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Monday, October 09, 2006

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I kind of liked this Dodgers team, but now I just can't stand them. they knocked us out of the postseason for this pathetic display? at least the Padres didn't embarrass themselves.

I think being a lifelong Phillies fan makes us pull for the underdog teams. I am so tired of "frontrunner" fans. I even gave one of my neighbors a hard time for being a Yankees fan. My wife told me I shouldn't have been so outspoken. I do not want the Mets to win this WS. I agree with Jason that the Mets do have a tough lineup. I also think their youn pitcher, Maine, is underrated and will surprise people.

yes, but they're third best starter is Steve " i lull batters asleep" Trachsel.

All the talk about how the NL is a glorified minor league has me pulling for STL or NYM (as much as it pains me). The Yanks being out obviously helps. The NL needs to do something to stop the rolling inferiority snowball that seems to be getting worse every year. Sooner or later MLB will have to do something about how the DH is detracting from the amount of available NL talent.

On that note, who off of the Mets or Cards bench will DH in the AL home games? Irregardless, it is a sizable disadvantage over someone like Frank Thomas (who, in the absence of a DH would have retired 5 years ago).

Mets - Franco? Milledge (if on the PO roster)?
Cards - Speizio? Duncan (w/Taguchi in the OF)?

The state of the Mets & Cards starting pitching (and Cards bullpen) makes the Phillies flop even more pathetic.
And to top it off, the Yankees formidable line-up is now dusting off their golf clubs.

So after spending two weeks wishing for Dodger and Padre losses, once it no longer mattered they combined to lose six of seven.

I think we have to call the Tigers win an upset considering almost every media figure picked the Yankees (see especially: ESPN). I didn't really make any predictions or break down the series down but I think if I did, I would have picked the Yankees.

On the Twins...I don't get the difference between a 5 and 7 game set...if they loose the first 3 of a 7 game series, they are going to loose anyway unless they go all Red Soxian.

In the same vein, I'm not sure how SD suffered...the HAD Peavy against Weaver in game one...and lost! The reporter for SD should also recognize that the ballpark is going to mean less offense, pure and simple, and any bat they sign will almost assuredly suffer a decline. It's not so much that the Pads have too many good arms and not enough bats, it's that their park is going to make it look like they are pitching-heavy.

Wow, that's a lot but it's nice to talk baseball again...both series look to be a lot of fun.

Mets in Six.
Oakland in Six.

Mets in Five (sadly).
Detroit in Seven (i guess since being a Phillies fan i rather dislike most NL teams, but the only AL teams i really dislike are the Yankees, Rangers and Indians, and to a lesser extent the Red Sox).

Go Tigers

I picked the A's to win it all, looks like I'm still in the running for Oracle status...sweet!

Charlie Manuel is still the Phillies manager.

Just in case you missed it.

Jason, I really like the way you put that post together.

I could never say I want the Mets to win, but at the same time it would be downright embarrassing having an 83-79 team like St. Louis represent the NL in the World Series. I'm just so sick of the damn Cardinals, they're like the new Braves - their presence in the playoffs is becoming perennial and every bit as boring.

I really like both Detroit and Oakland, and will enjoy their series as much as I will suffer through the NLCS. If either of those teams win, you have to feel good about it.

Seth said it right when he said "i guess since being a Phillies fan i rather dislike most NL teams, but the only AL teams i really dislike are the Yankees..." We can all fill in the teams we like, dislike in the AL, but generally, we hate all the NL teams. I particularly hate all the teams in the NL east and west. There are NL central teams I could pull for like the Cubs, Bucs, Brew Crew, even Houston. I guess in this Series I'm a fair weather Tiger fan.

It looks like Torre is staying in NY, which means we can still fire Manual and hire Piniella.

i'd say oakland, but detroit seems to have "it" this year. and i will never, ever allow myself to think the mets with that pitching will survive.

ken mandel in the phillies mailbag used some of my research this week:

"Perhaps the best argument for Howard's phenomenal season comes from reader Tim Mello, who did some research on baseball-reference.com. He found that Howard's 2006 performance would have won the Triple Crown in three different years, once in the NL (1988) and twice in AL (1968 and 1945).

In 1988, Tony Gwynn (Padres) hit .313, Darryl Strawberry (Mets) slugged 39 homers and Will Clark (Giants) drove in 109 runs. In 1968 -- the famous "Year of the Pitcher" -- Boston's Carl Yastrzemski hit .301, Frank Howard (Senators) hit 44 homers and Ken Harrelson (Red Sox) drove in 109 runs. Finally, in 1945, Snuffy Stirnweiss (Yankees) hit .309, Vern Stephens (Browns) belted 24 homers and Nick Etten (Yankees) drove in 111."

his mailbag article is on phillies.com - i'm in the first question! AWESOME!

Good article in my local area today regarding how the Phillies might be different if they hired Jim Leyland instead of Charlie Manuel. Placido Palanco was asked since he was managed by both...

http://www.timesleader.com/mld/timesleader/sports/baseball/il/red_barons/15720738.htm

Nice article, Brad. It's worth posting, so here it is:

Is Leyland manager of this year?
Debate his impact on Tigers but not results
By PAUL HAGEN
hagenp@phillynews.com

Associated Press
Tigers manager Jim Leyland oversees practice in Oakland yesterday.OAKLAND - Among the knotty conundrums of baseball, one of the more enduring posers is this: How much does the manager matter, anyway?

Much-traveled veteran reliever Todd Jones wondered. Jones has played with eight big-league teams, including a brief stint with the Phillies in 2004. He returned for his second stint with the Tigers this season, forced by one of the Marlins' periodic payroll purges to find a new job after saving 40 games for the Fish the previous year.

"I've played for 13 or 14 different managers in the big leagues and I never thought the manager could make the difference in five or 10 games," he said yesterday afternoon as the Tigers prepared for their final workout before the American League Championship Series, which opens tonight against the Athletics at the Coliseum.

"Until Jim Leyland."

This is a view that will find rabid support back in Philadelphia, where a certain segment of the sporting public still hasn't forgiven the Phillies for failing to hire Leyland after Larry Bowa was fired two offseasons ago.

That debate will have to continue. The Tigers added Kenny Rogers to their rotation before this season. The Phillies added Ryan Franklin... then moved him to the bullpen in spring training, then released him at midseason.

The Tigers already had young, talented pitchers in Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman and Nate Robertson. The Phillies opened the season with two starters (Gavin Floyd, Cory Lidle) who were gone by August.

Besides, when the Tigers talk about Leyland, they don't praise him for knowing when to call pitchouts or flash the hit-and-run sign. They talk about how he instilled an upbeat and confident attitude in the clubhouse... the very same attributes for which Charlie Manuel earns high marks.

This much, however, is beyond dispute:

In 2005, under Alan Trammell, the Tigers went 71-91 and finished fourth in the AL Central.

In 2006, under Leyland, they went 95-67, survived a second-half slump to win the wild card and upset the mighty Yankees in their division series to advance to the ALCS.

Third baseman Brandon Inge spent the majority of the 2003 season in the big leagues with a Tigers team that lost 119 games. That was the same season that Bonderman went through the crucible of a 19-loss season, helping forge the toughness that allowed him to succeed this year.

"I thought back in spring training that we were a good team talentwise," Inge said. "We had some good young guys and brought in some veterans who could give them some knowledge. Throw Jim Leyland in the mix and you see what happened."

So, he was asked, did Leyland make the difference? Or was he the right guy stepping into the right situation at the right time?

"You have to have the talent," he said. "We had a lot of talent last year, but we weren't healthy. This year we kept our lineup healthy and we added Kenny Rogers and the whole package came together under Leyland."

Leyland, typically, dodged the question of how much he had to do with Detroit's turnaround. "I'm like every other manager," he said. "This is my 15th year managing in the big leagues and when I've had good players I've done pretty good. And when I haven't had good players, I haven't been worth a [bleep]."

Second baseman Placido Polanco has the unique perspective of having played for the Phillies under Manuel through spring training of 2005 until he was traded to the Tigers on June 8. He spent the rest of the year playing under Trammell and then experienced Leyland this year.

"You have to stay focused every game, every inning," Polanco said. "And no doubt about it, Leyland is the best at making sure you're ready. It's not that Charlie didn't do a great job of that. But Leyland would have made a difference in Philadelphia, just like he has here."

Maybe. But it's worth remembering that Leyland has a comfort level with Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski - they won a world championship together with the 1997 Marlins - that he might not have enjoyed in Philadelphia. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

And the success he's had with the Tigers makes it convenient to overlook that when he talked to the Phillies he admitted he had been burned out in his previous job with the Colorado Rockies in 1999 and hadn't done a particularly good job.

Still, there's no denying that he made an immediate impact with the Tigers.

"He's the guy that put everything to us in spring training," said catcher Pudge Rodriguez. "He was talking to the whole team, spending time with the whole team, telling everybody how good we could be as a team.

"He keeps us very positive and is a big part of the success we had this year."

Jones agreed. "It's been night and day," he said. "Every time there was an opportunity for something to go wrong, he's cut it off at the pass and flipped it the right way.

"He's had the ability to maintain his calmness and to sell his philosophy. When he says something, it's perfect. When he doesn't say anything, it's perfect. It's our little utopia and we don't want it to change."

Except for the part about the Tigers losing. That's changed. Detroit is in the postseason for the first time since 1987. And Leyland has to get a lot of credit for that.

There are 3 elements that determine a winning major league team:
1. pitching
2. pitching
3. pitching

To the extent that a manager has the ability to get the maximum out of his pitchers, he can have some small impact. My view is that it is far easier for a manager to have a negative impact than a positive one. So first, you need a manager whose personnel handling and in-game decisions do no harm. How does Charlie stack up on those criteria?

The response from pious Yankees fans regarding their first-round dumping has been quite refreshing. They act as if the five-game series came as a surprise. It's been in place for years. What were they hoping for ... a first-round bye to reward and preserve the 162-game display of Yankee excellence?

While luck is certainly part of a short series like this one, there is nothing lucky about Chris Young, Dan Haren, Barry Zito, Johan Santana, and Jeremy Bonderman, young pitchers or pitchers in their prime who dominated games in the first round. Isn't that a better point about Yankee failure than Kenny Rogers, A-Rod, Joe Torre or some other excuse?

Look at it this way: Wang, the only young hurler of the bunch, earns a win in game one, while veterans Mussina, Unit and Wright take losses. A general point, but I think it's telling. Forget the lineup of Roman gods. Pitching my friends. Pitching.

Pitching, of course - but then again, as we all know from the Ed Wade years, you often do not get very far trying to build a rotisserie team, or in the Yankees' case an all-star team based on pure numbers with no emphasis on playing as a cohesive unit. The Yankees of the late '90s didn't have all-stars at every position, but they knew how to win in the postseason because they had players who would rise to the occasion and deliver, who played winning baseball. Over the course of a regular season, give me Alex Rodriguez and Bobby Abreu - but in the playoffs, give me players like Scott Brosius and Paul O'Neill.

It is no coincidence to me that these Yankees tanked when they ran into good pitching and couldn't win because they couldn't slug. A dynamic team can put together more than one way to beat you; the Rodriguez-led Yanks don't seem to have that ability. This all could have been predictable when considering what usually happens to powerful lineups in the All-Star Game: they're silenced by quality pitchers, year after year after year.

It's funny that the Yankees are the team everyone is using as an example of how not to win. Historically, the Yankees have been all about hitting and it hasn't stopped them from winning 26 World Series. Think back to the great Yankees names, with the exception of Ford, they are almost ALL hitters.

Also, the gold standard of Phillies baseball was 1993, a team that was all about patient, powerful hitters. The 93' Phils beating the Braves is the counter to the myth that good pitching beats good hitting. THe Braves had great pitching, but the Phillies had even better hitting.

Also, the Pads and Twins were all about pitching, pitching, pitching and they didn't do squat. Or all of those Braves teams that got bounced in the first round.

It seems simple, but you have to have both pitching and hitting.

I was talking about this particular group of Yankees and their pitching.

Gold standard is 1980. Has to be.

The Phillies received four excellent starts in their four wins against the Braves in '93: Schilling (who won the LCS MVP) had two of them, Danny Jackson had one, and Tommy Greene had one. Moreover, the '93 Phils went with the *exact* same five-man rotation through the entire '93 regular season, the first and only time I can ever remember a Phillies team doing that. Each starter won at least ten games that year. That team was certainly about more than just the offense.

As far as the Padres and Twins: what you at least need is *timely* hitting, if you are not offensive-oriented. Without that element, these two teams were cooked.

Sure, a balance is obviously what wins championships, however I have to agree that the keystone of most champion teams is pitching. It doesn't make a bit of difference if you trot out "the greatest lineup ever assembled" (sound familiar), if you can't get the other team out. Much like defense wins championships in the NFL, pitching wins World Series.

clout, I love your point about how much impact a manager can have. It could be argued that a pitching or hitting coach has more impact. After all, even us Beerleauger Brethren seem to know what Charlie M should or shouldn't have done in any given situation, based on common sense and experience. That is exactly why Torre's name even came up to be fired, although cooler heads prevailed. He was easily second guessed for some of his roster moves. A good baseball manager is like Jake Plummer for the Broncos - they don't do a whole lot to win the game for you, but they sure as hell can screw one up.

re: players like Brosius and O'Neill...

sure, they each had their moments in the postseason. but that conveniently ignores their career numbers.

Brosius, in 58 postseason games: .245/.278/.418. career numbers: .257/.323/.422. noticeably worse.

O'Neill, 85 games: .284/.363/.465. career: .288/.363/.470. virtually identical.

lest we forget, noted choker Alex Rodriguez posted a 1.213 OPS in the 2004 ALDS, best in the series. not including this year, his career postseason numbers were .303/.393/.534 in 31 games. his career numbers, through 2006: .305/.386/.573.

the idea that certain players "turn it on" in the postseason is just not supported by facts. guess who has the best career World Series average, OBP, and slugging percentage? another choker, Barry Bonds. everybody remembers when Derek Jeter gets a big postseason hit, nobody remembers the fact that he hit .200 in the 2004 Red Sox series, or .148 in the 2001 WS - both notable Yankee losses.

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