Lots of Random News
So what have we missed? Honestly, not all that much. The Bobby Livingston era was short lived, Cole Hamels continues to say and do the right things (remember when his maturity, or lack thereof, was a major question mark?), and Dayton Moore, the guy I wanted to see get a chance to run things with the Phils, continues to make baffling decision after baffling decision.
The Bill James interview in the Sunday Inquirer was definitely a quality read. Praise for Pat Burrell and Jimmy Rollins is always welcomed, I loved the analysis on the myth of protection, and the comments about the ballpark were interesting as well. It wasn't a topic that James touched on per se, but I have to admit that I've come around to the idea that Charlie Manuel is the right manager for this club heading into 2007. His weaknesses are very clear (in-game strategy, bullpen usage), but his strengths are a bit harder to discern - he gets big points in my book for his ability, I assume real but perhaps imagined, to maintain a positive atmosphere around his club (and let's be honest, that can't be easy to do in Philly). I think Manuel deserves a ton of credit for the development of the many young players that have prospered with the Phillies in recent years - most notably reigning MVP Ryan Howard. Manuel knows hitting and the Phillies consistently roll out quality hitters...there may be something to that. There is still much work to be done from an empirical research standpoint on the effect managers have over the course of the season, but my natural inclination is to believe that managers are statistically insignificant for the most part (maybe the top 5/bottom 5 have a meaningful impact, but I'd guess that the middle 20 are all very closely bunched).
EDIT: No sooner did I post this did I venture over to The Good Phight where dajafi had just posted a much better, more in-depth look into Charlie Manuel's strengths and weaknesses as a manager. As soon often the case, one of the writers at The Good Phight has managed to express what I was thinking much more eloquently than I ever could have. Go check it out, it's worth your time.
Two positives posts (here and here) from Baseball Prospectus have been written about the Phillies acquisition of Freddy Garcia. I still hate giving up on Gio Gonzalez so soon (if the Phillies really preferred his inclusion in the deal rather than give up Aaron Rowand as rumored, then I'm even more upset), but the return was enough that I can now say I'm officially on board with the move. As far as Gonzalez goes, Baseball America just mentioned he would have ranked second on the Phillies prospect list (same place I had him on mine, for the record) and offered up a brief scouting report to boot.
In more prospect news, both Baseball Prospectus and John Sickels have rolled out their lists of top Phillies prospects over the past few days. I have a ton more to say about these lists, but I'll actually save that for a separate post...and this won't be one of the many instances of me saying I'll mention something later and then forgetting all about it. I'm a prospects junkie, so I love talking about young guys any chance I get...expect more shortly on the topic.
The Tigers just signed Jeremy Bonderman, a guy who won't be a free agent until after 2008, to a whopping extension. The Phillies have a young righthanded starter by the name of Brett Myers who won't hit free agency until after the '08 season...if you are running the Phillies, do you consider making Myers a similar offer to lock him up through the 2010 season?