PN Podcast Episode 5 – Howard, Bullpen, El Pulpo

Today’s episode is brought to you by our sponsors!

– Out of the Park Baseball is Ian and Steve’s favorite baseball game and it should be yours, too! OOTP ’17 is just around the corner, arriving March 22 on! Use the promo code PHILLIES17 to get 10% off OOTP Baseball ’17!

100 Greatest Phillies of All Time by Ian Riccaboni – now available on Amazon!

Ian Riccaboni and Steve Coring discuss the latest Phillies news including:

  • An update on the RED HOT (!) Phillies. Ian offers to mail them a trophy if they win the Grapefruit League
  • With Adam LaRoche retiring, does Ryan Howard make sense as a trade target for the Chicago White Sox? 
  • Why Steve has a St. Patrick’s day El Pulpo jersey (Ian has horrible Spanish/memory)
  • Ian and Steve try to sort out the bullpen. Is it OK to get excited about Andrew Bailey? Which lefty (Bobby LaFromboise, James Russell, Daniel Stumpf) breaks camp with the team?
  • How or why do you know Steve Winwood? Spencer Davis Group? Blind Faith? Traffic? “ROLL WITH IT, BABY!”?

No trivia question this week but an essay: What if A-Rod breaks the home run record and says Hank Aaron is the real home run king? Send your answer to!

Steve’s son makes a very special appearance!

Follow @ianriccaboni, @kingcorino, and @philliesnation! Like and subscribe on iTunes!

Join us tomorrow for a special THROWBACK THURSDAY upload. That episode is NOT in “cannon” but features a very special Part 1 of an unedited interview with Phillies’ legend Curt Simmons!


Send your questions, comments, and more to @philliesnation, @kingcorino, and @ianriccaboni. Thanks for listening!

About Ian Riccaboni: Ian has been a Phillies Nation contributor full-time since 2011 and is the author of The 100 Greatest Phillies of All Time. Ian can be seen on Phillies Nation TV, is the voice of Women of Honor, and is a Sports Media professor at Holy Family University.

About Steve Corino: Steve is a life-long Phillies fan whose love for the Phillies dates back to the launch of PRISM! Steve is a former ECW World Champion who has 80 tours of Japan. His best friend Mr. Wrestling III can be seen every week calling Ring of Honor action in Philadelphia at 11:30 PM on Saturdays on WMCN 44 and Midnights every Wednesday on COMET.


Everything You Need to Know About the Last 11 Years of Phillies’ All-Stars


This year, the Phillies are sending four All-Stars to Arizona with a possibility of a fifth if Shane Victorino can win the final vote. Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Placido Polanco will all wear the red pinstripes next Tuesday and all are veterans of the Midsummer Classic; Hamels and Halladay have represented the Phillies once each, while both Lee and Polanco represented different teams in the American League after being traded, but before being reacquired, by the Phils. Four Phils All-Stars would be the most since they sent five in 2009 and Victorino’s inclusion would match that mark. It is only the 2nd time in the last 10 seasons that the Phillies will send four players to the All-Star game. If Victorino is voted in, it will match the record for Phillies All-Stars in a single game, matching efforts of 2009, 1995, 1981, 1979, and 1976.

Here’s what the last 10 years of Phillies’ All-Stars looked like (click to enlarge):

Not too many surprising names on that list. I had forgotten that Vicente Padilla and Tom Gordon were All-Stars as Phillies and thought Jim Thome made more than one in a Phillies uniform. The Phils have been well represented in the last 11 seasons; they average 2.63 players per game and have had no less than 3 All-Stars per game since 2005. While it may not be surprising to hear that the Phillies have had 29 unique appearances in the All-Star game since 2001, what may be surprising is that they have signed or traded for 29 All-Stars, which includes Cliff Lee twice, since 2001 as well including four in each of the last three seasons (click to enlarge):

Of the 29 former All-Stars acquired, only 7 made the All-Star team with the Phillies after being acquired while both Dave Hollins and Ricky Botalico had previously made the All-Star team with the Phillies and were later reacquired. Of the players acquired, only a few were reasonably expected to be All-Stars. The Phillies got as-advertised players with Halladay, Lee, Jim Thome, Brad Lidge, and Billy Wagner, while Tom Gordon was a bit of a pleasant surprise. While Jose Mesa did not make the All-Star team with the Phillies after being acquired, he pitched very well as the Phillies’ closer. Jose Contreras has exceeded expectations and has been excellent out of the bullpen and Jamie Moyer was a pivotal part of the Phillies’ transformation into a World Series club. Some of the players acquired, including but not limited to Ronnie Belliard, Luis Castillo, Mike Sweeney, and Jeff Conine were no-harm, no-foul acquisitions while others cost the Phillies players who would mature into top talent.

For instance, the acquisition of Freddy Garcia cost the Phillies two pitchers who have pitched well in the past few seasons: Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez is headed to his first All-Star game this year after being incredibly effective for the Oakland Athletics. He is one of eight players that the Phillies have either traded or released from 2001-2011 that have made the All-Star game after departing the Phils (click to enlarge):

Of those players, the Phils have since reacquired Lee and only Michael Bourn and Gio Gonzalez appear to be long term assets that would help the Phillies in 2011 and beyond. Between 2001 and 2011, the Phillies have seen the departure of most of the All-Stars that they have acquired, but the positive take-away is that in recent years, they have been able to retain the All-Stars that have been the most productive from their own system. They haven’t traded away too many future All-Stars and the ones of value that they did, they either received an All-Star in return or the verdict is still out. Some trades have been better than others and their are two major clunkers that stick out that luckily did not sink the Phillies and were the right moves at that time: the 2006 trade of Bobby Abreu and the 2007 trade of Gio Gonzalez and Gavin Floyd for Freddy Gonzalez. The Thome for Rowand swap in 2006 filled a need and opened up a spot for Ryan Howard, while the Michael Bourn trade addressed the closer and utility roles that ultimately helped win them a championship.

Phillies’ Pitches Per PAs Down from Likely and Unlikely Sources

It is advantageous at any level of baseball for a hitter to force a pitcher to throw more pitches to them during an at-bat. The advantages are plentiful: with more pitches, the hitter increases their odds of seeing a pitch in the strike zone, it increases the pitcher’s workload, and it increases the odds that a pitcher will make a mistake via either sheer numbers or fatigue.

A topic of concern for many Phillies’ fans has been their perceived lack of offense. When I explored this topic on May 28, I discovered that while the Phillies’ offensive numbers are trending down, their pitching numbers are trending in a positive direction that nearly doubles the decay the offense is facing. Jayson Werth‘s departure left many Phillies’ fans hoping Ruben Amaro Jr. would acquire a right-handed bat to help balance out the lefty-heavy lineup and ease lefty Domonic Brown into a role as an everyday Major League player. Ruben dashed those hopes last week by stating, “You will not see a major move.”

While Werth put up many impressive numbers as a Phillie, his most impressive may be his pitches seen per plate appearance. In 2008, Werth averaged 4.51 per plate appearance in the heavier half of a platoon with Geoff Jenkins that would have led the league had he had enough plate appearances to qualify. Werth led the league in 2009 and 2010 with 4.50 and 4.37 pitches per plate appearance seen respectively. Despite a declining triple slash line, Werth is 3rd in the NL in 2011 as of June 13, 2011 with 4.27 pitches per plate appearance seen.

Werth’s breakout season of 2009 saw the Phillies’ score the 2nd most runs per game out of their four playoff seasons. In 2007, the highest scoring for any Phillies’ playoff team for the last four years, the Phillies had Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard, respectively, at second and third in the NL in pitches seen, with Chase Utley ranking 22nd and Jimmy Rollins 32nd.

There is a direct value in seeing pitches per at-bat, too. At least it seems that way with this group of Phillies. The Phillies ratio of average pitches seen per plate appearances by regulars compared to their runs scored per game indicates that pitches seen per at-bat become significantly more valuable as your offense output decreases. The graph below illustrates that the Phillies have increased their runs per pitches seen per plate appearance in three out of the last four opportunities, season to season, implying that they have capitalized on pitch counts. Click on the thumbnail for a full-sized graph.

Through this, the Phillies have done more by seeing less over the last few seasons. The graph below illustrates the pitches seen per AB of each of the regulars from 2007-2011. Click on the thumbnail for a full-sized graph.

Admittedly, the graph assumes a lot. It gives Wes Helms the nod at 3rd base for the 2007 season because he had more PA’s there than Abraham Nunez. It assumes Shane Victorino was the every day right fielder for the 2007 Phillies despite them having a revolving door there for a large portion of the season. Werth gets the 2008 nod in RF because of him out PA’ing Jenkins in RF; same thing for Chooch and his back-ups in 2007 and 2008. The model is slightly statistically flawed, too; the averages are based on averages of an ideal line-up based on the players featured. You’d be surprised how hard it is to find team information on pitches seen per plate appearance, even just averages. It does not quite exist in its desired form and unfortunately, I don’t have the time to come through one thousand-plus game logs.

The team average for pitches seen rose each year, from 2007-2010, likely due to strong performances by Howard and Burrell, the emergence of Werth, and the development of Ruiz and Victorino. Werth’s departure created a .44 pitch per at-bat differential in RF for the Phillies; .50 if you consider 2010 Werth v. 2011 Brown. The difference in average per player is .09375 pitches; double the gap created by Werth when comparing his 2011 to Brown’s 2011. While Werth is easiest to explain away the drop-off, it still barely off-sets the gains made by Howard, Rollins, and Victorino this season. Carlos Ruiz is the other culprit in pitches seen per AB dropping, with his .44 pitches per at-bat decrease matching the 2011 gap between Werth and Brown. Ruiz’s supporting cast features drops by Raul Ibanez (.19) and Chase Utley (.06). If anyone has full season pitches per PA data available and/or would like to help me extrapolate numbers by multiplying them out and finding true averages, I would love to see them and would love the help. Werth’s departure and Ruiz’s regression in P/PA indicate the Phillies’ are scoring more runs on less pitches, but also indicate that if they were seeing more pitches, they would likely score more runs.

I’m sorry Phillies’ fans. I’m the reason we lost on Tuesday.

No, this is not a blog about me going to the game and some how messing up their mojo, although, I am 1-3 this year at CBP, the one win being an away game against Toronto. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to catch a game at the Bank for at least a few weeks. No, this is something far more sinister. The Phillies did not win on Tuesday night. In fact, they got pounded. It was all my fault.

The rubber bands that fueled my addiction. The alligator is pretty worn out. Sarah and I traded: I got him, she got a triceratops.

On Saturday July 24, Sarah and I ventured to the Quakertown Farmer’s Market, scouring tables at the flea market, enjoying the smells of kettle corn and fresh deli meat, and discussing the nutritional values of almond butter and apple butter. We wandered into R.A. Sports, a nice little sports collectibles store with awesome posters, tons of Phillies’ gear, and cool trinkets. The week before, Sarah and I ventured to Toys R Us to pick up prizes for her campers and so that I could look at the clearanced video games. We both decided that her campers might really like Silly Bandz, the rubber wrist bands that always maintain their original shape. Long story short, we both also decided that WE would like some. I got dinosaurs, Sarah got African safari. We were hooked.

So at R.A. Sports, I walked up to the counter and asked tongue-in-cheek if they sold Phillies’ Silly Bandz. Well, Phillie Phanatic Logo Bandz. And they are

The best $5 I ever spent? Perhaps.

awesome. In addition to the T-Rex, Brontosaurus, Mammoth, and Alligator, on July 24, I started to wear a Green Phanatic, blue Phillies P, white Phillies P, and red Harmon Killebrew/MLB logo. On first glance, the Phillies’ luck since July 24 has been unfortunate: Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard hit the DL. But those things were not enough to keep the team down. Riding a two game winning streak into July 24, the Phils would win 6 more in a row, sweeping the Rockies and Diamondbacks. Only July 29, they acquired former ace Roy Oswalt. They would win 12 of 15 since I purchased and religiously wore my new Phillies’ bands. And then disaster struck.

On the afternoon of August 10, 2010, I went to the gym. It was a pretty good workout, lots of back work, some cardio, and abs. I felt great. I had my dinosaurs on the right and the Phillies’ on the left. I came home and took them off to take a shower. I got out of the shower to take a call from Jay. Jay wanted to go down to the park and shoot hoops, maybe run the floor a little bit. I agreed; I didn’t have that much energy left, but I had already exhausted my other entertainment options. He told me to meet him down at the park in 5, so I just threw on a shirt and walked down. Without my Phillies’ bands. That’s ok, though, right? I mean, it wasn’t the bands that were keeping them going was it?

It must have been. I didn’t return until about 7:30 and by then the Dodgers were on the board. I didn’t really put two and two together, though, until it was too late. Once I had my bands on? Gload hits his second home run, Brown his first career home run. But the damage was done. Ay. Lesson learned. I have my Phillies’ bands on right now. I gave Sarah and Chris a Phanatic, easily the coolest of the bands. Hopefully yesterday’s 2-0 win will put them on the right track again.

Phillies' Logo Bandz. Pretty awesome. I will never take you off again.