The Phillies crafted one of their sharpest wins of the season, and did it with offensive stars Bobby Abreu and Ryan Howard sitting on the bench.
If the time on the bench gave Howard and Abreu time to reflect that great offense does not cancel out poor defense, the Phillies earned three wins in one night, not one.
But this isn’t about sitting players. Kind of a useless considering the Phils crafted their best win in weeks, unless you’re Bill Conlin, who got the idea for today’s column when lineups were announced and decided to run with it no matter the outcome.
No. Today’s article is about Beerleaguer doing a 180 about the statistic known as errors.
Last year, you would have read on this space that errors were a poor measure of true defense, and figures such as range factor, etc, revealed more about a player’s skill with the glove. Today, Beerleaguer would like to eradicate the Earth Prime Beerleaguer of 2005 who made those statements.
The problem with that thinking, illustrated by the Phillies this season, is if one cog breaks, the machine stops running, for instance, the one in Brett Myers’ head.
Quoting 100 percent speculation for an anonymous poster below, "Abreu screwed one of Myers starts recently with his lousy play out there and I heard a rumor on the radio that possibly the two had some words about it after the game."
I’ll bet it’s true. Why wouldn’t it be true? Is Myers such a pacifist to let something like that slide, considering he didn't last three innings last start? And how many times has Abreu screwed Myers or one of his buddies in the rotation? Lots. Too many.
So maybe a "defense-minded" lineup wasn’t such a bad idea last night, even if it was primarily to rest left-handed bats against Big Unit. But as a pitcher, namely one with a block for a head, I'd feel pretty confident about the right side of last night’s defense, and it certainly looked like Myers was trusting his stuff. Myers scorched a season-high 11 strikeouts past the Yankees of all teams, using his breaking ball to miss bats and break knees.
In support, there were no errors ... check that ... no game-destroying errors. There were also no errors that were ruled hits. The Phillies probably lead the league in that department. The game featured spectacular defense by Abraham Nunez, Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins.
For now, the Phillies aren't the world’s worst defenders. They’re only tied for fourth in the NL with 51 errors. Ryan Howard owns 10 of them himself, most among all first basemen and on pace to commit 25.
I have serious concerns with Howard's defense and on-the-fly thinking. This is why it's in your best interest to punch a hole in your All-Star ballot for some other first baseman.
One comment on another site illustrates the situation this way: "Howard's defense is threatening to overwhelm his offensive assets." Another take overheard on radio said Howard was in danger of falling to the dark side.
The argument here is that errors should be avoided whenever possible. They lead to big innings and short outings by our starting pitchers. If it takes more lineups like last night to break the pattern, go for it. This is their second win in a row with two or more regulars sitting. They have snapped two losing streaks this way, if memory serves.
To keep the ball rolling tonight, Abraham Nunez and his .167 average should start at third against one of the best pitchers in baseball. This will be his fourth-consecutive start, and they should do it for sake of defense. David Bell has played a brutal homestand and continues to play tight at home.
Last night’s at-bat against Kyle Farnsworth would be enough to put him in my doghouse. Bell’s at bat serves as a reminder of what’s missing, even here on this site: Calling out players instead of the manager and GM. Should Bell have been pulled for a pinch hitter? Perhaps for Abreu, who would have done the best job imitating a statue, which is all Bell should have done against Farnsworth, who had just walked a batter and hit Jimmy Rollins in the head. Instead, he swung at all three pitches. What pitch was Abreu, Howard or Dellucci going to hit, the one in the dirt that got through Posada?
It’s time for players to be held accountable, too, and there’s no bigger crime happening than in the field. The players, the manager and GM all agree on that one.