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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

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I've been begging for a Stairs start since the Pittsburgh series. Yes, he's old and he's slow, but he could use the at-bats, and it won't kill you for one game to do it. And then we can get one of the regulars some rest.

Even if we clinch tomorrow, do you really expect these guys to be given anything off the rest of the week?
We'd hear the "they need to stay loose" or "get in the at-bats" or some other excuse to keep them out there.

I've perceived them to look tired for the last couple of weeks, with sluggish, dragging bats. However, here is a summary of last thread posts that could show it to be something different:

Why is it that a team in a pennant race is "tired", not being energized by the adrenaline of the moment, but the out-of-contention nobodies we are playing look fresh? Sounds to me more like tight than tired.

I asked this question a couple of games ago. When was the last time we came back to win after being down by two or more runs after the 7th inning? I know we have lost a few recently when we were up by two or more after the 7th. My memory could be faulty, but seems to be another example of tight, not tired.

And countless examples of situations with runners on 3rd with less than two outs, but nothing to show for it. Tight, not tired.

And if it was tiredness, why is it that the largest player on the team (Howard) seems to be the "freshest" despite playing more games than anyone?

Lake Fred, Walker's been drenched in sweat every time I see him. He's just one of those people who perspire a lot, like Derek Lowe.

But he did fail last night and in the past few times he's been used.

Capable or not, the worst any group of players can do is to lose the game, & when viewed in that regard the Phillies' reserves cannot do any more poorly than the Phillies' starters have been doing. When I look at the Phillies I do not see a team lacking in drive or effort, I see a team that is physically & mentally drained. Cut the guys a break & sit your starters for a night, Charlie. Do it now, before it's too late.

Maybe they're worn down from the race? Or maybe from losing in late innings?

In actuality, the poor plays is probably a combination of four different things: apathy (I think they got a little lax), poorly timed slumps, tightness, and tiredness.

Another nice thing to see would be our players getting bloop hits and broke-bat bleeders, and the opposition crushing balls right at players. Would be a nice reversal.

I think we've seen with the Mets the effect a bad bullpen can have on the morale of a team. The truth is we should have already clinched. If Lidge had blown just 3 fewer saves this thing would be over now. Or if Lidge had blown 2 fewer and Madson had blown 1 fewer. You get the idea.

I would agree with the notion that the "core" of the team is probably gassed because they've done everything you could do to win the division (hit and field at the top of the league) and it hasn't been reciprocated. That's a mental and emotional drain for sure.

We're going to stop the bleeding tonight with Happ. Even if we split with Houston, odds are on our side.

Mike, Charlie said he'll rest his guys after they clinch, I'm pretty sure. 'Course, if they aren't going to play well enough to clinch before the last day, there goes any rest. (And if they don't play well enough to clinch, period, then they'll get months of rest!)

I think it would have been a good idea to give one regular per night a rest for the past 3 weeks. Ibanez and Vic are the only ones who rested, thanks to their illnesses. Oh, and I remember one day Cairo started for Feliz.

repost and hopefully insight to the RBI argument.

Berkman RBI Ratio

2008: expected 72.23, actual 104 = 1.44 ratio
2007: eRBI 72.57, aRBI 101, aeRatio = 1.39
2006: eRBI 71.74, aRBI 135, aeRatio = 1.88
2005: eRBI 62.09, aRBI 80, aeRatio = 1.28


Howard RBI Ratio

2008: eRBI 83.08, aRBI 144, aeRatio = 1.71(led league)
2007: eRBI 87.26, aRBI 134, aeRatio = 1.54
2006: eRBI 84.95, aRBI 148, aeRatio = 1.74
2005: eRBI 42.98, aRBI 62, aeRatio = 1.44

Berkman's 2006 year was best, but Howard has been better over the past 4 years. I won't be able to tally 2009 until retrosheet comes out - but I'm sure Howard will crush Berkman as Puma is having a down year.

Jack is right that Howard is given better RBI Chances, averaging around 84 a year compared to Berkman around 72. However Howard has done much more with those chances than Berkman would have.

Essentially, take Berkman's aeRatio in 2008 of 1.44 and multiply it by Howard's 2008 eRBI of 83.08 and you can figure that Berkman batting 4th on the Phillies would have driven in ~119 aRBIs in 2008 whereas Howard drove in 144 aRBIs. The difference is about 24-25 RBIs, which at fangraphs is probably valued at 2.5 wins at roughly $7.5-8mil.

This is strictly RBI sided, not runs scored, so Berkman's superior OBP might have closed the gap in terms of runs scored.

Click my name for more explanations.

thephaithful: Those are good points. I think we can all agree that Ryan Howard is a very valuable player. I think Jack's point was that Berkman is generally underrated, which I agree 100% with. As clout said, had he played his career as a Yankee, he'd be a household name.

I would agree that Berkman is underrated as well, but with that said, Howard's offensive value is still greater over his short career compared to Berkman's--and probably 95% of the rest of the league.

I don't buy the tired argument. It's September and every other team contending has been playing their starters regularly for the last month and half. Suck it up, you have one week to go.

Nice stats, thephaithful - Using those stats, how do Howard's career numbers rank against HOF caliber players?

There's nothing to say , no second guessing or statistical analysis is helpful, just win 3 more games.

1964 should only be a distant memory, not a recurring theme

Git 'er done.

Phaithful: Good stuff.

FWIW, in terms of overall value, Fangrpahs WAR has Berkman and Howard exactly equal since 2006, when Howard had his first full season.

Which, by the way, was exactly my point the whole time.

JW, agreed with everything you posted, with one exception.

"The loss of Carlos Ruiz to injury has had a noticeable effect on their production."

I would prefer Chooch in 1000 out of 1000 opportunities, and Bako has been generally terrible this year. But since filling in for Ruiz, he has hit quite well. (Don't have the figures in front of me, but I recall he may have had at least one hit in each game since he has filled in for Carlos?) Ditto Hoover, who fared nicely in his one start. Apologies for not having access to stats at moment, but I'd be curious to see how much production has come from the catcher spot this month, from all three players.

Amen, Bubba.

@ thephaithful: That's a neat tool, nice work.

Re: the bench, obviously Dobbs going down for an extended length of time hurt the club there, but a lot of said at the deadline that Ruben hadn't done enough to bolster the infield depth. The Tribe had already kicked in Francisco -- why not sweeten the pot a tad and get them to throw in Jamey Carroll as well? Or why not give Nomar a shot? I'd gladly have lived with Nomar's subpar defense at short if he made one or two spot starts there if it meant the end of any Bruntlett at bats ever.

clout: Actually, I agree with you that not all OPS is created equal and that Howard's far greater power more than offsets Berkman's greater ability at drawing walks. Whether it offsets Berkman's combination of extra walks AND extra batting average, I'm not sure.

Howard & Berkman have different skill sets and their relative values depend on what spot in the lineup they're occupying. As a cleanup hitter, I'd much rather have Howard. As a No. 3 hitter, Berkman is the better choice.

We are seeing why teams don't repeat or even make it back to the postseason after they win a championship. The team is more tired than others because they had less of an offseason than the other teams. Some admittedly didn't train as well or come to ST prepared. Some have had down years (understatement when it comes to Lidge). There have been a rash of injuries. There is little servicable depth to rest players.

It all mounts to a team that is dragging toward the finish line and is in desperate need of a Red Bull injection. Remember when Jimmy came in the Red Bull truck? He had a great game.

BTW, our dear Met troll in the last thread broke my cardinal rule: misuse of the word irony. That's three lashes with a wet noodle.

smokeyjoe asked: "Why is it that a team in a pennant race is "tired", not being energized by the adrenaline of the moment, but the out-of-contention nobodies we are playing look fresh? Sounds to me more like tight than tired."

out of contention nobodies have the luxury of using the expanded bench to play fresh prospects and young guys.

rollins actually came out and said he was exhausted. unfortunately, remarkably poor bench options, particularly in the infield, coupled with a manager who is unable to ever see past the current game has conspired to really hurt the phillies in the last few weeks.

How many viewers think that ANDY TRACY is a better left-handed bat than Stairs or Dobbs for the playoff roster? Dobbs goes on the DL and Tracy can take the loophole onto the playoff roster.

" As a No. 3 hitter, Berkman is the better choice."

Agreed.

But the discussion started when Jack advocated for the wisdom of trading Howard for Berkman - and I think it's unlikely (although possible) that in the unlikely event that such a trade were made, Berkman would replace Utley in the #3 hole.

The problem is that, absent the starter throwing a near-gem, this team has no ability to win right now. You can pretty much guarantee the bullpen will give up at least 4 runs per game. The up-and-down offense might be able to cover up, but even 6-1 and 9-2 leads haven't seemed completely safe.

Last night's game was over as soon as Hamels was victimized by broken bat bleeders to give Houston a 4-2 lead in the 7th. The only hope to make any kind of run in the postseason is for Romero, Eyre, Condrey, and Durbin to play like it's 2008.

I don't buy the tired argument either. Playing a baseball game is about as tiring as shooting pool for 3 hours. The idea that it's exhausting is just a myth that baseball players perpetrate as a way of patting themselves on the back for their athletic prowess.

The Phillies don't hit for a high team average and, as a result, they have a lot of long, sustained slumps. Last year the slump happened in June and July; this year, in August & September. It has nothing to do with being tired.

Since I don't buy the tired theory, I don't believe in playing the reserves. However, some lineup juggling might not be the worst idea in the world.

phlipper: I thought I read Jack say very explicitly that he would NOT make that trade because Berkman is 3 years older.

As I wrote in the last thread, being in Houston, I am able to see all four games on Houston TV. I recorded the game on DVD for posterity. Something to look at when I'm in the old folks home with Ryan Howard. Anyway, my wife was a bit peeved when I forced her to watch the Phillies bat in the 9th. She wanted to watch Nancy Grace and see all the dirt on that scumbag Roman Polanski, but I wanted a full recording for posterity. She was able to see the last 45 minutes of Nancy Grace. She missed part of the lead story on alleged suspected murderer Misty Croslin. Not once did Nancy question Cholly's reasoning on lifting Hamels in favor a Walker. I am shocked!

Every day, there's statistically a 75% chance that either the Phillies will win OR the Braves will lose. The baseball gods don't believe in math I guess. (This assumes each matchup is a 50-50 proposition and it's often actually better than that for the Phils. See last night.)

Nancy Grace still has a show? Now that's shocking,

As bad as things are going, the Phils still should be able to clinch by Friday at the latest. That could give the regulars up to 3-4 days of rest is Charlie takes advantage.

The Phillies are like a high school student who cuts class, never does his homework, and constantly gets sent to the principal's office for bad behavior. Then, just as his parents are threatening to ground him for 2 weeks, he goes out and aces the midterm. The Phillies are in imminent danger of being grounded for 2 weeks and tonight is the midterm.

Actually going to take a different tack and argue that I don't mind seeing Cholly trot out the same starting 9 until they clinch.

Cholly could & probably should have rested them a bit more during the course of the season but who honestly on this bench would you want starting out there now - Bruntlett? Cairo? Stairs? Mayberry? Hoover?!

Everyone of thee guys is a clear offensive down grade for the guys they would replace and defensively too.

If you want to place some blame here, it clearly lies at the feet of Amaro. For whatever reasons, he just hasn't put together a decent bench since the start of the season, didn't add any secondary bench pieces when every NL contender did in Aug/Sept, and the Phils didn't really call up a positional player who might help the Phils (Gose, Taylor, etc) in some capacity.

It is pretty clear that Cholly has been waiting desperately for this team to clinch and then wants to rest his starters. Ideally they clinch by Friday to give the starters at least 1-2 days off if needed.

Last point - Dobbs should be playing more but supposedly they had mentioned the other night that his calf is still injured enough that it really prevents him from running on the bases/playing in the field.

Really been a "tough luck" year for Dobbs all-around who seems to have been plagued by several nagging injuries over the course of the season.

So basically the Phils have 1 guy - Francisco - who Cholly should probably start on a semi-regular basis to spell Ibanez and Werth and he has done that by giving Francisco 8 starts this month alone.

Fair enough, BAP:

Here was Jack's first post on the subject:

Earlier this season someone told me I was ridiculous for suggesting Howard wasn't as good as Lance Berkman.

2009 OPS+:
Howard 136
Berkman 138

People (myself included) went from there to say that Jack was advocating a trade of Howard for Berkman - and that was, indeed, a straw man. Apologies extended.

I agree with you that the definition of who is "better" needs to be contextualized. I'd go with your statement that Berkman is a better #3 hitter, and Howard a better #4 hitter. And I'm not sure it's valid to enlarge the argument to say who's better overall.

BAP i was thinking the same thing. I understand its a long season but they aren't playing 48 minutes of full court or out there. Not to mention how can these guys be tired for the stretch run?! I don't remember them being tired last year when they had to play their asses off to overtake the Brewers and Mets to make the playoffs.

The Braves have played the same amount of games and they still come to play everyday.
It used to be that i thought being behind was never a problem for this squad but now it seems they only have one burst of runs and then fizzle.

I think they ain't scoring because they lack brains in the batters box with men on base and b/c the bench has no talent.

As far as the back end of the bullpen, Lidge may have to learn a third pitch, and correct me if i'm wrong but didn't Madson have a nasty curve ball once upon a time?

Phlipper: Thank you for clarifying your characterization of my argument. As BAP points out, I never discussed trading Howard for Berkman, except to say I wouldn't do it because of the age difference.

My overall point was that earlier this season, in discussing Howard, I mentioned Berkman as one of the 1st baseman equal to or better to Howard. This was ridiculed, and I just thought that in light of playing the Astros, I'd point out that Berkman has now put up a slightly better OPS+ than Howard this season. I don't think it's crazy to suggest Berkman belongs in that conversation. All I'm saying is that there's a reasonable argument to be made (and one in which I think a lot of people have made good points on both sides).

The first thing I look at when the next season's schedule comes out is the final weeks' opponents. Now I know why.

Trying to figure out how they can be "tired" assumes that they are, in fact, tired, to which there is nothing but circumstantial evidence. People are acting like this is a given, when in fact there's no way to tell if maybe they're just not playing well right now, as opposed to being "tired", "worn out", whatever.

Maybe it has nothing to do with who's more "tired" between us and the Braves, and more to do with the nature of baseball, that being some teams get hot at certain times and some teams get cold.

Now would be a nice time for us to start to turn the arrow back towards "hot" though.

PHIL: So if Dobbs is hurt like that, why the hell haven't' they shut him down and brought up some kid from AA or AAA? Seriously, no one else in the system can top a .158 BA? Really? Poor management. Charlie is a players manager and probably one of the best when it comes to that, but somebody/ Ruben or Montgomery, need to be more forceful about personnel decisions if Charlie is incapable of making them. Plenty of kids down in AA/AAA who would be great to spell this tired bench/starting 9 and it's stupid if they won't do it. Oh wait, their afraid of loosing a measly couple of mil on the backend if they start a couple of these kid's clocks early? Whooopdedo. Drop in the bucket.

As far as the Braves "coming to play everyday", I'm pretty sure having the best pitching in baseball is what's winning them games right now.

Tired isn't necessarily a good or bad excuse. I would imagine every player is tired at this point in the season, but they have to play through it. Perhaps they did peak too early. This team isn't accustomed to it.

Maybe this is only obvious to me, but they're probably so tired because of the schedule they've had this month. Remember all the talk about how they were X games up in the loss column or X games behind the Dodgers for the best record in the loss column? That was always because they had played fewer games than all the other teams.

Well everyone plays 162 games (unless 2 teams completely out of it happen to be rained out at the end of the year). So that means the Phillies had to play more games this month than the other teams. Perhaps that's why they're tired...

If I've been doing a really good job at work, can I put it in neutral a month before review and just tell my boss that I'm (mentally/physically) tired from all the effort I put in to excel previously?

Smoky, that would depend on your job. And your boss.

Smoky: Come to think of it, whenever I do a really good job at work for a week or two, I usually spend the next week or two posting on Beerleaguer all day long.

BAP, who do you bill for your time?

I think there is a correlation between being physically and mentally tired. The Phils are mentally tired right now (tired of watching blown saves, tired of the Braves not losing, tired of not playing "meaningful" games), and now that a sense of urgency is here they are pressing physically at the plate. The reason they didn't hit that bum last night is because hitters are up there pressing, trying to do everything themselves.

Not saying this is an excuse, but I think this is what's happening. They sure weren't tired last year when every game was important. Now when they have a big lead, they don't know what to do with it or how to protect it, especially when they're the ones trying to fend off a red-hot team. Not only that, they are playing a team that historically owns them. My guess is one win will start them rolling in the right direction. Hopefully it starts tonight.

PHIinBK: As I recall, Madson largely relied on a sinkerball early in his career -- before he could throw 98 MPH. I don't remember his ever having much of a curve ball.

There aren't too many relievers who throw more than 2 pitches; if you can throw 3 decent pitches, you're probably in someone's starting rotation. Lidge did just fine last year with just a fastball and slider, and he'll do just fine again if he can start throwing the fastball over the plate.

As a fan, I want to see the Phillies win the next three games and clinch the division.

As a selfish fan, I want to see the Braves go undefeated for the rest of the week and the Phillies go 2-2 before the weekend.

I have tickets to the game on Saturday. I never imagined a month ago that it might be a game in which we have an opportunity to clinch our third divisional title, but the way things have been going, there's a pretty strong possibility that it will.

phlipper: i only did the numbers in total for 2003-2008 currently, so not sure how he stands up historically, but I ran a less advanced model that didnt factor in the league average, and the greats had seasons with ratios above 2 including ted williams, roger maris, mickey mantle, and barry bonds. Howard is not in that category, and Pujols has had a few seasons just barely underneath.

I go back to the doubleheader and Charlie's decision to play the regualrs in back to back games, with slow-motion Moyer on the mound in the 2nd game on a hot, humid day. Yes, he wanted to go for the throat but what better time to rest than gamne 2 after beating the Marlins best pitcher?

Iceman: I'm with you. I know I'm mentally and emotionally exhausted and I'm just WATCHING this team play.

There is a major correlation between emotional/mental and physical exhaustion. Ever been depressed? You can't get out of bed.

I'm just hoping that team of necessity shows up and soon and forgets all about last night. Just play the way you know you can play and everything will be all right. There is no reason on Earth for them to lose 5 straight to the stinking Astros. They beat the Braves, who are a much better team.

"I know I'm mentally and emotionally exhausted and I'm just WATCHING this team play."

Truer words were never spoken.

@bap -- you have stumped before that playing 3 hours of baseball is not tiring.

You completely ignore the hours of batting practice, infield practice, hitting off a tee, running, lifting, cycling, stretching, coaching, watching video etc.

You also ignore the travel.

You ignore that on most days they are at the ball park for 12 hours or more..

They eat, sleep, drink baseball. It's every day. They MAYBE get one off day per week. Maybe.

The mental and physical aspects of the game have been documented for many many years. You show a complete lack of understanding of professional sports today. There is a reason why only a special few can be major leaguers and be big leaguers for a long time.

As tiring as shooting pool? That might be the most uninformed statement ever here on beerleaguer. We expect more from you @bap.

Did u guys see the Hamels interview after last night's game. Asked 'what is the state of the team' he deferred the answer to Charlie Manual.

what do you guys make of that?

phanatic's brother: Hamels has finally learned to keep his mouth shut instead of saying potentionally stupid things that might set off the media or other teams. I love Cole, but he has a penchant for saying dumb things. I'm sure Cholly has told them all to keep playing and keep their focus on the games in front of them and not bring up anything to the press that might be a further distraction.

i was keeping an eye on the red sox game last night as week, and there was really a tale of two different managers. in the 7th, down 6 runs, terry francona began pulling his regulars. so out went victor martinez, in came george kottaras(?!) out went jason bay, in came joey gathright, out went j.d. drew, in came brian anderson. the phillies, also down by 6 in the 7th have utley, ibanez, rollins etc, all embalmed in their positions till the bitter end. it's just smart managing on francona's part - there's a time to, if not quite concede the game, then at least throttle back a little bit and give some people a break with tomorrow in mind. that's the beauty of expanded rosters in september, something UC doesn't seem to take full advantage of. i never liked francona much when he was here, but he's turned into a hell of a manager in boston.

as week = as well

been a long day.

Mike, I think BAP was referring to shooting pool in the middle of Death Valley with no beer and wearing a parka.

Yes, Joedad: I couldn't believe it then and still can't believe that Charlie put the regulars out there for game two of the doubleheader, especially after winning the first game and with no off days remaining. It was managerial malpractice on his part.

This team could really use a game where they go up 10-0 by the 3rd inning, Happ pitches an easy 5 innings, and the no-names in the BP finish it out. Actually, I could use a game like that too for my nerves and blood pressure.

Burt: You're no longer a friend to all?

SmokyJoe - I don't trust the BP to hold a 10-run lead if they have to pitch 4 innings. For that scenario to really work in terms of nerves and blood pressure, you'd need Happ to pitch 8 (only throwing 90 pitches) with a 10-run lead, then let Lidge pitch the 9th with 2 other guys warming from the get-go.

sorry! forgot my own name. although it's also true that the more the phillies lose, the less friendly i become.

Burt: That's better.

mike: Look, I know that baseball players do a lot of physical activity beyond just the 3 hours on the field. But baseball sure isn't remotely on a par with other sports when it comes to being physically taxing.

Comparing baseball to shooting pool was perhaps a bit of overstatement, but it was my way of saying what Jack said: we have absolutely no idea if they're tired or not. Everyone keeps throwing this theory out there, because it gives them a pretense for launching into a diatribe about all the things that Cholly has done wrong. I love a good diatribe, and Cholly has done plenty wrong, but I'm not into diatribes that are based on sheer speculation. This one is based on sheer speculation, since there is absolutely no way to distinguish between a team which is tired and a team which simply isn't playing well.

Not to mention that there are plenty of holes in the "tired" theory. Why aren't the other teams tired? Why weren't we tired at this time last year? Were we tired a week ago, when we had that 9-run, 14-hit outburst against Milwaukee? Were we tired when we scored those 4 runs in the first 2 innings on Sunday, or only when we started letting Milwaukee back into the game in the later innings? If we have a big game tonight, will it be because we're suddenly untired? And, if so, how could that possibly occur without any intervening off days? This "tired" theory is just one of these seat-of-the-pants theories propounded by armchair psychologists. It's like earlier this year, when Rollins was hitting .200 and people kept opining that it was all because he wasn't working hard enough.

Rich Hofmann thinks they're tired:

"As the Phillies limp home, just the facts here.

There are 30 teams in the major leagues. On those 30 teams, there are 43 players who have played in at least 150 games so far this season. The typical team has one, maybe two. The Phillies have six: Ryan Howard (155), Pedro Feliz (153), Jayson Werth (153), Chase Utley (152), Jimmy Rollins (151) and Shane Victorino (150).

Now, look at it since the All-Star break. Fifteen players in the whole entire major leagues have played at least 68 games since the break. Five of them -- one-third -- come from a single team, the Phillies: Rollins, Howard, Werth, Feliz and Utley.

They look tired. They are tired. They need to get this thing settled quickly. They need the time, physically and also mentally.

Just the facts."

rollins was quoted recently as saying he was "bone-tired".

it's not just a theory.

I think if you actually watch the team, you can tell they're tired, unless of course they are involved in some sort of Black Sox scandal and throwing games.

Re: Starters being tired.

It might be amusing to watch this team try to win a game with Hoover, Tracy and Bruntlett in the starting lineup. The pitcher tonight would be the time to do it, since he's the worst the Phils will face in the series.

Tiredness is not an excuse for losing, but it can be a reason for their less than stellar play.

yo, new thing

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