Part of

« Moment arrives for former Phils in Cleveland camp | Main | Which Phillies star has the best chance to rebound? »

Saturday, February 19, 2011


I was really bummed for Mathieson that night he got a shot. Terrible outing.

It was tough to watch. You could tell the broadcasters were pulling for him.

Guess who's back? (Toss up to Dr. Dre, not really sure I'm hitting my target audience, but oh well)

What's up BLers? Checking back in from sunny Arizona, now I'll be able to visit with more regularity, and not a moment too soon. I guess I missed all the cool debates, like a search for the Phis' 8th starter and whether men really do earn more than women, but that is, as they say, in the past. Just got hooked up, and I'm itching for that first pitch from Bright House field. Go Phils.

I think we'll all agree that no pitcher is hungrier than Zagurski. The evidence is right in front of him . . . I mean, in front of us.

I'm not a religious man. In fact, I think one must believe in a god to be religious, so I'm completely SOL there. But I am seriously praying for a healthy Bastardo this year, so Zags can toil in obscurity once again for the Iron Pigs. Is there a better fit of team nickname and pitcher girth in all of baseball?

Judging Mathieson off one inning of work in which he gave up a few ground ball, seeing eye singles?? Small sample size anyone?

Mathieson may or may not be good enough for the Show, but let's give him more than one inning to fail or succeed.

Fatalotti: The problem is that marginal relievers trying to break into the show on a championship-caliber team only have a few chances to prove themselves (unless you're a lefty, of course).

It's true that he probably deserves more than those appearances to prove himself. But "deserve's got nothin to do with it."

When the hell is Durbin gonna latch on with someone, or has he already and I missed it?

Light years are a measure of distance, not time. I'd expect better from a blog known for such fine physics humor.

I understand, the analogy could still be apt but the comparison is made to baseball years which as I understand are only a measure of time.

Fat: The fairest way to judge Zagurski & Mathieson would be to give each of them 50 major league innings, and see how they do. But I suspect the Phillies are more interested in winning games than in dispensing fair opportunities. Hence, if either of these guys expects a major leaguee job, he will have to make good of whatever limited opportunity he gets. So Jack is right.

Jack is wrong, however, when he fails to apply that identical logic to Domonic Brown. Brown is obviously a far better prospect than Mathieson or Zagurski and, hence, will be given a longer opportunity. Ultimately, however, he is just as unproven as they are -- which means that, if he wants to convince the Phillies that he's ready for the majors, he must seize the limited opportunity given to him. If he doesn't do that, he won't make the 25-man roster out of spring training.

Inquirer this morning: "Manuel thinks that Howard should stand closer to the plate."
What a revelation. In other news, Manuel also thinks that "the sun is hot."

I wish we saw Mathieson or Zagurski pitching some of those times when Baez was crapping all over the mound.

BAP & Jack, them's seem to be the breaks, but then Matheson just happens to be the victim of circumstance at the moment.

That doesn't make judging him based off one inning of work any more fair. And, it wasn't even that bad of an inning:

Bill Baer usually posts very reasonable things that are almost exclusively stat-based. Yes, Mathieson has posted some impressive K/9 totals and overall numbers in the minors.

It doesn't mean though that Mathieson can succeed as a 'replacement-level' reliever at the MLB level. He simply doesn't have a good enough secondary pitch to make it at the MLB level. If he did (whether a changeup or a slider), he would with his fastball.

Zagurski flat out isn't good enough to make it at the MLB level. He doesn't have the command/control on his fastball and his more importantly his slider is mediocre at best. If Zagurski had a plus slider, he would be able to make it as a LOOGY.

Fat: He actually made 2 appearances last year, not 1. And he was ghastly in both. Then, there were his 37.1 major league innings in 2006, when he posted a 7.47 ERA. I mean, I know that was a long time ago. I know he was a starter then, and not a reliever. But if we're going to speculate about his prospects as a major league pitcher, it seems to me that 2006 is a relevant part of the data pool -- especially since we've just discounted all the more recent data as the product of an inadequate sample size.

"hungrier" "Zagurski"

clout -
1) Zobrist is the best htting UT in the bigs. I'd love him on the bench. (keyword: bench)

2) Drexel has an excellent (as in top notch) library sciences school

2.a) And there's always the Nesbitt school of design

If I were watching in a bar and either of these guys were called in to pitch, I wouldn't bet a peanut that they weren't gonna get shelled.

MG, I'm not defending Mathieson's prospects as a major league pitcher. Frankly, I agree with you. I'm just contending against using 1.2 innings of work this year to write him off. If he was great in both outings, I'd be cautioning against those using that same sample size to label him ready for a full time spot in the show.

BAP, you're right it was long ago, and he was a starter, not a reliever, like you said. Madson is a much better reliever than a starter, so we have reaso to think the two jobs have to be judged separately.

Mathieson's future rides on his slider. It flashes plus at times, and if Mathieson would harness that, his fastball is good enough to make it in the pen as a 7th or 8th inning pitcher. That is an incredibly big "if" and if he doesn't harness the slider, he's a AAA closer for life. Zagurski's ceiling is probably 2nd LOOGY in a major league pen, but because he's left handed he'll get multiple chances. If Bastardo or Romero falter or get hurt, Zagurski has a good chance of logging innings in Philadelphia this year.

brad - Largely agree except that I bet that Dan Meyer gets an extended look in the pen before Zagurksi.

Andy: If we're ever in a bar, and Mathieson or Zagurski come in to pitch, I will bet you a peanut that they won't get shelled. But I want odds. If they don't get shelled, you buy me a beer.

JRoll guaranteed 100 wins today, shooting for 114.

UC also feels that Howard shouldn't chase sliders off the plate low and away.

Andy: So you disagree with WAR that Ben Zobrist was the best player in baseball in 2009?


I bet that peanut gets shelled.

Ben Zobrist illustrates one of the greatest weaknesses in both UZR/150 and WAR. A huge chunk of that ridiculous WAR was his supposed "great" defense and multiple positions. That massively inflated his score even though some of those sample sizes were way way too small to be legitimate.

As we all know, UZR/150 can become wildly innacurate in small sample sizes and for positions where there aren't a ton of chances (like any OF position), you really need a solid 3 years of data to make a real judgement of a guy. That holds true even for IF positions to an extent. Zobrist was and is a very nice utility guy but listening to guys at Fangraphs proclaim him one of the best players in baseball was and is absurd.

clout: Thanks for the reply in the last thread about Drexel. I've been looking around for a MBA program that works well for professionals. Drexel's "MBA Anywhere" program looks interesting.

NEPP: All that is true.

At the same time, Zobrist hit .297/.405/.543 while playing at least average (and probably better) defense at a few important positions (started half their games at 2B).

Was he the best player that year? I doubt it. Does it mean he's one of the best players in baseball going forward? No, it's not predictive, just descriptive. Did he have a fantastically good season? Yes.

The season that Zobrist's WAR was "massively inflated", he hit .297/.405/.543 with 27 HRs and 17 SBs, while Chase Utley hit .282/.397/.508 with 31 HRs and 23 SBs. We will ignore defensive value by UZR, because as NEPP states, its flawed here in one season. Therefore, we must conclude that Zobrist was slightly better than Utley (one of the best players in baseball).

Now, Utley is the much better player because he's done that consistently, while Zobrist's season was a massive outlier. But for that one season, and one season only? Yeah, Zobrist was better than Utley.

Can you guys not handle that distinction?

He definitely had a great year. I wont argue that at all. Listening to idiots over there say he was the best player in baseball was ridiculous. It'd be like saying Joe Blanton was the best pitcher in baseball if he had a no-hitter.

Career: .278
2009: .326

Just a little bit of luck in 09 where everything fell in for him.

I watched the likes of Zagurski, Mathieson, and Bastardo just blow their stuff by Triple-A and Double-A batters and then when they get called up to the bigs, they get whiplash. It wouldn't hurt to throw these guys into some Spring Training games when the big league batters are still in the game while in Clearwater. All three have great arms, especially Mathieson. But as you noted, it takes more than an arm.

NEPP: No one is claiming he wasn't lucky, or that it wasn't a massive outlier.

The point is that for that one season, in terms of value that actually happened on the field, Zobrist had an incredibly good season, one of the best in baseball. I'm really not sure what there is to argue about. I mean, the dude was 2nd in the AL in OPS+, and played most of his games at 2B. That's pretty damn good.

And who thought he was the best player in baseball?

It was quite obviously Joe Mauer that year. A good defensive catcher who led the league in BA, OBP, and SLG. Not even a question.

I dont think anyone argues that Zobrist didnt have a great year in 2009.

So then what's the argument at all here? That WAR should be taken with a big grain of salt because it may overestimate single-season defensive value? Duh.

Zobrist had a great season in 2009 (helped by luck). He was also pretty good in 2008 in limited time. In 2010, he had a pretty poor season (though with some really bad luck).

He's better than a utility player. He'd start at 2B or RF for probably more than half of the teams in the league. He was a starter last year for the team with the best record in the AL. He would start in RF for us, this year, as well.

If he repeats his 95 OPS+ from last year, I doubt any team would want him in RF. 2B maybe but that's not acceptable offense even there.

Zags??? He has stunk up the joint each time in recent memory

NEPP: And if he repeats his 149 OPS+ from 2009, he'd start at any position for any team, save 1B for Cardinals.

Come on.

NEPP: And a 95 OPS+ is what Polanco gave the Phils last year, at a more offense-oriented position than 2B.

So why don't you just admit that Zobrist is perfectly suited as a starter for a good team, even adjusting for the fact that he isn't as good as his 2009 might indicate? In fact, that's exactly what he is. He started for the best team in the AL last year.

You don't have an argument here.

Jack's right. If a player got ridiculously lucky with a .400 BABIP for a season and put up a 1.000 OPS while he had a .750 OPS every other year - it doesnt change the fact that the player still had a 1.000 OPS and was extremely valuable to his team that season.

what do you think the odds are of him repeating his 2009 effort?

5%? 10%?

He's a decent utility guy that could start on a good number of teams as a middle infielder. I honestly dont care about the guy either way.

Jack: As usual, you debate something that isn't being argued.

Here is what is being argued: Posters in the past have said that WAR is an accurate way to measure whether one player is better than another player.

Read that slowly and carefully. Do not add extra words, your own interpretation or raise issues that no one else has raised.

That one simple sentence is what the debate is about. Period.

Clout: First, NEPP claimed that Zobrist was a utility player (which implies he isn't a starting-quality player). So I debated him on that, and he's clearly wrong.

As for WAR, it's one measure of who was better IN THAT PARTICULAR SEASON. It does not claim to be predictive about who is a better player overall, or going forward. Anyone who would claim otherwise doesn't understand the point of the stat. It is descriptive, not predictive.

You understand what those words mean, right? If so, then we're both in agreement, and we're just discussing other people who don't know what they're talking about.

NEPP: You're conflating the fact that he has the ability to play multiple positions with him being a utility guy. The fact is he's better than most guys that start at 2B or, frankly, in RF for a lot of teams. He's an above-average hitter for his career, and above-average defender at multiple positions.

And as far as being a "decent" utility guy, if you're taking about comparing him to the Wilson Valdezes and Greg Dobbses of the world, he's far, far better than "decent." Come on now.

Why does any reasonably smart person concern themselves with the "WAR" stat?

TTI: For the same reason that smart people concern themselves with anything. They're interested to learn more.

It's usually people who reject things out of hand or accept them blindly that you have to be worried about. And who aren't the reasonably smart people.

Jack: Or you know- WAR is an imperfect stat. Casue you know- someone could've read up on the stat and recognizes that. It's stupid people that constantly use it as a rationale and ignore the imperfections involved with it.

TTI: Good question. It relies heavily on single-season UZR, which even the statheads say has value only in 2 or 3 year increments.

Not even Jack thinks Ben Zobrist had the best season in baseball in 2009.

The Natinals strike - again.

TTI: I choose to look at it while recognizing its clear limitations.

You reject it out of hand, apparently making the perfect the enemy of the good.

I guess that's your way of doing it, which is fine.

Those 27 homeruns in 2009 definitely look pretty flukey, but we're talking about a guy who had an .888 OPS in the minors, is a switch hitter, plays practically every position on the field, has already had one great season, and is still young enough to have plenty of good years left. If the Rays were looking to trade him, I'll bet there would be at least 20 GMs who would be interested. I know I sure would be if I were a GM.

Jack: Work on your comprehension skills as it gets you into trouble often on here. I said that I've read and understand the stat but feel that it's inadequacies sort of render it useless as a trump card in an argument like you are trying to wave it here.

In fact, and this might blow your mind, all stats can be imperfect when they are applied without any consideration for the methodology with which they are gathered and disseminated. So to me WAR is a stat that serves some minor purpose but it's far from being an absolute end game.

Do you have that?

Also, please give me a number that qualifies as "most teams" in the league. Not a trick question. Of all the teams in the major leagues, how many would constitute "most teams"?

J-Roll says 100 wins in 2011

Yeah baby

J-roll really said that the Phills wil top will top the 2001 Mariners (which he didn't know was the MLB record) and come close to the record.

Well, clout, what IS it good for?

b-a-p: If I wouldn't even bet a nut, what makes you think I'd bet a nut-brown ale? Next time you're in NYC and Zagurski is on the 25-man roster, let me know.

BAP: All true. And all irrelevant to the discussion.

Andy: Well some would say "absolutely nothing."

I would say that it is totally useless in comparing players to say so-and-so is better than so-and-so, which is how most posters use it.

It has modest value as a single-season measure when used in concert with OPS+ because it does contain a fielding component. Problem is, that fielding component, depending on position, is not terribly useful.

I think WAR has the most value as a career stat. But even then I wouldn't use it to say Ryan Ludwick is a better player than Ryan Howard.

I found this link in my favorites the other night and thought I'd post it here. Written by a Phillies fan who writes for the sports page in PIttsburgh, unwilling to concede anything to hte Pirates, even the futility title while the Phils are fielding possibly their best team ever.

Historical record:

Pitts. 9810 9684 -
Phila. 9135 10232 611.5

By my math, we need the current trend to continue about 16 more years to catch these sadsacks. Bucs could hit 10000 losses by early 2014.

Hugh - 36 consecutive losing seasons for the Bucs? Seems tough although it will certainly be extended this year with an outside shot (maybe 30% right now depending on how some of the highly-paid recent pitching prospect develop) at it ending in '12.

MG - I'm certainly not making a prediction. I might be more inclined to wager that they'll be playing professional lacrosse at PNC Park before the Pirates go another 18 without a winning season. At some point, you pull the plug.

Bucs have the No. 1 pick in June. Hopefully for their fans, they don't draft a middle of the pack relief pitcher (Moskos) over the best kid in the draft (Wieters) like they did in '07.

Good Lord, clout!!

Are you telling me that since there are no good metrics to accurately measure defensive performance even within a position, much less across them, that any kind of defense based WAR is flawed?

Say it again!

TTI: I'm not trying to "wave" it around at all. If you look back and read this thread, you'll be hard-pressed to find a post where I use WAR.

All I was trying to do was point out to people who say "Wow, WAR says player X is better than player Y, that's idiotic," that they don't understand the simple difference between a predictive stat and a descriptive stat. WAR is descriptive.

It's not hard to say "Player Y is better than Player X, but Player X had a better season last year." I had assumed even you can comprehend that distinction. Was I wrong?

Jack: I know because you change your argument 15 times in any discussion it's hard for you to keep up on what you're saying. You've absolutely used the WAR stat in the past here as a be all, end all. I know you'll deny that but if anyone cared to browse through the archives they would see you are wrong.

The problem is you don't seem to think someone can understand the WAR star AND still dismiss it as being idiotic. I know that's hard for you because it requires two thought processes running concurrently.

Also, you didn't answer my question. You've made these statements: "He'd start at 2B or RF for probably more than half of the teams in the league."

"The fact is he's better than most guys that start at 2B or, frankly, in RF for a lot of teams."

Please tell me two things:

1.) Define how many teams constitute "most" and "lot"

2.) For the first statement are you hedging your bet that he could start at second or in right as two separate individual positions or are you saying he's at least better than the right fielder or second baseman on most teams?

Yo, newer thread

The comments to this entry are closed.

EST. 2005

Top Stories


Rotoworld News

Follow on Twitter

Follow on Facebook

Contact Weitzel