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.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The End 

I've decided to quit blogging as of today. Over the last few weeks I've noticed that the quality of my work has been slipping: my posts have gotten tired and uninteresting, and I don't think I'm doing the work that I did when I first started blogging. Simply put, I'm too busy with fixing up my house and my job to keep churning out lousy posts.

I did think about waiting out the season, but I'm just too beat. I'm about to get very busy at my job, so I simply don't think I'll be doing any posting anyway for the rest of the month.

I also feel that I can't keep up with the rest of the Phillies blogging community. When I began I was the only guy really doing the sabremetrics stuff. These days you have a variety of voices giving you information from different perspectives, from Balls Sticks 'N Stuff to Shallow Center to Beerleaguer to Philling Station, there are a lot of good Phillies blogs out there giving you entertaining writing with real insight into the team.

I'll write again: I have some long-term projects I want to work on and I hope you'll be seeing them soon. Otherwise, good luck and goodbye.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Monday Night Football... 

I’ll talk about the Phillies relief corps tomorrow, but my thoughts are on last night’s Monday Night Football game between the Steelers and Eagles. As many of you know I blog the Phillies and am a Philadelphia sports fan, but I live in the Steel City area, so I have a unique perspective when Philly and Pittsburgh sports teams collide.

I was pretty impressed last night: generally I think the Eagles played better, and I base that statement by noting that the Steelers first three TDs were the product of Eagles special teams gaffes.

What impressed me was the play of the Eagles wide-receiver corps: the Eagles wideouts have a total of 27 career NFL receptions (and 23 belong to Greg Lewis), but they looked strong last night. Reggie Brown played well, especially given that he’s a rookie. Greg Lewis will play better in the regular season. The person who most impressed me was Billy McMullen, a guy who really seemed like a bust when the Eagles took him. He ran good routes, got open, and make some tough catches.

McNabb settled down and looked poised and confident: you have to think that he might regard this time as an opportunity to prove that his numbers last year were a product of his own progression as a QB and not T.O. Wouldn’t putting up those numbers throwing to Reggie Brown, Greg Lewis and Billy McMullen be sweet revenge for Donovan?

I hope to see a lot more of Ryan Moats in the regular season. He looks tough as nails.

The defensive unit looks pretty sharp. Big Ben didn’t play many snaps, but they looked like they were ready to stop the Stillers first-unit offense.

First impressions: life w/o T.O.* won’t be so bad.

* And don’t kid yourself into thinking that T.O. will return and be a happy camper. He won’t, even if he and Andy Reid kiss and make up this Wednesday. T.O.’s gonna pout the rest of the year: I’ll be stunned if he plays more than a game or two and isn’t suspended for the year by the team at some juncture.

Anyway, back to the Phillies: a pity they dropped last night’s game to the Nats. The loss dropped them to third and pushed them a game and a half out of the wildcard. The team needs to be wary of falling out of the wildcard race quickly. They’ve been lucky this month that they’ve been playing NL West and NL Central teams. They are 36-21 against the rest of the NL and 20-27 against the NL East. Since most games in September are against NL East foes, this does not auger well for the Phillies post-season hopes.

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Monday, August 15, 2005

The Season So Far: Starting Pitchers 

It has been a while since I took a look at the Phillies pitching. The team’s pitching corps continues to take abuse for their inability to keep the ball down and keep the Phillies out of slugouts. I submit that the criticism of the Phillies pitching staff really isn’t fair. I think they are pretty good and that their foibles are a product of Citizens Bank Ballpark: the Phillies are third in road ERA, ahead of the Atlanta Braves even, in the NL. If you examine road DIPS than the Phillies fall to sixth, but the fact remains that the team pitches well on the road, and certainly much better than home, where they rank thirteenth in ERA and eleventh in DIPS.

Here are some numbers to chew on:

Home / Away
ERA: 4.69 / 4.00
DIPS: 4.38 / 4.35
WHIP: 1.35 / 1.28
HR/9: 1.36 / 1.13
K/9: 7.33 / 6.81
BB/9: 2.82 / 3.30

Let’s start by reviewing the starting rotation, then the relievers tomorrow:

ERA: 4.33 (9th in NL)
DIPS: 4.44 (11th in NL)
WHIP: 1.34
HR/9: 1.28
K/9: 6.76
BB/9: 2.89

We all expected the Phillies rotation to come together this year and be fairly formidable. Here is what each starter, sans Randy Wolf, is doing:

Jon Lieber – 5.00 ERA; 1.33 WHIP; 10-10 record

I’m gravely disappointed in Lieber. I felt that he’d be a tremendous addition to the team and he really hasn’t been. After surrendering a number of walks earlier in the year Lieber has gotten stingy about issuing free passes, but he continues to surrender home runs:

FIP: 4.71
DER: .706
HR/9: 1.69
K/9: 5.88
BB/9: 1.75
G/F: 1.29

Note that Lieber surrendered 1.01 HR/9 in 2004. Okay, there is a big, big difference between Yankee Stadium and Citizens, but that’s a big jump. Lieber has also doubled his walks: from 0.91 BB/9 in 2004 to 1.75. True, 1.75 is still very low, but Lieber doesn’t get many strikeouts and his ability to control the number of free passes he issued was a reason why he was brought here. He relies on the fielders and the ballpark to get outs. The fielders are helping him out. The ballpark isn’t.

Cory Lidle: 4.61 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 9-10 record

Not that his record reflects it, but Cory Lidle is having a great year. Look at Lidle’s “other” stats:

FIP: 3.99
DER: .696
HR/9: 1.04
K/9: 5.91
BB/9: 1.97
G/F: 1.89

Cory is keeping the ball down (best G/F ratio amongst the starters), keeping it in the park (best HR/9 amongst the starters, Tejada excluded), and keeping runners off the basepaths (nearly as good a walk rate as Lieber). What is of interest to me is the fact that he’s out-pitching his “real” ERA by 0.62 … That is a tremendous margin. You can’t really argue with the stats Cory has put together: I expected this kind of work from Lieber and he hasn’t delivered.

Brett Myers: 3.46 ERA; 1.20 WHIP; 10-5 record

Brett has been the Phillies best pitcher in 2005. I suspected that he’d have a good season in 2005 because his ’04 campaign seemed like such a fluke: what were the chances of him having a 1.58 HR/9 rate when he had a 1.39 G/F ratio.

FIP: 3.89
DER: .722
HR/9: 1.18
K/9: 8.64
BB/9: 2.82
G/F: 1.34

I noted last season that he out-pitched his ERA by 0.32 (i.e., his “actual” ERA was 0.32 lower than his “real” ERA). Brett is running a little higher this season, but he’s still doing really well: a 3.89 FIP is pretty darn good.
Vicente Padilla: 5.00 ERA; 1.58 WHIP; 5-11 record

I’ve always been a bit of a pessimist about Padilla and 2005 has backed me up on that. More than Myers, I thought Padilla blew an opportunity in 2004 to establish himself as a top-flight, “ace” pitcher. This season has been a horror for him since he returned about his injury:

FIP: 5.62
DER: .715
HR/9: 1.53
K/9: 6.12
BB/9: 4.69
G/F: 1.46

Unlike Cory Lidle, who is out-pitching his real ERA, Padilla is under-pitching his badly. These numbers are quite a fall for a guy who really didn’t issue many walks in 2004 (2.81 BB/9), or surrender that many home runs (1.24 HR/9 … okay, that is a little high, but I suppose that isn’t a big number when you compare it to Eric Milton’s 1.93). Ironically Padilla is doing better at keeping the ball down in ’05: his ’04 G/F is 1.16 …

Robinson Tejada: 2.24 ERA; 1.28 WHIP; 2-2 record

I must admit surprise that Robinson has such decent stats because, quite frankly, he shouldn’t:

FIP: 4.00
DER: .746
HR/9: 0.17
K/9: 7.91
BB/9: 5.16
G/F: 0.74

I’m dumbfounded by the fact that he’s gotten away with 1 home run in 52 and a third innings of work with a 0.74 groundball-flyball ratio when he’s thrown all but ten of his innings at Citizens. That and issuing an average of five walks every nine innings will get him killed one of these days. I wouldn’t bet on Tejada’s continued, long-term success.

Conclusions: One thing that I noticed was how well the Phillies two top pitchers, Lidle and Myers hurled on the road as compared with home:

Lidle: Home / Away
ERA: 5.89 / 3.66
WHIP: 1.52 / 1.20

Myers: Home / Away
ERA: 4.14 / 2.67
WHIP: 1.28 / 1.10

Lieber and Padilla don’t pitch that much better on the road than away.

This has been a rough year for the Phillies pitchers but I think they’ve found a terrific 1-2 punch in Myers and Lidle, while Lieber will rebound next year, I believe. With Randy Wolf coming back in 2006, that gives the Phillies a great 1-4 rotation.

As for this season, I think the hopes of the Phillies ride on Myers and Lidle’s arms: they need to keep the Phillies in low-scoring road games and figure out how to make do at Citizens Bank. The Phillies can’t rely on their beleaguered offense to win a playoff berth: they need consistent pitching. Only Myers and Lidle can deliver that.

Relief Corps tomorrow.

Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:
WHIP – Walks plus hits by innings pitched: (BB + H) / IP = WHIP
ERA – Earned Run Average: (Earned Runs * 9) / IP = ERA
FIP – Fielding Independent Pitching: (13*HR+3*BB-2*K / IP) + League Factor Evaluates a pitching by how he would have done with an average defense behind him by keeping track of things that a pitcher can control (walks, strikeouts, home runs allowed) as opposed to things he cannot (hits allowed, runs allowed).
DIPS - Defense Independent Pitching Statistic: think a more complex and accurate version of FIP.
DER – 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.
G/F – Groundball-to-Flyball ratio.
Hr/9 – Home Runs allowed per nine innings.
K/9 – Strikeouts per nine innings.
BB/9 – Walks per nine innings.

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