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Roundtable: World Series Game One

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday October 22, 2008 7:30 PM ET World Series Game One roundtable.

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Dave Pease (10:24:31 PM PT): It's a Phillies/Rays World Series, and Game One should be a great start. Two of the best young starting pitchers in baseball meet as Cole Hamels faces off against Scott Kazmir. Please join the BP staff for a live roundtable starting at around 7:30PM ET on Wednesday.

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

Christina Kahrl (4:51:22 PM PT): Poolshark8189 (St Pete) leads off by asking: "Curious, do you all have any feel on how popular this series will be with the nation? I know that interest goes up with a long series, but I was wondering if you all have a feel how the nation views this series. Thanks-Mark"

Mark, I think that's a great question, one I think I'd like to see how everyone here at BP feels about it, in part because I've heard some insiders say that Boston/LA was dreamy, while Philly/Tampa Bay is some sort of letdown. I'd suggest those people in the industry who feel that way must not like the core product all that much, because as Jay Jaffe put it earlier today, what's lovely about this matchup is that it's got two great teams with tremendous talent, players who deserve to be marquee players. If folks want to see Derek Jeter lose another step or David Ortiz fade with age, I'd suggest they're following the wrong sport, and that pro wrestling's always looking for new sets of eyes indifferent to actual talent involved. These two teams have played great baseball and present us with two good collections of great baseball players. How can you beat that?

Joe Sheehan (4:58:06 PM PT): Hey from St. Pete. Music is top-40/rhythm, or whatever they call that format these days. With cowbell.

Project #1 for the Trop Dome people this offseason: make the turf look better. It's not a bad playing surface, but in person and on TV it looks like something I played on at age 15, like B.J. Upton is sidestepping dog stuff and broken glass to make plays.

Jay Jaffe (5:03:14 PM PT): It really is a rare thing that we get two teams who haven't been in a recent World Series going head-to-head. Working backwards, the 2005 matchup between the White Sox and Astros, the 2002 one between Anaheim and San Francisco... and then you've got a lot of Yankees, Braves, Indians, Blue Jays, A's, Twins, Cardinals... suffice it say that it's not often we get as fresh a perspective as this from both sides.

Joe Sheehan (5:04:33 PM PT): Network execs and national media outlets don't like the Series. I don't see why BASEBALL FANS should care what those groups think. CK, I think this is mostly an echo chamber--I honestly fielded that question in EVERY ONE of my media hits the last two days.

If you like baseball, you'll like this World Series. You have two teams with terrific emerging stars and interesting backstories. They hit home runs, they steal bases and they play defense. Not many teams do all three.

Honestly, I was already sick of TorreMannyTorreMannyTorreManny...so maybe I'm not the guy to ask. I think this series will be much less annoying, anyway, than the other would have been.

Caleb Peiffer (5:04:56 PM PT): While I think Christina has the right attitude, personally I would have been more excited about a Red Sox/Dodgers tilt, with the obvious Manny drama running through Fenway. And being a Mets fan, I'm also none too enthused to see the Phillies playing for a championship. I think ratings will probably be down, but I might be underestimating the country being a bit sick of Boston, and also wanting to tune in to see how the Rays' incredible story turns out.

Christina Kahrl (5:06:45 PM PT): Boston:baseball::Bush:politics, accepting that obviously a few million people's mileage may vary.

Jay Jaffe (5:08:06 PM PT): Richard (San Diego): Back-up catcher as your DH? When your normal starting catcher is already begging for a late-inning pinch hitter? Reactions?

As John Perroto pointed out in his Unfiltered entry, this isn't exactly uncharted territory for Charlie Manuel. Joe's the one who apparently reserached this on John's behalf: "Manuel left himself without a backup catcher 32 times during the regular season as he pinch hit for Coste 22 times and pinch hit or pinch ran for Ruiz 13 times. While that adds up to 35, three of those games came after the September roster expansion when rookie catcher Lou Marson was also available. "

It's an odd move, nonetheless, particularly because it's compounded by the fact that EITHER player may make an early exit for pinch-hitting/running purposes. If your DH has to take the field and you're stuck batting the pitcher, that's still workable with pinch-hitters and sacrifice bunt attempts. But leaving yourself with, say, Jayson Werth (who was drafted as a catcher, IIRC) behind the plate as an emergency catcher - well, now you've kind of got me rooting for the splatter just to see how it looks.

Christina Kahrl (5:09:18 PM PT): Yeah, as a matter of in-game tactics, I don't think this is that big a deal. Manuel knows how to work around the pitcher's slot if he decides to pinch-hit for Ruiz and put Coste in the field, and given that flexibility gives him *three* different lineup slots (Coste or Ruiz *and* Feliz) to bring in a lefty bat like Stairs or Dobbs, it's not really the tactical cul-de-sac that it might seem at first glance.

Christina Kahrl (5:11:22 PM PT): Add in Coste's career rates against lefties (.316/.361/.503), and it's a proper bit of placing the priority on the three at-bats you *know* he should get against Kazmir than worrying about what *might* happen in the seventh inning or later.

Jay Jaffe (5:12:25 PM PT): The fact that it was Matt Stairs who hit the big home run against the Dodgers in Game Four significantly lessens the pain of that blow. I'm happy to see him in the Series.

Joe Sheehan (5:15:52 PM PT): I wonder if Maddon will test Manuel by trying to get Coste out of the game early, leaving Ruiz locked in later. It's pretty certain Maddon will need bullpen tonight. The Phillies work counts, and Scott Kazmir is Scott Kazmir.

Christina Kahrl (5:20:38 PM PT): Excellent point, because that would definitely put Manuel in a potentially wrong-footed tactical situation if his team was down or tied.

Jay Jaffe (5:21:13 PM PT): Oh good, Taco Bell is here. If Tim McCarver condescends three times in one inning, everybody in America gets a free ticket to indigestion.

Christina Kahrl (5:25:31 PM PT): Speaking as a former Taco Bell employee... shudder. There are some secrets mankind was not meant to know.

Will Carroll (5:26:27 PM PT): Gotta love the idea that someone with Coste's backstory is getting a chance to play. There's a lot of guys who "deserve" to be here but we can root for the ones that are.

It's moot, but if you know there's no backup catcher, do you take the catcher out given the play?

Joe Sheehan (5:26:34 PM PT): Updating a couple of stats I was tracking. The team hitting more homers in a game is 18-7 in the 2008 postseason. In 15 of 27 games, the winning team scored more runs in a single inning than the losing team did in the entire game.

I expect those trends to hold. This series will be about short-sequence offenses and crooked numbers.

Will Carroll (5:26:44 PM PT): Charlie Manuel is a 20 speed. Maybe 15.

Will Carroll (5:30:33 PM PT): FEEL.

THE HEAT.

RAYS!

Yeah, that song sucks.

Caleb Peiffer (5:32:08 PM PT): One thing to watch for tonight is whether the Rays' switch-hitters bat from the left side against Hamels. Maddon has had his switch-hitters hit from the "wrong" side a couple times before this year--I think against Mussina, among maybe a couple others, if I'm not mistaken--and Hamels has a pretty big reverse split through his first three years in the majors, because he can't throw the change as effectively against hitters of his own hand.

Joe Sheehan (5:32:31 PM PT): That anthem went on longer than "Girls Club."

Will Carroll (5:32:45 PM PT): I am told there was a fifth Backstreet Boy at some point.

Really, it's a one minute song. No one's there to see you sing. Especially you, creepy guy on the right.

Will Carroll (5:33:55 PM PT): Rocco Baldelli is apparently a late scratch, with Ben Zobrist in the lineup.

*PLUG* Zobrist is scheduled to be on BPR tomorrow.

Steven Goldman (5:34:14 PM PT): Chiming in a bit late on the whole leaving yourself w/o a backup catcher thing, Casey Stengel did that frequently. Sometimes it worked. There was at least one occasion he wound up with Hank Bauer at catcher and lost a game on a PB. Not, however in the WS. ...There was a famous occasion late in the 1949 season when both Yogi Berra and Charlie Silvera were hurt and Ralph Houk started. The umpire made a controversial call and Houk basically assaulted him, but the umpire didn't run him, knowing that it could quite possibly affect the outcome of a close pennant race. I don't think that's actually the correct call, but it's what happened.

Joe Sheehan (5:35:17 PM PT): That's a tactic usually saved for knuckleballers. I'm trying to think if I've seen hitters do it against Santana or Hoffman. Oh, Rivera...I know I saw that once.

We kicked this around in a roundtable earlier this year, I think...fastball/changeup guys who come from 12 or 11 o'clock have the smallest platoon splits, and are often reverse.

Caleb Peiffer (5:36:53 PM PT): Zobrist is the man. I saw him play for the Tri-City ValleyCats back in '04 when I was the official scorer.

Kevin Goldstein (5:39:54 PM PT): 04 Cats? Hunter Pence on that team?

Steven Goldman (5:40:29 PM PT): I'll never forget being at a AA game a few years ago and after the third baseman failed to field a grounder cleanly, allowing the batter to reach, the official scorer turned to the rest of us in the press box and said, "Whatdya think, guys? Hit or an error?" Everyone shouted error, but he said, "Nah, I like this guy. I'm giving him a hit." We shouted at him until he changed it.

Joe Sheehan (5:41:08 PM PT): In the majors, the guy has the same conversation, just in his head.

I wish I was kidding.

Kevin Goldstein (5:42:15 PM PT): I love how ballplayers basically freeze their hair and facial hair at the moment they left the game. See Schmidt, Mike and Eckersley, Dennis.

Caleb Peiffer (5:43:37 PM PT): Yup, Pence was on that Cats team too. I remember being struck by his odd, hunched over running style. Line drive more often than not, though.

Joe Sheehan (5:44:19 PM PT): There's a call-and-response thing going on now. "Tampa...Rays!" The whole thing really has a college football Saturday feel to it. It's a mix of innocence, cheesiness and cowbell. Like watching Peiffer on a date.

Derek Jacques (5:46:56 PM PT): "Rocco Baldelli is apparently a late scratch, with Ben Zobrist in the lineup.

"*PLUG* Zobrist is scheduled to be on BPR tomorrow."

So you Kerriganed Baldelli to get Zobrist into the lineup? Will takes BPR verrrry seriously, people.

Steven Goldman (5:47:02 PM PT): If you spoonerize Cole Hamels, you get Whole Camels.

Joe Sheehan (5:48:26 PM PT): Will, any cues to look for with Kazmir?

Will Carroll (5:48:57 PM PT): Different camera angle for Fox? Seems very straight on.

Steven Goldman (5:49:38 PM PT): Paraphrasing Robert Benchley, "Tell is if your pitcher is getting outs, and we will tell you if he is pitching well."

Will Carroll (5:50:31 PM PT): I think the whole key is whether or not Kaz is using his slider. 38 of them in Game 5, almost none in Game 2.

Will Carroll (5:53:22 PM PT): I'm told that Zobrist was not a late add, but was in the original lineup. (Thanks, Gus.) Also, that Sonnanstine is available in the bullpen, but they would rather not use him.

Kevin Goldstein (5:53:54 PM PT): In the interest of full disclosure, I petted (pat; whatever the past tense of pet) a cownose ray of few weeks ago at the zoo.

As far as Kazmir goes, it's all about fastball command for him as far as I'm concerned. He's mixing a four-seam and something with a little more spin on it -- when it overthrows that second one, he missed with it.

Joe Sheehan (5:55:41 PM PT): Just learned that there is a significant scattering of Phillies fans...I'll say 25-30% of the crowd.

Will Carroll (5:56:54 PM PT): I think it's worth noting that the Rays are really playing without a backup catcher as well. Michel Hernandez was the third catcher for Triple-A Indy in August.

Steven Goldman (5:58:25 PM PT): I don't remember the theme to "Twelve Monkeys," but whatever it was, it should replace "Gonna Fly Now" as the Philadelphia anthem (note, Philadelphia freedom is right out).

Will Carroll (6:02:40 PM PT): Philly's spring training is maybe 20-30 minutes away, at one of the best spring training stadiums.

Why didn't Howard pitch it to Hamels??

Kevin Golstein (6:03:03 PM PT): On my list of people I would rather not run full speed into, Ryan Howard is pretty high on the list.

Will Carroll (6:03:58 PM PT): Joe - how far are you from the Cuesta Ray cigar bar? There's a couple Reservas I like there.

Steven Goldman (6:04:42 PM PT): Kevin, do you have a list of people you WOULD like to run full speed into?

Kevin Goldstein (6:05:49 PM PT): Absolutely -- I'm not a small human. There are plenty of people I'd like to just run over.

Joe Sheehan (6:06:55 PM PT): Look, I'm the last guy to kill players for "hustle," but Upton just cost the Rays a baserunner and an out. His lack of effort was an issue all season long, and the message isn't getting through.

He should have been safe. And as you watch it... he never even accelerates when he sees the play.

Man...that's awful.

Joe Sheehan (6:07:35 PM PT): Will, I only understood about half that sentence.

Derek Jacques (6:07:47 PM PT): "Stephanie (DC): Any information on T. Welke as an umpire?"

He wasn't behind the plate for any starts by either Game 1 starter this season. Seventh highest runs allowed per game, by far the highest in this umpiring crew (5.23 RA/team). A lot of strikeouts in his time behind the plate (18.9% K Rate).

Will Carroll (6:11:57 PM PT): I think it was King Kaufman that said Joe Buck announces a ball game like it's a funeral. He's also dreadfully out of sync with his production team right now.

Steven Goldman (6:13:07 PM PT): That line is an insult to some of the great funeral broadcasters of the past.

Steven Goldman (6:15:55 PM PT): Is there real incentive for Victorino to steal here? McCarver seems to think it's a good idea, but with Kazmir pitching himself into trouble, it seems smarter to just let him help you out.

Joe Sheehan (6:16:11 PM PT): I don't know if Jackson or Sonnanstine is the first guy up, but I think we're going to find out. Even if Kazmir escapes, he's at 35 pitches already.

Christina Kahrl (6:17:40 PM PT): The horror is that Buck really is the best of the nepotistas in the booth. To borrow a line from Bernie Lincicome, that's like determining the shortest midget in the circus, but it's always a wonder to me, that national networks wind up employing "national announcers" who frequently know a lot less about the teams than their fans. I'd rather see the team's booth voices rotated in (one announcer, both teams' color men), and skip the corporate delusion that America welcomes Tim McCarver into their homes.

Kevin Goldstein (6:19:30 PM PT): But America really does welcome him. He tests very well you know. Announcers in a national event like the World Series are not here for fans of the game like you, me or most of the readers.

B.J. Upton just made up for not hustling down the line.

Will Carroll (6:20:06 PM PT): Wow. Perfect throw. Upton has the skills to make up for any of his baserunning lapses.

Joe Sheehan (6:20:14 PM PT): That's why Jimmy Rollins is a good player, and not a star.

Steven Goldman (6:21:43 PM PT): Don't know if you saw it, Will, but in the aftermath of ALCS G7, Upton gave big props to the training staff for keeping him in the lineup.

Will Carroll (6:22:03 PM PT): CK -- it's risk aversion. All media is scared to death of any sort of risk, of not knowing. Buck and McCarver are nothing if not safe.

And nice work, NFL, getting Visa to pay for an ad during the World Series devoted to football. At least we get a counterpoint with the first MLB Network ad I've seen.

Will Carroll (6:22:54 PM PT): SG -- start of my World Series Health Report, pal.

Kevin Goldstein (6:24:48 PM PT): So will this Budweiser campaign make my use of the term "pitchability" more acceptable to some?

Will Carroll (6:25:09 PM PT): KG - why was Crawford a 2d round pick? Signability?

Will Carroll (6:27:11 PM PT): Pitchability is like makeup. It's a catchall for a term that means a lot of things to a lot of different people. It's like people that want one true stat rather than as many possible pieces of data they can get. And it's about as useful as Bud Light.

Christina Kahrl (6:28:50 PM PT): Sure Will, and everybody loves Raymond. 'Safe' is a great way to contribute to declining market share by presenting stultifying products, but the happy upshot is that it's what has given us such great alternatives, like "The Shield." Or BP. :)

Steven Goldman (6:29:37 PM PT): I've heard that the new opening on the Hulk DVD gives you a glimpse of Captain America frozen in a block of ice. For those of us who are geeky enough to love our comic book lore, this is a very big deal.

Kevin Goldstein (6:29:41 PM PT): Will,

Yes. He signed a letter of intent to be an option QB at Nebraska, and also had a scholarship offer for hoops at UCLA. He signed for 1.245M, which is roughly what the 20-22nd overall picks got that year.

Will Carroll (6:29:59 PM PT): Raymond is cool. And it's a chick in there.

Oh you meant the sitcom ...

Kevin Goldstein (6:30:48 PM PT): Pitchability means something to me, something very specfic and real, and I'll keep using it.

Derek Jacques (6:31:30 PM PT): "Kevin Goldstein (6:24:48 PM PT): So will this Budweiser campaign make my use of the term "pitchability" more acceptable to some?"

Those Budweiser ads barely sell beer; they're also supposed to sell scoutspeak?

Hoegaarden has "drinkability." Bud Light has supermarket shelf space.

Steven Goldman (6:32:24 PM PT): It's often women inside the rubberheads. I picked up Donald Duck at Disney World once.

Will Carroll (6:33:03 PM PT): Zobrist's "closing speed" -- umm, really? I don't remember Zobrist being considered very fast. Average, sure. He has 7 career steals. Am I missing something here?

Will Carroll (6:34:22 PM PT): KG - okay, define it.

SG -- seriously creepy.

Joe Sheehan (6:37:50 PM PT): Nice escape by Kaz, but you have to acknowledge the free out in the middle. Ryan Howard has no business batting fourth against Scott Kazmir.

Kevin Goldstein (6:38:03 PM PT): The ability to use your pitches to the best of your advantage considering the batter and the situation.

Do I have to define makeup too before I use that again?

Back to baseball, Kazmir has seemingly figured someting out, or more accurately, Navarro has figured out how to put something other than one finger down.

Jay Jaffe (6:38:05 PM PT): Ok, back from dinner and a quick game of catch-up via Tivo... what is up with our timestamp? The clock on my cable box tells me this conversation is happening about seven minutes into the future.

Will Carroll (6:39:44 PM PT): KG -- at least you can. I'm just saying the term is used in a lot of different ways. Can you have different pitchabilities for each given pitch?

Will Carroll (6:40:20 PM PT): Wasn't the whole argument for Blackberry based on the physical keyboard? Just sayin'.

Kevin Goldstein (6:41:19 PM PT): I've never seen it broken down that way, I'd say it's more of an overall ability.

Joe Sheehan (6:41:21 PM PT): The Langoliers got involved.

Kevin Goldstein (6:42:22 PM PT): Will,

I was just typing that I don't want my Blackberry to have a touch screen -- so, yes. I'm confused as well.

Steven Goldman (6:42:47 PM PT): The woman inside Donald Duck had great pitchability.

...Can I just remark that, grateful as I am to be employed as a commenter on the Yankees, that this matchup of two young, fireballing lefties exemplifies my major frustration with them? I want to watch these kinds of pitchers every fifth day, not Carl Bleeping Pavano and Sidney Ponson.

Jay Jaffe (6:44:15 PM PT): Oh, Steve, you exaggerate. Carl Pavano pitches on 217 days rest.

Joe Sheehan (6:44:32 PM PT): I don't like the word because it's so fluid, the kind of thing you can say about anyone and get a head nod. Or your name in the paper.

To use Kevin's definition, it sounds like a fancy word for "command." I think there's an implied intelligence quotient to "pitchability," but I could be wrong.

It's always sounded to me like jargon, and I suppose statheads can't really bitch about that.

Christina Kahrl (6:44:45 PM PT): I know the media loves to create controversy over baseball demographics, but with Howard and Rollins and Upton and Crawford all on the field, or with all of the attention David Price is getting, why isn't that getting talked up? Great ballplayers, tons of fun to watch... what, you mean 'anti-sanctimonious concern' *isn't* a flavor?

Will Carroll (6:45:16 PM PT): Hey Andrew -- you can't wear stripes on TV. I made the mistake of wearing a tight striped Burberry on ESPN one Sunday morning and it looked like something lame' out of Barry Manilow's seconds.

Steven Goldman (6:47:33 PM PT): WC, I'm imagining a psychedelic Michelin Man with your head on it.

Will Carroll (6:48:13 PM PT): 82 MPH change? I couldn't see the spin there, but if that's the case, there's not enough separation to be effective.

Joe Sheehan (6:48:34 PM PT): This matchup makes me happy about baseball.

Kevin Goldstein (6:49:33 PM PT): It had location and movement issues -- just didn't drop like your usual Hamels CH.

Joe Sheehan (6:49:53 PM PT): Upton jogged again. Unreal.

Steven Goldman (6:49:57 PM PT): Did Upton walk out of the box that time?

Derek Jacques (6:50:37 PM PT): Despite my earlier attack on Budweiser, I do like "pitchability" as a term. It's something that would otherwise probably be termed "pitching smarts" but there often isn't any actual intelligence to it--just a feel for how to pitch. Not everyone with pitchability is Mike Mussina.

Kevin Goldstein (6:50:38 PM PT): Upton just umade up for the baserunning issue that he made up for before with the throw.

Steven Goldman (6:51:36 PM PT): John McGraw would have just demoted Upton to the Three-I League.

Will Carroll (6:52:34 PM PT): I dont think Usain Bolt beats out that DP.

Christina Kahrl (6:53:56 PM PT): Upton's brand of play in center still leaves something to be desired...

Joe Sheehan (6:54:07 PM PT): It doesn't matter. If he does, it's a run. That's a max-effort spot. I don't go in for show hustle, but when you have a chance to score a run, you RUN.

Upton's effort is the story right now.

Kevin Goldstein (6:55:32 PM PT): I really do wonder if Upton backed off that flyball because he was concened about not having a guy behind him.

That doesn't excuse it, but I do wonder.

Christina Kahrl (6:55:59 PM PT): On a totally separate note, if Will's the ultimate early adopter and I'm the ultimate late adopter, that iPhone ad might be the first time I've said to myself, "That would be *really, really cool*" and felt an impulse-buy instinct. Tell me how it feels to get the latest and bestest, Will, suddenly I'm curious. :)

Steven Goldman (6:56:35 PM PT): What McCarver calls a good piece of hitting by Feliz I call a typical Feliz-ian flail that happened to pay off this time.

Will Carroll (6:56:56 PM PT): McCarver just said Feliz "one handed" it. The video showed Feliz had both hands on the bat. He said it looked like a changeup. It was slow-mo'd as a slider. Is he not looking at the monitor?

Will Carroll (6:57:58 PM PT): I've sold more iPhones by showing off the MLB At Bat application than anything else.

Joe Sheehan (6:57:59 PM PT): Buck's watching "The Bachelor," so no monitor.

Joe Sheehan (6:59:35 PM PT): Hey, now I get to use this: no Hamels opponent has scored more than three runs in a game since September 7.

Steven Goldman (6:59:40 PM PT): Joe, KG, what I don't get about Upton is that this is a guy who was benched what, twice, three times this year for not running? Does he have bad legs and we don't know it? Is he just obstinate? Just doesn't get it? I recall hearing his dad come on XM after one of those benchings talking about how uncharacteristic this was of his son, but clearly it is characteristic.

Jay Jaffe (7:02:37 PM PT): The iPhone MLB app is very cool, but it needs some fixes - the player cards are AWFUL (no triple-slash stats, just OPS, and opposing hitter lines for pitchers at the expense of trad. pitcher stats), and there's no link to the daily standings that other sports apps for the iphones have.

Derek Jacques (7:02:57 PM PT): I like how the alternate video feeds on MLB.tv give you speed and pitch tacking for warm-up pitches. That is all.

Will Carroll (7:03:14 PM PT): Gotta love using an actor/professor in an ad.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1682693/

Sharp does make a nice LCD.

Joe Sheehan (7:03:44 PM PT): It bugs me because it's costly. I don't kill guys for not running out every grounder down 7-1 in the eighth. But Upton's sloth--and I'm sorry, that's the word--has repeatedly come in game-critical situations. That he could not recognize the importance of his possibly being safe and find third gear...or second...is just inexplicable and inexcusable.

My god. I'm Dick Young. Shoot me now.

Will Carroll (7:03:46 PM PT): SG - he has bad legs and we know about it.

Kevin Goldstein (7:04:24 PM PT): It's a combination off obstinate and habits being hard to break. When he hits something tha he thinks is an out, he gets down on himself and stops running. It's not a good habit . . . at all.

Jay Jaffe (7:04:25 PM PT): So the other night I was trying to make a quick list of the big lefty hitters who get these extreme shifts. Giambi, Ortiz, Thome, Howard, Pena, Fielder... who am I missing?

Joe Sheehan (7:05:50 PM PT): That'll be it for the curveballs for tonight.

Will Carroll (7:05:53 PM PT): Fox isn't even trying. You cut the audio when a play happens.

Will Carroll (7:06:09 PM PT): Utley got the shift earlier.

Christina Kahrl (7:06:46 PM PT): OK, so, looking forward and thinking out loud, maybe Kazmir gets through the fifth, which right-handed pitchers should be up to face the bottom of the Phillies' lineup in the sixth (or the fifth if there's trouble)?

Kevin Goldstein (7:07:10 PM PT): I know how I rip announcers for blaming EVERY home run on a bad pitch, but Joe called it -- that was a cookie.

Will Carroll (7:07:27 PM PT): Kazmir isn't pitching well, but he is minimizing the damage, which gives the Rays a chance.

Will Carroll (7:10:11 PM PT): Scott Kazmir was 7 when Guns N Roses released their last album.

Steven Goldman (7:11:30 PM PT): Jay: Ted Williams. :)

Steven Goldman (7:11:45 PM PT): Jay: Ted Williams. :)

Jay Jaffe (7:13:03 PM PT): That was weird to see the shift against Utley back in the first, as I've never seen a shift against him before. Readers pitching in here:

"fred (houston): Jay, Berkman gets the shift. Griffey, Dunn, Delgado too"

"Jonny (Maine): Jay - What about Travis Hafner? I haven't seen an Indians game for a while, but I'm pretty sure he does."

I just found my original list, on the back of a grocery receipt. Dunn and Delgado were on it, the rest I didn't have. Keep 'em coming if I've missed somebody.

Jay Jaffe (7:14:00 PM PT): Steve: I was referring to contemporaries, but it does stand to reason that Williams might outhit Hafner and maybe Griffey even in his decapitated state.

Steven Goldman (7:16:16 PM PT): Now is really not a good time to be quoting Alan Greenspan and have any hope of retaining your credibility.

Steven Goldman (7:17:06 PM PT): I HATE that late time out call. The rules expressly forbid it.

Joe Sheehan (7:19:05 PM PT): Steven, you're inferring a relationship between rules and umpiring that is not in evidence.

Kevin Goldstein (7:20:42 PM PT): Steve (ND): How many players in this World Series can pull the double of College World Series title and World Series title? All I can think of offhand is Pat Burrell.

I quick glance at the rosters, and I believe you are correct. I think Howell, Jenkins and Bruntlet all came within a game or two of winning a CWS.

Will Carroll (7:20:59 PM PT): Shouldn't Kazmir have just thrown it right at Burrell that far into play? I know that's probably not going through his mind there but ...

Jay Jaffe (7:23:41 PM PT): More shifty guys:

"Steve (ND): Jay - Justin Morneau has it put on him, although not all of the time."

"fsumatthunter (Tallahassee): Mike Jacobs gets the shift, I swear! I watch every Marlins game."

Really on Jacobs? I guess I didn't notice in that final series against the Mets, but then again I was watching two or three games at once for most of that weekend.

Derek Jacques (7:25:08 PM PT): "Jon (SF): Do you think that with the national exposure the Phillies are getting, people will finally realize that Utley, and not Howard or Rollins is the best player on the team?"

The announcers themselves seem dumbfounded by this, and a good handful of games by Howard against the Rays' righthanders could reinforce the misperception, but Utley did a nice job of introducing himself to America in the first.

Joe Sheehan (7:25:23 PM PT): "Andrew (Fayetteville): Joe, if Ryan Howard has no business batting 4th against Kazmir, what would be a better lineup configuration?"

Werth
Victorino
Burrell
Rollins
Utley
Coste
Howard
Feliz
Ruiz

Joe Sheehan (7:26:53 PM PT): Honestly, Howard shouldn't be playing. But the Phillies have no one enough better than him to make the case for.

Christina Kahrl (7:28:43 PM PT): Shame on you, Steve, how can you forget Kevin Maas for the shift? I still remember the game he bunted for a single down the third-base line against the White Sox with Alex Fernandez on the mound. They had to fish Hawk Harrelson's tongue out of his esophagus, he was so surprised.

Joe Sheehan (7:29:38 PM PT): Did they really *have* to? Because I would have been up for a vote on that.

Christina Kahrl (7:30:05 PM PT): Joe, how about Coste at first, Ruiz at catcher, Burrell at DH, and... well, no, I'd rather have Howard than Taguchi.

Joe Sheehan (7:31:33 PM PT): Exactly. See also, the draft Jay and I did. This team's last 10 roster spots aren't good. (Cue more hatred.)

Joe Sheehan (7:33:21 PM PT): Hey, to the guy in the chat who keeps citing MVP votes as if I had any respect for the voting pool: I don't.

Steven Goldman (7:34:17 PM PT): Gastroenterologists across America thank Taco Bell for their generosity.

Christina Kahrl (7:36:33 PM PT): Taco McNasty: Now muey nasty!

Steven Goldman (7:36:37 PM PT): I'm still pissed about the 1987 NL and AL MVP votes, and 1999 AL as well. I guess I haven't had much respect for those votes in over 20 years now.

Joe Sheehan (7:36:38 PM PT): In this case, Steven, stolen bases do lead to runs.

Kevin Goldstein (7:39:19 PM PT): I'd go get my taco, but I live in a college town, and free food on campus will likely mean insane lines.

Iwamura shows the value of just trying to put bat on ball, which he's done for the last two at-bats.

Ben Murphy (7:39:49 PM PT): Wow, nice grab by Howard going into the crowd.

Joe Sheehan (7:41:33 PM PT): He goes oppo a lot. He had an out-of-the-blue oppo homer in the Division Series. I like him more than you think I'd like a guy with his OBP.

Yeah, I didn't think for a second Kaz was seeing the sixth.

Steven Goldman (7:41:39 PM PT): Our intern, Colonel Ben Lindbergh, asks, "How do they keep track of whether you've had your free taco already?"

A: If you come in sweaty and doubled over, they assume you already got yours.

Derek Jacques (7:42:13 PM PT): No thanks on that Taco.

Joe Sheehan (7:44:54 PM PT): "jessehoffins (Swarthmore, PA): Joe- As to Howard's placement in the lineup, you really think pushing him back to eighth makes sense against a pitcher that almost never makes it past the 6th anyway? I understand his awful platoons, but Charlie Manuel has to believe that getting him one extra at bat late in a game is worth it. "

An at-bat that, if it means anything, will probably come against J.P. Howell, or David Price, or Trever Miller, all of whom Howard can't hit.

He's a platoon player.

Steven Goldman (7:45:46 PM PT): "Jon (DC): Just curious Steven, who would you have voted for in the NL in 1987: either Clark, Raines?"

Neither. Ozzie Smith. Alan Trammell in the AL. And those are first guesses -- said so at the time. Nearly lost some teeth to a fellow high school student who was a big Andre Dawson fan...

...That guy is now an ardent Republican.

Will Carroll (7:47:08 PM PT): If I say Kazmir goes six and gives up three, you're probably thinking that's pretty good for the Rays.

Joe Sheehan (7:47:18 PM PT): "Bill (New Mexico): Are you folks surprised that Manuel didn't DH Howard and let someone play first who can field the position?"

That player doesn't exist on this roster. Well, Eric Bruntlett, but if he wanted to do that he would have done it with Burrell.

It's kind of funny watching everyone run across the limitations of this roster. Wait until J.C. Romero has to face Evan Longoria.

Christina Kahrl (7:47:28 PM PT): Agents invented the quality start? This, coming from a millionaire enriched in no small part by an agent? What a crock.

Jay Jaffe (7:48:37 PM PT): Considering what a mess Kazmir looked like early on, yeah, 6/3 qualifies as a success.

Ben Murphy (7:48:42 PM PT): And just like that, Kazmir makes it through 6...how many of us lost bets on that? I certainly wasn't expecting that, but I'm pleasantly surprised--fun to see the two young lefties battling like this.

Kevin Goldstein (7:50:25 PM PT): At one off the White Sox playoff games in the alterrnate press box, Nate, Chrstina and I discussed the numbers for what officially constitued a "yeoman's effort" for a starting pitcher.

I'm pretty sure Kaz's line of 6 6 3 3 4 4 is it.

Jay Jaffe (7:50:51 PM PT): Steve, how about Raines for NL MVP in '87? .330/.429/.526, 123 runs scored, 50/55 in steals.

Joe Sheehan (7:51:23 PM PT): Defense matters. Even at first base.

Will Carroll (7:52:59 PM PT): Joe Buck is famously repped by the William Morris Agency, sharing a rep with Joe Torre.

Kevin Goldstein (7:54:28 PM PT): Nice job by Fox there to cut the audio on Maddon AFTER he drops a few bombs.

Steven Goldman (7:54:43 PM PT): Jay: Raines would have been a better choice than Dawson too. I give the edge to Ozzie on the Cards actually going to the postseason. FWIW, Clay has it as Raines 10.2 WARP1, Smith 10.1. Don't forget, Ozzie hit pretty well that year and played Ozzie D.

Derek Jacques (7:57:24 PM PT): "Mountainhawk (Salem, MA): By the way, if it is so obvious the Rays are the better team all around here, then why is it when you run the raw numbers via Clay Davenport's simulations, the Phillies are the favorite for this series? Can anyone explain that?"

Sure. The Rays aren't all that good against lefties (25-24 record this year), and the Phils start two of them in the short series. According to Clay, the Rays had the biggest platoon gap of any team that made the playoffs. Hamels is capitalizing on that tonight (although, the way he's pitched the last couple of years he hardly needs the help) it waits to be seen if Jamie Moyer can follow that example.

Will Carroll (7:58:12 PM PT): Still stunned.

Oh, sorry, though this was FiveThirtyEight for a minute.

Steven Goldman (8:00:27 PM PT): Was that the politest manager-umpire argument in the history of baseball?

Ben Murphy (8:00:29 PM PT): I know that some speculated, I believe on the internal list, that Hamels' split was more moderate than the simulation expected, and that Moyer's lack of traditional stuff would equalize the expected impact of the platoon splits. That kind of balance might cause the difference between, say, Joe's predictions and Clay's simulation.

Caleb Peiffer (8:01:24 PM PT): There was way too much civility in that Maddon-ump exchange.

Joe Sheehan (8:02:01 PM PT): Last one.

"jessehoffins (Swarthmore, PA): Joe, I hate Howard (and love numbers) just as much as all of the other mets fans who find themselves in the philly media market, but, BUT... You don't go to the world series and then bench the player 30% of the world thinks is the MVP. Its just not a realistic understanding of baseball. "

I'll happily compare my understanding of baseball's basis in reality with that 30%.

Ryan Howard can't hit lefties and he's a poor defensive first baseman. The day either of these things changes, I'll stop calling him a platoon player and mocking the people who think he's an MVP candidate.

Honestly. This is where we are as a society. Facts just don't matter.

Kevin Goldstein (8:02:13 PM PT): Fox having the conversation between Maddon and the ump about the balk/non-balk was excellent. Give 'em props when they deserve them.

I still think that, for whatever reason, TBS' picture quality was better.

Steven Goldman (8:05:08 PM PT): Joe, I'm trying to think of a time that a manager actually did bench a "big" player like Howard (whether big reputationally or whatever) in a postseason game for reasons like that... Not coming up with much. Maybe Connie Mack not giving Lefty Grove a start in the 1929 WS.

Ben Murphy (8:05:59 PM PT): Welke called a pitch much further off the plate a strike to Longoria...twice. What gives? Maybe if Navarro holds it for a minute instead of tossing to third, he gets the call.

Will Carroll (8:06:28 PM PT): TC emailed a question to me about the "warning track" at the Trop. It is the same FieldTurf as the rest of the field rather than dirt. The way a player can tell is that there's no padding underneath the warning track (or at least very little.) You get two steps, max, on it, but there is thick padding on the walls.

Jay Jaffe (8:06:49 PM PT): And the MVP of the NL, the RBI machine, fails to bring home a runner on third with less than two outs.

Joe Sheehan (8:08:32 PM PT): Steven, my argument isn't that Howard should be benched tonight. My argument is that he should be platooned, and the Phillies should have a guy for this job on the roster.

I said he should have batted seventh tonight, and I stand by that. I'm telling you now, Maddon is not going to let him face a righty after the fifth if the run matters. *Maybe* Shields. And if Manuel makes it easy by batting Utley and Howard together, well, the expected result will happen.

Kevin Goldstein (8:08:44 PM PT): I know we don't root against guys, but I'm betting that one made Joe smile.

IM from a man who pitches as a profession.

"Balk, I think. Good read by Hamels, but that was about 60 degrees."

Jay Jaffe (8:11:30 PM PT): Steve - Torre benched Alfonso Soriano in Game Five of the 2003 World Series - and then gave him a glimpse of the future by bringing him in as a right fielder late in the game.

Ben Murphy (8:11:47 PM PT): Welke again changes the definition of his outside strike as Burrell walks, ending Howell's night. Maybe it's me rooting for the Rays, but that seemed like the kind of call that Hamels has gotten a few times.

Kevin Goldstein (8:11:48 PM PT): Quite often in talking about pitchers during Top 11 time or during the season, I talk about guys with good curveballs. The key is to find the guys who can BOTH drop it in for strikes AND bury it as a chase pitch.

That's what J.P. Howell is doing here . . . and that should have been strike three.

Joe Sheehan (8:12:22 PM PT): See, this is what I mean when I said that Maddon is learning as he goes and might make mistakes. If J.P. Howell was going to get Burrell and only Burrell, why was he left in the game? Why is it not Balfour for Burrell?

It's one thing to not worry too much about platoon splits in favor of skill sets. It's another to act in contravention of them.

I really don't understand this sequence.

Will Carroll (8:15:42 PM PT): Well, Balfour didn't look flat there at all.

Steven Goldman (8:15:48 PM PT): "dpowell (Boston): Goldman, Canseco was bench Game 4 of 1990 WS."

Christina, you remember what the motivation was behind that one? Was it fear of Jose Rijo? That Canseco was having a miserable postseason?

Benching a star in G4 for a slump is a bit different than opening oneself to second guessing for benching him in G1 for tactical reasons.

And Joe, point taken on the nuances of the argument you're making. I was hip.

Kevin Goldstein (8:16:30 PM PT): I know we can't measure this statistically, but jacked up pitcher plus jacked up hitter must have a TTO% of around 80%.

Steven Goldman (8:18:38 PM PT): Jay: Same thing as my previous. G5 isn't G1. Torre had given Soriano all kinds of rope. Soriano had the hitter's equivalent of Steve Blass disease in that postseason. He looked like he had never hit before and might never hit again. Word at the time was that the Rangers weren't insistent on Soriano being in the A-Rod trade and the Yankees were the ones who wanted him gone, just based on their disenchantment with him after that October.

Joe Sheehan (8:21:22 PM PT): I'm going to be genuinely sad when Hamels exits this game. I love watching him pitch.

Jay Jaffe (8:23:26 PM PT): Every time the camera cuts to Eric Bruntlett, I wonder which Civil War battle they'll be re-enacting today.

Christina Kahrl (8:25:43 PM PT): Canseco was hurt the entire series, but La Russa ran him out there the first three games, then worked himself into a tizzy when it was obvious that Canseco was hurt. This led to the infamous "Tony La Russa's a punk" from the former Mrs. Canseco, an appropriate commentary on how La Russa was pulling something of a stunt to run down a player he'd apparently come to despise. The more lasting effect was that it appropriately killed dead TLR's rep as a 'player's manager' that he'd been anointed with in the '70s and '80s.

Derek Jacques (8:25:53 PM PT): SG: Canseco was 3 for 23 in the 1990 playoffs, albeit with 7 walks. He actually wasn't too bad against Rijo in Game 1, walking twice and whiffing once. Still, Canseco was struggling with back trouble, and that was probably the main reason Baines got the Game 4 start.

Joe Sheehan (8:26:21 PM PT): Instant Poll! Bring Hamels out for the eighth?

Kevin Goldstein (8:27:08 PM PT): Instapoll answer: yes.

Kevin Goldstein (8:28:59 PM PT): It looks like the Phillies don't agree with me.

Joe Sheehan (8:29:12 PM PT): "Big Daddy (Rapture): So what do you guys do between innings? Let us in on the secrets?"

I close my eyes and dream about all the pain one could inflict with a cowbell.

Kevin Goldstein (8:29:56 PM PT): Which is dumb. It's the World Series, it's a one-run game, and the dude has throw 102 pitches. Unless you are thinking about suddenly going 1-4-7 with Hamels, you leave him in.

Kevin Goldstein (8:30:27 PM PT): In between innings: look at the box, read 538, read NeoGAF.

Jay Jaffe (8:30:41 PM PT): Speaking of iPhones, what is the background music for that ad? It's catchy as hell.

Hamels: 102 pitches, and he's failed to retire either of the next two hitters in five attempts thus far (Bartlett two walks, Iwamura three hits). I'd call it a night.

Ben Murphy (8:36:34 PM PT): Buck/McCarver keep referring to it as a 7 inning game when you can get 7 out of Hamels and let Madson and Lidge close the game...but it seems like it's not exactly like going to famous duos of playoffs past, right? Okajima/Papelbon? Rivera/Wetteland?

My history isn't strong, and I don't know a ton about Madson, but I'm still thinking the Rays have a chance.

Joe Sheehan (8:37:15 PM PT): Lost my connection, but I agree with everything Kevin said. Using Hamels 1-4-7 isn't on anyone's radar, and he apparently hates the idea.

The sole defense is that Madson is the one non-Lidge guy I'd trust, and it's a good spot for him: Bartlett/Aki/Upton. Eyre is set up for Pena, and Lidge is up if it gets past that.

Steven Goldman (8:39:18 PM PT): Between innings: typically I'm surrounded by books researching the next thing I have to write. If I'm not behind on something, which is rare, I'm catching up with that day's newspapers, magazines, etc. I rarely see a commercial. As soon as the inning ends, I grab something and start reading.

Joe Sheehan (8:39:30 PM PT): Self-correct. Eyre down, Romero up in the pen.

Ben Murphy (8:39:57 PM PT): Barry Bonds highlight! I had almost forgotten how dominant he was in 2002. Wow.

Ben Murphy (8:41:43 PM PT): Wow, Upton got lucky on that outside fastball. Hard to take that pitch in this situation.

Ben Murphy (8:43:04 PM PT): Between innings I'm typically poking around the Internet or letting the puppy out. Nothing nearly as interesting as research or reading political blogs ;-)

Joe Sheehan (8:45:57 PM PT): "Stephanie (DC): Why don't you pinch hit Floyd for Bartlett to lead off the 8th?"

I don't have a satisfactory answer to that.

Somewhere along the line, elective pinch-hitting just fell out of favor. Some of it is roster construction, but...

I guess Bartlett being perceived as a good hitter because of his BA is some of it as well.

Christina Kahrl (8:46:23 PM PT): Noel (Chicago): "BTW, no one has mentioned Bonds yet with respect to players that had the shift applied to them."

Or Darrell Evans either. I've seen it a bit against Jim Thome. I wonder if they shifted against guys like Ben Oglivie or Mike Easler, because frankly I don't recall if they did or did not.

Will Carroll (8:47:21 PM PT): Balfour has been "flat" so why extend him here. Not sure I like this, but willing to be convinced.

Joe Sheehan (8:50:22 PM PT): Worked for me tactically, Will. He was getting two batters.

We're headed for midnight, because this will be two pitchers for two hitters here. Miller/Howard and Wheeler/Burrell.

Jay Jaffe (8:52:09 PM PT): "Joe (Tewksbury, MA): Jay - I'm channel surfing during commercials but if the song is the "I'd do handstands for you" song it's "Bruises" by Chairlift, well worth the 99 cent download from your provider of choice."

Nope, that's not the one, though the effort is appreciated. I'm talking about the song behind the MLB app commercial. No lyrics audible during what's used.

Will Carroll (8:52:22 PM PT): Fox is going to have to explore some kind of soccer-style embedded ads, because the time between innings is just nuts. BTW, nice win by Chelsea today.

Joe Sheehan (8:53:49 PM PT): CK, if you go back that far, aren't you getting into an era where hitters were more willing to take the single? The shift happens because the benefit of the longball is greater than the singles lost to the shift or gained by slapping the ball the other way. That's been the case in the last 15 years, but maybe not before. Easler and Ogilvie, just to name two guys, may have been pull hitters, but not to the extent the guys of today are. So no shift was warranted, or advisable.

The biggest lefty pull hitter I can think of from my childhood is Oscar Gamble, and I don't remember any shifts.

Ben Murphy (8:55:32 PM PT): I'm not sure what Howard was looking for, but I'm shocked he didn't see it at some point in that at bat--he got at least two very hittable pitches.

Will Carroll (8:55:59 PM PT): Jay - You, Me, and the Bourgoisie

And Joe gets another data point in his battle with a post-fact society.

Steven Goldman (8:58:11 PM PT): Joe, I was just thinking about the whole Howard platoon issue and thinking, how does one define a platoon hitter? What does a hitter have to do to play every day? Where is the inflection point? I have my own thoughts, but I'm curious what you and the rest of the gang has to say.

Joe Sheehan (8:58:38 PM PT): Worth emulating: Maddon playing down one like he's up one. More managers should do this.

Christina Kahrl (8:59:13 PM PT): Joe, but that's the point, I do remember seeing the shift against some guys in the '80s (showing my age, I know), and not others (Baines in his prime, for example, could line an outside pitch for a double to left with aplomb). I'm not buying the "shift assertion." The shift was on with Maas up; I know you remember that.

Jay Jaffe (8:59:16 PM PT): Will - bingo. Thank you!

Caleb Peiffer (9:02:13 PM PT): Howard career OPS versus lefties: 786...that's obviously bad compared to his 1065 versus righties, but not terrible for a lefty.

Steven Goldman (9:03:53 PM PT): Caleb, the inflection point would move with the opposing pitcher too...

Joe Sheehan (9:05:16 PM PT): It's like pitchability. I know it when I see it. You have to establish whether there's a performance gap--hell, MGL will tell you the platoon difference can't be determined because you don't get enough ABs--and then take into account everything else the player does. If Howard played first base like Adrian Gonzalez, then he'd warrant the lineup spot.

But when you know the guy can't hit lefties, and he's a net negative everywhere else...what's the point?

To pull an example...Curtis Granderson (before this year) couldn't hit lefties. But you could drop him in the lineup and he'd be a viable starter that way.

And just since we're kind of in the neighborhood...this is what bugs me. If it was the eighth, it would be Romero facing Pena. But in the ninth, it's Lidge. That's dumb; the inning is a non-factor, but the platoon differentials--or if you prefer, skill sets, are the same.

Kevin Goldstein (9:06:32 PM PT): What were my odds on Lidge striking out Pena without throwing a fastball?

Will Carroll (9:07:37 PM PT): Tim -- a "sinker slider" is called a slurve. Thanks.

Kevin Goldstein (9:08:36 PM PT): and my odds on him striking out both Pena and Longoria without throwing a fastball?

Joe Sheehan (9:08:40 PM PT): Caleb, that's an OBP-light 786 from a guy who kills you everywhere but at the plate. And that's calling 786 his level, which I suspect may not be the case.

That guy can't play for me.

Joe Sheehan (9:10:25 PM PT): KG, from what I've seen Lidge doesn't use his fastball nearly as much as he used to. I defer to pitchF/X guys.

Ben Murphy (9:12:24 PM PT): Not my line, but maybe tomorrow night the Rays hitters could try going up there against Brad Lidge wearing Albert Pujols masks.

Derek Jacques (9:14:06 PM PT): "Brian (brooklyn): Is the start of this chat being delayed for a Barack Obama commercial?"

I just wanted to point out that if the campaign wanted to give us a million dollars to delay our next chat, a whole bunch of things could be arranged.

Congrats to the Phillies and their fans for drawing first blood.

Joe Sheehan (9:17:15 PM PT): My understanding is that many of our chats are delayed even without money changing hands.

Off to write. Thanks, everyone. And Cole Hamels.


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