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Thursday, March 08, 2007

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Another dinger for Howard

If only Bobby Scales and Joe Thurston were still Phillies' property and starting today, this game could be dubbed the Beerleaguer Series of Champions.

That's great news about Eaton. Our rotation's only as good as its weakest link.

Well, not really. But still, great news.

is joe thurston out of baseball because he couldn't bunt a guy to second in september last year?

Once of the perks of Spring Training is we get to chat about guys who will never have a big league career.

I still miss Bobby Scales. Thanks for bringing up sour grapes Weitz...damn you!

I hope Eaton wasn't pitching in the short game to show off for toronto. I don't want to see eaton traded, even if i am weary about how he will perform this season

Anybody know what Burrell's fielding has been like so far this spring?

I'd love to see Eaton traded instead of Lieber, but I don't think it has a chance of happening...

Simon stinks.

ae: I'm not certain of this, but I think it would be against the rules to do that before the season since Eaton elected to sign here as a free agent.

I'm pretty sure you're right, Jason.

Nunez!!! A game-tying, two-run tater! The Phils should make him the starter at third and have him bat in the 5-hole behind Ryan Howard1 Nunez will hit 25 home runs at least this year!

Ok, I was being a little too facetious there.

Jason and ae, you are correct. Signed free agents get automatic no trade clauses until June 15th. The player can always give their consent to a trade though.

mm, As far as Burrell's defense, it is what it is. Up until yesterday, he's been mainly used as a dh. In the Toronto B game on Monday, he misplayed two balls, one charged as an error.

gr: The failed bunt showed Thurston's game isn't really small ball. We know it's not power. What is he?

Good for Brennan King. What an irony it would be if King beats out Coste as RH bat off the bench.

Looks like the spring will remain a steep uphill climb for The Next Goosbump, Jim Ed Warden.

I see Alfredo Simon was torched again today.

alby, i don't doubt it, i'm just saying that was basically the last time anyone ever heard from the guy. i believe that was the same game against the astros as the great matt smith squeeze out.

Time to send Jim Ed and Alfredo packing...

Jumping to the Alex Rios trade rumors, I don't believe Ricciardi is as deaf to offers for Rios as he claims. He knows he has another prime prospect in Adam Lind who is blocked at first base and outfield from playing everyday in the majors, and who can step in for Rios if Rios is dealt. The other two outfield spots are locked down long-term (in Wells) and with a good top-of-the-order guy in Reed Johnson. I'm not saying that I think the Phils have a great offer out there for Rios, but that Rios is very likely available if a team is really serious about putting together an intriguing proposal in exchange for him.

For whoever asked, Joe Thurston signed with the Washington Nationals. If he doesn't make the team, he'll be with AAA Columbus. It will be a return home since he was with Columbus when he spent a season in the Yankees organization coming over from the Dodgers. Former Phillies farmhand, Mike Bacsik is also there.

alby, I doubt King will be the guy sent North instead of Coste. He has the same problem Coste had last year - an "established" major leaguer in front of him.

Manuel basically said it's Coste's spot to lose. After a couple of o'fers, he seems to have found his stroke, 1 for 2 today with a walk and run scored, run scoring double the other day. If he continues to do that he'll probably go North. Remember, he got sent down after ST last year despite a torrid spring performance, instead of an "established" .243 career hitter who wound up retiring.

This team tends to go with veterans, and this year Coste is the guy who has proved himself at the MLB level.

Everytime I try to click the link to go to the Phillies official website, it takes me to the Rangers' site. Coincidence?

AWH: There is also the factor that Coste is a major league hitter and King isn't.

There is no way King makes the team regardless of what he does in spring traing. As Clout pointed out in previous thread, King is only a real viable option at 3B.

If King was able to play multiple positions in the infield, then be might have a better shot of making the team.

u guys have to read what Schilling wrote about Vuk at 38pitches.com it is inspiring.

That Dude -

Thanks for the head's up on Schilling's blog. I highly recommend reading his reflections of Vuk.

I was inspired to actually post my response over at Schilling's blog. It's truly an eloquent tribute to Vukovich. Say what you want about Schill, but he's one of the most genuine people in sports. Sometimes I even hope he does come back for a farewell tour....or is that just sentiment talking...

A change of subject...recently I acquired a big lot of baseball books (just what I needed!), one of which was an out-of-print book by Eric Walker - a name which may be familiar to those who read "The Numbers Game". (Apparently, Walker's book - entitled "The Sinister First Baseman" - is in some demand; it lists no lower than $125 on Amazon.) Anyway, I just finished reading one of the essays in it, in which Walker contends that the value of fielding is grossly over-emphasized in baseball. He had come up with this formula, "Fielding Efficiency", which divides the sum of Putouts minus Strikeouts ('Fielders' Outs') by Balls Put in Play, and determined that over the course of a season, the difference between the highest-ranked team and the worst was a difference which (Walker) translates into a total of 20 runs, and a difference of 2 or 3 games in the W/L column.

Needless to say, I don't agree, regardless of these formulas or findings; for one thing, Walker makes no mention that his own chart of FE rankings corresponds quite neatly to the best and worst overall teams from the years he was recording them. I was left remembering all the plays Abraham Nunez made at third base during the last two months of '06, balls David Bell wouldn't have even lunged for, and how many games where this made some kind of difference - and this is just one player. And I'm left, moreover, with this thought: if so many things in baseball, even in fielding, are quantified, why aren't great fielding plays? Think of it: the error has been duly recorded from the dawn of scoresheets. Yet we have no real way of knowing how many hits or runs a certain player *objectively* has saved with his effort. If a scorer can determine that a ball that *should* have been fielded is an error, why is there not scoring to determine hits that were turned into outs, and by extension, runs that were turned into zeroes? Then we might have a way of deducing a players' fielding ability from more than just quantity (PO, A, TC, etc.) or from the debited total of errors.

Thoughts?

I never knew we got Schiling for Grimsley. Wow. As for RSB's post, it seems like a very subjective statistic that you suggest. Some say that a lot of the really tough-looking plays look tough because the infielders who make them don't have as much range as the ones who might make the same play look easier. I don't know how you could determine which outs should have been hits if not for some really remarkable play. Probably a quantitative measure is better, if you could somehow also count all the balls hit in their general direction, and that way you could figure out what percentage of plays they conceivably could have made they do make.

If it can be determined which hits ought to have been outs, it can probably be determined which outs would otherwise have been hits. Beyond mere efficiency, I'm thinking of a way to qualify 'fielding saves' and to measure the numbers of runs these would save, in the same way errors cause unearned runs to be tallied. This sort of analysis probably could not be done spot-on in the way errors are scored immediately following a given play, but after the fact. It can easily be determined with the use of replay and computing which fielders range the greatest distance from their original positions in the field to record outs - perhaps this factor can override the glitch of the number of perceived 'great plays' made by those who have limited range. Perhaps a standard could be set for a league-average range for each position, and any out recorded by a fielder who goes beyond that distance would be considered a 'save'. I, for one, would be curious to know which fielders really made the most difference to a pitching staff's fortunes.

You might get somewhere if you defined it in very simple terms, such as, "That should have been a hit, but because of an exceptional defensive play, it was turned into an out". That's it.
Going beyond that in complexity will get you into too many gray areas.

How much impact did the defensive coaching have on putting the fielders into the correct position for this hitter?

What do you do with routine outs that are not made, but no error charged? (Popups, fielders colliding, runners escaping a rundown, etc)

The impact of errors need to be better defined. For example, for an infielder, a throwing error is usually much more damaging than a simple fielding error, yet both types are simply errors for the purposes of judging an infielder. (It's also interesting in light of this that infielders' range is measured, but strong and accurate throwing arms aren't. Which is really more important, or conversely, which is more damaging, poor range or a weak or inaccurate arm?)

There should be a way to credit fielders for not just turning a hit into an out, but turning a double into a single, etc. When a 3B knocks down a sure double down the line, but can't make a play, resulting in a single, that matters. So does an outfielder cutting a ball off before it gets to the wall, making a strong throw to the cutoff man, etc.
How many bases does a catcher save in a normal game by simply knocking down wild pitches and keeping the runners from moving up? No credit is given.

These are just a few of those gray areas. I'm sure others can come up with many more, and how to track, measure and evaluate the importance of each of them is a daunting task.

I know this is taboo, but I wouldn't put this link up on here if I didn't think it was a worthwhile read. I did my "Phillies Phlashback Phriday" on John Vukovich today, and I thought some of you would like to read it- http://pabaseball.blogspot.com/

Sorry, Jason if this was a "no-no". I meant no disrespect.

Yesterday's game- our Rule 5 pickups aren't much of a pickup at all. Jim Ed Warden and Alfredo Simon have been poor, and are showing why they were left unprotected.

Just Germano continues to do well. I know he's ticketed for Ottawa, but he's probably the first call-up should someone go down.

As much as I like to poke fun at Abe "No-Hit" Nunez, it is encouraging to see him swinging well this spring, hell he even went deep.

Oh yeah...Ryan Howard is a beast!!!

RSB, nice post. I have to say based on the way you describe it I don't agree with Walker either.

One of the other things he doesn't mention, which is also difficult to quantify, is the effect of an error on the pitchers. To wit, an error may cause a pitcher to lose focus and face two more batters in a given inning. You can't necessarily quantify the effect of that, but, academiccally speaking, what's the effect of Cole Hamels leaving the game after the 6th inning because of a high pitch count, as opposed to making it through the 7th? How does it affect your bullpen if the starters don't last and they get overused?

Another thing you can't measure is the psychological effect on a pitcher and team. We all remember Billy Wagner's HR to Biggio that essentially cost us the playoffs. What a lot of people forget is that Wagner got the first two outs that inning, and then everyone's favorite Philly David Bell booted a one-hopper because he didn't get in front of it. The game should have been over. Biggio came up two batters later and hit his HR. Granted, Wagner should have shook it off and gotten the next out, but I still remember the disgust on his face when Bell made the error. The "here we go again" effect on a team is more powerful than people realize, IMO. It's difficult, if not impossible, to measure, though.

George made some good points as well.

Carson, I was thinking the same thing about the Rule 5 guys. They may have great "stuff" (Simon throws mid to high 90's), but if they can't locate........

RSB: There actually are a number of devices that have been created to measure fielding, range factor etc. beyond the traditional chances and errors. But I do like your idea of saves. You could apply it to a situation where a fielding play saves a run from being scored.

The value of fielding is very much position related. The positions that have the most impact on team defense are SS, 2B, CF, C with SS being the most important. Anyone who saw Ozzie Smith on those Cardinals teams of the 1980s would instantly disagree with Walker. And George makes an excellent point. A pitcher with good D behind him isn't afraid to throw strikes. The D gives him confidence and makes him a better pitcher simply by being there. I'd be willing to bet that pitchers on teams with great D have a consistently better than league average ball/strike ratio.

Good discussion on the merits of defense from all of you. Building on clouts' better D makes better pitchers theory, I remember one of the Phillies fielders talking about playing when Steve Carlton was pitching during one of his Cy Young years. The player said that because Lefty threw strikes, it kept the fielders sharp and in the game. I would assume that fielders behind pitchers that throw a lot of balls, get bored, lose focus and make more errors. Therefore, a corollary to clouts theory would be that better pitching makes better D and poor pitching leads to worse D.

It has been quite interesting reading your posts, but I have to say it reminds me of the old cliche' "This is why they play the games."

Baseball is likely the most statistically (over) analayzed sport out there, and there is no doubt that with Victorino sprinting and diving in right field more plays will be made then with Bobby out there doing his jogging and bending routine, and they could end the season with same number of E's, but only a person who doesn't watch the games would ever think that they are same fielders because they have the same number of Es.

At some point if you go too far Baseball stops being a game and becomes a complicated mathmatical problem with a bunch of over-paid variables. I prefer to pretend that outcome is not predetermined by the historical trends. Otherwise we would all be Yankee fans.

I think the defensive plus/minus system (from John Dewan's Fielding Bible) is fairly similar to what you guys is talking about - not exactly, but close. as I understand it, +/- categorizes every ball hit into play (based on speed, direction, etc.), and then determines how often a player is able to field that ball cleanly versus the league average. it doesn't include any calculation for runs, but that seems to me like it would be too complicated (too many conditionals).

Rowand back to ChiSox?

Who is Boone Logan?

Reed -

for whom?

there's nothing confirmed, it's just more rumors in a Chicago Sun-Times article. they mention reliever Boone Logan as one piece, but presumably it would take more than that.

Logan seems kind of interesting as a throw-in - he moved quickly thru the organization after 3 years on the rookie team, and put up 1.10 WHIP and 12.02 K/9 in 42 innings on the White Sox AAA team last year. he was not very good during a brief stint on the ML team (2+ WHIP in 17 innings). but I have a hard time seeing Gillick trade Rowand for him as the centerpiece, let alone the only piece.

personally, I think it's far more likely that Gillick is using the White Sox as a third party to drive up Rowand's price to the Blue Jays, as he's obviously very interested in Rios.

alternatively, he could be working a three-team trade. but my understanding is that Toronto wants players now, so I don't think White Sox prospects would help get a deal done.

They love this Rios kid. I got a hunch something is going to happen. Randy Miller said Gillick, Arbuckle, Amaro, Dallas Green, and Bill Giles were at the "B" game yesterday to watch him.

yt, please throw away the crack pipe and get thyself into rehab.

I would NEVER be a Yankees fan!

I hate seeing Rowand's name being thrown around. You guys may be all stat minded but I am a firm believer in team chemistry. I believe that it was for the most part that team chemistry that brought the 93 Phils from last to first and to see the central part of that chemistry traded away is not a good idea for me. Of course I would love to see Rios on the team, but hey can't they take just take Ruiz? Gives Coste a better chance if hes gone haha

Rowand for McDougal and Logan...no thanks!

I agree, Rowand isn't a stathead's dream, but he has way more to offer than stats. I'm in the middle, I love stats, but I love the intangibles too.

It was just a little hyperbole there AWH, take it easy.

My point is simply if you spend all your time considering stats and past performance numbers, you'd have to be an idiot or a sadist to root for a team the is about to eclipse the 10,000 losses mark.

And I have the crack thing under control, your not the boss of me! Just a weekend thing really... Can I borrow five dollars?

heh. new Phillies marketing slogan: "you'd have to be an idiot or a sadist!"

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