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Roundtable: Phillies/Rockies Playoffs Roundtable

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday October 12, 2009 6:00 PM ET Phillies/Rockies Playoffs Roundtable roundtable.

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Dave Pease (3:16:15 PM PT): so I hear there's a game on.

Steven Goldman (3:16:53 PM PT): And yes, it has begun. Sorry about the late arrival, camper, I was having some connectivity issues.

Steven Goldman (3:28:25 PM PT): With all the other series over, and won by the team that probably SHOULD have won in a strictly qualitative sense (I guess you could argue about the Red Sox vs. the Angels)this remaining series seems very much like something that should be over already and the Phillies coronated, at least as far as this round goes.

Steven Goldman (3:29:22 PM PT): Eli (Brooklyn): With the 2004 ALDS lost in the sands of time, and A-Rod a post-season hero for the FIRST TIME EVER, how long before the media picks up the choke-rod meme again?

Hey, Pardners. Sorry about the late start. Had some connectivity issues. Glad that some of you could join us on short notice. I'll be joined throughout by some other happy faces from BP... And the answer is, after his first 0-for-4.

Jay Jaffe (3:30:23 PM PT): Good evening folks. Regarding A-Rod, it is odd that some elements of the media are treating this as the first time he's ever risen to the occasion in the postseason, but then short attention spans and a lack of historical context seem to be what sells papers these days. Instead of worrying about how soon it will be before they pick up the choke meme again (and there I think Steve is right, 0-for-4), how about just enjoying the fact that so many members of the chattering class have had to stick a sock in it for a couple of days?

Steven Goldman (3:31:02 PM PT): Peyton (Indy): Does Todd Helton get in the HoF?

Jay probably has a better answer to this, but my feeling is that he should. As I wrote in a recent You Could Look It Up, being able to take advantage of pre-humidor Coors to the extent that he did seems to me to be a legitimate skill.

Steven Goldman (3:31:32 PM PT): Ryan (Denver): Seth Smith starting tonight? Could it be that Jim Tracy has learned his lesson?

I think I have...

Joe Sheehan (3:32:43 PM PT): To decide that Alex Rodriguez couldn't hit in the postseason, the media had to ignore everything from the start of his career through Game Three of the 2004 ALCS. He *killed* the Twins in the ALDS that year.

This story never, ever made sense.

Hey, when does Troy Tulowitzki's lost week become a story?

perrotto (3:33:45 PM PT): I would vote for Helton is he were on the ballot now. I think he has accomplished enough to get to Cooperstown.

John Perrotto (3:34:56 PM PT): Tulowitzki isn't a story because he doesn't play in New York. That is the only reason A-Rod gets buried. Bonds didn't hit for three years from 1990-92 and he never got scrutinized like Rodriguez.

Steven Goldman (3:36:32 PM PT): As Jay said, it's funny how A-Rod pre-NY got forgotten. Right now, though, the guy does look spectacularly mellow. There's a visible change from previous years. Less caffeine? Fewer horse pills?

John Perrotto (3:36:51 PM PT): How about the way Brad Hawpe has been completely marginalized in this series? A total non-entity.

Steven Goldman (3:37:26 PM PT): Bonds did get a lot of heat, John, just not of the same loudness because of the NY media.

Jay Jaffe (3:37:28 PM PT): Peyton (Indy): Does Todd Helton get in the HoF?

I took a look at this question this summer at
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=9369
and
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=9381.

When it finally arrives, Helton's Cooperstown candidacy will be built upon numbers compiled under the most optimal conditions ever afforded a hitter over an extended period of time. Once we correct for that using advance metrics like WARP and EqA which adjust for the park and league context, it's clear he makes for a decidedly below-average candidate at present, at least according to JAWS, and having just turned 36, he ain't getting any younger.

He'll hit the ballot at the tail end of a crowded cohort, most of the members of whom will have higher home run totals compiled under less favorable conditions, for one thing.

John Perrotto (3:37:53 PM PT): I think the difference is A-Rod has quit trying to be a cultural icon and concentrated on being a ballplayer again. That takes pressure off.

Joe Sheehan (3:38:56 PM PT): Repeating myself:

Todd Helton:hitters::Sandy Koufax:pitchers.

Steven Goldman (3:39:06 PM PT): dcoonce (bloomington, indiana): Speaking of post-season chokes, nobody seems to mention that Babe Ruth once got thrown out caught-stealing to end a world series. If A-rod did that today....geez, could you imagine? And what manager lets that happen, even back then?

It was Miller Huggins, and he just didn't have a lot of control over Bonds in general. He was about three feet tall and sickly. Also, what was there for him to do? If Ruth ran in spite of a sign, you're still not going to trade/bench/demote him...

Steven Goldman (3:39:56 PM PT): That's a fair analogy Joe, but isn't there something to being the best-adapted player of your era?

Jay Jaffe (3:41:35 PM PT): dcoonce (bloomington, indiana): First Rockie Hall-of-Famer: Helton or Walker. Or someone else?

Walker's got a reasonable resume from a traditional standpoint, but again, once you let the air out of his stats, he's a decidedly below-average candidate:
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=9416

The bottom line is that it's probably going to be somebody else who becomes the first Rox rep in the Coop. Tulowitzki? Carlos Gonzalez? Neifi Perez, following a miraculous comeback? Only time will tell.

Steven Goldman (3:42:16 PM PT): Maggie (Washington, D.C.): Given that the Angels have a better front four, their best lineup ever, and a better manager, why is everybody so convinced that the Yankees will win the ALCS?

Is their lineup REALLY that good? I see a lot of BA that might not happen against good pitching, not to mention some ill-considered baserunning. I'm not sure the front four is that much better. I guess Saunders is better than Chad Gaudin, but Sabathia/Burnett/Pettitte can be pretty good.

John Perrotto (3:44:22 PM PT): I'll vote for Larry Walker.

Kevin Goldstein (3:46:14 PM PT): Sorry I'm late everyone, I was getting a couch delivered . . . I swear that's not a metaphor for anything.

Jay Jaffe (3:47:00 PM PT): Joe, I don't think that's an apt comparison, because Koufax was at a higher level for longer, and was perhaps the single most valuable player on a great run of pennant winners and world champs for the Dodgers. Helton didn't have nearly the stretch of dominance, and he's been a supporting cast member on the Rockies' last two playoff teams.

John Perrotto (3:47:12 PM PT): The Yankees have a better bullpen than the Angels, too.

Steven Goldman (3:47:52 PM PT): kradec (da Bronx): Speaking of memes that won't die, can we hope that Nick Punto ignoring the baseball, the third-base coach, and common sense will finally drive a stake through the heart of "the Twins play good fundamental baseball"? Please?

I think the myth of the Twins as a scrappy team that overachieves exists because calling them "cheap" would be too on the nose.

Kevin Goldstein (3:49:29 PM PT): Sorry I'm late everyone, I was getting a couch delivered . . . I swear that's not a metaphor for anything.

John Perrotto (3:50:22 PM PT): I think the Pohlad family holds the trademark on Scrappy Twins.

Jay Jaffe (3:52:23 PM PT): kradec (da Bronx): Speaking of memes that won't die, can we hope that Nick Punto ignoring the baseball, the third-base coach, and common sense will finally drive a stake through the heart of "the Twins play good fundamental baseball"? Please?

One of the distinct pleasures of the Yanks-Twins series was watching that "good fundamental" notion die a miserable death. The Twins made mistakes, particularly on the basepaths, and those mistakes were fatal to their caue. Go dig up Keith Law's Twitter stream for about a hundred variations on the theme.

Steven Goldman (3:52:38 PM PT): Yes, and they milk it. And some of those players can be fun. Love Span, looking forward to Ben Revere, though I think Kevin would agree that he had a kind of mediocre season. Still, at some point you have to get some actual players, and even if you are cheap, spend what you do spend wisely. There's no earthly reason that Punto should be the fifth-highest paid player on the Twins after Morneau, Mauer, Cuddyer, and Nathan.

Kevin Goldstein (3:53:46 PM PT): God, late and now a double-post. I should just be fired. Is it me or does the location of the pitch and then when Pitch Trax says is the location just seem off at times? Like at what point, depth-wise, is the location recorded?

Joe Sheehan (3:55:30 PM PT): Jay, I might concede higher level, but you really have to consider the context of Dodger Stadium in 1963-66 heavily here. It is essentially the anti-Coors--the greatest pitching environment in baseball history. Big strike zone, high mound, lousy visibility, lots of night games, league larded with guys who couldn't hit (by design).

"For longer" I simply won't buy. Koufax had six good years, and that's granting him a short '62. The four-year peak was great, but the impression of it is inflated because no one, then or now, properly adjusted for the context, not just relative to season but all-time.

I don't hate Koufax, I just think he's one of the most overrated players in history because of a lack of understanding of the context in which he pitched and the fact that he retired during his peak. A short career somehow made him "better".

Steven Goldman (3:56:55 PM PT): I see a few questions about Chris Ianetta... I haven't had a chance to research this, but his H/R split for this year must be among the most extreme we have: .295/.389/.576 at home, .167/.302/.353 on the road. Even the park doesn't explain that.

Kevin Goldstein (3:58:56 PM PT): Broadcasters talking about what a great base stealer Davey Lopes was. Over a four year period from 78-81, he went 132 for 149 (89%).

C-Gon really does have a fantastic arm -- I saw him have a three assist game for South Bend back in the day.

Joe Sheehan (3:59:04 PM PT): 99 times out of 100, the throw beating the runner gets the out regardless of the tag. That was #100. Must be fun to be a baseball player.

Hate the decision to go. 1st/2nd with Howard up is better than bases loaded with Werth.

John Perrotto (4:02:49 PM PT): I had a really interesting talk with Davey Lopes about base stealing at the World Series last year. He truly has it down to a science. Bad manager with no people skills but a great base running instructor.

Steven Goldman (4:04:03 PM PT): mark1623 (Phoenix): Why are you guys keep pushing the Twins are cheap theme? It's almost as bad as the idea that the Twins play fundamental baseball. The Twins' payroll going into the year was 65 million and they added payroll during the season. Not really out of line with other smaller markets.

I think I'm using cheap as a synonym for complacent, and you're right, I shouldn't. That they picked up the guys they did was an unusual development for them, but then the need for it was partially created by offseason decisions to live with mediocrity in their infield.

Joe Sheehan (4:08:46 PM PT): That's not actually a movie, right? That was an SNL commercial parody?

Or are we just at the point where Pitt, Clooney and Damon are trying to one-up each other doing weird movies while waiting for someone to write "Ocean's Fourteen" so they can all spend six weeks on Macao?

Kevin Goldstein (4:10:25 PM PT): fjm(anuel) (ny): This question is mostly for KG. Does what Oakland gave up for Holliday outweigh what they got from him? Because CarGo's emergence makes it seem pretty dicey.

Gonzalez was a very difficult guy to trade for both Arizona and Oakland, but at the same time, was was very frustrating. The tools were also there, but the effort and attitude were real concerns. If something happened where this is real and consistent, it's potentially a steal for the Rockies -- as his potential is truly in that special category, it's just that the D-Backs and A's didn't like his chances of reaching that potential.

Jay Jaffe (4:10:27 PM PT): Re: Lopes, It's not a coincidence that the 2007 and 2008 Phils have two of the top four EqSBR scores in the Retrosheet era: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/statistics/sortable/index.php?cid=512197

Steven Goldman (4:11:06 PM PT): I'm actually sort of looking forward to that one, not that I ever get to the theaters. The Pentagon really did investigate whether they could win the Cold War by wishful thinking. Damon's last looked interesting too -- fascinating true story about a guy who was informing to the government about an attempt to fix additive prices at the same time he was stealing millions from the company.

John Perrotto (4:13:58 PM PT): Hey winning by wishful thinking could be just the ticket for teams likes the Pirates and Royals.

Steven Goldman (4:14:50 PM PT): Isn't that what they've been trying for the last 20 years?

Jay Jaffe (4:15:21 PM PT): Joe, just one more point on the Koufax/Helton front: regardless of the number of great years you credit him with, Koufax's peak JAWS score is essentially equal to that of the average HOF pitcher (0.6 WARP below), whereas Helton's relative to the average 1B is much worse (12 WARP below). Throw in the postseason and you're talking a real apples/oranges comparison.

Steven Goldman (4:18:01 PM PT): So Jay, you're saying that Helton would have had to hit .420 for six years for the analogy to work?

Jay Jaffe (4:20:46 PM PT): Maybe .350 for that span while bringing home a couple of World Series MVP awards would do it.

Steven Goldman (4:21:07 PM PT): And how does Larry Walker figure?

Joe Sheehan (4:22:14 PM PT): Fair enough, Jay.

My point isn't so much to say that Helton is Koufax's equal as to point out that both benefitted from their contexts as much as any players in baseball history. Koufax is a legend; Helton is a marginal HoF candidate. The discussion of why is interesting.

Steven Goldman (4:25:28 PM PT): Perhaps because it doesn't work both ways. We're smart enough now to know that the Hafeys and Averills got pushed into the Hall because of inflated 20s and 30s stats, but that knowledge doesn't give Wes Ferrell a boost in. Similarly, it may punish Helton but doesn't diminish Koufax much.

Steven Goldman (4:26:38 PM PT): I was worried that the screws in Utley's repaired hip had just let go or something.

Kevin Goldstein (4:27:48 PM PT): I'm always surprised to see that Todd Helton has never pitched in a mop up game. I'm pretty sure he's still the career saves leader at Tennessee, and if he never swung a bit, he would have still been a late-first round guy as one of those college relievers who can make quickly type.

Steven Goldman (4:30:23 PM PT): BL (Bozeman): I may not be remembering right, but didn't Bonds carry that 'can't perform in the post-season' around for most of his career? He wasn't savaged by it because he didn't play in New York, granted, but I remember an awful lot of talk about it.

That's exactly right, BL. It came up pretty constantly in the 1990s. Then he disappeared from the postseason for most of a long stretch and so it subsided.

Steven Goldman (4:34:17 PM PT): As bad as Jimmy Rollins has been this series, he hasn't been as bad as Jason Kubel was against the Yankees. That really deserved the Gil Hodges '52 Postseason Goat Award.

Jay Jaffe (4:34:33 PM PT): Walker's about 11 WARP shy of the Hall average at peak and 24 WARP shy on the career. Not a very strong candidate at this juncture, at lest according to JAWS.

Kevin Goldstein (4:39:42 PM PT): Ryan (Denver): Where do you guys think Ubaldo Jimenez ranks among NL starting pitchers?

Joe Sheehan (4:40:08 PM PT): Tough draw for Kubel, who I love, but who is a platoon player. By my count, he had 14 plate appearances in the series: nine were against lefties, two were against Mo, and three were against Burnett.

That's a tough week. I can think of a lot of lefty batters who would be nonentities that way.

Steven Goldman (4:40:58 PM PT): Billy (Philly): You know whats awesome about this TBS telecast? They keep talking about 2007. And how the Rockies beat the Phillies in 2007, and how they know how to perform in these situations. And yet they haven't mentioned that the Phillies, you know, won the World Series last year. I know they have to root for a Game 5 for ratings purposes, but they could at least try to give equal time here

...I haven't counted, but roughly half the Rockies have turned over since then, right? Three starting position players, including Holliday, and the bulk of the pitching staff. And the manager. It's not all that relevant.

Kevin Goldstein (4:41:30 PM PT): Ryan (Denver): Where do you guys think Ubaldo Jimenez ranks among NL starting pitchers?

Maybe I'll answer this time . . . On pure STUFF ALONE he really does rank with anyone out there. More consistent command and some refinements with his off-speed pitches will have him firmly in the discussion on pure performance as well.

My biggest question is the arm holding up. The Rockies have done wonders with cleaning up his mechanics without taking away his velo or tilt, but it's still not exactly easy for him.

Joe Sheehan (4:41:35 PM PT): Ryan, I actually went through the names on that earlier this year during an e-mail exchange. I think I landed on that he'd be between #8 and #11 depending on what your timeframe is.

Kevin Goldstein (4:44:28 PM PT): I understand you might not want to suddenly shake things up in game #166, but Eric Young jr. at 2B makes Colorado a better team right now.

Steven Goldman (4:46:22 PM PT): Fair point about Kubel, Joe, who did have a very good year without noticeably improving against lefties. Still, I enjoy any chance to bring up Hodges' infamous 0-for-21 in '52.

Re Ubaldo, I was just wishing that Will was here to talk about that violent downward jerk on his arm about midway through his delivery. What purpose does that serve?

Joe Sheehan (4:49:46 PM PT): It's not about "character" or "clutch" or whatever, but it does help, in trying to win baseball games, if you get the occasional hit with a runner on second base.

Rockies are 1-for-11 with a sac fly (the hit was Fowler's bunt that didn't score a run) since yesterday's first inning with RISP. Doesn't make that bad people. Perhaps makes them unable to eat at Geno's tomorrow.

Kevin Goldstein (4:52:27 PM PT): How violent WAS Jimenez' delivery? In the minors he fractured his own right shoulder blade while throwing a pitch.

Steven Goldman (4:53:09 PM PT): Were any of you as disgusted as I was at seeing TBS run a productive outs leader board towards the end of last night's Yankees game? For me, that was the last strike on a series in which Chip Caray and Ron Darling often seemed to be making up "facts" as they went along.

...And there it goes. Hard to believe Werth was once a busted catching prospect.

Joe Sheehan (5:02:39 PM PT): Not a huge fan of that send. Rollins rushed his throw, though, and they get the run.

And hey, the 36th LDP in seven days.

Steven Goldman (5:03:34 PM PT): If you're the announcer, how can you call Tulowitzki being doubled off there "a costly mistake"? That's taking a pretty hard line on a guy failing to react to something that happened in about 1.5 second.

Joe Sheehan (5:05:53 PM PT): Disagree. Why is even breaking on that ball? Where is he going? To third on a ball hit to third?

Stteven Goldman (5:07:15 PM PT): Yeah, I withdraw that. It was clearer on the replay than when I saw it the first time.

...Meanwhile, my Chinese food delivery is overdue. I blame that.

Steven Goldman (5:13:22 PM PT): Shane Victorino: the rare two-time Rule 5 draftee.

Joe Sheehan (5:14:01 PM PT): Oh, excuses. I never make mist...

...wait a minute.

William Burke (5:14:13 PM PT): Tom (Fort Worth): Are the IBA's going to be held this year?

Yes, they are already up at http://www.baseballprospectus.com/iba

We've only promoted them in the newsletter thus far, but links on the home page are coming soon.

John Perrotto (5:14:29 PM PT): I hate to be critical of the TV people because I have a face made for radio but TBS is just the absolute worst. Four more years, too, before their contract with MLB runs out.

Joe Sheehan (5:15:18 PM PT): Oh, excuses. I never make mist...

...wait a minute.

Steven "Flash" Goldman (5:16:11 PM PT): bobbailey (Montreal): The Red Sox were swept. Any comments. Can't possibly be pure luck can it? Can you break down the Red Sox weaknesses that lead to this, please.

That this was not the best-hitting Red Sox edition notwithstanding, they just didn't hit in three games. I don't think you can read too much into that. That said, the lineup is OLD, and they have some decisions to make.

Steven "Bucky" Goldman (5:18:16 PM PT): John, I was amused that they didn't know enough last night to subscribe to the convention that you must not show the lunatic running around the field. That's one of the most hypocritical of baseball's rules. "But if we show that stuff, it will only encourage more attention-seekers." Guys, if you really felt strongly about people staying in their seats and not acting badly, you'd stop selling BEER.

Joe Sheehan (5:20:13 PM PT): Batting David Ortiz a couple of spots ahead of J.D. Drew, and treating him as a two-way player, was delusional. That wasn't the only mistake, but it didn't help.

It's a three-game losing streak at the wrong time. The Angels outplayed the Sox, flat beat them, same as the Dodgers did the Cardinals for the most part. It happens. The mistake is overreaction to three games.

Jay Jaffe (5:23:05 PM PT): Back from dinner, back to the questions...

Aaron W. (Kentucky): Jim Thome, Hall-of-Famer? Sounds good to me.

His candidacy does have its shortcomings in the traditional sense, with no MVP awards and a spotty post-season record. On the other hand, he's in much, much better shape than Helton according to JAWS, , above average on both career and peak. It probably helps that he's positioned to make a run at 600 homers, though at 564, he probably needs two years to get there. Barring any surprises from Selena Roberts, I think he'll get in.

Joe Sheehan (5:23:44 PM PT): Boston readers: on 98.5 FM right now.

Steven "Chick" Goldman (5:25:13 PM PT): "Raul angry, because it's a ball he would normally catch, if not for the lights." Fellah, you forget we watched him play in Seattle all those years. At best you can say, "it's a ball he would normally MAYBE catch, if not for the lights."

Selena Roberts (5:25:28 PM PT): "I first noticed his socks. Then the calves they covered. Then the legs. Jimmy was just manly, and sometimes...I couldn't think around him..."

Steven "Chick" Goldman (5:25:45 PM PT): "Raul angry, because it's a ball he would normally catch, if not for the lights." Fellah, you forget we watched him play in Seattle all those years. At best you can say, "it's a ball he would normally MAYBE catch, if not for the lights."

Steven "Orson" Goldman (5:29:15 PM PT): keef66 (spartanburg, SC): Steven, Have you read Forever Blue yet? I'm halfway through and pretty impressed. It's pro-O'Malley but fair-minded.

I haven't yet. It's on a long list. Due to a never-ending project, my reading for literally the last couple of years has been focused on one particular historical period, and that's not it. I hope to live long enough to catch up on all the books that have accumulated during that time.

Kevin Goldstein (5:30:29 PM PT): So who is worse at over-reacting to balls hit weakly in the air? Rockies fans or Cubs fans? Need a third team so I can make a Minutemen "Three Way Tie For Last" reference.

Joe Sheehan (5:36:49 PM PT): KG: Yankees. The Scooter Effect.

Steven "Frenchy" Goldman (5:37:33 PM PT): Ryan Howard v. lefties this year: .207/.298/.356. Yeesh.

Jay Jaffe (5:38:21 PM PT): ssimon (Pelham, NY): KG - do the Rockies have a Joba/Hughes issue with Franklin Morales? And we don't hear about it because it's not in NY?

Not quite, at least from where I sit. After a tantalizing debut in 2007, Morales had a horrible 2008, and just as he was making some positive strides he hurt his shoulder early in the year, so he spent a couple months in the minors before coming up and doing what he probably should have done last year: pitch relief. I can see your point in that Tracy sees his future as a closer, and maybe that's how it's going to be, but the reason there isn't as much hype surrounding him is because he hasn't shown nearly as much on the big stage, either in the rotation or relief.

Kevin may have something to add.

Kevin Goldstein (5:41:31 PM PT): John (Boston): Maybe this PitchTrax wasn't the best thing? It clearly highlights how bad the ball/strike calling has been this postseason.

Or has it -- I think it's just as much exposed Pitch trax as flawed sometimes. Look where it's identifying location, and then look at the pitch again, they often don't seem to match, especially on the horizontal plane, even taking the angle of the camera into account.

Kevin Goldstein (5:43:05 PM PT): Actually, Jay pretty much nails it, and if I was the Rockies and Morales told me he wanted to start, my response would pretty much be "Well good for you, now go warm up because we might need you in the 7th when our starter gets tired."

William Burke (5:43:43 PM PT): Cliff Lee just displayed the Unearned Run Prevented skill that was the basis of one of my favorite couple of articles on bp.com back in 2004...

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=2753
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=2846

Also there was a follow-up mailbag piece as well...

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=2804

Pitching against major league lineups is hard enough, the very best pitchers are able to overcome the additional burden of poor defense. Nice job Mr. Lee.

Steven "Babe" Goldman (5:45:07 PM PT): I just want to observe that Casey Stengel would have PH a lefty in this spot.

Steven "Moose" Goldman (5:45:44 PM PT): ...And Casey would have been right. Way to go, Pedro Feliz.

Kevin Goldstein (5:48:28 PM PT): I certainly would have let Feliz hit there. What his defense does for your peace of mind here outweighs the advantages of the PH here.

Joe Sheehan (5:49:31 PM PT): For the Rockies, isn't the goal now just to keep it close so that Manuel goes to Lidge?

Also, has there ever been a remake of a Beatles song that made you go, "Boy, I'm glad they did that?"

Steven Goldman (5:49:55 PM PT): I would feel worse about these commercials constantly abusing John Lennon's work, but it was Lennon's own drug-addled response to the breakup of the Beatles that created the opportunity for the Lennon-McCartney copyrights to be sold out from under them and ultimately wind up in Michael Jackson's hands. Brilliant, that. He aborted the negotiations to buy them in a fit of pique.

Steven Goldman (5:51:05 PM PT): Kevin, yeah, but if you're up 6-1, you can stop worrying about the defense.

Steven Goldman (5:56:52 PM PT): Isn't the runner entitled to the baseline there?

Joe Sheehan (5:56:57 PM PT): I have never, ever seen a baserunner do that. Wow.

Why is Ibanez still in the game, anyway?

Kevin Goldstein (5:57:15 PM PT): You can't guarantee runs there.

GhostOfTonyKubek (Haunting OYS): PitchTrax may not be accurate in terms of its portrayal of what's a ball and what's a strike, but is it not internally consistent, that is, always wrong )or not) in the same way? There was a pitch sequence yesterday in the Phils game where pitches 1-4 were all shown as being the same distance off the plate, and each successively slightly higher than the last. The ump's calls: ball, strike, ball, strike

Let me make it clear, I'm not excusing the umps at ALL, as they've been pretty bad in the post-season, I'm just saying I'm not sold on Pitch Trax as being a good way to judge their ability to call balls and strikes.

Kevin Goldstein (5:58:17 PM PT): has there ever been a remake of a Beatles song that made you go, "Boy, I'm glad they did that?"

The Breeders do a "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" that's better than the original.

Jay "Big Train" Jaffe (5:59:29 PM PT): fjm(anuel) (ny): Speaking of Minutemen... Is Jim Tracy "Lost" or just "Hittin' the Bong" for not playing Chris "The Big Stick" Iannetta, as there is "No One" in these "Situations at Hand" who hits lefties better than him on the Rockies?

Ah yes, love the Minutemen...

Iannetta had the highest OPS vs. lefties of any Rox hitter, and is at .265/.396/.534 for his career. Not only don't I sweep why he's not in the linuep tonight, I'm unable to come up with a rationale for why Tracy would play Torrealba ahead of him for an extended period of time. Even in a down year, he's a better hitter than Yorvit, and it's not like Torrealba threw out baserunners this year (14% to Iannetta's 26%).

Joe Sheehan (5:59:39 PM PT): Steven: I think the fielder has the right to field the ball, so had Fowler run into Utley prior to the Utley having possession, it would have been interference.

The runner does have title to the baseline if the fielder has possession, which is why the Albert Belle/Fernando Vina play was legal and, in my eyes anyway, good hard-nosed baseball.

Jay "Z" Jaffe (6:00:23 PM PT): Kevin, does the Grey Album mashup of "Helter Skelter and "99 Problems" count? Cuz I'll take that one.

Jay Jaffe (6:01:17 PM PT): Wilson Pickett's version of "Hey Jude" kicked serious ass, too.

Joe Sheehan (6:01:46 PM PT): Answering my own question: "To enable a double-switch."

Kevin Goldstein (6:02:13 PM PT): Even Raul Ibanez has to be happy about being out of the game after that catch by Francisco.

As for Fowler, let me know when he can jump over a car like Joey Gathright.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cySfw8f0beg

Steven Goldman (6:03:32 PM PT): An opposite-field hit for Jason Giambi seems even less likely than Fowler hurdling Utley.

William Burke (6:04:57 PM PT): Awesome dive by Francisco, but I might even be more impressed that Ryan Howard saved his throw. I don't watch much Phillie baseball and therefore don't know about Howard's defense, but I think there are defnitely MLB 1B that wouldn't get that far off the bag and play the short-hop save that well.

Joe Sheehan (6:05:04 PM PT): What do you know anyway, Jaffe?

William Burke (6:05:56 PM PT): Did Brad Lidge steal Ryan Madson's jersey?

Steven Goldman (6:06:57 PM PT): And I guess all the cats who asked why Torrealba is playing now know.

John Perrotto (6:07:08 PM PT): Yorvit Torreabla now becomes a living legend. UGH.

William Burke (6:07:41 PM PT): "Giambi from first" seems even less likely than the opposite-field hit.

Kevin Goldstein (6:07:47 PM PT): . . . and I was getting ready to make a Lidge/Madson Freaky Friday reference.

Steven Goldman (6:08:40 PM PT): Ryan (Denver): Yorvit Torrealba may be a poor baseball player, but he's on a one-man crusade to make me believe in clutch.

And Pat Borders was a World Series MVP. This stuff happens.

...And a couple of the Joe Cocker covers, "With a Little Help From My Friends," and "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window" are pretty good interpretations. I'm also partial to Elvis Costello's take on "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away."

Kevin Goldstein (6:09:05 PM PT): Jason Giambi's transformation from fat, overpaid, steroid-fueled washout to charmingly grey-haired, grizzle veteran presence over a manner of a few months just amazes me.

Steven Goldman (6:09:30 PM PT): Now imagine the shape of this game if Manuel had pinch-hit for Feliz and tried to press his advantage.

Joe Sheehan (6:12:00 PM PT): I'm with KG on this one, Steven. I'm not much for hitting for my defense with a lead, and Feliz is truly an excellent 3B. Honestly, there's a better case for hitting for Ruiz, which would have been imaginative and a +EV decision.

Moreover, we saw Betancourt versus Stairs 18 hours ago, so no guarantees there.

Joe Sheehan (6:12:53 PM PT): There is an excellent chance that everything I wrote in error today is about to apply here in the ninth.

Steven Goldman (6:13:37 PM PT): strupp (Madison): Steven, what album was that Costello cover on... not to segue from baseball too much

It's on the second CD of the expanded "Kojak Variety," an album of covers that is not among EC's best work, but is oddly improved by having more of it.

Jay "Chicken" Jaffe (6:18:09 PM PT): Nick (Portland): If I am the Rays I would try to trade for Chris Ianetta the second the Rockies are eliminated.

If I'm Cashman, or Epstein, or ... well, just about every GM who doesn't have Joe Mauer on a roster, I'd be trying to pry Iannetta loose from the Rockies. Let them have their moment of clutch, I want a guy who can be a long-term solution at the position.

John Perrotto (6:20:54 PM PT): Jim Tracy loves unproductive catchers. Ronny Paulino comes to mind.

William Burke (6:21:16 PM PT): Huston Street's OPS split RHB v LHB

.619 (129 PA) vs .492 (111 PA)

Considering that wicked change-up, this reverse split is NOT a surprise.

Steven Goldman (6:23:52 PM PT): Joe Torre loves non-hitting catchers too, which is surprising given what kind of player Torre was. One wonders if he believes he was hurting the Braves all those years.

Joe Sheehan (6:24:39 PM PT): I don't care how many saves the guy has: letting Huston Street, or any right-handed pitcher alive, face Ryan Howard with the season on the line is a mistake. Jim Tracy is making a huge mistake, and if it works, great, but it's a huge, massive mistake.

John Perrotto (6:25:47 PM PT): Jim Tracy has never made a mistake. If it goes wrong, it's the player's fault.

Steven Goldman (6:26:47 PM PT): I was just about to type the same thing, Joe -- Why is Joe Beimel on the roster if not for this moment?

William Burke (6:26:49 PM PT): More fun with Street's split...

Batters VORP against Street

RHB -1.52
LHB -3.60

Kevin Goldstein (6:27:28 PM PT): HUGE, MASSIVE MISTAKE indeed.

John Perrotto (6:27:43 PM PT): Joe Sheehan for first-guesser of the year!!!!!!

John Perrotto (6:28:31 PM PT): Don't need to watch the post-game, here's Tracy's response: "He was the right man for the situation, our closer. He just didn't get the job done."

Joe Sheehan (6:29:13 PM PT): Bil, that split is all BABIP and HR/FB. For his career, Street is 150 points of OPS, all walks and power, better against righties.

Tracy failed. Just a stupid, stupid choice. So very few decisions in baseball are black and white, and Tracy had one, and he blew it.

John Perrotto (6:31:00 PM PT): Here comes Joe Beimel. Just in time. LOL.

Steven Goldman (6:31:40 PM PT): As they went to commercial there, there was a very attractive young blonde surrounded by guys who look like me. If I weren't married, I'd move to Colorado.

Jay "A Few Minutes Behind in TiVoland" Jaffe (6:32:42 PM PT): WOW. I guess the fact that Beimel didn't have a scarlet C on his cape meant that Tracy couldn't make the move. Schmuck.

Steven Goldman (6:36:21 PM PT): Of course, now the Phillies have to close it out having pulled their best reliever for Miguel Cairo...

Joe Sheehan (6:37:53 PM PT): I'm just speechless.

How can you possibly believe in the closer myth to the tune of the difference between a backup catcher and Albert Pujols, which is basically the difference between Howard vs LHP and vs. RHP? The decision to let Street pitch there might be the single worst tactical decision you can make. I can't think of a bunt, a lineup call, a pitching change worth that much RE.

If this guy wins manager of the year, I'm quittin' show business.

Joe Sheehan (6:38:36 PM PT): Awesome. And immediately following, Manuel opens the ninth with a guy who's never closed BECAUSE THE MATCHUPS DICTATE IT.

Kevin Goldstein (6:38:39 PM PT): Papelbon, Nathan, Street in the post-season:

6.2 IP, 15 H, 6 BB, 4 K

That's pretty much the story of the post-season so far.

Steven Goldman (6:41:33 PM PT): Joe, you're right of course, but what they're going to look at is that they played .640 ball for Tracy, which is up there in Bob Lemon' 78 territory. The call to let Street pitch there is as bad as there is, but it doesn't negate that turnaround... Though one suspects it was coincidental to Tracy. It seems as if the biggest "change" Tracy made was that Tulowitzki started hitting like crazy.

Steven Goldman (6:42:16 PM PT): But not Mariano Rivera!

Jay "Platoon Advantage" Jaffe (6:42:42 PM PT): In privileging the matchups rather than the closer myth, Charlie Manuel might as well be mooning Tracy from the other dugout.

Kevin Goldstein (6:43:09 PM PT): Fowler was a star vs lhp: .321/.377/.482

Jay "Proven Closer" Jaffe (6:45:26 PM PT): Throw in Ryan Franlkin and it's 8.1 IP, 18 H, 8 BB, 5 K. Three baserunners and change per inning.

Steven Goldman (6:45:52 PM PT): And here comes Ron Davis out of the bullpen...

Joe Sheehan (6:45:56 PM PT): It's just a shame to see a team lose this way. There are so few absolutes, and one is that you can't let Ryan Howard face a righty if the run matters. It's not like he's an unknown quantity. It's not like we haven't been having this discussion for three years.

Maybe I just want to watch Carlos Gonzalez play some more.

Kevin Goldstein (6:46:02 PM PT): Personally, I'd go to Pedro here, but from the outside, none of us can get a feel for the psychology involved.

Joe Sheehan (6:49:43 PM PT): Sorry, Tulo, did you not want a hanging slider?

Kevin Goldstein (6:51:16 PM PT): So the best closer in the post-season has been Brad Lidge?

Steven Goldman (6:51:42 PM PT): So before we sign off, predictions for Phils-Dodgers? I think Dodgers, but it might take awhile.

Jay Jaffe (6:51:43 PM PT): We're through the looking glass.

Joe Sheehan (6:52:30 PM PT): Big moment for the Dodgers. Lidge: 25 pitches, 12 strikes, two swing-and-misses, scarlet C returned. All we really learned is that Troy Tulowitzki is kind of helpless against him. Dodgers in good shape to benefit.

Jay Jaffe (6:53:11 PM PT): Knee-jerk prediction says the Dodgers because of the lefty pitching and the fact that their lineup handles lefties pretty well.

John Perrotto (6:54:34 PM PT): Dodgers. Deeper and better bullpen.

Joe Sheehan (6:54:38 PM PT): Dodgers in six. If I'm wrong, it's because the number is high.

Steven Goldman (6:57:25 PM PT): I want to thank all the readers who stayed with us through this long evening. Hope you enjoyed it. We'll be back again in the next round.


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