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Saturday, June 19, 2010

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Mathieson's debut was a bummer, I thought he was going to come in and bend time with his fastball. But alas..

Supposedly he's been mixing in a curve and a change to good effect down in AAA, though I didn't see any of that last night. Maybe tonight, though with Charlie, who knows when he'll get another chance.

Also, watching Utley and Howard knock some dingers was fun. That's all..

Definitely worried about those three "injuries" (I don't know what that word means anymore). Those three afflictions I guess.

And Valdez got plunked, too. I don't know that any of them are major, but Ruiz is taking an absolute beating this year.

Loss column watch: 2 behind the stinkin' Braves; only 4 behind the BTBs (Rays/Yankees; "best team(s) in baseball”).

We need to go 65 and 32 the rest of the way (.670) to get 100 wins. Geesh, I wonder if it will take more than 100 to win the division? Atlanta and the Mutts are currenntly playing at or above .700 ball. Damn.

I think the Braves and Mets are going to stay in it all the way but I don't think it'll take 98+ to get it done. i think 94-95 wins this division.

A straight 98 fastball works in the minors. Without anything else, it gets hammered in the majors. This is what the people clamoring for Mathieson to come up and be the bullpen savior didn't understand.

I missed the game but, I looked through the play by play looking for a missing out in teh box score (did Kubel really get thrown out trying to stretch a triple into a homer? That had to be a fun play to watch). I expected to review Mathieson's carnage but, it looks like he got skunked with small ball. An infield hit, a seeing eye single, a sharp liner up the middle, a wild pitch, and a fielder's choice = 2 runs. I've never grasped the high expectations based on the reports coming up from AAA but, it doesn't look like he got "hammered". Maybe it looked worse on TV than it does on paper.

Postseason odd watch: Up to 28.6 percent, after getting down to 15 percent all the way back on Wednesday.

Jack: Come on, be fair. It was sink or swim time with Mathieson and an opportunity came along to bring him to the show. Who should have taken Bastardo's place? Zaguraski (so there are now two lefties)? Or they guy who has been tearing it up in AAA (last appearance aside)? I go with the guy who was solid all year in AAA.

For a guy who preaches "small sample sizes," you seem to be putting a lot of stock in this ONE appearance. Only time will tell, if you ask me.

With the injury, they needed to put someone in the 'pen. I don't think there is any question that Mathieson was the best option. He was placed in a low leverage situation.

yeah, kubel got thrown out at the plate. great play.

Yankee fans are moaning about being in a huge slump after a shutout by the Mets and consecutive losses to the back of the Phils' rotation. They don't know what a slump is until the Mets blank them in 3 straight. In all seriousness, they better snap out of it against the Mets.

Tuned in to see a little Ichiro last night and was treated to a Cliff Lee opus - 1-0 complete game win. The guy's fun to watch even if he's not wearing red pinstripes. 2:15 mins. start to finish.

Hugh...I agree. I love watching Lee pitch. It's making me a little nervous that everytime I see a Cliff Lee trade rumor the Mets are right next to it. I'm hoping he ends up in Minnesota or Texas.

Mets have 5 starters pitching well, and one or two 5th starter types on the DL. Maybe they don't want to give up a hyped minor leaguer or three for Lee.

I hope Lee ends up in Philly myself!

EFF: Wait, Heather said the BP odds are the same as poker odds. And that was when the odds were 15% for the Phils to make the playoffs and Heather said the team should trade veterans.

Are you suggesting that thinking is flawed?

sophist: I can help with your confusion. You're not thinking like a Beerleaguer poster. Utley has been injured, which explains his poor numbers recently. But last night he was restored to health.

Remember: Utley does not slump.

I posted @ the beginning of the season that the division would be a dogfight. Welcome to the MVick residence.

Billingsly: Jack is bummed that Bastardo, for whom he's predicted great things, hasn't done so hot. That's why he'll rag on Mathieson, who replaced him.

Same thing with Polanco, who replaced his all-time fave, Pedro Feliz. Jack has been Polly's #1 critic. Expect that to continue. Although Feliz's performance in Houston so far makes Jack look kinda dumb.

I don't get so wrapped up in current win pct.. Just a month ago the Phils were a .615 team, the Braves a .500 team, and the Mets 3 games under .500.

A few thoughts on Utley's injuries, or "injuries." While there are some slumps that occur without cause--random fluctuations in performance, as it were--these slumps tend to be revealed as such by uneven peripheral statistics. There are other slumps, though, that do have causes, some correctable (an arm slot gone awry, a pitcher is tipping his pitches, a batter is opening up too much) and some relatively uncorrectable (an ailment that has mechanical consequences).

When you play at a professional level, however, the distinction collapses. I suspect that this is what Chase Utley, and Ruben Amaro, for that matter, mean when they say that everybody has bumps and bruises that make it harder to play the game well. Being a professional ballplayer to a great degree means playing while hurt, and this is why Utley and Amaro have been so adamant, I believe, about rejecting the idea of an injury as an excuse for poor play. (Importantly, however, that something may not serve as an excuse does not mean that it may not serve as an explanation.)

This is why, whatever you think of PEDs, Andy Pettitte's and Rodney Harrison's pleas that their use of banned substances were merely intended to heal, or recover from injury, ring a bit hollow: to the extent that slumps are the result of suboptimal mechanics and less-than-ideal-health (and not merely statistical sampling), this is to gain competitive advantages over those who are battling through slumps the "good old fashioned way."

@Hugh Malcahey: Yes, Kubel got thrown out at home. The ball took a crazy carom off the base of the wall and Vic had to chase it. Kubel was almost to third before Vic threw to Utley for the relay. Utley's throw to Ruiz was a little up the line and bounced right in front of him -- Chooch had to make a difficult catch and immediately tag Kubel as he went past. It was an amazing play.

Yankees sign Gnome to a minor league deal for all you Scranton Yankees fans!

Sophist, agreed. The Mets have won 9 of their last 10 games, and 13 of their last 15, an .867 pace. They are not going to continue to play at that pace. The Braves have won 12 of their last 17, a .700 pace. They, also, are not going to continue to play at that pace.

All teams have streaks. The Phillies appear to be ending a long, bad one. I don't expect them to continue playing .538 ball, either; they're better than that.

It seems a Beerleaguer has hacked philly.com

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clout, Utley's return to health was either a miracle or a medical marvel, no?

Howard is 20th in PA among LHB against LHP in the NL (most of the leaders are on WAS and CHC for some reason) with 26. Utley is 25th with 24. Last year he and Utley were 2nd and 3rd; were 1st and 2nd the year before; Utley, Howard, and Rollins were 1-2-3 in '07; and Utley and Howard were 2-3 in '06. I found a site that keeps track of batted ball data against LHP, which may be illuminating. I saw earlier that Howard's trends against LHP are a decrease in BABIP and a slight decrease in HR% (though not XBH%, and his HR% against LHP is back at 06-08 levels in this young season). His K% and BB% against LHP are pretty consistent since he started in 2005.

Howard (FB/GB/LD - BAbip)

06: 225 PA, 30.3% / 45.9% / 18.9% - .368
07: 246 PA, 41.3% / 30.2% / 21.4% - .282
08: 265 PA, 34.0% / 41.0% / 22.2% - .300
09: 252 PA, 33.6% / 40.7% / 22.9% - .299
10: 25 PA, 22.2% / 55.6% / 22.2% - .271

Pretty surprising but his LD% against LHP has been pretty much identical the last 4 years, and was actually lower in 06 when his BABIP was at it's highest. You could say it's the increase in GB%, but even that alone doesn't track the BAbip changes.

I really wonder how much of Howard's struggles against LHP is simply defensive positioning (or perhaps he hit the ball to all fields in 06?)

clout: Also don't forget that Jack is the biggest detractor to Howard on here.

Who else do we need to add to the Jack hit list?

Again, here are Howard's K%, &c. against LHP since 2006

Howard (K% / BB% / AVG / XBH% (HR) / BAbip / LD%)

06: 38.6% / 9.8% / .279 / 11.2% (16) / .368 / 18.9%
07: 40.1% / 13% / .225 / 11.5% (16) / .282 / 21.4%
08: 40.5% / 8.7% / .224 / 9.7% (14) / .300 / 22.2%
09: 37.3% / 9.9% / .207 / 9.0% (6) / .299 / 22.9%
10: 32.2% / 5.0% / .226 / 7.5% (5) / .271 / 22.2%

2010 is a tiny sample, but just from these numbers it doesn't seem that his approach against LHP has changed much in the years since 2006 when he had so much success.

Perhaps the way that LHPs pitch to him has changed?

That's certainly possible (and probable) but it hasn't changed his contact against them (at least where FB/GB/LD is concerned). If they're throwing more sliders or breaking balls, he's still striking out as much and hitting as many hard for LD. He's doing to the pitches (placement in the field aside) what he did with them in 2006. The only difference is how much drop in for hits.

I want Lee here so badly I'd even trade Joe Savery for him.

I also believe Raul Ibanez will finish the season at his career norms. Pat Burrell, too.

Conventional wisdom has it that teams did not begin shifting on him until after the 2006 season. With the shift, the space into which Ryan Howard hits groundballs is decreased by 25% (viz. by moving 1/4 of the infielders, the 3B, from a space where Howard doesn't hit to a place where he does). If defensive positioning is the sole explanation for Howard's drop-off from 2006 to 2007-2010, then we would expect a about a 25% decrease in BA and BABIP (because the difference would reflect a difference in the result of fielded groundballs).

Howard's mean BA against LHP from 2007-2010 is roughly .221, which is ~26.5% less than his 2006 BA against LHP. His mean BABIP against LHP from 2007-2010 is roughly .288, which is about ~27.8% less than it was in 2006. I think this is good evidence that Sophist's hypothesis about defensive alignment, which comports with conventional wisdom, is correct to a first approximation.

Why does anyone need to be the "bullpen savior"? It's the area of the team least in need of saving, isn't it?

Clout: I attribute Utley's slump to his worries about the suffering critters along the Gulf Coast.

It also may just point to the futility of his current approach against LHP. It may not be that LH pitchers have adjusted, but that defenses have adjusted (or LH pitchers are working with the shift to produce more pulled hits - I sorta doubt that) in which case, given his current approach (the one he seems to have since he started in this league), he'll continue hitting .225 with 20-30 BB and 12-16 HR against them. I wonder if that's sufficient.

Sophist - Howard still strikes about nearly 40% of the time vs. LHP (over 50% the last 3 years vs. LHP relievers). That's embarrassing for any MLB hitter even a slugger like Howard.

Yeah the defensive positioning likely has to something to do with as every team shifts him over now when they can. He probably winds up losing anywhere from 8-10 hits a year as a result. I also bet that it is also partly due to him also seeing less overall fastballs too.

He just isn't a good hitter vs. LHP because he still gets behind in the count way too often and flails at breaking stuff away the last few years. I don't this changes much at this point. I just wish Howard would be willing to take some more BBs vs. LHP.

Alby - Exactly. The bullpen has been fine. They have posted solid overall numbers, nobody has been really overworked, and even the weaker options in the bullpen right now (Mathieson, Herndon, Baez) aren't horrendous.

Bullpen will be a strength as long as Romero/Lidge are both healthy and semi-effective as they have been this season so far. Just wonder if these two guys will hold up the rest of the season especially Lidge.

Ditto too on Durbin and Contreras who haven't got much credit this season so far but both have been really key cogs to this pitching staff too.

MG, in 2006 Howard struck out nearly 40% of the time against LHP. Did anyone care? He hit .279/.364/.558 against them with 16 HR. I don't really care about the K. Even if he's seeing fewer FB, his K% is pretty much unchanged over his career against LHP.

I also don't see how seeing more breaking stuff should change his BAbip. He's making the same sort of contact on LHP stuff as he did in 06 (in terms of FB-GB-LD). Is a line drive off a slider any less likely to get caught than one off a fastball?

Howard's OPS against LHP is down over 200 points since 2006, and it doesn't seem to have much to do with strike outs.

And if the difference due to the shift is 8-10 hits a year, then we should worry about the difference between .279/.364/.558 (2006) and .224/.294/.451 (2008). It's just 8-10 hits, right? Given that his K% and BB% in those years were 1-2% apart that seems to be the only difference (besides a XBH% drop of about 1.5).

looks like ruiz is going on the dl and sardinha is going to come up. hoover is on the DL in AAA

Dane Sardinha? That's just super.

TTI: It's weird how you only post about me. Not sure what your deal is, but it's kind of weird.

Clout: I like Polanco, and actually supported declining Feliz's option (it was a pretty obvious move given how bad he was last year and how his defense had declined). The only issue I had with Polanco was giving him 3 years, instead of 2, but we'll see how that plays out.

As far as Mathieson, I have no problem with him being called up--he was the right guy to bring up. I was just commenting that I wouldn't expect great results, because the difference between Triple-A and the majors is that guys in the show can crush a straight 97 mph fastball.

Mathieson didnt exactly get rocked, Few ground ball singles. He will be fine

Clout has been on record as saying he thinks Ruben Amaro is the best GM in baseball, so take his comments with a grain of salt, unless you agree with that.

Clout also really wanted Wes Helms to be our 3rd baseman for the last few years, so keep that in mind. He loved Wes Helms.

MLBTR says that we DFA'ed Mathieson to call up Sardinha, so we didn't put Ruiz on the DL.

Interesting.

Although Mathieson has options, so it couldn't be a DFA. They most likely just sent him back down.

right. they are taking that from matt gelb, the inky beat writer, who is incorrect more often than he is correct so that's not shocking he gets that wrong

actually, i am wrong and apologize. they did dfa him even though he has options. proefrock says it was procedural. whatever that means

Sucks for Mathieson...terrible timing on his part.

Two things were an issue for him last night:

1. Overthrowing: He was tryinng to light up the radar gun instead of throw his pitches. He was better at 95-96 than he was at 98-99.

2. 1 pitch only: He only threw his fastball. I think the final count was something like 20 fastballs/2 off-speed pitches. You could have the best fastball on earth (He doesn't) and you'd still get hit with that ratio.

Oh well, he'll be back. Sucks when 1 terrible outing sinks you like that.

Maybe he retires and becomes a small town doctor in Northern Minnesota now?

Procedural?

Perhaps they needed to free up a spot on the 40 man? Wouldn't DFAing him do that?

If so, why would they use him for that? Doesn't DFAing him expose him to waivers now?

Sardinha isn't on the 40 man...or at least, he wasn't. That could be the "procedural" need for Mathieson to be DFAed. Odd though.

@NEPP: With all appropriate admiration for the Archie Graham reference, we don't have any indication that Mathieson winked at anybody.

Another possibility: Maybe Rube has a trade ready for Mathieson (Herndon ?)...if so, that would sorta make sense too as he now has a week to trade or release him thanks to the DFA...otherwise, its waivers where he's likely claimed.

Maybe the Phillies don't want to burn an option year, and they don't think anyone will claim Mathieson.

DFAing Mathieson seems like a really silly move...He gets 1 shot and then he's likely gone on waivers? I'm sure someone will claim him, he's a (relatively) young pitcher with some upside and is very cheap.

Weird...

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