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Sunday, May 23, 2010

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Re: Kendrick

5th starters (and in KK's case, 6th starters) have a very small margin of error. KK got himself into a little trouble in a couple of innigns through the 4th, but got out of trouble.

In the fifth, he had runners at first and third with one two outs after getting Pedroia on a key pop out. Then came JD Drew. And his flare to left field. Hardly a well hit ball, but it fell in giving Boston their 2nd run.

After that, KK came "untethered" giving up back-to-back doubles to Ortiz and Beltre pushing the lead to 5.

If that Drew hit is an out, KK's out of the 5th down 1-0 giving up just 5 hits and 2 walks in 5 innings.

But, like I said... small margin of error for your 5th or 6th starter.

Halladay on the mound and rain coming down. Can't have one without the other!

Ruiz is 1 for 16 since that small injury, so I think he needs a day off. And I'm really still trying to be patient with Dobbs. He's 5 for 18 when he starts this year, so he might be okay today.

CJ: Well put re Kendrick. It's not that he pitched well, exactly. But to look at the box score and conclude that he got shelled isn't quite the whole story.

If Raul makes that catch, Kendrick is out of the inning. Then again, if Kendrick has better stuff, maybe he doesn't get tagged by Ortiz and Beltre.

JR King: Thanks... but I'm sure to be labeled a KK apologist as soon as GTown Dave or bap show up!

"for months, everyone complained that our bench players weren't getting enough at bats and it made them bad pinch hitters."

If you're point is that Beerleaguer complains either way, then I'm with you. If you're point is that people are being hypocritical, I think it's only fair to point out that the group which is constantly clamoring for the bench to get more playing time is generally distinct from the group who complains when Cholly starts his crappy bench players.

I assure you that I've never, EVER written a post, complaining that Ross Gload and Paul Hoover need to get more playing time.

bap: I'm fairly certain that if I tried, I'd find some people here complaining on both sides. In many Beerleaguer's minds, Charlie can do no right.

That said, you're right, there are certainly people in each distinct camp.

Re: Dobbs over Polanco

Charlie is playing the numbers. Polanco is 1 for 15 in his career against Wakefield. Not that Dobbs has demonstrated success, but Polanco has demonstrated failure.

CJ: No, I won't call you a KK apologist. KK is what he is: a 6th starter who can be effective when his sinker is working, but who isn't able to get it working on a consistent enough basis to be someone that I want in my starting rotation. Yesterday, his sinker wasn't working and the results were, predictably, bad.

I do think it requires some rose colored glasses to say that, but for a flare hit, he would have had a good game. He was falling behind hitters & yielding hard-hit balls all night, including one near homerun that just hooked foul and one or two more deep fly balls which were caught on the warning track. If he was a bit unlucky in the 5th, it was offset by the fact that he was a bit lucky in the earlier innings. It was a bad outing, nothing more, nothing less.

If 1 for 15 is demonstrating failure, then what is 15 for 81 (.185)? That is Dobbs' batting average since the 2009 All-Star game.

bap: I'll play the cherry-pick game with you all day if you want. You choose your stats, I'll choose mine.

Greg Dobbs hit .309 as a starter last year. He's hitting .278 as a starter so far this year.

Also... 1 for 15 is only .067, so Dobbs' .185 would be better, woudl it not?

Phillies bench players are only successful when they get opportunities to play every day, either due to injury or because they came from other teams where they were regulars.

- Dobbs hit .272 in 2007 after playing first base for an injured Ryan Howard for almost a month. He then hit .301 in 2008 while getting a lot of starts at third base.
- Matt Stairs hit .294 with a ton of power after playing most of the year as the Toronto DH.
- Ben Francisco hit .278 with the Phils in 2009 after being a regular with Cleveland.
- Tadahito Iguchi hit .304 in 2007, including a pinch hit RBI off Billy Wagner to tie the game on August 30, after playing every day for an injured Chase Utley.
- John Mayberry Jr. hit a home run against the Yankees after playing every day in Lehigh Valley.
- Andy Tracy, another AAA regular, hit .417 for the Phils after being called up.

There's also a lot of evidence that shows that players who don't get playing time are unable to contribute:
- So Taguchi in 2008 after being considered a pinch hit machine in St. Louis.
- Ross Gload in 2010 after leading the league in pinch hits when he was in Florida.
- Greg Dobbs in 2009 (although that may have been complicated by injury) and 2010.
- Matt Stairs in 2009.
- Ben Francisco in 2010.
- Tadahito Iguchi when he came back at the end of 2008.
- John Mayberry Jr. after sitting for a few weeks.

Maybe contending teams should forgo signing high priced bench players and then make deadline deals with non-contenders to get players who can hit. Either that, or stack the AAA team with players who can be called up in late August and stay in the groove long enough to contribute.

Frequently, when KK has a bad game, some folks write posts at BL about how it wasn't really that bad , or how if XYZ had happened differently, he wouldn't have allowed so many runs. As BAP points out, for every "if Raul had caught that ball he would have been out of the inning" there's a "if that hard hit ball hadn't been hit in that particular spot more damage would have been done."

Those "ifs" even out in the long run, and the bottom line is that KK has a 5.66 ERA. It's not like that is a fluky number: his OPS against is .854. Unless/until he can bring that ERA down below 5.00, at least, they guy is a minor league pitcher on a championship caliber team.

King's email is yet another explanation for why the AL has so much success against the NL.
His logic is unassailable. I particularly like his last suggestion of stacking the minors with players who can hit and who do so regularly and calling them up in August--smart thinking. Alas its not going to happen anymore than Rollins departing from the leadoff position when he comes back.

phlipper: Such insight into the life of our 6th starter.

So, what you're saying is that the margin of error is slim?

The amusing thing is that when KK has a good outing, all we get is a bunch of reasons why his good outing is irrelevant.

RK: Why the need to keep J-Roll out of the leadoff spot?

"There's also a lot of evidence that shows that players who don't get playing time are unable to contribute."

I've always found that argument both speculative and circular. How on earth do we know that the only reason Matt Stairs stunk last year is because he didn't get more playing time? Maybe he just stunk because he was 41 years old & washed up. And the argument is circular because it at least partially confounds cause & effect. Did Greg Dobbs have a good 2008 season because he got a lot of playing time, or did he get a lot of playing time because he was hitting well?

dennyb has been on here all year making the highly speculative argument that, if only Ben Francisco had gotten more playing time last year, he wouldn't have gone 0 for the post-season. How do we know? And how much playing time does he think the backup should get when, by definition, there is a better player ahead of him? Francisco started 10 of the Phillies' 30 games last September. That's a lot of games for your backup to be starting. Are we to seriously believe that, if he had started 5 more, he would have gotten 3 more hits in the post-season?

Now that I've complained, let the record reflect that I'm ok with starting Dobbs today, since Polanco has been stinking it up & I still haven't given up on the idea that Dobbs can get something going eventually.

Starting Hoover over Ruiz, however, is excessive, particularly with an off day tomorrow.

CJ - what I'm saying is that it seems kind of arbitrary to me to pick out one or two events to back up a conclusion that "if something had happened differently" he wouldn't have allowed so many runs.


Every time a pitcher takes the mound you can say that the outcome would have been significantly better/worse had XYX happened differently. The "margin of error" of whether KK's ERA is 5.00+ or 7.00+ is "slim" just like the "margin of error" in whether Doc's ERA is 1.00+ or 3.00+ is "slim."

The bottom line is the bottom line. It isn't irrelevant when KK has a good outing - but the reality is that his good outings bring his ERA down from 7.00 plus to 5.00 plus.

bap: Polanco has been stinking it up so he should hit but Ruiz should play?

Polanco is hitting .345 over 14 games. I mean, he didn't get a hit yesterday or the day before, but he only had 2 hitless games in the 14 games before that. Polanco is kinda the opposite of stinking it up.

Ruiz, on the other hand, is struggling since coming back from his injury and it's the day game after a night game.

The only reason Polanco is out is because of his bad numbers vs. Wakefield. Sitting Ruiz is logical.

bah, that should say "sit," not "hit" in the first sentence. Makes a lot more sense that way!

in yo face!

phlipper: It's not arbitrary. It was very specific. It was the key at bat of the game. And the margin was very slim. Which was my point.

I'd like you to find anywhere in my analysis that I say KK pitched well. I was never making that argument. After three good starts (one of which was great), KK's stuff wasn't nearly as good... which made his margin of error even smaller.

Pitchers like KK (5th and 6th starters) generally need to be on the right side of the close plays. That's never changed.

CJ: This is one of those "cut-off point" arguments. He's 3 for his last 19. I'd call that a mini-slump. Ruiz isn't particularly hitting either, but the dropoff from Ruiz to Hoover >> the dropoff from Polanco to Dobbs. My more general point is that we already have one scrub starting. Perhaps it's justifiable to let a 2nd one start, since they do need to start now & then. But 3? Against one of the better teams in baseball? Seems a bit much.

Hey... how come you get to pick the cut-off point?!?! ;-)

Remember, the reason that KK is in the rotation is because Happ is hurt and that's about it.
Didn't see the game, but it looks like KK had The One Bad Inning (tm)

CJ: Good point. How about we flip a coin? If it's heads, Polanco has hit .345 over his last 14 games & he's on fire. If it's tails, he's 3 for his last 19 and is stinking it up.

bap: Deal!

I didn't get to watch the game either, but even with Kendrick's last outing he's been more than serviceable since the shelling he took in his second start.

7 starts, 2-2, 43.2 IP, 1.342 WHIP, 20 R.

I don't know how many teams are getting that from the back of their rotation, but I can't think there are many.

Three up, three ground ball outs. That's what I like to see out of the Doc.

KK struggled last night & didn't pitch well from the 3rd inning on. He was letting the leadoff runner get on in every inning, not getting grounders or keeping the ball on the ground, and running into trouble vs. lefties. Modus operandi on him when he struggles.

Given what he has done this month so far & the clear lack of viable alternatives, he hasn't been an issue. You just hope that Happ come back in another 2-3 weeks & pushes KK to the pen where he is probably better situated to succeed. Doesn't get much play on here but his number vs. right-handed bats this year are pretty damn solid.

Speaking of stinking it up, Vic is 2 for his last 19.

For those wondering how the Phils have fared vs. Wakefield, here'e what MLB.com has to say:

HITTER AVG AB HR RBI

Castro, Juan .667 3 0 0
Dobbs, Greg - - - -
Francisco, Ben .000 2 0 0
Gload, Ross .125 8 0 2
Hoover, Paul - - - -
Howard, Ryan .000 3 0 0
Ibanez, Raul .231 13 0 3
Polanco, Placido .067 15 0 1
Ruiz, Carlos - - - -
Utley, Chase .000 6 0 0
Valdez, Wilson - - - -
Victorino, Shane .500 2 0 0
Werth, Jayson - - - -

Stats Reflect The Past 5 Years

bap: I agree with you that whenever a player doesn't hit and doesn't play, there's always going to be a question of what caused what.

But Matt Stairs had an OPS of 1.022 at 40 years of age after playing in 105 games for Toronto. Then at age 41 he hit .194. Was he suddenly washed up? That's certainly possible. But it's also possible that players who get regular at-bats are better able to keep hitting.

Bench:

Yeah the guys on the bench have struggled for the most part especially in PH roles but it is plain stupid not to start them occasionally just to keep your regulars (especially guys like Polanco & Ibanez who aren't spring chickens) a bit better rested.

Maybe it helps their productivity at the plate. Certainly has been the case with Dobbs who has hit here as a starter since '07.

Even today, the Phils started 2 bench guys in Dobbs & Hoover. Just about every manager in baseball will start there backup C during a Sun. day game. Dobbs isn't a big deal either because Polanco has been struggling the last few days & you go with a lefty/right matchup.

GTown Dave: Werth is 4 for 8 with a home run in his career for Wakefield. But the last time he faced him was 2004.

Considering how pathetic the bench has been this year, I almost wish the Phillies still had Stairs. At least he was a HR threat. The guys there now aren't even base hit threats.

Stairs is hitting with a line of .176/.237/.324 in 34 ABs this year and has well below the Mendoza line since last May. He's done.

I think it's funny how people keep talking about Dobbs' 2008 PH numbers and how it's weird he hasn't hit like that since.

He had 76 ABs as a pinch-hitter in 2008. That's a tiny sample. Why anyone would try and draw a conclusion on whether a guy is a good or a bad pinch-hitter based on 76 ABs is absurd. There's really never been proven to be any "skill" in pinch-hitting. Dobbs is a .729 OPS hitter as a pinch-hitter in his career, and a .739 OPS hitter as a starter. He's the same hitter.

So can we please stop talking about whether guys are good pinch-hitters or not based on one season? It's like signing Ross Gload because of his pinch-hitting numbers last year. That's an idiotic reason. You sign him because he's a decent hitter overall and a versatile bench-hitter. Not because he has some special pinch-hitting skill.

GTown Dave: Matt Stairs as a PH this year:

125/167/188 in 18 PAs. His only HR so far this year came as a starter... at DH.

That should say "bench player". My point was that he can play multiple positions, an asset for a bench player.

Can we all agree that Kevin Youklis has the dumbest batting stance in baseball history?

Of course, I just reverse jinxed him.

CJ: Thanks for the Werth stats. And I'd still rather have Stairs back. Who, pray tell, is competent to DH for the Phillies?

I wonder if the Phillies are stealing signs from the Sox today?

Tough play, but Shane should have caught it; it was right in his glove.

GTown Dave: Really? You want Matt Stairs with the numbers he's put up since the beginning of 2009.

I'd have Francisco play LF vs. a lefty with Ibanez DHing and have Dobbs DH vs. a righty.

Either would be a better choice than Matt Stairs.

CJ: Ever see Stan Lopata? Catcher for the Phils in the '50s. Could compete with Youkilis, maybe.

Anyone else here have a plan B partial season ticket package? We have seen five home games, four of them pitched by KK. The other was the rainy Halladay loss to Pittsburgh.

shipsass: That's Plan D. Plan B has been fairly kind to the fans thus far.

Just like yesterday, the Phillies are hitting everything in the air but nothing that falls in. Wakefield & Dice-K must have similar pitching styles or something.

CJ: If that's the plan (and I agree with you that it still is), let's hope the Phils have a large enough lead at the end of the regular season to play Dobbs and BenFran six says in a row.

That will give every regular except Rollins and Ruiz each two days off.

Will it help BenFran and Dobbs? It can't hurt.

CJ: Vive la différence!

These big hacks at the knuckler will just bring pop-up after pop-up.

So we want our bench players to be sharp going into the postseason at the expense of our regulars? Interesting.

I love watching a knucklerballer is 'on' even if it is against a team I am rooting for. Dying breed.

Wakefiled is 'on' today and the humidity/wind really helps him. Makes that knuckleball dance. Highly doubt they score more than 1 run aginst him today.

bap: Is Vic hot now? He's 1 for his last 1. ;-)

I figured Shane would be running on the first pitch. If he did, he would have scored on that fly ball by Dobbs.

Why is Greg Dobbs in the lineup? That patented Dobbs swing is how NOT to hit a knuckleballer. And at the two hole. Ugh.

What is it about interleague play that never fails to bring out the stink in this team?

This feels like another shutout loss.

Nice AB there, Chase.

Surprised that Martinez hasn't had much trouble but Wakefield's knuckleball hasn't been that wild so far. Been generally right below the waist to below the knees.

Still laugh at how the Sox brought back Doug Mirabelli a few years ago just to be Wakefield's personal catcher because Bard couldn't catch the knuckler.

Matt: Good point, the Phillies have been so unaggressive on the basis this year. In that spot the guy is throwing 66 miles and hour and Martinez is not known for his arm. You gotta be going there. In my opinion the Phillies have been playing some dumb baseball of late.

bap: Actually, it's probably the missing 3 regulars that brings out the "stink" in the team.

Jack - That has nothing to do with it. Wakefield's is 'on' with his knuckleball including getting his share of called strikes at the knee. When he does that, he is nearly unhittable (and this is coming from a guy who saw a TON of Wakefield starts from '95 to '05).

Wow.

Again, WHY is Dobbs is in the lineup?

Good thing defense doesn't matter at 3rd base.

Ole! That was brutal.

Oops.

WOW

Typical of the defense behind Halladay this season.

I'm ok with getting Dobbs some starts against righties. But not when your best GB pitcher is on the mound. You're just asking for situations like that.

Halladay has not been nearly as sharp this time through the lineup. Dobbs should have made the play, but we've also got the walk and some hard hit balls. Has he only struck out one hitter so far? Doesn't seem like he's getting nearly as many swings and misses today.

Of course, the Red Sox are a team he's not had great success against.

Dobbs has outlived his usefulness.

After you've almost been no-hit in an interleague game, you should start your A list guys.

Did one of those runs count as an earned run?

The Phillies defense has been pretty bad as of late.

The Phillies need to start looking for a backup 3rd baseman. You just can't keep telling yourself that a guy is going to turn it around when his hitting has been putrid for well over a year now, & he brings nothing to the table except his bat.

Old Phan: ... unless your name is Charles Fuqua Manuel.

One run was earned because you can't assume the double play.

Three innings and BAP has not only declared a loss, but a shutout loss. Say what you will about BAP but he continues to step up his game when higher-class competition comes to town.

Roy did give up 2 hits and a walk, so not a great inning on his part. Should have seen a double play, however.

This game IS a loss.

bap: You're overstating the case. Dobbs is a fine bench bat, and he's a guy who's passable at 3rd for a spot start once a blue moon. What better "backup 3rd baseman" do you think is out there? Brooks Robinson isn't exactly available on the waiver wire.

But Dobbs should NOT be starting when your best GB pitcher is on the mound. One of Halladay's greatest strengths is getting balls on the ground. There's no need to undermine that strength by putting Dobbs at 3rd when Roy starts. It's just bad managing.

A backup third baseman. That's what this team needs. The bullpen is fine exactly the way it is. The back end of the rotation will be ready for the playoffs. Now, if only we could get that backup third baseman we need it will all come together!

dukes: Unless there are 2 outs, the runs are always initially counted as earned because, if the next guy hits a homerun (for example), those guys on 2nd and 3rd would have scored anyhow. Therefore, until we see what subsequently happens, the official scorer doesn't have enough information to know if the runs are earned or unearned. If there are already 2 outs, it's different, of course.

Feliz would be a great backup 3B.
(ducking)

Same reason why Feliz would start every game that Moyer pitched and Cholly would manage around that.

thanks, bap. so will they erase the extra earned run since the second runner would have only moved up one base if they only got one out?

Ibanez up with Werth on first. This has double play written all over it.

Werth needs to steal here.

Let's count reasons why Dobbs is the wrong fit for today:

- Ground ball pitcher on your mound.
- Has a power-fastball swing. The pitcher that runs MOST counter to Dobbs' swing is probably Tim Wakefield.
- Dobbs doesn't get much time to play. So bring him in after days off to see a knuckleballer three-four times.
- Polanco, despite his 1-15 career mark against Wakefield, swings level most of the time and can find ways to get on against a knuckler.

I mean, seriously, big bonehead move.

I can't believe no one is running here. Someone steal a freaking base already.

The truth is that all three runs today for the red sox are a result of bad defense.

This sucks.

Jack: I'd agree with you except for one point: Dobbs hasn't been a fine bench bat since 2008. If the trading deadline rolls around & he's still not hitting, I do think it's time to cut bait & find someone else. There are plenty of backup 3rd basemen around who can provide more offense than Dobbs has done since opening day last season.

Halladay should ask for a trade back to Toronto if these guys don't start playing for him. In line for his third loss and his era is under 2? That's aweful.

Polanco is 1 for 15 lifetime against Wakefield with two walks. Also, people keep getting on Cholly for not giving regulars a rest. Seems like a logical day to play Dobbs.

Malcolm: Charlie's managerial decision went no farther than "Wakefield is a righty. Polanco bats right. Dobbs bats left. I'm gonna play Dobbs."

GTown Dave: So what you are saying is that Dobbs and Polanco are a platoon now? Really? That's news to me.

bap at 1:12: "Now that I've complained, let the record reflect that I'm ok with starting Dobbs today, since Polanco has been stinking it up & I still haven't given up on the idea that Dobbs can get something going eventually."

bap at 2:30: "The Phillies need to start looking for a backup 3rd baseman. You just can't keep telling yourself that a guy is going to turn it around when his hitting has been putrid for well over a year now, & he brings nothing to the table except his bat."

Beerleaguer is hilarious.

I imagine this is like Thanksgiving and New Years rolled into one at BL - THREE benchwarmers getting a start!

dukes: They erased 1 earned run. The 2nd one is still charged as earned, on the theory that the guy on 3rd would have scored on the ground out. It's kind of a dumb rule, but the official scorer is not allowed to assume that a force out or DP would have happened.

This is ridiculous on here today. Cholly played 1 bench guy today (Dobbs). No reason Chooch plays today. None. Especially given that fact that he hasn't come back since he was injured & almost certainly could use the day off.

As for Dobbs, there were 7 reasons Cholly started him including Polanco not having a day off this month so far, some weak ABs the last couple of days, his sh!t careers numbers vs. Wakefield (1-15), and the lefty/right split vs. Wakefield.

Polanco is not a guy anymore who start 160 or 162 games.

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