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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

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The best reliever should be free to do the highest leverage innings. End of story.

Bullpen roles are silly for a guy this talented.

Last I heard Charlie address this issue, he said something like he can't see taking the role away from Madson now that he's been doing it so well.

One advantage to having Madson close is that, should Contreras get into trouble in the 8th, Madson could conceivably come in to bail him out and still pitch the 9th. Since he's pitched 1+ inning before, perhaps, just perhaps, Charlie would be willing to do this with him when needed.

Over the past couple of years I have been as critical as anyone of allowing Madson to Close. That said, I really hate the idea of fixing what ain't broke, & even I can't find a single thing to criticize RE: Madson's performance this season. So long as Ryan is healthy (his lingering hand soreness worries me), he should remain the Closer.

I'd keep Madson in the 9th but in the event that it's a 1-1 away game, I think I'd throw him out there in the 8th. There are worse problems to have.

JW: Personally, I like the idea of getting away from defined bullpen roles & using the best reliever available for any given situation ... but I think we all know Charlie will NEVER go for that. We might discuss it until our fingers fall off here on Beerleaguer, but in a practical sense there's no point in even considering it.

Wonder how hurt Madson's hand is.

I'm just excited that Contreras is coming back, meaning that Herndon is going away again.

(Nothing personal against the guy, but at this point, I don't think he belongs on the major-league club.)

Madson has shown that he can close the door, so why deviate? I would leave Madson in there until he shows he can't pitch clean ninth innings.

Personally, considering the offenses inability to score late in games like they used to, I'd be abjectly horrified if Cholly gave Lidge the job back, even in 2 or 3 run spots. I'm hoping that's a moot discussion, though. Doesn't sound like he's going to be ready any time soon.

Bottom line, we need a guy with filthy stuff, who cannot be easily hit around, even when he's off. With Madson and his nasty FB/change combo, he's precisely that guy, and his ERA shows it.

Pretty much a non-troversy. Madson is the closer unless he starts screwing up badly or gets injured.

My guess is that 13% is comprised of Contreras' mom voting on multiple computers.

Beerleaguer will not be a pleasant place if Charlie brings in Madson for multiple innings and Madson is ineffective in his subsequent outing.

Phlipper - More like Lidge's mom, as Lidge is much more likely to win the closers job away from Contreras rather than Madson.

This isn't the most worrying decision. The one that scares me is what happens with Lidge if/when he comes back.

Honestly, Contreras or Madson picking up the 8th/9th in any order is a boon for the Phillies, with BAstardo able to do some of the work as well, or handle tough lefties.

I personally would want Madson to handle the highest leverage spots, but so long as the likes of Romero, Herndon, Baez, KK, and even Stutes (at this point in his career) aren't getting those high leverage spots, I'll be happy with one of the big 3 taking them.

If there were any realistic chance that Cholly would actually use Madson for multiple innings, or use him in high-leverage situations arising before the 8th inning, then I would be all in favor of giving Contreras the closers role & letting Madson play the setup and general fireman role. But that's not how it's going to work. If Madson's the setup man, he'll pitch the 8th inning and only the 8th inning. If it's a tied game with one out & the bases loaded in the 7th inning, Cholly will go to Baez or Herndon before he lets Madson pitch outside his defined 8th inning role.

Given these ground rules, I'd rather have our best reliever pitching the 9th than the 8th.

I hate the notion of using your 'lights out' reliever in the closer's role when you are up 2 or 3 runs instead of the 8th but that's just me.

Madson is on pace to pitch ~65 IP this year which sounds like a pretty good number.

Don't want to see Madson pitching 2 IP and frankly with this staff you will almost never need it.

Should the Phillies trade Brown & Cosart for Pence? http://jstolnis.wordpress.com/2011/05/24/present-vs-future/

Ok, anyone can vote multiple times just by refreshing the screen. I call shenanigans on this poll.

On another note, IF Pitching and Defense wins championships, I like how we are doing so far. 3.01 ERA for a staff(best in NL, second best in MLB) and 16 errors(best in MLB)

From previous thread--I'd trade Brown for Pence in a heartbeat, but I'd try to get a few good prospects along with him. We need a good RH handed bat, badly, and Pence would fill the bill (I also like that he seems able to hit with RISP, as witness last night's game). The team is built to win now, while the Four Aces are still together, and Brown won't be able to contribute meaningfully this year. As for left field next year--I'd bring up Overbeck--we could use his bat--but keep Mayberry on the roster as a late-innings defensive replacement ala the Pat Burrell situation of 2008. That combination should bridge the gap to Singleton a few years down the pike.

Contreras has been 'effectively wild' this year. He has had real issues with coming in and throwing strikes. Also falling behind a ton of hitters (43.8% first strike rate)

He has gotten away with it so far but I wonder if his continued erratic control continues.

I also wonder if he is going to start using his splitter a bit more to relieve some of the stress on his elbow instead of throwing as many sliders as he was earlier.

John, I'm not going to click on your link, but I hope you answer is a resounding NO.

AT: "We need a good RH handed bat, badly,"

Please explain. Thanks.

Rather have Lidge pitch in the 7th of a 2-run game or the 9th?

I voted Contreras just to be contrary. I like Madson to pitch over anyone else whenever the game is on the line.

If Madson does lose a couple games (or 4 in a row), and end up pitching in the 8th again, do you think he'll pull a Brian Fuentes on Charlie Manuel, i.e., refuse to hand him the ball when leaving the mound and call blame him for your failures in post-game interviews?

I voted for Contreras as the closer. Worked just fine earlier this year and rather see Madson in the 8th of a close game.

My goodness AT you want Overbeck to called up but you aren't confident with Brown? You are losing it.

I know that ESPN was slobbering over the Braves staff and their 'pen a few weeks back, but honestly, which group would you rather have?

Doc
Cole
Lee
Oswalt
Worley
Bastardo
Contreras
Madson

or

Hudson
Hanson
Lowe
Jurjjens
Beachy
O'Flaherty
Venters
Kimbrel

??

Rollins SS, Utley 2B, Polanco 3B, Howard 1B, Ibanez LF, Ruiz C, Brown CF, Mayberry RF, Worley P

Why take Mayberry out of CF? He played a very good CF yesterday, and Brown has a great arm for RF.

Interesting.

If the Phillies had an infinite budget, there would be no reason not to trade Domonic Brown for Hunter Pence. One guy is already good. The other is a promising prospect who may or may not pan out.

But, unfortunately, payroll considerations are a part of every trade. The Phillies can't keep paying $8 to $10M for every starting position. Their future payroll flexibility hinges on their ability to fill some of their key spots on the cheap. That is what Domonic Brown is supposed to do for the next 5 or 6 years. Since there's no other prospect on the horizon who has any chance of being a productive starter for us within the next year or two, there is no way they're going to trade Dom away. I could definitely see our trading away one or two of our hotshot Single A pitching prospects, though.

Doesn't putting your best reliever against the heart of the opposing team's lineup make more sense than reserving a particular inning for him? Wouldn't you rather have Madson face the 3/4/5 hitters in the eighth inning and Contreras/Lidge face the bottom of the order/pinch hitters in the ninth if such a case arose?

I'd take the Phils considering that the Braves 'pen has 13 saves in 23 opportunities as opposed to the Phillies' 15/16

More importantly, will JW update the rotation in honor of Bob Dylan's 70th birthday?

That is interesting,i wonder if its a mistake,i will check....

Fat: Are you absolutely positive that's not a mistake? Because that would not only be bizarre but totally unlike Cholly. Has Dom even played CF before?

The Truck has the makeup to be closer, but has put too many miles on that body to rely on him too frequently. This DL trip was a warning shot against over-stressing his old arm and a worthwhile exercise to exorcise the mythology that Madson cannot close.

A reliable, and durable, bridge from still young Bastardo and Stutes to Contreras and Madson is still needed in an ideal world. Lidge could fill that role -- but let's see how reliable he will be and if he is durable enough to actually return.

If Brown is indeed playing CF, he is being showcased for someone.

We need a right-handed bat because in the playoffs (if we get that far) a smart manager like Bochy knows he can neutralize Howard, Ibanez, and most of the rest of our lefty-heavy offense with good bullpen choices. The linked article makes my point, that the team is built to win now, then still makes the half-assed conclusion that we shouldn't throw away "the future." The future is now.

I don't want Overbeck up this year; I said next year. He's older than Brown and seems to have stabilized more, and even if he disappoints Mayberry or some low-cost free agent yet to be signed can pick up the slack.

Mayberry is in CF, per Phillies tweet.

per twitter-Tonight's #Phillies lineup from @philaphillies http://yfrog.com/h2dxvunj

mayberry is in center...

JJG, good point. Contreras's injury was the result of "overuse." Not exactly something you want to have to hedge against when it comes to your closer.

Though, I'm with everyone who thinks it shouldn't necessarily be a "closer" and pre-appointed roles, but more situational, based on who is coming up to bat, splits, etc.

Tonight's lineup is exactly the same as last night, with everyone playing the same position. The Phils won a laugher last night. The chance of Charlie switching it up after a win like that was slim to none (and slim only being Randy Johnson circa 2002 on the mound).

AT: So lets trade away Brown for present talent, and bridge the gap for Singleton?

Um... what? You hate on Brown for not being mlb-proven and then want to bring up Cody Overbeck and Singleton two years later?!

AT: Are you suggesting the Phils would PH for either Howard or Ibanez... or that an opposing manager would take the LOOGY out of the game because a hitter like Pence was in between Howard and Ibanez?

Both are ludicrous suggestions. The Phils never pinch hit for Howard and I can't remember the last time Ibanez was pinch hit for. And Pence has nearly equal splits which means there's no real advantage to putting a RH reliever in between.

It was no. No Brown/Cosart for Pence. Not worth sacrificing the future, at least not yet. Let's see how they all play.

The same lineup two days in a row? What the heck?

Hell no on Brown and Cosart for Pence. Bautista on the other hand......

Is it wrong that one of the reasons I want Brown to succeed is to shut up trolls like AT? No doubt it is.

The saber world has long been saying that the closer is overrated, anyone can do it, the best relievers should be saved for high-leverage innings, which might be in the 7th or 8th, etc etc etc.

Bull. When you have a starting pitching staff as good as ours, it's likely that there will not be an opportunity to put in any reliever until the 7th or more likely the 8th on any given night. In the 8th you can play left/right depending on the matchup, and then you are left with the 9th.

OK, maybe the difference between Madson and (for example) Herndon is hypothetically not much. But considering the consequneses are so severe, you should be putting your best reliever in the 9th, even if it's a "low leverage" or against their poorest hitters. If your closer does his job, you win. If he does not, you lose. Why, oh why wouldn't you want your very best relief pitcher in that role, pray tell?

We're seriously allowing another thread to deteriorate into another meaningless bicker-fest about trading Brown for Pence, a scenario that will NEVER happen for a myriad of reasons (not the least of which is $)? The "upgrade" is minimal right now, let alone if RAJ's chosen one actually DOES play to his projected potential. Cost/control of that caliber player is paramount, and certainly not worth sacrificing just to have a right handed bat (something the Phillies DON'T NEED RIGHT NOW - look at the splits!!!!).

Wake me up when the Game Thread is up and this discussion has finally gone away.

I think the undervaluing of Hunter Pence on this board and the overvaluing of Pence by the Astros fan base are the reasons why a Pence trade won't happen.

The Astros have already been pretty aggressively rebuilding and need to keep some part of their core to retain a fanbase. I assume they would want a ransom to justify the trade -- from the Phils who have cleaned out our high prospect inventory.

With Brown slated for right field, the added premium for Pence's RF defense is not as necessary for the Phils. We could use the proven OF RH bat in the lineup and stick him in the relatively easy LF to patrol in CBP. Hopefully, Willingham or the like would be more affordable.

Fat - I would prefer the Phils rotaton but takes the likes of O'Flaherty, Kimbrel, and Venters over Bastardo, Contreras, and Madson in a heartbeat.

Still have huge question mark if Bastardo can hold up an entire season and what Contreras' creaky arm will be like.

MG: No concerns about young pitchers like Kimbrel and Venters? Kimbrel has already begun showing significant cracks. One of just two closers with 4 or more blown saves who hasn't lost his job.

Ever since he came into the big leagues, Pence has pretty consistenly been a 3+ WAR player who is above average in nearly every aspect of the game.

That has a lot of value, certainly. There is no guarantee that Brown will ever consistently touch about 3+ WAR.

Regardless, even if he does turn into a perennial AS, Brown will probably not be that guy this year.

If the goal is really to win NOW, which this Phillies team is designed to do, trading Brown for Hunter Pence is not the height of ridiculousness as some suggest.

MG, part of the question was which group would you take. Obviously, if you could mix and match, I'd take Hanson over Worley, Venters over Conteras, and probably take Hudson over Oswalt.

But, taken as a unit, I'd take the Phillies over the Braves.

Also, CJ's point. Kimbrel is showing cracks, and Bastardo, while not proven to be able to hold up over an entire season, seems to be a lot more dominating than O'Flaherty.

Is Kimbrel really showing cracks or is he just getting unlucky? Is there any way to tell in such small sample sizes?

Having you best reliever designated as a closer does seem logical when you're on the road in particular, as it really is do or die in the bottom half of the inning. When at home, and an inferior pitcher is "closing" in the top half of the inning, if he screws up you do at least have another AB to tie or win the game.

I think there is something to be said for the mental/psychological aspects of giving your best reliever an established role of being the "closer" - especially when they're intimidating. Knowing that if you have the lead in the eighth, the game is pretty much over, makes the opposing team press, and being handed the glove as a "closer" adds to the confidence and intimidating nature of a closer.

Think Mariano or "The Beard" last year. Having Mariano (yes, he has pitched multiple innings on occassion) has provided the Yankees with a huge psychological advantage. Think of how valuable having a perfect closer was in the WFC year. I think it is entirely possible that some pitchers perform better when they know that their role is clearly defined as a closer.

Abstracted from the mental/psychological aspects of the game, as many like to do, yes, from a theoretical perspective you'd want your best pitcher going in the most "high leverage" situation or facing the opponents' toughest hitters; but you never know how "high leverage" a situation will be before you get there (think of using your closer in a one-run top of the eighth against the opponents meat of the order in a game where you proceed to blow it open in the bottom half of the eighth - meaning you used your closer in a sense unnecessarily).

I think Madson is a perfect example of a pitcher who performs better when he has an established role. He didn't really flourish until the Phils stopped yanking him around from starter to long reliever to setup man to closer. Although, at this point he seems to have settled in to just knowing that he's a dominant pitcher with a filthy change.

CJ - thanks, i was just going to type exactly what you said. AT's notion that Manuel would pinch hit for one of his "lefties" is ludicrous, laughable, and outrageous.

AT is actively hurting this blog! and my head.

Fatalotti, I like Bastardo too, but no one in baseball is a "lot more dominating that O'Flaherty" right now. Other than one bad inning against the Phils last week, he has been unhittable.

In defense of Venters and Kimbrel, Fredi Gonzalez has been running them out there constantly. It's bound to catch up with them eventually, if it hasn't, to some extent, already.

Heather, has a .390 BAbip, so it would seem so, but he also has a 4.5 BB/9, which can hurt you, if you're not striking out batters on the nights you're walking them. His 13.9 K/9 is really good, though, so I'd say that there's an element of truth to what you're saying.

His GB% is 52.9 and his LD% is ~17, so he's inducing good batted ball splits, and striking out a hell of a lot of batters. I retract the "showing cracks" line. It appears he's just been a tad unlucky this year, coupled with some unfortuantely timed walks.

I am definitely in the camp that your best reliever should come into the game at the most critical time in the game, but with Madson I am hesitant of taking him out of his comfort zone. I'm not totally convinced it's the case (mostly because it's impossible to know for sure), but if he prefers to be in a set role, let him stay in the 9th. He's certainly shown the chops for it.

John Smoltz was on the Fan in NY the other day and was asked if he's more proud of his 250 wins (or whatever number) as a starter or his 150 saves as a closer. Surprising to me, he said he was prouder of his saves. He acknowledged the wins were harder to come by, took longer to build up, etc., but talked about how the game is on the line for the closer, there's no one behind you, the starting pitcher and the rest of the team depends on you.

After hearing him, I'm on board with the idea that the best reliever should be the closer, so I definitely go with Madson for Phils' closer.

with the news that the Mets are likely to lose $70 mil this year; I think we should help them out a little and take that non-superstar, obviously overpaid 3b off their hands.

With all this Madson closer talk tonight, won't it be ironic when he blows his first save of the season?

Madson will blow a save tonight.

O'Flaherty is a good relief pitcher, and BAstardo may not keep up his current pace, but O'Flaherty has a career SO/9 of 6.7 and a career SO/BB ratio of 1.97.

Bastardo, on the other hand, has a career SO/9 of 10.4 (been in the 12s the last two years) and a career SO/BB ratio of 2.62.

For me, that leads me to believe that Bastardo will be the more dominant relief pitcher going forward. Just my two cents.

Heather: There's really nothing to a closer "getting lucky." You either do the job or you don't. Closers are only measured on one stat: Save percentage.

Over Kimbrel's last 17 games (16.0 IP), he's given up 14 hits and 10 walks along with 7 runs (8 saves, 4 BS).

He was lights out his first 6 games causing some people to suggest he was "unhittable." He's not only been hittable since, but also more wild.

Jbird:
Yeah Wright would look just awful at 3rd and batting 5th. I'll take that slow and poor-fielding shortstop off their hands, too.

He'll blow a save because his hand was bruised the other day, which will prove that he's mentally unable to save games.

From Stark today: Meanwhile, continuing rumors of the Phillies' interest in Pence appear to be exaggerated. Clubs that have spoken with the Phillies report they're doing no more at the moment than compiling a shopping list of potentially available bats. But since their payroll is wedged right up against the luxury-tax threshold, they've been telling other teams they can only talk about hitters making no more than about half of Pence's $6.9 million.

I thought only women claimed to be 39 even when they were much older(?)

offtopic:

remember all those arguments about kendrick's K/9 and how pitchers cant succeed with such low numbers?

How did no one ever bring up El Presidente Dennis Martinez before(or maybe I missed it)?

Ran up 245 Wins over 4000 IP in 562 starts with a career 4.8 K/9

Oh lordy... lorecore has decided to spice up today's thread, we'll discuss KK's K/9 and whether it's too low for major league success.

In the meantime, I'd like to remind everyone that the Bobby Abreu trade was one of the best trades in Phillies history.

lorecore: was he an extreme groundball pitcher? Extreme GB pitchers can survive with a low strikeout rate. Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe are two such examples.

lorecore: probably a few reasons he's never come up, mainly having to do with him not being a good counter-example.

first, Martinez pitched most of his career in a very different run-environment

second, for much of his career, when he had his worst K rates, he was frankly awful

third, and when he had his best seasons, his K rate was in fact much better

Beat reporters tweet Contreras will be activated tomorrow.

Fatalotti: Two words: Sample Size.

He had a 5.2 K/9 in the 90's when he had a ERA+ of 122.

Who gets sent down?

Because someone has to say it:

lorecore thinks Kyle Kendrick will log more than 4,000 career innings, win 246 games, and pitch a perfect game.

Cyclic: One of the beat reporters (I've forgotten who) speculated that Herndon will be sent down.

Cyclic: It will be Herndon, I'm sure.

Interesting.

lorecore: Although most Beerleaguer posters say it's impossible, El Presidente is not unique among successful MLB pitchers with low K/9.

Take a gander at the 1971 Orioles, with 4 20-game winners:

Mike Cuellar: 3.8 K/9
Dave McNally: 3.7 K/9
Jim Palmer: 5.9 K/9
Pat Dobson: 6.0 K/9


Hey, why not use Jim Palmer?: career K/9 of 5.04

I feel like the point abuot Kendrick and Ks has been poorly articulated. The point about Kendrick is not just that he doesn't strike guys out. He's not an extreme enough ground-ball guy, though that's supposed to be his strength, he doesn't have good enough control, and he doesn't strike many guys out; the combination is brutal... he has to be very fine in order to succeed, and he's just not fine enough often enough to succeed regularly. He's not good enough to be a reliable pitcher. You're basically just hoping to get one of his decent days.

Fat: Martinez's GO/FO ratio was around the same as Kendrick's. What he did have was a career .275 BABIP, which is remarkably low. That either means he had an extraordinarily lucky career or, more plausibly, that BABIP is not solely or necessarily a product of luck.

BAP: BABIP was a bit lower prior to 1993 or so.

Again, lower run-environments changes things.

R: How do you define "reliable pitcher"?

Are all 5th starters by definition "unreliable"?

How good does a pitcher have to be to be "reliable"? A #2 starter? A #3 starter?

The case against KK is that he can't possibly succeed at the major league level. Posters here said that for the first 3 years of his MLB career, although they look so foolish at this point that the argument has changed to "can't possibly succeed in the future" or "really can't help the team."

Cuellar had a .236 BABIP and pitched nearly 300 innings.

McNally's BABIP was .227. Palmer's was .249. Dobson's was .261.

i don't know if that is typical for the era or what. maybe that was a historically great defensive team. regardless, that kind of "luck" doesn't play in today's game.

nice try, clout/joe morgan in trying to use wins from a different era to prove some point about KK's ability to succeed.

BAP "that BABIP is not solely or necessarily a product of luck."

I don't think you could find a single sabermetric guy to say that BABIP is solely luck.

btw, on the question of BABIP & luck (as well as on lineup order and protection, and closer usage, all popular topics here), you guys should check out this guest article at Baseball Prospectus from Tom Tango:

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=14010

from b-ref play index:

Out of 383 pitchers that have pitched since the 2000 season and have thrown at least 400 IP, only 9 of them have a K/9 lower than 5 and a ERA+ above 100.


Tom Glavine, 115 ERA+, 4.87 K/9 from 2000-2008
Aaron Cook, 109 ERA+, 3.78 K/9 from 2002-2010
Cheinming Wang, 108 ERA+, 4.16 K/9 from 2005-2009
Ryan Franklin, 105 ERA+, 4.97 K/9 from 2001-2011
Kenny Rogers, 105 ERA+, 4.80 K/9 from 2000-2008
Tomo Ohka, 105 ERA+, 4.96 K/9 from 2000-2009
Jon Garland, 104 ERA+, 4.87 from 2000-2011
Danny Graves, 103 ERA+, 4.55 K/9 from 2000-2006
Paul Byrd, 102 ERA+, 4.67 K/9 from 2000-2009

the strikeout wasn't as prevalent as it is today. Nearly all the single season strikeout leaders are from the last 20 years. Same with k/9 single season leaders.

conshy: You misundertand me. I said nothing about KK. I'm talking about the Beerleaguer Moronocracy that has declared a pitcher can't succeed without a certain K/9.

Do you ever read these threads before you post?

Is a sometimes-maybe 5th starter who gets shelled fairly often and sometimes pitches a gem a "successful" major-league pitcher? Those guys might hang around at times, usually for terrible teams, but they don't often last.

I'm not sold on BABIP meaning nearly as much as some folks seem to think it does. I balk at the notion of attempting to quantify luck.

Jbird: Why do you suppose that is? Is it pitching only? Or do the hitters have something to do with that? Are HRs up in the past 20 years? Do HR hitters strike out more or less than other hitters?

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