Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Fly away, bird!  

I saved this picture a little while ago: the animal lover in me that felt bad for this poor pigeon.  Nothing good happens to a bird on the baseball field.  I remember being sick to my stomach when Randy Johnson accidentially killed that bird a few years ago.

(10) comments

Top Five List... 

I thought that it might be interesting to note how the Phils are doing statistically compared with most of the league in stats that I follow off-and-on.  Not surprisingly, the Phils are doing quite well at the plate:
Top 5: SecAvg (Secondary Average): (TB – H + BB + SB – CS) / AB = .SecAvg
1. Philadelphia: .312
2. San Francisco: .295
3. St. Louis: .288
4. Colorado: .286
5. Cincinnati: .285
Top 5: RC27 (Runs Created per 27 Outs)
1. St. Louis: 5.36
2. Colorado: 5.36
3. Philadelphia: 5.35
4. San Francisco: 5.25
5. Colorado: 5.05 

Top 5: BB per Plate Appearance
1. San Francisco: .112
2. Philadelphia .108
3. Cincinnati: .101
4. Houston: .092
5. Colorado: .091
6. Milwaukee: .091
Top 5: Stolen Bases %
1. New York: 80% (53 of 66)
2. Philadelphia: 77% (48 of 62)
3. Montreal: 75% (56 of 75)
4. St. Louis: 74% (63 of 85)
5. Cincinnati: 73% (38 of 52) 

And less well elsewhere...

Top 5: WHIP
1. St. Louis: 1.26
2. Milwaukee: 1.28
3. Chicago: 1.29
4. Los Angeles: 1.30
5. San Diego: 1.31
9. Philadelphia: 1.41

Top 5: ERA (Earned Run Average): (ER * 9) / IP = ERA
1. New York: 3.71
2. Chicago: 3.73
3. San Diego: 3.75
4. St. Louis: 3.79
5. Milwaukee: 3.84
11. Philadelphia: 4.37
Top 5: ZR (Zone Rating)
1. Chicago: .867
2. San Diego: .858
3. Montreal: .858
4. Los Angeles: .857
5. St. Louis: .857
6. Philadephia: .855

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Friday, July 16, 2004

Part Deux... 

Nothing like starting off Part II on the wrong foot.

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Thursday, July 15, 2004

On to Queens... 

Well, Part Deux of the 2004 season is about to start with the Phils up in Queens to play the Mets for four games and then it is on to Atlanta for a two game series. At the risk of sounding like a broken record: this series is critical for the Phils. Just two games separate the fourth place Mets from the first place Phils. This is a very fluid race, and the Phil's 8-6 record in their homestand is starting to look like a lost opportunity to gain some breathing room on the rest of the division. They need to come up big in New York to keep in front. With most of their games left against NL East foes, the Phils need to dramatically improve on their 17-22 record against the division. (And probably half of those 17 wins are against the Expos.)

Looming on the horizon are the Marlins: 3rd place, not playing particularly well, this team simply has an uncanny nack for beating the Phils. They have our number. Before the end of the month the Phils have two series against them and you cannot help but think that those six games are vital to the Phils post-season chances: both to exercise some demons (and gain confidence) and to put away a rival.

The Citizen's Report and Phillies Fan have both published their midseason reviews. Much to my surprise, Bill seems optimistic about the Phils chances. He makes a compelling case, but I think the odds are stacked against the Phils. Here is my prediction:

1. New York Mets 90-72
2. Philadelphia Phillies 87-75
3. Florida Marlins 84-78
4. Atlanta Braves 82-80
5. Montreal Expos 62-100

Here is basically how I think things will end up, based on what I've seen:

NL East: Mets
NL Central: Cardinals
NL West: Padres
NL Wildcard: Cubs

AL East: Yankees
AL Central: Twins
AL West: A's
AL Wilcard: Red Sox

World Series: A's vs. the Cards.

(64) comments

Wednesday, July 14, 2004


This article from yesterday's Inquirer caught my eye: it is about the Phils sorry history on race-relations. Well written by Frank Fitzpatrick, it illustrates not only how ugly the Phils racism was back in the '50s, but also how counter-productive it was too: the Phils passed on African-American talent all of the time (possibly including Roy Campanella and Willie Mays) and dramatically fell behind the Giants, Dodgers and Braves in talent.

Worth reading.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Mid-Season Report, Con't 

As I said yesterday, the Phils have been maddeningly inconsistent at the plate, but they’ve been pretty much uniformly bad on top of the pitcher’s mound. This has not, as you might imagine, sat well with Phillies fans who had high hopes for the starting rotation at the start of the year. Most articles about the Phils rotation focused on the idea that the Phils cadre of young starters were poised to supplant the Atlanta Braves as having the NL East’s best rotation. Bolstering this argument was the staff’s terrific pre-All Star game performance in 2003, whereafter the pitching staff fell apart and cost the team the wildcard. Most Phils fans assumed the additions of Tim Worrell, Billy Wagner and Eric Milton would solidify the Phillies pitchers into the best in the NL.

That hasn’t happened.

At the break the Phils staff has problems: they are tenth in the NL in WHIP and twelfth in ERA. Here are how the starters are doing:

Millwood: 1.49 / 5.15
Milton: 1.53 / 4.72
Myers: 1.56 / 5.68
Padilla: 1.42 / 4.07
Abbott: 1.45 / 4.45
Wolf: 1.30 / 3.56

WHIP (Walks plus hits by innings pitched): (BB + H) / IP = WHIP
ERA (Earned Run Average): (ER * 9) / IP = ERA

Compare as to their win-loss records:

Win / Loss:
Milton: 11-2
Millwood: 6-5
Myers: 5-6
Padilla: 4-5
Abbott: 0-3
Wolf: 3-5

Some in the Phils organization complained that Eric Milton got snubbed when he wasn’t selected to play in the All-Star game despite leading the NL in wins, but the fact of the matter is that he hasn’t pitched well. His 11-2 record is the product of massive run-support from the Phils. Conversely, despite having a comparatively pitiful record of 3-5, there isn’t much doubt that the Phils best starter is Randy Wolf.

The Citizens factor: Billy Wagner complained about the cozy contours of Citizens’ Back Ballpark in reference to the supposed snub of Milton. In truth there isn’t much to support such an argument on either Milton’s behalf or on Millwood and Myers: their WHIPs are all lower at home than on the road (as are, in the case of Myers and Milton, their ERAs).

Indeed, there isn’t much of a Citizen’s Factor the Phils pitchers at all:

Home: 1.35 / 4.22
Away: 1.50 / 4.72

The future isn’t promising: the Phils staff did much worse after the All-Star Break in ’03:

Pre All-Star ‘03: 1.25 / 3.55
Post All-Star ‘03: 1.44 / 4.70
Season-to-date: 1.41 / 4.44

Will the Phils do worse in the second half? That is a scary thought. It seems clear though that Kevin Millwood’s day in the sun as gone. He is no longer the Phils ace and his performance seems to be getting worse. I still believe that Padilla and Wolf will turn in decent performances in the second half and could make the Phils rotation half-way decent, however Milton, Myers and Millwood likely won’t. I think the Phils needs are clear: Millwood has to go and the team needs an ace, or at least a good No. 2 starter.

I have few complaints about the Phils bullpen: they’ve played well in ’04 so far …

Wagner: 0.85 / 3.52
Worrell: 1.21 / 3.57
Madson: 1.22 / 2.03
Hernandez: 1.63 / 4.81
Cormier: 1.36 / 4.36
Telemaco: 1.45 / 4.88

Wagner has been pretty much what the Phils wanted when they dealt for him: a fairly automatic closer. Worrell and Madson have done terrific jobs supplementing Wagner as the guys holding leads in the seventh and eighth.

Defensively it is hard to say much about the Phils in ’04: stats like fielding percentage and zone rating don’t tell us much about a team’s defensive prowess. (I note that the Phils are sixth in the NL in ZR, and seventh in fielding percentage.)

In the final analysis: the Phils are in trouble. This team is better off in the standings now then in ’03 when they trailed the Braves by ten or so games), but they have a worse record this year (46-41) than last (52-40). They are playing too inconsistently, and they have real competition: the Mets and Braves are playing well, and the Fish will rebound from their June slump. Based on their Pythagorean win-loss records, this is how the NL East will end up:

1. Atlanta 89-73
2. New York 86-76
3. Philadelphia 85-77
4. Florida: 79-83
5. Montreal: 55-107

Bottom-line: '04 has been a bitter disappointment. Time to start making some moves, fellas.

(12) comments

Monday, July 12, 2004

News Survey 

The common theme of the Phils mid-season reports seems to be: “They’re in first place, but …” E.g., The Daily News’ Bill Conlon.

Meanwhile the Phils GM, Ed Wade, feels no need to make deals before the All-Star break ... no need to make deals on a team obviously full of holes ... Hmmm ...

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Mid Season Report 

Starting Lineup: GPA / ISO / RC27
Thome: .346 / .364 / 9.16
Abreu: .340 / .263 / 10.00
Burrell: .297 / .206 / 6.84
Bell: .281 / .202 / 5.91
Lieberthal: .255 / .183 / 4.69
Rollins: .244 / .108 / 4.71
Polanco: .240 / .104 / 4.03

The Platoon:
Ledee: .327 / .259 / 8.39
Micheals: .284 / .105 / 6.30
Glanville: .174 / .043 / 1.77

Utley: .257 / .227 / 5.05
Pratt: .209 / .041 / 2.47

Byrd: .209 / .079 / 2.84

What the stats mean:
GPA (Gross Productive Average): (1.8 * .OBP + .SLG) / 4 = .GPA
ISO (Isolated Power): .SLG - .BA = .ISO
RC/27 (Runs Created per 27 Outs): ESPN’s formula for Runs Created is simply too complex for me to replicate easily here. This is their stat based on what a hypothetical team of nine of the same player would score.

Analysis: You certainly can’t argue with the performances that Bell, Burrell, Abreu and Thome have put in, but those are the team's sole bright spots.

Thome is a potential MVP candidate who avoided his usual April slump and came out of the gate strong. He’s is leading the NL in home runs with 28 and he’s tied with Pat Burrell for third in RBIs with 61. In short, he’s having something close to a career year. I think that he should end ’04 with 55 or so home runs and 110-115 RBIs.

Pat Burrell is an interesting case: after a terrific ’02 hinted at so much promise, we were all dumbfounded when he crashed so spectacularly in ’03. Compare:

’02: .305 / .263
’03: .240 / .195
’04: .297 / .206

What has impressed me about Pat Burrell this season has been that he has turned into such a consistent performer. His power numbers suggest that the power he showed in ’02 was a bit of a fluke: he’ll never achieve Thome’s slugging numbers (in retrospect, 2003 pre-season comparisons of Burrell and Thome to Mike Schmidt and Bull Luzinski were over-stated), but he’ll be a consistent performer and an RBI machine.

Bell, like Burrell, had a nightmarish ’03, but has bounced back nicely in ’04:

’03: .202 / .088
’04: .281 / .202

As for Bobby Abreu, Phils bloggers are split on his performance. Some feel that Abreu dogs it on the field and doesn’t play to his full potential, others respect the fact that he draws so many walks and controls the strike-zone so well. I tend to be in the latter camp: Abreu is, simply put, terrific. The Phils most consistent performer, its top threat to get on base and create runs, Abreu is the glue that holds the Phillies offense together.

As for the rest of the team, I think we were all bitterly disappointed with Marlon Byrd’s performance in ’04, especially after he did so well in the second-half of ’03. Jimmy Rollins has been a disappointment too: despite lowering his strikeouts and improving his BA, Rollins just isn’t drawing that many walks (his ’03 GPA is basically the same as his ’04: .241). It is difficult to judge Placido Polanco on the grounds that he was injured at the start of the year and has come on some. The Phils simply don’t have much in the way of threats at the top of the order.

Chase Utley had a somewhat impressive debut back in May but tailed off once his inability to draw walks caught up to him. I think he’s going to be very good at second base in ’05 and could probably hack it now if the Phils decide to deal Polanco. The rest of the Phils bench is so-so: Ledee and Michaels have played well when they’ve played, but the Phils decision to bring back Doug Glanville simply looks baffling.

The Phils offense has played well in ’04, but with some caveats: the Phils are third in runs scored, they are drawing walks at an impressive clip (second in OBP to the Giants), and they are hitting the ball well (fourth in slugging). Now much of this is due to Citizens and how much is due to the Phils abilities? A little park and a little talent, I suspect: with legit OBP machines ahead of Burrell and Thome and Abreu, the Phils could be scoring runs in bushels, but they aren’t. The fact that Thome has just sixty-one RBIs despite hitting 28 home runs is a little ridiculous: too many solo shots. As a result, I’d have to say that the Phils are too streaky to have a real shot at going to the World Series. This is a team that can explode for 17 runs against the Expos and then get shutout by the Braves very easily because they don’t put people on ahead of the sluggers. Before the trading deadline the Phils need to think about obtaining a legit on-base threat, preferably one that plays centerfield or shortstop.

On the plus side, the Phils ’04 performance is a welcome change for their nightmarish ’03 when the team seemed to be little more than Jim Thome crushing the ball. While the Phils look better at the plate they simply aren’t producing runs consistently.

Tomorrow I’ll try and vent about the Phils pitching…

(7) comments

Sunday, July 11, 2004

The Homestand is over... 

And with a 6-4 loss to the Braves the Phils home-stand comes to an end. I'm very disappointed with it: the Phils went just 8-6 in the fourteen games and only narrowly pulled ahead of their competition. With the Braves, the Mets and the Fish all within two games of each other the NL East race promises to be a real horse-race to the finish.


-The Phillies are too inconsistent. The pitching staff in particular rarely performs well this season. They need an ace or the return of Randy Wolf or both.

-The Phils can't beat NL East foes, aside from the Expos. With so many games against the Fish, Mets and Braves in the future the unsettling possibility of the Phils finishing fourth (yes, 4th!) is a possibility.

Next up, a series in New York. Mark my words, this will be ugly.

(0) comments

Base-stealing, redux 

Rowdy from Honest Wagner sent me a few comments about my post regarding base-stealing and run-creation that I thought were interesting … Upon further examination I realize that I should have been using runs instead of runs created as my measuring stick, in retrospect, but c’est la vie. The basic conclusions that I derived from the data were that the top run-producing teams in the NL were also, with the exception of the Cardinals, some of the most steal-adverse teams in the NL, while conversely the teams that used base-stealing as a run-production tactic were actually unsuccessful. The data, I noted, strengthened the arguments made by sabremetricians [sic?] that base-stealing is counter-productive because it wastes base-runners and (worse) outs.

Rowdy commented that context was important when it came to evaluating base-stealing (no argument there), and he commented about the traditional differences between the AL and NL. Because the AL uses the DH and the NL still plays 9-on-9, Rowdy argued, the NL teams have to scrap for runs more because they basically have an automatic out coming up every nine batters.

Curious about the AL numbers, I looked it up. Here is what I found out about the AL and base-stealing:

The top 5 offensive AL teams: (RC27)
1. Boston Red Sox: 5.85
2. Chicago White Sox: 5.71
3. Texas Rangers: 5.68
4. Detroit Tigers: 5.55
5. New York Yankees: 5.55

With 48 attempts, the Red Sox ranked 12th of 14 teams in steal-attempts. (Not surprisingly, the three AL teams helmed by GMs who were influenced by Bill James work are also dead-last in AL steals attempts: Theo Epstein’s Red Sox, the J.P. Riccardi-helmed Blue Jays are 13th with just 43 attempts, and the Billy Beane-led A’s are dead-last with 40.) The Yankees (62 attempts), Rangers (63 attempts) and White Sox (68) were tenth, ninth and eighth respectively in base-stealing. The sole exception here are the Tigers, with 90 attempts, who are fifth in steals attempts (although given the spacious confines of Comerica, base-stealing is probably a good idea).

How did the bottom five fare?
10. Minnesota Twins: 4.72
11. Toronto Blue Jays: 4.70
12. Tampa Bay Devil Rays: 4.60
13. Seattle Mariners: 4.28
14. Kansas City Royals: 4.12

Not that badly: the Devil Rays are second in the AL after Anaheim (104) with 102 attempts. Seattle is seventh in steal attempts, the Twins are sixth, etc. The teams that stole a lot (Anaheim with 104; the Orioles with 92; the Indians with 91) were all pretty middle of the road in terms of offensive production. (The Angels were ninth in RC27.)

So why are the differences so stark? Here is my theory: NL teams give up 3-5 outs a game due to pitchers and pinch-hitters coming into the game cold. Which means that NL are really just playing with 22-24 outs a game. NL teams simply cannot afford to waste any outs, whereas AL teams get the full benefit of their 27 because DH’s are usually decent-to-terrific hitters. An AL team can “waste” an out or two, but NL teams need all of their outs to be successful. The penalty for failing to successfully steal is higher in the NL, thus teams that conserve their outs are successful.


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