Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mac's Attack: the Premier Episode

I figured I'd start a monthly article that deals with issues surrounding the Philadelphia Phillies. Issues in this debut article of the Mac Attack: Happy Truck Day to all, is Ryan Howard worth $18 million?, backing up Ruiz, and other rumblings. Let's commence the Attack.

First off, a happy truck day to all. Today is the day that every team in the MLB sends their team trucks, filled with everything from uniforms and bats to golf clubs and short people, down to their respective spring training camps. The first team reports in six days; the World Series champion Phillies report to Clearwater, Fla. on Feb. 14.

Next, is Ryan Howard really worth $18 million? Opinions are divided, but we at the Attack try to remain unbiased. Our take is that the "Big Dog" and his numbers don't lie. Howard played every game last season, including playoffs, and in 162 regular games Howard hit .251 with 48 home runs, 146 RBI, and 153 hits in 610 at bats.

Of course, the other offensive stats speak for themselves as well. In those 610 AB, Howard struck out 199 times, or 33 percent of the time. In 156 games, Howard committed 19 errors. Compare that to six for Albert Pujols, five for Mark Teixiera, five for Lance Berkman, eight for Carlos Delgado, and six for Adrian Gonzalez.

That said, while Howard may command $18 million for his high hit, home run and RBI output, his many errors, lack of walks and high strikeouts are working against him. So the Phillies and Howard will be locked in a room with some neutral person to start arguing money.

On to our next issue, backing up Carlos Ruiz. With the catcher playing for Team Panama in the World Baseball Classic, that leaves a three- to four-man opening for his backup. The primary competitors for Ruiz's back up are 36-year-old feel-good story Chris Coste; newly acquired Pirates catcher Ronny Paulino; and power-hitting rookie sensation Lou Marson.

Despite Ruiz's low offensive numbers, he has solidified his place as starting catcher. Ruiz is a premier defensive catcher and calls an excellent game. He handles that pitching staff with relative ease and really proved himself starter during the 2008 postseason. In the World Series alone, Ruiz hit .375, while in the NLCS he boasted .313.

Chris Coste last season hit .263 with nine home runs and 36 RBI in a career-high 274 ABs. Coste will have to compete this time for the backup backstop position with Ronny Paulino and Lou Marson. Paulino last season hit .212 with two home runs and 18 RBI in 118 ABs. But Paulino is a career .278 hitter.

Lou Marson, the Phillies' top catching prospect, and possibly the best prospect overall, also will compete for the backup backstop position. Lou Marson at AA hit .314 with a .413 OBS, 5 HRs and 46 RBI, along with his first Major League home run and second career extra base hit.

Who will win? Time will tell.

In other news: Ryan Madson has changed his number from 63 to 46. The change came most likely because Madson did not like having his locker situated at the other end of the Clearwater clubhouse. This meant that Madson would have been next to non-roster invitees and minor leaguers who stand a ghost of a chance of making the major league club.

Now Madson will be situated next J.A. Happ (43) and Scott Eyre (47).

Last but not least are the chances of Adam Eaton making the team. Vegas odds are at 500-to-1. Our "Oreland" odds put Eaton at 1000-to-1. Diehard fans odds put Eaton at 1,000,000-to-1. So it's not looking good.

Join us next time for the March spring training edition of the Mac Attack. Until then, stay tuned, because it's baseball season, baby!

Article featured on bleacherreport.com

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