Friday, July 08, 2005

Infinite Capacity

My capacity for outrage seems infinite. The only question is where to begin?

I cannot resist a final swipe at the All-Star process, that is until they play the game itself and the Commissioner shows up. Then, I’m sure I will have additional fodder.

Should Jimmy Rollins have been named an All Star? The number of NL shortstops having good let alone great years is admittedly small. Rollins did not finish among the top five in votes at his position, but, then, we know how that works. Jimmy just doesn’t have enough ballot stuffers in his camp at that moment. Maybe if he swung at fewer high pitches and got on base more often he could rectify that. Still, rather than name him, how about Omar Vizquel, who is having a better year? And if we want to reward players regardless of position, I would have chosen Pat Burrell, who despite his ups and downs, has made a significant comeback and is among the league leaders in rbi’s. Burrell earned a spot. So the NL carries one less shortstop. Who cares?

Then there is Billy Wagner. OK, his stats say the southpaw is having a very good year, though some (including me) would say the numbers belie a soft first half. But the real issue is do you want someone representing a team which he holds in disdain? And for those of you who say, lighten up, he’s representing the league I say, he is introduced as a Phillie and wears a Phillies cap. By the end of this month the whole matter of his attitude towards the Phillies will probably be moot anyway. I expect Billy to go bye-bye.

* * * * * * * * *

The just-concluded series against the Pirates was vintage Phillies baseball. Up. Down. Up. Down. So, they return to the less-than-friendly confines of CBP for a three game set against the division leading Nationals. The Phils have a solid shot at entering the All-Star break below .500.

For weeks I have defended the players, insisting they were trying their best. Having lost 19 of their last 26 games I have to conclude their best just isn’t good enough. The split in Pittsburgh did change my mind about one thing, however; I don’t think I have ever watched a less intelligent team. They show an almost universal lack of patience or discipline at the plate. With one or two exceptions they haven’t a clue about how to work the count. Almost no one among them goes the other way with a pitch. Name someone who consistently moves runners along. They don’t hit and run. They are a team that simply lacks the fundamentals when it comes to batting.

As for pitching, I don’t know what to make of Brett Myers. Last night’s outing could have been even worse were it not for some defensive gems including one by Pat Burrell. Myers ran out of gas quickly on a night that wasn’t that warm according to the broadcasters. He took to walking around the mound in a visible and unsuccessful attempt to regain his composure. He didn’t like the calls he was getting. When he stepped back on the rubber he seemed to be in a hurry to throw the next pitch, to literally get it over with since he wasn’t getting it over in the other sense. In sum, he handled himself poorly and the results showed it everywhere but in the total number of runs he gave up. Myers has pitched poorly in three out of his last four outings. Prior to last night he pitched a real gem against Atlanta. But last night’s effort erased that memory quickly. Now in his third season Myers exhibits a lack of consistency one expects from a number one or two starter. Each time out has become an adventure again. He cannot be relied on.


George S said...

The Phillies often play unintelligent baseball, and they seldom have what I call a productive out that advances baserunners. Their baserunning is also suspect.

For quite some time, there have been people who have suggested that baseball institute a 'team error'. This is for cases where the ball should have resulted in an out, but confusion on the part of the defense allowed the ball to drop in. No one player is at fault, so today they give the player a hit. We've all seen it happen. I think it's a good idea.

But I would further suggest that errors also be given for OFFENSIVE mistakes. Why not? When a baserunner gets hit by a batted ball, I would consider that an error, as well as things like missing first base when going for a double or triple, passing another baserunner, getting doubled up because you forgot how many outs there were, leaving the base early on a sac fly, etc., etc. Situations where with normal effort and attention you would not have been out.
All errors are judgement calls anyway, by the official scorer, so it would not be a big deal as far as rulings. And you could argue that they are costlier than fielding errors in that they almost always kill a rally, so why not identify them?.
An offensive error does affect any other statistic (although you might not want to credit a fielder with an assist in such cases) so it would easy to include, and you would identify it as an 'OE' rather than a 'DE' to keep fielding stats accurate.

Anyway, I often track OEs and the Phillies commit a good number of them.

Tom Goodman said...

George, there is much merit to what you write. As I have said numberous times before, the Phillies base-running and coaching for much of this season has been atrocious. Lately it has improved, no doubt due to their having fewer runners on board. The blunders of earlier times did indeed kill a few rallies and shorten other ones. In a sport obsessed with statistics, it is surprising these have not entered the official scorer's books.