Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Phillies News/Links (3/16/10)

Some Phillies-related news/links:

ESPN's Buster Olney reported that the Phillies had held "internal discussions" about acquiring Albert Pujols, in exchange for a package including Ryan Howard.
The Phillies have also held "internal discussions" about acquiring Matt Wieters, Ryan Zimmerman, Aroldis Chapman, both Jonas Brothers, both Sedin Brothers, Antero Niittymaki, and Sinbad.
Pujols would a great fit for the Phillies' lineup (or any lineup, ever), but St.Louis doesn't seem likely to deal Pujols. The Phils should, instead, set their sights on Sinbad, whom could likely be acquired for minor leaguer Tyson Brummett + cash.

Starting 3B Placido Polanco left Monday's game with a right knee injury, but he is expected to return to the lineup this weekend.
Watching an injured Polanco limp off the field was rather sobering. In a long-term injury scenario, Polanco's likely replacement at 3B would be Greg Dobbs, with Cody Ransom in reserve. While it is a relief that the name "Eric Bruntlett" was not used in the previous sentence, Dobbs and Ransom don't exactly inspire confidence. Hopefully, the good fortune the Phils have had in recent years, with respect to their frontline players, will continue.

Cole Hamels threw five innings in his third consecutive strong Spring start on Tuesday, allowing only an unearned run against Detroit.
Hamels' line so far in March: 10.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 9 K. Even more importantly, he threw ten cutters and nine curve balls. If Hamels can add some diversity to his fastball/change-heavy repertoire of previous seasons, Roy Halladay won't be the only Ace in the Phils' rotation.

Roy Halladay's numbers after three Spring starts: 10 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 14 K.
Halladay has looked outstanding, so far this spring. As if his on-field performance wasn't enough, he has mentored a rejuvenated Kyle Kendrick, as well as contributing to the rejuvenation of the Philly real estate market. The $2.3 MM mansion isn't located far from Cole Hamels' home, so Halladay will be available to counsel Hamels, whenever any high BABIP-related meltdowns occur.

In the competition for the fifth spot in the rotation, Kyle Kendrick has thrown nine scoreless frames, over three appearances. Jamie Moyer has been bombed in "B" games, while Drew Carpenter and Ryan Vogelsong have been sent to minor league camp.
Kendrick hasn't allowed a walk this spring, but he has only recorded two strikeouts, which is not a great sign. The competition has always been between Kendrick and Moyer, and is still weeks away from being decided.

Domonic Brown hit a pair of homers on Tuesday, improving his slash line to .417/.464/.750. For his efforts, Brown was sent to the minor league camp.
If the Phillies lose a starting outfielder to injury in 2010, it is good to know that they have a viable replacement: Ben Francisco. Brown is best-served with a full season of ABs at the AAA level, rather than sitting on the bench in Philly. In 2011, possibly depending on whether the Phils retain Jayson Werth, Brown could be an everyday MLBer/RoY candidate.

The Phillies' Minor League Spring Training teams can be followed this month, on the internets.
I, typically, complement my regular-season viewing of Phillies' games, with the internet radio broadcasts of the IronPigs and/or RPhils. However, I don't recall ML Spring Training info being so readily accessible in the past.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA)
Reading Phillies (AA)
Lakewood BlueClaws (A-)

In a bracket tournament of considerably more importance than that college basketball one, the Titans of the Phillies' Blogosphere are battling for bragging rights at The Phield.
Each morning at 8am, a matchup will be announced, with e-mailed votes accepted until 8pm.
This is a good opportunity to make certain that you are following all of the top Phillies' blogs, and also to discover blogs you haven't been reading. My personal favorite Phillies' blogs, The Zo Zone, Beerleaguer, The Good Phight, and Crashburn Alley all have reasonably good shots at achieving greatness.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

2010 Season in Review

(The following is an excerpt from Baseball Prospectus 2011, and may contain spoilers.)

Prior to the 21st Century, the Philadelphia Phillies were rarely considered a model franchise. Rarely lucky or good, the embattled ballclub limped through the years, their record oft-charred by crippling injuries and questionable personnel decisions. With the exception of a few staggered oases (1915, 1950, 1980, 1983, and 1993), the name "Phillies" was synonymous with mediocrity, or worse. Often, much, much worse. The Phillies became the first MLB team to lose 10,000 games, a testament to their longevity as a franchise, as well as to their sustained impotence between the lines.

Things have gone a bit better for the Phils, in the current millennium. Actually, that is an understatement of similar magnitude to statements such as "Roy Halladay is a workhorse.", or "Placido Polanco has a sizeable melon." In making their third consecutive World Series appearance, and winning their second World Championship of the Century, the 2010 Phillies were certainly the greatest edition in the team's history. The 102 regular-season wins posted by the club still left the franchise 1087 games below .500 for their history, but this now-model franchise appears to mere decades away from a lifetime winning record. The only burning question is how they are going to able to afford to continue to roster so many superstars.

The success of the 2010 Phillies has to be, mostly, attributed to their outstanding starting pitching. Acquiring Roy Halladay was expensive, both in terms of salary, and players. The 2010 Cy Young award winner was worth every penny, and every promising prospect. Besides posting one of the best statistical seasons in baseball history, the tireless ace set the standard for MLB's best rotation. The sturdy staff had four hurlers exceed 200 IP, completing an impressive thirty-two games. Trusting in the NL's best defense, the starters were able to go deep into games, while still keeping their pitch counts manageable. Cole Hamels was the same ace he has been his entire career, without the BABIP issues that had plagued his 2009 season. Joe Blanton continued his evolution from proclaimed innings-eater, to actual, quality innings-eater. J.A. Happ continued to bend BABIP to his will, prompting sabermetricians to question whether the southpaw was simply a two-season outlier, or whether a deeper magic was in play. Kyle Kendrick took over the fifth spot in May, replacing veteran Jamie Moyer. Kendrick held the fort at the back of the rotation, until the Phils' second annual acquisition of Cliff Lee further solidified the starting pitching. Hamels and Lee combined to split the six postseason victories not claimed by Halladay.

The health and performance of the starting pitchers also had a beneficial effect on the bullpen. Closer Brad Lidge flourished with a reduced workload, rarely being required to pitch in consecutive games. The Phils' offseason signings of well-traveled vets Jose Contreras and Danys Baez had appeared somewhat questionable at the time, but they demonstrated the club's wisdom in roster construction, performing well in their middle relief roles. Holdovers Ryan Madson and Chad Durbin had career years, excelling as Lidge's setup men. Only reliever J.C. Romero struggled, as injury and legal woes continued to derail his career.

While the pitching gets most of the credit for the Phillies' success, perhaps deservingly so, the club's position players also were quite deserving of merit. Chase Utley's MVP season, Ryan Howard's 52 HRs, and Bearded Jayson Werth's contract year performance keyed the offense. Shane Victorino was second to only Werth among NL outfielders, in launching 31 HRs. While Victorino's sudden power surge was as shocking as his uncanny ability to design and sell $40 t-shirts, he certainly wasn't the Phillies biggest surprise in 2010.

Brian Bocock entered Spring Training hoping to claim a roster spot with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA). By the time the regular season began, Bocock had, in fact claimed a roster spot. As the parent club's starting shortstop. Jimmy Rollins, the 2007 NL MVP, was relegated to the utility role that had seemed destined for light-hitting Juan Castro. Bocock's numbers at the plate were less reminiscent of Rollins, and more reminiscent of former Phils neophyte Joe Millette. However, Bocock also posted one of the greatest defensive seasons in the game's history, a UZR-heavy 9.2 WAR, and a third place finish in the NL Gold Glove voting. Rollins, dealt to Boston on May 11, did win a Gold Glove. But the Phillies' enlightened decision to install Bocock as the starter early in the season allowed them to maximize their return for Rollins, as well as to free up the payroll that, later, allowed them to fit Lee into their $140MM budget.

(BP2011 will be available in January 2011, wherever fine books are sold.)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Halladay Music

One of the most prominent Spring Training storylines has been All Things Roy Halladay. We have learned of his intense desire to perform in the postseason. We have noted the relationship between his levels of facial hair, and his wOBA against (a bearded Halladay is a dominant Halladay). The effect Halladay has had on his teammates, particularly his apprentice (Kyle Kendrick), is much more difficult to quantify, but certainly beneficial. The indomitable northpaw's first game action as a Phillie included three non-strikes, among his twenty-four offerings. However, he will, undoubtedly, improve upon those numbers, as the season progresses. (Besides, it's not like he gave up any runs, or hits, or anything like that.) There has been a veritable multitude of words spent on Halladay-related topics since his acquistion, yet there is one specific area that has not yet been suitably explored.

Since the Dawn of Sabermetrics, the factors that influence a pitcher's success (or failure) have been studied intensely. The areas that a pitcher has control over (whiffs, walks, and facial hair)
have proven to be the best predictors of success. BABIP and HR/FB provide clues as to the sustainability of a pitcher's performance. A pitcher's Entrance Music appears to have a discernible effect on opposing batters, but the study of this particular phenomenon is still in it's infancy. While determining the specific impact of an intimidating entrance song is, currently, an imprecise science, partially as a result of imperfect information and insufficient sample sizes, few question that such an impact exists.

Roy Halladay suffered from the adverse effects of a replacement level entrance song, during his time in Toronto. Robert Palmer's "Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)" is not a worthy choice for a perennial Cy Young candidate, especially one performing for a perennial World Series contender. There are numerous alternatives that can be utilized here, some including Halladay's nickname ("Doc"), and same playing on his surname. Making the assumption that the entrance song will only be played during home games, we can adjust for CBP's affect on Halladay's ERA. Assuming eighteen home starts, and optimal facial hair levels, we can use a proprietary formula to project Halladay's ERA with each of the potential entrance songs considered.

Dizzee Rascal, "Holiday"
Pertinent lyrics: "If you ain't doing nothing, let's fly away, drive away, take a holiday."
Commentary: This option could get the CBP crowd revved up, but won't intimidate many opposing batters.
Projected ERA: 3.19

Thompson Twins, "Doctor, Doctor"
Pertinent lyrics: "Doctor, Doctor, can't you see I'm burning, burning? Oh Doctor, Doctor, is this love I'm feeling?"
Commentary: Pete Alexander who have struggled to keep his ERA under 3, with this entrance song.
Projected ERA: 3.43

Green Day, "Holiday"
Pertinent Lyrics: "I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies, This is the dawning of the rest of our lives, On Holiday!
Commentary: A worthy choice, but not sufficiently intimidating.
Projected ERA: 2.86

The Dandy Warhols, "Every Day Should Be a Holiday"
Pertinent Lyrics: "Anytime, Baby let's go, Every day should be a holiday"
Commentary: Perhaps a bit dated, but a decent choice.
Projected ERA: 3.06

Lindsey Buckingham, "Holiday Road"
Pertinent Lyrics: "I found out long ago, It's a long way down this holiday road."
Commentary: Reminiscent of the movie "Vacation." About as intimidating as Marty Moose.
Projected ERA: 3.38

Motley Crue, "Dr. Feelgood"
Pertinent Lyrics: "He's the one they call Dr. Feelgood, He's the one that makes you feel alright."
Commentary: Would not be an appropriate choice for Roy Halladay.
Projected ERA: N/A

The Dead Kennedys, "Holiday in Cambodia"
Commentary: Much less appropriate than the previous option.
Projected ERA: N/A

UFO, "Doctor, Doctor"
Pertinent Lyrics: "Doctor, Doctor please, oh the mess I'm in"
Commentary: Halladay does not get into messes, nor is he a "nervous boy."
Projected ERA: 3.28

Scorpions, "Holiday"
Pertinent Lyrics: "Let me take you far away, You'd like a holiday."
Commentary: Too slow-paced, troublesome German-accented vocals.
Projected ERA: 3.34

Pantera, "Psycho Holiday"
Pertinent Lyrics: "Been put through the test, your mind laid to rest, you're on a psycho holiday."
Commentary: This appears to be the optimal entrance song.
Projected ERA: 2.34

While there are other possibilities that have yet to be examined, the projected ERA (2.34) produced by Pantera's "Psycho Holiday" appears rather difficult to beat. This is not surprising, as even Adam Eaton could (likely) produce a sub-6.00 ERA, with a Pantera entrance song. Hopefully, the statistical consultants employed by the Phillies organization will come to a similar, or superior, conclusion.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Under the Radar

The Phillies' offseason has included several high profile acquisitions. Roy Halladay, Placido Polanco, and Ross Gload are among the household names joining the defending NL Champions. While most of the offseason's media coverage has centered around the Gload Signing, there were other moves within the organization that merit comment.

OF/1B Tagg Bozied was signed to a minor league contract.

Bozied was a highly-regarded Padres' prospect in the early 21st century, but ruptured the patella tendon in his left knee in July 2004, while celebrating a walk-off grand slam in the minors. Bozied spent the remainder of the decade living the life of a minor league journeyman. In 2009, Bozied began the season in Taiwan, and finished it in the Pirates' organization, posting a .362 wOBA (and a 27.9 K%) at AAA.

The right-handed hitting slugger will, likely, spend 2010 batting in the middle of the order for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA). Immediately upon his signing, Bozied became one of the favorites for the AAA All-Star Game's Home Run Derby, to be hosted at LV's Coca-Cola Park.

Why should Phillies' fans care about this signing? First off, "Tagg Bozied" is a truly great baseball name. Secondly, CHONE projects Bozied to a .329 wOBA and a .5 WAR for 2010. Ross Gload's CHONE projections for 2010: .316 wOBA and a -.3 WAR. Would Bozied have been a better choice for the Phils' bench? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But he certainly would have been a much cheaper alternative. With the salaries of many Phils' starters heading towards the stratosphere, maybe a more "top-heavy/bottom-light" method of roster construction will need to be considered. Why pay more than the MLB minimum, for players likely to spend the bulk of their time rooted to Manager Charlie Manuel's bench? Especially when those roster spots could be upgraded, if desired, with trade deadline deals...

SS Kami Mattioli was the final offseason addition to the roster of the Phillies' Ballgirls.

Mattioli will provide the Ballgirls with another high-OBP bat for the top of the order, strong infield defense, and leadership on (and off) the field. After Halladay, this may have been the Phils' best offseason acquistion.
However, the process by which Mattioli was selected was somewhat questionable. The Phillies could have had their sabermetric consultant(s) (and scouts) determine the final roster spot, considering the candidates' 2010 projections, as well as their potential impact on the current roster. Instead, they left the decision to a vote by the fans, a vote informed only by videos of the candidates' interviews. No stats, no scouting reports, no videos from game action, just the interviews were provided.
Fortunately, in this case, the crowds were wise, and the Ballgirls have their answer to Chase Utley. However, the Phillies need to clean up this process, and perhaps pick up a full-timer off the sabermetric waiver wire to help with these types of personnel decisions. Mattioli easily could have spent the next decade with a divisional rival. Or the Mets.

CF Shane Victorino signed a clothing deal with Silver Star Casting Company.

Victorino will be helping design a series of shirts with the MMA-outfitter. Unfortunately, the first "Flyin' Hawaiian" shirt will not be available until March 31st. At $40 a pop, it is no wonder Victorino could afford to eschew arbitration, and sign a three-year, $22 million extension. Perhaps Victorino can get impending free agent Jayson Werth involved in this venture?

The Phillies have two consecutive Fall Classic appearances under their belts, becoming a desirable destination for highly-regarded free agents/pending free agents (Polanco, Mattioli, Halladay, etc.) in the process. But when their players start designing $40 t-shirts, THAT'S when you know that the organization has reached a higher level.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ruiz Agrees to Extension, Rollins Marries

Catcher Carlos Ruiz and the Phillies avoided arbitration, agreeing to a three-year extension worth a reported $9 million. Ruiz had his best offensive year in 2009, posting a .337 wOBA. Ruiz has performed extremely well offensively in the postseason, with a wOBA of .403 (119 PA.) He is considered a strong defensive backstop, ranking among the best catchers at handling pitches in the dirt. His improved offensive performance in 2009, lead to a career-high WAR of 2.2, worth approximately $10 million in free agent dollars. If Ruiz can keep his WAR in this range, the Phillies did well to extend him.

Shortstop Jimmy Rollins also agreed to terms this weekend, marrying his girlfriend Johari Smith, in a ceremony Saturday in the Cayman Islands. First basemen Ryan Howard, outfielder Shane Victorino, and former Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu were among the players in attendance. There are no reports (yet) as to whether Abreu displayed the same trepidation on the dance floor, that he once showed in the Phillies' outfield. Rollins and Smith each posted WARs over 2.0 in 2009, so this was a good deal for both parties. Pictures are available at The 700 Level.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Phillies' Offseason Review: Major Additions

Remember when the cost-conscious Phillies were largely invisible during the offseason? Those days are almost as forgotten as those lost seasons when the Phillies were playing out the string by August. These Phillies have a $140 million budget, and are very active participants in free agency. Whether they should be a little less active is up for debate, but you can't argue with their recent results: three consecutive NL East titles, two World Series appearances, and one WFC(!).

Roy Halladay ('10 salary: $15.75M, 11: $20M, 12: $20M, 13:$20M, 14:$20M option)The cost to acquire Halladay was high: top prospects Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, and Travis D'Arnaud were sent to Toronto for one season of Halladay, plus $6M. Halladay quickly agreed to a (likely below-market value) extension, for an additional three years, plus an option.
Halladay has been one of MLB's premier pitchers over the past four seasons, posting WARs of 5.7, 5.6, 7.4, and 7.3. With the cost per WAR on the free agent market approximating $4M, if Halladay keeps his WARs over a very manageable (manageable for him, not manageable for most hurlers) 5.0 per season, the Phillies have done well here.
It remains to be seen how the players dealt to Toronto will perform, and if Halladay (930 IP since 2006) will be able stay healthy throughout his Phillies career. But the prospect of having Halladay (HALLADAY!) fronting the Phils' rotation for the next five seasons is rather thrilling.

Placido Polanco ($18M guaranteed over three seasons, plus '13 option for $5.5M)

The biggest names among free agent 3Bs were Adrian Beltre and Chone Figgins. The Phillies signed...2B Placido Polanco to play 3B. Polanco has been a strong defender at 2B, but it is questionable as to how well his arm will play at 3B. Polanco has seen his wOBA drop from .371 in 2007, to only .321 in 2009. Poor luck may have been a factor in 2009, as Polanco's BABIP of .295 was well below his career average of .314. Polanco will be thirty-five in October, and his offensive abilities may be on the decline.
Polanco posted a 3.1 WAR in 2009, largely due to his defensive prowess. But Polanco's UZR of 11.4 in 2009 may be overstating his fielding abilities. Over his previous three seasons, Polanco's has an average UZR of 7.5. Adjusting slightly for position change/age, an UZR between 5 and 6 seems more likely.
The Phillies will pay Polanco the (approximate) free agent market price for a 1.5 WAR player. Polanco will likely prove to be a good value in '10 and (possibly) '11, but the Phils may regret including that third year.

Brian Schneider ($2.75M guaranteed over two seasons)

The days of Paul Bako as the MLB backup are over. This is certainly a good thing.Schneider struggled offensively in '09, but part of that was due to a miniscule BABIP of .233 (career average BABIP: .281). His LD% dropped from 25.7% to 13.2%, so his difficulties with the bat might not have been all BABIP's fault.
Schneider, a capable defensive catcher, should provide the Phils with sufficient WAR value.
However, this is another case where the Phils may have been better off with a one-year deal. Instead of rushing to sign Schneider, the Phils may have been able to wait out the market a bit, and gotten a more favorable deal.

Danys Baez ($5.25M guaranteed over the next two seasons)

On the plus side, Baez is neither Brandon Lyon nor Fernando Rodney, both of whom got much more many, and may post similar results. On the minus side, two guaranteed years seems a year too much. Perhaps a one-year $1.5M deal would have been more appropriate, considering Baez' WAR of .3 in 2009.
Baez K/9 has decreased every season since 2004, and his 4.02 ERA last season was aided by an unsustainable .239 BABIP. If Baez can repeat last seasons GB% of 60.9%, he has a chance for some success in middle relief. Retaining Clay Condrey, at approx. one-third of Baez' salary, may have been more prudent decision.

Jose Contreras (reportedly, a one-year agreement for approx. $1 M)

With Chan Ho Park looking to find a spot in another MLB team's rotation, the Phils needed a veteran bullpen arm, who could make an occasional spot start. Contreras should fit this role quite nicely. Contreras posted some ugly conventional numbers as a starter in 2009, but a .325 BABIP and a 62.7 LOB% were factors. His FIP of 4.11 is not nearly as unsightly as his 5.42 ERA as a starter with the White Sox.
Contreras posted a K/BB of 2.00, with a K/9 of 7.25. He can still dial up his velocity to the low-90s, and should be an asset as a reliever, provided his workload is kept manageable.

Ross Gload ($2.6M guaranteed over two seasons)

Gload was signed to take the place of Matt Stairs as one of the Phils' primary bench options. Stairs posted a WAR of 0.0 in an ugly 2009, which was eerily similar to Gload's -.1 WAR. Gload has little power and little defensive value. He is a below average offensive player, and it is questionable as to why the Phils felt the need to give him a second guaranteed year.
The Phils likely could have filled this role more cheaply with a AAAA player (Andy Tracy?), and then upgraded with a cheap salary dump for the stretch run, if desired.

Juan Castro ('10 salary: $.70M, 11: $.75M option/$50K buyout)

Castro, who will be 38 years of age in June, had a career year in 2009, posting a .277 BA. Castro's sudden offensive surge was likely the byproduct of an aberrant .349 BABIP (career BABIP: .267). Only five of Castro's thirty-one hits in 2009 were for extra bases (four doubles, one homer).
Castro will be the backup SS, going 0 for 3, with a strikeout, once every couple of weeks. He will also be used as a pinch-hitter more frequently than he merits, and will replace Jimmy Rollins late in blowouts less frequently than he should.
Hopefully, Chase Utley's days off will be covered by moving Polanco to 2B, and starting Greg Dobbs at 3B. Getting Dobbs more playing time should make him a more effective player, and getting Castro less playing time should make Phillies fans less disconcerted.
The Phils probably should have just saved .30M, and rostered Wilson Valdez as the backup middle infielder.

The Phillies have made some good moves for 2010, but may have overpaid a bit in term and salary. Last offseason, the Phillies rushed into the market, signing Raul Ibanez for three years, and Jamie Moyer for two. This offseason the Phillies rushed to give Placido Polanco three years, and Danys Baez (and Ross Gload and Brian Schneider) two. These extra years given to declining veterans may combine to exact a price in future fiscal flexibility.
General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has been quick and decisive in his forays into the free agent market. With Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard approaching free agency, in the next two offseasons, respectively, the cumulative weight of these ill-advised contracts may come back to haunt the Phillies. But we'll worry about that after the Phillies' third consecutive World Series appearance, this October.

Monday, November 2, 2009

There is still hope for the Phils...

Last night's Game Four loss to the Yankees was a painful one. When Pedro Feliz took Joba Chamberlain deep, tying the score at four in the eighth inning, things looked good for the Phillies. A scoreless ninth from rejuvenated closer Brad Lidge would set the stage for a walk-off victory. We've seem this remarkable team win games in this manner many times. But, after getting two outs, Lidge imploded, as we have also seen so many times, this season. The resulting three-run deficit was too much to overcome against Yankees' closer Mariano Rivera. A three games-to-one Series deficit may be even more difficult to overcome.

But, if we've learned anything about this Phillies ballclub, over the past two magical seasons, it's not to give up on them. No matter the circumstances. No matter the Win Expectancy. If there's a team capable of coming back from this deficit, it's the Phillies.

In fact, perhaps the Phillies have the Yanks right where they want them. With their ace, Cliff Lee, on the mound, opposed by A.J. Burnett (on short rest), a victory at home tonight is not out of the question. In Game Six, a rested Pedro Martinez, coming off his strong outing in Game Two, would (likely) be opposed by Andy Pettitte (on short rest). In a winner-take-all Game Seven, anything could happen. Perhaps BABIP would, finally, smile upon Cole Hamels, the Phillies' star-crossed southpaw. Maybe the Phils' bats would finally explode against C. C. Sabathia, once again pitching on short rest. This Series is far from over. Don't be surprised if the Phillies take the Yankees to the limit. As long as the Phillies have outs left, it is too soon to count them out.