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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Comments

bobby: you can't take the heat, glad you got out of our kitchen.

Weitzel, I did a piece on Abreu's "the man" comment today. He was a great outfielder and a favorite Phillie of mine, but to use that cop out excuse ticks me off. He was the man because of his track record, abiliy, and paycheck. But he seemed to become disinterested as time lagged on. Guess we know Abreu isn't a stand up guy, more like a pussy.

With every passing day, I lean more and more towards letting Lieber in the rotation. Even last year's "down season" may still be better than what Eaton can offer, and Lieber will probably bounce back to somewhere in the 4.50 ERA area.

if bobby was the man, maybe we would have made the playoffs one year.

It just goes to show how much of a wus the guy is.

before everyone jumps all over Abreu for his comments (which FWIW I do think are pretty stupid), let's see how Utley and Howard do after nine seasons of boos and criticism.

Alfonseca though...wow. if he actually is in line for one of those fluke reliever seasons that pop up out of nowhere every year, I will be very impressed with the Phils' scouting.

I can't remember reading this many good stories from Spring Training. It's very difficult to keep track. Hagen wrote about Lieber today. Lieber sought advice from Joe Girardi after a Marlins game:

"He just mentioned that the hitters said everything that was coming in was just very flat," Lieber said recently after completing his workout at the Carpenter Complex. "Basically, I was underneath the ball. I wasn't on top of the ball like I should have been. And that's why the ball doesn't have that crispness when it gets to the strike zone or that sharp break on my breaking ball. It just kind of stays right there for the hitters to lick their lips at."

Abreu - give me a break. You certainly wanted to get paid like "The Man," didn't you? God forbid people actually expect you to live up to the role you're being paid ridiculously good money to fulfill. Frankly, this says alot about Bobby's heart; and this is coming from someone who genuinely liked the guy during his stay in Philadelphia.

The article that Jason quotes from is very good. Here's the link to the full article: http://www.philly.com/mld/dailynews/sports/16754496.htm

Off topic here, but the better quote out of New York today was from Carlos Beltran, in response to ol' blabbermouth over there at short.

"What'd they win last year?"

I always supported Abreu, and now I feel like he's left me down. The whole pity me, they booed me thing is played out...cry me a river!

I don't know, but the more I hear J-Roll talk the more I'm reminded of my Phillies symbolism-The Phils are Lucy Van Pelt, the post-season is the football and guess who that makes us woebegotten Phans!

I'm on Charlie Manuel's side when he says Rollins' comments are a good thing.

If anyone can handle the scrutiny, the rebuttals from Mets camp, it's Rollins. If he’s the focus, it's great for the Phillies. Anything to detract from pitching, which is the real key.

I like the swagger. If it means for a more intense, playoff-type atmosphere in the Mets games, even better. Last year's series was electric, even the early rounds.

Between Rollins, Utley, Moyer, Rowand, Hamels, Howard, it's a good mix of cocky live wires and students of the game. In my opinion, it's a better blend than Thome, Burrell, Michaels, Abreu, Lieberthal, Lidle, Millwood, Wolf. I'd go to battle in a playoff game with this group rather than 2004.

Well, not too surprising that a shy player from Venezuela who doesn't speak English well is more comforatable in the shadows. If this was football, I would buy this argument as more, but it's baseball.

As of yet, no one has sufficiently been able to explain to me how Abreu caused Floyd and Madson to stink up the joint last year, or why he is responsible for Burrell hitting .204 one year, or David Bell being horrible, or Jose Mesa serving up fastballs, or Wagner giving up a HR to Craig Biggio.

I think Abreu and the fans would agree that Bobby is not a great leader...I think the difference is whether you think that matters.

I agree that Jimmy's comments are, on the whole, positive. I'd much hear out of guy that they expect to win than hear some milktoast, non-commital answer. It kind of reminds me of Bobby Cox all those years that the Braves lost in the playoffs; just once I would've liked to have heard him say that he was dissapointed to lose, or something other than he was happy with the year despite another playoff loss. At least Rollins expects to win -- it's a start.

I know talk is cheap, but this talk is new for the Phils and I view it as a good thing. Rollins is hyping up the squad for a playoff run, nothing less. Vocalizing those expectations is welcomed in my opinion...now if this becomes a year after year thing and still no playoffs, that's a completely different story.

i think a ton of it (in my mind at least) had to do with abreu in the 3 hole. if you don't want to be 'the man' then maybe when the team asked you to do something for everyones benefit, you'd do it.

the gold glove thing just made him a big joke. although the award isn't his fault, his lame play in rf is.

It may be the hockey fan (and player) in me, but when John Maine beans J-Roll in the first series vs. the Mets I better see some Phillies storming out of that dug-out. All talk aside, that tells you a lot about the type of team you have.

To touch on kdon's point - for anyone who has played organized baseball at any point in their life, does the attitude and work ethic of the better players or leaders on the team have an impact on how that team as a whole approached the game, practices, etc.?

The argument will always be about how one individual truly impacts the sum of all parts. If Derek Jeter is removed from the Yankees, are they markedly worse than just the trade-down of statistical performance of his replacement?

In regards to the Coste, Dobbs, and Garcia battle- "It's a good situation," assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We're creating competition, and any time you create competition, we're going to end up with the best players."

Do we really always end up the best players? I think NOT!

These guys are always talking big. They did the same thing last year, in fact, I distinctly remember the constant harping about how important it was for them to get off to a good start. They then immediately proceeded to get swept at home by the Cards. I guess I would just like guys like J-Roll to do a little less talking and show it on the field for once.

Since winning the 2005 Home Run Derby at Comerica Park, Bobby Abreu has hit 21 homers in 813 at-bats (one every 38.7 at-bats) for the Phillies and Yankees. Before the Derby, he averaged one every 24.2 at-bats.

Great header to this thread, Jason! I checked out the blog link and it is awesome and chock full of neat photos, like Myers hot red sportster; and info, like Lieber's house being up for sale.

Willard, you are right on. A team leader's attitude is contagious amongst the team members. I'm sure you can remember some point in your life when you were fired up about something and a boss or leader says something like, "That's not important." and your fire goes out. Abreu may have been a fireman, dousing out hot flames.

In all honesty, I would love to see a bench clearing brawl between the Mets and Phils...then maybe we could kick this "rivalry" up a notch and get national coverage like the Yanks/BoSox.

Personally, I would rather see the Phillies trash the Mets in the division standings. I'd find that much more satisfying.

Blue collar men do not say "Oh yeah, I was the man." Exactly, Carson. Cry me a river.
At least the live wires expect to win. If the group listed above were 23 year old sophomores mouthing off, it would be a lot different. This group has proved it.

Mets/Phils is going to be intense and awesome. Organized efforts should be underway to get the crowd fully revved for the first series. Paging the Phils marketing department...


I wrote this on my site in regards to Abreu's comments-

"You were getting paid like a superstar and have all the ability in the world, of course you're going to be considered "the man". The fans loved you, all they wanted was a playoff appearance. But as time went on you seemed to care less and less, and your motivation disappeared. You began shying away from walls by some 10-15 feet, kept your bat on your shoulder in crucial rbi situations. We wanted more, but we only wanted what you were capable of. So, indeed you were the man, and the man held us down. So now during the post-Abreu era of Phillies baseball we will no longer be held down by the man...liberation feels oh so good!"

Orlando Hernandez was sent back to New York on Thursday morning after complaining of stiffness in his neck and upper back.

carson:

1. the fans didn't love Bobby. they didn't hate him the way they hate Burrell, but at best it was a lukewarm relationship.

2. Abreu's defense is nearly irrelevant, and as far as I could tell, pretty consistently mediocre throughout his career.

3. Abreu hit .327 with RISP in 2006. he hit .339 with RISP and 2 outs in 2006. I guess he could have done better, but not by much.

Abreu's comments are one thing, and are absolutely up for criticism. but to suggest that they reflect some kind of failing in his play is just not supported by the facts. he's a baseball player - baseball players say stupid things.

"They then immediately proceeded to get swept at home by the Cards."

Precisely. I'll take confidence over humility, as some have strangely advocated, but they must back it up on the field. The last thing they need is a 1-6 start and get into an early rut.

I like the confidence too, but I have to take issue with Mike's argument that these guys have "proved it." proved what? that they can finish with 80some wins, just a couple games out of the WC? I think we were pretty good at that already.

Bobby Abroidu

ae- "he's a baseball player - baseball players say stupid things." and so do fans, as I did...I stand corrected.

That Hagen piece on Lieber was interesting. And he looked thinner in the picture than I can remember.

Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to ditch him. It's a shame that none of the six really seems like a good fit in the bullpen.

My bad. The 62 games after Abreu was traded proved to me that the clubhouse had turned a corner. As a result, the offense averaged 6 runs a game. Granted, the pitching improved dramatically. I believe John Kruk when he compared Abreu's departure to Schmidt's departure in '89.

Laubers Blog is def. worth checking out. He seems to get a lot of one on one interviews, which leads to a lot of good info, like Liebers home, as LF pointed out.

Plus, it's good press for us Delawareans. We'll take what we can get.

Finally, old Bobbs Abreu has given voice to the speculation that many of us here have though for a long time. Abreu was concious of his inability to carry a team, and it bothered him when he felt like he had to. This just cuts right to the heart of Abreu's character. You dont see Jordan, Bryant, Derek Jeter, or Big Papi saying junk like this. Do you think Howard would make that kind of comment or Utley? Hell no! I'm glad Abreu has indirectly given voice to the change of attitude in the Phillies after he was gone last season. Go ahead Bobbs drop some routine fly balls up in Yankeetown, then see just how forgiving they are. I hope he doesnt think that he is going to make anybody forget about Gary Sheffield anytime soon.

Great, Abreu isn't Jordan, so let's rip him.

Bobby was a very very good baseball player who was quiet. I am amazed how something this basic gets twisted into. THere have benn literally hundereds of players like this, many of whom have won championships (Schmidt, Rolen just to name a few).

He wasn't a cancer, he was just the best player on a team that needed more good players. I mean, who was the best player on the 2002 Angels...Garrett Anderson? Jared Washburn? They managed to win. The only difference is Anaheim fans didn't rip Anderson because of the failures of his teamates. On this, Abreu is exactly right that Philly (and the NE in general) is much different.

The "impressive workouts" generally mean almost nothing to me. I remember a number of them last year on Floyd and Madson. Part of the usual "positive" spin articles that come out on an annual basis in the spring but it does seem that there is much more optimism than usual among both the managers and players.

Mets/Phils is going to be intense and awesome. Organized efforts should be underway to get the crowd fully revved for the first series.

The first series between the teams is the Phils at the Mets for their home opener. Similarly to CBP, you can't get tickets for that without buying a season ticket package of some kind. So, there probably won't be as many Phils fans at Shea as we're used to seeing in other games. But if the Phils really show the kind of intensity they're talking about, it should be like the playoffs in April. I can't wait.

Marcus Hayes would say that if anyone should have been considered a "cancer" from the old guard, it was Bell, not Abreu, because Bell was overly critical of young players. "Like walking on egg shells," I believe is the way Hayes put it on DNL.

I'm a subscriber to the theory that if any dark cloud was lifted after the deadline, it was "the pressure," which disappeared once Gillick threw in his cards. Pitching got better and players got hotter, and an easier schedule of opposing pitchers certainly helped. I never subscribed to the "dark cloud" theory, be it Abreu or Bell or whomever.

But now there's pressure again. How will they respond? I like the confidence I'm hearing, the belief in one another, but it's true that we hear the same talk year after year after year.

As for impressive workouts, I'm with MG. Alfonseca should be ahead of the curve since he pitched all winter. And whoopy-damn-doo otherwise. It's Feb. 22. If Lieber looks good this spring, let's hope the Rangers take notice.

Abreu wasn't a cancer on this team but I do think it was time for him to leave. Like a relationship where both continue to date even though they both would be better off apart and starting anew. That sums up the Phils and Abreu.

The only bones I have about Abreu/Rolen/Schilling trades is just the pathetic lack of talent the Phils have received in return. Between those 3 trades, the Phils have almost gotten nothing value in return.


although i truly am glad to hear some positivity and leadership coming from Rollins, and i do think it will help get the team jumpstarted, i'm left wondering why he didn't come to play out of the starting gates in previous years. the team has had a few bad aprils in a row, missing the playoffs by a hair, and here's a guy saying, "i mailed it in when i should have been getting ready for a fast start. this year, i'll be a leader."

could be possible that he feels left behind by all the attention on utley and howard, and wants some for himself, so he's proclaiming himself the leader after years of being an above-average player. no matter what he says though, he's gotta prove it in the batter's box, since he is at the very least the team's leader in the lineup. if he doesn't perform, all this talk is just for show.

When, exactly, was Bobby Abreu 'the man'? During the two months between Scott Rolen and Jim Thome? No - not even then, because Burrell was having his formidable 2002 season. And now Rollins comes out and proclaims that Rolen, Abreu, Lieberthal, Thome, Burrell, Utley, and Howard be damned: *he's* been the man, all along. In the words of Charlie Manuel: what the hell?

Whatever, though - all Abreu is doing is reiterating why he's more comfortable on the Yankees than he was on the Phillies. This is old news - very old news. Let's all move on.

Speaking of Rollins: I think the Mets have a right to feel disrespected. As one of them pointed out, there's no way Rollins would have said what he did if the Braves were still on their streak of consecutive division crowns - it would have been too ludicrous. Given the Phillies' continuing string of also-ran finishes, however, it seems no less ludicrous to my ears. This sense of 'confidence' is nothing new, and I personally find it repugnant that Rollins doesn't seem to remember that the Phillies puff up their feathers every damn spring, only to come into the season flatter than a can of soda that's been run through the dryer. I felt *last* spring as though the team had turned some kind of corner after their valiant playoff run at the end of '05, only to witness the moxie completely drain away the instant the regular season began. I am not going to be conned again into thinking "things are going to be different this time!" We really are all like Charlie Brown thinking he's going to finally kick the football - suckers for this kind of swill. The least we can do is wait to see whether they can be losing by fewer than ten runs in the fourth inning of Opening Day.

Is it too late for the Phillies to change their marketing slogan from "Goosebumps" to "Shut Up and Do"?

At this point it seems pretty clear to me that one's position on Abreu can be pretty accurately predicted by which side of the stathead/traditionalist divide they tend to fall on. To the statheads, he was a fantastic player who did what he could to help the team win, and all this talk about heart and grit it just a metaphysical excuse for not liking the guy. The the traditionalists, heart is the most important thing when you're talking about any kind of competition, and when a guy who's expected to be a leader shies away from that role, he's an inadequate competitor. If you think that way, then his talent is just a reminder of what he could be if he had that edge.

I think most of us are sympathetic to both sides to some extent, but I think this difference is the real reason the debate won't die. Either way, if you're a fan of the current team, you're probably in the latter category, because this team seems to be a traditionalist's wet dream.

Another item to complain about: "Manuel said he would be unwilling to use closer Tom 'Flash' Gordon in the ninth inning of tie games at home."

That's ridiculous. If your closer is that fragile that he has to be monitored and pampered like his arm is made of antique glass - it might just be time to find a new closer.

Forgive me if I don't stop holding my breath about Alfonseca just because he can blow fastballs by Pat Burrell...

Parker: Gary Sheffield? What did Gary Sheffield do last year? Did I miss something?

Regarding Abreu, he was NEVER a spitfire, dirty uniform, take-charge player. He was more of a cool customer like Schmidt. I also think he exaggerates in his idotic statement when he claims he was "the man." When was he ever "the man"? The man the past few years has been Jim Thome. Last year, Howard became the man.

Finally, while Abreu's comments were stupid, those who say he's the reason the Phillies didn't make the playoffs when he was here are even stupider.

P.S. I'm surprised no one has commented on the revival of the Linebrink-Rowand trade, as reported in the Daily News.

Clout: The time to revisit Linebrink-Rowand is in a month, because right now the Phillies would be sending scouts to Arizona to watch Linebrink long toss.

Phillies scouts have enough trouble grading pitchers at regulation distance.

Speaking of the last line of your previous comment Jason - I just read the Lieber article regarding Girardi's comments:

"He just mentioned that the hitters said everything that was coming in was just very flat. Basically, I was underneath the ball. I wasn't on top of the ball like I should have been. And that's why the ball doesn't have that crispness when it gets to the strike zone or that sharp break on my breaking ball. It just kind of stays right there for the hitters to lick their lips at."

Why does it take the opposition to recognize this point? Shouldn't the catcher, infield, and/or coaching staff be on top of this??????

It's sort of a pointless statement anyway. "After going over the tapes and talking it over with my coaches and teammates, I realized my pitching wasn't very good last year because I wasn't throwing good pitches. This Spring I'm going to focus more on the pitching aspect of my game."

I really enjoyed zach's great description of the stathead/traditionalist divide being illustrated in our comments about Abreu. I think his homerun decline after his HR Derby crown lost him support from some of his stathead fans. The worse stat was that we traded him for Matt Smith and a handful of magic beans; not an even swap.

Thanks, LF. There seems to be a consensus at this point that we should have gotten more for him, although we were dealing from a bad position; I was talking more about the debate on whether or not the Phils are better off without him.

Zach, this team isn't exactly a stathead nightmare either. Howard, J-Roll, Utley, Myers and Hamels bring *a lot* more to the table than heart.

I also don't disagree with Abreu's comments. He, Burrell, and J-Roll were here through all the near misses, but the latter two were never the best players on the team.

Abreu had the best OPS+ on the team in 5 out of six years (99-02, 04) , I think that is a legitimate description of "the man."

You can argue that Howard and Utley have more heart, grit, or whatever, but if they eclipsed Abreu in anything, it was talent, not intangibles.

"That's ridiculous. If your closer is that fragile that he has to be monitored and pampered like his arm is made of antique glass - it might just be time to find a new closer."

Listen, we all know Flash is a few weeks away from an AARP card, if Cholly wants to hold him out of tie games in April so he can still close 1 run games in Sept., I don't see this as a big deal.

Now if he sits in the pen for 5 straight days then sits out a tied up 9th (just because Cholly doesn't know the meaning of the word flexible) I'll take issue, but the fact is Flash can be dominent if used properly (read: not over used).

i stil don't believe that Rowand is going to be playing in anything except blooodstripes (mid-season fire sale due to suckage excepted, of course).

Simply put, he's a main actor in the "goodebumps" campaign. It has long been said that the marketting dept. has tremendous pull in keeping players around when the marketting campaigns feature them, and again, Rowand is featured.

Just like Coste was on the Winter Road Show: They don't do this with guys they are questionable about being on the squsd.

Abreu's comments are disappointing no matter how you look at it. I've never blamed him for the Phils missing the playoffs. And I've always thought he was a great player for us.

However, if you really believe you are "The Man"... then show it, dammit. Instead, he shrunk from it. That's fine, if that's all you've got. But then don't come out and say stuff like this. It's just pointless and shows his character isn't quite what I thought.

On the contrary, we now have Howard, Utley and J-Roll. All are among the top 5 at their position, IMO. And all seem ready to do their part as a leader. J-Roll is emerging as the most vocal... Utley is the blue-collar, gritty guy... and Howard is the face of the franchise. Sounds like a great set-up to me!

Zach, this team isn't exactly a stathead nightmare either. Howard, J-Roll, Utley, Myers and Hamels bring *a lot* more to the table than heart.

Oh yeah. But look at our manager.

My point is, they do look like a great team, but in terms of their philosophy, let's just say no one would confuse them with the Yankees.

You can argue that Howard and Utley have more heart, grit, or whatever, but if they eclipsed Abreu in anything, it was talent, not intangibles.

I disagree, but of course, it's not the sort of thing you can productively debate. After all, they don't list "heart" in the box scores.

Joe, thank you for pointing out this simple but vital fact that continually seems to be lost of a number of people (including those in the print media) who want to keep bringing up Rowand trade rumors.

What is patently absurd about Manuel stating that he won't use Gordon in tie games is that already, in February, he's letting these stupid little rules dictate his in-game strategy. You use your best relief pitcher in situations where using your best relief pitcher is called for, period. Manuel is the kind of guy who will call in Gordon to get the last out of a 7-4 game with one man on base, because it fits within the parameters of an official 'save' situation - but then will bring in Clay Condrey to face the heart of the Mets' batting order in the tenth inning of a 1-1 game. Thus proving once again that as a clubhouse leader, Manuel may be a success, but as someone who can (or is even willing to) think on his feet and improvise during an actual game - he remains a complete dud.

RSB, I agree with you, but it's worth noting that there aren't really any pitchers who are used the way you're describing - the way the prototypical relief ace was used in the 1970s or 1980s, when a guy like Sutter or Fingers would rack up 100+ innings from the pen.

what nominal closer in baseball is still used like that? the first guy I thought of is Rivera, but he only came into 19 out of 63 games before the 9th inning. and if I'm reading B-R's splits page correctly, he only appeared in 11 tie games - which is the same number of 4+ run games he appeared in.

maybe a more relevant point is the fact that Manuel feels (rightly or wrongly) like he has to come out and announce that Gordon will only be used in save situations. strategically, it's probably better to have that threat in your back pocket, even if you have no intention of using him unless you've got the lead.

Excellent comments about Abreu today.

I was always an Abreu fan, and what he said was true. But I think it was stupid to say. Go crawl into your corner Bobby, heaven forbid the spotlight be on you.

Just for note, I never and will never blame Abreu for the Phils missing the playoffs. But I am willing to admit he may have been part of the problem, but that problems has many parts.

Regarding the stat vs. traditionalist debate:
IMO, there are two separate debates, (1) was Abreu a valuable contributor while a Phillie, and (2) was the change in chemistry after the Abreu trade a factor in the near playoff run?

From a stat standpoint, there is no doubt about Bobby's bordedline HOF credentials; even taking salary and contract constraints into consideration, Gillick clearly got very little in return from the Yankees.

OTOH, although the evidence is anecdotal, clubhouse chemistry apparently did improve after the Abreu trade. Believe what you will about the importance of "clubhouse chemistry", but if enough players state otherwise (Kruk, Rollins, Utley, even Abreu himself), then there must be something to it.

As the highest-paid Phillie with the most seniority, Abreu became the target of the fan's frustration for continually failing to lead the Phillies to the playoffs. But, as kdon posted "Bobby was a very very good baseball player who was quiet.", he just wasn't in from the same mold as Rollins or Utley.

It seems that most posters take the either or approach: Either he was a very good ballplayer and will be difficult to replace, or he was an overpaid, overrated RF with a bad clubhouse influence.

Bobby was a very talented ballplayer. His production in RF would be sorely missed. But, if you believe what you see and hear in the print and broadcast media, the younger players tended to defer to Abreu and his laid-back personality, so the trade was necessary in order for the team to move forward.

ae: to not use Flash before the ninth inning is one thing. But to say you won't use him in any tie games at home is absurd! That means in any nail-biter played at home in which the Phillies don't have a lead - they will concede the advantage of using their best reliever. What sense does that make?!? Talk about letting statistics dictate the game! before 'saves' became something used at contract negotiations, did managers think twice about the situations in which they were willing to insert their relief aces? No, not in a 6-0 game, obviously, but if the score is *close* and it's *late*, why in god's name do you want your second best out there? It was bad enough that things came to be dictated by inning - now, pitchers can't be used unless there's a lead in the ninth inning? Absolutely senseless.

So, from a stats standpoint (I guess I'm more in the "traditionalist" category noted above), I probably shouldn't put much stock in Gordon's save numbers, then?

As ae points out, there really are few "closers" that will be called upon in the ninth inning of tie games at home. I do agree that Cholly may be a bit premature making that comment, not that it ever really needs to be made, anyway. I'm not exactly heartbroken that I can't count on Tom Gordon to send a game into extras. To be honest, I'd rather see Madson out there then.

Regarding the way (relief) pitchers are used:

It's absolutely silly. I am frustrated by the pitch count era. And the every-guy-in-the-bullpen can only pitch in very narrow circumstances era.

There are two canards that are trotted out in defense:
1) It has been shown that pitchers are less effective after X number of pitches, and is reflected by lower ERA's.
2) It prevents injuries.

Except that: Neither are showing to be true.

These pitchers have been pitching since their 10. Probably throwing entire games throughout their high school and college careers.

Now, suddenly, with the best in the business overseeing these athlete's conditioning and training, we can only let them throw 100 pitches every 6 days?

it doesnt make sense.

I hate to step into this latest round of Abreu talk, but this thing about him just being 'quiet' isn't the issue. Chase Utley is quiet, too, and the next time Ryan Howard mouths off will be the first. The issue is, Abreu didn't play hard enough - and there are any number of right-field wall incidents to serve as evidence for this - and he wasn't perceived to be much of a team player. That will get you booed in Philadelphia regardless of how pretty your stats are.

And I should add, lest Philadelphians be unfairly singled out for not fawning over Rotisserie Gods, that it's going to get him booed in NY at some point as well, unless he starts hitting .330 again.

FWIW, I looked up Gordon's splits in 2006. he pitched in 13 tie games out of 59 total appearances. that's:

- five more than BJ Ryan, in fewer games
- two more than Rivera, in fewer games
- the same as Trevor Hoffman, in fewer games
- the same as Wagner, in fewer games
- exactly the same proportion as Jonathan Papelbon
- one less than Francisco Rodriguez, in fewer games

disclaimer: this was a more or less random sample of good reliever that I could think of off the top of my head. I'm sure that there are others Gordon does not compare so well to.

now I'm by no means defending Manuel's use of the bullpen, or pushing the modern conception of the bullpen ace. all I'm arguing is that criticizing this trend (or whatever you want to call it) is like criticizing the DH, or complaining that there aren't more complete games these days. this is the way baseball is today, and a conservative manager like Manuel is certainly not going to rock the boat.

I should add another disclaimer - I have no way of knowing how many of those ties were caused by Gordon himself. I don't think there's any way baseball-reference will tell you that - at least, not unless you're shelling out for the deluxe stats package. I'm sure that's not an insignificant number of those 13 appearances.

Abreu. Disclaimers. The right and wrong way to use pitchers.

Beerleaguer is kickin' it old-school, July '06 style tonight.

This is why I love BeerLeaguer. Intelligent conversation/debate without being ridiculed for your comments/opinions. I've seen BeerLeaguer take a step in evolution over the past few months in regards to an open forum to speak your mind without fear of criticism. In the past people on here have attacked others, I did it myself, but I now try to read everything and help it give me a better balanced view of the Phillies and baseball in general rather than thinking "you're wrong" "I'm right". Even Clout has been good...sorry Clout, that wasn't intended to be a dig.

ae: proportionally, that makes sense; maybe a fifth to a sixth of a closer's apperances will be in non-save situations. That's fine. But why come out and say, I can't use him in *any* tie games from now on? Who is to say the situation of a tie game at home is not more crucial than pitching with a one or two-run margin? In fact, this *can't* be said.

Carson: I've noticed this, too. It was the one thing that needed to be improved upon here, and it has been. It makes a big difference.

Good post VOR. I think Abreu and Utley are actually quite similar, in that they're quiet, lead-by-example type guys. The problem is, you have to decide what you want your example to say. Abreu's says, we're all good baseball players, just do what got you here and we'll all be OK. Utley, on the other hand, is constantly demanding more of himself and by extension the rest of the team. That's the kind of guy I want leading the team.

schilling wants something arund $13 mil to sign next year. that's garcia plus $3 mil right? he's as good as here!

Beerleaguer is kickin' it old-school, July '06 style tonight.

Right, but the PG version.

The blog of brotherly love is also six months removed from Arthur Rhodes, disgraced umpire Rob Drake and that rain delay debacle in Washington. We'll see if the blood pressure stays 125/85 once the bullpen blows their first game.

Zach - Well said. That is why Utley is my favorite player on this team.

Abreu, Lieberthal, and Bell were all cancers on this team. I am glad they are all gone regardless of their stats.

No surprise that Alfonseca blew the ball by Burrell. Many pitchers do that to Burrell.

GM-Carson, in my defense I did say, "while Abreu's comments were stupid, those who say he's the reason the Phillies didn't make the playoffs when he was here are even stupider."

Just keepin' it real.

Iron Pig what evidence do you have that Abreu or Lieberthal was "a cancer on the team"?

Hate to see it but Manuel is taking the right approach with Gordon. Phils have too much money tied up in Gordon and no viable alternative.

Gordon is strictly a 1-inning (25-30 pitches max) pitcher now. Plus, you have to limit his consecutive outings and no 3 straight appearances.

I still think that Gordon goes on the DL this year though if he is really protected. When that happens, this bullpen is going to be a diaster again this season.

Clout - what evidence do you have that they were not?

Clout,

First, I didnt say that Bobbs Abreu was the reason the Phils did not make the playoffs. I definetely would not make that much of a definitive statement about his contribution. I prefer to think of Abreu as a good hitter, average defensive player with little to no heart and zero leadership skills.

Second, Sheffield may have done little last year, but he was injured the entire year. Personally, pre injury Sheff is much better than Abreu (Although Sheff may have been juicing, but who knows about anybody). And if you think that Yank fan will not bash Abreu relentlessly if he treats the wall like the black plague, then you dont know the Yank fan that well. And when Bobbs hits 13 HR this season and Sheff hits 30, dont think that will be forgotten either.

Bottom line: Abreu fits with the Yanks, although he is a shadow of himself at this point. I think they will be the worst $200 mill. team ever (Not many of those, but Yanks are doomed). Abreu just took the words out of our mouths and spoke the truth about many of the intangibles that he lacks. He may not have been a Jordan type player, but he is not even on the Chris Webber level.

Abreu is one of my favorite Phillies ever. If you say he is the reason why we missed the playoffs your just as stupid as his comments. All he did for us was produce year after year. Philly needed a scapegoat so they decided to blame their playoff woes on their most productive player and not their garbage rotation. If we would have won a world chapionship Abreu would be a Phillies god regardless of his mediocre fielding. I guess he wasnt lucky enough to have Carlton, Ruthven and McGraw around.

Actually, our trading Abreu may have been the reason we didn't make the playoffs. It's merely a coincidence that everyone started to play better after he left; if there's any psychological explanation, it's that once Gillick said we weren't a contender and were rebuilding, the team felt less pressure. But it wasn't because Abreu left. Had he been here we might have scored even more runs and been champions today. To be a cancer on the clubhouse you have to have some kind of an obnoxious or dislikeable personality, Abreu was just quiet. Hardly a clubhouse cancer by any stretch of the imagination.

Iron Pig: Well, the players for one thing. The writers who cover the team for another. But you were the one who made the statement. I asked you to back it up. You can't. Case closed.

Parker: I don't really disagree with anything in your latest post. I merely disagreed with your earlier comment about Abreu not making anybody forget about Sheff. Sheff did nothing last year and turns 39 later this year. He's already forgotten.

P.S. How much do you want to bet on Sheff hitting 30 dingers with Detroit this year?

Speaking of betting, how about some betting lines for the first reliever to blow a lead?

Madson: 4-1
Geary: 6-1
Alfonseca: 3-2
Gordon: 3-1
Castro: 100-1 (that's a Carson Special...)

Tray: I think there's an element of truth in what you say. Certainly the team played looser and better when there were no expectations and got a bit tighter in the final 2 weeks.

But let's not forget the most important thing about that late August, early September run: The Phils played a steady stream of losing teams. The softest part of the schedule coincided with the team's best play of the season.

It's good to see Clout feisty again. Definitely livens up the board.

As for Sheffield is a fascinating guy to watch from a fantasy perspective. I have absolutely no idea whether is puts up near 30 HRs or completely fizzles due to his wrist injury/age. I do know that the Tigers are relying upon in a big way though to fill out a mediocre lineup.

Here's how you can tell it's almost baseball season: The NY Times had a Page One story today about the Gyroball that Matsuzaka supposedly throws, complete with diagrams.

Wow, sorry to have joined such a lively thread so late. clout, thanks for tossing a spitball into the stew.

1) On Abreu's quotes: Just like Rolen, he wanted to be paid like "the Man" without shouldering the burden of being "the Man." This might not matter to the statheads, but it matters to the players -- if it didn't, there would be no feud betweeen Jeter and ARod (as a NYTimes subscriber and NYPost reader, I'm getting lots of jollies following that early-spring story). By the way, I say that as perhaps the biggest Rolen fan alive -- I believe he is the best defensive third baseman ever, and I say that as someone who spent a LOT of time watching both Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt.

2) on Abreu's defense: He was wall-shy from the day he came to the Phillies, and his first couple of years, when he had to deal with Marlon Anderson at 2B, he was pop-up shy to boot. His Gold Glove was among the biggest joke of those awards in the past 20 years.

On Cholly's statement about Gordon: This simply compounds the stupidity of the "situation use" of closers. If you go by the book, you should always use your closer in that situation (score tied at home, top of the 9th). NEVER using him there is just as stupid. The obvious middle course is to use him there if he hasn't pitched the previous day, avoid using him if he has. I can't possibly say this enough: previous usage should determine current usage. That is, if a closer has pitched 2 days in a row, he shouldn't be used the third day, even if it's a save situation. Why baseball people can't get this through their thick skulls I"ll never understand. Clearly, when it comes to pitching, Cholly's skull is thicker than most.

I honestly think we've just been poisoned by the T.O. fiasco. Everyone who isn't felt to contribute to a winning atmosphere is now a "cancer". Abreu is a great player and wasn't any more of a cancer to the Phils than... I can't think of a good analogy (been drinking). The point is, he was the face of a team and a philosophy that simply didn't get it done. When you're in that role, whether or not you want it, the stakes are higher; and now he's gone. Godspeed Bobby - but I can't wait for 2007.

ae, MG:

If the guy *can't* go more than 25-30 pitches, or whatever, due to injury, known injury history, or proven rapid ineffectiveness, thats one thing.

If there is a blanket rule that, by definition, the guy who is your 8th inning guy, can only come on in that situation, and only that situation, we have a problem.

or the seventh. or "lefty specialist", yeh,l he may be hell on lefty's, but a once and done doesnt belong on any team. too little room on the roster.

i'd just like to point out that all the losing team the phil's played late in the year were pretty much the entire NL. every team played a bunch of bad teams - each other.

also. if not using gordon in tied games at home keeps him off the dl - fine. it's better to lose a couple in the top of the ninth then not have a closer for a few weeks. one could argue that their hasn't been a better closer contract given out in the last two years than the one the phillies gave gordon. wagners fastball is done, that's why he threw his slider so much last year and will have to throw more offspeed stuff this year. bj ryan is just overpaid. no closer i'd rather have over gordon signed this offseason. remember gordons salary goes down next year and (God willing) he'll be the set up man.

as for the abreu/ sheffield thing i'd take sheffield any day of the week hitting third and playing right field. the ny fans boo arod but won't boo bobby... right!

VOR, your comment about Abreu

"It seems that most posters take the either or approach: Either he was a very good ballplayer and will be difficult to replace, or he was an overpaid, overrated RF with a bad clubhouse influence."

is presented as an either/or scenario. I must disagree. I believe it should have been written this way:

He IS a very good ballplayer and will be difficult to replace, BUT he was an overpaid, overrated RF with a bad clubhouse influence.

I say that he was a bad influence not because, as some maintain, he was a cancer on the team (not true), he was a bad influence because (RSB is right) he didn't play hard all the time and seemed more preoccupied with his own stats than the team's wins and losses.

How else do you explain him stealing in front of Thome late in the game and taking the bat out of Jim's hand? OK, maybe sheer stupidity or low baseball IQ, but jeez, GREAT players don't lack BB IQ.

What is the Most Terrifying about this article?
a) Alfonseca being seen as a potential long term setup man by "blowing fastballs past hitters"
b) Burrell, Victorino, and Rowand unable to catch up to pitches by Alfonseca
c) The combination of both A and B.

I'm hoping this is just spring training jitters.

maybe alfonseca is our todd jones. who knows.

Tim- remember we had our Todd Jones, as he actually played for our team and was horrible! Not worse than Mike Williams though...

my point exactly carson. one year these guys can stink, the next year they can close out a league championship series.

sorry i misunderstood...got ya now.

Clout,

I dont know, I may have set the bar high on Sheffs HR's, but if I were a betting man, I would bet Sheff hits more than Abreu.

I think the most telling stat that I have seen on old Bobbs is his HR rate over the last couple of years (as pointed out by GM-Carson). After two seasons, the excuse that the HR derby screwed up his swing no longer carries any weight (Didnt do much to Howards).

Bottom line again: Maybe we didnt get much for Abreu, but I think it is foolhardy to place that on Gillick. People that know a lot more about baseball than me suggested that the Phils needed to get rid of Abreu (For variety of reasons, some proabably spoken, others not). I personally think that Gillick got the best deal he could have for Abreu given the circumstances, and I think that after this season Abreu's value will be significantly lower than when we dealt him. I think this was a declining market type of situation. Gillick knew what he had, the Yanks knew what Abreu had left and we got the best for an overpaid, increasongly average outfielder, and a probably overpaid and average to good starter. I predict that after this season, it will be apparent to most that Abreu is way past his allstar days, and most if not all of us would be griping about either having to pay so much for average output, or that we could not trade him for a bag of baseballs.

Parker: Your post is so laughably absurd I can hardly respond, so I'll just let it pass. Maybe you didn't have your coffee yet.

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