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Wednesday, October 05, 2011


Cliff Corcoran at SI must not have watched much Phillies baseball this season:

"Placido Polanco is playing with a hernia and killing the Phillies offense as a result, going 1-for-12 thus far this series. Could rookie Michael Martinez really be any worse?"

3r0ck: I didn't see that the Red Sox have an interested in Sandberg, but I did see that they were interested in Pete Mackinan. (Sp?)

Posted by: GBrettfan

I was surprised, but here's a quote:

"More in line with Epstein's most recent managerial search are people like Pete Mackanin, Dave Martinez, Sandy Alomar Jr., Ron Wotus, Joey Cora, Joe McEwing and Ryne Sandberg, candidates who are hardly household names but have cut their teeth as major league coaches, minor league managers or both. (Of course, how long Epstein will be part of the search remains to be seen.)"

Here's the article:

Theriot had a super happy BABIPpy day yesterday. Or will someone try to convince that he deliberately dribbled that ball down the line?
He had a nice game Sunday but hit one ball hard yesterday. Brenly was saying he'd move him to the top of the lineup. Maybe that's why Brenly is doing TV and not managing?

I tried posting this before but didn't see it appear, forgive me if it was there and I'm being redundant.

From Philled_In:

Cardinals hitters got into two-strike counts 23 times last night. They saw a total of 61 more pitches after strike two — an average of 2.65 additional pitches per plate appearance after strike two.

The Phillies, on the other hand, saw just 12 two-strike counts, and averaged 2.3 pitches per plate appearance after Strike 2.

This isn’t a new approach for the Cardinals either. In Game 2 against Cliff Lee, they had 19 two-strike counts, seeing an extra 49 pitches after that — 2.58 extra pitches after strike 2. The Phillies, on the other hand, saw 16 two-strike counts but got just 29 extra pitches — a difference of 1.81 per plate appearance.

What does all that mean? Well, between the two games, the Cardinals have seen 53 more pitches than the Phillies after strike two in the count. And add that all up, and it’s no wonder Cliff Lee wore down late or Cole Hamels departed early. They’d used their entire repertoire looking for an out pitch.

For what it’s worth, St. Louis batters are just 7-for-37 (.189) with 5 walks in at-bats in which they faced a two-strike count. The Phillies are 5-for-26 (.192) with two walks in those situations.

Yeah, Theriot has a career 83 OPS+, 87 wRC+.

He's a poor offensive player, who's just having a good series.

A few series have featured a hero lately. Car-Go in 2009 NLDS, Cody Ross in 2010 NLCS, Man-Ram in 2008 NLCS...

And of course Kaz friggin Matsui in the 2007 NLDS.

I can't help thinking of this li'l fella whenever I see the usual suspects (clout, Jack, etc.) whipping out the switchblades and going at each other's throats on here in the Epic Playpen Battle of Baseball Geniuses:

Yes, Martinez would be worse.

But it doesn't change the fact that Polanco is terrible at the plate, and has been since May. It obviously hasn't killed us, in part because Charlie wisely moved him to the bottom of the lineup, and in part because Polanco still adds value with his glove. But it is something to consider--he's our worst everyday player, Ibanez included (I can't believe I'm saying that).

The no doubles defense made sense in this case because the bottom of the lineup was coming up after the red-hot Theriot. If Molina hits a double and Theriot hits his patented bloop, Molina (or a pinch runner) scores. If Molina gets a single followed by Theriot's patented bloop, it is first and second with Schumaker and a pinch hitter coming up.

Bake, awesome picture.

Bake: Speaking of Clout, I wonder if he'd like to inform me how pointing out that Ryan Howard isn't nearly as good against lefties as he is against righties is picking at a "perceived" flaw.

I'm waiting for him to explain how that flaw is "perceived," but not real. Is there anyone who could possibly argue against the statement that Howard is dominant against righties and pretty poor against lefties?

Jack, I don't want to speak for Clout, but I'm guessing his point is that it's not that your statement is factually incorrect, but that you repeat it ad nauseum every chance you get. You have made your feelings very clear about Ryno. I assure you it's not lost on anyone. Clout will correct me on this if I got it wrong.

Old Phan: My point was very relevant to this baseball series and the playoffs, though. In the first game, LaRussa left in Lohse to face Howard, and paid a massive price. In Game 2 against Rhodes and yesterday against Garcia, you saw what lefties do to him.

Basically, my point is that in the playoffs, Howard pretty much has to do his damage in the first six innings of a game against a righty starter, or hope a manager makes a massive mistake and lets him face a righty late in the game (See, e.g., Game 4 against Colorado in the 2009 NLDS, Huston Street). The difference between Howard against righties and Howard against lefties is roughly that of the difference between Babe Ruth and Michael Martinez. That's a huge swing in the middle of the lineup.

On the plus side, it can cause a manager to make moves he normally wouldn't want to make. For instance, tonight, if it's a 2-1 game with runners on 1st and 2nd in the 5th inning, LaRussa basically HAS to pull Jackson to go to his bullpen. That's an advantage for the Phillies (despite Game 2's results).

But it's certainly relevant to talk about, isn't it? Come on.

If you didn't see this last night, it's fun: Ryan Howard sharing what the Chase Utley DP felt like to him:

The no doubles defense made sense in this case because the bottom of the lineup was coming up after the red-hot Theriot. If Molina hits a double and Theriot hits his patented bloop, Molina (or a pinch runner) scores. If ...

I think this is flawed reasoning. Theriot is a lousy hitter. There is no more chance that Theriot bloops a hit when he's 6 for his last 8 than there is if he was 0 for his last 8**. If Theriot was ripping the ball, maybe I figure him a little differently.

** If you have some analysis that shows that Theriot-like hitters are better in the situations where they have a hot couple of games under their belt than other times, I will be glad to be educated.

Old Phan has it right. I wasn't trying to re-open the endless debate about Ryan Howard. Just pointing out that Jack is maintaining his rate of 75% of his posts being attacks on Howard.

Edmundo: Good point. Not to mention that Whitey has never seen Molina run if he thinks Molina can score from second on a Theriot bloop.

Ryan Theriot has a .072 career ISO. The chances of him getting a double are very small. The chances of Molina scoring on a single from 2nd aren't very high, either.

clout: After Molina singled, Lohse pinch ran for him. He obviously would have done the same if Molina had doubled.

But it doesn't change my view that the no-doubles defense was inappropriate there. That's a defense that you use when the tying runner is already on base, not when he's currently at the plate -- especially when there are already 2 outs.

I don't really think there's any debate about the difference in Howard's performance against righties as opposed to lefties, is there? Who debates that?

Jack--no debate. It's just one of those things we (they) have to live with.

Unless you're proposing some crazy thing where Cholly drops Howard in the lineup against LH starting pitchers or something.

I wanted Adrian Beltre

Edmundo: I don't know of a study, but I think punch & Judy hitters are a little different than coin flips in terms of recent results being indicative of near-future outcomes.

G.R.A.B.- I did too.

Theory: No, I'm just pointing out it's a major recurring theme going forward in the playoffs.

If Howard gets to face a righty, that's a massive change in run expectancy in an AB as opposed to facing a lefty.

BAP: I also doubt that Lohse could've scored from 2nd on a bloop single. But I don't disagree with your underlying point. My only disagreement is that Vic would've caught the ball had he not been playing no-doubles.

McCarver hated the no-doubles defense and said it should never be used.

Accuscore runs 10,000 simulations and has the Cards as a 56% favorite tonight (winning 56% of the time in the 10,000 simulations)

Public voting on ESPN likes the Phils by an 81%-19% margin.

Pretty wide discrepancy and unusual since the public usually goes with the team that is favored by Accuscore.

Doesn't matter who has played 2B for the Cards so far this series, they have really hit (Schumaker is 3-5 in Game 1; Theriot is 6-9 in Game 2 & 3)

Jack: Some of the points you make about Howard are accurate, but the fact that nearly all your posts point out some negative aspect of his game strikes me as a bit obsessional.

Stark with a great article on Game 3 that is worth a read:

"The Phillies now lead this series, two games to one. And in the first 16 years of division series history, the 23 teams that won Game 3 to put themselves in that position have gone 19-4 in those series. That computes to a powerful .826 winning percentage."

Edmundo, "red-hot Theriot" was obviously meant as tongue-in-cheek.

You guys can want Beltre all you want. He was asked and got $10MM for a one-year deal with the Sox and then got a huge payoff for a good year with them. Polly's contract? 3 years - $18MM. Compare that to Beltre: $10MM + 5 years - $80 million. Phillies may have been able to absorb $4MM more per year, but not $10MM more.

"McCarver hated the no-doubles defense and said it should never be used."

Yep. It's very much like the prevent defense in football, although not quite as egregious.

Clout: I think that the massive left/right split in our cleanup hitter is a big deal in the playoffs, yes.

FWIW, I shared Fatalotti's thought about LaRussa wanting to guarantee Cole's exit, but I'd also rather pitch to Francisco than Señor Octubré 1000% of the time. A doubleplusgood move by Professor Tony, it just happened to backfire spectacularly.

In other news, today's Inky has Oswalt (who has frequently talked about retirement) now saying he'd like to pitch another 3 or 4 years. Here's hoping he looks like a guy with 3 or 4 good years left tonight!

whitey, I gotcha. Thanks.

Two things I don't care about: Accuscore and fan voting. Neither have an real world use, except to make you feel good that your team is favored, or bad that even computers think your team is going to lose.

I'd also rather pitch to Francisco than Señor Octubré 1000% of the time.
But with that move, TLR made a move that greatly increased a 2 or 3 run lead for questionable/very minimal advantage in preventing one run. 9th inning in an away game in a 0-0 game, I'm fine with TLR's move. Top of the 9th, I'm more okay-er but I still think it's questionable. In the 7th? Nah, bad move.

Kind of surprised by Accuscore, to tell you the truth.

It seemed like the Cardinals threw a firestorm at the Phillies last night and the Phils withstood it to play another day.

It's guess work for sure, but I think the likelihood is greater that the Phils will have a more definitive breakout offensively facing Jackson than the Cardinals would have against Oswalt.

Pujols is batting over .500 and Theriot is ridiculous. Again, a guess, but seems like someone like Chooch or Polly might be due for a pretty big game at the plate, while it might be about time for Theriot to regress to the mean. All due respect to Albert, but are he and Theriot both going to bat over .700 for the series?

I guess what I'm saying is that thus far, IMO the Cards have been playing a bit above thir heads, while overall, the Phils have not played quite up to their potential. Maybe time for that mini-trend to reverse.

It makes sense that Pujols ends his Card career at home. If he does go to the Cubs, he better keep his NLCS gear, he won't see playoffs again for a long time.

What struck me about Ben Fran's shot yesterday was how beautiful his swing is. He's always looked so "hitterish" that when we acquired him and even at the beginning of this season, there was optimism about his contributions. Misplaced as it turns out. He might have a beautiful swing, but it's rarely a beautiful result unless the opposing pitcher makes a mistake.

All of his mediocrity may have been worth it -- to stash him for that one hit. Like the Manchurian Candidate in reverse, programmed to help at the last moment after years of dragging the team down.

"today's Inky has Oswalt (who has frequently talked about retirement) now saying he'd like to pitch another 3 or 4 years."

I distinctly recall that this topic came up last year, and I wrote something along the lines of, "Just shut up about retirement. Athletes who constantly talk about retirement absolutely never follow through & they only end up looking like narcissists who just wanted attention." I was immediately taken to task by numerous posters, who assured me that Oswalt meant what he said & would really retire.

So, like Brett Favre and every other athlete who prattles on about retirement, Oswalt didn't mean what he said & now he looks like a narcissist who just wanted attention. Anway, who cares? I still hope he pitches a shutout today.

Kind of surprised by Accuscore, to tell you the truth.

Posted by: Bob

+1 I swear I checked it this morning and it had the Phillies winning at 58%

"So, like Brett Favre and every other athlete who prattles on about retirement, Oswalt didn't mean what he said & now he looks like a narcissist who just wanted attention."

Alternatively, and more charitably, he thought he meant it at the time, but has since changed his mind.

I don't remember an Oswalt retirement announcement in the past. Am I missing something? Fill me in.

Framing LaRussa's decision as the choice between pitching to either Ruiz or Francisco is a false one. It's to pitch to Ruiz with one on or pitch to Francisco with 2 on. Would you rather pitch to Howard or Polonco? Now would you IBB Howard, Shane, and Mayberry to set that scenario up? of course not.

"Alternatively, and more charitably, he thought he meant it at the time, but has since changed his mind."

In that case, my advice to him would be: just keep it to yourself because history says you're almost 100% certain to change your mind and, when you do, you're going to look like an ass, the way Brett Favre does.

There is a big difference between contemplating retirement (especially if asked a direct question by a reporter) and officially "retiring" ala Favre, only to change your mind two weeks before training camp... for multiple seasons in a row.

Polanco needs to go on Medicare.

"when you do, you're going to look like an ass"

to BAP, but not necessarily, it seems, to everyone else.

no doubt athletes would be better off not answering any number of questions that come their way, or in being more circumspect about what's on their mind, but then when they are, they often get characterized as aloof or sullen

Oswalt and Favre, both from Mississippi. . . coincidence? I don't see Oswalt contemplating retirement as a huge deal. He has back problems from time to time and probably occasionally wonders how much longer he can play at a high level. It's not like he's ever officially announced it.

Anyway, my real point was simply: regardless of what he was saying at the time, you'd have to be the most gullible person on the planet to seriously believe that he would actually retire. Yet many on Beerleaguer believed it.

I'd put Oswalt's contemplating retirement, and Favre's narcissism in a completely different level. But, go ahead and pat yourself on the back, though.

Could see Owsalt wanting to got the Cards(where he wanted to go a few years back), or to ATL (mentor their young guys?) and be near home.

Polly is killing us offensively. I knew mention of his injury would come out after this game. This unfortunate because no one on the bench is any better. The rest of the guys are going to h ave to find a way to kick up a notch to overcome his lack of offense.

Key point from that Ryan Howard video: He knew that Ruben Amaro Jr. would sign the Six Million Dollar man to a Ten Million Dollar extension.

Edmundo: So you think there's very little difference between the threat posed by Ruiz or Francisco.


Alright . . . perhaps I'm being a bit harsh. It's just that I find it annoying to hear an in-his-prime athlete saying that he might retire soon when we all know it's not gonna happen. The few who actually do retire in their prime just do it, without any ceremonial build-up.

clout, Ruiz is a good deal better at taking walks, and slightly better at getting hits. Francisco is much better at hitting for power.

I would say the difference between the two batters isn't very great.

If Oswalt were to hurt his back again tonight, I could see him contemplating retirement once again.

Personally, I think Oswalt is one of the better interviewees on the team. He doesn't just mouth platitudes every time he talks. The fact that he extemporaneously offered that he had thoughts of retirement didn't annoy me at all. It was unguarded, even if it wasn't credible.

clout, I'm glad you find my comment interesting. Would you like to subscribe to my newsletter?

Do you have anything interesting or factual to add to the discussion?

Jbird: Bad analogy. There was a runner on 2nd and first base open with 2 outs. The chances of getting Francisco out are higher than getting Ruiz out.

Edmundo: Yes. How about these facts: Ruiz has posted a line of .283/.371/.383 this season, while Francisco has hit .244/.340/.364 and hadn't hit a HR since May 25.

Not a single poster yesterday would've argued that Francisco is better than Ruiz. Yet, because of LaRussa hate and because of how it turned out, the yapping geniuses of BL today are declaring it a terrible decision by LaRussa, who surely should've realized that BenFran was as good as Chooch or better.

It's laughable.

I found Oswalt's statement about contemplating retirement very credible for a man who was suffering back pain he couldn't seem to shake. The fact that he now wants to pitch several more years (and I heard him say that a month ago on CSN, by the way) is a measure of how well he is now feeling. Which is good for us as well as him.

I don't think he looks like an ass at all.
Surely we've all made statements at one time only to change our minds later. It's perfectly human - we just don't happen to have a microphone and TV cameras on us at the time.
* * *

Mick O, this is a good one:

Key point from that Ryan Howard video: He knew that Ruben Amaro Jr. would sign the Six Million Dollar man to a Ten Million Dollar extension.

Posted by: Mick O | Wednesday, October 05, 2011 at 02:22 PM

I completely understood why LaRussa would pitch to Ben Francisco rather than Carlos Ruiz. Weren't most of us groaning to ourselves at the time of the IBB to "Senor Octubre" (who has yet to earn that moniker thus far into the 2011 postseason, but who could do so at any time) and the sight of BenFran walking to the plate? I know I was!

"Surely we've all made statements at one time only to change our minds later. It's perfectly human - we just don't happen to have a microphone and TV cameras on us at the time."

True. We make those statements on Beerleaguer instead.

BAP: Exactly!

"Surely we've all made statements at one time only to change our minds later. It's perfectly human."

It's strange, but for some reason fans are extremely reluctant to grant athletes this sort of emotional latitude. If they aren't perfectly simple beings, it's a travesty, or something...

clout, don't you argue at other times that you need to look at a 3 year average?

Edmundo, unless he feels you should look at career averages.

He moves goalposts with the best of them.

Hope that they don't move Therriot up to the 2 hole. Him and Albert back to back would have killed us in game 3. Molina always hit Phils even when he wasn't hitting anyone else. Can't they get a decent book on how to pitch these guys? I understand Albert but not all these guys.

I can understand why LaRussa preferred to pitch to BenFran rather than Ruiz, but the price he paid was to put an extra guy on base and risk an extra run scored in a close game late in the game and he lost the gamble especially since his team lost by that extra run.

clout: in my analogy all three bags are open and there is a much greater chance of getting Polanco out than Howard. I'm not going to argue that Franisco is a better hitter than Ruiz, But, I don't know that the difference is so great that you walk one to get to the other. Now, if it was earlier in the game and you knew Hamels would bat for himself, then it's a smarter move. But, the difference this year between Ruiz and Francisco was 50 pts of OPS.

Oswalt is only allowed to say he loves it in Philly, loves the phans and never wants to play anywhere else.

On the scale of unlikely HRs, no tool BenFran's shot in a game where we had managed 3 singles makes Matt Stairs' shot look inevitable.

don't know if this has been mentioned but i found this pretty smart --
"Also in practice, Oswalt has the catcher set up in front of the plate to try to "get muscle memory to keep the ball down" for when Carlos Ruiz is behind the plate during the game."

like cole, if roy can avoid the long ball, i think he wins this game for us or at the very least, keeps the phils in it.

I heard that Oswalt consulted with clout during his back pain period. clout's advice to Oswalt's complaint that his back was hurting for the last few weeks, "Roy, you're looking at too small a sample size. You need to look at a three year rolling average pain index before "officially" announcing your retirement." It is not confirmed, but rumor has it that Roy responded with, "Thank you, Mr. clout for your sage advice. I will consult with you in the future before making any more rash statements to the press."

Edmundo: The 3-year average is best applied to the highly-flowed UZR defensive metrics.

Speaking of lefties.

Theriot vs LHP: .310/.356/.413
Theriot vs RHP: .256/.307/.313

(2011 regular season)

Huge splits. I don't know if TLR can pull him from the lineup when he's been so hot, but I asked the one serious Cardinals fan I talked baseball with, and he said that he hopes he will pull him.

CJ: that's a fine example. What we are looking for here is what is the difference between expected outcomes in the (ultra-)near term future. Now, most predicting models for players use something like a weighted rolling 3 year average, as analysis shows that is better for predicting the future than using latest current year. Of course that's for upcoming years, not upcoming at bats.
Ben Fran had a bad year -- I would be very surprised if he doesn't bounce back in the next couple of years. Chooch had what looks to be the near Chooch-y type of year. The difference between their expected outcomes should not be based on this year's numbers alone. It's not like Francisco has an injury issue** like Polanco.

** Of course, that we know of.

Way to go, Marley! One does not often see IngSoc phrasing reading about baseball.

btw My wife not being Cajun, calls Theriot, "the riot."

The only problem with Howard's game is his weakness against lefties, which may be remedied by making adjustments at the plate. Still, he does a lot of damage. A lot of players would like to have his HR & RBI totals. Imagine what he'd do if he'd hit .275.

And yes, I agree Polly is hurting us offensively, but he's probably playing hurt. It appears to me he can't really open up at the plate and pull the ball, not that he does it that much anyway.

And yes, I said last night they's waste Hamels performance and the series was over but Benny Fresh bailed me out. But before that happened, to me it sure looked that way.

Hopefully tonight, Roy O. can drop the hamnmer on them and the bats will click. No reason to let this go 5.

I'm getting tired of the Theriot Act.

I'm usually a fan of Stark, but his last two columns have bothered me. Yesterday's column more or less said the Phils were going to lose to Garcia and today's was about how "lucky" the Phils were to win the game. I don't necessarily disagree with that assessment, but he makes no mention of how lucky the Cards were with all of those bloop hits. Their BABIP is borderline ridiculous for the last two games and he doesn't touch on that at all. It's the team that can take the most advantage of lady luck that wins championships.

I don't understand this discussion Ruiz vs. Ben who? Sample size? Its not even in the same breath let alone room.
That said I am very greatful for Ben's shot--Just one of those things that makes baseball special. I am greatful every time Martinez has one--but I don't expect it and wouldn't know whom to compare him to--he is low man on the totem pole.

Edmundo, Fatalotti: It depends on the issue and the context.

If the issue is who's a better player X or Y, then career numbers are the way to go. If this issue is who's a better player THIS SEASON, which is the issue relevant to a single in-game decision, then the single season should suffice.

Hopefully we'll never see a repeat of that 8th inning. Cholly's not LaRussa and we didn't need him to prove it.

Asked if he plans on using Cliff Lee out of the bullpen tonight, Manuel said, "I sure do."

Jbird: I guess I misunderstood your first post. If I understand you correctly, you are talking about walking a hitter with the bases empty to get at the next hitter. While that was NOT the situation last night, in the example you cite, I would agree with you. I would NOT walk someone with the bases empty and 2 outs.

I half expected Lee to come out of the pen yesterday.

Holliday starting tonight.

Matt Gelb via Twitter

RT @JoeStrauss: Holliday says he's starting in LF.

I wouldn't be shocked in the least to see Cliff out of the bullpen.

Lee last pitched on Oct. 2nd. If the Phils win the series, his next start would be on Oct. 8th (Game 1) or Oct. 9th (Game 2). That's 5 or 6 days rest and 2 or 3 days rest after tonight's game. This would certainly be considered a "throw on the side day."

Oswalt is a bad match-up for Holliday if he's still hurting. I hope Oswalt pounds fastball high and inside all game long against him. Force him to turn on one.

Did Charlie indicate Lee would be in the 'pen "just in case" - as sort of a last resort - or rather, as I suspect, did he sound like he will go to Lee if a reliever is needed before the 9th inning?

If the latter, I wonder whether the other BP guys think to themselves that it's a shame Charlie doesn't trust them enough to use them, or whether such thoughts ever enter their minds. Maybe they only think "whatever it takes to win the game". But it sure seems to me that if Charlie had confidence that his BP could lock it down, he wouldn't be reaching for Lee as a first option.

I don't get why Lee is available tonight. I think there's more bad that can come from it than good.

lets hit the ball to left and run the bases. i'll send raul everytime if he's on second and there's a single to left (assuming it's his throwing hand that is bothering him)

Is there a story more tired than, "This team has faced elimination all year and hasn't backed down!!"

Apparently the Cardinals determination to not be eliminated will magically turn Jackson into an ace pitcher, or something like that. Stupid story line.

Asked if he plans on using Cliff Lee out of the bullpen tonight, Manuel said, "I sure do."

Last time the Phillies used a starter in relief because it was his "throw on the side" day, it didn't turn out too well. The only way I would even think of using Lee today would be if Oswalt gets driven out of the game very early, but the Phillies are still within a run or two of the lead. And, even then, I'd probably be more inclined to use Kendrick than Lee.

I love Lee in the BP tonight. He's gotta be champing at the bit to atone (so to speak) for his mixed performance in Game 2.

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