This was an interesting move. Seldom in baseball do you see one Hall of Fame bound pitcher replace another in the starting rotation. Pedro Martinez and Jamie Moyer, between them, have won about 400 or 500 games in the major leagues; Moyer had already won 260 plus and was still pitching reasonably well this season at age 47 while Pedro Martinez had won nearly 200 games in a brilliant span of about fifteen years when he was nearly unhittable for the Expos and Red Sox during the late 90s and early 2000s.

Martinez in recent years has not been the same unhittable pitcher. His first year for the Mets went well, but after that he began to be injured, and showed signs of weakness on the mound for the first time, and the last three or four years have not been kind to the once invincible Martinez. But this past year he pitched well in the World Baseball Classic, and he seems ready once again to throw in the big leagues.

It’s an interesting move, since Moyer has been pretty much guaranteed money both in the regular season and in the post season for the phils since they obtained him three years ago. He won sixteen games last year and was very effective in 2007; more importantly, Moyer has been like a second pitching coach, teaching his crafty off speed stuff and wily changeups to the staff, like the late great Johnny Podres used to do with older Phillies staffs before him. Its true he’s slowed down a bit in the heat of August, but of course, with 47 year old pitchers, you’re sort of in unchartered territory. After all, last year, when he was 46, he pitched very well in the heat of August.

Brett Myers is also about ready to come back to the bigs in a couple of weeks, and starting September 1, the major league rosters expand to 40, so we might even see the likes of Kyle Drabek get a start or two. The Phillies, weak at starting pitcher all year, suddenly have an embarrassment of riches—Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Jamie Moyer, Pedro Martinez are all MVPs or Cy Young winners or big game pitchers who know how to win late in the season or in the post-season, and Joe Blanton and JA Happ have outstanding numbers this season, great strikeout to walk ratios, good WHIP numbers, and neither is allowing too many homers. Hamels’ numbers are also very good, even though fans and the media are complaining, Hamels is on track to strike out 150 batters, and his WHIP and homers allowed are pretty good. They’re just not what they were last year, but compared to an average starter, they’re excellent. And Lee has been phenomenal since arrival. So Lee, Happ, Hamels & Blanton all have great numbers. This move is all about the FIFTH starter. That’s kind of neat—having to fix your fifth starter. I bet the Mets wish they had that problem.

Happ is on pace to allow the fewest homers of any of the starters, and garner the most strikeouts per innings pitched. As I stated in a blog before the season started arguing for Happ to be named to the starting rotation, based on his minor league numbers (he struck out 125 and 150 batters in two seasons starting in AA and AAA), six foot six lefthanders don’t grow on trees. Happ may well be the rookie of the year and win ten games for the Phils. He may win fifteen next year.

Next year the Phils may have the luxury of a rotation with Happ, Blanton, Hamels, Lee Drabek or Myers, which would be a young and very good rotation. Moyer could continue out of the pen as a lefthanded specialist or move to pitching coach. Who knows? The Phils may even have Pedro back for another year.

One additional remark and that is on the Cliff Lee deal. This is GM Ruben Amaro’s first really big trade, and it was a brilliant one. First, because Amaro did not trade for Roy Halladay, who is 35 and his best years behind him, and the Blue Jays asking way too much. Second, because the Indians were asking a fair price for Lee, and the Phillies gave a fair amount for Lee. Third, because Lee is much younger than Halladay, and still in his prime; he won the Cy Young last year, not back in 2003, like Halladay.

If you examine Lee’s numbers, each year he’s been in the league, he’s allowed fewer home runs and fewer walks every year, culminating in his Cy Young year last year. Lee is an accurate thrower who simply throws strike after strike, low in the zone, without allowing homers. Last year he allowed only 10 or 12 homers all year, an impossibly low total in modern five run per game baseball, and very low for an American League pitcher. Halladay by constrast gives up 20 a year. Lee only walked approximately 30 or 35 batters last year while striking out 150 or more. That’s an amazing set of statistics for a starting pitcher.

Lee’s pinpoint control was abundantly on display his first two starts as a Phillie. His first start, a complete game shutout of the Giants, and his second start, in which he allowed only one run (not on a homer), demonstrated that he strikes out a lot of batters, walks few or none, and gives up no homers when he pitches. He also pitches deep into the game, the 7th, 8th or complete game.

Lee is, in short, the ideal starting pitcher. As if that is not enough, he can hit the ball and run the bases, and he’s modest, self-effacing, and farms and hunts in the off-season in his native Kentucky.

If this all sounds like Lee emerged full grown from a Damon Runyon story, I agree. He is too good to be true, but then again, the Phillies have always been blessed with characters who could play—like Aaron Rowand, Pete Rose, Lenny Dykstra, Steve Carlton, Tug McGraw, Cole Hamels—and Cliff Lee seems as if he was born to be a Phillie.

Pedro Martinez will look odd in a Phillies uniform, I’ll admit. But then again, Curt Schilling looked odd in a Red Sox uniform. And from what’s been printed in the various columns in the local news, Pedro’s been eating out at the local restaurants in Philly, so he seems to be enjoying himself here in town.

The Phillies are going to have a tough time in the playoffs this year when and if they clinch the division title. They’re looking at playing the Cubs or Cardinals, or the Giants in the first round, and the Dodgers Cubs or Cardinals in the second round, and all of those teams are loaded up with pitching and hitting. They will have to beat good pitchers like they did in 2008, when they beat CC Sabathia in the playoffs. They will need all of the arms they have acquired to win in the playoffs, and Pedro Martinez and Jamie Moyer, whether starting or in the bullpen, will be of great value in the playoffs come October.

–art kyriazis, Philly/South Jersey
home of the world champion phillies

The legendary Aaron Rowand, who went through the wall in 2007, in a game I personally attended in the spring of that momentous year with my two young sons, departed this great sports city after leading our Phils to our first division title in 2007.

Rowand signed a huge free agent deal with the Gianhts. In 2008, that looked bad, as the Phils won the world series, Victorino took Rowand’s place in the place of the hearts of phils fans, and the Giants limped to a very poor finish.

But 2009 is a different year. Rowand has led the Giants back from the grave. With Lincecum and other fine starters, and adding the agile Freddy Sanchez at 2b from the Pirates at the trading deadline, Rowand led his ballclub over the weekend to take 3 of 4 from the Phillies at SF.

The Giants have almost the same record as the Phils. The LA Dodgers are way ahead, but the Giants are in the wild card hunt, and may play the Phils in the playoffs. All weekend, Rowand was in the action, catching balls, scoring runs, hustling,and leading from the dugout.

This was the Aaron Rowand I remember, who won a world series in Chicago with the White Sox, and who led the Phils to overtake the Mets from 7 1/2 games down in September with 15 to play in fall 2007 to win the division.

He is a great leader. Aaron Rowand. Remember the name.

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

With great fanfare, the organizers of the new MLS Soccer Franchise for Philadelphia unveiled their team logo on Monday of this week, an event which was duly reported in the various sports pages of the local newspapers.

The organization which is promoting the new soccer franchise appears to be a group of overweight, entirely male surburban white men, who have absolutely nothing to do, and who have organized themselves into an organization for the promotion of professional soccer in the Delaware Valley/Philadelphia/South Jersey area, known as the “Sons of Ben.”

I only mention this parenthetically, because as it well known, most people who attend soccer games are world/ethnic—they are Latino, Italian, Greek, Caribe’, whatever—anything but white suburbanites.

If these fat white suburban guys driving SUVs buy season tickets to professional soccer, I’d be greatly surprised—and if they do show up, they’ll find a league composed almost entirely of foreign players, for the most part, with a few Americans sprinkled in for show.

Not to mention a stadium full of ethnic segments waving various flags of different countries for their favorite players from those countries, whether it’s Brazil, Germany, Greece, Holland or wherever.

It won’t be the U.S. Flag, I know that.

The Beckham experiment in LA is pretty much par for the course, except that it proved that MLS soccer is so far below the standards of English Premier League, that a guy like Beckham isn’t worth having on your team—it’s like playing Alex Rodriguez in sandlot ball. He doesn’t really help you because people just pitch around him, since all your other players are awful.

Let’s get to the awful LATIN. The logo for the new team is as follows:

PHILADELPHIA UNION
(Picture of Snake)
Jungite aut Perite

see also, the team’s new website,

http://www.philadelphiaunion.com/

which also displays the mistaken latin phrase “Jungite et Perite.”

The organizers assured the press conference that the snake and the latin phrase “Jungite aut Perite” were taken directly from the Newspapers of Benjamin Franklin, and that the phrase means “Join or Die,” and the snake represents the Join or Die emblem employed during the times of the American Revolution.

Ok, except for one huge problem. As Henry Beard, author of “Latin for Even More Occasions” (Villard Books, NY, 1991), states at p. 111 of his very humorous book,

“CONSONANTS….”

“J, W AND Y don’t exist in Latin.”

Beard, Id. at p. 111.

There is no letter “J” in the Latin language.

I believe what the Sons of Ben meant to say was the following:

“IUNGITE AUT PERITE.”

Latin for All Occasions by Henry Beard

Latin for All Occasions by Henry Beard

As is well known to those of us who have either studied the arcana of the Latin language for several years (I won the Latin Prize at Haverford School) (twice, actually) (now I’m just showing off) (thanks to Steve Dall, by the way, a great Latin teacher), or have gone to Catholic School and been forced to take Latin,

THERE IS NO J W OR Y in the Latin alphabet.

The letter J is approximated by the vowel combination “IU” as in “Iuno,” “Iuvenal,” and so forth.

Thus, there actually was no “Julius Caesar.” His name was “Caius Iulius Caii filius Caii nepos Caesar Imperator” (see wikipedia article on “Julius Caesar”) meaning “Gaius Julius Caesar, son of Gaius, grandson of Gaius, Imperator”. See? No “J”.

Gaius Iuilius Caesar

Gaius Iuilius Caesar

Thus, in Latin, there would be no “Dr. J”, only a Dr. “Iulius”

And you couldn’t jam the ball, you could only “iuam” the ball.

anyway, I think you get the fundamental point–there is no “j” in latin, either in the alphabet or in the everyday usage of the language. All of the “J”s you see in modern day latin (as when you see “Julius Caesar”) are added as approximations to the ancient lation usage of “Iu” for “J” which is the proper latin.

Now let’s see if the “Sons of Ben” (none of whom claim any actual lineage from Ben Franklin) actually know their Latin:

Iungite, “Join!”, is the plural imperative form of iungo, with principal parts iungere, iunxi, iunctum, “I join” (from which we get many english cognate words such as “conjunction” or “injunction”). The imperatives are “iunge”, join!, singular, addressed to one person, and “iungite”, join!, addressed to two or more persons. (See J. Wohlberb, 201 Latin Verbs, Barrons, NY, 1964, at pp. 94 & 63, the verbs “iungo” and “eo”) (see infra).

See? No “J” in “Iungite”. “Jungite” is just plain WRONG. The proper word is “IUNGITE”. That would be RIGHT.

Are these guys morons or what? Maybe they should try speaking latin in a Latin American soccer league! (I shudder to think what their spanish or italian is like).

Clearly, no matter how much money the Sons of Ben spent on their advertising, logo and presentation budget, it wasn’t enough.

I, along with numerous others like Victor Davis Hanson, have been lamenting the deconstruction and utter loss of the classics, e.g. the loss of the required learning of Latin and Greek for many years now; here is a pertinent example of WHY everyone should known Latin and Greek.

End of Sparta by Victor Davis Hanson

End of Sparta by Victor Davis Hanson

It is completely embarrassing that a major sports team should hold a press conference, insert a logo on their press team that draws from the Latin language, and then GET IT WRONG, when simple fact checking with a high school latin teacher could have straightened them out.

Here was an opportunity to show lots of schoolchildren that latin still matters–but the growups get it wrong. how embarassing.

On the rest of the slogan, they’re ok—aut means “or,” and “perite” is the plural imperative of “per-eo”—I kill—the root verb being “eo, ire, ii or ivi, itum,” with imperatives “I and ite” singular and plural—you just add per- in front of those to get “per-ite.” (201 Latin Verbs, id., cited supra, p. 63).

I guess I conclude here with a translation of the title of this piece, which was supplied by Mr. Beard—”avaritia bona est” can roughly be translated as “greed is good.” (The slogan from “Wall Street”, 1980s, Charlie Sheen, Michael Douglas). (see Beard, id. at p. 14).

Here some other great latin sayings from Beard (id. at p. 24):

Tu, rattus turpis! –
You dirty rat! (Jimmy Cagney)

Ei fer condicionem quam non potest repudiare –
Make him an offer he can’t refuse – Vito Corleone, the Godfather (Marlon Brando)

Age. Fac ut gaudeam. –
Go ahead. Make my day. Dirty Harry (Clint Eastwood).

Fuit mulier quae me potare egit. Nunquam steti gradum ad ei gratias agendas. –
It was a woman who drove me to drink. I never stopped to thank her. (W.C. Fields).

Fasciculum nicotianum fumificum meum quoque amo, sed aliquando eum de ore extraho. –
I like my cigar too, but I take it out of my mouth once in a while. (Groucho Marx).

See you all in remedial Latin class!

Art Kyriazis, philly/south jersey
Home of the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies are very early on in their season, but already the Bullpen is a huge strength for them.

On Saturday, Brett Myers gave them seven innings, giving up a few solo homers and around four runs, but the pen shut down Colorado the rest of the way, and Madsen and Lidge were again perfect as the Phillies won 8-4 after initially being behind 2-0.

People who think Brett Myers should be better than this have a fundamental misunderstanding about Brett Myers. Brett Myers’ career statistics are, that he will strike out about as many hitters as he pitches innings; that he will give up about 30 homers a year; and his ERA adjusted will be around 3.99, or around 4.00. On Saturday, he struck out 6, walked one, gave up four hits, three homers, but threw 66 strikes out of 102 pitches. In Coors Field, that was a GREAT pitching performance.

Considering how great the Phillies offense and bullpen is, that’s good enough to win. Any starter for the Phillies who gives them six or more innings and holds the other team to four or fewer runs is doing enough for the phils to win–last year they averaged better than five runs a game, scoring almost 900 runs.

On Sunday, Chan Ho Park, who I wrote in this blog should not be starting (I said it should be JA Happ) gave up five runs in less than four innings, and had to be pulled early. That was NOT a good enough starting job. I do not believe Park has what it takes to be a starter anymore.

However, the Phils bullpen, and Chad Durbin in particular, came up huge and shut down the Rockies completely–Durbin, Eyre, Condrey, Madsen (who picked up the win) and Lidge (who picked up yet another save) did not allow a run through almost six full innings, shutting the Rockies down as the Phillies mounted a seven run comeback capped off by Utley’s two run shot in the 8th and Stair’s pinch-hit two run bomb in the 9th to win the game.

At this point, with Cole Hamels basically only lobbing the ball and about to go on the shelf, Joe Blanton yet to pitch a decent game, Jamie Moyer having thrown a horrible first game, Chan Ho Park having pitched dreadfully, the Phillies still find themselves 3-3, and having won one series after losing the first.

Moreover, they got to Atlanta’s bullpen to win a big third game against Atlanta; and they destroyed Colorado’s bullpen in successive games.

In the meantime, the Phillies’ own bullpen didn’t allow any runs to either Atlanta or Colorado during those three comeback wins.

If you think about this, it’s a HUGE advantage to know that three innings into a game, even if you’re five runs down, your bullpen can come in and hold the other team at bay, and still give you a chance to come back and win.

It basically means, the Phillies are never out of any game, unless the other team scores like ten runs–and even then they’re not out of it, as they showed against Atlanta, coming back to score twelve runs to win.

The Phillies are currently 7th in the NL in runs scored–but 14th in runs allowed. Last year they were 3d in the NL in both categories.

They need to do basically two or three things to get everything turned around for April.

1) Sit Cole Hamels down for all of April. Give him the month off. Let him go to Reading or Allentown and work on getting his speed up to major league level. After all, he worked an extra month last year. The man earned a month off.

2) Let JA Happ into the rotation. The man is a strikeout machine waiting to start. Six foot six lefthanders should not be in the bullpen. He’s currently sitting on a .700 WHIP and a 3/1 strikeout to walk ratio. The man can pitch.

3) It’s ok for Chan Ho Park to be the 5th starter in April, because you can skip a lot of his starts due to the schedule and off days. Happ should be the 4th starter. Or you can vary it up depending on whether the team you’re facing has a lot of lefties (start Happ) or a lot of righties (start Park). If you’re on the west coast, it’s ok to start Park, he’s effective in Dodger Stadium, the Padres’ Park or the Giants’ Park.

4) Everyone of the Phillies is off to a hot offensive start, except for Jimmy Rollins, who is off to a very slow start. I would consider resting him and giving him a day off, and starting Bruntlett. Rollins is another guy who played an extra month last year, and then played in the World Baseball Classic. Rollins looks tired, and is not hitting like Jimmy Rollins. Rollins right now has an OPS of under .300, which is pathetic, and he looked like he was late on a lot of pitches on Sunday, fouling them off to left or popping them up, instead of pulling them to right as he customarily does. If the Phils are facing any lefties, start Bruntlett, and give Rollins a day off from time to time, and a day off once a week until he’s rested again. The man was the MVP in the league in 2007, but he’s not indestructible.

5) Chase Utley and Jayson Werth now have OPS over 1.000, and Utley at 1.275. They are on fire. Ryan Howard is hitting over .300 and OPS of .843, and had a huge bases loaded double over the weekend that just missed being a grand slam. Most important, Pedro Felize looks GREAT at the plate–he’s hitting .368, with an OBA of .435 and a Slugging Average of .526, for an OPS of .926–he’s off to a terrific start.

6) Pedro Feliz FEEDS off the lefties that teams are throwing at the Phils, and has turned into a very productive hitter. He’s learned to relax and stroke the ball up the middle or to left, and occasionally jerk the ball into the left field seats. He’s a confident, experienced hitter and a terrific glove man. The Phillies have themselves an excellent third baseman.

7) Chris Coste is NOT off to a good start. I’d like to see the Phils give their rookie catcher up from Allentown a start or two to see what he can do, although what they really need is Carlos Ruiz back.

8) They might need to look around for another backup catcher. Coste was a 34 year old rookie. He may be showing signs of age related decline, or he might just be off to a slow start.

In any event, to summarize, the Phils I thought had a good week. And they get to go to the White House tomorrow to be congratulated!

World Champions!

–art kyriazis
Philly/NJ
Home of the World Champion Phillies

IS THIS THE END FOR AI?

March 4, 2009

John Smallwood in yesterday’s Philly Daily News (tuesday march 3 2009) p. 62 writes in his column “Firing on Fewer Pistons: Aging Iverson Becoming Shell of His Former Dynamic Self”, basically, that Allen Iverson, the Answer, AI, is done and should retire and get on with his life.

In support of this thesis Smallwood cites three basic arguments:

1) Detroit has been 22-28 with Iverson, 3-1 when Iverson doesn’t start and 6-0 when AI doesn’t play.

2) Denver and Philly got the better of the last two Iverson trades.

3) AI is posting the worst numbers of his career this year, below 20 ppg and only 5.1 assists per game.

As you know, here at the Sophist, we think there are two sides to every question, and so we’re going to examine the other side of this argument. Is AI really done? Should we put a fork in him? Is he old? Should we start mailing the NBA pension checks to his mansion?

Well, we don’t think so, and here’s why.

Let me start by addressing the last argument first. It’s true that Allen Iverson is posting the worst numbers of Allen Iverson’s career. Allen Iverson, career, is a 27.1 ppg scorer, and career has averaged 6.2 assists, 2.2 steals and 3.6 turnovers. This year with Detroit, he has averaged 18.0 points, 5.0 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.5 turnovers.

This is where we point out something that Bill James and all the other statheads in the world have been saying for years. THE DECLINE PHASE OF A GREAT PLAYERS CAREER WILL BE GREATER THAN THE DECLINE PHASE OF AN AVERAGE PLAYER’S CAREER. Allen Iverson, even in decline, is still a great NBA player.

Let’s look at the 76ers. Andre Iguodala, who is in his prime as a player, is averaging only 18.0 ppg. Iguodala is 25 years old. Iverson is 34 years old, and averaging also 18 ppg. What is a terrible season for Iverson, is the very best that Iguodala can do.

Think about that for a second. Why did Wilt Chamberlain play until he was 40? Why did Elgin Baylor play until he was 40? Why did Jerry West play until he was 40? Why did Hal Greer play so many years?

It’s because great scorers like Allen Iverson, like Hal Greer, like Elgin Baylor, like Dr. J, even in their decline phase of their careers, are still more effective than the very best players in the NBA who are very gifted.

Looking at win shares, Iverson has 2.7 win shares this year for Detroit, but last year he had 12.6 win shares for Denver. The top two guys for the Sixers, Iguodala and Miller, have 6.5 and 7.1 win shares each, and that’s about as good as they get. Neither of them will get 12 win shares in a good year. On the Pistons, no one has more than 4.3 win shares, and that’s Tayshoun Prince. the win shares on Detroit are very evenly distributed because Prince, Wallace, Hamilton, McDyess, AI, Stuckey, Maxiell and Johnson all have 2 or more win shares, and they all score, rebound, hand out assists or play a lot of defense. They have a team concept in Detroit.

AI’s numbers in Detroit, therefore, reflect an ADAPTATION to the game as played in Detroit, which is a defensive game, low offensive production, a much slower pace and team play.

Next, AI has played by far the most minutes of any of the Pistons, except for Tayshoun Prince; Prince has played 2214 minutes, while Iverson has played 1913 minutes; Wallace has played 1831 minutes, while Stuckey has played 1785 minutes, and Hamilton 1702 minutes.

It’s obvious that the coach in Detroit has not played his players evenly. He’s taken two hundred minutes away from Stuckey and Hamilton and given them to Iverson, even though Stuckey is younger and Hamilton is taller and can play better defense.

Part of the problem here is that Iverson, Stuckey and Hamilton all play the 2 guard; Stuckey can play the point, and should play the point, but even then Hamilton and Iverson both play the 2 guard.

If I was coaching the team, I’d start Hamilton and bring Iverson in with the second unit, because Iverson against the second unit of the other team would cause chaos and destruction, and also the three guard set up with Stuckey, Hamilton and Iverson can run with some opposing lineups and wear them down.

But clearly, the detroit coach has run Iverson into the ground by playing him too many minutes.

The result has been injuries to Iverson, and at 34, he is no longer indestructible, which is why he is being evaluated for back injuries this late in the season.

If I had an Iverson, I’d have played him less in the regular season and saved him for the playoffs, where we know he excels.

Furthermore, if Iverson has been hurt, and we know he plays hurt quite often, that would explain some of the decline in his numbers. He’s had some dreadful nites this year–and perhaps he’s been tired, hurt and not able to be AI. When he’s been rested, ready and healthy, he’s had some great nights this year for Detroit. He’s dropped 25 or more points on the Lakers and on many other qualify opponents in key wins during this year. And frankly, he’s looked at times much like the AI of old.

I’d say, rest him, keep his minutes down, and you’ll have AI of old always.

Per 36 minutes, Iverson is scoring 17.2 points, which is very productive. But Hamilton is scoring 18.9 points per 36 minutes, which suggest that Hamilton is the more efficient two guard.

Detroit needs to move one of them, and since Iverson’s contract is up, AI probably should go.

The Sixers should pick up AI (and Rasheed Wallace if possible) and make their run at the Eastern Division Crown, and dump Elton Brand. AI is the short term Answer to the Sixers 3 point and scoring issues in close games.

Also, in close games, AI can be the go-to guy with under a minute left. Finally, if AI teamed up with Andre Miller, they’d be fantastic. Andre Miller would be the best point guard AI ever played with, and Andre would get AI the ball where he could work with it, especially out on the break. I think Iguodala and AI would both be scorers in this system, while Dalembert, Young and Speights would all play defense and work the boards.

If Wallace could be added, he could play defence, work the board, and shoot the three. Then I think the Sixers could even keep Elton Brand and see if they had a monster team.

Turning to whether Denver got the better of the Billups-Iverson deal, at the time the deal was made, it looked even steven.

In 2007-08, Iverson earned 12.6 win shares for Denver, and had a monster season for them. Billups led the Pistons in 2007-08 with 12.8 win shares, while Hamilton Wallace and Prince each had 7.3, 7.2 and 7.1 win shares each. But there’s one other issue here, and that’s Billups salary–he was earning like 60 million over several years, while AI was only getting about 15-20 million for one more season.

So basically, the trade was even in terms of talent and win shares, but Detroit unloaded a boatload of cap room.

Let’s say hypothetically that Detroit wants to sign a big free agent in 2009-2010 or thereabouts–they would want AI and/or Wallace got–older players, along with Billups, who is also an older player–and want the cap room gone.

In that event, they could sign a LeBron James, a Kobe Bryant, or whoever is a big free agent to turn the franchise into a premier franchise for the long haul.

While it looks as if currently denver is getting the long end of the stick, Detroit will eventually get the better of this trade.

Some side points on Denver: Carmelo Anthony isn’t what he’s cracked up to be. Billups is leading the team with 7.7 win shares. Nene is second with 7.3 win shares. Then comes Chris Anderson with 3.6 WS, and Kenyon Martin with 3.5 WS, and guess who’s 5th most valuable player with only 3.1 win shares?

That’s right, Carmelo Anthony. By the way, AI got .2 win shares for Denver while he was there, so adding that to the 2.7 he has for Detroit, AI has 2.9 win shares for the season.

So AI has 2.9 win shares, while Carmelo has 3.1. Carmelo is 25 years old averaging about 21 ppg (last year it was 25 ppg) and yet he’s having about the same season, statistically, as Allen Iverson, 34 years old, who Smallwood of the Daily News says is washed up.

But last year, playing with AI, Carmelo had 8.9 win shares, and the Denver Nuggets played a beautiful uptempo offense, where AI and Carmelo played really well together–and Carmelo had a great season, averaging nearly 26 ppg and more than 7 rebounds a game, and more than 3 assists a game.

the fact is that Carmelo doesn’t fit with Chauncey Billups at all, whereas Iverson and Carmelo were a match made in heaven. Together, Carmelo and Iverson had 12.6 and 8.9, or 21.5 win shares together.

this year, Billups and Carmelo have 7.7 and 3.1 win shares together, or 10.4. The real reason Denver is winning is 1) Billups is scoring a lot 19 ppg and 2) Nene is scoring 14 ppg and 3) nene is playing defense and rebounding inside. Also, Smith, Martin and Kleiza are all scoring because Billups is getting them the ball.

Now let’s look at the last issue, did the Sixers get better by getting Andre Miller?

The Sixers had Allen Iverson ten years, from 1996-2006. During that time, AI was the #1 road draw in the NBA, had the world’s most popular sneaker, led the NBA in scoring four times, and the Sixers made the playoffs six of the ten years that he was here. Moreover, the Sixers advanced past the first round of the playoffs three of those years, and got to the NBA finals one of those years.

You’d have to say, that was pretty darn good for a guy that was 5 foot 9 dripping wet.

Oh, and he scored about 20,000 points or so while he was here.

AI was MVP of the league, All Star MVP twice, led the league in minutes played twice, and kept the stands filled in Philly.

He led the league in free throw attempts twice, and is on the career list there. He’s on the career list for a lot of things, including minutes played, free throws attempted, and points scored, and he’s third alltime in ppg during the playoffs.

we sat and watched him drop 50 ppg more than once during the playoffs. Spike Lee would have given anything to see this guy play for the Knicks, right?

I know that the other day was the 100th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points at Hershey, PA in March of 1962 against the New York Knicks. The Big Dipper averaged 50 points, 25 rebounds and more than 48 points a game that year for the Philadelphia Warriors and Eddie Gotlieb.

I met Wilt in LA at the Bar Marmont in LA with some friends in the VIP section. There were a lot of important types there like Rick Rubin and some SNL actors, but I only wanted to meet Wilt. My mom had been a teacher of his back in the 50s at Overbrook HS as a trainee when she first started in the school system, and always told me how tall he was, and how nice he was.

Well, Wilt was extremely nice. He was much taller than 7 foot 1, more like 7 foot 5, and he had two girls with him and a couple of lawyer types. I’m sure he really did sleep with 20,000 women, and that circular house of his is famous, it was in a brian dipalma film once. Wilt lived the life of riley, he hung out at the playboy mansion, slept with any girl he wanted, and was noted for being a conservative and careful stock investor. He was very wealthy when he died, a bachelor to the end. He was frugal, intelligent and careful with his money.

I mention Wilt because we never thought we’d see a scorer like Wilt again, and then there was AI, who dazzled this town for ten years with his exploits. On any given night, AI could put up 50, 60 points. He wasn’t Wilt, but he had Wilt’s attitude that no one could stop him, and he ATTACKED the basket like Wilt used to do. AI was a lot like Wit–he existed to score, and scoring was his reason for existence.

I thought for a while that AI might score a hundred points in a game. On February 12, 2005, he lit up Orlando for 60 points. I mention this because that was barely four years ago. And he only made two three pointers in that game. 17 field goals and 24 free throws–Wilt made 28 free throws and 36 field goals in the 100 point game. It’s hard to believe that the Sixers could have traded AI just a year and a half after this incredible performance–the greatest single game performance by a 30+ athlete in the NBA in my humble opinion, and I remember watching the game on cable–but there you go.

So Smallwood thinks the Sixers did better getting Andre Miller? Well, let’s see. Since the trade, the Sixers have made the playoffs once in three years. they missed the year they traded Iverson, 06-07, they made it the next year, 07-08, and they may make it this year.

Iverson, on the other hand, made the playoffs immediately with Denver his first year there, 2006-07, made it the next year 2007-8, while having a spectacular comeback season (as did Carmelo Anthony, see above), and this year, even having an offyear with Detroit, will probably make the playoffs with the Pistons as the #7 or #8 seed. The way the Sixers are going the second half, the Pistons will probably pass them and reach the #6 or #5 seed, actually, so the Sixers are not even a lock for the playoffs.

On December 5, 2007, playing for Denver, Iverson dropped 51 on the Lakers. Iverson was now 32 years old. What a performance. It was on national TV, of course.

On December 23, 2005, Iverson dropped 53 on Atlanta in Atlanta, surely pleasing all the rappers in attendance down there. He was 30 years old.

None of this, of course, sounds like a guy who was, is or will be washed up at age 34, 35 or whatever.

Let’s look at AI this year.

On December 19, 2008, AI dropped 38 on Utah at home in Detroit for the Pistons.

On February 19, 2009, not a week ago, AI dropped 31 on the San Antonio Spurs, his second best game of the year.

On November 11, 2008, AI dropped 30 on the Sacramento Kings.

AI has had 17 games of 20 or more points for the Pistons this year. In only five games did he fail to score in double figures. He is now 33 years of age.

Getting back to Andre Miller, Miller’s win shares for Denver had declined from 9.1 to 7.2 to 6.4 in the three seasons leading up to the Miller for Iverson trade. In short, Miller looked to be declining in an age-related fashion.

AI had gone 9.4, 10.9, 6.5 Win Shares the same three seasons. It was not clear that he was in age-related decline at all. What we do know about Iverson is that his win shares and seasons follow no predictable pattern, that he has off years followed by great ones;

1996-97 4.3 WS
1997-98 9.0 WS
1998-99 7.2 WS
2000-01 6.9 WS
2001-02 11.7 WS (MVP)
2002-03 6.8 WS
2003-04 9.2 WS
2004-05 2.7 WS (injured, played 48 G)
2005-06 10.6 WS
2006-07 6.5 WS (Phila, Denver)
2007-08 12.6 WS
2008-09 2.9 WS (Denver, Detroit)
Total 100.1 WS

What you see here is a great player, because seasons over ten win shares are MVP seasons. Iverson has had several of these, and the MVP voting has reflected this.

Also, you can see he needs a season to adjust to a new team before he can come back. His second season in Denver, he was brilliant. If he has a second season in Detroit, he should be better. When he was injured in Philly, he came back and had a monster year.

Also, we see that the Sixers must be idiots, because they traded him the year after he had a monster year, 2005-06, 10.6 win shares. So there was no logic in trading him, he was not only a good player, but a great one.

Basically, the sixers were looking to clear salary cap room, and that’s all.

The next season, after the trade, 2007-08, AI had 12.6 win shares, as we know from above.

Miller has had 8.1 and 7.1 win shares with the Sixers the last two season, so he’ll probably end up with around 8 win shares this year. He’s by far the most valuable Sixer. And yet the Sixers have not signed a contract with Miller and seem to want to let him leave.

As for the salary cap room, the Sixers wasted it on Elton Brand.

Elton Brand is 30 years old. He had 10.3, 15 and 11.4 win shares for the Clippers in 2004-05, 05-06 and 06-07, but the last two years, he’s played 8 games and 29 games due to injury, last year with an ACL and this year with a torn labrum and bad shoulder.

The last time Elton Brand scored 30 or more more points in a game was April 12, 2007 for the Clippers.

The last time Elton Brand scored 40 or more points in a game was February 10, 2006 for the Clippers.

The guy who’s become a “shell of his former dynamic self” is not Allen Iverson, but Elton Brand.

After earning 11.4 win shares in 2006-2007, Brand earned .4 win shares in 2007-2008, and then the Sixers paid him all of the cap room they had (a gazillion dollars) even though he was hurt and damaged goods, and old and shot, and no evidence he could come back from injury (i’d have given him a one year deal), and he promptly came out, played badly, got hurt and is back on the shelf.

Brand earned 1.1 win share this year.

AI is 300% better than that this year, and AI is having a bad year for AI. Last year, we know that AI had 12.6 win shares, while Brand had hardly any.

So did the Sixers make out better with the Miller for AI trade? I think not. While Miller fits the team better because they needed a point guard, the Sixers could have found a point guard other than Miller.

First, they should never have traded Eric Snow so early.

Second, they could have worked out a deal for Delonte West, who is making money feeding the ball to LeBron James.

Third, Bibby was on the market and Atlanta got him.

Fourth, Jason Kidd was on the market, and is now at Dallas. He’s still on the market.

Fifth, there’s always point guards of quality available. The key is, AI is not a point guard, he’s a two guard.

So this is not the end for AI.

I know one team that would covet AI, and that’s the Knicks. They need an exciting presence there.

If they signed Andre Miller and AI, they’d have a team right away with the young players they’ve developed this past year.

The sixers have to be careful. The people they don’t sign will go to their competition in the NBA East, and they will regret their non-moves.

AI should retire in a Sixers Jersey. It’s appropriate to bring him home.

–art kyriazis philly/south jersey
home of the world champion philadelphia phillies

Time Magazine just did a cover story on stem cell research, which is commendable. They also entitled the story “The Quest Resumes,” which is commendable, focusing on the fact that the Federal Government, under the Obama Administration, may finally allow (this may already have been approved by executive order) federal funds for stem-cell research at federally funded research institutions.

However, the subtitle of the article is “After eight years of political ostracism, stem-cell scientists like Harvard’s Douglas Melton are coming back into the light—and making discoveries that may soon bring lifesaving breakthroughs.” Time Feb 9, 2009 at p. 36.

Now, let’s examine that for a second—In Massachusetts, where Prof. Melton plies his craft, the Commonwealth and State of Massachusetts, like the State of California, has voted state support of stem-cell research at institutions of higher education. Therefore in Massachusetts, like California a bastion of biotechnology, the biotech lobby was able to secure state support for stem-cell research during the eight-year long federal ban on such research. So compared to the other 48 states, Prof. Melton was actually at an advantage because his lab was in Massachusetts.

Because of the federal funds ban, a great deal of stem cell-research has begun to spring up in places like Southeast Asia, as the Time Magazine article correctly notes, and as it well-known in the biotech industry. But a lot of it is also staying put in Cali and Mass due to those states putting up seed money for biotech research that is stem cell oriented.

Next, Prof. Melton works as co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI), which Harvard has committed substantial resources to supporting over the past eight years and well into the future. According to their 2008 report, their annual spending has grown in the past two years from just over $5 million to over $16 million in fiscal year 2008, most of that culled from private and corporate donations. HSCI currently has no less than eight ongoing challenge grant research projects sponsored for $75,000 each, all of them stem cell oriented.

Now I am a powerful supporter of stem-cell research, and I strongly advocate that the federal government support stem cell research. The question I have for Time Magazine is, and maybe perhaps for the Federal Government, is HSCI the most needy recipient for federal funds for stem cell research? The article omits that HSCI is well-funded by private donors, and omits that Massachusetts provides state support (it is not clear if HSCI accepts Massachusetts money) and therefore the article in Time is somewhat misleading.

The argument for funding HSCI federally has to be this; we, e.g. HSCI, made a good faith effort to get the ball rolling the past three years through private financing, we have already a lab in motion with research projects, so if you fund us, we will be three years closer to getting results than any other academic lab you choose to fun. Consequently, their NIH grant requests will carry a certain heft.

On the other hand, they are not as dramatically in need of the money as some other labs who don’t have any private funding at all.

A more useful article would have been to depict the overall situation in the rest of the United States, and some of the labs outside CA & MA.

This is an interesting issue and one on which arguments on both sides would and could be marshalled.

It should be pointed out that I strongly support the work of Prof. Melton and the work of HSCI. Those initiatives were put into place by then President Lawrence Summers, along with the Broad Institute initiative, a few years back, and clearly they have had the effect of putting Harvard back on the map in terms of genetics and molecular biology research.

The good news about the Time article is that the words “Stem Cells” made the cover, along with a nice bio-photo. If nothing else, Americans this week can forget about the economy and the war for a moment and realize that stem cell research is an answer to many of our problems that don’t involve boundaries and account balances and fumes spewing out of our cars.

–art kyriazis philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

this is an actual case study I did at Wharton about fifteen years ago for Steve Sammut’s class on advanced patent portfolio management theory. This case is of interest because it concerns a biotech company, and because, re-reading it after a long time, it actually reads very well. Even before I had all the experience I do now, I actually had a good feel for what to do with the management of a biotech company even back then, so here it is. And yes, I did get an “A” in the class, of course. Dr. Sammut used to run the tech transfer office for Penn during the 1990s.

–art k

ps enjoy!

T-CELL SCIENCES, INC. CASE

by Arthur J. Kyriazis

MGMT 898 – PROF. SAMMUT

Wharton School (WEMBA)
University of Pennsylvania

April 22, 1994

Issues

T-Cell Sciences, Inc. (“T-Cell”) is a 1983 Cambridge, MA biotech/pharmaceutical startup sired by Patrick Kung, a “recognized pioneer in immunological research.” The main issue appears to be defining T-Cell’s ultimate market niche even as it undergoes the process of transition from a venture-funded start-up to a more mature publicly held corporation. Specifically, in the coming months and years, should T-Cell (1) concentrate upon basic across the board immunological R&D; (2) concentrate upon basic immunological R&D with a focus on diagnostic drugs and product(s); or (3) focus upon strategic alliances with large pharmaceutical companies with an eye cast towards the development and delivery of therapeutic pharmaceutical drugs?

It would appear that until the arrival of James D. Grant as CEO in November of 1986, the main issue might well have been a different one altogether, namely whether T-Cell would reorganize or liquidate. In early 1986, T-Cell was a company in trouble and one which was not being particularly well-run or well-managed, even though it had brilliant scientists and innovative technologies full of commercial promise. Even though startups might be expected to lose money at the outset, T-Cell’s losses in 1985 and 1986 totalled nearly $2 million, compared with $5.5 million capitalization from December of 1983 throught January of 1986. This apparently necessitated a public offering in May of 1986, which raised $11.1 million, followed by the hiring of Mr. Grant in November of 1986, and his hiring of a well-heeled financial CFO immediately thereafter.

In addition, up through Grant’s arrival, T-Cell had only developed two products of any consequence, ACT-T-SET, and CELLFREE, and only two joint venture/research alliances/R&D contracts of any consequence, the Syntex USA contract and the Pfizer contract, and had failed to show any revenue from product sales through 1986, and only $13 million in revenue from contracts in 1986.

In brief, one may surmise from the case study that a great deal of money was spent at T-Cell, until Grant’s arrival, on basic immunological research, without a very well defined sense of where the research was going, or how it would be profitable or generate a return to the company and to the investors. This might have been a result of Dr. Kung’s diffuse vision of the company’s market niche as somehow doing R&D better or faster, and perhaps a touch of the academic fondness for the intrinsic value of broad based academic research as opposed to targeted research and strategic alliances directed to product development and ultimate profit.

Grant’s arrival placed T-Cell on a radically different footing and he appears to have turned the company around. Losses were reduced by nearly a million dolars from 1986 to 1987, and for the year ending in April of 1987, T-Cell reported positive product sales revenue of nearly $400,000 together with contract revenues of nearly $2 million. In addition, Grant apparently negotiated the deal with Yamanouchi Parmaceutical, which as he characterizes it places T-Cell on a sound cash flow footing for the foreseeable future. In addition, Grant has introduced a sound line of command and professionalized the management of the company by hiring a financial officer and a regulatory affairs officer, paying attention to patent management issues, and spending time painting a sound, attractive picture to shareholders, potential investors and to regulators. Finally, Grant’s status an a former FDA head bodes well for the regulatory hurdles awaiting T-Cell’s products.

T-Cell’s Strengths

T-Cell’s strengths are many. First, it has a distinguished corps of researchers led off by Dr. Kung, who appears to be a leader in the field of T cell research. It is situated in Cambridge, MA, in the heart of the Harvard-MIT research community, and can be expected to easily draw upon an outstanding technical scientific staff for its research needs. Also, the scientific advisory board includes people like Dr. Mark Davis and others who are world-recognized scientific leaders.

Second, T-Cell has introduced two product lines in 1986, the ACT-T-SET and CELLFREE technologies, which assuming patent protection and FDA approval, are potentially product mainstays for the company. These two products are expected to have applicability in the diagnosis of various stages of immune system stimulation and white blood cell activity. Dr. Kung and Mr. Grant expect R&D to eventually identify other new products in the same T cell related vein with applicability in the diagnostic field.

Third, T-Cell has two joint ventures, with Syntex and Pfizer, and now a third, with Yamanouchi, which promise to focus on specific product development, with the obvious potential of delivering a drug to market which can be of wide therapeutic applicability and therefore be a cash mainstay for the company. The Syntex and Pfizer ventures aim to produce therapeutic drugs targeted at common medical ailments, including breast cancer, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cytomegalovirus. The Yamanouchi venture aims to develop products to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis and lung cancer. An added benefit is the global ability to develop and market products and drugs in Japan and the rest of the world while awaiting FDA approval for their sale in the United States.

Fourth, T-Cell now has James D. Grant, who must be reckoned as an important asset of the company at this juncture. His management skills have put T-Cell on a sound business footing; his contacts have resulted in new joint venture(s); and his FDA expertise should translate into FDA product approvals.

Which Fields or Options are Most Attractive for T-Cell?

The basic R&D approach is wrong for this size company. What the company needs to do is ultimately make a decision between developing diagnostic products/drugs on its own, or on developing them with partners. Grant appears to be committed to a strategy of hedging his bets by pursuing both options. He is willing to commit some money to R&D and to diagnostics, while courting and signing deals with large pharmaceuticals for strategic alliance(s) aimed at delivering specific types of therapeutic products/drugs. Grant also feels that the diagnostic(s) division, once profitable, should be spun off because of the competition in that field.

Recommendations

Grant probably has it right. The therapeutic emphasis is the best way for T-Cell to go right now. The joint venture/strategic alliance approach is a sound one. If successful, the development of even one drug marketed to a patient population as widespread as the breast cancer or lung cancer populations promises immediate payoff for T-Cell’s efforts and a handsome reward for its investors.

With diagnostic drugs on the other hand, even if approved and even if proprietary, it is hard to see how T-Cell will be able to exploit the discoveries, so that Grant is probably correct when he surmises that this division or these proprietary discoveries will ultimately be spun off. Of course, licensing and franchising are options we have discussed which absent from Grant’s discussion(s).

The best way for T-Cell to go would be to continue to solicity these contracts and joint ventures. T-Cell has recognized, proven scientific talent and recognized expertise in this very specific area of immunological research.

One specific recommendation is that the company hire a patent portfolio manager and begin to concentrate on patenting more of its discoveries, as well as concentrate on getting products to FDA submission stage. This manager must also concentrate on getting the researchers to recognize when a discovery may or might be patentable or commerciable in some respect. These two steps will make the company attractive to investors and a steady stream of patent application(s) and FDA approval applications are evidence that a company has been doing its homework.

These steps, if followed, should result in a successful new round of equity financing and/or an invitation to buy the company out altogether. In either event, the company will have attained a substantial goal. Finally, T-Cell should keep Grant around. Given the company’s history, investors could get extremely nervous if he were to depart suddenly or unexpectedly.

–Arthur J Kyriazis, 1994

THIS WAS AN ACTUAL CASE STUDY I WROTE FOR THE WHARTON SCHOOL IN THE SPRING OF 1994.

–art kyriazis
Philly/South Jersey
Home of the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies
Home of the Incredible Philadelphia Eagles
Home of the Arena Football League Champion Philadelphia Soul
Making the Playoffs in 2008: The Sixers, the Flyers, the Phillies and the Eagles!
Happy New Year 2009

The clash between Eagles head coach Andy Reid and his former assistant coach (and now Minnesota Head Coach) and good friend Brad Childress in the playoffs yesterday highlights a new trend in the NFL—the Philadelphia Eagles family of coaches in the NFL. First, there are the Buddy Ryan assistant coaches—Jon Gruden, formerly of Oakland (where he went to the Super Bowl) and now of Tampa Bay (where he also went to the Super Bowl, and narrowly missed the playoffs this year) and Jeff Fischer of Tennessee, the NFL’s longest tenured coach, who is the AFC’s top seeded team this year, a regular playoff contender, and a former Super Bowl coach and AFC champion. Former Eagles head coach and Buddy Ryan assistant coach Ray Rhodes continues to work as an assistant coach in the league. Buddy Ryan’s two sons now are assistant coaches in the league. Second, there are the ex-Eagles—such as Herm Edwards of Kansas City, and former head coach Dick Vermeil, who used to coach at St. Louis, and won a Super Bowl there. Ex-Eagle John Bunting was a college head coach at North Carolina. And then you have the Andy Reid connections–Harbaugh at Baltimore, who used to coach special teams with the Eagles, and all the connections of Reid through Green Bay as well as Philly like Childress at Minnesota and Holmgren in Seattle.

There are probably many more connections to the Eagles that could be found, but it certainly is illuminating how many coaches and assistant coaches in the NFL (and in the college ranks) now have philly ties. And we used to think this was a college hoops town with a lot of college and pro hoops coaches everywhere. Who knew we were a spawning ground for college coaches. Guess it’s a spawning ground of football coaches as well for the NFL.

–art kyriazis philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies
Happy New Year 2009

Replacing Chase Utley

December 24, 2008

The Phillies have made one excellent move to replace Chase Utley for the first half of 2009 by signing Raul Ibanez, a lefthanded slugger who will replace Utley’s bat in the lineup.

However, Eric Bruntlett, if played for a month or longer, as was done last year for Jimmy Rollins when Rollins was hurt, will be not be able to bring the bat to the table. Eric Bruntlett career is about a 52 OPS player, meaning that he hits about 50% on average of what a normal big league player hits. That’s costing you a lot of offense. Tad Iguchi by contrast is approximately 95% OPS or about average OPS.

Should the phillies be shopping for a second baseman? absolutely. I’d start with Tad Iguchi.

Going through the free agent list, here are other options.

Baltimore – Juan Castro ss, Alex Cintron ss.

Boston – Alex Cora ss

Chicago White Sox – Juan Uribe – ss/2b/3b

KC – Mark Grundzielanek, 2b

Seattle – Miguel Cairo – 2b

Arizona – David Eckstein ss, Orlando Hudson 2b

Dodgers – Nomar Garciaparra – 2b/1b, Jeff Kent 2b

Brewers – Craig Counsell – ss/2b/3b

Mets – Damion Easley 2b, Ramon Martinez 2b

Pirates – Luis Rivas ss

Giants – Omar Vizquel ss/2b, Rich Aurilia ss/2b/1b

Looking over this list, there is simply a plethora of riches from which to select a replacement second baseman for the first half of 2009, and after Chase Utley is back, to have a nice righthanded bat to spell Ryan Howard at first base from time to time.

The names I like the most on this list are Nomar Garciaparra, Jeff Kent and Rich Aurilia, for their offense, and Omar Vizquel, for his tremendous defense and speed. Also Juan Uribe and David Eckstein for their good gloves and good heady play, and for being starters on world series winners.

Any of these guys would be terrific to help out the Phillies at second base the first half of 2009, while also backing up Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and maybe even Raul Ibanez the second half of 2009 when a lefty pitcher is on the mound. They could also play third base and help out there as well.

In short, signing one of these guys could do two things;

1) address the chase utley situation; and
2) address the lefthanded situation once utley comes back.

A third factor is resting the regulars down the stretch in the second half of 2009 against tough lefties. It would be great to have a Jeff Kent or a Nomar Garciaparra to stick in there and rest one of your good lefthanded players and have them come off the bench to pinchhit against a righty reliever late in the game. That’s a nice chess move to have later in the game.

Speaking of free agents, there’s two more free agents and former Phillies that Ruben Amaro Jr should be talking too.

One is Curt Schilling, he of the bloody sock and the 1993 world series shutout for the phillies. Schilling may have another good year in him. There is no harm in bringing him back here and seeing if he has a year or two left. After all, the Jamie Moyer experiment worked. Schilling loves the Phillies, and if he gets back to 75% of what he was, he’s a game closing starter who can get you another world series ring, case closed. Plus he’s a nine innning man. The bloody sock. Case closed. And he struck out 300 men in a Phillies uniform for how many seasons???

That’s a no brain signing.

The other is Randy Wolf, who would love to come back to the Phillies. Wolfie was a great Phillie, was always a 10-15 game winner, and would be effective as a starting pitcher in our ballpark since he already pitched here before. If he’s not effective as a starter, he’d be terrific as a long reliever at this stage of his career.

Again, these are two pitchers who are long time ex-phillies, who were phils for long periods of time, who would welcome coming back to a world championship club.

Signing a second baseman, along with Curt Schilling and Randy Wolf, would be three moves that would keep the Phillies well ahead of the Mets in the arms race.

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

The Phillies have decided not to negotiate with free agent leftfielder and careeer phillie Pat Burrell and instead to sign Raul Ibanez, late of the Seattle Mariners, to a three year deal.

First, in order to make sense of this move, one has to recognize that Chase Utley is seriously hurt, recovering from surgery, and the first thing the phillies need to do is replace Chase Utley for at least the first half of 2009.

RAUL IBANEZ IS NOT REPLACING PAT BURRELL AT THE START, HE’S REPLACING CHASE UTLEY.

Once you recognize this fact, the Raul Ibanez signing makes incredible sense, because what the Phillies need is not a right handed but a lefthanded slugger in the lineup to backup Ryan Howard or go in front of Ryan Howard.

Without Utley in the lineup, and projecting lets’ say Eric Bruntlett at 2b for two months, the Phils may look like this;

lf – Raul Ibanez lh
cf – Shane Victorino sh
rf – Jayson Werth rh
3b – Pedro Feliz rh
ss – Jimmy Rollins sh
2b – Eric Bruntlett rh
1b – Ryan Howard lh
c – Carlos Ruiz rh

now if you examine this lineup, and assume that Chase Utley will not be back from surgery for at least two months of 2009, you will quickly see that the only lefthanded bats in the lineup are Ibanez and Howard, and that everyone else is a righy or a switch hitter.

Manuel might need also to spell Pedro Feliz if his back acts up, and may have to put Dobbs at 3d, which would actually add a needed left handed bat in the lineup.

Either way, the lineup is not overly lefthanded at this juncture. Bruntlett would bat 8th, Ruiz 7th, and the rest of the lineup would be probably as usual.

As for Burrell, who is departing, in nine seasons his line has been .257/.367/.485 with an ops+ of 119, hitting in a very favorable home park. Burrell hits poorly for average, but gets about 100 walks a year, doesn’t hit into many double plays, but strikes out a lot. He’s a classic station to station player who hits 30 homers a year, but otherwise either walks, strikes out or doubles. He hits few singles and rarely puts the ball into play otherwise.

Ibanez is a pretty different kind of hitter. A cuban, and therefore a classic latin american ballplayer, Ibanez does put the ball into play. His line after 13 seasons is .286/.346/.472 with an ops+ of 113. Over 162 games, he has averaged 21 homers, 4 triples and 32 doubles, 160 hits, 81 runs scored, 93 RBI, 52 walks and 92 strikeouts, with 11 GIDP. Notice that he gets to the approximately same slugging average as burrell and same ops+ as burrell, but does it by hitting more doubles and more singles, and having a higher batting average, a slightly lower on base average, but not much lower, and does this all in one of the worst hitting parks in baseball, Seattle. We can safely assume Ibanez will improve in Philly’s CBP. Again, Ibanez has averaged 265 total bases per 265 games, while Burrell has averaged 273.

This is so close, that it’s a wash offensively. But defensively, Burrell is a clear liability. While Ibanez is not a terrific outfielder, he’s better than Burrell, and Ibanez while not a motorman on the bases, will not have to be pulled for pinchrunners every time in late game situations.

Pat Burrell was a fantastic, great offensive machine for the phillies while he was here. He was a better player than JD Drew in my opinion. He was the player who was here from the dog days of 1999 to the championship of 2008. He was loyal and he was a company guy.

I for one will miss him

But at this stage of his career, pat burrell is so clearly an american league DH that he needs to switch leagues and become one. He’s ideally suited for Fenway and the green monster, and if the red sox were smart, they’d pick burrell up. He’d hit 40 homers up there easily, 30 at home and 10 on the road. And another 40 doubles off the wall. Never in the history of baseball has there been a player so obviously suited to play dh for the Boston Red Sox.

And he’d be a lot cheaper than Mark Teixeira, who is NOT ideally suited for Boston at all.

The washington nationals could do a lot worse than sign Burrell to play left field. He’d fill a big hole at cleanup hitter and they have so many young fleet outfielders to defensively caddy for him, they could play him 7 innings until they had a lead. Most importantly, Burrell can hit in their new ballpark.

These are just two places burrell could go. I think he’s got a lot in the tank.

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies