot of outs last year.

JGH
Guest
JGH
5 years 6 months ago

Lee had one of his best k/9 of his career last yr, but his career k/9 is under 7, and had a 7/9 and a 6.8/9 the two previous years.

All I was saying that he doesnt have an actually “strikeout” pitch. Yes, his control is why his k-rate is good and why he is such a good pitcher, but you can’t tell me he has an actual “out” pitch. He doesnt. His FB was by FAR his best Value PItch, and that is not considered an out pitch as he throws it 88-91. That is all I was saying.

Yes, Lee did get a lot of “outs” last yr, but that doesnt mean he has a prototypical “out” pitch buddy

Show me data and proof that he has a single “strikeout” pitch….

And Halladay throws two pitches that would more widely be considered “out” pitches than what Lee throws. Neither have prototypical out pitches, but Halladay not only has plus-plus command like Lee, but he has better all around stuff than Lee. Lee is not in the same category as Halladay as a pitcher bc Halladays stuff is better

merizobeach
Guest
merizobeach
5 years 6 months ago

It’s definitely bias, but I’d take Timmy, Cainer, Sanchee, and MadBum over anybody the Phils can march out there.

I’d also prefer the twenty or thirty million dollar savings in those four next year. Disregarding the dollar:WAR comparison, I’ll wager that the G’s top four will produce comparably to the Phillies’ top four during any number of the next five years.

If only we could unload and replace Z….

….because, Dave Cameron, a rotation is five pitchers, not four.

B
Guest
B
5 years 6 months ago

hahahhahahahahahahahhahahahahhahahhahah

good one

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
5 years 6 months ago

“It’s definitely bias,”

Yeah…yeah, it is.

merizobeach
Guest
merizobeach
5 years 6 months ago

Like I said, I’ll wager on my team.

kcee
Guest
kcee
5 years 6 months ago

I think the Phillies rotation will be very good but they only have a short window of time as most of their starting pitchers are on the wrong side of thirty

Lee 32
Hallady 34
Oswalt 34
Hamels 26 (the only young one)

On the other hand The oldest Giant starter is only 27 and they all pretty much destroyed the Phillies and Cliff Lee and they aren’t even in their prime yet! I would think that would be more scary.

Lincecum 26
Cain 26
Sanchez 27
Bumgarner 21

Yikes
Guest
Yikes
5 years 6 months ago

I’m not sure destroyed is a fair word to use in your description. If memory serves me, the Phils outscored the Giants in the series 20 to 19. So both teams player pretty evenly. I think the Giants Braves series was also very even.

Noseeum
Guest
Noseeum
5 years 6 months ago

JGH, whenever you have to start every sentence with “if all goes well,” you’re in dangerous territory. Beckett has had injury difficulties many times in his career. Lackey is getting older and had a very poor season in 2010. Both if these guys have serious question marks for 2011. They may pitch well, but the smart money would bet neither if them would be all star caliber. Daisuke is a below average pitcher. Until Bucholz demonstrates strike out ability at the ML level he doesn’t have it.

The Sox have Lester and a bunch of talented pitchers with big question marks right now. They don’t hold a candle to the phillies rotation.

JGH
Guest
JGH
5 years 6 months ago

Beckett was healthy from 07-09, as his lowest start total was 27 games during that time period. He was not healthy all last year, but all signs point to him being healthy this year. If he is healthy, he is a sure fire #1 starter. As previously stated, he has a lower xFIP than Lee does from 07-09 than Lee does from 08-10. Just a little fact. Not saying he is better, when both healthy and effective, Beckett is just as good a pitcher as Lee. Beckett has above average command, usually giving up 1.75-2 bb/9 while k’ing 8.5-9/9.

In regards to Buchholz, it seems to me that you have never seen him pitch. Sure, his k/9 for the year wasnt great, but the last few months of the season, he was dominating hitters. He absolutely has the ability to k 7.5-8+/9. He has great stuff, and a plus cutter that is a out pitch against LHH. He absolutely has the ability to k hitters, and he had a pretty danm good first full year in the bigs last year. Not many people will be as successful as he was in their first ML season buddy. All throughout the minors he k’d 9-10/9, and will only improve as he pitches in more big league games. Even if he only ks 7/9, with his GB rate at 50+%, he still is a good #3 guy, so that is a far-fetched statement, and simply ignorant to say, unless his starts k’ing people, he simply doesnt have it. That is simply wrong. This was his first year in the bigs, and was pretty damn successful, and as I previously stated, it appears you have not watched him that much bc he does have the arsenal to have a good k%.

Josh
Guest
Josh
5 years 6 months ago

Beckett hasn’t K’d 9/9 since 2003, and he’s only walked less than 2.3/9 twice in his career. Neither Bill James nor fan projections are nearly as optimistic about his performance and health as you.

Bucholz was incredibly lucky last year. His BABIP was .265, LOB% was 79%, and HR/FB was 5.6%. All those numbers are in for big regression. As for dominating at the end of the season, April was his best month (2.92 FIP), and September was his second worst (4.38 FIP). He also walked 4/9 in September.

noseeum
Guest
noseeum
5 years 6 months ago

If Buchholz had the ability to k 8 per 9, he would have done so. He has the velocity and thus the potential to get there some day. But he does not have the ability until he demonstrates it. He has the POTENTIAL.

Evan
Guest
Evan
5 years 6 months ago

This sounds really fun on paper, but I’ll take the homegrown, young Giants rotation over this group of old guys. Maybe not just for 2011, but to produce for the next few years, the Phillies can’t hope to match San Francisco.

mowill
Member
mowill
5 years 6 months ago

Thankyou Amaro and Lee for netting the Mariners Justin Smoak. In 2015 when Smoak is the best first baseman in baseball in the midst of his prime it will be us Seattle fans that are laughing all the way to the bank.

Thanks again. And it just continues! MY OH MY!

neuter_your_dogma
Guest
neuter_your_dogma
5 years 6 months ago

Fans laughing to the bank? Are the Mariners handing their fans cash to deposit? If so, they are the #1Org for me.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 6 months ago

Don’t get too cocky, some team will be thanking SEA for developing Smoak into a 5-6 WAR player that they’ll acquire in the last year of his contract to help them reach the WS … and you’ll be starting it all over again with a “prospect” from that trade.

You do realize that all the teams involved in the Lee trades made the playoffs last year and will be strong candidates again this year, right? …. except the mariners that is.

Am I really to believe that the M’s are the big winners in all of this?

BIP
Guest
BIP
5 years 6 months ago

This saga would have been well-concluded if there had been some sort of a television special.

NickC
Guest
NickC
5 years 6 months ago

The main difference at the moment is obviously that the Braves pitchers put up those numbers, well, as Braves.

The group of Lee, Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt put up those numbers on completely different rotations, so they have to do it whilst all together to be even in the conversation for best rotation.

NEPP
Guest
NEPP
5 years 6 months ago

How excited is Philly right now? I got 3 phonecalls at 12:15 AM last night from other fans…all of whom know I wake up at 5 AM for work. It didnt matter, it was that crazy. The entire city is nuts right now.

Rob
Guest
Rob
5 years 6 months ago

The last time I was this excited about a rotation was the 2004 Cubs. Prior/Wood/Zambrano/Maddux/Clement.

ch73ry
Guest
ch73ry
5 years 6 months ago

This deal does not suprise me in the least bit! Cliff Lee practically begged Amaro to let him stay. I think Amaro had regrets about letting Lee go. When rumors leaked out at the winter meetings that there was a MYSTERY TEAM talking to Lee, in my heart I knew it was the Phillies. I was not worried at all that Lee might sign with NY. No one has mentioned the fact that Mrs. Cliff Lee was VERY unhappy and displeased with the lack of a warm welcome she received in NY. Mrs. Lee was the deciding factor in this deal because behind every great man is an outstanding woman. When the Mrs. is happy, the Hubby is happy. They don’t call Philadelphia the “City of Brotherly Love” for nothing.

Schu
Member
Schu
5 years 6 months ago

Will anyone be as excited as me when the Giants fail to make the playoffs this year and all the homers on this board vanish again? Every single big news story on this site has been overrun by fair weather Giants fans this winter. It’s gross.

DrBGiantsfan
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

Every World Series winner has it’s bandwagon fans, but most of the Giants fans who post here have been around a long time and have endured a lot of losing to get to this point. Yeah, they might have a let-down year and not make the playoffs but the Phillies have to play 162 games too. A NLCS rematch would be one for the ages, don’t you think?

Schu
Member
Schu
5 years 6 months ago

Considering I’m a Mets fan… no thanks :D

Giant Torture
Guest
Giant Torture
5 years 6 months ago

Fair Weather fans? The Giants have consistently been one of the top teams in the MLB in attendance since they opened Mays Field. Not to mention, all of the so-called “fans” on the East Coast, especially the northeast, seem to forget that most of the American born professional baseball players come from the West and the South. Your average Giants fan is much more knowledgeable than your average New York, Boston or Philly fan because they’ve most likely played a lot more baseball and because sane people would never support the Axis of Evil that is the Red Sox, Yankees and now Phillies.

BX
Guest
BX
5 years 6 months ago

So, the NL does have its own version of the Yankees now.

neuter_your_dogma
Guest
neuter_your_dogma
5 years 6 months ago

You mean “Red Sox.”

DrBGiantsfan
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

Oh, this is going to be fun. I can just envision the endless smack talk between Giants and Phillies fans over who has the best rotation/pitching staff.

I’m not going to say the Giants’ rotation is better, although I think it’s very close, but the Giants still have the superior bullpen.

I agree with the comment above awhile back about the Giants post-season performance having an influence on both the Phillies’ and Lee’s decision-making here.

Pennant
Member
Pennant
5 years 6 months ago

I think the downside in all this for the Phils is the offense; I imagine Ruben is just going stand pat, aside from bringing up Dominic Brown? Offense has definitely shown signs of aging last couple of years. Lots of injuries, fall off in production even when healthy. Maybe if they can stay healthy and get a good bench, they will be set up for a last hurrah or two.

Jessamynn
Guest
Jessamynn
5 years 6 months ago

Signs, maybe…but we’re still talking about a team that has either finished 1st or 2nd in their league for Runs Scored in each of the past four seasons.

It’s not like we’re talking about the Pirates offense here.

Matt
Guest
Matt
5 years 6 months ago

Am I the only one who thinks the Braves can win the division?

Jeff
Guest
Jeff
5 years 6 months ago

I love how Giants fans are talking about how they beat them all in th playoffs. THe Giants basically hit the lottery with their journeymen lineup last year all playing well over their heads. The chances of them beating these four pitchers again is worse than the chance of Cody Ross waking up tomorrow and not looking like an elf anymore.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 6 months ago

The Giants are basically a team that is set up ideally for the playoffs IMHO. The pitching is outstanding and the offense is generally good enough to score more runs than their opponents.

Yes, in the playoffs the offense went crazy and they had some big blowouts. But, seriously Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, with Baumy as a 4th? You have to beat either Lincecum or Cain twice. Good luck.

We have to stop looking at playoffs as if it were the same as the regular season. We do not do this in any other sport. In the playoffs, rotations are trimmed to 3 starters (generally), the best relievers can and sometimes are used in the most important spots. Whoever wins 4 games first, moves on.

We need to look at matchups as well. So much of the playoff analysis examined WAR over the season, which 2/3’s of the games are against non-playoff teams, and 1.5 of those games against 4A teams. Yes, we do this for SSS reasons, but that doesn’t make the data all that relevant.

The Giants are well-suited for the playoffs, because they are pitching heavy with an average offense. IMO, that’ll be successful more times than one would think.

dutchbrowncoat
Guest
dutchbrowncoat
5 years 6 months ago
CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 6 months ago

Halladay & Lee

Carpenter & Wainwright

Lincecum & Cain

Some seriously good dynamic duos. If they all make the playoffs, we’re in for some really good pitching matchups (moreso than usual).

I looked up Baltimore’s rotation WAR from 1971 … basically Halladay and Lee can equal that on their own (even with using rWAR, based on runs allowed where Lee’s WAR drops 3 points).

The Phils bullpen has to be elated. Lee and Halladay are efficient workhorses (along with being excellent pitchers). The bullpen is going to be well rested, and likely effective and healthy all year. Obviously you cannot predict injuries, etc but pitching less often (both in terms of volume and frequency) is desirable for most relievers.

erich
Guest
erich
5 years 6 months ago

that”s a good point about st lou. obviously, they don’t have the rotation depth of philly and san fran, but they certainly have a scary 1-2 and, of course, the best player in the world playing 1st.

Matt
Guest
Matt
5 years 6 months ago

Comparing Matt Cain in the same breath as Lee or Halladay is a slap in their face.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 6 months ago

Comparing Matt Cain in the same breath as Lee or Halladay is a slap in their face.

Comparing top pitchers to each other is fine. Nothing in the “slap in the face” category.

Reid
Guest
Reid
5 years 6 months ago

You mean the same Matt Cain who didn’t allow an earned run in playoffs? And the same Lee who allowed 9 to the Giants’ lineup?

Small Sample Goodness
Guest
Small Sample Goodness
5 years 6 months ago

It’s a good thing that such a small sample is wholly indicative of their true talent, otherwise you would have made a fool of yourself.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
5 years 6 months ago

Insulting Matt Cain when all you’ve done is look up some ridiculous stat like xFIP is a slap in his face.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 6 months ago

The 63 Dodgers had a starting rotation WAR of 20.6, 10.8 of which is Lefty’s.

Barkey Walker
Guest
Barkey Walker
5 years 6 months ago

H2O got torn up in inter league play this year. They played the ALDS teams, but still. They played lots of games and did poorly in all of them.

The post season is just a difficult time to predict… now I’d be an idiot not to say they are VERY likely to make it to the post season.

I also always wondered if Lee’s pitching style is a little like Mets pitcher Frank Viola. Top notch fineness pitcher with a low 90s fastball and great movement on other pitches… when his stuff is working. Otherwise, looks like a number 4 or 5 pitcher.

Harry
Guest
Harry
5 years 6 months ago

I remember when the Commissioner cancelled the trade with Oakland and Cincinnati for Vida Blue. He said it would not be good for the balance of power in baseball.

merizobeach
Guest
merizobeach
5 years 6 months ago

Could you even conceive of Selig taking a strong-arm tactic like that against a team? The only strong-arming he’s willing to do is to force another round of playoffs on the fans without dialogue or consideration. He’s still the only commissioner in history to have allowed a WS to be canceled–a clear expression of kowtowing to insider interests and not having the courage to use the ‘absolute powers’ that come with his position.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 6 months ago

Which one of them gets to wear #34? (Lee – Halladay)

Ah, just interesting that both guys wore the same number for the Phils.

Nate
Guest
Nate
5 years 6 months ago

They should have that be the tv special – Cage Match!

KS
Guest
KS
5 years 6 months ago

“If there’s a four-man rotation that has ever looked this dominant heading into a new year, I can’t find it. It is almost certainly in the discussion for the greatest four-man rotation of all time. ”

Oh, really?? Well, as long as you’re not looking before 1980, when Fangraphs… OOPS! …doesn’t have WAR, the great savior of baseball analysis. What the heck, we don’t need to even consider that ancient history. I mean, 1993 is waaaaay back in the past!

So, let’s stick to arcane statistical analysis and anoint these guys the greatest ever BEFORE THEY’VE EVER THROWN A PITCH AS A GROUP!

Now, I agree sabermetrics brings some very interesting and even useful tools to the baseball discussion. But you guys have a very short memory. Besides the rotations mentioned in other comments, you forgot the 1969-71 Orioles group of Palmer, McNally, Cuellar and Phoebus/Dobson. Sure, win-loss record is an imperfect measure, but nine 20-win seasons in three years? I’d say that’s pretty damn good, at least until you guys get around to calculating xFIP and WAR for all those old guys.

Until then, let this old guy remind you that there were some pretty good ball players in the game before 1980.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 6 months ago

In the 71 season, BAL’s rotation earned 13 WAR.

Halladay and Lee will likely earn that much themselves.

I don’t doubt that the great pitchers of previous eras are equal, if not superior, to modern pitchers. But, IMO, the replacement level now is so much lower due to 5-man rotations, increased relievers, and expansion teams … that the WAR is “inflated” compared to other eras.

I asked the same thing about the 60s and batter WAR.

I also looked up the 63 Dodgers. 20.6 WAR

The ’11 Phillies will likely match that and pass it a little.

I don’t think that inherently means that the rotations were “better”, but that compared to the replacement levels of their time, they were more valuable.

Take the Phillies starting 4 back 30 years and have them make 40 starts, throw almost 300 IP each, and then we’ll see. The same could be said of bringing them to the modern era where there are more than 3 decent hitters in each lineup.

I admit, I seem to be one of the few people that is really interested in figuring out if Griffey Jr’s decade was better than Willie Mays’s decades. They’re both awesome. I’m good with that.

merizobeach
Guest
merizobeach
5 years 6 months ago

There are tremendously more people playing baseball around the world today than there were several decades ago; along with better strength and fitness, the overall level of competition has increased.

I’m trying to reconcile that with your observation of the replacement level being lower today than in the past.

Barkey Walker
Guest
Barkey Walker
5 years 6 months ago

Your point is well taken, that this is pre mean reversion WAR (if you take the top WARS, they will likely get lower next year). It’s the kine of mistake FG should not make.

Koch
Guest
Koch
5 years 6 months ago

“So you are claiming that the Boston Redsox pitching rotation is #2 in the MLB behind the Phillies? Can you honestly say they are better than the Giants rotation

It’s more like

1/2 Phillies, Giants
.
.

.Red Sox”

No, it’s more like the Giants have one pitcher who has ever posted an xFIP below 4. It’s nice that you had a fluky little run in the postseason, congrats. Your team is mediocre.

Giant Torture
Guest
Giant Torture
5 years 6 months ago

There you go, look at one stat and use it as your entire argument, brilliant. So I guess that if we just look at opponents’ BAA, then Jonathan Sanchez was the best pitcher in baseball last year, because his was the best. That’s retarded, but hey coming from a Red Sox fan, it’s par for the course. Matt Cain is one of the pitcher’s most often used as an argument against xFIP as a meaningful statistic and while Lincecum posted an xFIP below 4 in the past, so did the rookie Bumgarner. Expert analysis from the lil Evil Empire.

kcee
Guest
kcee
5 years 6 months ago

The Giants starting rotation has been good for years, it wasn’t a “fluke” in the postseason. They just finally had enough offense to get them through to the playoffs this year. The Giants pitching is made for playoffs.

Here are some cold hard facts for you about the Giants pitching staff

lead the league in ERA with 3.36
allowed the fewest hits in the entire league (1279)
Fifth fewest homeruns given up
Stuck out the most hitters (1331)
Posted a 1.91 ERA in the month of Spetember and held opp. to a .189/.251/.292
ERA of 2.47 in the playoffs, allowed only 94 hits in 134 innings, struck out 133

Matt Cain and his 0.0 ERA in playoffs laughs at your “the Giants have one pitcher who has ever posted an xFIP below 4”. The Redsox have good pitchers but they haven’t lived up to their reps, the difference is the Giants have.

When the Redsox pitch this good get back at me, intill then it’s still

Phillies/Giants
.
.
.
.
Redsox

Ethan
Guest
Ethan
5 years 6 months ago

Palmer, McNally, Cuellar, and Dobson?

Definitely on a yearly basis it does not compare, but it was one of the best ever in 1971. Don’t know the WAR stats of those guys from that year, but I have a feeling the numbers were astronomical.

Wins are a deservingly berated stat, but since its the only fact about that rotation I can remember about the rotation that made it so good, they had 4 20-game winners in one season

Unbelievable

Ppd1029
Guest
Ppd1029
5 years 6 months ago

I’m a Phillies fan but I’m surprised that nobody has mentioned the 1971 Orioles staff with their four 20-game winners: Mike Cuellar, 20-9; Pat Dobson, 20-8; Jim Palmer, 20-9 and Dave McNally, 21-5. Let’s just wait and see what happens before making boasts. Injuries happen and the Giants will be hard pressed to catch lightning in a bottle two years in a row.

Big Jgke
Member
Big Jgke
5 years 6 months ago

Did you see that Verducci’s most recent piece at si.com had this identical headline?

dutchbrowncoat
Guest
dutchbrowncoat
5 years 6 months ago

oooh. dave cameron should probably make a passive agressive tweet about how there is no honor on the internet.

Tony
Guest
Tony
5 years 6 months ago

You all forget about the Braves. It will be a very good matchup.

Hudson
Hanson
Lowe – He remembered he was being paid to be an ace and pitched like one at the end of the year
Jurrjens
Mike Minor/Brandon Beachy/Kris Medlin (after he gets back from TJ)

Hudson, Hanson, Lowe, and Jurrjens (now that he’s healthy) should all be able to compete with anybody, including those 4.

Also, the Braves improved their offense SIGNIFICANTLY with Uggla. The Braves aren’t going to be laying down for anybody. The NL East battle will be just as good as the AL East battle.

Josh
Guest
Josh
5 years 6 months ago

Are the Phillies even better than they were two months ago? I agree that Lee is an improvement, but this team is built for the playoffs. I have to think Lee’s value over Blanton is less than the value of Werth. After you account for aging, I don’t think the Phillies “improved.” I think they are just trying to keep pace with themselves.

MikeD
Guest
MikeD
5 years 6 months ago

It’s a great rotation, but there’s only one way it can enter the discussion as the greatest rotation ever. They have to produce as a unit. They’re being compared to rotations that went out and produced numbers collectively. They have a shot, but they can just as easily disappear with slight regressions by Halladay and/or Lee/Oswalt. Avery was every bit the young dynamic pitcher of Hamels, if not more so, but injuries took him out of play after his second 18-win season at age 23.

The Phillies of 2011 have to produce to enter the discussion of best-ever rotations. Right now they’re they equivalent of the number-one, can’t miss AAA prospect. We know something good’s coming, we just don’t know how good.

Greg
Guest
Greg
5 years 6 months ago

Wow … so many posts about this.

I’ll add my 2 cents.

Not being a Phils, Giants, or Red Sox fan … I’d say as far as rotations go (bullpens aside) … it seems it’s

Phils
Giants

The Red Sox could be in the top 5.

Health will always be a huge IF.

When you factor in the lineups I’d have to go (again luck with health assumed)

Red Sox
( a few other teams … Yankee’s maybe )
Phils
( a bunch of other teams )
Giants somewhere 10th or worse

Andrew
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Andrew
5 years 6 months ago

Unfortunately I could not find this in the comments, but looking at the numbers I think Atlanta from 1995-1997 is the best 3 year span.

NEPP
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NEPP
5 years 6 months ago

One thing that interests me is how the Giants will deal with the big innings jump that a couple of their starters experienced this year thanks to the WS run. Bumgarner especially pitched a good 70 (72.2 to be exact) more innings than he did in 2009. Considering its his Age 20 season, they’ll really have to watch his usage this upcoming year and avoid high-stress innings/outings. Sanchez also saw a big jump (over 50 more innings) and even Cain and Lincecum pitched a good 20-30 innings more in 2010 and both had career highs in IP.

Granted, IP is a rough estimate of usage (total pitches is more accurate and high stress innings/outings are huge too) but it’ll definitely be interesting to see how a young rotation bounces back.

Koch
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Koch
5 years 6 months ago

“There you go, look at one stat and use it as your entire argument, brilliant. So I guess that if we just look at opponents’ BAA, then Jonathan Sanchez was the best pitcher in baseball last year, because his was the best. That’s retarded, but hey coming from a Red Sox fan, it’s par for the course. Matt Cain is one of the pitcher’s most often used as an argument against xFIP as a meaningful statistic and while Lincecum posted an xFIP below 4 in the past, so did the rookie Bumgarner. Expert analysis from the lil Evil Empire.”

1. Yes, that would be retarded because opponents’ BAA is a useless stat. Good analogy.

2. You’re referring to the 10 innings Bumgarner pitched in 2009. Talk about expert analysis.

3. When you have to appeal to the “ur a fan of (team x) ur a dummy face!!1” angel, you know you’ve already lost.

Nowhere did I say that xFIP is infallible, I was merely combating the hyperbolic idea that the Giants rotation is leagues better than Boston’s with some hyperbole of my own.

merizobeach
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merizobeach
5 years 6 months ago

Can we please let New England secede from the union to become their own country?

(And definitely Texas with the South, too? And Utah unto itself? And from somewhere between Monterey and San Luis Obispo, extending about a hundred or so miles inland, and continuing up to Blaine, WA, make a Chilean-shaped country? Grant independence to Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the south tip of Florida? NM, south CO, AZ, NV, and east CA unto themselves? These factions don’t seem to like each other much; wouldn’t they be better off independently? Likewise, shouldn’t Quebec and BC be ceded from Canada?)

Apologies for taking an off-topic tangent.

Lydia
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Lydia
5 years 6 months ago

Don’t count the San Francisco Giants out. Their starting rotation isn’t anything to take lightly.
Damn, I miss baseball!

David
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David
5 years 6 months ago

Don’t know if the last three years are a fair comparison, because Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz were 29, 29, and 28 in 1995, while Lee, Halladay, and Oswalt will be 34, 32, and 33. It’s hard to believe their next three will be as good as the Braves next three were.

filihok
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

The 1998 Braves ran these guys out there (with prev 3 years’ WAR)

Maddux 24.0 WAR
Smoltz 20.0 WAR
Neagle 13.8 WAR
Glavine 13.5 WAR
TOTAL = 71.3 WAR

They produced 7.6+5.3+3.1+4.9 = 20.9 WAR + 3.4 from Kevin Millwood

SportsLoony
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4 years 8 months ago

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Birkenstock 37
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4 years 7 months ago

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