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Roundtable: NLCS Game Four

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday October 13, 2008 8:00 PM ET NLCS Game Four roundtable.

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Dave Pease (12:08:47 PM PT): We've got an excellent NLCS going. Please join us on Monday, October 13, at about 8:00PM ET for running commentary on Game Four of the NLCS.

If you'd like to submit a question to be answered during the roundtable you can do so here.

Joe Sheehan (5:16:13 PM PT): Not sure if anyone's heard, but there was a controversy surrounding purpose pitches in Game Three of the NLCS. I know that story got a little buried...

Dave Pease (5:19:36 PM PT): Yeah, I read an article about it.

Joe Sheehan (5:19:44 PM PT): "Lionel (Las Vegas): If your the Red Sox, who pitches game four? Wakefield? Matsuzaka? But, if you start Daisuke in game four, will Beckett be ready to start game five?"

I'd go Wakefield, given that you have a fresh bullpen (thanks, Paul!) behind him and an off-day to follow. Quick hook. Matsuzaka in Game Five, Lester on full rest in Game Six, Beckett with the extra rest and Johnny Wholestaff behind him in Game Seven.

Gary Huckabay (5:23:28 PM PT): Is Fox's in-studio coverage usually this unwatchable? I'd rather listen to Gilbert Gottfried pass a kidney stone.

Joe Sheehan (5:24:43 PM PT): "jtrichey (Indianapolis): So, what does everybody think about Juan Pierre starting tonight instead of Matt Kemp. You know, the Kemp that has "struggled" in 3 measly games to the tune of a .385 on base average. Yes, I am a Dodger fan, so I'm biased--against Pierre. If we lose because of runners scoring from second with ease on hits to center field, I'm going to be mighty unhappy."

And Joe Blanton is basically neutral, leaning backwards, for his career and for 2008. And the only thing Pierre does better than Kemp is remember the '80s. But you go for it, Joe.

Unless there's an injury we don't know about, this is brutal.

Joe Sheehan (5:26:36 PM PT): Gary: yes. That's why I get four e-mails a day asking us to do one of our own.

"Taylor (Toronto): Predictions for tonight's game?"

Pain.

Will Carroll (5:27:19 PM PT): Ok -- with Joe Blanton pitching and Kevin Youkilis playing well for the Sox, do we go back and say hey, that Moneyball guy knew a good story when he saw it?

Will Carroll (5:28:28 PM PT): Gary - you just missed Mark Grace, sitting in Karros' spot. The answer? Yes, it can get worse. And likely will. Why do they insist on misusing Ken Rosenthal?

Gary Huckabay (5:30:18 PM PT): As someone who's wrestled with the question of how to fill airtime, I'm pretty disappointed in these editors. Do the Fox thinkingheads really believe that the overhyped "beanball war" is even in the minds of the players? Much less worthy of any sort of mention or coverage? How about spending this time on something useful or interesting?

Even mindless interviews would be better than this tripe. Normally, I'd watch without the sound, but since we're in roundtable mode, we all share the McCarver pain. Each day I appreciate Bill King more and more.

And can we get more cool sound effects? My life doesn't sufficiently resemble a cool video game.

Will Carroll (5:33:39 PM PT): The only thing I like about Fox's coverage is that it allows me to test my surround sound. The sounds effects all swirl clockwise.

Joe Sheehan (5:33:50 PM PT): As far as tonight goes...well, I'm the guy who thought Jon Lester at Fenway against the Rays was just this side of a gimme.

I'm kinda rooting for the Phillies to hit lots of singles to center with a runner on second.

I don't know exactly who the coverage is aimed at, Gary, but it occurs to me that there are more of them than there are of us. And they vote.

Caleb Peiffer (5:40:35 PM PT): Why isn't Jeff Kent playing tonight? I know it's a small sample, but 5-for-6 off Blanton doesn't buy you a start?

Joe Sheehan (5:41:28 PM PT): I have to say that I'm very impressed with the Dodgers' commitment to pitching Howard that way. It's working, and they haven't gotten cute and deviated from it.

Joe Sheehan (5:43:20 PM PT): If I can only use small-sample logic, Blake DeWitt had a big triple last night, Caleb.

I think DeWitt is the come-hell-or-high-water guy at this point. Maybe Kazmir in the World Series. Or Lester.

Jay Jaffe (5:43:58 PM PT): Re: Kent, i suspect it's his defensive mobility, or lack of same - particularly key behind a groundballer like Kent.

Gary Huckabay (5:45:14 PM PT): I'm always amazed that hitters don't make more of an extreme adjustment in the box against guys with Lowe's stuff. I don't think he's got the fastball to get past them, and moving towards the mound can really neutralize that sink, if you've got the bat speed to pull it off.

Pujols makes that adjustment as well as anyone, but it's not as if everyone has that kind of weapon speed.

Joe Sheehan (5:46:48 PM PT): Clayton Kershaw is ready for his guest spot on SNL. That may be more reading than Carroll's done all year.

Will Carroll (5:48:27 PM PT): Speaking of Pujols, he had surgery today in news that no one seems to be noticing. He had a nerve transposition, not Tommy John, but the surgeries are related. Think about this -- Tommy John, who needed transposition surgery himself, compared the pain he was in from it to being hit on the funny bone constantly.

Albert Pujols is the best player in the league playing through that.

Joe Sheehan (5:49:22 PM PT): Jay, isn't it just a little strange that the guy who failed a test at second base two years ago, and who picked it up again in July, is your "defensive" second baseman?

Gary Huckabay (5:49:30 PM PT): Will Joe Blanton still be in baseball in three years?

I've never been impressed, and he always seems to be one pitch away from getting completely shelled.

Will Carroll (5:49:41 PM PT): Scary thing is that Kershaw probably took a couple takes to "nail" that one.

Gary Huckabay (5:50:54 PM PT): Interesting. That's not a vote of confidence in Blanton's stuff, is it?

Caleb Peiffer (5:51:09 PM PT): Kent was healthy enough to play most of Game Two at second base after a double switch.

Will Carroll (5:51:11 PM PT): Here's how much I love baseball -- I will watch Derek Lowe and Joe Blanton rather than Bad Future Claire tonight.

Joe Sheehan (5:51:46 PM PT): Wow. First Torre starts Pierre, and now Manuel IBBs Ramirez 15 minutes into the game?

Are we being managed by contest winners tonight?

Gary Huckabay (5:52:46 PM PT): Good to see Turtle from Entourage found a job.

Joe Sheehan (5:52:46 PM PT): Will, is that something Roger sent you in a plain brown envelope?

Joe Sheehan (5:54:29 PM PT): How the hell do you not score from first on a double off the wall with two outs?

Jay Jaffe (5:54:51 PM PT): I've been marginally impressed with DeWitt's play at second down the stretch, actually. And let's face it, the bar is pretty low for him to be better than Kent, who's been pretty statuesque there in his later years, and particularly this year.

The DeWitt-at-second experiment didn't take a couple years ago, but it's come in handy - beats whatever combination of Berroa/Ozuna/Hu they might have patched together under the circumstances.

Will Carroll (5:55:12 PM PT): http://heroeswiki.com/Claire_Bennet_%28Exposed_future%29

Will Carroll (5:56:20 PM PT): Do we have any defensive numbers or scouting reports to go on with DeWitt? If we call that a success, do more teams try to shift guys over -- I know the Dbacks are considering it with Mark Reynolds (who is much smaller than I imagined for some reason.)

Jay Jaffe (5:57:27 PM PT): He looks very uncomfortable to me, high-effort, low-skill. Is there any reason to think he'll hit enough to make a -5, -10 glove viable?

Gary Huckabay (5:57:47 PM PT): SHARP couldn't find a spokesman who didn't look like a Bond Villain?

Jay Jaffe (5:58:44 PM PT): "Randy (Ann Arbor, MI): I've got a question about the ALCS. Actually, it's not even a question. BJ Upton is hitting absolute bombs every other game. It's just impressive to watch."

This is a line that hasn't made a column yet, and I'm going to throw it in here in the hopes that Kevin turns it into a piece. The Uptons are like the Williams sisters. In a couple of years, it won't be a discussion of which one is the best Upton in baseball; it'll be a discussion of which one is the best player in baseball.

Will Carroll (5:59:37 PM PT): Does Direct TV have to pay Fox for the commercial time, or is that one of those related party transactions?

Joe Sheehan (5:59:48 PM PT):

That was Joe Sheehan, guys. Not Jay Jaffe. Sorry. I keep entering the name of people...never mind, I'm senile.

Gary Huckabay (6:00:29 PM PT): Is Lowe taking his piching hand out of his glove early?

Will Carroll (6:02:27 PM PT): Was Upton's HR today the longest at Boston aside from that Gary Matthews moonshot really early this year? What was that, about 450?

Will Carroll (6:03:45 PM PT): Gary -- yes, but he's also "tapping" the glove. It's his normal motion from what i can see.

Jay Jaffe (6:04:05 PM PT): Ok, who's masquerading as me at 5:57?

The implied assumption regarding the lineup is that Kent's fully healthy, and I'm not sure that he is. Long term, DeWitt may not be a viable option there; then again he's 22 and he might yet pick it up. Either way, the Dodgers played well with him at 2nd over the past six weeks while Kent was a spectator.

Caleb Peiffer (6:04:13 PM PT): Joe, re: Kent at second--I was thinking moving DeWitt to third for tonight, rather than benching him.
But Jay makes a good point with Lowe on the mound and wanting your best defense behind him, I forgot about that.

Steven Goldman (6:04:29 PM PT): I was just listening to Vin Scully's call of the game, and he reported a good line on Blanton, who apparently lives deep in the backwoods of Kentucky. He said Nick Swisher told him that you know you're getting near to Blanton's place because your cell phone stops working - that's how far into the wilderness he is. I thought, "I guess Will can't ever accept an invitation to Blanton's house. He'll have an anxiety attack."

Jay Jaffe (6:06:22 PM PT): My cell phone doesn't even work in parts of my apartment, and I'm in downtown Brooklyn.

Joe Sheehan (6:07:56 PM PT): You kid, Steven, but aunt's got a place in the Catskills, and I go up there maybe two weekends a year, just for that reason. If they put up a tower, I'd all but live up there May-October.

Jay, that was me. I'm drunk.

Will Carroll (6:09:40 PM PT): Great commercial and app showcasing the MLB At Bat. Yes, I've marked out for it before, but it's actually become my preferred way of monitoring games. I'm stunned none of the other leagues have anything like it. If I'm Blackberry, I figure out how to get this or something like it on the Storm.

Will Carroll (6:11:38 PM PT): I'm leaving the country in January and have no idea how I'll live without my iPhone.

Gary Huckabay (6:13:27 PM PT): They're not kidding about the fires. Up here, it's incredibly dry, and the winds are strong and random.

Juan Pierre's work ethic and attitude are no doubt fantastic. So are Will's, and I wouldn't want him in my lineup either.

Juan Pierre as a starter is completely and utterly ridiculous. Signing him to that deal should have been a firing offense. The kind of move that justifies the owner having a cell phone on him at all times.

Will Carroll (6:13:57 PM PT): Juan Pierre works hard. I'm glad, but if it's only his work ethic that allows him to be this "good", there's problems.

Oh good lord and he was out by five feet.

Jay Jaffe (6:14:04 PM PT): I like MLB At Bat, but the player cards are crap. The hitter cards have OPS but not OBP or SLG. The pitcher cards have opposing hitter stats, or at least they did last time I checked two weeks ago. Maybe forgivable in a late-season rollout product, but that's not going to cut it, long term.

Steven Goldman (6:15:21 PM PT): I know you fellows talked about Torre starting Pierre before, but as he comes up here, I just wanted to observe how much he loves these kinds of players. Maybe it's because he played through the 1960s when what they used to call "waterbug" types were a much more dominant species in the game, but from Rafael Ramirez to Gerald Perry to Milt Thompson to Tony Womack he just has a deep-seated desire to get back to that kind of player into the lineup, even when he has better options. He's just looking for an excuse. That's not to say he's a bad manager, but this is one of his fetishes. Chad Fonville would have been a Joe Torre regular if he had ever had him...

...And in the time it took me to type that, Pierre singled and was caught. Gotta type faster, Stevie.

Jay Jaffe (6:22:46 PM PT): You were no slower than Pierre on that steal, Steve.

Joe Sheehan (6:25:49 PM PT): "George (New York): I thought Chase Utley grew up in California. Why does FOX portray him as a country bumpkin?"

Probably his choice of college.

Joe Sheehan (6:30:01 PM PT): "Mike w (Chicago): Even though Pierre got thrown out, he brought a new dimension, an excitement, to the Dodgers' attack! The Phils were back on their heeels!"

I still say we haven't lived until we've seen him throw. Worse than Bernie Williams, worse than Johnny Damon, worse, barely, than Luis Gonzalez, who at least blew out his arm as an excuse.

Will Carroll (6:30:23 PM PT): Is that Cam Bonifay sitting right behind home plate, with Lil Wayne a couple seats over?

Jay Jaffe (6:31:41 PM PT): "Randy (Ann Arbor, MI): I've got a question about the ALCS. Actually, it's not even a question. BJ Upton is hitting absolute bombs every other game. It's just impressive to watch."

I agree. And I can't stop calling him Melvin "Bossman Junior" Upton now that I know his real name and the origin of his nickname.

Caleb Peiffer (6:31:52 PM PT): Regarding Ramirez's intentional walk in the first, I think Manuel was probably looking at Manny's career numbers against Blanton: 14-for-25, 1.320 OPS. Yeah, I know, small sample again, and that doesn't make the walk a good play of course, but just wanted to point those numbers out.

Joe Sheehan (6:35:20 PM PT): Clay, Nate...anyone...when do batter/pitcher matchups attain significance?

Gary Huckabay (6:42:05 PM PT): Statistical power of the matchups increases with the number of PA. The cutoff for utility is pretty subjective. 14-for-25 is worth paying attention to, IMO.

So is something wacky like 8 for 9 or something. You could do hypothesis tests if you were so inclined.

Joe Sheehan (6:44:37 PM PT): Interesting, because I would have dismissed even the extreme data below about 40 PA. Adding information would be helpful, I would think. Bob is 9-for-16 against Johan Santana...but 7-for-9 of that was in his Rule 5 year. Stuff like that.

Joe Sheehan (6:47:28 PM PT): "Smokey (Knoxville): Which is more embarrassing - Jack Buck saying that Derek Lowe sweats more than any pitcher in baseball or the fact that BJ stands for "Bossman Junior"?"

It'd be more embarrassing if it didn't.

Jay Jaffe (6:48:05 PM PT): It would be pretty spooky if Jack Buck were saying anything, being dead and all.

Joe Sheehan (6:49:49 PM PT): You act like being dead and at this game are mutually exclusive. Have you seen some of the celebrity shots?

Joe Sheehan (6:51:29 PM PT): Folks, just to give you an idea...the sound Stewie makes in that promo? I make it three times a flight. Four if it's cross-country.

Gary Huckabay (6:58:21 PM PT): That's the strike call that ruins baseball. God, I hate that.

Jay Jaffe (7:01:47 PM PT): Helpful advice from a reader:

"bmcgehee (NashVegas, TN): More of a public service announcement. If you abhor Tim McCarver and want to hear the Scully broadcast, it's at wnsr.com"

Joe Sheehan (7:02:08 PM PT): Bring on the machines. Now.

The impact of bad calls on the margins of the strike zone is huge. It's critical to get them right, but in modern baseball, there's this five-inch area to the outside of the plate that's a strike about 75% of the time, but good luck guessing whether you're a "3" or a "1" when you let the pitch go by.

The calls are random.

Steven Goldman (7:02:30 PM PT): Speaking of which (looking ahead to Phils' next at bat), interesting that Ryan Howard is 2-for-14 in this series but has only struck out twice. You'd think he he made that kind of contact, balls would be flying all over the place.

Jay Jaffe (7:03:53 PM PT): Lowe at 74 pitches through 5. As noted in my Unfiltered post, in the very small sample size of true short-rest starts (i.e., ones in which the rest wasn't a product of a between-starts relief appearance), his high in such starts was 76.

Steven Goldman (7:05:53 PM PT): For the first time, they can't walk Manny.

Joe Sheehan (7:05:54 PM PT): Barnett: "It came back."

Why do you care? The movement of the baseball should have no influence on your decision. You care whether the ball crosses the corner, not how it gets there.

I insist that human eyes cannot do this with the precision required. There's the baseball moving 90, 95, 100 mph, and there's an IMAGINARY box. You cannot see the markers of the box (knees and the edge of the plate) and the baseball at the same time. You're guessing.

Steven Goldman (7:08:46 PM PT): Too bad we don't get Pitch FX stuff on outfielders throws - arc, velocity, accuracy...

Joe Sheehan (7:11:11 PM PT): Parabolic. Slow. Good.

Gary Huckabay (7:11:49 PM PT): "There would have been no way for Rollins to stop and make a throw to third base."

Um, unless he was a pro baseball player or something.

He probably *wouldn't* have done so, but given the circumstances, not the most difficult play, to say the least.

Will Carroll (7:11:58 PM PT): Playing Devil's advocate, Joe, isn't this the same thing hitters do? Aside from economics, I've always thought that good hitters would be good umps. Wonder if we could get some Triple-A hitters to try umping.

I got a lesson last year in just how much MLB hitters can see when even in slow-mo, I couldnt see something they were using as a "tip." The guy showing it to me is a guy we'd joke about here, but he was seeing it. It was astounding. They're really not human.

Jay Jaffe (7:13:41 PM PT): Ok, and as Manny singles to tie the game and Ethier scores on a grounder, it's as good a time as any for me to take my temporary leave. I'll be watching the rest of this on Tivo because two months ago I bought tickets to see an obscure (to this audience) New Zealand noise-rock band called the Dead C, never foreseeing a potential conflict with this LCS. Doh! Enjoy the rest of the game.

Gary Huckabay (7:13:57 PM PT): Ah, patriotism/emotional manipulation in lieu of product development. How's your GM stock doing?

Will Carroll (7:13:59 PM PT): Hmmm ...

Joe Sheehan (7:14:07 PM PT): There's a massive difference between "hit this" and "tell me if it crossed this specific area." They're completely disparate skills.

Gary, I agree. I think the ball was far enough in front of Ramirez that his initial instinct was to hold. I flat-out guarantee you that if he goes and gets caught, he gets crushed for running on a ball in front of him and making the first out at third base.

Gary Huckabay (7:15:43 PM PT): No, Will, it's not the same. The players have the advantage of not being parallel with the pitcher...

The first angry phone call I got from a player was about that column I wrote on the topic a long time ago.

Joe Sheehan (7:16:21 PM PT): I passed up "Phantom" when it was a thing to stay home and watch Game Seven of the 1991 World Series. Sorry, Jay... -5.

Joe Sheehan (7:18:03 PM PT): Nice move by Torre here. Right time, right guy.

Will Carroll (7:18:22 PM PT): Kershaw was the youngest player in the game this year? Really?

Caleb Peiffer (7:20:47 PM PT): Yeah, about a month and a half younger than Travis Snider.

Will Carroll (7:21:36 PM PT): BTW, Kershaw's body type really worries me. I hope he's one of those guys with a good work ethic because he looks like he could end up built like Derek Lowe 2006.

Joe Sheehan (7:21:40 PM PT): In the NL. Travis Snider had him by a month.

Joe Sheehan (7:22:40 PM PT): No way I bunt here. I don't want Dobbs vs. Kershaw or Feliz versus Park trying to get a runner home from third.

Gary Huckabay (7:22:58 PM PT): Nice bunt.

Gary Huckabay (7:24:00 PM PT): Hey, Pedro Feliz is a great player. He's way better than say, 40-50% of AA players.

Joe Sheehan (7:25:43 PM PT): Down two, sixth inning, do I want:

--Victorino vs. Kershaw with no one out, first and second

--Feliz vs. Park with one out, second and third, and down a player

That doesn't seem like a hard choice to me. I really, really hate Pedro Feliz as a hitter, I know, and maybe in a tied game I take the latter, but I want to play for a big inning here. I think all that bunt did was create a path for the Dodgers to get out of the inning.

Joe Sheehan (7:27:17 PM PT): "jc2125 (ca): Wrong on Snider, Sheehan. "

February apparently was moved ahead of March in the mid-1980s. I missed that change. Caleb's right.

Joe Sheehan (7:29:28 PM PT): I think Howard missed the plate.

Joe Sheehan (7:30:09 PM PT): Got it with the hand. OK.

I don't care if they tied the game. Manuel completely screwed up this inning.

Gary Huckabay (7:32:48 PM PT): They should force advertisers like WebMD to show what people *really* type in for searches. Those remind me of the happy couple ads sitting around hoping their ept Early Pregnancy Test is positive.

Steven Goldman (7:34:25 PM PT): That ball stayed up longer than that song by Rick Astley.

Joe Sheehan (7:34:35 PM PT): "not stoppng oosing"

Will Carroll (7:35:15 PM PT): Wonder if we could do some version of PFM on iPhone. Anyone out there good with C++?

Steven Goldman (7:36:05 PM PT): Gary, I'm still trying to decipher the symbolism of that Viagra commercial where the couple ends up outside in separate bathtubs. Nothing says sexual satisfaction like being separated from your lover by twin porcelain walls and a small expanse of lawn.

Gary Huckabay (7:36:52 PM PT): "Herpes 22 year incubation"

Will Carroll (7:37:21 PM PT): "Hi, I'm Bristol Palin for EPT."

Too soon?

Steven Goldman (7:37:47 PM PT): "If you experience herpes lasting for more than four consecutive hours, seek medical assistance."

Gary Huckabay (7:38:14 PM PT): In fairness, those are Cialis, your 36 hour alternative. Which is about how long it takes to heal up from the hernia you get hauling two clawfoot tubs out to beachside.

Joe Sheehan (7:40:35 PM PT): Where exactly was Shane Victorino playing Pierre?

Gary Huckabay (7:40:45 PM PT): Getting hit hard by Casey Blake and Juan Pierre isn't exactly a confidence-builder.

Rick Lopez (7:41:08 PM PT): See, you guys are all wrong all the time. Pierre Le Pew is obviously the MVP

Joe Sheehan (7:41:32 PM PT): Steven, my favorite is the one where the Viagra user is a guy who learns how to dance so he can crash weddings and steal other men's wives with his skills.

Joe Sheehan (7:43:21 PM PT): "Juan Pierre (Los Angeles): Can I get you anything to wash down that crow?"

Yeah, throw me that bottle of water.

On second thought, I'll come get it.

Joe Sheehan (7:50:10 PM PT): That was Giambiesque. I strongly suspect this is now a best-of-three.

Not to harp on a point, but you don't play for one run down one on the road in the top of the sixth.

Steven Goldman (7:51:47 PM PT): I was looking at the 1977 and 1978 NLCSes between the Dodgers and Phillies for tomorrow's YCLIU, and several key games turned on inexplicable defensive lapses the Phillies. Then again, with Howard, maybe it's not inexplicable.

Gary Huckabay (7:51:51 PM PT): Seriously bad footwork by Howard. If you have TiVo, check it out. He acquires 3B, decides he can't make the play in time, then pumps, reacquires 1B, but instead of making the proper step, he opens up his hips, and takes the tap-step off target to 1B. The arm follows, and away we go.

Being a former fat dude myself, I'm always overwilling to blame the additional heft for that. Will stead leave the call to you.

Steven Goldman (7:53:46 PM PT): Gary, how do you stop being a fat dude? I used to not be one myself, or less of one, and then I put on the Paxil 20. And then I put it on again.

Steven Goldman (7:56:25 PM PT): I'm always amused by commercials pretending that Taco Bell is a food.

Gary Huckabay (7:56:38 PM PT): So NEXTEL is advocating meth-addict pilots? They'll certainly be wirey.

Gary Huckabay (7:57:29 PM PT): Eat Chinese Chicken Salads for about five years. Repeat until you die.

Will Carroll (7:57:38 PM PT): Every time this ump makes his strike sound, I'm convinced that a goal has been scored in hockey.

Steven Goldman (7:59:10 PM PT): Gary, if that includes the little mandarin oranges, I think I can commit to that. I think I also need a personal trainer who will come to my house and yell at me a lot.

Joe Sheehan (7:59:39 PM PT): So, for all the words I've expended about the NL MVP race, and how the first baseman isn't the most valuable guy on the right side of the infield, the last 15 minutes made the case better than I ever could.

Defense matters. Real defense, not reputation. Chase Utley can play the position.

Joe Sheehan (8:00:23 PM PT): Steven, I'm free this winter.

Steven Goldman (8:01:06 PM PT): What, if any, is the explanation proffered for Russell Martin's relative lack o' power this year?

Joe Sheehan (8:01:15 PM PT): "Max (Brooklyn): Odds Andruw Jones hits like a league average CF in '09?"

What league?

OK, 45%.

Steven Goldman (8:01:59 PM PT): Joe, I appreciate the offer, but you know how long it takes to get to central Jersey from where you live? Maybe I could put you on speakerphone.

Will Carroll (8:02:53 PM PT): I step on my Wii Fit and it makes a sound like Joe on an airplane.

Steven Goldman (8:04:10 PM PT): Re Andruw, it's got to be higher than that. If he's really through, that would be a historically abrupt falloff, more than Dale Murphy or anyone else I can think of at a similar age.

Joe Sheehan (8:04:57 PM PT): Wow, some criticism in the chat window.

Steven, I think it's a combination of last year being a bit of a spike, and Joe Torre mistaking him for Cal Ripken. Martin slugged .336 after the ASB, and he caught 1238 innings plus played some third base. Torre needs to pull back on him.

Will Carroll (8:05:18 PM PT): Maybe if Andruw would try the salad too ...

Joe Sheehan (8:05:35 PM PT): Steven, I was offering to make salads for you.

Caleb Peiffer (8:05:48 PM PT): Wow, Kuo is filthy.

Steven Goldman (8:07:50 PM PT): The innings caught were down a bit from the year before, but of course you're right in that Torre replaced what was down time with 3B work. Normally I admire a manager who does what he had to do to say about replacement at a given position, but since Torre didn't have a backup catcher who could hit, the strategy didn't have much of a point, in addition to being debilitating.

Will Carroll (8:07:54 PM PT): This plan didn't really work out.

Joe Sheehan (8:12:12 PM PT): He ended up with a starting catcher that couldn't hit, either.

Joe Torre did a lot of good things in New York, and I would have happily welcomed him back for 2008. With that said, the man did not have that good a year in LA, and his impending MotY award will be a pretty weak one.

Steven Goldman (8:12:36 PM PT): Somehow "stay above replacement" in my previous became "say about"... Joe, the salad would wilt on NJ Transit through Newark. Maybe you could just talk about salad. We could do it like an ESPN hit. You could talk about future trends in salad, the best salads to use against left-handers, and which vegetables are likely to show up at the winter meetings.

David Laurila (8:13:58 PM PT): A new voice dropping in to the chat, back from the Red Sox-Rays game at Fenway Park. Pretty blah day/night at the park with a 9-1 blowout. Maddon's charges are looking like the real deal.

Steven Goldman (8:15:31 PM PT): You know how we talked about BJ's labrum holding back his power a few days ago? What happened? Did he see a faith healer or something?

Will Carroll (8:16:16 PM PT): Rosenthal just said Kazmir's hurt. He's not. He also essentially said that Shields could pitch Game 4 instead of Andy Sonnanstine, which is something I have no idea where that could have come from.

Joe Sheehan (8:18:58 PM PT): See, I think that's the best approach to the LCS if you have a pitcher who's better than the rest. You can get three starts, and just one would be on short rest. And the "odd" start is moved to Game Six, after an off day, when you have a rested bullpen and a full-rest ace going the next day.

1-2-3-1-2-4-1

Will Carroll (8:19:47 PM PT): Re BJ: No, he got comfortable. Maddon and the medical staff did an amazing job managing that injury and situation so that he could get comfortable again. Granted, one wrong swing and he's back to zero. Of course, Buck Martinez told a story about Cliff Floyd being credited with saving Upton's season ....

Will Carroll (8:20:59 PM PT): Joe -- there's an off day in the ALCS after Game 4, so doesn't that throw your plan off a bit?

David Laurila (8:21:23 PM PT): Will: Maddon said in his pre-series press conference that while he plans on Sonnanstine, Shields may go in Game 4. I don't see that happening given that the Rays lead the series, but he presented the possibility.

Steven Goldman (8:21:39 PM PT): Whenever I hear Buck Martinez on a broadcast, I think that Ernie Whitt is being under-utilized.

Joe Sheehan (8:22:42 PM PT): "fsumatthunter (Tallahassee): Joe: Given your affinity for pointing out mistakes in strat, who would be your NL MOtY?"

Lacking a good idea, I went with Fredi Gonzalez. Piniella second, Manuel third. I don't feel strongly about any of them.

Will Carroll (8:25:38 PM PT): Also, Joe's 1231421 plan shorts Garza, if you sub in the Rays rotation. Instantly, I don't like it.

Joe Sheehan (8:26:24 PM PT): It's what makes it work, Will. The only short-rest start in there is Game Four. Your #2 starts Game Five on full rest, and your #1 starts Game Seven on full rest.

It's a stupid, stupid format, but you might as well use it to your advantage.

"qbroda (Regina): Joe, would you have brought Hamels back on 3 days rest today?"

Probably. I didn't think about it much previously. Maybe up 3-0 you don't bother, but otherwise...yeah.

Will Carroll (8:26:43 PM PT): Somewhere, I wrote or said that Shane Victorino would be the key to this series. I think it was on KVET in Austin ... I hope they saved that tape.

Will Carroll (8:28:09 PM PT): I think you also have to consider how much rest they'll have to the World Series. While you have to get there, if you're using your #1 in 7, he's not going to be able to go until 2 or 3. I think with the Rays top 3, there's really not that much difference.

Joe Sheehan (8:28:54 PM PT): The #3 goes into the bullpen for Games Six and Seven, on full rest.

The utility of this varies by team.

Steven Goldman (8:29:22 PM PT): Victorino on the road this year, .272/.316/.405.

Torre is just awful when he has to think about how to use his bullpen. Every single time. If the path isn't as clear as Mike Stanton to Jeff Nelson to Mariano Rivera he gets lost.

Joe Sheehan (8:31:03 PM PT): "jrobs7777 (Philadelphia): Joe, can you please send a text to Cholly re: Victorino bunting earlier. The hottest hitter on the team and they make him bunt! "

Yeah, lots of managers have me in their five.

God, that was a stupid play.

Broxton threw an inning last night up 7-2. He wasn't protecting a 5-3 lead tonight in the eighth. Now, he'll protect a tie in the eighth. Let's see what happens!

Steven Goldman (8:32:15 PM PT): Joe, Jeff Weaver, Game 5, 2003 World Series.

Steven Goldman (8:34:29 PM PT): As Catfish Hunter used to say after he allowed a particularly impressive home run, "That brought rain."

David Laurila (8:34:42 PM PT): Matt Stairs' career is really a good story. And the story just got a lot better. Wow.

Joe Sheehan (8:35:38 PM PT): Well, Weaver was in that game because Torre had more lefty relievers than the Marlins had left-handed hitters. Not that I'm still bitter about his roster construction that year...

I can't say it any better than you did, though--Torre has struggled with his bullpen whenever it hasn't been push-button.

Just as a fan, I'm thrilled. I love Matt Stairs. Love him.

Will Carroll (8:36:17 PM PT): Matt Stairs is cool. I once joked after he strained a calf that "Matt Stairs has muscles?" and he sent me a picture of his calves.

And the video screen at Dodger looks like an iPhone.

Steven Goldman (8:37:26 PM PT): David, we'll be shopping "Baseball Prospectus Presents Stair's Way to Paradise" as a book project if the Phillies win it all. Which they now might, at least this series. The Dodgers just went from getting a minimum of six games to facing elimination. Neat.

Will Carroll (8:38:29 PM PT): What percentage of the Dodgers does Rupert Murdoch still own?

Do you think he's muttering "Philly and Tampa? WTF!"

Steven Goldman (8:41:29 PM PT): Joe, it's a coin-toss as to whether the roster was wose in that postseason or in 2001, when the bench consisted of Clay Bellinger, a used-up Randy Velarde, and a semi-retired Luis Sojo.

Gary Huckabay (8:41:47 PM PT): The lesson that will be learned by the SF front office from this game is that they should get as many short lefty hitters as they can.

Steven Goldman (8:42:17 PM PT): Joe, it's a coin-toss as to whether the roster was wose in that postseason or in 2001, when the bench consisted of Clay Bellinger, a used-up Randy Velarde, and a semi-retired Luis Sojo.

Gary Huckabay (8:42:58 PM PT): Thanks for having me join in the fun tonight. Gotta run. Take care, all.

-Gary.

Steven Goldman (8:44:01 PM PT): I was standing in a Shea Stadium men's room reading the fine print on a Geico poster they had put up above the urinal, and I learned that they are owned by Berkshire Hathaway. The gecko is Warren Buffet!

Joe Sheehan (8:45:06 PM PT): I think there were four infielders on that bench. Was Vizcaino the other one? I can almost remember mt column on this...

Joe Sheehan (8:46:09 PM PT): "Mike (Chicago): So is tonight the night Brad Lidge turns human? Be a shame to waste the Matt Stairs homerun. forget I said anything... "

Mostly doing that because I'm curious about how many people will be on PHI-->ORD flights tomorrow morning should it happen...

Steven Goldman (8:46:10 PM PT): CNB (San Francisco): Steven, did you swing and miss at a "Stairway to Heaven" pun, or was that a coincidence?

Actually, I was making a reference to a different song, "Stairway to Paradise," written by George and Ira Gershwin before the Led Zep guys were even born. You can hear a guy named Georges Guettary (or something like that) sing it towards the end of the Gene Kelly picture "An American in Paris."

Caleb Peiffer (8:46:11 PM PT): TAKE A PITCH! With Ramirez on deck? Are you serious?

Will Carroll (8:46:16 PM PT): Warren also owns a Triple-A team and was said to be involved on the periphery of the Ricketts group bidding on the Cubs. Speaking of the Cubs, will Wrigley Field be Mars Field now?

David Laurila (8:47:57 PM PT): As a side note, it's interesting to consider that players grew up as fans, just like the rest of us. I recently interacted with a player in the Red Sox system who grew up rooting for the Phillies, and asked him about his allegiances in a Philly-Boston World Series. Politically, he said it was a bridge to be crossed if and when it was reached.

Steven Goldman (8:48:15 PM PT): Joe, our intern Colonel Ben Lindbergh reminds me that it was Enrique Wilson.

David Laurila (8:52:26 PM PT): If this was a one-run, rather than two-run game, is it safe to say that Manny walks in this at-bat?

Steven Goldman (8:54:46 PM PT): Manny is having the type of postseason George Brett used to have.

Caleb Peiffer (8:56:04 PM PT): Quick rant: is anybody else sick of seeing the pitching coach go to the mound once per inning, every inning?

Steven Goldman (8:59:01 PM PT): Jerod (Gresham, OR): Is Carlos Ruiz the new Mickey Owen?

I love this question.

Steven Goldman (8:59:23 PM PT): I love the Randy Newman clip too. Saw him twice on the current tour.

David Laurila (9:01:49 PM PT): I saw Randy Newman open for Bonnie Raitt, or maybe it was the other way around, at Red Rocks, near Denver, in 1978. That might be admitting that I'm old, though.

Steven Goldman (9:02:33 PM PT): Might have been the other way around in '78. "Short People" was on the radio then...

Joe Sheehan (9:04:12 PM PT): This works for me. Let's get Laurila, Huckabay and Davenport talking about the old days. Throw in Goldman, an old soul. And Carroll, with his third hip. I feel younger already.

Will Carroll (9:05:14 PM PT): If you like Randy Newman, you'll love The Hold Steady, which sounds like Randy Newman fronting Meat Loaf's "Bat Out Of Hell" band.

Will Carroll (9:06:20 PM PT): Angel Berroa and Juan Pierre. In the same game. In the playoffs.

Steven Goldman (9:06:52 PM PT): How in the name of Rabbit Maranville do you not turn that DP?

I'll have to check that out Will...

Joe Sheehan. (9:07:21 PM PT): Ned Colletti: GM of the Year, or GM of the Century?

Steven Goldman (9:08:49 PM PT): Only Chin-Lung Hu could have made Berroa look like an upgrade. You can't even play "Hu's on first?" because the guy is never on first!

Steven Goldman (9:12:25 PM PT): Dennis (Chicago): And if you like the Hold Steady, you should try to check them out this fall with Drive-By Truckers. They switch off opening/headlining.

This is starting to sound like a commitment.

David Laurila (9:12:29 PM PT): Sticking with music, I'll take Sonic Youth over Randy Newman any day. Regarding music-meets-baseball, the old SF Seals (one of Barabara Manning's old bands)CD, "Baseball Trilogy" is a great record. The song "Dock Ellis" is killer. Barbara, by the way, is a big Giants fan.

Joe Sheehan (9:12:31 PM PT): As best as I can tell, Brad Lidge hasn't been asked to get a four-out save since July 6, 2006. He's been used in a variety of roles since then, but I think that's the last time a manager brought him into a save situation in the eighth with the intention of leaving him in for the ninth.

Joe Sheehan (9:13:09 PM PT): Steven, Hu is a ridiculous defensive shortstop. He's probably 30 runs better than Berroa with the glove.

Will Carroll (9:13:43 PM PT): Seeing that twin bill in Bloomington IN ... in a bar that MIGHT hold 500 people, if you're all friendly. I shall be deaf and happy.

This is all sounding like blowout patter, though this game is still close.

Steven Goldman (9:14:21 PM PT): David, Randy wrote the score to "The Natural." That should give him endless cred with baseball fans.

Will Carroll (9:15:10 PM PT): Does the goofball offday factor in to Lidge being asked to get the extra out? I think yes.

Steven Goldman (9:15:26 PM PT): Joe, I buy that, but can even a glove that good balance out an OPS+ of 27?

...And Lidge seems to be just fine in inning #2 here.

Steven Goldman (9:17:52 PM PT): And Lidge is done until March, 2009, but the Phillies win!

...It's just not the same without Harry Kalas.

Joe Sheehan (9:19:04 PM PT): I agree, Will. Wasn't judging the decision, just throwing information out there.

Steven, that's not Hu's talent level. It's arguably not Who's talent level.

Come on, Chris...ask the question..."Shane, isn't your manager kind of silly for having you bunt earlier in the game?"

Great game. Dodgers aren't done, but they can see it from here...full rest Hamels, then two in Philly.

Joe Sheehan (9:19:45 PM PT): I'm back here in 13 hours, apparently. Good night, folks.

David Laurila (9:20:05 PM PT): So, we're closer to a Phillies-Rays World Series. But, with (especially) 2004 in mind, no series lead is safe. Lots of baseball to be played yet.


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