Thursday, September 02, 2004
Anyway, this means that both A Citizen's Blog and The Bird Blog are taking a few weeks off. I'm not blogging, I'm not reading the newspaper, I'm not paying attention to the Phillies or the Eagles, I'm not doing anything over the next three weeks aside from marry my wife, fly to Hawaii for an awesome honeymoon, and bake on the beach. I see these people go on vacations with their cell phones and beepers and laptops and I think: "Relax!" Your vacation / honeymoon is your time to clear out your mind and be with your loved one(s). I intend to relax for a few weeks. I'm not going to know, and I don't want to know, how badly the Phils are playing, how many home runs Paul Abbott gives up, and how much further behind the Braves this team will fall.
See you all in a few weeks. Good luck to everyone.
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
Without going into too much detail, this season has been a profound disappointment, much the same way the team’s collapse at the end of ’03 was. (Hard to believe that ’03 was a better campaign. The ‘03 team finished 86-76, a better record than the 79-83 the ’04 team will likely end up with.)
The team’s $93 million dollar payroll should shock the fans. It’s not like the Phils are the Yankees, who spend and spend and spend, because the Yankees win and win and win. The Phillies are poised to finish third for the third straight year. With just $34 million dollars, (28th most) the Indians actually challenged for the division. The A’s are likely going to end up in the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year despite having just $59 million to shell out (18 th most). Our friends in San Diego, with their new stadium, had just $63 million to spend and not only have a better record, but they dramatically improved themselves over ’03.
Moneyball, the I Ching of sabremetrics enthusiasts, talks about the efficient distribution of money through the tried and true method of statistical analysis. It is a system that the Phillies organization seems skittish, if not contemptuous, about. They would be well-advised to remember something a Chinese philosopher named Lao-Tzu wrote:
A man is born gentle and weak.
At his death he is hard and stiff.
Green plants are tender and filled with sap.
At their death they are withered and dry.
Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death.
The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.
Thus an army without flexibility never wins a battle.
A tree that is unbending is easily broken.
The hard and strong will fall.
The soft and weak will overcome.
(Tao Te Ching)
A little flexibility fellas. I’ve been reading David Brooks Bobos in Paradise over the last week. His chapter on how corporate entities have taken to flattening their structural hierarchies to encourage the free-flow of ideas and have imported outside cultural and intellectual influences to prevent ossified thinking is priceless. To Brooks this dehierarchical structure is the reason for the period of expansion business had in the 1990's. I doubt this is the sole reason, but it surely had an impact.
The Phillies should ditch their opposition to stats and give alternative ideas a try. Sun-Tzu wrote in The Art of War: “You must adapt to your opportunities and weaknesses. You can use a variety of approaches and still have a consistent result.”
The result is called winning.
On to the numbers: grudging respect must be given to Phils shortstop Jimmy Rollins. I’ve never been high on him. I’ve complained that he strikes out too much, that he doesn’t draw enough walks, etc. However, over the last month he’s been the Phillies MVP: .389 OBP, .553 SLG, .255 ISO, .313 GPA, 9 doubles, 4 triples and 4 home runs. Rollins scored 27 runs in August. Why has he been doing well? Rollins has done what the Phillies have asked him to do: he has dramatically lowered his BB/SO ratio from 0.48 in ’03, to 0.79 in ’04. And while his walk numbers aren’t that great but still, .083 BB/PA is better than his career .076 … He’s actually become a fairly good and consistent leadoff man. I’d say he’s played his way into the job.
Thome: .334 GPA / .332 ISO
Abreu: .321 GPA / .247 ISO
Bell: .276 GPA / .160 ISO
Michaels: .257 GPA / .107 ISO
Rollins: .262 GPA / .146 ISO
Polanco: .252 GPA / .130 ISO
Lieberthal: .250 GPA / .166 ISO
Byrd: .210 GPA / .094 ISO
Glanville: .184 GPA / .063 ISO
Utley: .260 GPA / .225 ISO
Pratt: .211 GPA / .030 ISO
Perez: .226 GPA / .205 ISO
Burrell: .283 GPA / .196 ISO
There has been a definite decline in Abreu’s performance of late: .265 GPA / .182 ISO in August. Given that he and Thome have been carrying the Phils, this has badly impacted the team’s offensive output: they were ninth in OBP in August and seventh in slugging average.
Thome: .166 BB / PA; 8.65 RC27
Abreu: .170 BB / PA; 8.78 RC27
Bell: .102 BB / PA; 5.77 RC27
Michaels: .144 BB / PA; 5.10 RC27
Rollins: .083 BB / PA; 5.60 RC27
Polanco: .056 BB / PA; 4.57 RC27
Lieberthal: .067 BB / PA; 4.35 RC27
Byrd: .053 BB / PA; 2.77 RC27
Glanville: .052 BB / PA; 2.16 RC27
Utley: .038 BB / PA; 5.19 RC27
Pratt: .104 BB / PA; 2.63 RC27
Perez: .043 BB / PA; 3.86 RC27
Burrell: .150 BB / PA; 6.20 RC27
In other news: I’m stunned by the Red Sox surge in August. Since July 24, the Red Sox have gone 24-9 and have closed to just 3 and a half games. These guys hit the ball well, they have terrific pitching and are playing much, much better defense. I think my prediction of the Red Sox winning the Series might come to pass.
Monday, August 30, 2004
My best man & some of my groomsmen took me out to the Cardinals – Pirates game on Saturday afternoon as part of my bachelor party weekend. Good game. One thing I noticed was that there about 10,000 (not joking by much) Cardinals fans at the stadium. A sea of red … I’m amazed: it isn’t like St. Louis is 30-40 miles from Pittsburgh … Cards fans must be excited … (And I’ll stipulate to the fact that Cardinals fans are intelligent, polite fans of the game. I didn’t see anyone behaving obnoxiously and the fans who sat in front of us were very nice people.
Anyway, I had a terrific time. My groomsmen did a terrific job planning the weekend. I had a blast …
… but back to baseball …
… the problem with base-stealing I was talking about recently was nicely illustrated by the Cardinals – Pirates game … Edgar Renteria leads off the third inning with a single. Larry Walker pops out to short, bringing up Scott Rolen. LaRussa sends Renteria to second (to avoid the DP?) and he’s tagged out. Rolen promptly walks, and then Edmonds blasts a beautiful line-drive shot into center. Two-run home run, but it could have been a three-run homer, and the Cardinals ended up sweating a 5-4 lead until the ninth, when they added an insurance run.
It amazes me that the Cardinals have such a prodigious offense, given how much they waste base-runners.
Of course, as people have hastened to point out to me, oftentimes steals masquerade as hit-and-runs to avoid the GIDP. It is a good strategy is employ, I grant you, but in the case of the Cards it made exactly zero sense: the potential NL MVP is at the plate and you run? I don’t get it.
I’ve noticed a dramatic fall-off in hits on A Citizen’s Blog these last few weeks. I hardly blame Phils fans. I’ve found my enthusiasm on a decided wane.
Quick question: who was the sole Phillie to have a good August? Thome? Abreu? Bell? No! Jimmy Rollins: .300 BA; .402 OBP; .570 SLG (better even than Abreu & Thome), .323 GPA; .270 ISO (better than Abreu); .137 BB/PA (better than Abreu); 1.14 BB / K ratio (best on team); 8.42 RC27. Rollins seven doubles, four triples, and four home runs in August. Great performance this last month.
The Phils have closed from nine back to six back of the Cubs … still difficult to see them winning it due to the fact that the Phils are in sixth place. Too many teams are in front of them … The NL East is basically over: 10.5 is too much …
So who cares? Who's going to any attention these next few weeks?