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Tuesday, June 17, 2014


As RK noted, the '09 - '11 Phillies playoff performance grew progressively worse. If our GM did not focus solely on starting pitching and was honest about the physical issues confronting his All Star first and second basemen - finding solid backups or at least some bench depth (Brandon Moss wasn't that good at the time) - perhaps it would not have been so effortless for La Russa to pummel the '11 team into oblivion.

The myth of a "short series" is completely ironic. Wasn't it the gospel truth that 3 stud starting pitchers would obliterate any team in a "short series"? I suppose not. "Rally squirrels" and 1 - 0 shutouts by good but not great pitchers are not the stuff causing championship teams to be obliterated.

Based on empirical observation, I believe this: a brilliant baseball mind (La Russa) will out-duel a "gut" manager such as Charlie Manual every time. That's how you win a short series - maximize every tactical advantage, and make the other team believe that they are unable to overcome the other teams tactical wizardry.

Bittel you probably said what I and other people didnt want to say but was already thinking. Though if they sell high on Mayberry i suppose they have to keep someone on. On another note this doesnt pertain to BL'er but lets wait to this team at least gets to .500 before any playoff talk.

I don't fault Reuben for trying to get extra starting pitching or for trying to fortify the offense in the 2009-2011 seasons. Chances to win are few and far between and it's the Gm's job to do what is needed to put the team over the top. In my opinion, the present dilemma is the consequence of a flawed amateur drafting philosophy. Too many high picks were wasted on players like Hewitt, who were athletic but not necessarily good baseball players. Picks like that should be saved for late round reaches,like Dom Brown.

Revere: .282/.300/336/.636
Brown: .215/.266/.322/.588
Mayberry: .257/.360/.541/.901

Get rid of Mayberry and keep Noodle-arm Revere and Ball-don't-hit-me-now Brown?

All that's left for deja vu all over again is Mayberry's banging his knee and wrist going for a foul fly in Fenway...

My other name is Captain Hindsight

The fact that the same people who will talk about the Phils losing in the playoffs as "proof" that the team was getting progressively worse, while also acknowledging that something called "small sample size" exists, is proof positive of cognitive dissonance.

If someone offers you anything of value for Mayberry while he's hot right immediately do that trade.

Mayberry is a 30 year old platoon corner OF coming off 2 seasons (863 PA) of 86 OPS+ performance. He's not a piece you keep to build around for the future.

Sorry to break any illusions here but this team isn't going anywhere this year regardless of our sweep of the Braves this week.

Short series are not decided by the managers unless it's an extreme case. They are decided by talent levels combined with stochastic walks.

Shall we look into LaRussa's career to see whom he lost to in the playoffs? Because, despite being widely lauded as a good manager, and even a painfully (painfully!) efficient maximizer of platoon advantages, he lost more than he won.

Let's look at a few (I'm not cherry picking, just don't want to go through them all). 2005 Cards, a hundred-win team, lost to the Astros and Phil Garner. 2004 Cards, a 105-win team, were swept by Terry Francona. 2002 team lost to DUSTY BAKER. 2001 to Bob Brenly!

It's also a little offensive to imply the Phillies were mentally weak and gave up once they realized they were outmatched by the Cards' tactical wizardry -- the team had the same core of players that twice came back from enormous deficits to catch the Mets. No room for the weak-willed in the Rollins-Utley clubhouse.

NEPP - Unfortunately, the myth of the '83 "Wheeze Kids" club dies hard. If they somehow rip off 12 of the next 15, and find themselves firmly in the "hunt" in the NL East, the Monty/RAJ axis are buyers at the deadline.

Perhaps the only time I've ever agreed with the Baron of Bellicosity: Anthony Gargano is when he exclaimed that JMJ was "...not a ballplayer..." (how the hell would he know??) but that he "looked good in a uniform".

Creepy, but probably true. Problem is, he looks good against LHP, too. JMJ stays for the year.

Phillies are 4.5 back with 92 games remaining, 8-4 with a +26 run differential in their last 12, and the best bullpen in baseball over the last 2 weeks.

But the facts are no match for NEPP's crystal ball.

Oh, the best bullpen in baseball over a 2 week stretch.

What was I thinking using the entire season and the last 2 as markers for future performance instead.

SSS might just apply there, jefe.

Good to see "Reality" is using a new alias though.

Missed the game. Oh, the Phillies played great against the Braves down South. Predictable. Who's next?

Phillies are clearly trending upwards, but the diehard defenders of the Moronocracy narrative are too invested in gloom&doom predictions to admit it.

Losing three of five games by 1, 2, and 1 runs, respectively, counts as being effortlessly pummeled into oblivion? Alrighty then.

"perhaps it would not have been so effortless for La Russa to pummel the '11 team into oblivion."

Cards were outscored in the series and won the deciding game 1-0.

'Pummeling into oblivion' in Rally Red's world.

I just cant get excited. I would have to wait to see them climb to .500 first before i can entertain the thought of a possible playoff run.

This just in: The Phillies got knocked out of the 2011 National League Division Series. That's OK - news travels slow.

Oh yea, by the way. They've not been back to the playoffs since. But who fuckn' cares? They won 102 games in 2011!. Now, where's that trophy...

How did the Cards score that run?

That 2011 NLDS was very painful. I just knew if they had to face the Cards they would get eliminated. The pain..The pain..Everyone was so confident that team could beat anyone..too confident...

> How did the Cards score that run?

Future HOFers Rafael Furcal and Skip Schumaker effortlessly obliterated a couple of Halladay's pitches in the first inning.

A triple by some guy on a stiffed legged response on a relay throw. Love the details of baseball.

At least they have played some entertaining baseball over the last 9 games. This season, I'll take what I can get.

Phils have 5 weeks to sort it out including 20 games vs NL East opponents before the deadline.

NEPP is absolutely right about JMJ. Goal should be to 'rebuild' and focus on 2016 even if Montgomery utterly refuses to use the 'r' world. If trading JMJ gets them even a 'C' prospect who might help them down the road, they absolutely should do it without hesitation.

We can't get back to .500 this week, but a sweep of the Cards, coupled with the Braves taking 3 of 4 from Nats, leaves us 2.5 back. Not likely, but I've seen a lot of unlikely baseball in my time. (Especially in short series:)

It only took Giles 2 games to move his ERA one decimal point, from 27.00 to 2.70 (SSS).

Nieves says he won't know until tomorrow if he needs to go on the DL. Says he's a quick healer and Chooch will be catching the next few days anyway. Who's the backup if chooch gets hurt? Even if he doesn't go on the DL, they need to call someone up now, even if it's only for a few days. Don't wait until tomorrow afternoon, like they did with TGJ's sub. He didn't get there until the 11th inning.

"Who's the backup if chooch gets hurt?"

Same person who is the backup if he doesn't get hurt. Sorry.. being an ass.

I'm all for hoping that the Phils somehow play above their true current talent level and steal the division (while hoping the from office doesn't do anything stupid to screw up the future), but I still recognize that is EXTREMELY unlikely and believe the front office should be trading away certain pieces (Mayberry, Byrd, Papelbon, perhaps others depending on the return). How some of you truly believe they'll get right back into the race - "win 12 of 15"..."sweep the Cardinals" - is just absolutely idiotic.

The Braves are now 19-28 since their 17-7 start.

I was reading the AJC comments section, and there is a lot of anger over there about the state of the Braves. Maybe they should try a few weeks with our roster situation instead and see how that feels, ingrates.

Mayberry and Papelbon absolutely should be traded - in part because losing them will be less bad than appears. Both are due for big 2nd half regressions. Both should be moved ASAP, before regressions come.

Byrd should be kept. He won't bring much back and he's vital to any hope for even fringe contention. He can be moved in August if said fringe contention doesn't materialize.

Bought a newspaper early this morning (I like to have something to read while I'm driving) and encountered Rich Hofman's latest. Hofman, a nice man best I can tell, unfortunately embodies the historical shift within Philadelphia newspapers from talented, knowledgeable, baseball writers to the company-man careerist interested mostly in his own self-preservation. He has a style and approach that avoids any real observational work. Instead he likes to rely on manipulating statistical information of often dubious relevance to the argument he's making. Latest example:

Rich analyzes "15 years of numbers" looking at teams with between 29 and 34 wins from their first 70 games, to determine how often they qualified for the playoffs. His conclusion? Since only 10 of 143 teams from that "decent sample" made the playoffs (abt 7%), the 2014 Phils should be dismantled.

Plenty here think (are there still "plenty" here?) the Phils should be dismantled. I'm OK with it myself. But I long desperately for a line of work where I might go so unevaluated for quality that I can make arguments like this and keep writing. (Truth is, ironically, I found one. Not telling what it is it's just less prominent than Hofman's)

For starters:

--lumping together teams that are 12 games under .500 and 2 games under .500 is not only highly questionable as to relevance, but even if it were relevant would weight the sample slightly against a team 6 under .500. Why not make it teams between 10 under and 2 under, since the Phils fall right in the middle of that range?

--15 years? Anything, you know, significant happen in MLB related to playoff qualification during that time period that might, you know, make such an analysis outdated (even if it would have been relevant otherwise, which it highly questionable)? Beginning a couple of years ago, maybe?

--How is it possible to do a true analysis of a particular team's playoff qualification likelihood without a)considering games behind in the division, since number of games won is not the sole determinant of who qualifies, and b)the relative strength of the other teams within? Has Hofman heard of divisions? He has, it seems, but GBs should be ignored, because "the record . . . offers the most realistic assessment of where things stand."

Note the obfuscation, a Hofman specialty. "Assessment of things" as in the quality of the team? OK. But we're not talking about that in isolation. We were talking about likelihood of playoff qualification, the very poor chance of which was the basis for the entire argument. To assess "where things stand" w/r/t that, means HAVING to take both GB and division strength into consideration.

There's more to be said, but I just can't give it more time. It's so sad living in the post-expertise period of newspaper sports punditry. Articles are just space-fillers: just there to generate an emotional reaction from "readership" (mission accomplished!).

Unikrukc: "Short series are not decided by the managers unless it's an extreme case."


"They are decided by talent levels combined with stochastic walks."


ChrisinVT wins the prize for the most intelligent, insightful post of this thread:

The fact that the same people who will talk about the Phils losing in the playoffs as "proof" that the team was getting progressively worse, while also acknowledging that something called "small sample size" exists, is proof positive of cognitive dissonance.

Exactly right.

bittel - It wasn't a great piece but the odds of the Phils if you look at a few places are at around ~5%. That's is a real long shot. Not as if the Phils have been unlucky either if you look at their run differential or their respective offensive, defensive, and pitching stats.

Irrelevant too because the Phils have another ~5 weeks or so with a very tough schedule in front of them. If they somehow make up real ground, get to ~.500, and are only say 2 games back in the NL East then Amaro's decision gets a lot tougher.

There are two concepts that NEPP is 100% invested in and which no fact or trend can change his mind.

1. The Phillies hitting is far worse than the pitching.

2. This team isn't going anywhere this year.

His mind is ironclad shut closed on these two beliefs and he will not give them up for anything. It is very typical of him.

NEPP is also solidly invested in Howard having a terrible year this season, but not nearly as invested as BAP and Jack.

MG: it's certainly reasonable to argue the Phils should be sold off.

Hofman's reasoning for it was lazy and ill-informed.

Random comment - For a man who has spent a lengthy professional career covering sports, Michael Barkann has embarrassingly zero insight.

bittel: What would be interesting is to see the % of teams who won between 29 and 34 games in their first 70 who made the playoffs in a division whose first place team finished with 85 wins or fewer.

Any number of more fine-grained analyses, including clout's suggestion, would be better heuristics. Hofman's analysis isn't very helpful as it stands.

who is the guy I need to buy a beer for that put up the Ruben Amaro b-ref ad:

"BRef wanted $15 to sponsor this page, but in Ruben's honor I ponied up $75 on a three year deal with a vesting option. 2015 can't come soon enough!"

You are a stud.

Sweeping the Cardinals is pretty unlikely. I would be happy with a split.

This right here:

"Based on empirical observation, I believe this: a brilliant baseball mind (La Russa) will out-duel a "gut" manager such as Charlie Manual every time. That's how you win a short series - maximize every tactical advantage, and make the other team believe that they are unable to overcome the other teams tactical wizardry."

is one of the most idiotic things ever typed on this blog and that covers a ton of ground.

The Phillies didn't lose the 2011 NLDS because they were mesmerized by the Cardinals wizardry. Also, LaRussa didn't really outmanage Charlie which is another lie that gets perpetuated by people on BL.

1.) The Cardinals got into the playoffs by playing extremely good baseball down the stretch AND by the Phillies helping them out by sweeping the Braves in Atlanta.

2.) To win out the season the Cardinals had to use all their pitchers down the stretch which meant they started Kyle Lohse in Game 1 of the NLDS- THAT BACKFIRED.

3.) They used Chris Carpenter in Game 2 on short rest thinking that maybe if they got to Game 5 he would be going on full rest. That backfired as the Phillies jumped on Carpenter and chased from from the game......except that Cliff Lee chose that game to be mortal and gave up the lead and the Cardinals won tying the series at 1.

4.) Game 3- Jaime Garcia was wearing down in the top of the 7th. He gave up a single and then they had him intentionally walk Carlos Ruiz to chase Cole Hamels from the game. Charlie countered with Ben Francisco and the Cardinals had no one ready in the pen for that move. Ben hit a 3 run home run which won the game- SO THAT BACKFIRED AGAIN.

5.) A must win game 4 and the Phillies scored 2 in the first and then Oswalt leaked oil all game giving up 5 runs. Cardinals win and head back to Philadelphia tied at 2 allowing Carpenter to go on full rest. It was a huge gamble and had Lee done his job the series doesn't go back to Philly.

6.) Carpenter pitched great in Game 5 of that series. And even that was almost for naught as Ibanez just missed a home run in the 4th inning.

The Cardinals won because they executed perfectly in Game 4 that they had to win and Carpenter looked like the Carpenter of old in Game 5. LaRussa almost had them swept.

So Rally Red- how about you stop spouting nonsense around here?

Although as I watch it, Martin was on the plate before he had the ball. The very confusing rule seems to say both that you can not block the plate without the ball and that you can block the plate to catch the ball. After catching the ball, Martin seems to get out of the way as much as possible while still keeping his foot on the plate for the force. It just seems nuts that the runner was able to slide, and Martin was not collided with, and yet the force was overturned.

I'd be satisfied with a split in this series with the Cards, Cyclic.

Phillies lost that series because Cliff Lee decided to sh8t the bed. If the Phillies go up 2-0, they win that series.

Clearly the Cardinals "wanted it more" than Lee that day

Haven't seen this mentioned yet, but Kershaw just had "the most dominant" (by game score) No-Hitter ever. Amongst all games it trails only Kerry Wood's AMAZING 20k 1-hitter back in '98 (105 game score).

Kershaw is still only 26 (March birthday), and his closest B_Ref comps are guys like Seaver, Palmer, Pedro, Clemens, Vida Blue, etc. Since 2011 he has led the league in ERA and WHIP every season, has a 165 ERA+ and led the league in Ks 2 out of those 3 full seasons. This season he has a 1.60 FIP, .917 WHIP, and has a 10.75 K:BB ratio.

If he stays healthy and continues at this pace we are looking at one of the all-time greats. Of course health is always the question with SPs...

Cyclic: No, the Cardinals psyched out Lee that day. He didn't know what to do and cowered.

Given the recent debate here on BL, I was curious to see how much the Phillies had "declined" from their '08 WFC to their '11 NLDS exit. From '08 to '11 the offense went from an OPS+ of 99 to 96 (95 was lg avg both years) and their pitching went from an ERA+ of 112 to 127 (101 was lg avg both years). Some decline. :)

Rupp up
Altherr down

I decided to dig into Game 2 of the 2011 NLDS, because I seem to remember Lee getting BABIPed to death. In 6+ IP, Lee gave up 12 hits on 20 balls put in play for a BABIP of .600. Of those hits, 5 were ground balls and 1 was a pop-up. He also had 9 K's and 2 BB's that game.

Not mentally tough enough

rupp is due to revert back to norm. love to see him eruppt in st. louis. asche too. you know howie will be good.

I actually think Howie will be a let down. Not really based on anything, but just that he can't be great every time.

I'm getting the feeling Chase will homer in this series though.

it is howard's first trip to st. louis since his tragic injury. so, you could be right, Cyclic. but he has a gawdy BA there.

26 G, 123 PA, 9 HR, 35 RBI

Yes, I expect BIG things from Howard this series. Maybe he can get his season OPS back over .800.

Posted by: Cyclic | Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at 06:41 PM

See... I actually HOPE he will be good. But I'm just preparing myself for what may be an inevitable let down.

haha. i was quoting you in a fashion. but i forgot it was you.

There are two concepts that NEPP is 100% invested in and which no fact or trend can change his mind.

1. The Phillies hitting is far worse than the pitching.

2. This team isn't going anywhere this year.

His mind is ironclad shut closed on these two beliefs and he will not give them up for anything. It is very typical of him.

Posted by: clout | Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 11:07 AM

Where to begin....maybe with reality:

1. I've constantly said that both the offense and pitching (and defense for that matter) suck on this team. They suck as a team and its not a one or the other issue.

2. This team isn't going anywhere this year. Deal with it.

On your other asinine point about Howard, I'm not invested in it one way or the other. If you'll recall, I predicted Howard to hit around 27 HRs and have an okay but not great season. So far, he's been up and down and worse than even I'd hoped regardless of his hot week. He's nearly a replacement level player these days and has been the last 3 seasons now. He has an fWAR of 2.0 over his last 5 seasons now. I dont know why you and others get upset when people point out the obvious that he's not a good player and hasn't been for at least the past 3 seasons since he blew his Achilles and he was already declining before that happened.

Bizarre factoid:

Howard leads the Phils with 7 IBBs

Utley is second, with 5 IBBs

I believe all five of Utley's BBs occurred in order to get to pitch to Howard. It has to be unprecedented that the person with the second-most IBBs on a team has been IBBed on each occasion in order to pitch to the most-IBBed person on the team.

For comparison's sake, Anthony rizzo has 6 IBBs, Paul Goldschmidt 5 IBBs, Matt Adams 3, Laroche 3, Freddie Freeman 2. Howard's number are on pace with his recent full season averages.

Small sample this season, but not tiny, and sure other factors play in, but this would seem to support that there are quite varying assessments of Howard's current abilities.

I could be wrong that every one of Utley's IBBs preceded a Howard PA. But I remember three of the five times being so.

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