Friday, October 30, 2009

World Series - Game 2

Funny how history seems to repeat itself when it comes to baseball. Charlie Manuel went with his gut, just like Grady Little went with his in 2003. So let me see a 6 year younger Pedro can't make it past 100 pitches and yet last night Charlie let Pedro enter the seventh with 99 pitches? I mean really, you were already down 2 - 1 with the likelihood of Mariano coming in the 8th and you felt the need to send Pedro out? Yanks go on and get that other run and pretty much seal the deal. Bullpen hasn't seen action in 8 days you've got the rest day today and what? Don't want to wear out the 'pen? I don't get these managers during the playoffs...I mean if this was a regular season game you are pulling Pedro and saying nice outing. Where is the aggressiveness, the desire to just win. I mean in the 8th you have Mariano panting, on the ropes, with the meat of your line up up and instead of sending the runners you hold off sending them and Utley grounds into a inning ending double play. You honestly think Mariano is going to give you another inning with two runners on? Ughhhh just crazy I say...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

World Series - Game 1

Baseball, to me, is about offense. Someone is going to have to score to win the game. While pitching helps prevent those scores eventually if the game is to be finished someone has to cross the plate...pitchers can't score (at least from the mound)! So I don't begrudged those that think baseball would be better served if the offense explodes and games become football scores (to an extent). The old Nintendo ball at Coors was a sight to behold and sometimes I wonder what beer sales were back in the day when a 9 inning 14 - 12 score lasted 4+ hours?

So with that preface I turn to last nights World Series. Two Cy Young winners, two former Indians (Cleveland must have hated to watch this), and two of the top hitting clubs in their respective leagues matched off in new Yankee Stadium. A game of possibilities...which why we watch and play the games. The thing that become apparent very quickly was that Cliff Lee was Godzilla last night. To watch a pitcher with complete command and control of a game is a thing of beauty. As I said above offense sells tickets but pitching makes memories. If last night had been a slugfest we'd only remember who won but a great pitching performance like that will be remembered. That spike curve he threw changed zip codes! Not only was Lee in the zone but his defense was on par. That nonchalant grab of the ball, that behind the back what a game. Ten strikeouts, a complete game almost shutout. That was awesome.

So last night performance got me thinking...what kind of game score was that. Well it was 83. Not too shabby and how would it have fared in the annals of baseball post seasons? In postseason history it is the 80th best performance and in world series history it is 45th (!*&# only 45?). I was a bit amazed by that but I guess the top teams with the best pitchers do make the playoffs and thus a pitcher can shut a team down.

Who has the highest game score in world series history? - Babe Ruth's 14 inning win in 1916 (97), Don Larsen's perfect game garnered a 94.

What about modern day (post 80s)? Randy Johnson's 11 strikeout shut out in 2001 (91). Lee's performance last night put him 9th behind Johnson, Clemons, Hershiser, Glavine, Boddicker, Beckett, Morris (very memorable game), and Tudor.

Interesting to see what Pedro does tonight...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rox Talk - WPA Wrap Up

Great season...wished it would have lasted a bit longer...the weather did get better after that wintry weekend! As you know I am a big follower of the WPA. I have been tracking it forever. To me it is the essence of baseball. Every bat, every pitch helps a team either win or lose. Having tracked it for so long I am not for sure if it really means anything over a long season (?). For a single game maybe but you can have a bad couple of weeks and never seem to be on the winning side. Take for instance...Jason Hammel's season...see graph below.

Started in the bullpen, gave up some runs, then became a starter and went 1 - 3 out the gate. So at about Week 6 - 7 he is sitting at a season WPA of -1.23. He then starts the long journey to 10 wins and finishes a pretty respectable season...nothing great but ten wins for a Rox is pretty good. The thing is if you look at his cumulative WPA for the season he pretty much appears to have never got much better. Compare that to Marquis, who started out like superman and even though finished the season in rotten form, still managed a final WPA of 1.75. I guess it isn't an exact science or maybe Hammel really wasn't that good and didn't contribute to his winning rather he had a good offense behind him that got him some wins? Food for is the outfield WPA
Again Hawpe looked like a monster but he only started two games during the playoffs! The infield WPA...
Look at the Rox Star go...Helton was the man and boy did Yorvit earn his pay in the last 6 weeks of the year...and well Barmes didn't do much. You know looking at Hawpe's he didn't fall quite as bad as Barmes. Perhaps we shouldn't pile on the Hawper...question is whether O'Dowd will keep him around another season? And finally the relief corp or at least those who made it to the end.

As much as Street made us sweat off and on all year he did win pull the team through some big wins although you have to wonder if some of that WPA wasn't self directed...I mean you walk the bases loaded and then get the final out you have suddenly helped your bottom line ;-). Morales stepped in when needed but sure fell off. Betancourt was a good pickup...Biemel not so much. I think the bullpen unsung heroes were Belisle and Daley who threw 31 and 51 innings apiece and picked up 4 wins and 13 holds.

Monday, October 12, 2009

NLDS Wrap Up

Tale of the Tape

Well the playoffs were over before they really started. Rox came home tied up 1 -1 and then it snowed and they delayed Game 3 until Sunday. Start time on Sunday was 8 PM and game time temperature was 35 deg. It was my first ever playoff game and it was grand. The crowd was a bit subdued probably due to the temp and Sunday night. The last pitch was thrown around 12:15 AM (and temperature had dropped into the 20s). To be honest when the Phillies took the lead in the ninth I was glad that someone was going to win and that extra innings wasn't going to happen. Game 4 was a roller coaster of emotions. Rox were real close to taking it back to Philly for Game 5. In the end it wasn't meant to be...Street blew two consecutive saves and the Phillies moved on.

Looking back at the series and looking at the numbers it really is hard to say with any definitiveness that the Phillies were a better team. The walks really added up against the Rox but overall it was a pretty even series. Couple of pitches here, hits there, and who knows. I think the Rox can look back and say they gave the reigning a champs a run for their money but came up a bit short in the end.

Closer Look

Big Rox playoff winner was CarGo...the big playoff loser was Street. CarGo managed 10 hits (and 2 walks) throughout the playoffs (17 plate appearances). What a coming out party for the big guy. Yorvit continued to be a playoff batter while Iannetta never saw a pitch. Betancourt was the relief and once again Tulo just couldn't get it done when it counted.

Game 4 NLDS Thoughts

1) That one stung! To keep battling throughout the finally break on through...only to get squashed again. When the Rox finally win it all they will look back at this one and realize what it takes to get to the top.

2) Maybe now the national media will look at this team with some respect. We won 92 games and we made the reigning world series champs earn it (unlike the Cards, Twins, and Red Sox...who just laid down)

3) Can we get a ESPN Sunday night game of the week next year? Please

4) Funny that the Phillies bullpen was its weakness and yet it our bullpen that coughs it respect for Mariano Rivera grows daily.

5) This year's divisional series will be remembered for closer melt downs...Papelbon, Nathan, and Street

6) Looks like no winners in the Holliday trade...Holliday boots in LA and Street boots it down the stretch...although CarGo had a coming out party this week!

7) Think Giambi will wear purple stripes next year?

8) Have we seen the last of Atkins, Hawpe, and Barmes?

9) Mr Rox October...Yorvit!

10) It was a good season...well played...frustrating...hopefully something to grow on for next year

Game 3 NLDS Thoughts

1) The anticipation of the game (and the weather) wore out the fans...while the crowd was alive, the 8 PM start time was really disadvantageous.

2) Umpire behind the plate, Jerry Meals, was frustrating to say the least. Lot of pitches thrown by Colorado were borderline to me and not so much for Philadelphia. Also the 9th inning missed call at the plate with Utley was botched. Big difference if there were two outs with Rollins on third versus one out with runners on 1st and 3rd with Howard at the plate. Hate to see a game decided on a botched call (of course I am sure San Diego sees it the same way...guess calls average out over the years).

3) Betancourt was huge in the 8th...those last two K's especially against Stairs could have been the back breaker...

4) CarGo collected another three hits last night...can we clone him and put him as our lineup?

5) How disappointing was the foul out by Giambi and pop out by Tulo in the bottom of the ninth? Tracy played to win and had the right pieces in play to steal one, too bad the Rox couldn't get it right (or follow the script).

6) Hawpe has a defensive replacement as part of a double switch in the ninth? Bit questionable...especially with his weak ground out to second to start the inning...

7) Using Madson in the 7th to get out of the inning? Gutsy call by Manuel...especially if Lidge had blown it in the ninth

8) There was a Greg Vaughan jersey sighting...I don't remember him playing for the Rox let alone someone actually having his jersey!!! (Number 99)

9) Okay Denver isn't a hot bed for advertising dollars according to TBS but starting a game when it is 10 PM in one of the competing teams is just wrong. I mean the game ended at 2:15 Philly team...who in there right mind would still be awake? It is a real injustice to the players who played 162 games to get to this point then have to slug it out playing at crazy times and cold weather. If Philly wins out...good luck traveling out to LA for Thursday's game!

10) Surreal experience for first ever postseason game...loved it but felt sort of disconnected. See comment 1, by game time I was just shredded...and to be honest when the clock hit midnight I wanted either team to win and not have to face extra inning...:-(

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Game 2 NLDS Thoughts

1) Okay maybe you do go with the hot hand in Yorvit...probably why I am not a manager!

2) Boy is CarGo swinging a hot playoff bat! Another 3 hits today!

3) Can we time warp the sixth inning? Two days in a row the sixth is our starter's downfall.

4) Is Cook the greatest Rox of them all?

5) Little bothersome that we get one stinking run in back back bases loaded innings

6) How many pitchers is Tracy going to use? Situational pitching in the playoffs is starting to go a bit overboard.

7) Rox extend series to Game 4 at home...I imagine the Rox would rather not make the trip back to Philly on Sunday night

8) How much snow are we going to get on Saturday it good or bad that Hammel was born in Greenville, SC

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Game 1 NLDS Thoughts

1)Hello anyone at home? Boy the Rox played sluggish and didn't look ready to play. Not very inspired baseball (for the playoffs)!

2)Torrealba isn't the answer...forget streaks...put someone who can hit lefties and someone who can throw out a base runner (Philly stole 3 bases). When the pitcher successfully steals and Ryan Howard (the linebacker) attempts, then they don't respect you!

3) Only 6 hits? and five strikeouts...not a good day at the ballpark

4) To win this series Rox are going to have to get to the bullpen...allowing a complete game isn't the answer

5) Put CarGo at the top, slide Fowler to 2nd, and play Smith...Hawpe is done and Atkins isn't a Rox next year so play Stewart.

Come on be didn't win 92 games to lay an egg in the playoffs

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rox Talk - Week 26

The Week That Was
A 4-2 week against the Brewers and Dodgers. The Roxs finish at 92-70. They finish three games back from division leading Los Angeles in second place and win the Wild Card. Rox finish 51-30 at home and 41-40 on the road, the Roxs outscored its opponents 804-715 (expected wins is 90 versus historical wins at 77).

Well the Rox held on...they clinched at home (yes) but failed to win the West (okay). They gave it a run, made LA sweat on Saturday, and probably helped make LA a better team for trying out some playoff baseball before it gets real on Wednesday.

Would have been nice to open the playoffs at home but we've gone to Philly once before so no surprise there. Should be an interesting series with the two most prolific offenses in the NL. I like the Rox pitching. We have a good bullpen, good starters. Philly has some issues on the mound but they are the reigning world champions so they deserve the respect. I think we can keep up offensively but we will be going in as a known quality this time around. Let's steal one on the road and come home up and try to finish it! Although we went 2 - 4 against them during the season we scored 28 runs to 31 runs against. The first series was in April and the second was in early August after stops in NY and Cincinnati. I think it is a pretty even series. Below is the WPA for the 2007 NLDS. If you look closer all the players who helped contribute to that series win are all gone...who is going to step up this time? Looking at the big picture...if Helton can put this team on his back and take them to the Series and win a MVP, he might just have his ticket to the Hall confirmed...just saying!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Rox Clinch Playoff Spot

Well what ya's Roxtober again! No drama, no play at the plate, no play in game, just a good outting by Cook and some offense to round out a fantastic second half. Whew just time to catch our breath before heading to the City of Angels. Can the Rox sweep our nemesis and take the division title?. Okay so I was wrong in saying that they would stroll in LA tied but hey this thing ain't done yet (it's okay to drink the Kool Aid). Three to play and two out mean we still have a chance. Once again you think this means more to Tracey or Torre? Where would you rather open up for Game your bed or a hotel's? Lots to play for, but time out for celebration. It is good to be a winner! Thank you Rox for your efforts!