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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.

Monday, July 11, 2005

STATE OF THE PHILLIES 

Once a year the President of the United States must journey to the U.S. Capitol to brief the Congress (and the people) "from time to time" on the state of the American union. Until Woodrow Wilson chose to address the Congress in person the message was traditionally delivered to the Congress and read there. Today, with the TV cameras and the like, it has become the President's bully pulpit to address the people directly (a function, partly, of the decline of the Congress in the triad of American government: the President holds virtually all of the power today in American government. The current Presidency is probably the most centralized in recent American history). The President can take his message to the people directly and sit down the major decision-makers and force them to listen to his words.

I'd dearly love to see Ed Wade troop before the cameras and address Phillies phandom personally. Pack ticket holders and passionate Phans into Citizens Bank Ballpark and let him justify and promote decisions the team has made. Somehow I doubt it will ever happen, but this is the speech I'd like to see Ed Wade give:

My friends, Phillies fans, I must confess to you that things are not well. Since we won 12 out of thirteen home games last month we have gone 9-16 and dropped from second to fourth place. The team with the fourth largest payroll in baseball is playing .500. This season, like last year and the year before that, has been a major disappointment.

Despite boasting powerful bats we rank just
11th of 16 teams in Slugging Percentage. Despite playing in a park friendly to sluggers we rank just 13th in Isolated Power and eighth in home runs. True, we are fourth in the league in runs scored, but this team could be so much more at the plate.

We are discouraged to see our two big free agent acquisitions from 2003, David Bell and Jim Thome struggle so mightly. If you had told me at the beginning of the year that Jim Thome's On-Base-Percentage (.360) would be higher than his slugging percentage (.352), I'd have told you that you were crazy. David Bell, meanwhile, has followed his career year last year with a true horror show: .302 OBP, .359 SLG, just one home run on the road in 158 AB's.

As for the rest of the team, we rewarded Jimmy Rollins with a new contract while he struggles at the plate so badly we removed him from the leadoff spot because of his poor OBP (.309), a decision many don't agree with, but we feel that Jimmy has talent and couldn't let him escape as a free agent in the offseason. Mike Lieberthal appears to be in a career freefall at the plate, though we feel he is a solid catcher.

I am pleased with the development of Chase Utley, whose bright promise let us feel comfortable to deal Placido Polanco to the Tigers. I am also happy to see that Pat Burrell has returned to his 2002 form, justifying our decision to make him the focal point of the team. I also pleased that Bobby Abreu was recognized for having another terrific year. Should we be in contention late in the year I expect to see him recieve some MVP recognition.

Whether or not Ryan Howard continues to be in our plans for 2006 and beyond is something I cannot say.

We continue to be frustrated by our struggles on the mound. We are 12th in ERA and 12th in DIPS ERA. We have surrendered 113 home runs this year, second-to-worst in the National League after the the Cincinnati Reds, the team with everyone's favorite pitcher, Eric Milton.

I am as perplexed as anyone by Jon Lieber's struggles (8-8, 5.13 ERA, 1.39 WHIP). We signed him because he is a groundball pitcher ideally suited for surviving Citizens Bank Ballpark. I am stunned he's surrendered 22 home runs in 105 innings. As for the rest of the pitching staff, I am pleasantly surprised: Brett Myers (6-5, 3.20 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) has turned in a wonderful season, as has Cory Lidle (8-6, 3.65 ERA, 1.22 WHIP). I am particularly proud of our decision to sign Cory, a move many scoffed at but looks very savvy now.

The rest of the rotation is a mixed bag. We sent Gavin Floyd back to the minors to recuperate from some bad outings after his magnificent performance against the Cardinals at the start of the year. We also hope that Vicente Padilla will regain his old form and take Randy Wolf's place in the rotation.

I'm pleased to see Ryan Madson (3.65 ERA, 1.03 WHIP) and Billy Wagner (2.23 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 20 Saves) are playing well, though like all of you I am outraged by his defeatest comments of late. We hope that Tim Worrell will be healthy and able to add depth to the bullpen, part of the reason we dealt Placido to the Tigers for Urbina. Don't be surprised if we do what we do every year this year: trade for relief pitching.

Our sole bright spot appears to be in the field, where we are second in the NL in Defense Efficiency Ratio (DER) behind Milwaukee. Some of our teammates are having stellar seasons with their gloves. Whatever his faults as a batter, David Bell is a terrific fielder, currently second in the NL among 3B's in Zone Rating and first in Range Factor. We are also pleased with the development of Chase Utley, currently second amongst NL 2B's in Zone Rating. Whatever our faults at the plate and on the mound, this team plays tough with the glove.

The bottom-line, my friends, is that we have disappointed and have learned valuable lessons. We are also still in the hunt: do you think the Nationals will continue their winning ways? We will be there when they fall.

We are also just five games out of the wildcard race! Remember the wildcard? The wildcard team has won the last three World Series. Have faith. Thome will hit, Lieber will keep the ball down and this team will go on a tear. And we won't be passive at the trading deadline either. Trust me.

Thank you, and goodnight.

Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:
ISO (Isolated Power): .SLG - .BA = .ISO. Measures a player’s raw power by subtracting singles from their slugging percentage.
OBP (On-Base Percentage): How often a player gets on base. (H + BB + HBP) / (Plate Appearances)
ZR (Zone Rating): Is a stat which measures a player’s defensive ability by measuring plays they should have made. Admittedly, this is a stat left open to subjective opinions.
Range Factor: (Putouts + Assists) * 9 / IP. Essentially measures how much a player is involved in defensive plays.
Defense Efficiency Ratio: (Batters Faced – (Hits + Walks + Hit By Pitch + Strikeouts)) / (Batters Faced – (Home Runs, Walks + Hit By Pitch + Strikeouts)) How often fielders convert balls put into play into outs.
WHIP – Walks plus hits by innings pitched: (BB + H) / IP = WHIP
ERA – Earned Run Average: (Earned Runs * 9) / IP = ERA

Comments:
"I am also happy to see that Pat Burrell has returned to his 2002 form."

Did you mean to say 2003 form?

The trial of Pat Burrell is about to be reopened.
 
Pat has cooled since his hot start, indeed! He's a streaky player and has been an out making machine this last 4 weeks or so. You have to hand it to Thome: Even when he isn't hitting, at least he's not making outs!
 
I should probably note that new trials are only given in extraordinary circumstances. A fall-off in production does not qualify...
 
Mike, congrats on the attention you received from Blinq

"we rewarded Jimmy Rollins with a new contract while he struggles at the plate so badly we removed him from the leadoff spot because of his poor OBP (.309)"
Is this what you want to happen or what Cholly has been doing? Because as of the Nats series J-Roll was still in the leadoff spot. In the previous series he had a sore hand so Jason Michaels led off ( 3/4 Pirates starters were lefties).

Also, I'm curious about your conclusion that Lieberthal is solid defensively. Although I agree with you, this is not the dominant view of Lieby. John Marzano (who has grown tiresome) badmouths him regularly.
 
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