Rarely has the phrase "a day late, and a dollar short" been so perfectly applied as it is to this exit interview and the recently departed Vance Worley. Worley was traded almost exactly 24 hours ago, along with Trevor May, to the Minnesota Twins for centerfielder Ben Revere. To say that Worley is enigmatic would be to put the point a bit softly; one need only look at the variation in reactions to the trade to see this. If you believe that Worley is developing, and was hindered by the bone chip issue in his arm, then the Phillies traded a prospect and a mid-rotation starter for Juan Pierre 2: The Pierring. If you buy into Worley's middling Swinging Strike Percentage (SwStr%) and see him as a starter without enough stamina to make it deep into games, then the Phillies traded a prospect and a late inning reliever for...well, that part doesn't change. And it's not as if these positions are totally put on or made up: Dave Cameron at Fangraphs occupies the first position quite strongly in this article. I'll hope to cast some doubt on that position a bit.
Worley has been a strong starter, and he did have strong success, but I fear I come to bury Caesar and not to praise him. Over 131.2 innings in 2011, his first real stint as a starter, Worley pitched to a 3.01 ERA and a 3.32 FIP, with a strong 8.13 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9), and 3.14 walks per nine innings (BB/9), all while keeping the ball in the yard generally, with .68 home runs per nine innings (HR/9). The bloom came off the rose a bit the next year, as 2012 saw him pitch a 4.20 ERA with a stronger underlying 3.85 FIP, with still-decent-if-worse peripherals: 7.24 K/9, 3.18 BB/9, and .81 HR/9. So Worley looks like a guy who doesn't walk a ton of guys, doesn't give up a ton of homers. He's young, affordable, and good. So what's the problem.
The problem, as intimated above, is the Swinging Strike Percentage (SwStr%). Worley's K/9 in 2012 is similar to Anibal Sanchez's K/9 -- Worley has a 7.24, and Sanchez has a 7.68 rate for the year. Worley generated swinging strikes on 5.5% of his pitches while he relied on strikes looking for 60.9% of his pitches; Sanchez, on the other hand, generated swinging strikes on 9.8 % on his pitches, while he relied on 65.7% strikes looking. This is a pretty significant difference, at least in terms of strikes swinging. One can reasonably imagine that Worley is fooling less batters than Sanchez, and, the assumption would go, as soon as hitters begin to figure out when to swing, Worley the high-K starter will be no more. It stands to reason that one cannot rely on a high strikeout looking percentage forever, and I'm actually pretty convinced by this. Even crafty-pitcher archetype Greg Maddux had a career SwStr% 2 points highter than Worley's (5.5 vs. 7.8) -- with Worley's inability to go deep into games (his average start in 2012 lasted 5.7 innings), intelligent people might begin worrying. Is Amaro trading him at his peak value?
Honestly, we have no idea. Maybe? I'm personally glad that I don't have to spend sleepless nights worrying about SwStr% and trying to explain to my wife why Worley might be dramatically worse ANY SECOND NOW SERIOUSLY. That's the bad aesthetics of Worley, the problems that augment the bespectacled, new-age Chris Sabo Nite Owl archetype that we all love. But he isn't Nite Owl. Not really. That's the Vance Worley not in the world -- the Vance Worley of our collective imagination. He's Vanimal to anyone not in our hallowed halls, and frankly, he might be a ~4.00 5 K/9 pitcher in the real world, too. We're not going to know, at least here in Philadelphia.
The ideal is certainly appealing, friends, but often we do not find the same appeal in the material. Allow me to suggest that perhaps we have been spared the disappointment of resolution by trading Worley now. A dream deferred, instead of a dream denied.
Anyway, you came for laffs and exit interviews, so enjoy this collaborative effort between JoeCatz and myself. Oh, uh, and it's actually just Ruben Amaro and Vance Worley.
1. How did you let your teammates down this season?
Vanimal got a little high too often if ya know what I mean down in the count. Foul ball, foul ball, BOOM! Skyrockets in flight, baby! Also, I steered paps down the path of no return with some kicks that were just WAY too fly for his honky ass taste. There was also my mistaken choice of keeping Verlander in an AB too long in the 2-man team MLB the show tourney in the clubhouse that me and Galvis would totally have taken in the semis, but Freakin Pence saw waist high coming and green buttoned it DEEP!
2. Next: How did you let your manager and GM down this season?
Oh man, thats a good one. Charlie likes spicy food and we were at this korean place in LA druing a dogers series and I told him he could handle the heat. WRONG! Coach Dubee made me run sprints 'for the game next day from the fumes, yo! Also, I hid my injury, but what the hell, right? Doc and Cliff told me play through, so Yo! Vanimal plays through!
3. Ruben: What do you have to say to all the fans you let down this season?
Ladies love me girls adore me, I mean even the ones who never saw me, like, the way that I rock at a show, the reaosn, why, man I don't know, so lets GO CUZ!
4.On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the worst, how do you rate on the "it's my fault we're in this freaking mess and missed the playoffs scale."
What did Blanton put down? Prolly like 1 more maybe, but about 5 more than king Cole, and definitely less than Quallsy. But like, here's the real deal, Yo. The Vanimal is no one hit wonder, Bone chips Brah! Thats not like tender nightless, or something whatever you call it. That hurts yo! And my two seamer she rides like the wind when I ain't got no chips. so once they clean this bow, I'm good the freaking go.
5. Other than yourself, which player caused this fiasco of a season the most?
I ain't no snitch.
6. Bonus question, from Rich Dubee: Hey dipshit, when the F*&k are you gonna figure the F*$k out how to mix up your pitches to go deep enough into a game so you don't give me freaking angina? Also, how the F*&K is it humanly possible for one man to sweat so G*D D*&N much in 4 innings time? You realize we can cut your ass and no one will remember you from Adam in 3 years when your selling sneakers at a foot locker, right? Cause if you don't figure it out quick, that's about what you're qualified to do, right?
Uh, well... I'm working on that Coach. Both things. A lot. So...Um, can I go now, and get my surgery? Vanimal?
[SEVERAL WEEKS LATER]
Answering Machine: Hey, you've reached the V-to-the-A-to-the-N-to-the-I-to-the-M-to-thbeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.
Amaro: Ugh. Yeah, hi Vance. Just wanted to call to see how your rehab was going and to ask if you liked walleye. Preferably on a stick. Oh who am I kidding? I don't care what you like or who you like: we just shipped you out to the Twins."
/rapid clacking, second beeeeeeep
Worley: Hey, I'm here, it's the Vanimal, I'm here, don't hang up!
Amaro: Are you screening your calls?
Worley: Yeah, uh, I have some...problems?
Worley: I posted a funny dog meme, and now Chase is out to get me. But wait, what was that about the Twins?
Amaro: You and DJ Heybeef or Captain Beefheart or whatever aren't Phillies anymore. We upgraded, baby.
Worley: What?! But you can't find a more promising pitcher than me! Vanimal is in effect!
Amaro: We got a centerfielder, you putz. And you're as in effect and promising as your landline and message machine. Buy a Blackberry.
Worley: Oh man, I can't believe this...I don't know anything about Minnesota. I'm not sure my in-your-face style will play in the midwest. What about all the fan loyalty?
Amaro: It left the park with your fifth inning dingers.
Worley: Aw man. So...like...this is goodbye?
Amaro: Think of it as see you later. Later being when we lock you up for 6/90 on the 20xx free agent market. Bounce.
Worley: Hello? Ruben? Can't we talk about this.
/slow creak heard in house, slight jingle of dog collar