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Saturday, April 26, 2014

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By the way, my 12:04 post should have made clear that I was talking about everyday players, not pitchers. It's slightly more common for pitchers to suddenly become better in their mid 30s. It's still rare, but it certainly happened with Jamie Moyer & Randy Johnson, and probably a few others.

aksmith: I was simply responding to your original statement: "Papelbon's rediscovered a couple miles per hour on his fastball from the end of last season."

That statement is demonstrably false, as I showed.

You frequently make posts that are demonstrably false and I usually ignore them, but in this case your post is accepted as gospel by most here so I thought it useful to note the facts, as opposed to the "beliefs" of someone who knows very little about the topic at hand.

I really like Morse and you could maybe make the case that he'd be more valuable than Byrd, long-term.

That said, he is a horrible, horrible defensive corner outfielder. He's passable at 1B.

What the hell is up with Beerleaguer?

That said, he is a horrible, horrible defensive corner outfielder. He's passable at 1B.

Posted by: clout | Monday, April 28, 2014 at 12:26 PM

Yeah, as an OF/1B goes Morse would make a pretty solid DH. Not to mention I have a feeling his injury issues would be exacerbated playing RF everyday.

bap - Molitor is one example, although his career numbers at those ages also seemed to coincide with a move to basically full-time DHing, which helped him stay healthy (his biggest bugaboo). That being said, he didn't suddenly go virtually from out of the league and washed up to an all-star at 35, he just managed to stay healthy and joined the best lineup in baseball, leading to a slight uptick over his career numbers...Byrd doesn't meet any of that criteria, he just suddenly started hitting HRs at a much higher rate than ever before. Nothing suspicious about that...

Sandy Koufax had a career ERA+ of 100 after his first 6 years in MLB. His next 6 years: 156.

Of course, he was a lot younger than most veteran pitchers, but BAP's point is accurate. Getting better with experience has a much longer curve for pitchers than batters, hence a lot of guys being better in their 30s than 20s.

Clout - Yes, you saw what I wrote and you were able to cherry pick four games where his velocity was fine. Of course, if you choose a larger sample, his velocity clearly declined in the second half of the season. But you're too intellectually dishonest to do that. However, you didn't respond to the actual point. He is throwing easy this season and last season he was not. He was clearly having problems, quite possibly with his hip. And I notice you are not defending his lousy season as you have before. Your point, once again, shows a facility with cherry picking numbers, but also shows no insight into actual baseball.

Please tell us again that Papelbon was just fine last season. Please tell everyone how you believe he was a premium closer and everyone who saw him blow save after save and walk a tightrope nightly because he was overthrowing that they didn't see what they saw. Please do that and then we can have you committed.

As previously posted, Comcast, please feel free to reach out about my taking on the burden of keeping up with this site...

aksmith: You said "the end of last season." I though his final 4 games might meet that criteria. I'm happy to go back and add in the 6 earlier games he pitched in September, but you won't see a difference.

The comments about "send Freddy down to get some AB's and get some confidence" are pretty funny. Almost as if you guys think that he actually deserves any sort of spot on a MLB roster or something (utility IF or otherwise - remember when you guys thought they should "pass" on re-signing Jimmy?). Galvis is not a big league player. The only glimpses he's shown were PED related, but I guess that selective amnesia is a powerful thing (also the reason that Bastardo is still "an 8th inning guy").

Which is puzzling, because they take a very pragmatic approach with someone like MAG who will be assigned to the high minors until he proves himself. Why this approach can't be applied to the likes of Galvis, Mayberry, et al is odd. For some reason there are just some guys who "have a spot" regardless.

aksmith: Also, FYI, changing your previous statements to make them accurate is a worthy thing to do, but it doesn't make your original statement any less wrong, even if you are now pretending you didn't post it.

Any chance at all that Ruf supplants Galvis on the bench if/when healthy, or do we need to keep Freddy around for his glove 3-4 innings each week as a defensive caddy?

There have been plenty of all-glove utility guys sticking around the majors for years, and he's fine as a utility IF who plays once or twice a week to give guys like Jimmy and Chase a blow, but at his current pace he would rack up over 200 PAs, and that's way too many. If you have to use him regularly you're either dealing with major injury issues or your team isn't very good, unfortunately.

Chris - Byrd completely changed his swing in the 2013 offseason (fact not theory). Its not out of the realm of possibility that it contributed to a breakout year.

"If you have to use him regularly you're either dealing with major injury issues or your team isn't very good, unfortunately."

And when your team is healthier than it's been in years and the alternatives include Jayson Nix, it's probably a safe bet that it's the latter.

Jake - 2 options here:

A. A player who was washed out of baseball after a decent, not great, career at 35 suddenly discovers a brand new way to alter his swing that doesn't seem to be available to other players and dramatically increases his ability to hit HRs and has the best season of his career.

B. A player who was washed out of baseball at 35, had been busted for PED use before, and knew he had one last chance at a payday, starts taking PEDs again to get the last contract of his career, suddenly having a career season by hitting HRs at almost double the rate he ever had before, while almost all the rest of his underlying numbers indicated that the massive spike in HRs shouldn't be happening.

You tell me which is more likely? I'm not saying there's zero chance that a "change in his swing mechanics" can't alter the type of hitter he is, but to so dramatically improve his ability to hit HRs instead of long fly-ball outs? Maybe that's a 1% chance. I'll be generous and say a 5% chance that he was able to make such a dramatic and successful change to his entire memory-muscle pattern and athletic performance at an age when most players are hanging it up. That still means a 95% likelihood that something else was going on, whether that was PED usage or just a super-fluky season. Either way, it's not indicative of anything sustainable.

But this is really an academic argument. We'll see which one seems more plausible at the end of the year and his performance can be judged for what it was at that point.

A player who was washed out of baseball after a decent, not great, career at 35 suddenly discovers a brand new way to alter his swing that doesn't seem to be available to other players and dramatically increases his ability to hit HRs
-
He altered his swing to hit less ground balls & it improved his game. Ben Revere did the same thing after batting .200 last April, and it helped him too.

From the article:
Pirates' Byrd credits high school coach with revamping his swing
http://triblive.com/sports/pirates/4654618-74/byrd-swing-season#axzz30CX02duu

“I come from more of an old-school style of baseball,” Byrd said. “Coming up, the coaches I had played for in the 1970s and 1980s, we were taught to swing down.”

Latta gave lift to Byrd's swing and career.

Instead of leading with his hands, Byrd was taught to lead with his right elbow. He said the subtle adjustment creates “bat lag” and “snap.” The tweak created more lift in his swing plane and a longer period of extension in the hitting zone.

but to so dramatically improve his ability to hit HRs instead of long fly-ball outs?
-
Was Byrd hitting a lot of long fly-ball outs prior to 2013? If so, you have a point.

His career HR/FB% prior to 2013 was just over 6%. It had steadily been trending downwards from 2009 (pre-2013 career high of 8.5%) to 5.6% in '10, 5.5% in '11, and 2.0% in 2012.

In 2013 it was 11.5%. Suddenly those fly balls were going out of the yard at almost twice the rate they ever had. At age 35. Coming off the worst season of his career. And a PED suspension. And a continued association ("I just buy supplements from him") with Victor Conte.

You tell me which is more likely?

Which has lost more:

Papelbon's fastball or aksmith's IQ?

To be fair, Papelbon did lose a few mph during the 2nd half last year and he had a pretty poor 2nd half.

This year, he bounced back a bit more to around the middle ground of his 1st half and 2nd half velocity numbers from last year BUT his location is far better than it was in the 2nd half last year where he was trying to overthrow. He mentioned a sore hip towards the end of the year that probably affected him.

Also, as I noted 2-3 days ago, Papelbon has drastically changed his slider this year. He's throwing it far harder (81 mph instead of 75 mph) and its far more effective as a result. Its a true slider instead of a hangy slurvy pitch that got hammered last year. Add in his splitter and guys cant sit on his average fastball anymore.

So basically...he adjusted to the velocity decline he's suffered over the past 3-4 seasons.

Good for him.

He's also throwing his splitter slower giving him more of a gap between fastball and splitter...which, just like a changeup, helps him out.

Fastball to Splitter gap:

2013: -3.2 mph
2014: -6.3 mph

A.J. Burnett's Twitter intro states "I am all about a Can Am and a largemouth bass". He is like having Larry the Cable Guy as your 3rd starter.

Burnett ‏@wudeydo34 · 18h
Alot of fun today working with @WilNieves27. Good player! Close that shitz out Pap! #fistpumps #STFD



Fastball to Splitter gap:

2013: -3.2 mph
2014: -6.3 mph

Posted by: NEPP | Monday, April 28, 2014 at 02:28 PM

IIRC, his best seasons in Boston usually coincided with his ability to use his off-speed stuff more effectively, as well. Not exactly a shocking revelation, though.

Sorry, that should read -5.2 mph, not -3.2 mph. I knew it looked wrong when I read it. Thought I typed 5.

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sports/phillies/More-concern-for-catcher-Tommy-Joseph.html

Tommy Joseph back on the DL with another concussion it seems.

Cross him off then.

NEPP: "To be fair, Papelbon did lose a few mph during the 2nd half last year and he had a pretty poor 2nd half."

At no point was that part of the initial post. Had he posted that, there would've been no discussion.

With one exception (it remained the same) Papelbon's velocity has declined every season since 2008. He's had some pretty great seasons during that period.

This, of course, goes against the "velocity is everything" that you and most other posters here espouse, but, again, it is factual.

I wasnt commenting on any specific comment, just on the actual events of Papelbon's career.

***This, of course, goes against the "velocity is everything" that you and most other posters here espouse, but, again, it is factual.***

Stop being such a trollish jackass. You'd be far more interesting to discuss things with if you actually stuck to what people actually said instead of your non-factual childish attacks to prove points that only exist in your head.

Think Mayberry gets a start tomorrow against Niese?

"Cruz and Morse are both regarded as below-average defensive RFs. Improving RF defense was a major priority after Delmon Young and the Ruf experiment."


Jumms, the issue I have with the statement above is that Ruf in RF was not really an "experiment".

He's not a very good LF, and I don't think anyone had any expectation that he could play RF.

You can call it an "experiment" if you like, but it was an experiment designed to fail.

It's kind of like seeing if a bug will survive if you stomp on it.


(Still no new thread since Saturday. The komkast klowns are back to their old tricks. I guess they're just tooooo busy.)

MG mocked Nieves' ability to work with pitchers well for months after his signing.

Who are you going to believe- some guy spouting off online about how someone is a bum, or the guy that actually works with him? I tend to side with Burnett on this one.

Conversation heard someday in the Phillies clubhouse.

Ken Giles - "What's that sh!t on your chest?"

Jonathan Papelbon - (wipes finger across chest) "Crisco." (wipes across waist line) "Bardol." (wipes along head) "Vagisil. Any one of them will give you another two to three inches drop on your curve ball. Of course if the umps are watching me real close I'll rub a little jalapeno up my nose, get it runnin', and if I need to load the ball up I just... (wipes his nose)"

Giles - "You put snot on the ball?"

Papelbon - "I haven't got an arm like you, kid. I have to put anything on it I can find. Someday you will too."

"Nelson Cruz signed for 1 year, $8M and he's a hell of a lot better than Marlon Byrd. Would have required RAJ to exercise a little patience, and it would have cost a draft pick. But a 2nd round pick for one year of Nelson Cruz seems like a pretty good deal."


bap, based on what? 101 PA?

How about we wait until the end of the season before we make that determination?

I dont really see that Byrd has been all that horrible. If nothing else, he's drastically improved the defense in RF:

Phillies RF UZR/150

2013: -12.7(24th in MLB)
2014: 4.5 (13th in MLB)

That's a nice jump to say the least. His bat has been a bit meh so far but hopefully that turns around a little bit going forward.

""Hugh: "Wil Nieves, 5-0, 3 shut outs."

And yet BL was nearly unanimous that this was a horrible signing.""


clout, so after 5 games you're proclaiming it a great signing?

It's funny because if Byrd had gotten off to the same start Cruz has, bap would be the first to tell everyone to calm down and wait because he would be absolutely sure he'd put up a Mini Mart like line from May to the end of the season.

"bap, based on what? 101 PA?

How about we wait until the end of the season before we make that determination?"

How about we base it on their career numbers, which is what I was basing it on?

Clearly Nieves is the main reason for those numbers too...no way there are other reasons. His 76 OPS+ and 2 RBI were critical to winning all 5 games...and his amazing pitch-calling caused those shutouts.

That said, Nieves has, so far, basically been exactly what was advertised: An adequate backup catcher. If he were to need to start for a few weeks, he'd be quickly exposed but seeing him get 1 start ever 5 games or so is just fine.

NEPP: How many posts have you made blaming velocity for a pitcher's failure? How many blaming command or control? I'd say your ratio is about 10 to 1. I'm just keeping you honest.

awh: Nope. Not proclaiming it a great signing. Just saying that, so far, the BL complainers have been wrong. In the end they may be right. But, based on track record, I doubt it.

You should do some research on that and get back to me. Since you seem obsessed on it, not me.

Unlike you, I actually try to be balanced and not just rip off one-dimensional attacks like that (see your entire obsession with it being JUST the bullpen that is the issue and nothing else last year and this year).

I'd imagine its because you can only see issues in black and white terms rather than looking at all the myriad permutations that affect every issue. This isn't much of a surprise as its the hallmark of a simplistic mind and world outlook...something you seem to have in spades. There are dozens of studies that show the less overall intelligence and individual has, the less able they are to see these so-called shades of gray that every issue has. To put it in simpler terms, the dumber a person is, the more partisan they tend to be on any given issue.

Oh come'on we are evaluating the effectiveness of a catcher behind the plate by the starting pitcher's ERA even though that was one of the first things sabermetrics debunked?

Nieves is better defensively than I thought and made a nice play yesterday that was big on getting the lead runner out at 3rd on the sac bunt attempt.

Offensively it is hard to take away much from 5 G except Nieves has no BBs and little power (2 XBHs in 20 PAs).

If Nieves isn't a net zero this year and wind up with a negative WAR, then I was wrong but one way or another let's not go overboard on 5 G.

"It's funny because if Byrd had gotten off to the same start Cruz has, bap would be the first to tell everyone to calm down and wait because he would be absolutely sure he'd put up a Mini Mart like line from May to the end of the season."

Who do you think will have the better season: Nelson Cruz or Marlon Byrd? If you'd like to pick Byrd, I'd be happy to make an Internet bet.

I'll put it as simply as this - Nieves is, so far and likely to be for the balance of the season, an upgrade versus recent previous backup catchers on this roster. He's just fine, in my book, and so long as he's not used/needed any more frequently, there are an infinite other number of upgrades needed on this team that should be prioritized, starting with the ever popular "bench v. bullpen" discussion.

Freddy Galvis is actively killing this team.

Cruz is a disaster defensively and would have been bad/if not worse than the ineptitude that manned RF for much of last season for the Phils.

Byrd though has been inconsistent defensively though in RF too and offensively been what I expected so far too. Killer in his game is that rarely takes a BB either. If he did, he would have a lot more offensive value if his OBP was at .340-.350 right now instead of .319.

"How about we base it on their career numbers, which is what I was basing it on?"


bap, yeah, go ahead, but if I look at bWAR, Cruz has averaged 1.43 bWAR the last three seasons - despite being a better hitter than Byrd. Reason: Bad defense.

Byrd has averaged 2.2 bWAR the last 3 seasons because he can actually play defense a bit.

So, I'm not quite sure how to evaluate it.

bap, I wasn't personally drawing a conclusion either way on either player. Just pointing out the dichotomy between the way you view players on the Phillies and the rest of MLB.

But, as this would be my first BL internet bet, I'm intrigued. By which metric were you thinking of judging them?

Over the last three years, Cruz also has a whopping 5pt advantage over Byrd in OPS+.

112 to 107

NEPP: You just defined yourself.

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20140426&content_id=73479236&notebook_id=73490524&vkey=notebook_phi&c_id=phi

"Injured outfielder Darin Ruf continues to make progress and could begin playing in extended spring training games as early as next week."

Woo!

Right now, Lehigh Valley is just trying to tread water until Ruf gets back.

Cyclic/awh: 3-year stats for Marlon Byrd don't really do anything for me because they're so badly skewed by his 2013 numbers. And my entire premise is that those 2013 numbers were PED-enhanced artifacts.

Admittedly, Nelson Cruz has his own set of PED questions. But he also has a pretty long track record of being a good bat. It's not like he suddenly had a good year, just after being suspended for PEDs. That is pretty much what happened with Marlon Byrd.

NEPP: You just defined yourself.

Posted by: clout | Monday, April 28, 2014 at 04:37 PM

And anyone that has been paying attention over the past 5-6 years would know that's false.

bap, so which metric were you thinking for the bet?

bWAR? fWAR? OPS+? HRs? RBIs? Production™? Versatility™?

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Cyclic: We could do fWAR, bWAR, and OPS+. You need to win 2 out of 3 categories to declare victory. I don't know what the stakes would be, though.

Here is a graphic of Byrd's GB/FB rate for his career.

http://www.fangraphs.com/graphs/950_OF_season_full_9_20140427.png

In 2013 his GB rate drops from 50% to 39%, and his FB rate goes up from 25% to 37%. The only 2 years he had a higher FB% was in '05 when he played in 5 MLB games, and '09 when he hit 20 HR. More flyballs = more HR, no PEDs required.

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