Friday, May 26, 2006

Musings

The Bobby Abreu trade rumor mill is cranking up again and I am left asking myself, why are we even talking about trading a career .300 hitter who is only 32 years old?

The glib answer, of course, is: have you seen him play right field lately, but I know that cannot be the whole story; after all, Bobby has played a tentative right field for years now.

The renewed speculation is due almost entirely to Shane Victorino's imminent return to the bench after filling in admirably for the injured Aaron Rowand. Victorino’s “demotion” is an unfortunate and perplexing development given how well he played. Rowand is no Wally Pip, however, and his return to the starting lineup is eagerly anticipated.

A few things are clear. Abreu continues to be an on-base machine thanks in no small part to his propensity to draw bases on balls and his somewhat resurgent batting average. Frankly, I find those numbers somewhat deceiving. Bobby isn’t driving the ball well (yesterday’s home run notwithstanding) and still looks uncomfortable at the plate. Victorino, on the other hand, cannot languish on the bench and continue to develop. The Phillies need to know if he is the sparkplug we’ve seen over the last few weeks or the two-time Rule 5 player he has been. Currently, the Phillies are carrying six outfielders though Chris Roberson may return to the minors when Rowand is activated. Rather than recapitulate all the possibilities and suggestions in this space, follow this link to this thread at Beerleaguer where everyone with an opinion weighed in.

* * * * * * * *

Brett Myers came through yesterday just when he looked like he wouldn’t. Staked to an early 3 – 0 lead, Myers immediately gave them all back when he surrendered a three-run homer to the heretofore unknown slugger Jose Reyes. It was Myers’ ninth gopher ball of the season and had the potential to utterly deflate his mates, but the young right hander settled down after that and gave the Phils seven strong innings. Afterwards, he acknowledged he didn’t have his best stuff, especially his fastball, which according to Myers wasn’t moving at all.

That is the mark of a maturing pitcher: to pitch well without his best stuff. By going deep into the game (“deep” hardly seems sufficient to describe the efforts of any starting pitcher who goes seven innings these days) Myers allowed Charlie Manuel to “only” use two relievers, Arthur Rhodes and Tom Gordon. As it was, much was made of Gordon’s pitching for four outs rather than three. Come on, guys: Gordon had only pitched about two innings total over the last ten days or so.

Inquirer beat writer Todd Zolecki noted this morning that Manuel has a plan regarding his closer:

Charlie Manuel tries to take special care of his closer for the first couple of months of the season.

The Phillies manager hopes that no more than one-inning saves keeps him fresher later.

While this might not necessarily be a bad plan with a 38-year old closer who has had arm problems in the past, need we remind the manager that wins and losses count from April 5th on?

* * * * * * * *

I probably shouldn’t post the following in case any Mets’ fans are lurking nearby and the comment section below suddenly becomes a chat room, but here it goes:

Has anyone ever heard a noisier, more annoying stadium than Shea during a night game? I am not talking about airplanes overhead, none of which I heard during the telecasts Tuesday or Wednesday. Instead, I speak of the strange sound effects the PA system inflicts on everyone along the Eastern seaboard between every batter let alone every inning. I struggle to describe one sound in particular: it sounds like two synthesizers clapping.

At times it was impossible to hear Harry and LA, the only announcers for whom I do not normally turn off the sound in the first place.

14 Comments:

Blogger Rev. Smokin Steve said...

I agree with the Shea Stadium assessment. It's a mess there.

As much of a fan as I am of Abreu, it is possible that he is the one that could land us more of a top player in a trade. And since you don't want to trade Utley or Howard, and Burrell would bring less, Abreu is the odd man out.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Tom G said...

I noticed all the noise and thought of you Mr. Goodenough. It really is sensory overload at that place.

2:45 PM  
Anonymous George S said...

"Protecting your closer" is an interesting concept.
Let's assume that you intend on using your closer in the current 'conventional' way, which is ALWAYS bring him in the last inning in a save situation, and NEVER bring him in for more than 1 inning.
The questions then become a) how many innings will he pitch in a season; and b) how often will he pitch? THese are not the same thing.

In the first case he might pitch 60 innings or so. The 2005 86-win Phillies had 63 save opportunities (although I'm sure a few were in the same game).
The second case is more challenging though. How many days in a row should you expect your closer to be able to go? Because save opportunities do not come along like a starter's regular turn in the rotation. When the team is hot, you might have to pitch 4 in a row, or maybe 6 days out of 7. When the team is not going well you might not pitch for 10 days.
Does this figure into a team's evaluation?
If your closer can only pitch say 2 days in a row, then you are going to need a very good setup man who can close on maybe 6-10 opportunities, or risk your closer getting hurt or getting bombed.

"Protecting your closer" then means having a closer and a backup closer, a pure luxury for almost any winning team.

I haven't done the checking, but I would be interested to see the distribution of save opportunities over a season for winning teams. How often can Rivera go consecutively, for example?

6:42 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Any decision Charlie Manuel makes is most likely the wrong one. He is just plain stupid. Every single night, he replaces Pat Burrell with a pinch runner.

Tonight, he did it. And in the bottom of the 10th, up comes Chris Roberson batting .083 with the bases loaded and the Phils down by one in the bottom of the 10th.

Charlie Manuel is the dumbest person on the face of the Earth. The Phillies must fire him now if they have any hopes of success.

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Nat said...

Manuel makes mistakes, but pinch running for Burrell in that situation wasn't one of them. You gotta have somebody faster than Burrell to bring that tying run in from second. Unfortunately, Roberson was the best option as that faster guy, but ideally, he shouldn't even be on the roster. And after tonight he won't be.

The problem is that the Phillies bench, with the possible exception of Delucci, stinks. Now with Rowand back, Victorino will improve the options off the bench. In that same situation, he would have been the pinch runner.

The bench will still have the issue of Abe Nunez. He might as well learn to make pies because if he's not going to make people forget Tomas Perez, at least he can remind us of some of the laughs Tomas provided.

Actually, I don't think Nunez is really as bad as he's looked so far. But then that could be the Phillies motto: "We're not as bad as we look."

11:33 PM  
Anonymous RickSchuBlues said...

Matt, it might be helpful to be versed in basic baseball strategy before you sling the word "stupid" around. In the ninth inning with the tying run on second, you don't necessarily want a guy who's about as swift as a Model-T on cinder blocks out there trying to score on a shallow hit. You worry about extra innings if you're fortunate enough to get there. Any manager in baseball, Connie Mack to St. Jimmy Leyland, anyone makes that same obvious insertion.

My question about the Abreu "rumors" is, are they actual rumors circulating anywhere other than the internet? Is there any real chance the Phillies would orchestrate a trade large enough to include Abreu in mid-season? I tend to seriously doubt it.

Here's another question: would you rather have a GM who stands by and watches his pitching struggle, or one like Omar Minaya who tries everything in his power and thensome to trade for or try out different people until he gets it right?

Despite the way I phrased it, I actually think Minaya's kind of a clown. If all you're going to get is scrubs like Jose Lima and El Junque, I'd say it's wasted energy, no matter how good it might make you look to the fans.

2:51 AM  
Blogger Tom Goodman said...

The move to replace Burrell was the correct one, not only because of the model-T factor (kudos to RSB for that great image) but also because Pat has shown poor judgment running the bases as well.

Last night's loss underscored how much the team misses Rowand and Lieberthal and how much their absences have affected precisely the kind of decisions CM has to make in the late innings. When Rowand is activated today Roberson isn't even going to be on the roster.

Howard's being doubled off of third was a killer. Should he have been closer to the bag in that situation? I would think so. But line drive DP's are hard to evaluate. Runners should be taking some kind of a lead. What surprised me the most was that it appeared Koskie pushed his hand off the bag and the Phils didn't put up much of a protest. Is that allowed? Is that what even happened? Hard luck? Bad luck? Dumb luck? Who knows?

As for the Abreu rumors, are there any other kind but Internet rumors any longer? I don't think I have read anything in the papers.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Tom Goodman said...

RSB: You might find this of interest: According to The New York Post, Bobby Abreu, Brad Wilkerson, Raul Ibanez, Torii Hunter, Reggie Sanders Aubrey Huff, Craig Wilson and Shannon Stewart also are all on the list.

The list referred to is one the Yankees are allegedly compiling.

And, oh, by the way.... I copied the item above from, where else, the internet!!

12:13 PM  
Anonymous RickSchuBlues said...

Okay...I wouldn't doubt that the Yankees would have interest in Abreu. But do the Phillies have any intentions of moving him? *That* I doubt.

Concerning the rally-skewering double play in the ninth: that's the Phillies, isn't it? That's why we were all clearly born to suffer. They simply invent new, mind-boggling ways to lose baseball games.

And to the Brewers, no less. Even Milwaukee, that seemingly sister town akin to the mantras of Rodney Dangerfield, has its way with us.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Tom Goodman said...

There was absolutely no reason for Howard to be more than six inches off the bag under those circumstances. A guy with his lack of speed is not going on contact, so why didn't Dancy walk over to him and say, "Don't even think about takin a big lead." On a deep fly ball he would possibly be tagging. On a base hit, it wouldn't matter. So, why is he taking any lead here?

5:10 PM  
Anonymous RickSchuBlues said...

Danged if I know.

Everybody enjoying the Gavin Floyd Show tonight? All Madson has to do is give them any kind of decent outing and they'll leave him in the rotation. I would think. I would hope.

8:35 PM  
Anonymous George S said...

I sure enjoyed the Gavin Floyd Show a lot more than the Ryan Franklin Show. That guy has no business being on the mound in any role other than mop up.
Talk about completely killing the spirit of the team after a pretty good recovery from bad starting pitching (again).
Ugh.

10:30 PM  
Anonymous Nat said...

Either I missed Arthur Rhodes going on the DL, or I missed whatever it was Ryan "Boom Boom" Franklin did to earn the designation of 8th inning pitcher.

How many Ryans does a team need, anyway? I think the Phillies have at least one too many.

11:14 PM  
Anonymous RickSchuBlues said...

I can't imagine what Franklin did to "earn" his role, but I know damn well he's done everything in his power to disinherit it by now. I can't recall being this infuriated at any one player's presence on the Phillies since maybe Dale Sveum. He is worse than useless, and I cannot believe the people running this club can't see it.

I love the nickname "Boom Boom" for him, though. Perfect.

2:37 AM  

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