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Thursday, August 16, 2007

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From last thread: The Phils offense is slumping big time!

From Phillies.com- The top four hitters went 1-for-13 with two walks and a single (by Howard), continuing a collective August slump that may coincide with Chase Utley's absence from the lineup. Rollins is 9-for-48 (.189) since Aug. 2, Iguchi is 2-for-21 (.095) since Aug. 9 and Pat Burrell is 6-for-32 (.188) since being moved into the third spot on Aug. 5.

Howard is 4-for-24 (.167) with a homer and four RBIs since Aug. 8, and is hitting (.202) since Utley broke his hand on July 26. The Phillies struck out 24 times in the first two games of the series.

OUCH!!!

Howard's boner in the 2nd inning really was the difference in this game. Plus they scored that a hit, tough love.

Pretty brutal to Kendrick to have inherited as earned runs but having Redding knock in the runs was the back breaker.

ALSO - I am not a big Conlin fan but this was a pretty good article and I loved this line:

"Charlie has been Sir Winston Churchill in bib overalls"

http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/20070816_Bill_Conlin___Gillicks_sailing_Wades_ship.html

Continued from last thread.
BAP - Rollins' strike out in the 7th was on a group of pitches that were out of the strike zone. LA on radio noted this.
Great players are generally consistent.
Rollins is too streaky of a player to be referred to as consistent.
He was ice cold in May after a hot April.
He's been terrible as of late except for Sunday night.
However, when you look at aggregate stats, which do not factor in his cold spells, he looks great.
Surprisingly, the champions of OBP on this blog remain silent on Rollins.
That's why I think he's overrated.

As a polish american, I take offense to the term "pudgy". Has any one else noted the resemblence of Zagurski to Herman Merman, the kid in the Bad Santa movie?

I hope they can come up with some runs for Cole tonight!

so Eaton was placed on the DL with "inflammation in the right shoulder". Are we sure it wasn't due to inflammation of the ERA?

Ryan seems to have developed a mental block about throwing to 2d base--it is two straight games now in which he could have thrown there to get the lead runner but did not do so. Our corner defense is lousy.

Just a quick one that I'm sure someone here can answer. What hoops does the team have to jump through in order to legitimize a trip like Eaton's (or Barajas') to the DL? Is this sort of covert demotion ever called out officially for being what it is?

In any case, this is the type of game and the time of year when Cole really needs to come in as a shut-down no. 1. Losing this series would really be unnacceptable.

Crazy Jon - I do agree that Rollins is a very streaky player and doesn't produce a lot when he is not hitting since he hardly walks. Also, Rollins' defensive skills are overrated too. Not a defensive liability but there is no way he is an elite defender at SS.

Still, Rollins has managed to actually increase his power numbers and batting average this year while remaining a very effective base-stealer. Hard to complain about the production he has given the Phils this year.

Ideally though, I would like to see Rollins hit in the No. 6 spot next year if he continues to put up decent power numbers and walk at a lower rate. No sense in having a guy hit a bunch of solo HRs and not get on base quite as much for Utley and Howard.

They managed to do a very good job hiding the injuuries to Utley and Victorino for a couple of weeks, but now it is really starting to show -- if it is really true, as the Inky suggested, that Victorino's return is delayed at least another week that really, really hurts.

In any case, this is the type of game and the time of year when Cole really needs to come in as a shut-down no. 1. Losing this series would really be unnacceptable.

Indeed.

DeutschePhan, in this day and age with medical privacy laws, one team will never call out another team on suspect phantom injuries to guys like Eaton crap and Baraj"ass" because there is no access to proof. Besides, what team really cares that Eaton Crap went on the DL in order to bring up the Z-man? I'm sure the Mets are quaking in their boots at the thought of have to be walked, I mean, face Zagurski in a game.

as another polish american i also wold like to say that it is spelled "polock". also, i offer the term "roley-poley polock".

The Phillies team doctor that certified that Eaton Crap and Baraj"ass" were injured is probably the same guy that flunked Borowski on his medical exam. I think his name is Dr. Magoo.

Any other reputable organization, and the Eaton to the DL move isn't questioned. This move, however, reeks of misleading a fan base.

No complaints, though. A day without Eaton is like a day with, well, you all finish the analogy.

MG: I'd love to see some kind of objective analysis that supports your view that Rollins "defensive skills are overrated."

In the earlier thread you said you thought "Reyes, Ramirez, Wilson (Pirates), Greene, and Vizquel are all superior defenders to Rollins in the NL."

Again, based on what? I'm with you on Reyes and Vizquel, but Wilson, Ramirez and Greene? My eyes and the stats tell me that Rollins range is equal to Wilson's. They've each made 9 errors this season, but last year Rollins made fewer and Wilson is more inconsistent. Ramirez might someday be as good as J-Roll, but he isn't yet. He's made nearly twice as many errors. Greene might be the guy closest in skills to J-Roll. Good range, good hands, strong arm, few errors. I give J-Roll the edge because he's quicker.

I looked up the proper spelling of "polock" before writing this piece and found about four different spellings. I will take your word for it and made the correction.

I like Roley-Poley Polock. Another Beerleaguer winner. (Gas Can, Weird Beird, Roley-Poley Polock, Value Village.)

All I care about is winning the series today. Keep winning series and silly losses like last night won't matter because we'll have enough wins to make take the East or Wild Card.

Lost last night, Mets won. EVERYBODY PANIC!!

Did anyone see Howard's brain cramp? I was listening to the game on the radio and the guys couldn't really explain it.

Thank God Hamels is pitching tonight. He just has to go out there and throw a nine inning shutout, then we'll be fine.

Carson: On the earlier thread, I didn't mention any names so I'm not sure why you thought I was singling you out. I just thought posters were complicating things in the discussion of Howard's glove. He's just a bad defensive player. End of story.

- After watching Phillies bats, flailing in the DC night, looking helpless, maybe a little shake up in the batting order is a possibility. What's that you say? Cholly showing some imagination is unheard of? You might be right, but after an anemic showing offensively, something to wake up the suddenly, whiff happy line up, might be just what the Dr. ordered.

- Someone posted the stat the other night about the Phil's record in games in which they scored 3 runs or less. It was disheartening, to say the least. Washington is certainly not in last place because of their pitching, from what they have showed us.

- Cole may have to be dominant tonight to ensure a Philly win. The pressure to do so may be a little greater, since the bats are suddenly silenced. This is the type of game that dominant pitchers live for. Let's hope that Hammels, like any good Mummer, struts his best stuff in front of the nation's capital, with an abundance of the Phillie faithful in attendence.

- Is it me, or do many of the players credit Cholly's hitting philosophy to their success? It seems that his viewpoints on thumping the ball are favorable with most of the team. I don't know if this is an accurate observation, or just one that I seem to hear pretty often. Maybe the players are trying to find something nice to say instead of commenting on his lack of managing prowess.

"Thank God Hamels is pitching tonight. He just has to go out there and throw a nine inning shutout, then we'll be fine."

At first read through, I read this as first name God, last name Hamels. The thing is, that didn't phase me at all...

Clout - I agree on Ramirez. He didn't mean to include him. My personal favorite sabermetric stat for defense is Revised Zone Rating.

RZR is the proportion of balls hit into a fielder's zone that he successfully converted into an out. Zone Rating was invented by John Dewan when he was CEO of Stats Inc. John is now the owner of Baseball Info Solutions, where he has revised the original Zone Rating calculation so that it now lists balls handled out of the zone (OOZ) separately (and doesn't include them in the ZR calculation) and doesn't give players extra credit for double plays (Stats had already made that change). We believe both changes improve Zone Ratings substantially. To get a full picture of a player's range, you should evaluate both his Revised Zone Rating and his plays made out of zone (OOZ).

Both RZR and OOZ are available on Hardball Times under the stats page. According to the stats, Rollins is actually having a below average year in the field. His RZR is only .802 which ranks 11 out 13 among SS in the NL. The league leaders are Vizquel at .893 and Reyes at .883.

As for making plays out of his zone (OOZ), Rollins is doing better here. He has made 46 plays out of his zone which ranks 6th among SS in the NL.

JRoll probably falls in the middle of the pack defensively. Not as good as the upper echelon guys (Vizquel, Reyes, Tulowitski) but definitely better than guys like Ramirez or Drew.

How convenient that Eaton was placed on the DL. Does anybody else believe that not only do the Phils lie about injuries/physical fitness of players (Garcia), but that they conspire to try to fool us into believing that Eaton and Barajas are actually hurt? Gillick and Amaro sound like politicians, talking out of both sides with a s***-eating grin.

Brio,

Hate to sound like i'm defending management, but may organizations in all sports lie/understate injuries(see possibly the Eagles: Shawn Andrews). It's the way you do things. As a fan it's frustrating, but it's not always good business to tell all.

Who believes Eaton/Barajas are hurt? They stink. I'm glad the Phillies found something to do with them, other than play them in a meaningful game.

MG, I loved your fielding analysis stats. In the future Baseball Info Solutions will split the Out Of Zone (OOZ)into two areas, they will be circular rings around the Zone. The first ring will be a 15 foot ring surrounding the Zone called the Normal Out Of Zone (NOOZ). Anything beyond the NOOZ will be considered Super Normal Out Of Zone (SNOOZ). After about an hour of of Analysis of the SNOOZ, the user of these states will have a Super Normal Out Of Zone Experience (SNOOZE). Yawn, I could use a nap!

I agree the offense has gone cold, and I agree we should be able to score more than 1 run with bases jammed and no outs, but we have have the acknowledge the Nats have had good/great starting pitching and a very effective bullpen for the most part. Over the last month the Nats have the 2nd best ERA in all of baseball, and they've gone 17-9 over that time period. As we've seen their offense is horrid, so the pitching must have been pretty darn good.

I agree that tonight's game is really important. We can't lose a series to the Nats this late in the game, and hopefully the Pirates will give us the easy games we need - anyone know if Van Benschoten is starting? I hope so, I saw him at CBP and it was like batting practice.

Clout- I took offense to your statment about being over critical of Howard's D because I'm the one who started it all. No harm, no foul...lets move on.

If we lose tonight, a sweep of the Pirates becomes necessary. If we win tonight... I still want a sweep of the Pirates; look at the Mets and Braves, they are taking care of the teams they are supposed to. We can't afford not to.

Lake Fred - Pretty funny. Still think it is worthwhile though trying to quantify defense in baseball. It would probably help in awarding Gold Gloves to deserving candidates and not necessary guys with a reputation for playing good defense.

For example, if you look at the numbers for Howard he is middle in the pack defensively in the NL and not as horrible as everyone here thinks. Yeah, he is certainly no Albert Pujols by any stretch but he is certainly better than a number of 1B in the NL including Fielder, Young, and Jackson.

Also wanted to add that Jeter is rated as one of the worst SS defensively. I can't possibly think of a more overrated player defensively in MLB. Jeter's range sucks and he has a weak arm but trying telling that to a Yankees' fan.

Crazy Jon: This is going to sound ironic coming from me because, just a few days ago, I was railing about Burrell's lack of consistency. But there's no such thing as a .300 hitter who gets exactly 3 hits every 10 ABs, then moves on to the next 10 ABs and gets 3 more hits. EVERY hitter is inconsistent. Even a guy like Ichiro goes through a few protracted slumps every season.

Rollins is usually good for one really godawful slump per year, which he usually gets out of the way early in the season. After that, he might have a bad week or two along the way, but he's pretty consistent -- far more so than guys like Burrell, Howard, or Victorino. And, unlike most of his teammates, Rollins generally does his best work in the most important situations.

MG:

I've got to admit, I've always been a little skeptical of these newfangled defensive stats. I also must admit that I'm no expert on them. But isn't it true that most, if not all, of these ZR stats take no account of the velocity at which the balls are hit? That's an extraordinarily important factor &, if the stat doesn't account for it, it's completely meaningless as far as I'm concerned. And if it does somehow account for it, how do they go about measuring velocity? Isn't that an inherently subjective determination?

I acknowledge a bit of bias here. One of the reasons I tend to dismiss zone rating stats out-of-hand is because they don't support my pre-existing theory that Rollins is an excellent fielder. But, at the same time, I also think there are quite a few stats out there that are downright misleading, including some of the new sabermetric stats. When a statistical result doesn't line up with your common sense, it is more than fair to ask whether the statistic is measuring what it's supposed to be measuring. It's not like they do validation studies on this stuff.

- Let's remember one thing: Howard is NOT here for defense. He is an offensive threat at all times. If he played good defense it would be a bonus. Besides, everyone knows that most first baseman are there for their offense. Most teams, even as far back as Little League, hide their defensive liability at 1B. Why argue this to death? We all know he is average at best when it comes to fielding his position. Although he did make a nice running stab on that foul ball in front of the stands right after he botched that play. Maybe he'll make a concerted effort in the off season to improve his D, instead of traveling on the banquet & personal appearance circuit. At the least, get some confidence in his throwing, since that is where he seems to be most challenged defensively.

Although this will never happen - I'd like to see tonight:

Roberson (RF)
Iguchi
Rollins
Howard
Rowand
Burrell
Dobbs 3B
Coste
Hamels

Unfortunately I think we're going to see:

Rollins
Iguchi
Burrell
Howard
Rowand
Dobbs (RF)
Ruiz
Nunez
Hamels

We are really missing the speed and multi-faceted threat(s) of Vic/Utley.

Burrell brings nothing to the table in the 3 hole without anyone on base in front of him. If he doesn't go yard - he's just clogging up the basepath when he walks in front of Howard.

Clogging up the base paths so that he's in the way when Howard is trying to leg out all those triples that he gets?

@BAP: I think the general idea behind it is that, since there are so many balls hit at any fielder in a given season, the velocity and other aspects end up balancing out relative to the rest of the league. I don't know how valid that is...

For what its worth, Baseball Prospectus's stat (Fielding Runs Above Average) has Rollins better than Vizquel and exactly equal to Reyes this year.

Citizens Bank Park voted #1 in PETA's survey of Top 10 Vegetarian-Friendly Ballparks

at least we're #1 in something

My point with Burrell at the top is that unless Howard goes deep, you are in need of not only a knock from Howard, but another knock from Rowand to get Burrell around.

He is not worth much at the top at all - hitting 6 where he can do a little damage with men on is a much better spot for him --- although much better is tempered by his obvious limitations anywhere in that line-up.

I know he's a first-class screw up (and he evidently hates the Phils), but what do folks think about Scott Olson as a Phillie? From mlbtraderumors.com -

Olsen Conviction Could Lead To Trade

Marlins president David Samson indicated yesterday that starter Scott Olsen would not be welcome on the team if convicted of charges of DUI and resisting arrest. Apparently the felony designation is the tipping point for Samson, who seemingly would not boot Dontrelle Willis off the team if convicted of only a DUI.

To be fair, Willis has had just the one incident while Olsen has had at least six. Many teams could match up if the Marlins decide to trade Olsen this winter - the Diamondbacks, Phillies, Royals, and Devil Rays come to mind. The Fish probably still need a center fielder.

That was my understanding too, Dave. Problem with that is that you're "balancing out" one of the very factors you're supposed to be measuring. Right? I mean, defensive statistics purport to identify the differences from one player to another. Some fielders obviously have better reflexes than others, and are better at getting to hard hit balls. Moreover, if the assumption is that the percentage of hard hit balls for one SS is going to be the same as for another SS, isn't that a faulty premise? Wouldn't the quality of the team's pitching staff, among other things, have a lot to do with the percentage of hard hit balls that are hit in the shortstop's zone?

I should say for one, that I'm weary of Olson. His numbers aren't great, they have steadily declined since his rookie year, and he is is obviously a head case. But, the Marlins have also taken a few steps back as a team during his tenure, and maybe he's still young enough to really benefit from a change of scenery. At least we know the Phillies won't be scared away by a rap sheet.

Well... I knew I didn't want to read this thread.

What I've gathered is that Rollins sucks. Howard sucks. Burrell sucks. The Iguchi trade is a failure. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Nothing like a loss to the Nats to change the winds on this list.

Like I said, a drop in production of some kind was expected. We lost two of our most productive offensive players and our top OF backup. Our lineup has been forced to adjust and it hasn't. Players are pressing to pick up the slack and failing. This, frankly, wasn't unexpected. I guess it was unexpected that it took this long.

Frankly, we were spoiled by the initial push from this lineup after losing Chase, Vic and Bourn.

The good news is that our pitching has been much better and many of the losses we've had we actually could have won. Last night was a prime example. Bases loaded with nobody out and we go single, K, K, grounder. We just can't let that happen.

Tonight, Hamels, hopefully, will get us back on track. A win tonight and we win yet another series. That would mean since the All-Star break, we will have lost just two series (7-2-1, including a sweep of Pittsburgh).

I'll repeat, once again... the big series are yet to come. We have two series left against both Atlanta and New York. That's where this division will be won. Losing these games are tough, but not unexpected considering the players on the sidelines.

Someone (don't remember whom and dont have time to research) foreshadowed Eaton's move to the DL. Bravo! Brilliant move, I suppose, as it frees up a roster spot and he was not going to move to the 'pen.

That being said, I'd LOVE to be in the mind of a Barajas or Eaton right now. Does management approach them and come out and say "Look, you've been sucking (I'm paraphrasing). We're going to put you on the DL for (insert injury here), rather than release you." At that point, isn't the player obligated to fake the injury? When asked, doesn't have have to say "My (body part) hurts. Should be ready soon."? It's just funny to think of how these things must get executed behind the scenes. And what does it do to a players ego? That's the REAL injury.

Your right, BAP... defense is easily the most limited field for statistics (and some would say its the easiest for scouts to be wrong, too). I think they're more useful for making general statements - like, if 3 or 4 different ones all say Jeter is a poor defender, he probably is - rather than determining who is the 4th as compared to the 5th best SS in the league.

I don't think Eaton had to be told he's sucked. I'm sure he reads Beerleaguer.

"My point with Burrell at the top is that unless Howard goes deep, you are in need of not only a knock from Howard, but another knock from Rowand to get Burrell around."

I think this point is pretty indisuptable, but all the statheads have been arguing for months that Burrell should be moved up in the lineup because of his on-base percentage. Where are they now?

JMARR: That clogging up the basepaths comment makes no sense whatsoever. Its exactly the opposite, you do want Burrell 'clogging' the basepaths with Howard up next. What does Howard do the best on the team? Hit HR's....so wouldn't you want a guy on base to make more of those solo shots into 2R HR's? Or if they walk Howard, then you've got Rowand up with a guy in scoring position.

Please explain to me how having a slow runner hit in front of Howard hurts the team in any way.

timr: I haven't gone anywhere.

I think the argument that Burrell "clogs the bases" is one of the dumbest arguments I've ever heard. And I think there's little to no evidence that his base-running abilities have had a negative effect on this offense.

Our lineup is still better with Rollins at the top and Burrell batting third than with Rollins batting third and Burrell batting sixth.

The slump this offense is experiencing isn't limited to one player. It's a lineup full of players pressing to do more to make up for our injured players. Burrell is not special in this case.

I was ready to join Jason's camp of folks ready to see Brett Myers as our closer of this year and the future, but after seeing the music in this poll:

http://blogs.phillynews.com/inquirer/zozone/2007/08/pick_myers_music_for_real_this_1.html

I'd like to move him back to the rotation.

I'll repeat something Conlin wrote early this year about Howard. That Howard's performance is not predicated on who's hitting BEHIND HIM. It's about who's hitting IN FRONT OF HIM. Since Utley went down, Howard's performance has dropped significantly. For the most part, Rollins and Burrell were just okay... which is a severe drop off from the performance that Utley had performed.

In the meantime, Rowand's performance (offensively) has been just above okay during this time. Probably because of the pressure to knock in runs when Howard comes up small.

Pitchers are going to WALK Howard in most situations when he's not struggling regardless if Rowand, Burrell, or Babe Ruth hit behind him.

And Howard has struggled without Utley in front.

The solution has to be move Rowand 3rd. Burrell 5th. Then either Dobbs or Werth 6th. Although I might try Coste 6th when he starts as well.

I'm no stathead, but I still think that Burrell should be in the 3-hole, not for his OBP, but out of sheer necessity and a lack of other viable options. Rollins would be a decent fit there, but with Bourn and Victorino out, he MUST leadoff. No other leadoff options (I'm not sold on the Roberson lead off idea). If Rowand hits 3rd, you have Burrell hitting 5th, which brings us back again to the argument that Burrell is not as good of protection for Howard as Rowand has been. At the time when a new 3-hole option was needed, Burrell was swinging the hottest bat in the lineup and it would not compromise the rest of the lineup moving him to the 3rd spot as much as taking Rollins from the lead off spot and/or Rowand from the 5-hole.

Again, that is just my opinion.

I still don't have a problem with Burrell batting 3rd right now. Of course when Utley gets back, back to the 6-hole for Patty B but seriously what do you want Charlie to do with a lineup without Utley, Victorino or Bourn. It's tough to figure out a good lineup without them.

Anyway, I'm leaving in about 2 hours for the game in D.C. tonight, anyone going?

This is totally unrelated but something has been bugging for a few days and I need to get it off my chest.

It's those "Fan in all of us" commercials or whatever they call it. So far I've noticed Victorino, Myers, Utley, Madson and Moyer in those commercials, 4 out of 5 have been on the DL. I swear Moyer is like a ticking timebomb because of those Ads.

I'm waiting for the new one of Bourn and Howard goofing off which will be promptly followed by Howard suffering a freak injury when the field tarp rolls over him just like Vince Coleman back in the day.

Thank you being part of my anxiety attack.

Good Day.

Yeah, I think you've gotta hit Rowand third.

Burrell excels at the bottom of the lineup, where the pressure is off.

timr: Since you don't like 'statheads', I'll put it in laymans terms for you. Which would you rather have happen?: 1) Burrell gets on base in front of Howard, forcing a pitcher to either pitch to Howard or walk a runner into scoring position for Rowand coming up next.
2) Burrell gets on base, Werth/Dobbs/Helms/Ruiz or some other dreck bats behind him and makes an easy out.

I'll take guys on base for our best hitters. Bottom line is the whole offense has been struggling recently, but until Utley comes back I think you have to stick with Burrell in the 3-hole. You want your high OB% guys hitting in front of your sluggers, batting Burrell later in the lineup wastes the one thing he excels at.

Saw this in a Jonah Keri chat on ESPN:

In the book "Baseball Between the Numbers" (I edited and co-authored it, although others did much heavier lifting on the analytical side), there's a chapter written by Nate Silver that looks at the past 25 years worth of playoff teams and the areas at which each team excelled. The conclusion was that teams with 1) two top starters, 2) great defense and 3) a great closer tend to best in the playoffs. Regular-season offensive success, amazingly, had virtually no correlation to post-season wins, according to the study.

Doesn't exactly bode well for our chances if we do make the postseason.

MG, sounds like BAP is a SNOOZER, a Stats Normal Out Of Zone Experience Rejector!

from Jason Stark:
"We're not sure Manuel has much of a shot at being Manager of the Year, but there's now more of a chance the Phillies will bring him back than anyone expected. "That club is really growing on me," one scout said. "Charlie has done a great job, despite what their fans think. That team has the best makeup of any club in that division, even with all the injuries they've had. And that's a tribute to the manager.""

Pitching and D win games?!?

That's probably a Met or Brave scout giving Manuel props, hoping the Phils bring him back so they can take advantage.

Fred: I'm not sure what your post means but I'm no stats rejector. I'm a stats questioner. There are 8 zillion baseball statistics out there, some of them very significant and some completely meaningless. Just because some guy crunches a bunch of data & spits out a statistic does not mean that the statistic has any meaning as an index of what it purports to be measuring. Why do you think testing companies invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into validity studies which are designed to make sure the test is really measuring the attributes it purports to be measuring?

The whole sabermetrics trend was brought on by stats questioners -- people who realized that a lot of traditional baseball statistics were, in fact, highly flawed ways of measuring productivity. Sabermetric stats are not immune from similar questioning.

Timr:

"That clogging up the basepaths comment makes no sense whatsoever. Its exactly the opposite, you do want Burrell 'clogging' the basepaths with Howard up next. What does Howard do the best on the team? Hit HR's....so wouldn't you want a guy on base to make more of those solo shots into 2R HR's? Or if they walk Howard, then you've got Rowand up with a guy in scoring position.

Please explain to me how having a slow runner hit in front of Howard hurts the team in any way."

Here goes: Howard is going to hit how many more big flys this year? 10?

I'd rather have a guy in the three hole who can get on base, and score from first on a double, beat out a DP ball and set the table for Howard than Burrell who can do only the following:

1. Walk
2. Score in front of Howard on a HR

Stats be damned - if you've watched as many games as most on this board - Burrell is not looking forward to coming up with men on in a tight situation and doing damage ... he just tries to work the count, get a pass and let the guys behind him do the damage.

I'd rather have that taking place in the 6th spot in the line-up than the 3rd. Simple as that.

The tenuous state of the Phillies really is such that hopes can live or die with each win or loss. They'll be on life support if Hamels can't win tonight.

Mike C.: Agreed. I've been calling for Rowand to hit third since the day John Lannan's instant bad karma chased Utley out of action. (probably too many attempts at cleverness for one sentence.) Burrell simply does not belong in the top part of the lineup.

Jason, I prefer your original, alliterative nickname for Zagurski, 'Pudgy Polack'. That deserves to stick. By the way, how was he doing down/up in Ottawa? I just hope Manuel doesn't start throwing him into tie ballgames again.

BAP: your meditation on statistics is a breath of fresh air. This site needs more thinkers and fewer sophists.

I think someone else (clout?) mentioned it on the last thread, but I would have preferred they give Eaton one more shot against Pittsburgh, given a) the weaker nature of that team's offense, and b) the fact that they not only have seen Durbin, but knocked him around pretty good a few weeks ago. I don't know if Happ is really a better option, however. The last six weeks of a pennant race is not a good time to throw a rookie pitcher into the fray to 'see what he can do'. Though if Durbin falters, it may ultimately come down to either Happ or Mathieson.


Just to clarify: the Phillies won't actually be on life support if they lose again tonight - just our collective hopes.

Then it's settled: Pudgy Polock it is, on the advice of Beerleaguer's senior nicknamer.

Speaking of nicknames...I was also going to suggest 'Home Run Durbin' but thought better of it.

So Burrell is only capable of (a) walking, or (b) hitting a home run. His 49 singles and 19 doubles never happened. I'm glad we got that cleared up.

Here's Keith Law on Joe Savery:

I think if he can recover his pre-injury form, they got a minor steal. But I think it's more likely that he's not going to be the same guy, in which case, he wasn't a first-rounder. I have never seen him top 91 mph, while I'm told that in his freshman year he pitched at 91-94.

Home Run Durbin has headline potential.

Sorry, BAP. I was just having a little fun with the acronym OOZ for Out Of Zone. I know you are not a Baseball Stats Rejector (BSR), actually you are somewhat skeptical of some of these newer stats, trying to discern the BS contained in the BS (Baseball Stats). Stats are the lifeblood of any true baseball fan, especially when games aren't being played like in the winter time. We are always looking at the stats to see who is the better player.

MG: Any stat that rates Howard as better than the bottom tier of 1B is pretty seriously flawed. About all he does well is scoop throws. On those plays where he should get the lead runner at second but goes to first for the out instead, the zone rating stat would call the play a success. Yeah, right.

JMARR: "Stats be damned - if you've watched as many games as most on this board - Burrell is not looking forward to coming up with men on in a tight situation and doing damage ... he just tries to work the count, get a pass and let the guys behind him do the damage."

He's "not looking forward to coming up with men on base"? And you can tell this how, exactly? Brain waves? Aura? Secret messages that beam through your tin-foil hat?

JMARR: "Stats be damned - if you've watched as many games as most on this board - Burrell is not looking forward to coming up with men on in a tight situation and doing damage ... he just tries to work the count, get a pass and let the guys behind him do the damage.

I'd rather have that taking place in the 6th spot in the line-up than the 3rd. Simple as that."

Wow I'm not even sure I should bother to respond to this, but let's take a look at the top 10 in OPS in the Majors since the All-Star break (July 13th on):

1. Pat Burrell 1.198
2. Miguel Cabrera 1.189
3. Jorge Posada 1.188
4. Robinson Cano 1.73
5. Jermaine Dye 1.135
6. Ryan Howard 1.114
7. Hanley Ramirez 1.108
8. Milton Bradley 1.104
9. Albert Pujols 1.071
10. Ryan Braun 1.062

This is from The Good Phight on tuesday. I guess we should bat the hottest batter IN ALL OF MLB since the All-Star break 6th. Maybe we should bat him 9th and let the pitcher hit 8th since Pat "is not looking forward to coming up with men on in a tight situation and doing damage.... he just tries to work the count, get a pass and let the guys behind him do the damage." Even if that WERE true, wouldn't you want Howard coming up with even more batters on base with the chance to drive them in versus someone else from the bottom of the order? Your logic makes no sense.

It's called not swinging at pitches that are balls or that he can't hit. In his terrible 2003 campaign he constantly swung and missed at breaking balls out of the zone. Would you rather he struck out more instead of walked?

I'll stop now, since I know I'm not going to change your mind with actual facts and you're certainly not going to change my mind with your 'I watch the games and can read Pat Burrell's mind and know what he's thinking when he bats' argument.

RSB: "The last six weeks of a pennant race is not a good time to throw a rookie pitcher into the fray to 'see what he can do'."

Two words: Marty Bystrom.

Heaven help us for nicknaming a pitcher Home Run Durbin. We already have Home Run Hamels.

When I was a boy there was a cartoon shown on channel six called Clutch Cargo. We can have Clutch Coste.

I'm not sold on the Pudgy Polock nickname. We need to be careful with using ethnic terms in nicknames. By the way, how did the Atlanta Native Americans do last night?

You guys crack me up - I'd be interested to see how many AB's you had past Pony league.

If you think Burrell is getting in the box in tight situations and is looking for a pitch to punish they way he should as a Middle of the Order former golden spikes award winner should - you are delusional.

He's hoping it doesn't come down to him in a big situation - his mind hasn't been right in almost 5 years now.

As a concurrent member of both the Pat The Bat Fan Club and of the Burrell Bashers, I feel that JMARR is being ridiculous thinking that Pat the Bat gets tight in men on base situations. I think all players get a bit nervous and press a little harder with men on base. Burrell gets us mad when the bat sits on his shoulder for a called third strike, or his mystery foot ailment refuses to heal, but JMARR you're off the mark when you write: "Burrell is not looking forward to coming up with men on in a tight situation and doing damage ... he just tries to work the count, get a pass and let the guys behind him do the damage."

Nobody wants Pat to step up in those situations as I do - I've been rooting for that guy since he was a rook - but there is a difference when he's in the box with men on in a tight spot and a guy like Chase.

Some guys feel like the pressure is on them, some feel like all the pressure is on the pitcher.

Unfortunately - Pat is the former not the latter.

@Alby - Couldn't agree more.
I've been posting "Kyle Kendrick and J.D. Durbin = Bob Walk and Marty Bystrom" for over a month now.
Check the archive for proof.

JMARR: I was unaware playing past Pony League gave one the ability to read minds. Color me enlightened, you win. Why waste this talent of yours on his baseball career...can you please share what he's seeing when he's nailing some hot blond he took home from the Irish Pub?

Of course you didn't actually respond to any of the FACTS in my post or the flaws in your logic I pointed out.

BTW - not that Anthony is a genius - but this discussion is happening right now on 610

JMARR is not off the mark at all. Burrell has a tendency to grind the bat handle into sawdust in tight spots. He very seldom looks relaxed at the plate.

This is not to say he never comes through in the clutch. I know that he does. But he hasn't inspired much confidence in these situations since his first couple of years, when he had that amazing record with the bases loaded. If he doesn't get just the right pitch, or guess right about when he'll get it, the at-bat is doomed and the walk becomes the best-case scenario.

Burrell is not an authoritative enough presence to handle hitting third. Throw all the stats and decimal points you want out there. He does not fit the mold.

I'm sure this is all just a coincidence:

PtBB's numbers in 9 games at #3:

7/36 (.194), 6 BB, 3 RBI

PtBB's numbers in the 9 previous games at #6:

13/29 (.448), 9 BB, 7 RBI

Phillies scored 47 runs in the 9 games with PtBB @ #3, 50 runs in the previous 9 games.

Since Utley went down, Burrell is hitting .311 with a 1.073 OPS. 5 HR 12 RBI 10 R 13 BB.

Since he has started hitting 3rd, he's hitting .188. His OPS is .558. He has not hit one home run. (He hit homers in 3 straight games before moving to the 3rd spot.) He's knocked in 3 runs, scored just twice. And walked 6 times while striking out 10 times.

OMG - one loss and a Burrell debate ensues? I dont get it.

Does Pat really look more tense in pressure situations than he normally does? I mean, the man craps diamonds. He always looks tense.

Curt,I think are numbers are slightly off,
http://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/gl.cgi?
share=1&n1=burrepa01&year=2007&t=b#1098:1106:sum

But I think it's close enough to show that the Burrell at 3rd has not been successful.

During this stretch, his season AVG only dropped .008, whiles his OPS dropped .036 from .924 to .888.

Voice, it's more to do with this team's prolonged offensive torpor and not just the one game last night.

JMARR - gotta call "BULLSHIT" on you're statement "He's hoping it doesn't come down to him in a big situation - his mind hasn't been right in almost 5 years now." That's just pure revisionist history. His batting average was BETTER with RISP in 2004, 2005, and his batting average with RISP this year is slightly better than his overall average. Since 2004, his OBP has always been higher with RISP. That would infer that he's a patient hitter w/ RISP, not that he's afraid to hit.

Burrell's Season averages/RISP averages:
2007 .261 BA/.264 BA w/ RISP, .413/.452 OBP
2006 .258/.222 BA, .358/.376 OBP
2005 .281/.313 BA, .381/.429 OBP
2004 .257/.263 BA, .365/.392 OBP

Curt and Mike C: I agree Burrell has struggled mightily in the 9 or 10 games since being moved to #3...but 10 games is hardly a significant sample size. Howard has been pretty brutal over the same stretch, should we move him in the lineup?

I'm of the belief that Burrell's slump is a coincidence and has nothing to do with being moved into the 3-hole. That being said, I would be fine with Burrell at #5 and Rowand at #3, but I feel those advocating Burrell down at #6 are letting their personal feelings about him cloud their judgement of him as a baseball player. He's still one of the best hitters on the team and is greatly needed with all the injuries.

I don't get it, either. Burrell isn't the only hitter who hasn't performed this series. The Phillies' problems in Washington aren't a new development. Plus, this was destined to be a letdown series. Every team in baseball is guilty of taking their feet off the gas in situations like these from time to time. That said, they still have an excellent chance to get two of three tonight. I would be quite an accomplishment considering how lousy the bats have been.

Can someone explain to me why all 3 pitchers the Phillies are facing in his series have an era under 3? who are these people?

@ajc1 -- exactly... And have you watched them pitch around Burrell during this situations. I know the Sarge would like Burrell to be more agressive. But patience at the plate typically wins out.

I'm a burrell supporter. I just think hitting 3rd doesn't suit him. He should hit no higher than 4 and no lower than 6.

Mike - Yeah, I see I gave PtBB the benefit of the doubt.

BTW, at that RBI pace, PtBB would drive in 54 runs out of the 3 hole over a full season. Needless to say, that number doesn't even match the number of "Burrell doubles" that land around him out there in LF.

RSB - What "prolonged offensive torpor"? Before the Nats series we had scored at least 5 runs in 8 of our 11 games in August so far.

@Jemaine -- my argument on Howard's struggles was related to the lack of performance in FRONT of him. I'm not suggesting moving Howard anywhere. But Rollins and Burrell have not helped Howard get out of his funk, nor did they perform exceptionally well there either.

Move Rowand to #3 and see what happens there. It's highly possible that Burrell was going to hit this funk without the batting order position. But it's SUCH a significant drop off, that coincides EXACTLY with the day he was moved to 3rd, that would indicate to me that he was not the right guy for that slot.

Curt: You stated that it's just a "coincidence" that Burrell's 7-game stats in the No. 6 spot are much better than his most recent 9-game stats in the No. 6 spot. I gather that you are making this statement ironically, but the real irony is that a statement you intended to be ironic is, in fact, true. Yes, it's a coincidence.

Cue back to my earlier posts about meaningless stats. Here's a perfect example: batting average in a particular spot in the order. Does anybody seriously believe that, when the guy is standing up there at the plate, he's thinking, "Uh oh. Today I'm hitting 3rd instead of 6th. This is going to be tough?"

Also, you are not only relying on a meaningless stat to prove your point but a meaningless stat arising from a paltry sample size. What about all those games earlier this year when Burrell was just godawful hitting out of the No. 6 spot?

Don't know why it would surprise anyone that he didn't continue to hit .430 or whatever he put up in July. He's not that good a hitter (no one is); his cooling off at some point was pretty predictable.

Jermaine - Howard's most recent issues began with the loss of Utley. At this point, I'd have no problem with Coste at 1B til Utley returns.

curt - could Burrell's low RBI numbers in the 3 spot during the last 10 games have anything to do with Jimmy hitting .179 in that stretch? Hello?

RSB - ah, ok.

I'm a big believer in synergy. There is no doubt that Chase is the proverbial "he makes guys around him better" type of player. Until he is back in the lineup they will struggle.
But for whatever reason, the Nats give these guys fits. Once they get to Pittsburg, their starving bats will come to life.

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