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Saturday, April 23, 2011

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Klaus- it's definitely a different type of enjoyment. I understand your 'negative art' point about pitching, but it's fascinating to me to watch truly great pitchers and how they are able to baffle major league hitters or every caliber time after time. The brilliance is in causing the consistent failure of entire lineups of hitters- the mental fortitude it takes to be a great pitcher is considerable, and we're watching 4 great pitchers in the prime of their careers. I appreciate that a little more than watching Utley/Howard/Burrell club the ball against the Natinals AAAA pitching staff, though that was certainly entertaining.

To me, this year is more like watching Picasso paint, and the '07/'08 teams were akin to going to the circus, like you said. Personally, I'd rather watch Picasso paint than go to the circus, though I can definitely appreciate and enjoy both. But what I don't understand are the motivations behind the group that get a free ticket to the art museum and complain the whole time they'd rather be at the carnival.

Starting Ibanez:

Seriously starting MiniMart?! over Ibanez. That's makes no sense especially tonight when you have a guy like Stauffer on the mound. Stauffer is a soft-tossing RHP who is typically at 89-90 MPH on his fastball doesn't have a slider and throws a bunch of curves/changeups. Stauffer is exactly the type of pitcher that Ibanez should start against.

Devil's Advocate:

Yeah it was great watching the last two shutouts but this Padres' team is offensively inept. They have been shutout now 6 times in 20 games and less than 3 runs in 13 games. That's amazingly bad. Averaging just 3 games overall.

Padres will be the worst offensive team in the NL this year. Of that I have no doubt. Just a question of whether they are historically bad or just garden variety rotten this year. I bet they have a good shot to have the lowest run total of any team the last 20 years in MLB. Their that bad.

3 or less runs in 13 games. After seeing this Padres' team I wonder if they have a guy who finishes the year at higher .280 AVG (with at least 250 ABs) or someone who hits 20+ HRs?

I'd rather put Chase's lawn chair in LF than Mini-Mart.

Also, I agree with MG...this is exactly the type of pitcher that Ibanez can still hit.

MG: It was a joke, about starting Mini-Mart over Raul.

It is kind of funny though how people have been all over Ibanez/JRoll this past week yet you haven't heard a word about Ruiz (who hasn't done anything the past week) or Valdez (who simply is hitting weak grounder after weak grounder).

Yeah Ruiz/Valdez produced earlier this season at a healthy clip but they are just a big a reason why this offense has been so moribund the past 7-10 days.

OMG.. MG do you realize what you just did? You called out Chooch. That's blasphemy here.

Re: Chooch... he gets Utley treatment at this point... mostly because of the pitching staff and seemingly clutch moments. He's clearly the #1 or #2 most popular non pitcher on this team.

Re: Valdez... He's exceeded expectations. now that he's resorting to form, i think most everyone knows his value... and since he's not a Nunez or a Castro or a Gnome he will also get a pass.
Rollins and Ibanez situation is FAR worse given their place in the lineup...

Valdez is a replacement level guy doing what guys of his skill level do.

Chooch is Chooch...leave him alone.

Arguing against benching Ibanez today is clearly arguing a straw-man.

I haven't seen a single person claim that Raul should not be our starting LF against right-handed pitching.

@Mike -- @MG is fairly consistent on his characterizing of Chooch's play. Has always been the first one to call him overrated. This is nothing new.

Mike - Chooch took more than his share of flak and rightly so in years past where he would go into one of his absolute funks in May-June where he would be horrible (.500-.550 OPS) for 6-8 weeks.

It is pretty much annual thing Ruiz even last year where he was awful from mid-May to mid-June. He almost like clockwork goes into a real offensive funk in early June and doesn't come out of it until well into July or later. Its a strange quirk.

Every player in baseball goes into a funk at some point during the season, often more than once. It happens.

One. Ninety. Seven.

Also, 2 Runs might cut it when facing the worst offense since WWII-era France, but even the best pitchers will have less-than-great outings, & it would be nice to be able to believe the Phillies are capable of hitting themselves to a win now & again. If the Brewers series was any indication, they cannot.

Cole Hamles has a 2.92 ERA despite the fact opponents have a BABIP against him of .324, the highest in his career.

The other thing about the offense is that no one doubts that the Phillies will likely make the playoffs, and probably by winning the NL East (or at least most people don't doubt it).

But remember that last year in the playoffs, we had great starting pitching. And didn't win because our offense got shut down by other good starting pitching and we lost a couple close, low-scoring games.

I think a of us have that series in mind when we worry about the offense. We're going to win plenty of regular season games with an average offense and great pitching. A better offense would sure make me feel better about beating other top teams in the playoffs, though.

More Cole Hamels goodness...

This "fly ball" pitcher (as he is called by many) has a GB/FB ratio of 1.78. By far the best of his career. Perhaps that's one reason he's yet to allow a HR this season.

I always forget that "runs scored in games against the Brewers" is the end all be all metric that correlates exactly to whether or not the Phillies are capable of hitting themselves to a win now and again.

I thought maybe the fact that they scored 5 or more runs 6 times in their first 9 games might be a factor as well, but I guess not.

(Standard caveat that their offense will likely be closer to league average than the best offense in the league this year.)

Noah: Games where the offense was successful do not count.

The Brewers are a legit Playoff contender. None of the other teams the Phillies have played thus far -- Atlanta the lone possible exception -- have anything more than the faintest of prayers ... & even that's a stretch.

Yeah, I don't know that there's much that I could add to this....so I defer.

I agree with it all.

Ah... I also forgot... games against teams deemed "non-playoff contenders" by GTown Dave also do not count.

CJ: Thank you for conceding to superior intellect.

But the Brewers were swept by "non-playoff" contender Washington and barely remain above .500.

The Phillies are in worse trouble than I thought.

Hamels locating that cutter low in the zone or just below the knees seems to be the primary cause of the greater no. of grounders. Still, that's the one pitch he gets hurt on the most, it seems. The curve returned in a big way last night. Just about every 0-1 count was followed by a curve, mostly for strikes. I enjoyed his performance more than any game all year, I think.

As for Ibanez, I was with Manuel right up until he didn't give him a blow last night. Ideal game to give him a rest and, I assume he plans on giving him a rest some day. Loved the posts about letting him off the leash and telling Manuel he ran away / had to put him down.

Pads have to be getting psyched up to face Blanton tonight. They want to score a few runs this series and tonight's the night.

Hugh: I think your impression of "getting hurt" doesn't match the facts so far this year. According to Pitch data, his cutter has been a positive pitch for him, 2nd only to his change... and better than his curve and fastball.

The pitch data for last night's start isn't up yet, so I'll be interested to see if his curve percentage goes up from the 4.4% it's at now.

CJ: and his strand rate is 74 percent -- bit less than career average. Basically his BABIP is still a bit warped by the Mets game.

Iceman: no doubt that, if the '11 Phillies and '07 Phillies flipped and I had just spent last night April 22 2011 watching Leiber followed by Rosario followed by Zagurski followed by Mesa followed by Condrey followed by Geary followed by Alfonseco for the save (after Howard had given the Phils the lead with his 3rd grand slam of the evening), I'd be right now penning multiple odes to the glory days of Francisco in the 5 hole. Nostalgia distorts.

I agree with the prevailing sentiment that, with a middling righ Stauffer on the mound, starting Ibanez is a no-brainer. But saying that he should start is not the same as saying that I think he'll have a good game. More likely, he'll go 0 for 4.

I saw a little bit of the Rollins' profile on HBO. He noted that the window for this team was small because they were getting older.

Presumably he would be laughed at as a Debbie Downer on BL.

Jack: No one disagrees that the window with this core of players is closing. But listen to Beerleaguer, and you'd think the window closed this year. Also, even if the window closes on J-Roll, Howard, Utley, Ibanez, etc... that doesn't mean another won't open with new players.

But the Debbie Downers will tell you it does.

Hamm - I would argue that Chooch is actually overrated in Philly right now. He is a solid catcher who had a career year last year. Just not an All-Star caliber player nor is he a player that should be hitting in No. 2 spot as some assert.

The focus on giving Ibanez a "rest" is where I diverge with the thinking of many. I don't think that Ibanez needs a "rest."

The reason to bench him in favor of Mayberry is because Mayberry would be more likely to hit well against that particular LHP. Ibanze is in shape, it's the beginning of the season, he hit better in the second half of last year over the first half. I see little strength in arguments that attribute Ibanez's struggles to being tired any more than with the long line of other Phillies who are struggling, offensively.

As much as people want to vent their anti-fandom at Ibanez for his struggles, that isn't a reason to sit him. The only reason to bench Ibanez is if with a particular pitcher, you have deemed that Mayberry is likely to hit better.

Of course, as a fan I'd like to see Mayberry get a shot. But I don't watch them both day in- day out, in batting practice. I'm not a professional analyst of hitting ability. Charlie fits the bill in both of those areas.

As some point, if Ibanez continues to struggle, Charlie will have to assume that Mayberry is gives the offense a better shot. I suspect that time is still a while off.

Phlipper - Exactly. It is not that Ibanez needs 'rest' right now especially with the the off-days they have had. I do think it is asking alot of him though to start every game in a week where the Phils don't have an off-scheduled day.

It is more about his poor production and his defensive liabilities. I do think Mayberry gives this team a notable uptick both offensively vs. LHP and defensively. That's the reason he should be starting vs. LHP especially last night against a LHP who has a good slider & throws relatively hard.

Phlipper: I think everyone's argument for benching Ibanez against tough lefties is performance-related.

Ibanez is going to be the starter everyday in LF until at least June though even if he is absolutely scuffling and a clear defensive liability. Cholly (like Dusty Baker) is loyal to his veterans even when it makes little sense and there is a very viable alternative strategy.

Phlipper: All of that said, do you agree with the idea that worrying about Raul's confidence is also pointless?

To me, it's all performance. If Charlie thinks that Raul can "swing his way out of the funk" and, in the long-term, be a good everyday player, I'm fine with it (though I'm skeptical of it working). But if the idea is that platooning Raul will wreck his confidence, then I take real issue with that. The dude is a 39-year old All-Star who's made like $60M in his career. His ego should be able to handle it.

So because we lost a 6 game series, full of close games, to a team whose starting pitching was historically good down the stretch and shut everybody down, we're going to dwell on it as a reason to worry about the offense?

And I like how Atlanta has gone from a team that possibly or probably could win the NL East, and almost certainly will win the Wild Card, to a team that only has a 'faint prayer' of making the playoffs, all because the Phillies beat them 2 out of 3. Some people will just argue the hell out of something knowing they are dead wrong just to stick to their ill-formed convictions.

My guess is if the Phils won that extra-inning game against Milwaukee, we wouldn't be considering them a playoff-caliber team either.

Iceman: Please re-read my post. I excepted -- or at least thought I had excepted -- Atlanta from the prayerless losers.

Jack where did the idea that platooning Raul will ruin his confidence come from? The last thing I read was that Charlie considered playing Mayberry last night but decided against it because he prefered to let Raul try to hit his way out of his funk.

GTown- you used the qualifier 'possible' and then said it 'might be a stretch' to say they have the faintest of prayers. If I misinterpreted that, I apologize.

Iceman: Indeed I did, & I could/should have been more clear.

Key to NL Championship---beat the teams you should and stay as close to splitting the rest as you can.So far,so good.

I'm watching an old Warner Bros. cartoon. Wile E. Coyote is drinking something called "Leg Muscle Vitamins" in order to become faster &, presumably, catch the elusive Road Runner. Cartoon PEDs ... for shame.

Now Coyote is breaking down film of past encounters. Much better. Win the right way, kids. When you cheat you're only cheating yourself.

GTown Dave: Well, Wile is still paying the price. He's on the outside looking in at the Looney Toons Hall of Fame. I think he's reduced to autograph shows in Vegas these days.

G-Town, great observation. Wile E. Coyote on PEDs. I will now refer to the juicers using "Wile E." and their last last names, unless their first name is more famous, then I'll do the opposite. Let's see there's Wile E. Bonds, Wile E. Sosa, Wile E. Clemens, Wile E. Dykstra and Manny E. Coyote.

Could Ibanez be the worst starting left fielder in the Nl ?

Lake Fred: "An A-Bomb, from A-Coyote!" ... I like it!

NL LFs

Atlanta: Martin Prado
Florida: Emilio Bonifacio
New York: Jason Bay (when healthy, or Willie Harris)
Philadelphia: Raul Ibanez
Washington: Michael Morse

Chicago: Alfonso Soriano
Cincinnati: Jonny Gomes
Houston: Carlos Lee
Milwaukee: Ryan Braun
Pittsburgh: Jose Tabata
St. Louis: Matt Holliday

Arizona: Willie Bloomquist
Colorado: Carlos Gonzalez
Los Angeles: Jerry Sands
San Diego: Ryan Ludwick
San Francisco: Pat Burrell

I'd say Raul would start in LF for as 3 to 5 other teams in the NL.

I would take anyone on that list over Raul - not even considering contract.

Appreciating a good pitching duel requires more attention and focus from a fan. It also helps to know a pitcher's strengths and weaknesses and the batter's as well. Knowing these things increases the tension and excitement of a 1-0 or 2-1 game where the smallest mistake has grave consequences.

A high-scoring game is mere spectacle, requiring no thinking or any particular knowledge of batters and pitchers at all.

In sum, high-scoring games are perfect for the dumbed-down, short-attention-span, TV and internet-narcotized 21st century American.

I don't think MLB will put up with the current downward trend in scoring for long. The umps will be told to tighten the zone and the balls will be wound tighter too.

CJ: Yes, but would noted MLB analyst GTown_Dave consider any of those "3-5" teams a legit Postseason contender? Dubious.

Billy Mac: "I would take anyone on that list over Raul - not even considering contract."

Well, not everyone can understand the game of baseball. It's okay. We'll just be thankful you're not the GM.

Every clout argument is the same reductio ad absurdum: "Everyone is stupid". Many people, perhaps even most, but not all. Not yet, anyway.

Regardless, New Thread ==>

The graphic is an Instant Classic ...

CJ - obviously we disagree on the skills of Ibanez.

Not to mention disagreement over the skills of Willie Bloomquist.

Blanton drives me crazy. Already his stupidity has almost cost him a run in the first (letting runners get to 2nd and 3rd in a rundown) and bunting and missing at ball 4. His baseball IQ has got to be in the low double digits. There is no excuse not to execute basic fundamentals. What was he doing during spring training?

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