We’re going to get to talking about pee in just a second, but if you want to watch Paul call Ken Rosenthal “Rumor Geyser” to his face, click here.
@brandonnagy: “y’all gotta talk about the urinal game at the IronPigs Stadium”
So the Iron Pigs of Lehigh Valley are debuting some kind of electronic gaming-while-you pee system. (Note: That Philly.com post is the first Google search result for “Ryan Petzar pig toilet game.” If you’re as familiar with Ryan’s work as I am, you might be surprised that some other pig toilet game doesn’t show up first.)
Anyway, I can’t applaud this system enough. A couple years back, somebody wrote to Drew Magary at Deadspin with a photo of a urinal that had a green splash guard adorned with a miniaturized soccer goal and equipped with a ball you could shoot at the ball with a well-placed stream of urine. And I thought that was a quantum leap in bathroom entertainment. But something that lights up that you can operate with pee? That could revolutionize urination–revolutionize, I tell you! Best thing to happen to the Phillies in franchise history, including the 2008 World Series.
@Cody011: “Who are the top fantasy sleepers I should be keeping an eye out for?”
I’ll give you three:
- Rip Van Winkle
- Snow White
- The Lotus-Eaters
Geez, I’m just so clever I could cry.
No, but seriously. I don’t know that I’ve got one player I like in particular, but I’ll point out that catcher seems to be deeper and have more upside than usual. In the past, I used to reach for one of, maybe three or four guys at catcher–mostly Joe Mauer, Brian McCann, Victor Martinez and Buster Posey–because it was far from a lock to get anybody else who was catcher-eligible and could hit worth a crap. But what I realized this year is that while our cup doesn’t exactly runneth over with Mike Piazza clones, you’ve got several options who are going to be around later. Nobody seems to have heard of Jonathan Lucroy and Salvador Perez. Carlos Ruiz‘s stock is down because he’s going to miss the first 25 games, but he’ll be around for the majority of the season, including your playoffs. If he falls, don’t think twice about picking him up and just making do with a scrub until May. Wilson Ramos should be back on form this season, and I’ve always been a big fan of John Jaso‘s. The point is, you’ve got options behind the dish. That’s a good place to get creative.
Here’s what I’d tell you not to do. Do not draft Jackie Bradley. I know, I know, I know. I am the internet’s foremost Jackie Bradley apologist, and the internet has gone completely bonkers for him in the past couple weeks, but he’s still a guy who’s not guaranteed a starting job and has only 271 plate appearances above high-A. It’s a rare rookie who gives you more than a token fantasy boost: Trout, Buster Posey, Albert Pujols, Jason Heyward…but Bradley has never been projected to be that kind of a player. He’s going to play what I consider to be a really exciting brand of baseball really well, but his two biggest assets in the real world (patience and defense) matter not at all in a 5×5 roto league. And that’s assuming he’s going to have a good rookie year.
Even in his prime, I’d bet against Bradley ever hitting more than 20 home runs, and (despite what everyone seems to assume because he’s small, black and good on defense) I’d bet against his ever stealing more than about 25 bases in a season. If you’re playing a keeper league, absolutely take a flyer on him. But in your more standard leagues, this is probably a year too early.
With that said, I play in two leagues. I drafted Bradley in one, and in the other, a friend of mine took JBJ in, like, the 15th round just to piss me off. I’ve never been angrier in my life. But I’m not very good at fantasy baseball, so you should probably not do that.
A prospect and two AAA lifers for a much better prospect who’s much closer to the majors? Good trade by you.
@fotodave: “Why should we not want Freddy in leftfield? Seems like the best option”
Freddy who? Galvis? No. I mean, as a defensive replacement…actually, even then. Galvis is a good defensive shortstop, and because shortstop is harder than left field, it seems logical that he’d be able to hack it in left, but the two positions are different enough that I wouldn’t bet anything of significance on that defensive prowess transferring.
But the biggest concern there is Galvis’ bat. And the question you should be asking probably reads more like this one:
@DashTreyhorn: “How well would Galvis need to hit in order for him to be an upgrade at 3B (considering defense) over Young?”
There are questions I get asked a lot here, but the one I enjoy answering over and over again is about the defensive spectrum. I guess the defensive spectrum is a sabermetric concept, though it’s a really obvious thing that makes sense if you think about it for even a moment.
So there are two facets to the game: offense and defense. And in order to get your bat in the lineup, you have to play a defensive position. At least you do in the free world, and not that DH-loving Communist backwater called the American League. Because some positions are harder to play than others, how well you have to hit to be a competent player varies from position to position. For example: last year, FanGraphs rated both Prince Fielder (and if you’re going to get all hartgeldnutte over which WAR I’m using, you’re welcome to bugger off. I’m speaking in generalities and FanGraphs has the most convenient leaderboard) and Jimmy Rollins to be worth about five wins last year, even though Fielder’s wOBA was about 75 points higher than Rollins’. A lot of that is that Rollins made up about two wins with baserunning and defense, but there’s also a positional adjustment–the replacement first baseman hits a lot better than the replacement shortstop.
Anyway, the defensive spectrum, from hardest to easiest (and, accordingly, best-hitting to worst-hitting), goes something like this:
- Catcher, Shortstop, Second Base, Center Field, Third Base, Right Field, Left Field, First Base
Notice how much farther to the right left field is than shortstop. Generally you want to play a guy as far to the left of that list as 1) there’s an opening and 2) he can field competently. It’s why so much of the conversation about Twins prospect Miguel Sano involves whether he’s going to get too big to play third base (he probably will) and will have to move to first or to DH–Sano’s bat ought to be good enough that he’ll do just fine at first, but a good-hitting first baseman makes your eyes roll back in your head if he can field third competently. Likewise the Orioles with Manny Machado. The same offensive production that would make Mini-Keg an all-star at shortstop is easier to come by at third base. Sometimes, you put a guy out there who’s overqualified for a defensive position and he just Hoovers up anything that comes by–the Yankees broke UZR by putting Brett Gardner in left field for a couple years, and
Anyway, the point is that if someone who fields like Freddy Galvis could hit well enough to be even a mediocre left fielder, he’d be playing shortstop and racking up MVP votes. But he can’t, so he won’t.
Look, with all four infield starters well on the wrong side of 30, Galvis is going to be useful for his glove alone (particularly at third, and I’ll get to Dash’s question in a second). And if he’s on the roster and Delmon Young or Laynce Nix needs an inning or two off late in the game, sticking him out in left probably isn’t going to hurt anyone. Putting Eric Bruntlett there back in 2008 for a couple innings at a time didn’t hurt anyone either, even though he was a no-hit shortstop too. I’m reasonably sure this nothing more than an experiment–if it came down to the 15th inning sometime in July, could Galvis play outfield and not embarrass himself, that sort of thing. Because if the Phillies are that hard up for a late-inning defensive replacement in left, I’m really not sure why John Mayberry can’t serve that purpose.
Anyway, to third base.
This is an interesting one, because Michael Young will probably hit pretty well. I mean, he won’t walk much, and he’ll hit for some power, but he’ll have a high average. ZiPS projects .279/.323/.401 and 1.3 fWAR for Young. Galvis will hit for a lower average, will walk just as infrequently and will hit for no power. ZiPS projects a line of .261/.297/.379 for Galvis, good for 1.5 fWAR, which you’d have to ding some because of the positional adjustment from shortstop to third base.
Now, a couple things: while I don’t think that projection for Young is that far off, I can’t help but think that even a .297 OBP for Galvis–let alone a .379 SLG–is optimistic. That’d be in line with his best production in the minor leagues and dwarf what he managed (.226/.254/.363 in 200 PA) last season. It’s not impossible, but I’d take the under on every one of those rate stats.
Anyway, it’s closer than I would have thought before, but I’d still take Young over Galvis. But Galvis wouldn’t have to overachieve by all that much with the bat to make it a dead wash. That’s how good he is and how bad Young is defensively. And that’s why I’d rather have just punted third base rather than give up Lisalverto Bonilla, Josh Lindblom and $6 million in salary.
@fotodave: “Best ballpark food you’ve had?”
Ice cream in a helmet, Turner Field. Not because it was particularly good ice cream, but because it was a 1 p.m. Braves-Nationals game in mid-August and my seats were in direct sunlight the entire time, so having anything cool was a huge deal. Seriously, it must have been 120, 130 degrees that day.
@tholzerman: “What Final Smash attacks, original or from the actual SSB Brawl game, would you attribute to Phillies players”
- Ben Revere: ERRRRYBODY IN THE POT! (Kirby) Not because the action is particularly Revere-like, but because Revere, like Kirby, adorable.
- Cliff Lee: Torrent of Waddle Dees (King Dedede) Again, because if there’s a guy on the Phillies I expect to go around wearing a bathrobe and a Santa hat, walloping things with a mallet, its Lee.
- Chase Utley: Grenade Launcher from the Rope Ladder (Solid Snake) Deadly and, frankly, kind of unfair.
- Ryan Howard: Enormous 8-bit Octopus (Mr. Game & Watch) It’s big and slow. In college, I tried to get good with Game & Watch because I figured he had to be the most irritating character to lose to. Using bacon as a weapon never gets old.
- Carlos Ruiz and Roy Halladay: Mountain Out of Nowhere (The Ice Climbers) Because they’re inseparable.
- Antonio Bastardo: Blasted off the Face of the Earth With an Arrow (Zelda) Because trying to hit against Tony No-Dad is like being blasted off the face of the Earth with an arrow.
- Cole Hamels: Frozen in a Triangle and Beaten About the Face with a Sword (Link) Because trying to hit Hamels is like being frozen in a triangle and beaten about the face with a sword.
@Frediot: “what type of fruit makes the best mascot? i will also accept an answer regarding the best vegetable mascot too”
Not the orange. Off the top of my head, the only actual fruit mascot I can think of is the orange of Syracuse University, but I also struggle to think of an organization I hate more than the Syracuse men’s basketball team. Maybe, like, MS-13 or something.
I’m not sure if grapes would make a good mascot, but one of the better cheap-yet-creative Halloween costume ideas I’ve heard of is to blow up a bunch of purple balloons, tape them to yourself and go as a bunch of grapes.
The problem with fruits and vegetables is that very few of them have personalities, Muppets and VeggieTales notwithstanding. Like, it’s easy to get amped up about a dinosaur or a bird or something, but apples, for instance, don’t do much for me. Though they are all better than Apostate Red Phanatic.
I think you need a big, lovable, colorful mascot, and a big, juicy strawberry would probably do the trick. So would a tomato, but I like the texture the strawberry seeds give you.
@hdrubin: “Chronologically, when will these guys be ex-Phillies: Howard, Utley, Rollins, Ruiz, Halladay, Cliff, Manuel, RAJ”
A very, very interesting question, this. In order of soonest-to-latest.
- Manuel. I think he’s done after this season, next season at the latest. I know he suddenly doesn’t want to retire, but there’s been too much Ryne Sandberg-as-heir-presumptive babble for me to think Ruben Amaro wouldn’t at least lean on Uncle Cholly a little to take an emeritus position in the front office.
- Halladay. It’s possible he’s entering his Steve Carlton-with-the-Twins phase. He could be dead by the end of 2014 for all we know.
- Lee. He probably gets traded to a contender sometime in 2014-15, when salary inflation makes his price tag seem more palatable.
- Utley. By retirement. I try to be rational about predicting, rooting for and evaluating personnel moves, but if Chase Utley doesn’t retire in a Phillies uniform I’m going to light a bag of dog poop on fire and leave it on Ruben Amaro’s porch.
- Ruiz. He probably should get traded this season, with the Phillies likely to be on a bridge year and Tommy Joseph inching closer to the big leagues, but I think it’s more likely he plays out the season, hits free agency and comes back on a two-or-three-year deal to play out the string, the way Jimmy Rollins did after 2011.
- Howard. He leaves when his contract is up after 2016, then either retires or goes the Giambi/Thome route for a few years, chasing another ring as a minimum-salary bench bat. I’m more confident about this departure date than any other.
- Rollins. He’s probably got at least one more contract in him. Maybe he winds up with 3,000 hits and a 20-year Phillies career. Who knows?
- Amaro. GMs get to run the team into the ground at least once, and when that’s done, they get at least one chance to rebuild. And it’ll be the better part of a decade before Amaro 1) convinces himself that a rebuild is necessary and 2) fails at it so entirely that he loses his job.
@mattjedruch: “Who do you consider to be the biggest underachievers in baseball (past and present)”
Present, I’m kinda cheesed off that Justin Smoak isn’t doing better. He had that really awful 2011 where his dad died and he just couldn’t catch a break injury-wise, and after that, he was never able to get back on track. Calling him an “underachiever” implies a sense of derision that I don’t feel toward Smoak. I just wish he was better. Though to his credit, he’s managed to make it to the majors and not run over a motorcyclist’s head while drunk, which is more than you can say for Matt Bush.
For some reason, people seem to be mad at Edwin Jackson, who was blessed with No. 1 starter stuff, but never quite put it all together. But at the same time, he’s a good, durable mid-rotation guy, so how pissed can you really be? But those are the categories: guys who are good but you feel like ought to be better, guys who aren’t good but should be and guys who wind up having 30 for 30 documentaries made about them.
@ShartOut: “what do you suggest listening to during Phillies games? I can’t take these guys any longer.”
I have a hard time watching baseball on mute, but if you don’t have either the radio-and-DVR combo or MLB.tv subscription necessary to watch the TV feed with the radio commentary, I can see why you might be tempted to try. Anyway, you could consult any of the podcasts I suggested in last week’s Crash Bag, or the ones Paul suggested the week before that. Or you could listen to music. Now, I am entirely the wrong person to ask about new music. Like, I’ve been giddy as hell over a Relient K cover of a Toto song recently. But assorted baseball bloggers have turned me on to music I’d been unaware of, new or no. So go on Spotify and see how these groups go with baseball.
- Haim. A new chick-rock syntho-power-pop group that makes me very happy.
- Gaslight Anthem/The Horrible Crowes. I know they’re hardly new, particularly to New Jerseyites who are big fans of fellow New Jerseyites bellowing into microphones, but even though I’m relatively late to the party, Brian Fallon’s two bands have skyrocketed up my list of favorites.
- Delta Spirit. Described as a southern/midwestern version of The Strokes by the internet’s second-leading Jackie Bradley advocate, Franklin Rabon of Capitol Avenue Club. Capitol Ave, by the way, is the SweetSpot affiliate for the Braves, which makes them kind of like Crashburn Alley for people who don’t read so good. And they talk about talking to girls a lot, which (and this is an easy lay-up for you BSG folks) is not something we Crashburn folks do, talk to women at bars. Or talk to women at all, really. Though Bill doesn’t get out much anymore after he and his wife had the twins. Anyway, you can listen to these bands and be pretty well-off.
Though this question has inspired me to mix Holst and baseball. That could be pretty cool.
Thank you for your continued patronage of Crashburn Alley. Next week, we’ll have actual regular-season baseball to talk about, but until then, have a Good Friday.