Addition By Subtraction - Part 1: The Pitchers

The Phillies have upgraded their team a lot during the offseason. There is no doubt that the changes that they've made will greatly improve their chances in the National League East. Perhaps as much as the Phillies moves will help them, other key losses within the division will also help the Phillies. Some key pitchers have left the division and we take a look at them in Part One of our Addition by Subtraction series.

Addition by Subtraction. I know, it sounds like fuzzy math, but at the end of an off season that saw the Phillies quickly address their most glaring deficiencies, it seems likely that the departure of key players from certain NL East rivals could have an equal or greater impact on the 2004 standings. It does sound fuzzy, I know, but it is what it is: Addition by Subtraction.

 

To better understand this, let's take a close look at a short list of notorious Phillie killers who have packed their bags for more lucrative pastures. Players like Javier Vasquez, Gary Sheffield, Javy Lopez and Vladimir Guerrero have not only left the East, they've left the National League.  Why is this important? Well, with the way the Phils collapsed in September, it's easy to forget they finished only five games back of a team they played six times that month. That's right, the wild card winning Marlins won it with a lead so small that a win here and a win there could have made all the difference.

 

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad the Phils didn't make it to the post season in 2003. I said in early August that the club didn't have the horses to get past the first round, and saw no reason for a young club to get beat up outside the gym on their first trip to the dance. Of course, I also felt they should make major changes - go hard after Miguel Tejada, trade Rollins and Abreu - they didn't and I'm glad. The changes they did make should be plenty. They've heavily upgraded the pitching and bench. That together with what appears to be a vastly more mature Jimmy Rollins (did he learn something about small ball from Juan Pierre in October?) and a trimmed down Bobby Abreu (maybe he'll worry more about the good of the club than his personal comfort level this year) can account for those five games they finished behind the Marlins. It could even make up for the fifteen games they acquiesced to the Braves.

 

To see the real changes in the division, let's get back to talking about addition by subtraction. Roll up your sleeves, sharpen your pencils and grab a calculator. Let's dig into the dirt around home plate to see what we can unearth about the division we live in.

 

Two pitchers almost single-handedly kept the Phils out of the playoffs in 2003. Two pitchers the Phils will not face this year, Javier Vazquez and Mark Redman. Vazquez is now a New York Yankee, but in his five starts against the Phils in 2003, he went 3-2 with 2 complete games, an ERA of only 3.11, and 33 SO's in 37.2 Innings. Plus, over the last three seasons, Vazquez went 8-3 with a 3.50 ERA against the Phillies.

 

Mark Redman is now a member of the Oakland A's, but in 2003 he was a Florida Marlin. In three starts against the Phils he went 3-0 including the Marlins only win in that critical first three-game September series between the two teams.

 

As I said before, the Phils finished only five games behind the Marlins in 2003. Take away Redman's three wins, and it's a two game difference. Since the Marlin's won their three games the days Vazquez and the Expos beat the Phils, his absence from history would not have made any difference, except that Redman pitched one of those days, so give the Phils another game in the win column and we're down to one game. I think you see where this is going and yes, it sounds a lot like the plot from "It's A Wonderful Life". Not counting his three wins against the Phils (we already subtracted them), the Marlins won 13 of Redman's other starts. Now, I know there's no way of proving that the Marlins would have lost all of those games without him, so we'll play it safe and say they went .500. Give the Phils a half game for each win combined with a Marlin loss, they pick up another 2 ½ games and win the wild card by a game and a half.

 

I know, it's a whole lot of fantasy and ‘what if', but the reality is those two pitchers won't be in the NL East this year. Neither will Atlanta middle reliever Ray King. He's gone to the NL Central St. Louis Cardinals, so the Phils will still face him, but not as much as the 19 times they could if he were still with Atlanta. In 10 appearances last year he held the Phils to only three hits and one run while striking out six. As you can see, he's virtually handcuffed the Phils:

 

Ray King 

ERA

W

L

G

CG

IP

BB

SO

AVG

2003

1.29

0

1

10

0

7

2

6

.130

3 Year

2.77

0

1

17

0

13

3

13

.180

 

In part two of our look at the Phillies Addition by Subtraction, we'll take a look at some of the hitters who have made their exit from the National League East and what it may mean for the Phillies.

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