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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

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I would say the blogsphere will force the "real writers" to bump their game up a notch. I still like to do blogs though, because of the interactive style and the luxury of not having to mind your "p's and q's" in a wide open format.

Phillies also passed on Hermanson, according to one of the reports. Considering how many teams have passed, Hermanson is toast. Simple as that.

The beat writers will always have more info than 99% of bloggers, however, newspaper writers have editors, space limitations, deadlines and legal staffs preventing them from letting them really tell it like it is. Bloggers can write what the feel, whenever they want with no care for what they write. The blogosphere has emerged as an alternative source for info and analysis.

Here we have Prof. clout offering his theories. We get the West Coast spin from RSB. We get kdon and Alby opining about the team and we have Carson and Parker giving their commentary. All the while newspaper circulation continues to drop.

Tid-bits from FoxSports:

If the Phillies fail to trade one of their starters, they could make a starter Tom Gordon's setup man. There is some speculation that newcomer Adam Eaton could be the man, but the Phillies don't like the idea. Eaton typically takes two or three innings to build his velocity, which wouldn't seem to make him suited for a one-inning appearance.

The Phillies took a look at free-agent righthander Dustin Hermanson, who was limited to 62/3 innings with the Chicago White Sox last season because of back problems. Hermanson looked intriguing because he went 2-4 with 34 saves and a 2.04 ERA with the White Sox in 2005. But the Phillies were not impressed with his workout and have no plans to sign him.

Also mentioned- Manuel plans to take it easy on Burrell this spring so he doesn't put extra wear and tear on his right foot...great.

Noticed this tidbit today on Philly.com: "Charlie Manuel said that he will ask less of Pat Burrell in spring training and through the regular season as Burrell copes with a chronic problem with his right foot for a fourth straight year..."

So, Burrell is already injured again? In all seriousness, what exactly is this injury and what were he and the Phils trying to do about it all off-season?

Lake Fred- I agree with your statement above. The beat writers and columnists have the "insider info" that we bloggers are not privvy to. But we are allowed to express our thoughts however we see fit. I choose to do mine through humor, observation, and stats. I don't regulate how I feel to appease an editor or head of a newspaper. Blogs are great for this reason, because you can get down to the nitty-gritty.

I just read the Conlin piece. I'm not a Conlin fan, but I enjoyed this column. His logic sold me on the lineup he suggests.

The more I read about Burrell, the less inclined I am to move Rowand. I know I'm going back on my words with Rowand, but Pat is more likely to become a part time, DH-type statue than everyday player again. The foot isn't healing, and the outfield isn't deep.

I just read the Marcus Hayes article. I read similar stuff in Beerleaguer, except it's better here.

I read the Salibury piece, which was good fun. A casual tidbit tossed in that article is that Pat the Bat got engaged in the offseason. In the blogosphere they would ask: to a stripper? I still can't figure out what the big secret is about Pat the Bat's foot? I remember when President Reagan had prostate surgery, they had diagrams of the presidential jewels and bat with arrows and captions on the front page of the paper. How about a diagram of Pat the Bat's foot with medical commentary? He probably got spike heeled in the foot by some floozy and the germs on the heel (no condom on the heel) infected his foot and it never healed.

That lineup is 100% right on. Even with Victorino's lack of basepath savviness, you still lose a lot less at leadoff then you gain in the 5th hole. This is a NO-BRAINER - Utley-Howard-Rollins... wow, now that's scary.

Its probably just a matter of time before the major beatwriters become prominent bloggers themselves in order to survive. Conlin can have all the insight in the world regarding the merits of batting Rowand 2nd or JRoll 5th but, unlike the instant gratification of an interactive blog, when 1chair Wisdom hits the presses it reaches a dead-end (unless its picked up on a blog like this).

Carson made good points about the MSM beat writers.

But there is one additional point that needs to be made--the beat writers have "sources" that they have to face everyday in the front office, the locker room and on the field. The beat writers run a constant risk that if they are too critical (or too candid) their sources will go into a 'shutdown' mode on them--which would make it harder do the job.

Hence the constant pressure for the beat writers to "make nice" with the subjects of their stories. BTW, this is a far bigger issue for news reporters covering the government than it is for sportswriters.

Sorry, but until columnists stop writing drivel like this, I'll stick to the blogs.

"Did you know that Rollins had only 10 fewer extra-base hits last season than Soriano (89-79), only 12 fewer RBI than the Nationals' leadoff man and struck out exactly half as many times while having a far superior stolen-base percentage?"

This is pure obfuscation; a whole lot of meaningless crap thrown together to distract from the fact that Soriano was a WAAAAY better ofensive player last year.

2006 OPS+
Rollins: 103
Soriano: 132

Sure Conlin can come up with clever phrases about Hawaiians, but his this is sophistry.

FWIW, my lineup would be:

J-Roll
Rowand
Howard
Chase
Pat the Bat
Helms
Weitzel Man Crush
Vic

Before I hear complaints about Howard, remember...Bonds hit third, Pujols hits third, McGuire hit 3rd, Sosa hit 3rd, Babe Frickin' Ruth hit 3rd. There is plenty of precedent to have you big slugger hit third.

Jason, welcome to the 'Aaron Rowand Preservation Society'. As you all know, I have never been an advocate of trading Rowand, a solid everyday player, for a relief pitcher. Too much of a dropoff in overall outfield defense.

Carson - I like the humor, but I wouldn't call these guys talentless. The problem, and I believe expansion is partly to blame, is that many major league bench players are really AAAA talent level, and never would have gotten a cup of coffee if there were still only 16 teams. It's not exclusive to the Phils. There are other teams that have guys on their bench that aren't huge producers either.

Take Nunez as an example. This will be his second year in Philly, but he was on someone else's bench - this is his 11TH YEAR at the MLB level. He's not alone. Choo Freeman, Jose Molina, Ramon Santiago, Michael Tucker, Adam Melhuse are all guys (I contend) that NEVER would have had a sniff of the majors if not for expansion.

AAA and AAAA players all.

Rowand failed to impress in his first year as a Phil, but the S.A.F.E. stats over on BS&S were an eye-opener. If he could revert to his form as a White Sox, he and Vic would turn XBs into outs. In fact, they'd cover so much ground, marketing could install a pole-dancer in left for PatB. As a bonus, it would attract more fans, sell more beer, and distract the opposition.

Regarding the previous post, would a player on the White Sox be referred to as a White Sock?

As for the difference between this (and other) blogs and the beat writers, it's simple:

The initial information has to come from the writers; we're not in the clubhouse, etc.

I find, however, that the analysis on this blog is far superior to anything you see or hear in the MSM.

Think of it this way. When was the last time you read a detailed analysis of OBP, OPS, SLG or any other (what used to be considered) periferal stat in the Daily News or Inquirer? This begs the question: why aren't the writers taking the lead in trying to educate their readers?

Also, AWH, most of the information doesn't really come from the reporters, it comes from the team in the form of releases. Sure, every once and a while a reporter will break something interesting, but the VAST amount of the discussion here has to do with signings, talent level etc., and all you need to do for that is check Phillies.com for the press releases.

A lot of political blogs are driven by the MSM, but here, we rarely discuss reporters unless its Conlin being an ass.

Is anybody hear a fan of "Major League" and "Major League II". Because it seems to me that Rollins has Willie Mays Hayes disease (a power transition from Snipes - Epps in the sequel). If the guy wants to take a crack at the fences, that's great- he has the talent, just do it from the 5 hole. Why waste that production at the top?

Keep Rowand, he's worth as much in the clubhouse as he is in center.

Enjoyed fightins4ever's comments on the MSM beat writers. They walk a tightrope to keep the info flowing without pissing off the source. Still as masters of wordsmithery they should be able to tactfully get out more information to their readers without ruffling feathers with their sources.

kdon: I like your lineup better than Conlin's but this will be a running debate forever with this team because it is a collection of 3-4-5-6-7-8 hitters with none qualified to leadoff or bat second.

Since someone's got to do it, J Roll 1st and Rowand 2nd makes the most sense. Neither will get on more than 33% of the time, though, which means Howard coming up with the bases empty two-thirds of his ABs. That's why I'd like to see Utley in the 3 hole. He does get on base. But, you're right, the ideal lineup would have Howard batting 3rd, but only if you have a legit leadoff and #2 guy aheda of him. Unfortunately, the Phillies don't.

Rollins has been compared to Willie Mays Hayes on here before, by myself and others, so yes we agree with you.

I know the writers need to "make nice" with the players and orgainzations, we don't. That's why I enjoy blogs. The information is more sophisticated, in depth, and fun.

I love the "stripper pole" in LF idea, GENIUS!

Well I like Rowand as much, or more, than most. But I also feel that Gillick is doing a pretty good job with his decisions. Sure, trading Rowand for a reliever is not an enticing move. But should that happen, I wouldn't be surprised to find that Gillick has a trade set up to move Leiber for a decent outfielder. Just a scenario that I don't think should be overlooked in the Rowand discussion.

I agree that Conlin's article is entertaining and thought-provoking, but I think he's wrong.

I don't put any stock in historical stats for different lineup spots - and even if you do, that means you can't project Rollins' leadoff numbers to the five-spot. in addition, you have to deduct 70 PA from the bump down in the order - that would have given Rollins 22 HR instead of 25 last year. and even that's generous, considering that his career average is only 14 HR per 162.

Rowand doesn't have the OBP to hit second. I think he's an ideal fifth hitter - some power, minimal on-base skills. I don't think there's anything intrinsic about hitting second that turns Rowand into a terror at the plate. (and it's worth noting that his career stats hitting 5th - .309/.384/.484 - aren't bad either, if you put stock in that sort of thing.)

and putting Burrell at sixth is entirely wrong-headed - even when he struggles at the plate, he still draws walks, and sticking him ahead of Helms and catcher means station-to-station, cross your fingers and pray someone hits a home run because there's no way these guys are scoring any other way baseball.

FWIW, my lineup would go something like:

Rollins
Utley
Howard
Burrell
Rowand
Victorino
Helms
catcher

I agree that Vic would be a more ideal leadoff man, but I'm unconvinced that he can do it right now. even if Victorino did leadoff, I would still rather put Rollins in the two-spot than fifth.

Would the stripper pole in left field be a stainless steel or chromium lower portion of the LF foul pole? They could get Dave Letterman's grinder girls to shimmy on the pole while the opposing team is batting, complete with close-ups on the big screen to distract the batter's attention.

I don't see the problem with keeping the lineup the way it was.

1. Rollins
2. Victorino
3. Utley
4. Howard
5. Burrell
6. Helms
7. Rowand
8. Barajas/Ruiz

Burrell was bad with runners in scoring position last season, but he wasn't in '05 (.300+). Batting Rowand 7th breaks up the station-to-station running gang of Burrell, Helms, and catcher (although Ruiz runs above average for a catcher). This offense will score you plenty of runs. Teams will pitch around Howard no matter who is batting behind him, unless it's Utley.

KDon - I totally agree. Phils don't have a great option for the 5-hole and Rollins is ill-suited for that spot.

If Rollins is put into the 5-hole, I am willing to bet his average dips a bit and he strikes out more as he tries to duplicate his 25-HR season from last year. Plus, he is going to put more balls into the air and limit his ability to leg out some hits.

Since Rollins doesn't walk much, he needs to keep his average up near .280-.290 to get on base enough to be an effective player. Let Rollins stay in the leadoff spot and hopefully he gets out to a hot start this year in April & May.

The station-to-station argument is a great point. It's true you don't want 4 lugs in a row. However, I don't think Rollins' approach would change. It's a bit selfish to sacrifice OBP for power, especially since you have as potent of a Phillies lineup as I've seen in years.

The funny thing about the comparison between Willie Mays Hayes and J-ROll is that they are exact *opposites*.

WMH got into trouble when he started swinging for the fences; he needed to play little ball. J-Roll, on the other hand, is terrible when he tries to be a slap-hitting leadoff type. Bowa tried to turn him into this and it was a disaster. J-Roll as at his best when he grips and rips, trying to drive the ball. The only chance he has to a .350 OBP guy is to hit .310...he'll never do it trying to bunt and work the count a la WMH or Juan Pierre.

As many people have said, he is not an ideal leadoff guy, but considering we have ideal 3-4-5 hitters, I'm not too worried.

Did we sign an ideal 5th hitter that I am not aware of?

kdon, I agree with your assessment of Rollins - he emerged as a top player last year by playing *his* game, not by playing the game everyone else wanted him to play. No matter what anyone thinks of him, the yardstick for leadoff hitters isn't OBP, it's runs scored, and no one can argue with Rollins' productivity in that department. Someone argued, why waste his production at leadoff - but how can you say it's being wasted? If anything, Rollins' *speed*, the attribute most responsible for him scoring nearly 130 runs, would be more or less wasted. Since he isn't going to drive in 130 runs, I'd say he best serves the Phillies right where he is.

I'm also inclined to agree that Rowand should hit second and Victorino would give the lineup more dimension if he hit in a lower slot. I think Rowand's offensive effectiveness is far more apt to be nullified while he's bunched up with the slow right-handed hitters at the bottom of the order. I think he would make things happen hitting second in a way he won't or can't hiting sixth - and Victorino would be a perfect candidate to relieve the lower part of the order from its plodding sameness. But at the same time, Rollins and Victorino hitting one-two could be an awesome table-setting combination. No one, but no one in baseball could match the Phillies 1-4 hitters for sheer electrifying talent. (But I still worry about 5-8.)

Love the commentary about the MSM. The traditional media are a dying breed and they don't know how to handle this internet thing. With such a conservative organization like the Phillies, it comes as no surprise that they have not reached out to bloggers. I'm very surprised that Monty and the boys have let J-Roll operate a website. It must gall them to no end. We, the passionate few, are the media. Ignore us at your peril!

I think the dialogue about slotting Jimmy in the 5th spot is intriguing but not overly compelling. Lest we forget that this lineup or should I say a lesser version of this lineup (adding Nunez, Connine, and break yo' face Rowand) lead the NL in runs scored last year.

I'm more concerned about how the defense will play out and if overall team ERA will be affected by a full-time Hawaiian in right and Mr. Helms patrolling the hot-corner. Given the injection of new arms into the rotation (excluding bullpen), do we think ERA will suffer or benefit? Thoughts?


Lakefred - I live in Lafayette, you?

Oh, RSB, I'm sure there are several teams that could match our 1-4 hitters for "sheer electrifying talent," even if they were Rollins, Victorino, Utley and Howard. For example, the Yankees, the Mets (Beltran, Wright, Reyes), possibly the Red Sox, the Indians...

The lineup will be solid anyway you put it together, of course the more runs the better for a suspect bullpen.

I liked the comment about how Philadelphia has been spoiled at the third base position for years (especially defensively.) I think Helms is going to have to prove his defensive skills, his play will dictate how much Nunez plays. Victorino will be fine in right, especially if he has Rowand all season to his right patrolling the pasteur..

It would be between the Mets and Phils for best 1-4 punch in the National League. Reyes, LoDuca, Beltran, Delgado. LoDuca is a fine two-hitter. A little pest. Throw in Wright at five. There's a reason they won the division by 12, and it ain't El Duque.

RSB: This may be shocking to you, but players score runs because of who hits behind them. Speed helps, but is worthless without good bats behind it. As usual, you're wrong about how to measure the value of a leadoff hitter.

Jason: Reyes OPS: .841 Rollins OPS .812
LoDuca OPS .783 Rowand OPS .746

The Phillies led the NL in runs scored, but it wasn't because of their top 2 hitters. If the Phils played at Shea and the Mets at CPB the stat difference would be way bigger.

On *this* team, Rollins and his speed best serves the Phillies, who obviously have capable hitters, in front of them rather than behind them. And by the way, there is no team in baseball on which Rollins would not score 100 runs a year. Leadoff hitters are not necessarily indebted to who hits behind them in determining run totals - they can pad this total significantly with the ability to hit and run for extra bases. It depends on how one looks at it. You can say, well, Rollins wouldn't have all those runs scored without a 100-RBI man like Utley hitting second or third all year - or, you can turn around and say, Utley wouldn't have had the chance to drive in 100 runs if it weren't for Rollins *ahead* of him, on second and third base so often. Think about it.

For the record Burell had 95 RBIs hitting .222 with RISP. Rollins hit .309 w/ RISP.. i think Rollins could put up an RBI total close to 130, especially b/c Utley and Howard have absurd OBPs.

You may lose a few runs w/ Victorino atop the lineup but not anywhere near the RBIs gained w/ Rollins hitting later..

More than OBP with LoDuca, it's his hitting. Great contact hitter. He always puts it in play, setting Reyes in motion. Their lineup is absolutely fierce.

RSB - I agree to a point. Rollins has improved as a baseball player the last 3 seasons but cutting down his Ks slightly and hitting for a higher average. Plus, he had some unexpected power last year but his career stats point to this being kind of a fluke. Probably more of a 15-20 HR guy than 25 HR.

Still, Rollins has really benefited from being the hitters behind him the past 3 seasons. Without hitters the caliber of Thome, Howard, Utley, or Abreu, Rollins doesn't score 100 runs unless he unexpectedly continues to hit 25+ HRs a year.

Jason, good point about LoDuca. He puts the ball in play. That's why I can't lobby for Vic in the top portion of the lineup. Too many K's. We already have Howard swinging a heavy bat. How many 1st innings of the Phils' opponent striking out the top of the order would we be able to tolerate. For that reason alone, I'd have to keep J'Roll at the top of the lineup.

Vic is the streaky type of hitter that would make us forget about the 7-8-9 "black hole" at least periodically. He's at least good to bust out the occasional bases empty double/triple, so we won't have to change the channel when that part of the lineup is due up.

I kind of like the "return to the mean" idea of keeping Burrell batting behind Howard. He won't hit .222 with RISP again (at least not long, if so). With the pitching around Howard that's sure to occur, he'll either step up, or essentially bench himself, all over again.

I agree that runs scored is an imperfect stat, but I think RSB may have a point. We shouldn't forget that OBP, no matter how well it correlates to runs, is *still only a means* to the end of runs.

When we complain about J-ROLL, it is usually that his OBP is low, and *therefore* (implicitly) we aren't scoring runs. However, the fact that J-ROLL *does* score a lot of runs means that he must excel at things that contribute to runs other than OBP (i.e., extra base hits, stealing bases, speed on the basepath, taking extra bases, staying healthy).

Obviously, he has had great hitters behind him, but seriously, how many more runs do we expect him to score above 127?

For comparison's sake, Johnny Damon, who has been a leadoff hitter in front of two great lineups (Ramirez, Ortiz, A-Rod, Giambi, SHeffield, etc) for the past few years has runs scored totals of : 123, 117, 115.

Rollins last three years have been: 119, 115, 127.

A nice thing about an old stat like runs is that it adjusts for a lot of variables that you can't otherwise isolate.

Kdon, nice point there about runs adjusting for variables. I never thought of it that way.

I haveta say that 1-5 is never going to worry me on this team - it's how we sort out 6-8 and avoid the black hole that bugs me mightily. We may have part of the solution with wes helms new found OBP abilities, but I'd rather have him teamed up with victorino and Chooch (who can run). Whenever we've got barajas down there, I'd actually want to drop burrell down the mix, and put vic after howard, making up for Barajas miserable OBP:

Jimmy
Rowand
Utley
Howard
Burrell

then:
Vic
Helms
Chooch
Pitcher

and on Barajas days:

Vic
Burrell
Barajas
Helms
Pitcher

Anything to avoid those miserable two-out no-one on as Jimmy comes to the plate situations. When Jimmy was at his streaky worst, they sucked mightily.

I don't know why Vic is getting a bad rap for Ks compared to JRoll...

Vic = K/7.7 AB
JRoll = K/8.6 AB

Not a huge difference. Plus take away PH ABs and Vic is at K/8.3.

I actually think Rollins and Victorino are similar kinds of players, with the difference at this point being that Victorino doesn't drive the ball as frequently - and he gives away a lot of ABs the way Rollins did more frequently in the first few years of his career. But I think Victorino has that strength in him to hit 15 homers and 35 doubles. It's a matter of waiting for the right pitch in a given AB. He's an aggressive hitter, and you don't want or expect that to ever change, but with a little more experience, just a little more development of patience - I think Victorino can put up some respectable slugging numbers, the same way it's happened with Rollins.

There is an article on Phillies.com about Burrell. He needs to start fast or the fans are going to kill him all year.

I'm relatively new to this blog and I just wanted to say you guys roooooool. (That's "rule" with lots of O's)

I read the article and then came here figuring there was a lively discussion going. And, of course, there was.

The idea of putting Rollins 5th is intriguing, but I think it's misguided. I like him much better near the top of the order. And frankly, I think Burrell is our guy behind Howard.

I actually admire Pat Burrell's grace. I think he handles himself extremely well in the media. I don't think I've ever heard him whine or complain about anything except an occasional bad call. I'm rooting for Burrell to turn it back around, but that much is up to him.

I'm with you on that RSB. Burrell hasn't complained ONCE to the media about the shaft he's been getting in Philly. Do you think that maybe if all of us (the fans) didn't get up his ass every time he did something wrong, he'd be able to focus on his game a little more? Honestly, I feel that everybody's making Pat out to be the villain simply because he's one of those "Old Order" vets who didn't win it all in earlier years -- in short, you're all making him a scapegoat. Sure, he's a headache sometimes, but I don't hear anybody bitching about any other player in the lineup as much as you all do about Burrell. Give the man a chance to breathe and maybe he can hit a little better. I challenge any of you to hit a baseball when your foot's throbbing on a daily basis. I play baseball(batting righty), and I hit a foul tip off my shoelaces that hurt for a month. During that month my batting avg. dropped, my concentration went out the door, and my swing changed to avoid putting too much weight on that foot (my back foot, for the record -- same foot as Burrell has problems with). All of this stupid talk about Burrell being juiced, or getting on his case if he doesn't have a stellar beginning to the season needs to drop. He's doing the best he can. That should be enough for us.

Obviously, the lineup isn't hard-pressed to score runs. All of this hating on Burrell is all of you wanting Howard to have a great season. He was constantly pitched around last year (especially late), and still almost hit 60 HRs. Sure, superior protection for Howard would be nice, but the reality of the situation is that we've got Burrell or Helms in that spot. We're going to have to accept the fact that Burrell's playing hurt, and probably won't hit all that well for the season. Rather than bitch about how he's not good enough to protect Howard, why not try to juggle the lineup so that we won't have Howard and Burrell on the bases at the same time?

RSB writes, "the yardstick for leadoff hitters isn't OBP, it's runs scored"

Clout understated how far off that statement is. Seriously, this has been researched to death by the SABR crowd, and runs is simply too context-dependent to be the yardstick you consider it.

Funny you should hold up Damon as your example, because his OBP+ is far better than Rollins (whose career figure is 95, and career high is 105, 103 last year). Damon's career number is 104, career high 120 (achieved last season). If you look only at counting stats, the difference last season is puzzling, because their totals are so similar -- almost identical. Turns out almost all the difference is in AB -- Rollins had almost 100 more than Damon. Talk about context! That's not even factoring in the difference in home parks, which OPS+ does.

One last point: without the 25 HR, Rollins scores 105 runs last year. Not nearly so impressive, is it?

Wow, first I defend RSB, and then RSB defends Burrell. Are we in the bizarro Beerleaguer?

Sorry, that first reference in the second graf should be OPS+, not OBP+. Been a long day in the radio biz with all the closing notices and I'm getting groggy.

Ace, a couple of points about Burrell: The year he hit .205, the fans stayed with him all the way. I have been rooting for the Phillies since 1964 and have never seen the fans be as slow to boo a player as they were with Burrell. Granted, in some towns they still would be cheering instead of booing, but I'd be happy if the fans acted as patiently with every player as they've been with him.

What worries me about the foot is that it's been hurting for four years. I agree with Fred -- why aren't we getting a more detailed picture of the problem? Is it something that can't be fixed? I know he gets a bum rap for his defense, but to be fair his arm is strong and accurate and he catches almost everything he reaches -- the problem is that the foot has kept him from reaching very much. If it's now a chronic thing that can't be fixed, he's looking at a future of DHing. If that's the case, it would behoove him to accept a trade to the AL as soon as possible; a strong season or two DHing would get him a better contract when this one runs out. But of course that would require some intelligence and self-criticism, traits I've seen no sign of in Burrell.

Alby, when things go sour in this town, they go quickly, don't you agree? I remember the year Burrell hit .205, and I DO think we need a more detailed account of what's going on, but if this is something Pat can't control, why is everybody all over him? He's a scapegoat, that's why. He TRIED to act in good faith (with the organization as well as the fans) by getting surgery in an attempt to rectify whatever it is that's ailing him, and it still hasn't gotten any better. Making fun of and jeering Burrell isn't going to solve anything, and booing for him will solve even less.

That meant to say with the organization as well as with the fans.

"Do you think that maybe if all of us (the fans) didn't get up his ass every time he did something wrong, he'd be able to focus on his game a little more?"

Ace, I think you're cutting PB a bit too much slack. We all have short memories, but I remember the treatment he got when he first went into a funk in the '03 season (the year he threatened the Mendoza line), and again in '04.

I don't know if you went to many games, but I specifically remember the fans encouraging him, in fact, cheering him on like I have never seen them cheer on a player in a protracted slump. Why? Because we all realized at the time, and realize now, how important an optimally productive PB is to this team.

So don't think the criticism of him is unfounded. He has not, to date, played(hit) up to the enormous potential he has. Period. Why?

The reason you see him discussed so much, and criticized is the hard core fan base that reads and posts on this site is trying to make sense of something that, based on the physical skills the player has, doesn't.

So don't whine and cry that we're too hard on Pat. No one "hates on" him. He was cut a lot of slack for a long time in this town.

Mike Schmidt should have been so lucky.

Think of things from Burrell's perspective: fans cheering you on when you're slumping. Given Burrell's mental make-up, don't you think that this could have been perceived in a sarcastic context by him? Imagine getting up knowing you're batting .200 and the fans cheering you. That would suck the confidence right out of me, I don't know about you.

And I'm sure Pat isn't deaf or blind. He hears what people say about him and reads what columnists say about him. I'm sure he does. Things like this have to get into the psyche of a player as much or more than any criticism a teammate or coach gives him. If we all want Pat the Bat back, why don't we GENTLY support him, rather than cheer him like he's Babe Ruth when he comes up to bat? If we want a productive Burrell, why are we cutting him down and fueling the flames of criticism that the columnists start up? If you're not aware, let me be the first to tell you: the mental aspect of the game is just as important, if not moreso than the physical aspect. I'm not saying this criticism is unfounded, I'm just saying the guy needs to be cut a little bit of slack. I'm hoping and praying he's got a renaissance in mind. Hopefully, his mind won't be affected by the boos he's sure to hear.

All this talk about Pat's psyche is a bit beside the point. The problem, IMHO, is his hitting approach -- trying to pull everything instead of hitting to all fields. When he was drafted, even when he came up, he was considered able to hit for both power and average. His ability to hit for average is long gone. I know lots of us hate Conlin, but he has more sources in the scouting community than the rest of the Philly beat writers combined, so when he says Pat has rejected advice from all parties -- including Cholly, who IS a good hitting coach if not much of a manager -- I'm inclined to believe it. Unless and until he learns enough humility to take advice and instruction, we're never going to get Pat the Bat back.

The oddest thing about the whole Burrell thing though is the mixed message that management sends to the fans. Why would numerous Phils' officials, including Gillick and Manuel, rip Burrell in public and then give him some benign praise this offseason?

Then there is the whole "top secret" foot injury. Funny, but I bet if the Phils had come out with details on his injury and stated that Burrell was "gutting it out" that fans would have a really different perception on Burrell.

Instead of an aloof hitter who doesn't make adjustments and is a liability in the field, Burrell would be a "Philly-type" guy for playing through pain and adversity. Amazing how PR can spin a story angle and really change the public's perception.

"Think of things from Burrell's perspective: fans cheering you on when you're slumping. Given Burrell's mental make-up, don't you think that this could have been perceived in a sarcastic context by him?"

Ace - that's absurd. So fans can't win here: when they boo, Burrell is affected, and when they cheer him, it's 'sarcasm' that debilitates his psyche? Do you expect the fans to simply have no reaction at all? Philadelphia fans are never going to cheer "gently" - "Oh, bravo, Pat, old chap, give that ball a good whack - SHHHHH! Can't you see he's trying to concentrate?"

I'll concur that the mental side of baseball is extremely important, but the reaction of the home crowd hardly explains why the results are the same for Burrell no matter where he plays. I don't think the problem for him is the fans, and I don't think it's ever been. The problem is his approach to hitting.

I agree with AWH. Burrell *was* given a free ride for the longest time here, before it fell down on him in a hurry. He'd been here for five years before he got the Philadelphia treatment, and though I don't believe any person deserves to be jeered by a public throng for any reason short of a crime against humanity - as a *ballplayer*, he probably had it coming.

In my opinion, Pat Burrell is a grinder and a gamer. He wants to play, he plays hurt, he never says two words about his condition or makes excuses. I honestly think the fans are down on him largely because of all those called third strikes, and the perception - hardly unearned since 2002 - that his numbers are largely compiled in less than crucial situations. Phillies fans demand better, and where Burrell is concerned, they ought to. Here's a guy who is not better than he is because his game is flawed and he doesn't do a thing to change it; consequently pitchers get him out with ease in spots where they need to. I think that's what people are judging Burrell on, and it's a legitimate criticism.

wow, we are getting some serious burrell revisionist history going here. hasn't ripped the fans or the media? not true at all. he's made prickly comments to those ends each of the past 3 seasons.

Not that I can recall, gr. Does anyone else know of any instances when Burrell has popped off to the press? I mean, he'll issue a 'no comment' now and then or maybe duck out of the clubhouse early, but that's different than publicly griping.

Would the stripper pole in left field be a stainless steel or chromium lower portion of the LF foul pole? They could get Dave Letterman's grinder girls to shimmy on the pole while the opposing team is batting, complete with close-ups on the big screen to distract the batter's attention.

If you do that, Pat Burrell will somehow become a worse fielder.

RSB - I think its not so much burrell taking a pop at the media, but the fairly constant use of sentiment like 'it's probably not good enough for you guys' or 'a ballplayer is always going to have something people don't like about him' (both of which are apparent in today's comments in the daily news) never endear me to burrell.

I'm happy enough with the guys production, and as I understand it, he probably does work his butt off. And yeah, great that he was prepared to play through pain so much last year.

But I would stop short of calling him stoical or graceful in his attitude, because he does always mention the tough crowds and the criticism. In this regard at least, he could do with getting over himself. But I don't think it's ever likely to happen.

No matter - I'll settle for the OBP and 30 hr a year - although if he could do something about the imaginary inside balls, that'd be cool.

I must compliment RSB for some very thoughtful comments about Sir Burrell, in that I know he's not a favorite of his.

I'm a Burrell fan, but I do not have blinders on, just as I didn't have Abreu Rose Glasses on either. Burrell has positives and negatives, much like any player. I like the fact that many on here are starting to get behind the idea that Burrell is a "gamer", because indeed his his. He's been booed a butt-load and nary a scowl to the crowd and poor utterance to the media. Bottom line, we need Burrell, because without him, this lineup isn't as good.

"The oddest thing about the whole Burrell thing though is the mixed message that management sends to the fans. Why would numerous Phils' officials, including Gillick and Manuel, rip Burrell in public and then give him some benign praise this offseason? "

MG, need I remind you - THIS IS THE PHILLIES!

We have had the discussion on this site already about this ownership/management group's public realtions prowess. I won't waste everyone's time and eyes recounting it here.

Simply put - they're not very good at it.

Actually, based on his media performance, college studies(communications major), and mental accuity(he's very bright), this team should sign Ryan Howard to a long-term contract as a PUBLIC RELATIONS CONSULTANT!

It would be a marked improvement.

ALby, I think you miss the point of my comparison between Damon and Rollins. The fact that J-Roll stays on the field and hits HR should not be held against him!

Also, the fact that Damon's OBP is higher *is my point*. If both players hit in front of great lineupes, J-Roll has a lower OBP yet more runs scored, this means *he must be doing something* really well that contributes to scoring runs that cannot be captured with raw OBP.

kdon: Did you read Alby's post? Rollins scored more runs BECAUSE HE HAD 100 MORE ABs than Damon!!!! If each player had the same # of ABs, Damon's run total would be far in excess of Rollins because he gets on base more. Sheesh, this is not rocket science, it's basic common sense.

I don't mean to be nitpicky here guys, but if you're discussing OBP it's plate appearances that matter, not ABs.

Just a point.

So anyone else thinking of picking up one of those SUPER TRUCK's Lieber rolled in on? Jebus that's a lot of truck.

Lots of good stuff on this thread. You almost need a BS in Math to be a baseball fan on this site! The analysis of Rollins on this site is awesome.

MG, great comments about spin. The top secrecy about Burrrell's foot could be made public to elicit sympathy.

RSB's "Oh, bravo, Pat, old chap, give that ball a good whack - SHHHHH! Can't you see he's trying to concentrate?" was priceless. Maybe Pat the Bat should join the PGA tour.

For Inky: I live in Kenner, work in New Orleans, shortly to be working in Houston for an undetermined period, will be doing the six hour each way weekend commute on I-10 zooming past Lafayette on the way. I was born in Atlantic City, NJ. Grew up a Phillies fan. Never was able to rid my body of the ravages of the Phillies fandom affliction, as it is more than skin deep. Beerleaguer is my daily medicinal fix to prevent the agonizing withdrawal symptoms.

AWH is right clout, you can't use ABs. The PA differential is around 80, but again, this is the point.

J-Roll didn't accumulate extra PAs because his team was better on offense (the Yankees scored 65 more runs), but because he *stayed on the field*. He plays all nine innings and never gets hurt! This counts! You cannot look at OBP in a vacum.

When discussing the value of a player to a team, you cannot get caught up in rate stats.

kdon: Apples and oranges. J Roll not getting hurt is a separate issue from his OB skills when he's on the field. The fact is, the comparison to Damon was bogus because Rollins had 86 more chances to score runs.

As Alby said, runs is a foolish way to measure leadoff skills because it is totally context driven. That's the simple point.

Would the Phils have scored more runs last year if you plug in Damons stats at leadoff? (not his rate stats)

Yeah, Runs alone is a foolish way to measure leadoff skills, but its fair to say that it gives some idea how effective a runner is if combined with OBP. And in that regard,Kdon's comparison of Johnny and Jimmy seems reasonable.

1) Johnny's OBP has been consistently higher than Jimmy's.
2) Both have leadoff in front of potent hitters, so their runs scored are more reasonably compared - as one of the biggest contexts being who hits behind you
3)Jimmy has scored a similar number of runs to Damon

Is it not fair than to say that despite the reduced OBP, jimmy does a good job of optimising his opportunities when on base, perhaps better than Damon?

And health does have to be seen as a valuable ability if you're a leadoff hitter. If your leadoff hitter has great OBP skills, but the living habits of John Kruk and Babe Ruth's lovechild, then the possibility presents itself that he may get more easily injured, and not play optimally. Likewiseif rowand had great obp skills, you'd still be uncomfortable with him as a leadoff guy given his attitude to walls, players and his single-minded pursuit of flyballs.

oisin: Am I writing in invisible ink? Rollins scored more runs BECAUSE HE HAD 86 MORE PAs than Damon!!!! Rollins has scored similar runs because he's had WAY MORE PLATE APPEARANCES!!!!! Helllooo???

Over the past 3 years their runs scored are almost identical: Rollins 361 to 355 for Damon but Rollins has had 150 MORE PLATE APPEARANCES!!!!

If you want to compare them honestly calculate runs per plate appearance.

Juan Pierre had 22 more hits than Ryan Howard last season. By your logic that makes him a better hitter.

Oisin writes, "Both (Damon and Rollins) have leadoff in front of potent hitters, so their runs scored are more reasonably compared..."

Not to put too fine a point on it, but context doesn't mean generalizing that both have hit in front of potent hitters. You have to look at the lineups more carefully than that, and the simple fact is that Ryan Howard was substantially better last year than Jason Giambi -- OPS+ of 170 vs. 154. That's about the same as the difference between Damon and Rollins -- and OPS+ doesn't consider runs or RBI. Few would argue that a 25-point edge in batting average is of no significance; why do the Rollins-as-leadoff supporters think a 25-point edge in OBP for Damon doesn't mean much?

If you're looking for evidence of Rollins as the superior lead-off hitter, it's the stolen bases. Damon was only 25 of 35; Rollins was 36 of 40.

ON the other hand, Rollins grounded into 12 double plays, Damon only 4. If you want to look at that another way, while Damon was walking 10 more times, Rollins was hitting into 8 more twin killings -- in 86 more plate appearances. Acording to OPS+, that more than makes up for the stolen base advantage.

I guess OPS+ is the cool new stat these days.

Thanks Oisin, I think you sum up my argument very well.

Clout, you still don't seem to understand that Rollins lead in PA is A SKILL IN AND OF ITSELF, and therefore counts! PA IS NOT CONTEXT! It is the TEXT!

And Alby, amusing that you would compare Howard and Giambi, but not say Vic/Rowand with Jeter or A-Rod vs. Chase. I think a more involved analysis would conclude that the hitters behind Damon WERE BETTER than those behind Rollins.

I think it's fairly clear that Damon is the better leadoff hitter, but would I swap him for Rollins (defensive positions aside)? I'm not so sure. Yes, Rollins' higher run totals are due to having more PAs, but that's because he remained healthy, which is hardly a minor consideration. Damon is 5 years older and is likely to continue to have some problems staying on the field.

Also, for what it's worth, JR hit 49 points better with RISP last year (an off year for Damon in that category). Not exactly a stat you normally look at for your leadoff guy, but still something of interest. Of course, he also only had 3 more RBI than Damon, despite more PA and a better situational BA. I have no idea what to make of that. Having lugs who can't score from 2nd on a single probably has something to do with that.

Clout and alby, I don't think anyone is saying rollins is the better leadoff hitter. I thought Kdon's point had merit because he was showing how runs scored might have a significance (as an indicator of how good a player is at optimising their obp to score), and how perhaps its easy to forget that because, yes, as a stat it is very context-laden. Because as well as the guys behind you, there's other factors in there which contribute to the runs being scored. To what degree are they strong determining factors that can outweigh having giambi or howard behind you? I've not a clue. But it seemed a plausible explanation of how runs scored might be used as a measurement of the players ability.

kdon and RSB are clearly saying Rollins is as good as Damon because they score the same number of runs, logic and mathematics be damned.

I think we can all agree that a player who runs well has more scoring ability than a player who doesn't. Just as any rational person would agree that a player who gets on base more has more scoring ability than a player who doesn't.

Mets claimed RHP Marcos Carvajal off waivers from the Devil Rays.

The 22-year-old had a 3.86 ERA and a 69/39 K/BB ratio in 72 1/3 IP for Double-A Montgomery last season and a 2.19 ERA in 37 innings in Venezuela over the winter

Anyone besides me annoyed by this? Carvajal is a pretty good bullpen prospect. Are the Phillies so loaded at Ottawa that they had to let him pass thru waivers to the Mets?

Kdon, you're right about the 2-3 hitters also making up the context, and Rodgiguez topped Utley by 13 points of OPS+ (I've been using that mainly because it adjusts for park factors). I'm not sure who the 2-hole hitter for the Phils would be, and of course you have the Abreu problem ... at any rate, I'm not up to researching it tonight, but you might be right about the Yankees being better overall 2 thru 5.

However, you're wrong about PA being a point in Rollins' favor. Damon played 9 fewer games than Rollins. That's not a negative; that's a manager giving a guy who plays a demanding defensive position a few games off. The extra PAs are only a plus if he performs as well as Damon in them. He didn't. He got on base at an .025 lower rate. I still don't see why you consider that insignificant.

I love this debate. Maybe in a couple of years we'll hear a similarly intelligent debate on WIP.

To get my two cents in, Rollins had 15 more extra base hits in the 86 additional PAs - 1 HR, 4 triples, 10 2B.

It would seem on the surface at least that speed not only matters once you're on base, but when you're getting on base.

To wit, in 86 less PAs Damon had one less HR, so it's difficult to argue that he doesn't hit the ball as hard or as far as Rollins. JRs additional XB hits are probably attributable to the fact that he's a faster more aggressive base runner.

That being the case, he scored as many or more runs than Damon partially because he initially gets further more often with his legs. It's - duuuuh - easier to score from 2b and 3b. This seems to somewhat balance out the higher OBP of Damon.

I would like to see a higher OBP from JR though. Imagine how many runs he could score.

ALby, Rollins durability IS a plus. He doesn't have to hit better than Damon, he has to hit better than his backup. When Damon rests from his "demanding" position (although SS is certainly a tougher position than CF), the Yankees have to fill in his production with inferior players. THe Phillies don't have to worry about this.

Put simply, if you have to be taken out and replaced with a bench player, it *is* a negative.

No it isn't. It depends on the bench player. And if Rollins' performance declines from the extra work, then it's no bargain to have him in there. And you still haven't answered why a 25-point differential in OBP means nothing in your assessment.

I also disagree with your assessment of which position is more demanding. Yes, SS is tougher because it requires a fuller set of skills -- an arm as well as quickness. But centerfielders do a lot more running.

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