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If those SP PECOTAs come close... wow.
To me, the thing that separates the men from the boys is their reach in int'l scouting. DR and the other usual places in Latin America are thoroughly picked over, but there's a big wide world out there that most teams seem to ignore. I'd love to see where teams differ in this respect. What the Yankees are doing in China, for example, seems like a no-brainer, but there isn't much of a stampede to join them.
All they've done is move players to their new teams. Those are still last year's PECOTA projections.
The last point is the most important: the certainty that robo pitcher brings, even if it's mediocre, lets managers and the FO make decisions involving this player with much more confidence. It seems to me that this is more or less exactly what the focus on stats and metrics for real players is chasing.
Real pitchers don't last all 7 innings if they've already given up 4 runs, but that's because there are no guarantees that they won't let in even more runs if they stay in the game. But robo pitcher is automatic: 7 IP, 4 runs. So as rcmiller3 noted, once robo pitcher has let in 4 runs, he'll put up zeroes the rest of the way.
Of course, there are no parallels to this in real life, but in magic land, this is a pretty valuable thing.
So everything a player does to help himself on the field is 'enhancement'? Gets to sleep on time? Enhancement. Prays to Jobu? Enhancement. Gets surgery on a broken arm? Enhancement. Uses a bat he is comfortable swinging? Enhancement. Puts bandaids on cuts? Enhancement. Puts eye black on to shield his eyes from the sun? Enhancement. Drinks Gatorade during games? Enhancement.
And all somehow equivalent to using steroids? I'll give you credit if you can ever convince a judge with that kind of argument. But I don't buy it.
Are steroids effectively akin to drinking lots of OJ to avoid colds? Suggesting that all drugs are equal when you're talking about 'enhancement' is taking semantics to an absurd, nonsensical level. But that seems the only way to try the case for steroids, now that the 'we have no proof' fig leaf has blown away.
That's a reasonable point, but I think the belief concerning steroids is that the more you take the bigger the effect, and that was my concern. If you take the prescribed amount of normal kind of prescription drug, it should give you the desired effect, and taking more than you're supposed to won't necessarily make that virus go away even faster, so there's no obvious need to abuse them. (Unless we're talking pain that's incredibly hard to manage or a desire to live life in a daisy haze.) But with steroids, users may not be content to live with what someone else decides is a safe amount for their body, and the little help it may give them, if they believe that the amount of steroids to amount of benefit ratio is close to 1:1, and that blowing past the suggested dosage would offer a lot more help. Then, if some players do abuse steroids, and some of those people achieve superhuman, bank account swelling feats a la McGwire in 98, then the players who limit themselves to the mandated amount may be compelled to follow the lead (and success) of those people... and we're back to square one.
If you told athletes they could take steroids, but only *this* much, how many would actually limit themselves to the mandated amount? There's a reason we don't open that door.
OK... *IF* steroids offered McGwire a boost to his strength, then he enjoyed that benefit every time he swung a bat while he was using. It wasn't a device he switched on and off, depending on whether or not he wanted its help, and the steroid benefit wasn't some biochemical reaction that only kicked in when he was swinging a particular way. These aren't gamma rays, anger, and the Hulk we're talking about here.
I can actually see this hurting his HOF chances, since writers can no longer vote for him from behind the veil of ignorance, claiming that there's no proof he used. I can't see this generation of voters consciously establishing the precedent that steroid use can be overlooked.
I think the even more significant difference between Perry and steroid users, which tcfatone touched on, is that every ball that left Perry's hands was not doctored. He enjoyed and possibly embellished his reputation as a spitballer, and doctoring a ball gave him an unfair advantage that extended beyond the specific number of doctored balls he threw (because the fear that he would throw a doctored ball presumably weighed on hitters' minds and affected their approach). But there is still something not insignificant to the idea that he was not cheating with every pitch he threw. A certain percentage of his pitches were unfairly treated, but plenty, presumably, were not. In contrast, *every* swing of the bat by a steroid user like Big Mac - when he was using anyway - benefited from the boost that steroids presumably gave him. Perry cheated selectively. Hitters on steroids knowingly cheated every time they swung a bat.
Eh, since when did it become a crime to wildly exaggerate on the internet?
My appreciation of BP's work, and my willingness to pay for it aren't contingent on whether or not Joe Sheehan is writing here, just for the record. He was a major part of the site, but so was Nate, and so were all the other major parts that left before them. They haven't been replaced by junk, and I look forward to seeing what BP has in store for 2010. Maybe we can relax with the rending of garments and "It'll never be this good again" hysteria until we actually see what a post-Sheehan BP looks like.
Best of luck to you, Joe.
The Year in Quotes and not one from Ozzie Guillen? How is that possible?
Best move the Mets could make, arguably, is getting rid of Minaya and replacing him with someone who has some credibility, and who can offer some hope. Right now it's easy to look at the Mets and imagine that - despite their talent - they'll continue to fall short with Minaya at the helm. And I can't think of many players who want to be stuck on a NY team when it is falling short of expectations. Met fans have been downright hostile the last few seasons, and until the team does something dramatic enough to signal a new direction, the negativity surrounding the team will probably continue.
And Mark Shapiro laughs nervously, hoping that we've already forgotten about his Cliff Lee deal.
And Bill Smith laughs nervously, hoping that we've already forgotten about his Johan Santana deal.
And so on. I'd say the nexus of bad trades is currently residing somewhere more to the west. *cough* AL Central *cough*
"When you win, you collect the return on the investment you make. This has been true for decades in baseball, and it remans so today, as the Phillies could no doubt explain if you could hear them over the ringing of the cash registers."
According to BP's 2008 annual, the Phillies payroll was between $88 and $95.5 million in the first 4 years that Citizens Bank was open (2004-2007). The payroll, post two World Series trips and a solid wall of sellouts, will be up to $140 million this year, and Phillies fans who have carped for years about the stinginess of the owners can't really complain. The Phillies market was a longtime slumbering giant, and the ownership group is finally starting/able to take advantage.
Possibly true, but most teams can't dazzle GMs by sprinkling magic Yankee dust on their 4th outfielders and prospects. Put Melky et al in an Orioles uni and see if you can still get that deal consumated.
Of course, you also have to give Cashman credit for simply being this good.
"i think we should consider the possibility that the phillies, in fact, LIKE THE PROSPECTS they got from the mariners."
Yes, particularly since the Phillies Assistant GM, Benny Looper, worked in the Mariners system until 2008. So he was pretty familiar with their talent. Todd Zolecki's MLB.com blog recently featured quick blurbs from Looper about each of the guys they got. If I can link, it's here: http://zozone.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/12/looper_talks_prospects.html.
I think there really is a big difference between getting two picks for Lee in the June 2011 draft vs. getting all 3 players from the Lee deal to begin the year in AA in 2010. (RAJ has already said that he plans to assign all 3 to AA.) Unless the Phillies want to use those 2 theoretical Lee picks on good, advanced college level players who can jump to the majors in under a year (an extremely unrealistic expectation, I'd think), they're going to get players who wouldn't realistically hit the big leagues until - what - 2014 at the earliest? (2012 in A, 2013 in AA). Meanwhile the Phils can hope that their Lee haul will be ready to contribute as soon as 2011 or 2012. That's not an insignificant difference at all, especially considering the serious payroll crunch that's going to hit the team in 2011. The ability to bring in minimum wage talent at that point is more or less essential if the Phillies want to avoid shedding other useful, popular players.
Well RAJ doesn't seem to agree that the team is 2010 or bust, so you have to accept his perspective. He intends to try to keep the team at an elite level in 2011 and beyond, and isn't fatalistic about inevitable declines or rapidly closing windows. And if he's going to keep the team going, then he has to restock the minor league system with talent that could be ready to go in 2011. (Considering that Gillies and Aumont, if not all 3, will begin the year in AA, they're on target to meet that goal.) There really aren't any other players on the roster who are expendable enough and good enough to net the kind of prospects that Lee did (others are expendable but not as good, or as good but not as expendable). Of course money had something to do with it as well, both for this year and beyond, since the owners clearly aren't going to let the payroll swell too much as the core gets older and more expensive. So Ruben's either going to have to let other popular players go as they get older and more expensive, or find a way to surround them with minimum wage talent ASAP. Trading Lee was a painful, but rational way of helping to meet that goal. At least imo.
Of course they're increasing their risk of not winning the pennant by shipping out Lee, but they have more than enough talent as is to get to the promised land next season. So while RAJ is forgoing a short term gain in Lee, he's also trying to secure a more reliable long term future for the club. That probably makes the bosses happy, and the fans might appreciate it too if it works. The Phillies are starting to act like a heavyweight team that isn't just trying to catch lightning in a bottle before they crap out and start over. Like Boston, the Yankees, and other elite franchises, they're trying to win now while also putting themselves in a position to win tomorrow. The Lee trade may bust, but I can see the logic behind it.
I wanted to congratulate you for "Entish post-season schedule".
Matt, I don't think it's a great idea to take Victor Wang's argument, which is a useful heuristical way of determining prospect value, and treating it as if it is literal, as you seem to do here. All of the prospects involved in this deal are lottery tickets, even if some look like they're more likely to pay out than others. But there's no way of saying that prospect X will return Y value with any kind of certainty, so it seems unwise to analyze the trade as if you can. I would hedge a bit on the certainty expressed here, and simply say, if you'd like to, that it *seems* like the Phillies undersold on Lee.
It's $9 million cash *and* 3 upper level prospects vs. the performance difference between Cliff Lee and Jamie Moyer, isn't it? So it's not as much of a landslide loss.
"As a Phils fan, I can say with conviction that we are, as a whole, retarded."
What gives you this sense that other team's fans are less dumb? Surely not the radio, TV, internet, or newspapers.
You could also argue that three promising, upper level prospects have more value to the club in 2011 than two compensation picks, who won't be ready to help as quickly. The timetables on Seattle's 3 are much faster, and will be theoretically ready to arrive and replenish just when the big league team needs them.
It's passing up a big short term gain in order to get a bigger long term benefit. And as far as short term gains goes, the Phillies were a WS team with only 2 months of Cliff Lee. They'll have a full year of someone who is slightly better, and didn't lose any (other) big pieces, so Amaro, Jr. could reasonably conclude -- especially given the lack of movement from the NL's other big teams -- that he already has a good shot at another pennant winner on paper. If you look at it that way, they've still upgraded their pennant-winning team in the short term, albeit only slightly, but they've also taken a significant step towards making sure the team can sustain this level of performance after 2010. There's something to be said for that.
"I think its safe to say that that strategy cost him the opportunity to have both Halladay and Lee in his starting rotation."
I think that's overstating it. That strategy has nothing to do with the fact that the Phillies upper level MiLB talent was very depleted by the trade for Halladay. Amaro, Jr. could put blinders on, only worry about 2010, and enjoy feeling like the Yankees for a year, but then the team would be running a risk of being unprepared for 2011 and beyond. The Phillies payroll growth is unsustainable at this point, and they need to think about how and where they can replace expensive talent with cheap, viable alternatives. Especially if they want to continue being an elite level contender. If the minor league system is currently Dom Brown plus a bunch of low level maybes, that doesn't inspire confidence. For one year of Lee, the Phillies bought some reassurance that they'll have talent in the pipeline for next year. And only Cliff Lee apparently offered them the combo of a) a replaceable talent (with Doc) and b) a guy who wasn't in their long term plans. Both of which made him (reluctantly, I hope) expendable, given the Phillies situation and needs.
There's still a big difference between getting two picks when Lee leaves vs. the 3 prospects they got in yesterday's deal. One difference is that these 3 have been tested in the minors, so they're not imaginary lottery tickets like Anthony Hewitt, who was the Phillies' last #1 pick. But more importantly, they're upper level talent, and thus will be MLB ready well before any of the compensation picks they'd get when Lee left town. This is critically important for a team with little upper level MiLB talent after Dom Brown, which also has an unsustainably expensive core of MLB talent. They need to replenish as soon as 2011, and have no apparent interest in going all in on the next year at the risk of cratering thereafter while they wait for their new wave of talent to emerge.
Was money a part of it? It wasn't not a part of it, but the bigger imperative seems to have been about replacing the upper level, legit talent that they lost when they dealt for Halladay.
Yep, JP was clownshoes.
Not to be too flip, but maybe the Phillies liked the package Seattle was offering. I don't know that anyone can say that some bigger haul was out there if only some patience had been exercised. And as for waiting, that's not the Phillies MO, which seems to be about locking in cost certainty as quickly as possible. The FO seems to be extremely reluctant to let the offseason drag on without knowing what they'll be spending.
And for whatever reason (his impending free agency, most likely) the GM decided that Lee offered the team the most reasonable bang for the buck in terms of prospects vs. benefit to the team.
Feels like the Committee is basically 'guys Bud Selig talks to already', so all it does is get these guys in the same room together for their coffeehousing, and they get to experience the ego trip of being 'guardians of the game'. But as for doing anything progressive, I don't think the commish is comfortable letting some Don Draper clone he doesn't know well Powerpoint his way through a proposal to do something significantly different. Bud is an old guy who likes his oatmeal. That's understandable.
Exactly. If this is the only move Alex Greek Last Name will ever make, then you can make a case that he should behave -- in this one shot scenario -- in the most rational way possible. But Alex GLN will have to deal with every other GM over the course of his presumably long and fruitful career, and he has every personal incentive to appear competent and capable in his Halladay negotiations, lest other GMs take him for 'that guy' at the poker table, who can get snowed by everyone else. It probably doesn't do him any good for his career if his first impression move is to take 5 cents on the dollar for game changing talent, even if other GMs understand the bind that he's in.
Joe's gracious attaboy to the Phils notwithstanding, it will surprise no one when BP's 2010 number crunching predicts as per usual that the Mets will win the NL East, followed by the Braves.
Who can forget Johnny Damon's tearful "This team had to overcome so much... small sample size to finally do it!" comments to the media after the game?
It's too bad there's a certain joylessness in watching the Yankees win a World Series. They're heavy favorites who can only, at best, simply meet expectations. That said, man that's a good team.
Story of the game, for the Yanks pitching vs. Phillies hitting, was Andy Pettitte's line against lefties and righties.
In his 6 IP, the Phillies' lefties (Utley, Howard, and Ibanez) were 0 for 9 with 6 Ks against Pettitte. The righties? 4 for 11, with 3 BB, 1 K, 2 HR, and 4 Rbi. The first time through the order, every righty had a hit except Victorino, who took bad ABs against Pettitte all game long.
It's silly for baseball people to talk about how replay will create unacceptable delays, considering that it's perfectly acceptable for pitchers and hitters to go walkabout before every pitch. And every time Jimmy Rollins gets on base in this Series the game slows down so much that time starts moving backwards.
Jay, I think the Phillies felt like they were playing with house money after snagging home field advantage away from the Yankees, and that played into the decisionmaking re: Pedro. Manuel badly wanted to get Pedro the win, and showed the same sort of sentimentality he displayed when he let Brad Lidge pitch the last out of the NL East-clinching win at CPB. Since the Phils already had a game in hand, I assume it was easier to give in to the sentiment and live with the results if it didn't work out.
Also, it's a minor point, but it stuck in my craw. I don't think either one of us can read Pedro's mind, but I don't think he was sending out mental warm fuzzies as he left the field. From his bitter comments about the New York media before the game, and his (apocryphal?) post-game story about the guy behind the dugout with his daughter, who was yelling unprintable things at Pedro as he left the field, it's by no means assured that his smile was the product of genuine happiness or satisfaction. There's more than likely some humiliation involved in (once again) not being able to make Yankee fans eat their words. And so, while I suppose it's tempting to exonerate the thousands of fellow Yankee fans who jeered stupidly at a 38 year year old HOF legend who just pitched his ass off by suggesting that the HOF'er -- in that moment -- enjoyed the razzing, and that it was a heart warming moment, it seems like a misinterpretation of events.
Not that the fans in Philly will be any classier. God forbid A Rod gets plunked in the head and goes down Michael Irvin style.
If Philly wins this Series (big IF) or this game (ditto) I hope the ultimate story is about how the Phillies won it rather than how NY lost it. I know (some) people like nothing more than to jeer at managerial decisions like they can't believe how anyone could be so stupid, but the presumption that the Yanks should cruise, but for Girardi's meddling, is not very fair to either team.
There's nothing wrong with raising an eyebrow at a questionable move. Just don't assume it counts for everything. Chances are, Molina and Hairston, Jr. will not be the story of the game, just as Posada and Swisher were not the story in last night's game.
Re: Mariano and fielding bunts. After that Game 7 in 2001, any plays involving Rivera fielding bunts kind of stand out, and since them I've seen him blow that play enough times to think that it's actually a good strategy to use against him.
Joe, re: last night's Yanks-Angels game, is there any possibility that warm weather teams have a tendency to have trouble playing in particularly frosty weather? I know that this used to be a pop theory in football to explain why dome teams seemed to crumple come playoff time, but I don't know if anyone ever looked into its validity, for football or baseball.
Not sure how much Eyre v. Ethier we may get in this series. Small sample size warnings abound, but Ethier is 3-4 with a double and a HR vs. Eyre and the next guy in the lineup is 4-4 with 2 HRs and 3 walks. Manuel made it clear in the post game that he didn't want Eyre to go near Manny, so the most Eyre would have been in there for is 1 batter. I think Manuel wants to save Eyre if he can to bail out Brad Lidge in the 9th, so maybe Happ gets the call if Ethier comes up earlier in a tough situation.
Clay D. sorted it, and explained the problem in an Unfiltered post. Playoff Odds now favor the Dodgers.
Joe, I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the opposition hitter each side most needs to neutralize if they are going to win. As in, 'The Dodgers really need to shut down _____, and the Phillies really need to take ______ out of the series.' Based on what you wrote, maybe Rollins is the guy the Dodgers really need to freeze, but is there a guy on the Dodgers who really deflates the offense if he's not having a good series?
PS. Rollins to the sixth spot has been a wish list item for local amateur managers for a while, ever since his high slugging, low-OBP tendencies emerged. However, like the defunct and never consumated 'Abreu for Leadoff' movement, it has been deep sixed by the player's resistance to the idea. It has its merits, but we're not likely to see it happen any time soon.
If we're going to use arbitary before and after points for Ibanez's season, doesn't it make more sense to use pre- and post- DL trip?
Why batting average?
"McCarver said that one of the reasons that catchers don't win batting titles is because their batting average goes down late in the game with all of the bumps and bruises they get from donning the tools of ignorance. This seemed an interesting little theory from an ex-catcher that begged for some numbers to back it up."
Don't get 'probable CS' if Frenchy has a swing and a miss, b/c like most closers, he doesn't seem to hold runners well. At worst, a push.
The Phils were already showing signs of being tight and sloppy, as they started the inning with three straight clownshoes errors (one which was generously scored a hit, but c'mon). There is defensible value in trying to keep the pressure on by sending the runners, and the one in a million outcome (triple play) is so insanely rare that it doesn't make sense to let that tiny, tiny risk determine your play there.
The Mets have a punchless lineup, and they're down 2 with only 3 outs to go. Manuel didn't make a safe play, but some dice rolling with the middle of the lineup coming to the plate seems justifiable. What else are they playing for?
I guess while we're on the subject of names, Dom Brown now wants his name to be spelled 'Domonic'. From CSN Philly:
"To start with Reading’s PR guru Rob Hackash informed everyone that Brown’s name had been misspelled pretty much his entire life. It’s “Domonic,” not “Dominic.” Brown would have corrected everyone but he is too polite."
Kind of an absurd sounding explanation, but there it is, fwiw.
How can you claim geek status and then flub getting the links right? Let us convene a geek council to consider this matter.
I honestly think that there's a certain amount of optimism granted to teams that do things the 'right' way (or have done things the 'right' way in the past), as if they will be able to mitigate problems a bit better, or squeeze more out of middling players than other teams because they are (thought to be) so savvy.
I'm not even sure that this is a perception consciously arrived at, but there does seem to be an ongoing assumption with certain teams that their moves will mostly work out, even if only modestly, while other teams don't get the same kind of treatment. Some teams definitely live on the opposite end of that spectrum, and their moves get seen through a lens that trends towards skeptical from the jump.
I guess I'll be the one to point out that these ranking were Joe's pre-season rankings. He's just revisiting them to see where he hit or missed. So when he put Mets #3, their injury problems weren't yet manifest.
I wouldn't be shocked to see Pedro end up being used like Chan Ho, getting 1 or 2 inning stretches out of the pen. The Phillies have two weeks or so of minor league starts to see if he makes sense as a starter, but if he doesn't have the gas to reliably get through 5 innings then he might add to the Phils problems as much as solve them. The team is already concerned that it is putting too much stress on the pen, so adding a mediocre 5 inning pitcher might not make that situation any better. If Pedro can 'let it go' more and keep his velocity up as a guy who goes 20-30 pitches (or less) an outing, then he might slot in there. And if not Pedro, the Phils still have a few other guys they can rotate into the 5th spot until someone sticks.
It's easy to rolleyes when the Mets are posited as a contender, but BP's numbers continue to suggest such a possibility, so I guess it's hard to blame Joe when the model tells him to go for it.
BP's recently updated (7/5) Depth Charts currently predict that the Braves will win the NL East, with the Mets in second, and the Phillies in third. Of course, to get such a counter-intuitive result, the model assumes that the Braves and Mets will both score runs like offensive juggernauts (446 and 444 runs, respectively) between now and the last day of the season, which would be a monster improvement on their current first half numbers (352 and 360 runs scored, respectively). They will also both (continue to) pitch great, and only allow 307(!) and 344 runs, respectively, between now and game 162. The Phillies, meanwhile, are predicted to copy their pitching performance from the first half (395 RA as of today, 396 RA for the rest of the season), while hitting much worse (435 Runs scored as of today, 366 RS for the rest of the year).
And since when is one (even awesomely bad) contract a 'kill shot' for either the Yankees or Sox?
Yeah, I knew it was bad, but had no idea it was *that* bad.
Howard has a career 1.282 OPS at Busch. Clearly the home cooking goes down well. I don't have a problem with Manuel doing the home town heroes (I think Franklin benefits here as well) a solid, even if the selections themselves are a bit iffy.
I would pay money to see Pedro and Ichiro compete in a quote-off.
Seconded. OTB is always a good read, and the scout comments are especially cool.
Joe, you left out that he dates the world's most interesting women and (inexplicably) only drinks Dos Equis. And that he had transformed Baltimore into the most glamorous East Coast city in the nation. And that he crashed Tweeter b/c so many people were subscribed to his Zen koan pearls of wisdom: "Bats and balls are like trees and acorns. Plant them in soil."
You almost make him sound like Derek Jeter.
In addition to those splits you mention, Howard has hit 46 HRs against lefties from '06-'08. No other 1B really comes close. Fielder has 31 and Pujols has 30. The notion that Howard loses a lot of value against lefties is undeniable, but the overall argument for a platoon arrangement here is underwhelming.
I've only read about half of the entries, but this was probably my favorite, so nice job. It was a creative approach to an interesting question, and the data offered some interesting numbers.
In a different context this info would probably be better suited to a two or three part article, so that you could elaborate more on the data and its implications, but I understand the imperative to dazzle for a BP Idol entry. Clearly, it worked.
Sorry to do this, but I'm going to pile on about the writing. Some of the flaws are noticeable, and it sort of weighs down the overall effort. I'd hate to see it deep six your chances. The good part is that this is organized very well: here's my problem, there are three ways you can analyze the problem, here are those three ways, and here's where I tie it all together. That makes it very readable, and helps keep people engaged in where you are going with it. I know from experience that structuring an argument is not as easy as it sometimes looks, so it is a significant plus that you can do this.
But things like this sentence: "For only a few organizations is the five-man rotation set in stone at the beginning of Spring Training" made my eyes bleed. That reads like it passed through babelfish first. Also, the opening para didn't really get good/interesting until you posed the question that framed the rest of the analysis. The entries I've read all seemed to struggle with finding a compelling opening, and since the first few lines might be your only chance to engage voters, falling down on this is not going to help the cause. In most cases, including this one, the entrants could just trust their stuff and dive right in, instead of spending a few lines taking a stab at what they hoped was an interesting way of (finally) introducing the central question or point.
I wouldn't assume that voters are going to be indulgent enough to let the writers spin their wheels for two or three sentences before they shift into gear. Some people will read every word of the entries because they have to (hi Will), and some will read every word because they want to be good voters, but for the rest of the apathetic masses, you need to give them a reason to want to keep reading. If the first 100 words are weak, some people might not stick around for the rest.
Good luck the rest of the way.
Congrats to Tyler for making the finals.
The sturm und drang about the Ibanez contract has been a pet peeve for a while now, especially because -- now that Ibanez has started out fantastically well -- the people who built the consensus that the Phillies were dopes to sign him for this much are all doubling down on their initial positions.
I know this entry was written sometime before the season started, but w/r/t BP Idol, it would have been a lot more interesting if the entry had joined the 2 percenters who disagree with the consensus on the Ibanez deal, instead of simply going with the flow and bolstering (with numbers) the argument made by many other people. The fact that this was written before the season started doesn't really mitigate that criticism. BP performs a valuable service when it can illuminate something new, or pop the CW balloon with some fact-based analysis, but it is less interesting when it simply reiterates the CW. I don't remember Steve Phillips and Joe Morgan (or some other saber punching bag) waxing ecstatic about the Ibanez deal, so it's not like the 'bad contract' side is/was engaged in some great debate with another established viewpoint.
As far as the actual argument against the Ibanez deal goes, I will c'n'p a comment I made on another site (rhymes with 'manstaffs'):
I don't agree with the CW that Ibanez was just some fungible guy, and that the Phils should have sorted through the remainder pile in February to get the same production at half the price. Would the Phillies have liked to get Ibanez for 10 cents on the dollar? Of course. The big question is: Was that going to happen? I’m not sure that anyone can sit there and say that the Phils were way over the market for him, because we have no way of knowing what other teams were willing to pay for him. Maybe that was his market, and if you wanted him, that was the price.
Yes, the Phillies went over the broader market for available left fielders, but they didn’t want any of those other guys. Better players still take a premium, even in this economy. I don’t get the logic that says that if a handful of suboptimal players at a particular position had to sign below market deals, then the good players at the position should be expected to sign the same kind of deal. It’s an interesting negotiating tactic, but if the other owners aren't as cheap as you, you’re going to be rummaging through the remainder bin in January, hoping to get lucky. You know who overpaid even more extravagently for their left fielder, considering the bear market? The Dodgers. If Manny hadn't gotten pregnant, they'd be pretty satisfied with the price they paid.
In Ibanez the Phillies got a player who fit their needs much better than Burrell or any of the other LFs available in the FA pool, despite the fact that Ibanez was left-handed, played suspect D, and was not a perfect, computer generated baseball player with no flaws, and it cost them at least $5 million a year less than Burrell would have cost. So they got the FA they wanted, a player that they could reasonably expect to outperform his predecessor, and they banked a couple million to spend on other needs. This gets framed as some sort of blunder on their part? Tough crowd. In most jobs, if people make a deal like that, they get a pat on the back.
I don't know how big the audience is for a series like this, but for the people who are into it (like me) it's going to be tremendous. I'd really like to know what kind of int'l scouting/player development presence MLB teams have in L. America and other parts of the globe, so anything (else) you could offer on this (i.e., love the tidbit that every team save the Brew Crew has an academy in the DR) would be appreciated.
I'm not sure that it is any more, or less, comforting for Wang and the Yankees that other pitchers have been there before, especially because Wang is not those pitchers. What worked for Moose or Sabathia might be totally wrong for Wang. As for the remedies, Brett Myers got himself sorted by spending two weeks in the minors last year, and Jeff Francoeur didn't. That alone suggests that there really isn't some universal remedy for these kinds of issues.
In other words, whatever the Yankees want to do with Wang needs to be tailored to Wang, not on what worked or didn't work for some other player. So if they decide he needs to go to the pen, or to the minors, or to a psychic, then so be it, and it wouldn't necessarily be a panic move.
Joe wants to trust the pitcher, but it's worth asking if we can trust the Yankees as well. If possible, it would be useful to see if the recent vintage Yankees were any good at 'fixing' a pitcher gone terribly bad. Mussina is one data point, but are there others?
KG, great idea for a series. Don't remember if this is the first year you're doing it or not, but it's fun to gaze into the crystal ball for prospects.
whs. Phils have every chance of falling short this year, because their pitching may go a 'they are who we thought they were' route. But at the same time they probably have the fewest gaping holes of any team in the division. It's not the 27 Yankees at every position, but at least there's some clear sense of what you're going to get from them. Mets and Braves are tossing magic 8 balls into the starting lineup every night.
Worth mentioning, fwiw, that I think the PECOTA projections for the Philly bullpen may be skewed by the fact that a lot of their key parts, picked off the scrap heap before flourishing in Philly, were incredibly bad before getting here (Eyre, Romero, and to a lesser extent Durbin). I will be pleasantly surprised if they lock it down like they did last year, but will be unpleasantly surprised if they regress as badly as PECOTA thinks they will.
Shhh, it's hype like this that explains why Ollie and Castillo get booed in exhibition games, so why complain? Fans can't figure out why their 160 win team is ever losing, and the millisecond someone fails, they start bringing up the choking and the stinking up the joint. The weight of inflated expectations is harsh on the players, but it works in everyone else's favor. Metsblog will experience a meltdown in the comments section before the season is 7 games old. Guaranteed. Mets fans hate their team. Let it ride.
Hey Will, so true about Opening Day. I want a full slate of games, first pitch in Cincy, the whole deal. This opening night one off is weak.
Unless the Phillies are able to get a RH 4th outfielder type with a little pop and a little D, the 25th man to open the season looks to be Miguel Cairo, which would set Eric Bruntlett up to get some time in the OF as a defensive-ish replacement.
Also, in the pen, Zagurski isn't on anyone's radar anymore, so he's not likely to put up any numbers for the club. And I don't even know who Borkowski is. He seems incredibly unlikely to actually pitch for the Phils. At this moment, the 2 most likely AAA guys who could be called up to the pen later in the season are probably Majewski and Koplove, who both pitched reasonably well in ST.
Taschner seems to be filling a role of 'scrub who keeps the seat warm until Romero returns', so 40 IP might be a bit generous. By the same token, unless the model assumes JC will be injured as well as suspended, he will be around for 112 games and will probably see more than 35 IP.
It's hard to quantify what the Mets lack, but when they fall short again this year, maybe we'll have to try.
Team USA can't dial up the excuses fast enough. It's disheartening.
Anyone, Christina included, have a sense of how active the trade market might be before the year begins, as teams try to sell off their 26th men for something else they need?
That Ozzie quote is genius.
Agree 100%. Wright has become the de facto leader of the team, and I always find it painful to watch him try to channel a guy like Jeter and be Dynasty Captain, saying the perfect professional thing every time he opens his mouth. Particularly last season, when there was such a hostile, negative fan/media vibe surrounding the Mets. It would be hard for anyone to face the shark frenzy every night, but you could see him trying too hard to please the people with the microphones, and he let them get in his head.
I still remember the year PECOTA gave Zack Greinke a 0% collapse score, before he went out and did exactly that. You knew the baseball gods weren't going to let that slide.
On topic, Moyer is fun to root for.
My math is off. Korea and Japan could play 5 times before this is over.
The thing that's odd about the way the chips fell is that the US v. Venezuela and Japan v. Korea could conceivably happen 4 times (already happened 3 times) before the tournament is over. Not only does familiarity breed contempt, but given this format it's also possible that one team could beat the other 3 times, but lose the last (and most important game). It didn't literally happen this time, but it was possible for the US to beat Venezuela 3 times (1st round matchup, 1st round winner's game for seeding, and tonight's 2nd round winner's game for seeding) without Venezuela getting knocked out.
If one team goes 1-3 against the other, are they really the better team?
Could have added '...when your team is still winning 8-2' to the list of reasons why Lindstrom was being a dumbass. The HR was practically meaningless, so even if Englehardt had moonwalked to first base, there's still no good reason for Lindstrom to goon it up.
And in looking at the replay, there really isn't much of a case to be made that Englehardt even showboated in the first place. Showboating is what Korea's TK Kim did to Matsuzaka in the first Korea-Japan game: tossing the bat and throwing his arms up over his head... in the 1st inning.
Thirded. That was brutal.
But it\'s hard to prove anything re: PEDs when almost none of the people taking them will admit to doing so. If anyone has a worthwhile database of MLB players that has their stats w/ PEDs and their stats without PEDs, I assume it would be a unique item.
But the circumstantial evidence doesn\'t seem all the meaningless, because a number of players had outlier years while supposedly juicing. Should we just ignore that? Hell, if we wanted to end all the steroids obsessions, wouldn\'t the easiest way be to prove that they didn\'t impact the performance of the people who took them? Wouldn\'t proving the lack of a connection be just as useful to one side as proving that there is a connection to the other? Shutting down the conversation by saying that steroids is a moot topic because no one can prove anything is just a way to flee from a hard subject.
More sunlight is better than less, and if MLB fans five years from now have more confidence that the product is clean (whether it\'s b/c testing and prevention are ace, or b/c PEDs are found to have a negligible impact on performance), then MLB will be much better off than the supposedly smarter NFL.
Any time the subject of PEDs comes up, you can bet we\'ll all be wallowing in what Philip Roth described as \"America\'s oldest communal passion: the ecstasy of sanctimony\" pretty soon. From people on both sides of the issue. I\'d like to see a lot more shades of grey added to the commentary we get on this, as neither extreme (\'Can we ignore this and sweep it under the carpet?\' vs. \'A whole era of baseball is ruined forever!\') seems tenable.
Well, not to beat a dead horse, but PECOTA saw the Phillies as even more \"substantially inferior\" to the Mets last year at about this time (2/23):
New York Mets 96-66
Atlanta Braves 86-76
Philadelphia Phillies 84-78
Florida Marlins 76-86
Washington Nationals 72-90
IIRC, this was later adjusted, and the Mets and Phillies were projected to be neck and neck (at around 89 wins?) by the time the season started. So maybe the lesson is that it\'s still too early to rely on PECOTA projections, and that we need to see what PECOTA makes of the team rosters coming out of camp.
Utley is obviously a key part of the Phillies lineup, but it seems a bit exaggerated to suggest that he holds the key to the season in some body part. (A repeat performance from the bullpen seems more important (and unlikely), imo.) There is enough good hitting in the lineup that the Phillies should be able to live without a full strength Utley for a decent amount of time, just as they managed without Jimmy Rollins for a spell last year, and just as they managed with a very sub-par Ryan Howard for weeks at a time. (Not to mention playing the second half with a hobbled Utley.) June 1? OK, that\'s probably a problem. But although it isn\'t insignificant, losing Utley for one month seems well within the bounds of what the Phillies can afford to absorb, assuming that no other East team is busting out a 95, 100 win pace.
Cheers, Jay. I figured Moyer was absent for that reason.
I like the annual man vs. machine prediction battle between Jimmy Rollins and PECOTA, so I\'m looking forward to seeing how it goes this year.
Ha Ha. PECOTA loves the Mets? Phils will be fighting for third? That sounds strangely familiar...
I\'m wondering if BP has an opinion about how CitiField will play, since I\'ve seen people argue that it will play like the Grand Canyon and suppress offense to a Petco-like extreme.
Cue talk of the Yankees voiding A-Rod\'s contract?
Wow. People are having a freak out over 500 words from KO? Not to brag or anything, but I have bigger things to worry about.
Starting with whether or not I should have juice or coffee (or both!) with my breakfast.
Joe (or anyone else), can you elaborate on slash remind us why the games can\'t be played in mid-November into December? Is this b/c it doesn\'t jive with the schedules of other int\'l leagues (in which case, since MLB is supplying most of the players, the other leagues should adapt), or is it that players really really *really* don\'t want to play games \'after\' the season? If that\'s the objection, it doesn\'t seem insurmountable either.
Anyway, the write up seemed only to consider early or mid-season games, and I was wondering why end of season games were non-starters.
The national teams in soccer play tournaments pretty much every year. There are regional tournaments (ie., Euro Cup, which is huge) as well as the WC, and WC qualifying starts about 2 years before the actual World Cup tourney. They keep those guys busy.
Which is to say, the WBC at this stage plays more like a one-off novelty, like the off-season games in Japan, than a full-fledged competition. It would be fun to see it become a bigger deal, though. Anything that helps internationalize the sport is ultimately in its best interests.
Which is to say that this statement, from your post:
\"6-OXO has always carried a warning that it could result in positive tests.\"
may not be correct.
Will, fwiw, Gammons report on the issue says that the bottle Romero purchased (and brought to his arb hearing) did not contain the warning that is now up on the website, and which was on the more recently purchased bottle that MLB obtained:
\"Curiously, the bottle of the supplement MLB had purchased contained the label warning: \"Use of this product may be banned by some athletic or government associations.\" However, the bottle Romero had purchased and brought to the hearing contained no warning.\"
Would love for BP to find out the scope of each team\'s domestic or int\'l scouting operations. Which teams operate overseas facilities, which countries do they scout regularly, do they have links to overseas teams or leagues? Etc., etc.
\"The Yankee advantage comes from the world-wide Yankee market and the revenue that supplies.\"
That\'s the point. The Yankees aggressively build markets and chase revenue, and created a cash cow franchise. They\'re not passively sitting back, counting the money that volunteers itself to them. They\'re constantly looking for ways to bring in more money and give themselves more finances to play with. The rest of the league doesn\'t have the same natural advantages that the Yankees do, but they also don\'t try as hard as the Yankees to expand revenues.
Point being that if the Steinbrenners owned the Angels for the last 35 years, and someone without the same drive owned the Yankees, the odds are we\'d be talking about the Angels being bad for baseball instead of the Yankees. The Steinbrenners probably couldn\'t have pulled it off in a small market like Kansas City, but with the Yankees they got a franchise with huge earning potential and they figured out what to do with it.
Boston\'s ownership, for one, is creatively chasing revenue as well, fwiw. Other teams should imitate these practices instead of trying to shut them down.
If Hank Steinbrenner owned the Anaheim Angels, and Arte Moreno owned the New York Yankees, where would Teixeira be playing next year?
The Steinbrenners spend money to make money. Trying to penalize them for working hard to maximize revenue is silly. If it\'s just a matter of being in NY, why don\'t the Mets spend like the Yankees?
Phils just did a teleconference with beat writers, and Amaro said that the Phillies expect Utley to be \"fairly close to ready, if not ready, by opening day.\" Sounds like wishcasting?
Also said they expected to use a combo of Bruntlett and Donald if Chase wasn\'t ready to go. There could be a silver lining here if it enables the Phils to get a peek at Donald to see what he can do at the major league level.
Mediocre is pretty much what the Phillies are looking for right now. They already have the 8th and 9th innings locked down, and they\'re really only after a right handed replacement for Rudy Seanez. If the price is right, mediocre is probably an acceptable value. It\'s not really practical to go looking for a Carlos Marmol type to get us through the 6th inning, because they\'re not really in good supply, and even if they were, they wouldn\'t normally go to Philly to be a 6th or 7th inning guy.
If this makes you ill, remember that there was lots of puking to be done during the Gillick era as well, since nearly everyone he brought in to the pitching staff was \'mediocre\'. Eyre? Moyer? Blanton? Romero? Eaton? Rosario? Seanez? Alfonseca? Mesa? The only sexy name I can think of offhand that ever got added to the staff via trade or free agency was Lidge (and possibly Gordon).
By the way, big props to whoever (Kahrl?) wrote the Phillies entry for this year\'s Prospectus. Perfect timing for arguing that the Phils were at a tipping point this year, and that they might be a player or an adjustment away from finding real success. That\'s a feather in someone\'s cap.
There is no doubt that Phillies fans would have screamed bloody murder if the game had been suspended earlier, and Hamels had been unable to continue after the restart. In that sense, you might be right that letting the game go as long as possible favored the Phils. However, as well as Hamels was pitching, the weather definitely was a factor in the 6th. As related by J Stark, \"Hamels said it was so hard to grip the ball that he never tried to throw a single curveball. And he could never get the right grip on his best pitch, his David Copperfield disappearing changeup.\"
In that case, the choice between the a and b you proposed earlier is probably not as obvious.
More interesting to know if MLB will keep the off day between games 5 and 6. If they don\'t play 6 and 7 until Friday and Saturday, Hamels would be available to pitch Saturday on normal rest, right?
Yes, you\'re missing something. You\'re looking for players who can be the platoon partner for Howard, meaning they fill the hole he leaves in the lineup. That hole is hitting lefties. The hypothetical platoon partner is wasted if he can hit lefties *and* righties, so what\'s the point of signing a person worthy of a full-time role if he\'s only going to get 180 ABs a season? And what first baseman worthy of a full-time role is going to accept being Howard\'s lefty platoon handcuff if he has the numbers to justify an everyday role? There\'s plenty of right-handed first basemen in MLB, but which of them want to go be a benchwarmer for Philly, spotting Howard against lefties? And who, among them, would Philly want?
I spent some time this afternoon looking around at who - if anyone - could actually fill the role of Howard platoon partner, because it doesn\'t seem like an easy role to fill. My criteria was a guy who hit lefties well, didn\'t hit righties well, and could play a decent first base. I don\'t know minor league systems well enough to know if there\'s a lefty-killing, righty-flailing glove man down in the minor leagues who could stand to apprentice with Howard while he got acclimated to the majors, so I might have missed a perfect fit there.
But in the majors, the short list of possibilities seems to be limited to Rich Aurilia, Mike Sweeney, Jeff Baker, and Wes Helms. I hope I didn\'t miss anyone obvious. Not sure Sweeney would actually work, since I don\'t know what his glove does these days, and Wes Helms probably isn\'t going to be brought back since he flopped at CBP last year. If Baker is available maybe he\'s an interesting guy to bring in, but I assume the Rockies want him to return. So... maybe Aurilia, if you think he still has something left to give. Do you sign either one of those guys, and give up on Howard\'s ability to hit lefties? Or do you stick with Howard, and hope he learns how to better address his glaring weakness next season?
Fwiw, Utley had the most All-Star votes in the NL this year, and was a hair behind ARod for most in the majors.
That probably has a lot to do with position depth, since most ASG voting fans would take ARod over Utley in a heartbeat, but it suggests that the unwashed masses are aware of Utley\'s goodness. And the fact that neither Rollins nor Howard were invited to this year\'s ASG, or last year\'s -- it seemed odd that Rollins was the MVP without going to the ASG, but maybe that\'s not so rare -- indicates that fans understand Utley\'s relative value to the Phillies (and any team) vs. Howard and Rollins.