To Tender or Not to Tender: John Mayberry, Jr.

Phillies beat writers reported last night that Phillies GM, Ruben Amaro Jr., plans to tender a contract to 1B/OF John Mayberry, Jr.

Mayberry is entering his first year of arbitration and by tendering him a contract, the organization would either agree on a salary with JMJ or, if they can’t reach an agreement, a salary would be assigned in an arbitration hearing. The Phillies could then either keep, cut or trade him, but if they cut him, they would still be required to pay him 10% of the agreed upon salary. For example, if an arbiter decided Mayberry’s salary should be $1.5M, the Phillies must pay him $150,000 even if they cut him before the season begins. This is relatively insignificant money in regards to baseball finances, but the decision to tender Mayberry a contract would have one other key impact on the Phillies this off-season: using up a 40-man roster slot. If extending his Phillies tenure, JMJ must remain on the 40 man roster this winter and, consequently, someone else would have to be left off that roster. This means a Phillies minor leaguer would be left unprotected and potentially be claimed by another organization. Is Amaro right to believe that a 30-year old coming off the worst season of his career might still be worthy of occupying a valuable 40-man roster spot?

On the surface, Mayberry’s career split lines indicate a solid platoon candidate with notable power, which is certainly a profile that could provide value to a Major League roster:

  • Career: .245/.304/.430, .734 OPS
  • vs. LHP: .274/.321/.526, .884 OPS
  • vs. RHP: .228/.295/.373, .668 OPS

If Mayberry was in a position to truly serve in a platoon role and face left-handed pitching exclusively, that .884 OPS line is mighty attractive. Here’s the problem, Mayberry’s production has been on a steady decline in each of the three years he’s received semi-regular playing time. His slash line vs. LHP:

  • 2011: 120 PA .306/.358/.595, .953 OPS
  • 2012: 180 PA .271/.317/.494, .811 OPS
  • 2013: 108 PA .240/.296/.460, .756 OPS

There are three possible reasons: his skills are declining, pitchers have figured him out, or it’s simply a matter of small sample size variation. Regardless of the reason, when a guy whose sole purpose on a team is to hit left handed pitching fails to do so, it’s safe to say that’s a substantial knock on his value.

I’m the first to say that JMJ’s struggles are not completely his fault. Due to injuries and poor management, Mayberry has been forced into roles that did not allow him to maximize his talents. He’s not a natural center fielder nor does he have the athleticism to succeed at the position, but he’s played 818 1/3 innings in center over the past two seasons. Additionally, injuries and a lack of roster depth forced him into an everyday starter role and caused him to face right handed pitching much more frequently than is optimal. To me, the most damning statistic of JMJ’s time with the Phillies is the percentage of his total plate appearances which came against left-handed pitching:

  • 2011: 40.5%
  • 2012: 37.5%
  • 2013: 28.1%

Last season nearly three-fourths of JMJ’s 384 plate appearances came against right handed pitching. While this was a by-product of the failed Delmon Young experiment and Ben Revere’s injury, management should never have put Mayberry in that position. Setting up players to fail is inexcusable and irresponsible. A responsible organization would utilize his skills, put him in a position to succeed and, if he still failed to hit lefties, mercifully let him go. Oh that platoon-happy Oakland could’ve employed Mayberry but, alas, he was stuck with Philadelphia, an organization that did him terribly, terribly wrong.

The newly acquired Marlon Byrd is 6 years Mayberry’s senior, but there’s no doubt he slots ahead of JMJ in the right-handed outfield bat depth chart. With Byrd’s presence, a successful 2013 season by the right-handed 1B/OF Darin Ruf, and the likelihood of further outfield signings or trades, Mayberry no longer has a clear role on the Phillies roster and his stats are trending in a decidedly negative direction. In the worst case scenario for JMJ, it’s still likely another team will offer him a minor league contract in hopes he once again demonstrates an ability to dominate left-handed pitching and hopefully, for his sake, his new team utilizes him appropriately. Who knows, maybe when the majority of his at bats come against lefties he’ll regain confidence and once again be a valuable piece of a Major League roster. I genuinely hope that happens for him, but there’s no use pretending it’ll happen in Philadelphia. It’s time to set him free and find another poor innocent soul to protect on the 40-man roster.

“A More Measured Approach” for the Phillies Offseason

Ken Rosenthal wrote today that the Phillies front office realizes they need to fill many key holes and, as a result, are actively striving to be creative this season. Reportedly the one big splash approach à la Cliff Lee in December 2010 is out, because it could prevent the team from adequately addressing glaring needs in other areas. The Phillies need an outfield upgrade, a catcher, and at least one starting pitcher. They’re likely to add other relief arms as well, but hopefully they’ve wised up and realized that spending big money and multi-year contracts on relievers is a fool’s errand. If Rosenthal is right and this means no Jacoby Ellsbury or Brian McCann, what can the Phillies do?

Continue reading

2008 Postseason 5th Anniversary: The Parade

This is part of a series looking back on the Phillies 2008 Postseason. Posts will line up with the 5th anniversary date of the games. “Off day” posts will be irregular.

Previous entries:
NLDS: Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4 | Wrap Up
NLCS: Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4 | Game 5
WS: Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4 | Game 5A | Game 5B
The Unlikeliest World Series Home Run


It was a spectacle the likes of which hasn’t been seen since in the city of Philadelphia. Estimates of the crowds that day range anywhere from 300,000 to a million people. It was euphoria. It was insanity. It was heaven. Well, so I’m told. I was some 250 miles away from Philadelphia doing boring things at my job, so I honestly don’t have much insight to provide on the events of that day other than to say it was the cherry on the top of the incredible October which ended Philadelphia’s championship drought. (So, uh, how long is this new drought going to be?)

Here are a few of my take-aways from spending the month reliving the Phillies 2008 run:

2008 Postseason 5th Anniversary: World Series Game 5 – Part II

This is part of a series looking back on the Phillies 2008 Postseason. Posts will line up with the 5th anniversary date of the games. “Off day” posts will be irregular.

Previous entries:
NLDS: Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4 | Wrap Up
NLCS: Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4 | Game 5
WS: Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4 | Game 5A
The Unlikeliest World Series Home Run


World Series Game 5
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Monday/Wednesday, October 27/29th, 2008, 8:30 PM EST

Citizens Bank Park

Over the 46-hour rain delay, there was much discussion about the managerial decisions both managers would immediately face to “start” the game. The game was to resume in the bottom of the 6th inning tied at 2-2 with Cole Hamels due to bat. Charlie Manuel would obviously begin the evening with a pinch hitter, but who? And how would Joe Maddon counter? Right-handed reliever Grant Balfour had entered the game in the bottom of the 5th and, as it turned out, Maddon decided to stick with Balfour causing Charlie to bring in Geoff Jenkins, a lefty. Maddon could’ve gone to a lefty reliever after Jenkins was announced, but he opted to remain with Balfour. Jenkins worked a deep count before crushing a double to deep centerfield. A sac-bunt by Jimmy Rollins and RBI single from Jayson Werth immediately followed to chase Balfour from the game and quickly return the score to the Phillies’ favor, 3-2.

Continue reading

2008 Postseason 5th Anniversary: The Unlikeliest World Series Home Run

This is part of a series looking back on the Phillies 2008 Postseason. Posts will line up with the 5th anniversary date of the games. “Off day” posts will be irregular.

Previous entries:
NLDS: Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4 | Wrap Up
NLCS: Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4 | Game 5
WS: Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4 | Game 5 – Part I


What’s that cliché about the unpredictability of baseball? Something about how when you watch a baseball game you might witness something that you’ve never seen before and will never see again? We were reminded of it on Saturday night with a World Series game ending obstruction call. In all my baseball-watching-life I’ve never seen a game end that way, regular season or otherwise, and, more likely than not, I never will again. So, yes, it’s a cliché, but it rings incredibly true, as so many do. There are plenty more moments that fall under the “I don’t believe what I just saw!” category in baseball history, but let’s focus for a bit on one particular subset: World Series home runs.

Continue reading

2008 Postseason 5th Anniversary: World Series Game 5 – Part I

This is part of a series looking back on the Phillies 2008 Postseason. Posts will line up with the 5th anniversary date of the games. “Off day” posts will be irregular.

Previous entries:
NLDS: Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4 | Wrap Up
NLCS: Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4 | Game 5
WS: Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4


World Series Game 5
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Monday, October 27th, 2008, 8:30 PM EST

Citizens Bank Park

Game 5 of the 2008 World Series was just the second game in Philadelphia Phillies franchise history in which the Phillies had the potential to clinch a World Series title. They won their first such game on October 21, 1980 in Philadelphia with Steve Carlton on the mound. The 2008 version was also played in Philadelphia and also had the team’s ace on the mound, setting the stage for a glorious repeat of 1980, but baseball is a funny sport and Mother Nature is a fickle force.

Continue reading

2008 Postseason 5th Anniversary: World Series Game 4

This is part of a series looking back on the Phillies 2008 Postseason. Posts will line up with the 5th anniversary date of the games. “Off day” posts will be irregular.

Previous entries:
NLDS: Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4 | Wrap Up
NLCS: Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4 | Game 5
WS: Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3


World Series Game 4
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Sunday, October 26th, 2008, 8:30 PM EST

Citizens Bank Park

In the fall of 2008, I had recently moved to Upstate New York and had no Phillies fan friends nearby. It was a surreal experience to be living and dying with every pitch of the postseason while not a single person with whom I interacted seemed to know that baseball was still being played. It was to my great mental and emotional relief that, for the weekend of Games 3 and 4 of the World Series, I was able to return to the Philadelphia area and surround myself with people riding the same emotional roller coaster that I was. Nothing could have prepared me, though, for the environment I found when I trekked to Citizens Bank Park that Sunday night with tickets to Game 4 in hand.

Continue reading