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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Comments

Maybe it's the fact that the Phils are right in his back yard, but BAP has been even more curmudgeonly than normal the past 24 hours. Take it down a notch bud. It's been ten games.

Pierre went 3-4 against a righty on Sunday. Kind of odd to be complaining about that when he gets on base 3 out of 4 times, but what do I know.

BLers are good at sticking to their talking points.

The only portions of the game I saw last night were highlights/updates on MLB network. While Doc isn't throwing as hard as he used to, he's got filthy movement. You just can't say enough about him. Glad they scored some runs for him. Since he's been here he's like 41-4 when he has the lead. Uncanny.

Let's hope they can score some more & get a win for Country Joe.

BAP - What's happened is that Pierre has made 5 starts and batted an empty .292 and played little role in the Phils failures in those games. He hasn't really kept Mayberry out of the lineup (he's made 7 starts) and Nix has made 3 starts at first himself.

Ideally, I guess, Nix gets 1-2 more starts, but we're only 10 games in and there are worse things than a guy leading off in half the games batting .292.

I would kill to have 2008 Geoff Jenkins in left field right about now.

... we're only 10 games in and there are worse things than a guy leading off in half the games batting .292

I'd agree, save for the fact that Pierre's OBP is also .292 (0 BB), & games at the beginning of the season don't count for any less in the standings than games at the end of the season.

I'm surprised that DPat didn't come on here espousing the dynamics that Ryan Theriot would add to the Phils lineup.

"Dude, whatever floats your boat."

I think Cy Young awards float Doc's boat. But I hear WFC trophies are better floatation devices.

Of course all the games count, but the moves CM makes have to be considered in context. He has a lot of new faces, a lot of missing faces, and he's giving lots of different guys time and chances to see what he has and what works. Pierre has done very little to play himself out of his limited role at this point.

I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that JP's SLG is ALSO .292.

That's what an "empty" .292 is.

Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but a sub-.300 OBP w/ 0 BB seems to me to be exactly the way in which a supposed leadoff hitter would play himself out of a decidedly limited role on the team.

It's rather remarkable, really. Charlie somehow managed to find an even worse guy than J-Roll to bat first in his lineup.

Well, Bumgarner is starting tonight, so I suspect Pierre won't be the cause of our consternation until tomorrow night.

I suppose we'll get Mayberry and Wiggy tonight?

So...any word on Mike Fontenot? Is he still in extended ST?

Not that I dont like Pete Orr or anything...

Another thing to note on Pierre: He should only be 1 for 3 on SB this year. He was clearly out on one of his 2 supposed safe SBs.

That makes his .583 OPS look that much worse.

NEPP: You mean to say you haven't heard r00b's glowing endorsement?

"The guy over the last couple years hasn't been as effective a major league player," Amaro said, "but he's got experience."

So Fontenot is Michael Martinez, only w/ experience!

And yes, Fontenot reported to extended Spring Training on Mon., where he's supposed to spend about a week before reporting to Lehigh.

Fontenot has been an 82 OPS+ hitter the last 3 years. MM posted a lusty 47 OPS+ last year.

I'll take that "experience" over MM any day of the week.

NEPP: Yeah, but Martinez was a Rule 5 pick, so r00b has to keep him on the active roster for at least the next 15 seasons. You know, same as w/ Herndon.

So on to more serious topics: What superhero would make the best baseball player?

The Hulk would surely be a great 1B/cleaup hitter. Hulk SMASH the ball!

Spiderman would be the ideal SS, with his superfast reflexes nothing would get by him. Think how fun it would be to see him field his position!

All other positions would be best played by the Flash - who not only would cause all opposing batters to have a .000 BABIP, but would also have a 5.000 OPS (Just get a bunt down and he's scored a run).

How about the Ant-Man as a pinch hitter? His strike zone would ensure a walk pretty much 100% of the time.

The most useless player would be Aquaman, whose ability to talk to fish and breath underwater would be lost on the diamond.

Pierre's .292 is the definition of an 'empty .292' since he hasn't yet to BB, he's below average in LF, notably lost speed on the basepaths, and he doesn't have an XHB.

DiP: And you were the one calling out JW for lazy writing and/or a WIP mentality?

"Well, Bumgarner is starting tonight, so I suspect Pierre won't be the cause of our consternation until tomorrow night."

See, that's the nice thing about Juan Pierre, and the way Cholly uses him. When a RH is pitching, we can express consternation that Pierre's in the lineup. And when a LH is pitching, we can express consternation that he's NOT in the lineup. For those of us who enjoy expressing consternation, Juan Pierre is the gift that keeps on giving.

To make @bap feel better... Pierre is also 6-15 .400 against righties so far... so he should really enjoy his regression to the mean...

Aqua Man might glean some good scouting reports from the tank behind the plate in Miami.

I do agree with Sophist that Cholly has to figure out what he has but I would rather see Nix get more ABs and PT in LF than Pierre.

Pierre vs RHP last 3 years:

.274/.318/.336 with 3 HRs in 1266 ABs. He has 61 XBS. 84 SBs but 36 CS (72%). His % BB is just 5.1%

Nix vs RHP last 3 years I posted earlier in thread.

Nix gives you a slightly lower AVG/OBP but SLG pct nearly 150 pts higher. Given the AVG/OBP difference is negligible and Pierre actually has a worse BB rate, I would take Nix better defense and much better power over Pierre's speed.

Free Nix!

Batman would be the most aptly named superhero-player but, I'm skeptical that he'd be any good using unless he could use bats and gloves made in the Bat Cave.

Bed Beard: Touche! :)

Mortal only in the 1st:

"Since he arrived in Philly, Halladay's first inning ERA is 3.31 and opponents are hitting .272 against him to open the game. Halladay gave up a first-inning run in San Francisco Monday night and it could have been worse, but he managed to get a strikeout to end the frame with the bases loaded.

Once he settles in, Halladay is virtually unstoppable. Monday was consistent with his career numbers as a Phillie in all other innings after the first. Halladay has a 2.21 ERA and opponents are hitting .234 against him after the first three outs."

In comparing Doc with Maddux, I haven't seen it mentioned, but Maddux during his Atlanta years, got the most generous strikezone I've ever seen. And the opposing pitchers did not. He seemed routinely to get six inches off both sides of the plate game in and game out. It was like Eric Gregg was calling the pitches for Maddux and someone else was behind the plate for the opposing pitchers' innings.

In fact, both Maddux and Glavine got bigger strike zones than anyone else in baseball and I've never quite figured out why. One opening day, Maddux and Schilling both got the "Maddux zone" and the game seemed like it would never end because the hitters had no chance. I think the Phils won 1-0.

Doc seems to get the same zone as the other pitcher, no matter who it is. And he is often squeezed by umps. I can't remember Maddux ever getting squeezed this way.

MG, link, please.

Aquaman would only play in games against the Marlins and Rays. Having a psychic connection to fish is a much better way to steal signs than Dubee's binoculars.

MG, yes I don't disagree. I just think it's okay to give the team more than a dozen or so games. Pierre hasn't done much but he hasn't been terrible and Nix is no Werth. Not the way I'd draw it up but I'm willing to cut CM some slack given what he's working with.

Maddux was the absolute greatest at refining his repertoire to meet his physical abilities, as well. Late in his career, Maddux was still dominant, though with an entirely different approach than how he dominated earlier in his career. Basically, Maddux was TWO DIFFERENT HoF pitchers.

It will definitely be interesting to see how Halladay adapts once his dominant "stuff" tapers off with age, and whether or not he is able to refine his approach, like Maddux and Pedro were both able to do. I think he's definitely got the mental makeup to make that adjustment. Hopefully, he doesn't have to consider it for another few years.

FWIW, I feel that Oswalt is a good example of a guy who hasn't been totally able to make that adjustment, hence why he's looked at being on a "down slope" projection (and hence not currently under contract). Rest assured, if he still had his stuff, or was still very impactful by adjusting, he'd be signed and pitching right now.

And given that Manuel went down the dugout to shake Nix's hand last night after getting replaced by Wigginton (for defense??? ) I gotta feel that Nix is on his radar.

For Charlie its about comfort level. And you have to earn that for the most part. The numbers help but at the end of the day, he'll play who he's comfortable with. he was comfortable with Ibanez's negatives because he wasn't comfortable with the alternative. When Mayberry showed he was worthy, the comfort level changed. Maybe too late for everyone here, but that's how it works.

If Nix has a couple more big hits like last night, I would bet you will see him get his share of starts...

Willard, given the extremely cerebral approach of Halladay (similar to Maddux's, actually), I'm confident he'll adjust as nexessary. As I've noted before, Doc has a better fastball than Greg ever did, so I expect even as he starts to lose a few MPH he can still be one of the best pitchers in baseball.

I think the worry about Pierre is that by outperforming his talent level early he'll be ushered into the echelons of Charlie's favored veteran players and thus continue to get starts regardless of his inevitable nosedive. The main exemplar for this is obviously one Ibanez, Raul, and it's exacerbated by the fact that Charlie doesn't seem to know how to use Pierre correctly in the first place. I'm not saying I agree with all that, but it makes a kind of sense.

Hamm, Charlie has always said that players have to "earn" time.

The problem is that he doesn't seem to uniformly stick to that policy.

Derek, it's not that IP totals are my favorite thing (although I do value them considerably). It's just that when two pitchers are pretty much equal accross the board when it comes to rate stats, if there is a huge IP gap between the two, the pitcher with more iP is the better pitcher to me.

DIP, I get that Spiderman is slick as hell, but the Flash could easily play all 9 positions, as well as be his own 1st and 3rd base coach, and probably sell popcorn in the stands.

Since we're on the topic of Halladay, here's a shout out to him being the fastest worker in baseball:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304299304577347852832317204.html?mod=WSJ_LifeStyle_Sports_RightTopCarousel_1

@awh -- no he doesn't its not completely uniform... but i would be greatly surprised that in June we are having the same discussion.

In the Raul case... Mayberry revealed himself as the option. Benny Frank would have been the option to replace Raul. But even the staunchest Francisco supporters here wouldn't pound their desks for that.

At the end of the day, however, maybe given the state of the league's offense and the pitching staff, marginal improvements like Nix over Pierre could be a bigger difference than it seems on the surface. But we're not talking about Pierre or Giancarlo Stanton. It's Laynce Nix right? So in most cases the endless harping can get frustrating.

I'm still in the I'd rather give it a go with Brown... and I'm hoping by July they will make that move. Mostly so we don't have to hear this discussion anymore. (I mean two 10 year old kids wouldn't spend a microsecond discussing Nix versus Pierre's baseball cards.) I just don't think a full year in AAA is really going to have exponential benefit, when you are charged with playing half your games in Left Field in this ballpark.

At some point you are a major leaguer or not. Especially by this age. The only real value in keeping Brown away from the "big stage" is so he retains prospect status for trade value purposes. Otherwise you'd play him. But his value can only last so long. If he's not playing in South Philly by the all star break. I don't see him in the organization in 2013.

AMEN!

"Closers ... pitched multiple innings often (and were not "saved" for save situations only), so asking them to get four outs did not become the heavy lifting it is viewed as today. They had to pitch, not just throw as hard as they can with maximum-effort mechanics in very small, well-defined windows."

and

"In general, closers are inefficient investments. It's not just that they break down ... It's that paying a guy $12.5 million to throw 60 innings -- but, good Lord, not when the game is tied on the road and only when about half the plate appearances against him are truly high leverage -- is a waste of a great arm."

Full Article: It's Time To Rethink The Modern Bullpen

awh - It was a Salisbury article on CSN Philly on first inning struggles.

GTown, thanks for linking that article. Couldn't agree more.

Sophist. You come on here and start dropping logic and facts like that and you're liable to make some posters heads explode.

I mean everyone here knows that manager X is hugely to blame and will Only make stupid decisions unless by accident.

Hamm, great points regarding Brown. I cosign, in that the only reason to not give him a shot in the bigs is to not jeopardize any trade value.

I mentioned Huff, but there are any number of teams who have all-hit, no-defense LF's. And it's not like you're getting any hits OR defense from Pierre.

I'm with you in that if he's not up by the ASB, he's trade bait.

GTown Dave - Verducci wrote a great article and the next two areas where sabermetrics is going to really revolutionize the game is injuries (especially regariding pitchers) and fielding once the Field f/x accumulates a few years' worth of data for players.

"Injuries last year cost clubs $487 million -- or about $16 million per team. The bill since 2008 for players who can't play is $1.9 billion"

"The truth is we know little about why and how pitchers break down, other than that overuse and poor mechanics are two known risk factors. That may be changing as information becomes more available. For instance, Pitch F/X, which has been around in full force for about four years, can allow the study of the impact of velocity and pitch type on injuries."

It is also going to involve a lot more than just the Pitch F/X. You need to bring in biomedical engineers to examine delivery mechanics and also collect much better data at the minor league levels which really only has started in earnest in the last several years.

Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/tom_verducci/04/17/closers/index.html#ixzz1sKH9Uvru

I'd favor a separate thread on an off day to debate the reasons why pitching has been dominant the last few years.

I think information is a reason, but a small one. Having information helps, but if you can't execute, it's worthless.

I'd posit that the two biggest reasons for the decline in offense are 1. The crackdown on steroids and HGH and 2. The return of the high strike.

The strike zone has changed over the years, getting smaller and smaller until by the 1990s it was essentially between the top of the knee and the belt.

The rulebook says a strike is between the hollow of the knee and the midpoint between the shoulders and belt buckle, roughly where the uniform letters are.

Starting around 2000, MLB, in conjunction with umpiring schools, began trying to teach the high strike to aspiring umps. They also tried to get current umps to begin calling it, but that was mostly ignored.

As these umps in training began working their way through the minors and ultimately reaching MLB the high strike starting sneaking back into the picture.

Umps still don't follow the rulebook. the high strike being called now is below the letters, around the belly button. But that is a lot closer to the rulebook than it's been in 25 years.

Rex - No one is saying Cholly is to blame for anything. Just would rather see Nix in the lineup everyday when there is a RHP pitcher on the mound. Especially instead of Pierre starting in LF. That's all.

I must be drunk. I think I agree w/ everything in clout's above post, esp. regarding the slow return of the high strike.

Questec (sp?) has a lot to do with the strike zone now, too. It looked like Glavine and Maddux, in particular, had to modify their repertoire not just because of age, but because they no longer got the extra foot of plate coverage in their later years.

I'm not sure why MLB doesn't just put some kind of tracker in the ball and set the strike zone electronically. They could set the strike size for each hitter individually. It would be much more accurate and there would be no more favoritism or argument about what was or wasn't a strike.

clout, albeit to a much lesser extent, I'd add that the prevalence of the cut fastball has changed the game a bit, too. It's just a damn hard pitch to hit. Years upon years of Rivera shattering bats, leading to weakly hit balls has put a greater concentration on the pitch, and it seems as if it's among the more important pitches to have in your repertoire nowadays.

That said, as all of these things are cyclical, batters will eventually adjust and it will be less important of a pitch (and something new, perhaps the "gyroball" will take it's place?).

It is funny to me, however, how the general consensus even just a few years ago was that we needed to consider raising the mound to combat the offense-heavy, "chicks dig the long ball" game it had become.

Been one of the better threads in a while.

"GTown, thanks for linking that article. Couldn't agree more."

I second those sentiments.

I like the point about the high strike. I can't help but wonder if the effective breaking of the ump union a few years back might be leading to the unintended consequenses of more MLB control of the strike zone and such.

Not only does MG provide invaluable commentary about the games and the Phils organization, but he provides meta commentary about the commentary. I appreciate it.

(Note: this is not an insult; I really do appreciate your insights)

I like that Verducci touched on the salary side of things. It only serves to compound that "lost half a billion dollars a year" number, as the inflated salaries for the primary players in the "theater" that is the closer role is just as much to blame as the concept of having a guy come in and throw his arm into oblivion 60 innings/year.

Basically, if you can do away with the "theater" mindset (i.e. no set closers), you decrease the salaries AND reduce the injury frequency related to specialization.

I think that a few outliers (Eckersley, Rivera, et al) have created a fallacy of a concept that all teams think they should be able to duplicate, only further compounding young pitchers' desire to participate and essentially pitch themselves out of the game prematurely.

Kudos to Tampa (though forced into it via payroll limitations) for deviating from the conventional wisdom. Hopefully it's a concept that takes hold to some extent (though if/when it does, guys like Lidge, Papelon, Wilson, etc. will find themselves in no-mans land).

clout, is there anyway to get a heatzone map of the strikezone for the entire league? If the league has lower numbers against higher strikes, that would be pretty interesting.

I do think that information can play a really large role, as the pitcher is the intitiator, and the batters, the reactor, so if the information the pitcher has continues to increase, I think it would make sense that they would gain the advantage.

clout, yes, the high strike has made somewhat of a comeback, but aksmith brings up a good point - but not just about Maddux.

The strike zone got "compressed", where they were calling balls that were outside of both sides of the plate.

Maddux and Glavine were both experts at taking advantage of that, though Maddux could cut a pitch in or out much in the same way Halladay does, and catch the front corner of the plate yet still jam a RHH.

Preacher: The shame of it from a Phillies perspective is that the ball club ought to have become abundantly aware -- having had to deal w/ repeated injuries to Lidge, Madson & Contreras, & nonetheless succeeding throughout all of it -- that the "Closer" theory is bogus. Instead, r00b went out & spent $50 on a pitcher Charlie/Dubee will steadfastly refuse to employ most effectively.

GTown- so you're saying you wouldn't have signed a closer this off-season? Who would be pitching the ninth inning if you were the GM?

If it's any consolation to readers here (probably not), Jose Bautista has started out like this:

.206/.333/.324

GTown, I think that the Brett Myers talk of the last few days is pretty telling. With all of the closers injured, you have the Astros (allegedly) shopping Myers around.

Here is a good, not great, pitcher with several different pitches in his repertoire (more than just a two-pitch pitcher). Instead, he realized years ago that he could cash in as part of the "theater" that is the MLB closer phenomenon. Now, to further exacerbate that, the Astros may potentially be able to capitalize on that same notion.

I've always thought that Myers is a good candidate to re-injure himself with this mentality, but now Verducci provides some hard-and-fast numbers associated to that very likelihood.

Iceman: You're missing the larger point. Seeing as how Papelbon is here, & for a large amount of money, it would behoove the Phillies to use him more, & more efficiently (as in during tie games on the road & not just in Save situations &, apparently, blowouts).

Iceman, I'm old enough to remember guys like Clay Carroll and Mike Marshall, who won the "Fireman of the Year" awards back in the '70s. They pitcher a lot more innings and had longer careers than a lot of the kids you see today.

Marshall pitched 724 innings in 5 years (144.2/yr avg.) without ever having started a game.

Back then, teams had "relief aces", the best reliever on a team, but he wasn't used exclusively in late game or closing situations.

The relief ace was not used exclusively in high-leverage situations, but also when it was important to keep a team in a game or the manager wanted to preserve a lead - regardless of how large.

In 1974 Marshall pitched 208 innings, with 121 of them coming in non-save situations.

Wear and tear on his arm? He pitched until he was 38, recording a 2.61 ERA his last year in MLB.

Preacher: Exactly. It has never made sense to me that a starting pitcher pitches to everyone, RHB or LHB. Then a manager will play strict match-ups for an inning or two, using LOOGYs & such. Finally, that same manager (& just to be clear, this is not at all singling out Charlie, it's an MLB wide thing) will go to his so-called "Closer", who is supposed to get the next few batters out, regardless of who they are. There's a logical disconnect in the process, & it ought to be changed.

If we used Pap in every save, close, and tied late inning situation I dare say his $50,000,000 arm would blow out about 3 months into his contract. We signed him to save regular season games, it's true, but more to save postseason games, so underutilizing him in April isn't something I'm upset at all about.

I've often wondered why another Quisenberry-like relief pitcher hasn't appeared lately. Quisenberry's delivery, IMHO, was easier on the arm, increasing his availability and ability to pitch on short/no rest.

Fata: Beyond the Box Score has done heatzones for all the umpires, but you'd have to figure out a way to compare them to heatzones for the 2000 season, for example, which I don't think exist.

One thing I recall is that even the most extreme pitcher-friendly umpire (Doug Eddings) had a strike zone that was only about 90% filled with balls that were most often called strikes.

If every umpire called the strike zone dictated in the rulebook, the stats would make 1968 look like a slugfest.

GTown- I am with you on the misuse of closers. I think everyone here is. But this is what you said:

"The shame of it from a Phillies perspective is that the ball club ought to have become abundantly aware -- having had to deal w/ repeated injuries to Lidge, Madson & Contreras, & nonetheless succeeding throughout all of it -- that the "Closer" theory is bogus. Instead, r00b went out & spent $50 on a pitcher Charlie/Dubee will steadfastly refuse to employ most effectively."

What you're inferring is that Rube went out and wasted money on one of the best relief pitchers in baseball because "the closer theory is bogus." I hardly see how having a potential hall-of-fame arm in the bullpen for the next four years as a problem, or a 'waste,' but apparently you do.

If anyone wonders why guys like Kyle Kendrick get the kinds of contracts he just got, and why locking up SP depth is so important, this paragraph from the Verducci article should answer your questions:


"Fifty percent of all starting pitchers will go on the DL every year, as well as 34 percent of all relievers, according to research by Stan Conte, director of medical services for the Los Angeles Dodgers. That bears repeating: half of all starting pitchers will break down this year. ("When I did the research," Conte said, "I was so surprised I figured I must have done the math wrong.")

Gtown:
1) Starters have to be good enough to pitch to lefties and righties, otherwise they end up in the bullpen.
2) Closers have to be good enough to get lefties and righties, otherwise they end up in middle relief.
3) Otherwise you have some real sub-par arms, and you will want to mix and match those arms to get the best results out of them - ie having a loogy or resting an overtired guy one night.
4) You can argue whether more teams should be using their closers differently, but to me the whole debate smacks of arguments about batting order, which has been shown to be largely irrelevant - as long as you put the pitcher 9th you can draw the rest of the lineup out of a hat and it won't make a statistical difference in games won and lost. I strongly suspect that by the time the closer argument has been settled, any marginal benefit of using your best reliever differently from the way he is currently used (9th inning with a small lead) would be very small indeed, and probably not worth the trouble when you consider clubhouse personalities and such.

I actually think there would be a lot of value (maybe even $12M per year of value) in having a lights-out reliever who pitches only 75 innings per season but whose use is carefully monitored to make damn sure that they're 75 very important innings. But that's not how closers are used.

So far this year, Papelbon has pitched 5 times. 1 of those appearances came with a 1-run lead in the 9th -- which is very definitely a time to use your best reliever (assuming we had to use a reliever at all -- which we didn't, but never mind). 1 came in a game we led by 2, which is, arguably, a time to use your best reliever. 1 came in a game we led by 3, which any reliever in baseball can probably close out 95% of the time -- but, since the rules say it's a save situation, we had to use Papelbon. 1 came in a blowout win because no one else was warmed up. And 1 came in a blowout loss because he needed work -- and he needed work only because we weren't allowed to use him the previous 2 nights, due to the tied game on the road rule.

That's just poor return on your $12M per year investment. It's certainly not unique to Cholly. All teams except maybe Tampa do exactly the same. But it's maddening nonetheless -- especially considering how much money we've invested in the closer's spot.

awh: And let's not forget Goose Gossage who once pitched 144 IP as a closer.

I was just looking at info on Quisenberry, Kutztown. I became a baseball fan the first time around when I lived in KC during the Royals' heyday.

Ironically, Quiz's career ended when he tore his rotator cuff.

I didn't follow baseball for years. I remember being surprised when I became interested in it again and found that the BP ace didn't appear until the 9th inning. In my memory, Quiz used to pitch the 7th inning on.

Iceman: It's a waste if you wait for Save situations to materialize & leave said pitcher sitting on the damn bench late in a tie road game. I'm not sure how many different ways there are to phrase it.

This HAS been a good thread. Just checking up from time to time during the day and enjoying the insightful commentary.

Also, speaking about Koufax, thinking about how Bumgarner seems to morph into a modern day version against the Phils. Tonight will likely be tough.

BAP, I think it could be argued (hell, it HAS been argued ad nauseum) that the "tied game on the road rule," is one of those situations where your best reliever SHOULD be in consideration (circumstances pending - opposing batters, own lineup considerations, etc.).

Basically, I agree with what you're saying - the game of baseball is not designed to be played in a vacuum where everything is black and white. There are WAY too many nuances to make these "unwritten rules for relief appearances."

That said, imagine the revolt you'd see if there were a world where a simple statistic (in this instance the "save) couldn't command large sums of money and respect from fans, regardless of how imperfect said statistic may be... Something tells me Paps ain't getting that kind of coin when his agent speaks of his glorious "hold percentage."

"I've often wondered why another Quisenberry-like relief pitcher hasn't appeared lately."

There are 1 or 2 -- mostly LOOGY types. Mitch Stetter on the Rangers (formerly of the Brewers) springs to mind. Chad Bradford was another, although he's out of baseball now.

I would guess the reason you don't see more submarine style pitchers is because it's really, really hard to throw strikes with that delivery.

Kutztown: And let's not forget another submariner, Ted Abernathy, who preceded Quinsenberry as the Royals' knuckle-dragging underarm throwing closer who pitched through his age 39 season (Quiz retired after age 37).

I'd actually like to see a knuckle-ball reliever. Talk about catching the other team off guard, that would be tough to adjust to.

Something tells me Paps ain't getting that kind of coin when his agent speaks of his glorious "hold percentage."

Preacher: Not yet. But you know damn well the "Hold" stat has been mounted & humped vigorously by every agent who has seen what the "Save" market hath wrought. Relief pitching has become specialized to a degree worthy of ridicule.

yeah and im a debbie downer every thread starts or leads to with how much everyone dislikes Pierre...They can start a thread about milking a cow and within 10 posts someone will say if Pierre was milking the cow his slugging percentage wont lead to a lot of milk coming out of the cow...

BAP, it's just not as simple as you are presenting it. If you were to write a program on the ideal ace reliever usage, you would have to consider:
you can only use him 80 innings a year
you must not use him more than 2 nights in a row
you must use him at least once every 5 games to keep sharp
when you use him you are extremely likely to shut down the opposition
when you don't use him it's far more dicey

and on and on and on in nuance. Let's take the rule about tied and on the road. If you use your closer in the 9th inning of a road tied game, you have used one of those 80 innings up and maybe you will need that inning later in the season, or maybe tomorrow night you'll have a 1 run lead in the 9th and he'll not be available, or maybe you'll have a 1 run lead later that night and he certainly won't be available. With that in mind, it is very wise to not use your ace reliever when it may prove futile - you only get so many bullets in that gun.

Those advocating a different usage of the ace reliever ignore how much uncertainty lays in baseball. If you have perfect knowledge of when you will next need your closer and when your offense will score runs in a tied game, sure use your closer differently. But given the actual knowedge a manager has, if you stick to the rule of only using a closer when you have a small lead in the 9th, you'll probably outperform almost any other rational usage any sabermatrician can devise.

clout, I was going to mention Gossage, but chose not to because of his HOF status.

By using Carroll and Marshall I eliminated the rebuttal of the pitcher in question being a "HOF abberation".

There were many others other than those three.

clout, also Kent Tekulve.

awh: Yep, another classic.

Dan: I don't know if you read Verducci's article, but the crux of it seemed to me to be that "only using a closer when you have a small lead in the 9th" is the main cause of that pitcher only having "so many bullets". It's a theory worth considering.

I would argue that one of the main reasons (top 3) that the Phils have had this run of success is because of the performances they have gotten from their top relievers in the 9th inning. That certainly was the case in 2008, and I think 2009 is probably the only outlier (that team was so much better than everyone else in the division that they could weather Lidge's implosions). What were they in 2008, like 150-0 when leading after 8 innings? Something like that.

So yeah, having a lock-down reliever at the end of games is important. I agree on the misuse, i.e. when you hold him out of a tie game on the road. But I'd argue that the bigger problem is coddling your best reliever and pretending he can't get four or five outs, or pitch 100+ innings. Especially in the case of Papelbon, who is freakishly durable. That's where the problem is. If Papelbon pitches ~60-70 innings this year, it will be a massive waste of resources.

WP: Your surmise is correct. Hoyt Wilhelm was the dominant reliever of his era (1960s), throwing knuckleballs almost exclusively. The change of speed from a traditional pitcher to a knuckleballer in the late innings was bewildering to batters.

From 1961 through 1969, Wilhelm pitched 956 IP, all in relief, and had an ERA of 1.99 and ERA+ of 172.

He pitched through his age 46 season.

I hated watching Tekulve come in against the Phillies when he was with the Buccos and the Buccos were good in the '70's (Parker, Stagell, Drabek, etc.).

He just had filthy stuff, and I don't remember the Phils doing very well against him.

(BTW, younger fans don't remember that cross-state rivalry from the 70's. Both the Phillies and Pirates were good for most of the decade and it was great because they were in the same division.

IMHO, MLB screwed up by putting Pittburgh in the Central Division. Should have put Atlanta there, which incidentally, is actually further West than Pittsburgh. NYM, PHL, WSH, PIT, MIA would be a good division, with every opponent save MIA being within a day's drive for an away game. )

New thread!

Man, I must be hammered out of my mind. I'm agreeing w/ awh now, too. MLB screwed up royally when they moved the Pirates west & Atlanta east.

New Thread ==>

I've always wondered myself about the high strike. I knew the rule said what it said, but yet never seen it called above the belt.

Dan: It seems to me that the uncertainty of the future is the very reason NOT to manage by formula. If you bring your closer into a tied game in the 9th inning, you know with certainty that you're using him in a high-leverage moment. It makes no sense to save him for a situation that may never arise or may not be particularly high-leverage when it does (i.e., your team could score 5 runs in the top of the 9th).

I get what you're saying and maybe it would make some sense if the save were a better proxy for high-leverage situations. But the criteria for a save are arbitrary; only a small percentage of save situations actually qualify as high leverage situations when you need your lights-out reliever. The save stat simply rewards an accomplishment which, very often, is not much of an accomplishment at all. So, to let that stat guide decision-making is pretty asinine.

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