Howard struck out three times with runners in scoring position? Bummer. But you were sitting with The Asche Trays when Cody Asche drove in the go-ahead runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. #phanclubsareback #losingcanbefun
Life is full of questions that don’t have an easy answer:
Why do we drive on a parkway and park in a driveway?
Why are there 90 feet between home plate and first base?
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
Life has a funny way of balancing itself out though. As proof, these types of questions are balanced out by those with more obvious answers. To demonstrate what ‘more obvious answers’ are, here is a commercial from AT&T’s ‘It’s Not Complicated’ ad campaign.
If you don’t have 32 seconds, it goes like this: a man asks a group of elementary-school-aged kids a simple question like, ‘which is better: bigger or smaller?’ and why. In another spot, he asks the kids if being faster or slower is better.
This got me thinking: Phillies GM Ruben Amaro and his front office personnel should be forced to sit in a room. A moderator walks into the room and asks the group: ‘Is it better to flush money down the toilet or spend it wisely?’ Amaro et al. may collectively agree that it’s better to spend money wisely, but based on the contracts they’ve given out to “the core” in the past three years, it would be hard to take this ownership group seriously.
Start with Ryan Howard. Forget about the fact that Amaro offered him the contract a year and a half before he was set to hit free agency. In a nutshell, Ryan Howard could have gone 0-for-the-next- year-and-a-half and his value would have dropped considerably. As a result, Amaro could have offered Howard much less than the 5-year, $125 million contract extension he signed. He didn’t go 0-for-the-next-year-and-a-half but you get the point. Ryan Howard’s first full season with the Phils was 2006. His on-base percentage was .425, and his slugging percentage was .659. By 2009, his OBP had dropped .065 points and his SLG had dropped .088 points. In and of itself, there was nothing wrong with the drop. As hitters age, their skills begin to diminish. That’s life. The problem arises when you reward a declining 29-year-old player with a long-term contract and guaranteed money. Since the beginning of his contract extension in 2010, Howard’s OBP fell another .034 points to .319 while his SLG fell .040 points to .465.
Okay, it happened once. Amaro learned his lesson and it won’t happen again, right? Wrong. Yo, Kevin Nealon and Dana Carvey from Saturday Night Live, can you back me up on this one?
Jimmy Rollins’ peak OBP occurred when he was 29. His peak SLG occurred at age 28. Not only was a 32 year old Rollins rewarded with a three-year contract three years after his SLG peaked, he was actually given a $2.5M raise per season. Again, player performance goes down while pay goes up. Why does the Boob keep doing that? Just flush the money down the toilet.
The Boob did the same thing to Chase Utley this season, offering the soon-to-be 35 year old second baseman a two-year contract, with performance incentives that can keep him a Phillie through 2017. While I don’t think two years is too much to offer Utley at this stage of his career, I do think $13.5 million a season could be better spent elsewhere.
Catchers Carlos Ruiz (age 34) and Erik Kratz (age 33) have seen their SLG drop over .100 points to .326 and .403, respectively. Outfielder John Mayberry Jr.’s (age 29) OBP has dropped .080 points in three years, while his SLG has dropped more than .400 points.
I’ve made some predictions in blog posts before, and I feel very comfortable making this one: these three guys over the age of 29 – Mayberry, Kratz and Ruiz – will all be on the active roster come Opening Day 2014.
I’m one of thousands of Phillies fans familiar with Ruben Amaro’s (or Ruin Tomorrow’s) penchant for throwing money at players whose skills are diminishing. Maybe if the team had been competitive since 2012, we could look past some bad contracts. But they haven’t so we can’t.
If we can see it, why can’t Phillies’ ownership?
Now there’s a question that doesn’t have an easy answer.
The Washington Nationals beat the Phillies on Sunday 6 – 1. Here are a few of my observations from the game.
Can you find a ‘BB’ on the Phillies scorecard? I bet you can’t. Wanna know why? The Phillies don’t work counts enough to take walks. Yes, Nationals pitcher Steven Strasburg was ‘on’ yesterday, but Phillies hitters could have fouled off pitches when they got behind in the count. The Nationals’ hitters made Cole Hamels’ pitch count go up that way, why couldn’t the Phils’ hitters do the same to Strasburg?
The Phillies 3-4-5 hitters — Michael Young, Delmon Young, and Domonic Brown — were up a total of 11 times yesterday. They struck out a combined six times (two looking and four swinging). On the up side, these three only stranded one in scoring position. On the down side, these three only stranded one in scoring position.
Lastly, on the Nationals’ scorecard you’ll see a note in the bottom margin: *De Fratus should be pitching to Lombardozzi in the 7th. I made that notation based on the sequence of plays before the Nationals’ second baseman came to the plate: Zimmerman single, LaRoche single, Desmond sacrifice bunt, Moore walk, Solano safe on fielder’s choice, throwing error on third baseman Michael Young. At this point, two runs scored on Young’s throwing error and it was clear to every Phillies fan watching the game that Hamels’ pitches were no longer effective. Right-handed reliever Justin DeFratus was warming up in the bullpen. Why the hell would you let Hamels, a lefty, pitch against a righty who had hit the ball hard the entire series? Phils’ manager Charlie Manual left Cole in there rather than playing the right-right matchup (right-handed pitcher vs. right-handed hitter). As you can see from the scorecard, Hamels was up third in the Phils’ half of the eighth. I guess Manual didn’t want to use DeFratus knowing he’d have to pinch hit for him, especially if the Phils’ first two hitters got on base? That tells me Manual didn’t have enough confidence in his bench. I can’t imagine why a manager wouldn’t have confidence inserting John Mayberry Jr., Erik Kratz, or Michael Martinez into a lineup. #rubenamarolovestheseguys
I would have rather used DeFratus in this scenario and then used my pinch hitter with the highest on-base percentage, which is John Mayberry. Yet another case where the team’s lack of a solid bench hamstrings a manager who already makes terrible in-game decisions.
What stands out to you from either scorecard? Leave a comment below.
Merely two games into their matchup with the Giants and the Phillies are already making me eat crow.
Leave it to Chris “Wheels” Wheeler, the Phillies’ color commentator, to put a positive spin on a 14 – 2 shellacking at the hands of the Miami Marlins. In the eighth inning, when the score was only 10 – 0, he said: “The last thing [the Phillies] needed today was to use three, four, five [relief] pitchers and right now they’ve only had to use two.” I beg to differ, Wheels. The last thing the Phillies needed today was for Doc Halladay to prove to Phillies’ fans that he’s washed up and done. Doc, I’d say mission accomplished. But this posting isn’t about the fact that Doc, a once-feared ace of a pitching staff, has become a mere shell of himself. It’s about how much worse it can get in the next week.
If it seems the Phillies’ hitters have been less patient at the plate in recent years, that’s because they have. First, I’ll present the plate discipline indicators, as defined by FanGraphs.com. Then, I’ll show you a chart of 2013 National League averages for these indicators compared to how the 2013 Phillies stack up against the NL averages. Finally, I’ll illustrate how the Phils’ plate discipline has been a downward spiral.
Last year, the Phillies’ didn’t have a reliable arm in the bullpen to pitch the eighth inning. Mike Adams has filled that role nicely this year overall, except for last night. Aside from the Phils’ bullpen’s less-than-stellar performance, here are a couple of other observations from last night’s game. Click on the attached images for larger versions of last night’s scorecard.
Roy “Doc” Halladay won his 200th career game today in a 2 – 1 victory over the Miami Marlins. That’s good news for Phillies’ fans. More good news is that Phillies pitchers gave up a total of four runs in the three-game series, which the Phils took two games to one. Now for the bad news. They scored a total of six runs in the three games. Continue reading
The Philadelphia Phillies (8-11-1) take on the Tampa Bay Rays (12-7) in about 40 minutes or so. Here are some things I’ll be watching in today’s game:
John Lannan, who was signed as a free agent for the back of the rotation, is making his fourth start of the spring and second start against the Tampa Bay Rays. In his first outing against Tampa, he gave up four runs on five hits in four innings pitched. He struck out three batters and didn’t allow a walk. After his outing on March 9th, Lannan said he had some trouble working out of the stretch. If and when he has runners on base today, I’ll be looking to see if he works out of the stretch, how effective he is if he does, or if he just pitches out of the wind-up.
Let’s see if Ben Revere can continue his torrid spring. He leads the team in at-bats this spring (47) and he’s hitting .340, to go along with his four stolen bases. He was 3-for-4 with an RBI in the last game against the Rays. I like the way this guy plays the game. If he makes the same plays in this video in the regular season, he’ll be an instant fan favorite in Philly in no time.
Which bullpen will show up for the Phils today? The one that pitched four scoreless innings on March 8th, scattering two hits and walking one or the one that pitched five innings, surrendering five earned runs on 11 hits on March 9th? Over the last four games, the bullpen has pitched much better. They’ve given up five earned runs in 211/3 innings for an ERA of just over 2.00. I think that trend of good relief pitching from the bullpen will continue today against Tampa.
Prediction: Phils 8, Rays 3
What do you think? Will the Phils win the game? Who will be the player of the game? Leave a comment below.
I chuckled to myself yesterday after reading a bit of Phillies news. Phillies’ news doesn’t usually have that effect on me. When Jimmy Rollins called Philly fans “front runners” I didn’t chuckle, and when the Phillies signed Jim Thome last year I definitely didn’t chuckle. That time I shook my head and cried.