Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Swallow your pride and admit Floyd isn't ready for the Bigs...

As a comparison, Floyd has an ERA of 8.50. Franklin an ERA of 3.18.

Even if Franklin pitches the rest of the season as poorly as last year (ERA of 5.10) rather than his career ERA (4.32), that's such an obvious difference in what Floyd's giving us right now as to really close the argument.

Floyd = not ready for prime time.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Causes for concern, causes for optimism

Considering the Phillies' season to date, I consider the following as causes for concern:

1) We've been outscored by 24 runs so far this year, second worst only to the Pirates in the NL. If that continues, there is no way we finish with a winning record.

2) OBP, which was the great strength of 2005, has crashed in 2006 to a below league average .326.

3) The team ERA of 5.42 is almost a full run over the league average.

Causes for optimism:

1) The majority of the drop in offensive production can be traced to an absurdly low BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) of .274 (Second worst in the NL). If you are of the school that such things even out over the course of the year, the Phillies will certainly see an increase in BA and OBP over the remainder of the season.

2) Another factor in the low run production is a similarly absurdly low BARISP (Batting Average with Runners In Scoring Position) of .203! This is not only the worst in the league, but 60 points below the average and 30 points below the next lowest team!!! If you are of the school that BARISP will even out over the season, well, the production can't help but improve. It certainly can't be much worse.

3) Although the pitching has been poor so far this year, FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is a better than league average of 4.29. The difference between the Phils' ERA and FIP is over 1.1 runs per game (worst in the league, again!). Whether you believe in FIP or not as an exact measure of pitching and fielding, this is a huge indication that the problems of the pitching staff can be laid more at the feet of the defense than the pitchers. The Phils also have the worst DER (Defense Efficiency Ratio) in the league by far. If you are of the opinion that the Phils are actually a superior defensive team (as was the general consensus before the season started) and that this is a result of a fluky small sample size, then the Phils ERA should greatly improve over the remainder of the season.

Looking behind the numbers, it seems obvious that the Phils' shaky start is largely the result of bad luck (BABIP and BARISP) and poor defense. We should be extremely happy to be only 2 games below .500 at this time, considering how relatively poorly the team has played in these areas. Although the debate on the ability to get hits with runners in scoring positions, getting hits on balls in play, and defense vs. pitching hasn't been resolved, such extremely large discrepancies the Phils are currently showing simply are not going to continue all season long.

Regression even to league averages in these three areas should see a great increase in offense and a great improvement in the team's ERA. The season has not been lost in April, fortunately. Improvement in improvable areas over the summer should lead to the Phils rising to challenge the Mets over the entire season for the NL East.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Depressed about the season? Here's somthing to think about.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

News Flash! Jimmy Rollins Extends....

Non-Sequential-Game Hit Streak!

An oldie but a goodie in honor of the just past tax day...

How Taxes Work . . . This is a VERY simple way to understand the tax laws. Read on -- it does make you think!!

Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men — the poorest — would pay nothing; the fifth would pay $1, the sixth would pay $3, the seventh $7, the eighth $12, the ninth $18, and the tenth man — the richest — would pay $59. That's what they decided to do.

The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement — until one day, the owner threw them a curve (in tax language a tax cut). "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20." So now dinner for the ten only cost $80.00.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free.

But what about the other six — the paying customers? How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?" The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, Then the fifth man and the sixth man would end up being PAID to eat their meal.

So the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay. And so the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth pitched in $2, the seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of his earlier $59.

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. "I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man who pointed to the tenth. "But he got $7!" "Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man, "I only saved a dollar, too . . . It's unfair that he got seven times more than me!". "That's true!" shouted the seventh man, "why should he get $7 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!" "Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!" The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night he didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered, a little late what was very important. They were FIFTY-TWO DOLLARS short of paying the bill! Imagine that!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college instructors, is how the tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore. Where would that leave the rest? Unfortunately, most taxing authorities anywhere cannot seem to grasp this rather straightforward logic!

T. Davies Professor of Accounting & Chair,
Division of Accounting and Business Law
The University of South Dakota
School of Business

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Season's grades so far

Top Scores:

Abreu - the divisive slugger has an OPS of over 1.000.

Myers - May be developing into the ace we all hoped for.

Burrell - Cannot be asked to do more than he has so far.

Madson - With the staff's lowest ERA, turning into the innings-eating, groundball-producing machine he's hinted at in the bullpen over the past 2 years. Plus he can hit!

Gordon - Billy who?

Rollins - If JRoll keeps up his .380 OBA, he'll set the Philly mark for runs in a season.

Pretty Darn Good:

Rowand - poor defense to date keeps him out of the top spot.

Lieberthal - Probably won't continue at this level, but so far, so good.

Cormier - Will Frenchie revert to his 2005 ways?

Rhodes - What a luxury it will be if we have 2 good lefties in the pen.

Fair to Middlin':

Howard - He's not going to be an all-star by legging out infield singles.

Utley - Despite a good slugging percentage, an OBA of .280 isn't going to cut it.

Lidle - A solid #3 starter.

Floyd - A promising start in Atlanta keeps him out of the doghouse.

Back of the Class:

The entire third base position - Uggh. Will the pitchers outhit the third basemen this year?

Lieber - Did he really start game 1? He's been a train wreck so far this season.

The bench - Have they even got one hit so far?

Santana and Geary - We'll need one of these two to step up with at least adequate right handed help. Flash can't do it all by himself.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Why winning 1-0 in Coors Field is a big deal.

and Myers should get a lot of attention for it:

Since Coors Field opened in 1995, there have been exactly 2 1-0 games pitched there, including Sunday.

In that same period of time, there have been 25 No Hitters, including 3 perfect games.

Which is the bigger accomplishment?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Poll: Thome and Padilla?

Quick poll: How do you feel about two ex-Phillies, Jim Thome and Padilla, playing as well as they have?

1) Great to see ex-Phils do well, I root for them.
2) Don't care either way.
3) Why are we paying Thome $11 million to hit so many HRs for another team?
4) How in the name of everything on earth can Padilla have as many wins as the Phils entire team (and twice as many as the Phillies starting rotation)??? The confusion leads me to question the very fabric of the space-time continuum.
5) Gillick should be fired. Bring back Ed Wade.
6) Other?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A quick post...

15 hour days leave little time for blogging :-) Hopefully after the 15th, I'll be a little more regular.

While Tom mentioned that Charlie should go, and I tend to agree with him, I doubt that a new manager will make a lot of difference. I don't mean that in a pessimistic way, but the Phils simply are not as bad as they've looked. Remember last year when the Yankees were 11-22? Also, the last time the Phils started out 0-4 they rolled out to the NL East.

So while there are a few areas of concern (starting pitching, lack of timely hitting), there are some areas to be cheered, too (Madson looks to be for real, so too Howard, etc.) It's a long season, and whether Charlie is replaced or not the Phils will get back on track and be in the thick of things before too long.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Very timely advice from Baseball Prospectus...

Excerpt:

...everyone, calm the hell down. We’ve watched about 4% of the season, and if the events of the last week had happened in the middle of June, no one would be wasting electrons on the greatness of the Brewers and Tigers just because they’d put together five-game winning streaks against weak competition. We’d have perspective, and in the first week of the season, no matter how many times we go through this exercise, perspective is perpetually lost.


Wise words. Let us heed them. Read the whole thing (subscription req'd).

((By the way, the reason I don't post the entire article is because I don't believe in stealing from other writers. If they want to charge for their content, well, that's all right with me. I don't feel upset in quoting them, as that might send some business their way. But I won't just paste an entire article. Nobody's been asking, but just in case you're wondering.))

Friday, April 07, 2006

Thoughts for the day:

Starting the season 0-3 is bad.

Starting the season against what may be the best team in the NL is difficult.

Starting the season 0-3 against what may be the best team in the NL is not ideal, but not the end of the world.

The remaining 159 games will determine the season more than the past 3 did.

If ever there was a "must win" game four games into the season, it's tonight.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Well, one down.

That's not exactly how we drew it up.

The good:
King Kong blasted a no doubter today, showing that his spring was no fluke.

JRoll extended his hitting streak, lacing a double in the eighth on a 3-0 count. He also hit the ball hard each time up.

We touched up the reigning Cy Young winner for nine hits and four runs.

Rowand looked good at the plate, including a long AB against Carpenter which lasted around 10 pitches and ended with a double. That's the kind of AB we need.

The Bad:
Lieber fell apart in the fourth.

The Bullpen didn't help, either. Fultz indicated that last year was, indeed, a fluky year, giving up 4 hits (including a HR) and 3 Runs (1 earned) in only 2 innings.

The Ugly:
The Wall claimed it's first victim, and it was Phillie Utley. I got so sick last year every time I heard "The Phils can't win with this field" when the Phils had a much better record at home than away. It wasn't the fields' fault we came up short. And now the changes have hurt the Phils. Wonder if the talking heads will mention this?

JRoll and Utley failed to turn a DP in the fourth, and only got the lead runner. Then the bleeding started, ending in massive shock and the code was called that half-inning.

Rowand dove for a ball in the fourth, missed, and it became a triple. I know it was just one game, but that's not how it was supposed to go, either. Shaky defense hurt the Phils a lot more than the scoreboard indicated.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

I enjoyed this article on glove technology

and it's development. Excerpt:

One of the most curious aspects of the evolution of baseball gloves is how slo-o-o-wly they developed. This is largely because of what I call vestigial technology. A lot of time was wasted in the conquest of the air by men trying to make their machines look like birds. It took automakers a while to realize that the motor car was not a wagon or a carriage but a new and unique form of ground transportation. By the same token, it was not until the late 1950s and early 1960s that baseball glove makers finally realized that what they were making was not a glove but a special instrument for catching or trapping a very fast-moving small sphere.