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According to Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News, the missing ingredient in the Phillies' expected run at a championship could be Cliff Politte:

Politte, who never found a niche in Philadelphia, blossomed after being traded. Getting a steady diet of setup work, he appeared in 55 games. He had 25 "holds" and his .186 opponents' batting average was second lowest among American League relievers. He gave up just 38 hits in 57 1/3 innings. His earned run average for the last 2 months of the season was 2.10. And, just like that, a pitcher who was a square peg looking for a round hole in Philadelphia has become Toronto's closer in waiting.

Good luck to Dan Plesac in his second annual farewell campaign, and thank you, Ed Wade.

Politte Missed in Philly | 7 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Dave Till - Friday, February 21 2003 @ 12:28 PM EST (#95757) #
I really enjoyed Ed Wade's closing comment:

"Two areas that it's hard to have depth in are closer and catching. And in two deals we've made in the last year we traded Cliff Politte and Johnny Estrada. That cost us some depth, but those are deals we thought made sense for us."

That's a bit of an understatement, since Estrada was traded even up for Kevin Millwood. I still don't understand that trade.

Politte does look like the real thing, that's for sure.
_Jordan - Friday, February 21 2003 @ 01:41 PM EST (#95758) #
Two areas that it's hard to have depth in are closer and catching.

I think this quote shows just how little Wade actually understands talent acquisition. I would suggest that catching and reliever depth are two of the easiest commodities to find.

JP picked up lefty-mashing Tom Wilson for next to nothing. Ramon Castro and his .777 OPS are rotting on Florida's bench. Chad Moeller had an .852 OPS last year and Arizona's never given him more than 130 ABs. The minor leagues are filled with 30-something backstops who can hit .240 and throw out a quarter of basestealers in 100 at-bats.

Relievers are even more common: Steve Reed, Ben Weber, Darren Holmes, Mike Koplove, Scott Sauerback, Scott Shields and Justin Speier were all in the the Top 30 relievers according to Michael Wolverton's 2002 metrics, and any of them could have been picked up for a song before the season began.

There are probably no more replaceable commodities in baseball than backup catcher and bullpen depth. Wade is being disingenuous at best: Millwood fell from the sky like manna only because the Phillies could afford the arbitration hit Millwood was going to inflict, and Plesac, much as I like him, was less effective than Politte last year and will be retired long before Politte is finished striking out batters. Phillies fans should worry about what Wade will do in the pressure of a penannt race in July.
_R Billie - Friday, February 21 2003 @ 05:00 PM EST (#95759) #
Just some speculation based on what happened with Politte...what if Duckworth makes Bowa uncomfortable in the early going and Mesa crashes somewhat. Escobar for Duckworth? I personally wouldn't mind have a starter in his mid-20's who strikes out a batter per inning. And since Phillie has Myers and Floyd coming up, perhaps Duckworth becomes expendable.
Pistol - Friday, February 21 2003 @ 05:54 PM EST (#95760) #
Don't mean to hijack, but fantasy baseball at Yahoo is up and running. The good draft times go fast if you're reserving one.
Coach - Friday, February 21 2003 @ 08:26 PM EST (#95761) #
Pistol, we're OK for the BB League, but there may still be room in another Yahoo league (12 teams, Roto, involving some of the same owners) so send me another e-mail and I'll forward you the info. I'm not at my own PC right now, or I'd tell you more.

R Billie, I like the way you dream. Duckworth wasn't "wild" in the games I saw him pitch last year; he was just nibbling, and didn't get many close calls. He has excellent stuff, and if they get impatient with him, anything's possible. The tighter those NL races are, the more likely somebody will be desperate for a Proven Closer. Not that I'd wish for Gagne or Smoltz to get a hangnail, but maybe a blister...
_Jonny German - Friday, February 21 2003 @ 09:15 PM EST (#95762) #
Good call Billie... "Brandon Duckworth, not just another pretty name". I'd never really thought much about him, so I had a thorough look. His 2002 game log tells this story:

April, May, June: The girl with the curl.
July: Mostly middling.
August: The Phillies lose faith and demote him to the bullpen in place of one start. He gets blown out the first time back from the bullpen, then turns in 7 innings of 2-hitter to finish the month.
September: 2 blowouts, a turn on the bench, 2 very solid starts.

His minor league numbers show him getting better as he climbed (quickly) through the minors, with good K/9 throughout. He broke into the bigs in 2001 after great numbers in 163 AAA innings. In his 69 big league innings that year he took a hit in his walk rate as well as his K rate, but maintained a good hit rate and ERA.

Baseball Prospectus 2003 (don't think I haven't been dying to pull it out for a post here... got mine Wednesday) has this to say:

"Duckworth followed up his excellent 2001 season with a lackluster 2002, yielding a ton of homers and hand-wringing. (Ed: 26 HR). The official team line is that his mechanics were still solid, it was merely a matter of shaky confidence. While that may be part of it, it's also likely Duckworth needs to learn how to adjust to big league hitters. Last year we predicted Duckworth would blossom into an excellent pitcher. That strikeout rate (Ed: 9.22 K/9, 2.42 K/BB) means we're not changing our minds now. As good a bet to take a big step forward this season as anyone in this book.

As mentioned earlier, Duck rose quickly through the minors and got better as he went. Some of this could be attributed to his relative age, starting at 22 in A-Ball. This jibes with BPs take on his fall to the earth in 2002, as needing to learn a little more about adjusting. I think if J.P.'s going to steal him for Escobar, he'll have to do it very early in the season. Or tomorrow. That would be fine. And throw in Huck or Wilson, whichever isn't making the big time... Eddie won't be able to resist.
_Brooks - Tuesday, February 25 2003 @ 12:07 AM EST (#95763) #
Hey Guys, thought I would thow my two cents in while on the topic of Ducky.

While the Phillies have a lot of options when it comes to young starting pitchers (both Myers and Duckworth are just penciled in at those four and five slots in the rotation, with competition bound to come from the likes of Roa, Madison, Floyd, etc. sooner or later), don't expect Bowa and the Phils front office to give up on Duckworth so quick.

As some of you have mentioned, Brandon's past performance and buzz has been reason enough to disregard last season's problems to some degree and hope that off season work, along with the addition of Kerrigan will have a positive impact.

However, if we see another weak season from Ducky, don't be surprised if you guys get another call from Mr. Wade. :-)

Phils Correspondent
Politte Missed in Philly | 7 comments | Create New Account
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