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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 31, 2004

Welcome! 

I'm happy to finally get around to adding a new Phils blog to the blogroll: Brian Michael's Phillies blog just came to my attention. Check it out, he does good work.

(12) comments

Stats, again 

Here are the Phils stats, as of July 31, 2004, starting with GPA & ISO:

Starters:
Thome: .338 / .344
Abreu: .334 / .260
Burrell: .287 / .203
Bell: .270 / .173
Rollins: .248 / .115
Lieberthal: .252 / .170
Polanco: .234 / .085

Platoon:
Micheals: .257 / .087
Glanville: .187 / .039

Bench / Scranton:
Perez: .246 / .210
Utley: .266 / .236
Byrd: .210 / .079
Pratt: .219 / .037

RC27:
Thome: 8.87
Abreu: 9.62
Burrell: 6.40
Bell: 5.44
Rollins: 4.99
Lieberthal: 4.46
Polanco: 3.79

Platoon:
Micheals: 4.89
Glanville: 2.24

Bench / Scranton:
Perez: 4.72
Utley: 5.36
Byrd: 2.84
Pratt: 2.73

What the stats mean:
GPA (Gross Productive Average): (1.8 * .OBP + .SLG) / 4 = .GPA
ISO (Isolated Power): .SLG - .BA = .ISO
RC27 (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.

Of note: Thome is in a big decline. Since July 22, 2004 he’s gone from .349 GPA to .338 (-.011) … .369 ISO to .344 (-.025) … 9.37 RC27 to 8.87 (-0.50) … I’m thrilled to see Chase Utley pick up his play this last week. He’s upped his GPA about twenty points. If the Phils do deal Placido Polanco to the A’s today, as rumored, I think he’ll finish the season well for the Phils … Scarily, Jason Micheals GPA stats have declined a little and Doug Glanville’s have gone up. You know that this means: Glanville in center …

Team Stats: GPA
1. Colorado: .272
2. St. Louis: .269
3. Philadelphia: .263
4. San Francisco: .264
5. Chicago: .261
6. Los Angeles: .259
7. Houston: .259
8. Atlanta: .257
9. Cincinnati: .256
10. New York: .251
11. Florida: .251
12. San Diego: .250
13. Pittsburgh: .249
14. Milwaukee: .243
15. Arizona: .243
16. Montreal: .233

As I complained about in one of my last posts, the Phils offense has been going into a slow and steady decline for the month of July …

GPA / ISO
July 2: .269 / .183
July 16: .266 / .176
July 21: .264 / .172
July 31: .263 / .169

But still the Phils are doing well offensively overall. They are one of the elite teams …

RC27:
1. St. Louis: 5.50
2. Colorado: 5.49
3. Philadelphia: 5.23
4. San Francisco: 5.08
5. Chicago: 5.08

And they continue to hit for power …

ISO:
1. Colorado: .189
2. Chicago: .189
3. St. Louis: .183
4. Philadelphia: .169
5. Cincinnati: .168

And they keep getting on base …

BB / PA:
1. San Francisco: .109
2. Philadelphia: .105
3. Cincinnati: .099
4. Colorado: .093
5. Houston: .090

The Phils pitching, however, has been getting worse and worse …

WHIP (Walks plus hits by innings pitched): (BB + H) / IP = WHIP
1. St. Louis: 1.27
2. Milwaukee: 1.28
3. Chicago: 1.28
4. Los Angeles: 1.30
5. San Diego: 1.30
10. Philadelphia: 1.41

ERA (Earned Run Average): (ER * 9) / IP = ERA
1. Atlanta: 3.69
2. Chicago: 3.71
3. St. Louis: 3.83
4. New York: 3.87
5. San Diego: 3.90
13. Philadelphia: 4.55

Notes: I’d be stunned if St. Louis isn’t in the World Series. These guys look like a runaway juggernaut. At their current pace they should finish with a record of 105-57. Their Pythagorean win-loss puts them at 102-60, which is what I think they’ll probably finish at. I don’t think there is a team in the NL that can touch them … Out in the West the Dodgers and Padres are really coming up fast. Both teams have hit better of late and continue to play stifling pitching and defense. I don’t know which team will win the NL West, but they will be formidable in the playoffs.

*****
Bar exam: in case anyone is curious about the ordeal I’ve been suffering through for the last three or so months, let me say a few words … the bar exam is a little hoop that the Pennsylvania Bar makes all law school graduates jump through after we graduate. What is the test like? Day One is full of essays: there is a one hour and thirty minute “performance test” designed to test our analytical skills where the bar examiners give us information and direct us to do some task lawyers do (draft a letter to a client, analyze a legal issue for a partner at your firm, etc), then there are six essay exams with four sub-parts covering about 14 major topics. You get an hour and a half for the first two essays right after the PT, and then after lunch the last four in three hours. Day Two is the Multi-State Bar Exam. The MBE is administered on the same day in 48 states (a little like the SAT). It is 200 multiple-choice questions on six topics (Contracts, Property, Evidence, Criminal Law, Torts and Constitutional Law), 100 in the morning in the first three hours and 100 in the evening for the final three hours. I took the exam at the Monroeville Expomart, a convention center in suburban Pittsburgh. Probably 600-700 people took the exam, but I suspect I am grossly under-estimating the actual number.

It was not the most enjoyable few days I’ve had. There are something like 10,000 pieces of information you have to know to take the exam, so you are desperately studying, trying to cram as much as you can into your head. It is difficult because you simply don’t have a clue what is going to be on the exam. My fiancée and I studied Pennsylvania and Federal Civil Procedure for an entire day and a half because there is always a question on one or both on the bar, but this time there was nothing. You have to try and remember those 10,000 pieces of information for the essays, even though you only need to know 24 of them.

Sitting for three hours twice a day for two days is draining. I was so exhausted after Day One that instead of studying for 2-3 hours for the MBE as planned, I ended up eating dinner at the Olive Garden with my fiancée and a friend of ours (all three of us took the bar) and then watching Malibu’s Most Wanted (funny movie, btw) on HBO and getting to bed at ten o’clock. It was the most grueling and nerve-wracking experience of my life. I’ve basically spent the last three months doing little more than studying for this exam, so now that it is all over I feel very weird. I won’t find out the results until mid-October, and if I fail (and 29% of first-timers do), I can’t re-take it until mid-February. The problem for me is that there are few jobs I can get until I get a law license. So if I don’t pass I am basically kissing away any shot at getting a job to actually pay my bills until next April. (Not to be too self-pitying, but the stakes are high for this thing ...)

Now, hopefully there aren’t any Pennsylvania Bar Examiners reading this but these are my thoughts on the exam … allegedly, the test is a “minimum competency” exam designed to weed out the unqualified graduates. I dissent: by graduating law school a person possess the minimum level of capacity to represent clients and be a member of the profession. In reality, the bar exam is a tool the state uses to regulate the number of lawyers entering the profession. Because Pennsylvania’s population is shrinking and there are seven major law schools in the Commonwealth churning out legions of new J.D.’s every year, there are too many lawyers in Pennsylvania and the PA bar wants to make it as challenging as possible to enter the workforce. It all makes me depressed and burned-out because I’m committed to staying in Pennsylvania because my fiancee’s family is here, my family is here and all of our friends are here, but the daunting prospect of entering such a brutal job market and the imminent approach of a bone-chilling winter makes me wonder … how tough can the Arizona bar be?

(6) comments

What a difference a week makes... 

Today, after spending the last week studying for and taking the bar exam and spending two days moving some of my things to my new apartment, I finally got some free time to sit down and see how the Phils were doing.

I am not impressed.

I was stunned to see exactly how bad the four game set in Miami went: a four game sweep? Giving up ten and eleven runs? Ever since they beat the Marlins 2-1 on the 21st, they’ve gone 2-7, and they’ve given up ten or more runs in four games. Worst of all, they’ve fallen to four and a half games behind the Braves, and they are now mired in third place. Ominously, just two and a half games behind them are the Mets for fourth. The good news?

Looks like the Expos got fifth locked up.

I parsed the stats looking for the reasons for this horrific collapse and I found a few culprits: David Bell is hitting awful in his last seven games (2 for 20), Paul Abbot likes to give up home runs (five in eight and a third innings). But honestly I think the team’s real problem has been its inability to beat division rivals: 21-30 against the NL East … 12-26 if you subtract our 9-4 record against the Expos. While the Phils aren’t doing that bad against the Braves (6-7) or the Mets (5-8), their 1-11 record against the Marlins is shocking.

At this stage in ’03, they were 57-46 and, even though they were in second ten and a half games behind the Braves, they had the third best record in the NL despite their struggles. This year’s team- infinitely more talented, larger payroll –is running dangerously close to disaster. For a group of guys projected to do well and win the NL East in a walk, this has been a bitter disappointment.

So who’s to blame? Bowa? Management? The Players?

I honestly can’t fault many of the day-to-day guys. Burrell, Bell, Thome, Abreu and the rest of the regulars are doing what has been asked of them. The Phils offense is still potent: fourth in runs, third in OBP, fourth in slugging percentage, and fourth in home runs. The Phils are still a sabremetricians dream: third in RC27, fourth in ISO, etc. Thome is doing what the Phils asked of him when he signed in '03. All of the day-to-day guys are.

The Phils pitching has been awful: tenth in WHIP, thirteenth in ERA, etc. The staff of Millwood, Milton, Myers, Padilla and Wolf simply didn’t come together this year and realize their potential. The pitching has been a big problem, but it isn’t the main culprit:

Larry Bowa isn’t popular amongst Phils bloggers because of his attachment to “small ball” and his emotional style of leadership (I think we’d all prefer a calmer, more methodical, more intellectual coach like the Cards Tony LaRussa at the Phils helm). To see a team this loaded with talent fail two consecutive years … you just have to wonder if Bowa’s leadership grates on players and if it becomes counter-productive over time. I suspect so.

I certainly can’t fault management, though I know some do. They didn’t swing any big deals, but then I think they were smart not to make rash, win-now decisions like sending Chase Utley to the Pirates for Benson. Management wants to win, but keep the prospects that are going to keep the team competitive into the future. Management may not be bold, but they are careful and not foolish. The ’04 Phils weren’t built perfectly, but this team is way better than 52-51.

So is ’04 a lost cause? I don’t think so. This team could still make the playoffs, though I am skeptical. Momentum is certainly against them. The fact that they’ve gone 7-24 against the Marlins in the last two years weighs heavily on their chances for the post-season. The fact that they can’t do better than .500 against the Mets and Braves doesn’t help either. Bottom-line: now is not the time to panic. If the Phils are more than five or so back in a month, then we’ll talk panic, but let’s see how these next few weeks shape up: we have games against NL Central and NL West foes than the Phils have had some success against in ’04.

There is still hope.

(35) comments

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Hello again! 

I’m back! (Sort of.)  The bar exam is over: a hellish two-day ordeal in suburban Pittsburgh.  In case anyone is curious I’ll talk a little bit about it.  Give me a few days to get on my feet: I have an interview tomorrow and then the fiancée and I are going to start to move into our new apartment.

Based on the standings, I can see the Phils aren’t doing real good.  I'll comment, especially if they make a move at the trading deadline.

(0) comments

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