Friday, March 31, 2006

The things you learn...

I was not aware of this, but apparently I am partners, presumably with gr. I also apparently am living in Arlington, VA.

Furthermore, a comment I had made referring to Rob's erroneous understand of baseball history has been deleted.

Not that it's a big deal, but my deleted post directed Rob's attention to something he claimed was a fact, but wasn't. Rather than answer my criticism, he has chosen to ignore it, deleting any reference to my disputing his understanding of history. Well, that's all right. It's his blog, after all. Maybe I was too hard on him in the manner in which I called him out?

The last thing I have to say on the matter is this: Any observations made by someone who:

1) does not bother to check to see if the things he says are actually true,

2) assumes knowledge that he cannot possibly have,

3) attempts to poison the well by stating "Sabermetrics precision and attention to detail may not be your calling," rather than actually address any points I make or attempt to correct any errors I illustrate (I remind you that I am a CPA, and passingly familiar with attention to detail), and

4) deletes comments which challenge his understanding of history,

well, as I tried to explain to Rob, such a person is undermining his own credibility, and his observations cannot be taken seriously.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

....and there was much rejoicing.


"yeeeeaaaa!!!"

The Phoggosphere is very very happy today. I don't believe I have seen this much excitement by Phillies bloggers since... well, I guess the realization that Ryan Howard was for real was the last time.

Floyd, Madson are both in the rotation!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Keys to the season: Ryan Madson


Continuing with my keys to the season series, let us consider one Ryan Madson.

Madson has been cursed over the past two years with being an effective reliever, thus limiting his overall effectiveness. Although I have been reading arguments about how much the bullpen needs him, here's the final word on the matter: Starters are more valuable than relievers. Madson has pitched about 75 or so innings a year for the past 2 years, and should easily double that in 2006. More high quality innings means a lower overall team ERA. Unless the bullpen totally implodes, Madson will be best served there.

But it goes beyond that. The very best bullpen guys have one big out pitch. Think Mariano Rivera with his cut fastball he throws over and over. Rivera doesn't have a great #2 pitch, but he doesn't need one. Hitters only see him once a game, and generally not more than a few times a year. They can't adjust to that movement and speed with so few repetitions. If Rivera was a starter, he would only be average, because starters need 3 or 4 good pitches to be effective.

Madson does not have on overwhelming great pitch. His best pitch is probably his changeup, which isn't a pitch you can throw over and over and be effective. Instead, Madson has several high quality pitches, which build on each other. His sinking fastball has the same arm motion as his changeup. Thus, he can be a very deceptive pitcher.

Furthermore, he's a groundball pitcher. Can you think of any ballpark where it's more important to be a groundball pitcher? He also has a fairly good strikeout rate. Although both characteristics by themselves are good, combined they have a chance to become very very special. Do you understand how high Madson's potential is?

One more thought: the past two years languishing in the bullpen might prove to be a blessing for our young pitcher. Consider another young star who pitched a few too many innings in his early years. Or this guy. Maybe starting promising young pitchers in the bullpen might end up being a new trend?

Monday, March 27, 2006

NCAA Bracket ruined? You're in good company

Friday's Wall Street Journal explains the odds of correctly choosing all 63 games, summarized in this post. Excerpt:

Put it this way, it ain't gonna happen. There's even a company that provides insurance to companies that sponsor events for picking all 63 games correctly. Talk about a safe business! Fifty contests and zero winners. Papa John's contest had 90,000 entrants and no one got past the first round.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Baseball America article on Phillies' Minors...

You may be interested in. Excerpt:
The Phillies might not have the deepest system around, but they are deepest where most organizations fall short--lefthanded pitching.
A lot of that has to go with netting lefthanders Gio Gonzalez and Daniel Haigwood from the White Sox in the Jim Thome deal over the winter, and an equal amount falls on the shoulders of a healthy Cole Hamels--but the Phils have reasons to be
excited about their lefthanded depth.

Read all about it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Well, this is encouraging, Phils win the Division in simulation!!!


According to this, the Phillies win the Division about 1/2 the time, and make the playoffs 60% of the time. This guy took three different simulations of the 2006 season and played the season out.

A few facts I found to be particularly interesting: Although the Phils drop a few runs from their actual scored in '06, they are still projected to pace the NL, along with Colorado. Also, they are projected to give up a scant 710 runs, which would be third in the NL behind St. Louis and LA.

I guess our pitching staff might be all right after all.

Key to the Season: Leo Mazzone

Continuing with my keys to the season series, let us turn to a man who doesn't even play for the Phillies. In fact, he's not even a player, but rather a coach: Leo Mazzone.

As most who follow the Braves and baseball in general know, Mazzone is the most highly regarded pitching coach in baseball. As most statheads know, J.C. Bradbury did a study measuring "The Mazzone Effect." If the study is accurate (and I've never seen any real questioning of it's accuracy), Mazzone alone accounts for 100 runs a year.

If Mazzone had not coached for the Braves in '05, they would have allowed 100 runs more during the season, which translates into 10 wins. They would have finished with 80 wins. If even one of those wins had been against the Phils, then we would have finished with 89 wins. If the Mazzone Effect is real, he was the one most responsible for keeping us out of the playoffs last year.

Mazzone has now moved to Baltimore. I cannot think of any single change by the Braves more devastating to their chances of continuing their incredible divisional championships run. Given the unbalanced schedule, we should pick up a game or two against the Braves just because of his departure. They should also fall a little bit, hopefully eliminating them from serious contention this year.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Here's what BP says about our young-uns....

in this article (subscription req'd).

Excerpt:

2006 Rookies: Really none to speak of. Two-time Rule 5 pick Shane Victorino was the International League MVP and has the inside track to earn the fourth outfielder’s job, where he should be a valuable bench player. If Hamels can stay healthy, he could be a factor in the second-half of the season. If BP would let me use a font size of 200 for the “If” in front of Hamels’ name in the previous sentence, I would.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Deal Or No Deal?

In honor of the moronic yet oddly addictive NBC hit, "Deal or No Deal" to the following propositions for 2006 (i.e. would you take these proposed season stats now, or take your chances with the actual season's results?):

1)Phillies total wins: 88 - Deal Or No Deal?

2)Ryan Howard's total HRs - 40 - DOND?

3)Jimmy Rollins total runs - 110 - DOND?

4)Flash Gordan's saves - 25 - DOND?

5)Brett Myers' ERA 3.75 - DOND?

6)Ryan Madson's win total 13 - DOND?

7)Chase Utley's slugging % - .525 - DOND?

8)Bobby Abreu's OBP - .410 - DOND?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Abreu to be traded???

Mike Berquist and "A Citizen's Blog" returns (welcome back!) with a fleeting mention about Abreu "certainly" going to be traded.

Well, Bobby's one of my favorite players, but no one is above being traded. So I'm looking forward to Mike's thinking about this.

My thoughts:

1) Abreu is the best we have at getting on base, and is one of the best in the league at that.

2) Abreu is also one of the best we have in slugging.

3) Abreu is an above average baserunner, with an excellent successful percentage.

4) Abreu has a gun in right field, which helps make up for his below average fielding.

5) Although not a clubhouse leader, Abreu does not detract in any meaningful way from the club, such as calling his manager out, demanding prima-Donna treatment, dissing the media, etc.

6) Abreu does not have the "name buzz" kind of recognition that might generate a monster trade. In fact I believe he's a little undervalued in the average fans' eyes (certainly in the Phillies' fans eyes), and that would probably hurt his trade value.

7) It's unlikely that the Phillies would trade for another outfielder, which would be akin to shuffling deck chairs. So the only other two reasons to trade Abreu would be

a) for prospects, or
b) for a top flight pitcher

any other trade would be pointless.

a) So, it by the trading deadline, the Phils are out of the playoffs (highly unlikely, I think, but possible), I could certainly see trading Abreu for some big time prospects to a contending team.

b) however if the Phils have serious problems with their pitching, I could see them trading for a top ace to stabilize the rotation if they're still close in the division.

8) All of the above aside, Abreu is almost certainly the most tradeable of the Phils' players, and isn't especially popular in Philadelphia, so from that perspective, a trade could happen.

Just my 2 cents worth.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Shout out to Oisin!



Congrats on your nuptials.

I always knew it was you, man.

Rethinking the 2005 campaign...

I think the healing time has been sufficient to look back at the 2005 season in a rational manner, avoiding the defeatism which sometimes accompanies talking about the Phils in general.

The very best of 2005:

1) the 12-1 homestand. The best blog entry about this belonged to Jason Weitzel:

There's no formula to predict that a team that totally stunk for a month and a
half would drop a 12-win megaton bomb squarely on the head of Howard Eskin.
Historically, it was their best home stay in 123 years, before the invention of
baseball

I think everyone remembers how exciting a time that was. Anything seemed possible. It all came together that stretch, pitching, hitting, fielding, everything that makes baseball great.

2) The emergence of Ryan Howard as a true power player. Today, many in the bloggosphere (including yours truly) are excited about the upper potential that Howard may show this year. Let's remember that as late as last July, the Phils were considering shipping Howard for a middling starting pitcher. Could you imagine such a trade today? What happens if Howard really takes off like he might? Keeping Howard is certainly the best move Ed Wade made.

Certainly after Thome went down, Howard stepped up, tearing away the ROTY trophy from Jeff Francoeur, the mid season shoo-in for the award. And he deserved it, too!

3) JRoll's hitting streak. While those who had stopped paying attention didn't notice, and those who were paying attention were more interested in the pennant chase, Jimmy Rollins put together a nifty 36 game hitting streak. More important to the statheads, he got on base at a .442 clip. In short, for a magical month and a half, Jimmy was the leadoff hitter we always wanted him to be, providing the spark the offense lacked for most of the season. It was exciting to see him come up to plate. The fact that it was all in the middle of a pennant chase made it even more fun.

4) Finishing one game out of the playoffs, and two games out of first place. The Phillies had by most measures a very successful season on the field.

The very worst of 2005

1) Finishing one game out of the playoffs, and two games out of first place. When you're that close, recriminations last all off season long. What if we had beaten Houston just ONE STINKING TIME????? What if we hadn't blown that game by giving up one in the eighth and one in the ninth in Philly on July 3rd? What if? What if? What if?

2) Trading away Placido Polanco for Ugueth Urbina. If we can look at the Howard non-trade as a good move, we can look at this one trade as probably the single biggest contributor of the Phillies falling short in 2005. Although his ERA for 2005 ended up being 3.62, Oogy blew a 6 saves for the Phils, including the game mentioned on July 3rd. Take away those 6 blown saves and replace them with 3 and the Phils win the NL East.

The other half of the trade sent the eventual ML batting champ away, when he was perfectly capable of playing third. After the trade, Polanco accumulated an additional 30 VORP for Detroit. Bell contributed a negative 3 VORP. Urbina contributed 7.3 VORP.

Do the math. That trade cost the Phillies 26.7 VORP after it was made, or approximately 2 1/2 wins over the remainder of the season.

3) Losing Thome and Wolf to the DL. - Again, one wonders if Thome had been healthy (and productive), if Wolf, who had his best game just before he went down, had been healthy, what if? what if? what if?

___________________________________________________________

It's so very hard to come so close only to fall short. I'll always remember the 2005 season. The coulda' woulda' shoulda' season. The What If? season.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Any Philly-bloggers interested in an NL-Fantasy league this year?

If so, I'll be willing to be the commish. But I don't have to be if someone else wants it. Just post below and let me know if you're interested. Also, if you have a favorite venue for fantasy baseball, let me know. I have used the Yahoo thing before, but I'm not very happy with that one.