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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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Next Two Weeks... 

The Phillies kick off a 13 game home-stand today against the San Francisco Giants. It has been a rough two months but the team is still in the hunt in a competitive division. i.e., all is not lost Phillies fans.

To date the team has played 31 of its 51 games on the road. The team’s home record (10-10) isn’t good enough to justify an argument that the team will certainly improve by playing their next 13 at home (and 35 of their next 48 at home), but you get a sense that the Phillies could make a break for fourth and third one of these days soon. Thirteen consecutive home games, Thome back in the lineup … they should do better than .500 these next two weeks. If they can’t put together a run these next two weeks then I think their chances of playing in the post-season in ’05 are pretty shot.

Here are the series outlooks...

Phillies v. Giants: Good chance here of taking 2 of 3. The Giants look pretty weak without Bonds. The big guy has left the team scrapping for runs and relying on defense to compensate for the fact that their pitching is so-so. The Giants are .500 largely thanks to their 16-7 record in one-run games, which keeps them running two games ahead of their Pythagorean win-loss record.

Phillies v. D-backs: I wouldn’t be surprised if the Phillies win 3 of 4 or even sweep the D-backs. This team is running seven games ahead of their Pythagorean win-loss record (seven!), the biggest variance in the MLB. It is remarkable that this team is nearly .600 despite getting outscored on the field by twenty-plus runs. This team is substandard defensively, average in pitching and average at the plate. Their 18-10 record in one-run games is pretty darn good and, quite frankly, a fluke. I suspect they won’t be able to keep it up though and this East Coast swing could really hurt them.

Phillies v. Rangers: The Phillies play the Rangers for the first time in history, the final MLB team they have yet to play. The Phillies will need to fight to come out ahead in this series because the Rangers are playing well, putting together good pitching and explosive hitting to surge into contention as the Mariners and A’s fell by the wayside. In the cozy confines of Citizens’, I could see the Rangers clubbing a lot of homers.

Phillies v. Brewers: I remember the day when the Brewers were an automatic “W”. No longer. The Brew crew is surprisingly tough stuff: top NL team in DER, good pitching, improving hitting. They’ve gotten past their early struggles and have emerged as the Cardinals sole (and very unlikely) competition for the NL Central. Their 8-14 record in one-run games obscures the fact that they are much better than their .500 record reflects. This team is running four games behind their Pythagorean win-loss record. This could be a rough series.

Conclusion: I’m hoping the Phillies go 8-5 or 9-4 on this home-stand. I think they’ll split 3-3 the Rangers and Brewers series, but they’ll have a lot of success against the Giants and D-backs. This is also an opportunity for guys like Jim Thome to get rolling. Thome has had some fearsome Junes before and now would be a good time to explode with a 20+ home run month. Thirteen games in the warm weather in the friendly confines of Citizens Bank?

If this team is still 15th in slugging and 16th in ISO after June 12th, then Ed Wade and Charlie Manuel should be fired.

Very good analysis. I have a few items to add.

1) In addition to playing on the road so much, the Phillies have had the hardest schedule in baseball.

2) Ed Wade is the fifth best GM in baseball. http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/general-manager-rankings/

3) The Philadelphia Media is so poor, I'd hate for them to be right about Wade and Manuel, so don't you start, too :-)
I wrote three separate pieces on the D-Backs and if one should expect a collapse based on the Pythagorean standings difference.

My conclusion? No, easily. If one looks at each Arizona player, pitcher and hitter, there isn't any factor that can lead one to think they'll all of a sudden start to regress. There's hardly any players overperforming, and if there is, they're compensated by the couple of players underperforming.

While the Pythag record is interesting, you can't simply expect Arizona to start to experience bad luck just because they've had relatively good luck thus far.

For me, I've got to see real baseball reasons why Arizona will begin to regress record-wise other than "They're supposed to!"
I believe that the theory to regression to the means is just a belief that there is no proven ability to play better than your run scored vs. runs allowed suggests, and that the odds will even out by the end of the year. At least, the D-Backs won't keep playing at such a winning clip unless their players start playing better.

The phils have more reason for optimism. Thome is coming back, and should be a big boost to the runs scored column. The bullpen has been terrible, and hopefully aren't as bad as their record so far this year, or maybe there could be a big trade for a high quality reliever if they don't improve otherwise.

3 1/2 games back with about 110 to play? I likes our chances.
The Phillies chances? Oh, you've got to like that. Playing about as badly as that talented of a team can play to this point, and only 3.5 back? Yes, the other teams (especially the Nats and Mets) should worry.

If Arizona falls back to the mean, it'll be because of the bullpen, where they have a couple of guys who are holding things together who haven't performed that well anytime in their career. However, it's balanced some by a few guys stinking up the joint who normally are better.

We'll see, but I predict Arizona staying in the hunt for most of the season.
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