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The first week of May is over. It’s a little weird to think we’re almost 1/4 of the way through the season already, and frankly, given how slowly the offseason crawls by, I’m inclined to deem it “unfair.”
Anyway, dive in, the water’s (not quite) warm (but it’s getting there)!
10. Making an Appearance
Well, Jeremy Horst had himself quite the week, didn’t he?
Starting last Wednesday, Horst made three appearances, threw 60 pitches, allowed six hits and three runs in collecting nine outs. Four of those hits and one of those runs came Wednesday, when Horst got dinked and dunked in a way we haven’t seen since Cole Hamels circa 2009.
Infield single to third. Bloop single to left. Infield single to Horst himself. Infield single to short. The Indians were already leading, 5-0, and so this dinky crap ended up having little effect on the game, but I couldn’t help but feel for Horst there. Really, any time a pitcher just sacrificed to the BABIP Gods live on television, you kind of have to have a little pity.
Bill wrote more on this the following day, When you have to write two explanatory pieces on a guy’s misfortune just barely more than a month into the season, you know things aren’t going well. Horst is putting up numbers far removed from his 2012 performance (K/9 down from 11.5 to 4.6, BB/9 down from 4.0 to 2.6, already allowed more HR in 13.2 IP this year than in 31.1 IP in 2012), and when you pair that loss of strikeouts with a BABIP that’s currently .060 higher than last season as of this moment (.354 to .294), well, that’s something best summed up in an outing like Wednesday’s.
9. Grounded (Into Double Plays) Pilot
Well, Michael Young sure has developed a particular skill, hasn’t he?
Young has grounded into 10 double plays already. TEN. Those have come in 123 overall plate appearances, but just 24 with at least a man on first and fewer than two out. Nearly half the time, Young is creating two outs in these spots. This is especially great because he’s been batting third or fifth, prime spots to have people on base ahead of you.
Young has more GIDPs than extra-base hits (7). The single-season record is 36, set by Jim Rice in 1984 in 202 PA with a man on first and less than two out. If Young gets that many PA in those spots, he’ll ground into 84 double plays. Maybe. Probably. Just forecasting, here.
8. The Inevitable
Well, we all saw this Roy Halladay DL stint coming, didn’t we?
There’s an interesting back-and-forth over at The (resurrected) Fightins about criticism surrounding Halladay’s decision to not say anything after feeling more shoulder discomfort two starts before this last
I tend to side with Doc’s critics in this case. Ryan’s point that competition is basically all Halladay knows is a fair one, and reprogramming athletes’ thought processes has to be a near impossibility. Hell, that’s surely one reason why we see great players in all sports linger on far past their usefulness: what do they do if they can’t play? A professional athlete – one of the good ones – can play at the highest level until his late 30s or early 40s, while I may throw out my back getting out of bed by that age. But by the time an athlete gets to that age, he (or she, as the hopeful future holds) will have been playing for half his life. And if that player is used to performing in the top tier of this top tier of athletes? The loss of that prestige has to be tough to accept.
Even so, continuing to pitch while injured is ill-advised in all cases. Every single one. t doesn’t matter who you are: if something doesn’t feel right, speak the hell up. You’ll cost the team with your likely sub-par performance and may damage yourself further (or, at least, push back your recovery). I get that it’s hard to admit weakness, but all you need to do is look at Halladay’s performance over his last two starts to see a stark example of what can happen when you force the issue.
That said, booing him is pure and sheer idiocy and if you booed him I probably hate you.
7. May Trade Winds
Well, I guess it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room, isn’t it?
The 2012 trade deadline was a bittersweet moment, seeing a couple members of the championship team be dealt while also ridding ourselves of Hunter Pence, but it may be a drop in the bucket compared to this year. If the Phillies continue to stink – and there’s no compelling force to say this isn’t the new normal – far more essential names may soon be bandied about. Indeed, reports are already swirling that teams are circling the Phillies.
Consider the names in contract years: Utley, Ruiz, Halladay, Young (x2). Halladay seems least likely to be dealt, given his health woes, but each of the others could find themselves dangled, not to mention those not in contract years like Cliff Lee or (please, interstellar deity) Ryan Howard.
Utley would be the most jagged pill to swallow of that group. I say that personally, but I’m also projecting. Before the season, I predicted Utley would be re-signed to a new deal. I tried to rationalize it as objectively as possible, but if the team continues to dive and Utley stays healthy and plays well, I can’t stand against the right deal. And I’m already sad. Can we shift gears?
6. Gone Fishing
Well, this is a good way to do just that, huh?
I want to be able to dedicate a number on this list to a Domonic Brown homer every week. Maybe #9. Let’s make this happen, Dom.
5. Tyler Cloyd vs. Adam Morgan
Alright, alright, enough with the lead-in.
Ah, the devil you know and the devil you don’t. Cloyd is a young junkballer, Morgan is a touted prospect. Given that simple comparison, you’d probably want Morgan to be the guy to replace Halladay’s spot in the rotation for a bit. But the continued simple explanation is that Morgan just isn’t quite there yet, and if you bring Morgan up prematurely, well, you risk this.
Really, I feel that reaction is going to come anyway. Morgan is arguably the best prospect in a weak system, which means expectations move on an improperly calibrated sliding scale. No report I’ve ever read has Morgan as anything more than a No. 2-type if every single thing goes right. Now, maybe I’ve read the wrong reports, but I’m expecting a guy who can be an average Major League starter. That means good outings mixed with bad ones, leaning more toward the latter in his early outings. With the patience this fanbase has, especially if armed with inflated expectations, there’s no way Morgan can succeed. Save him for later in the season, when resignation has had a chance to settle in and the future has become the next set for our sights.
Pun co-opted gleefully from an e-mail chain started by my friend Jim, who links this New York Times article therein. It’s not really baseball-related, save for that invented pun. But I’m linking it anyway. What’s the forthcoming popularized name? “Moneyreel?” Maybe there’s something wittier out there.
This is the very reason why Keith Law uses the #umpshow hashtag. You’ve got a star player unhappy with a call, and John Hirschbeck just decides to escalate the situation. Nationals announcer Bob Carpenter accurately (to me) describes Hirschbeck’s demeanor as “dying” to throw Bryce Harper out, and so he does.
Phillies fans can bring to mind the most famous recent instance of an #umpshow involving their own star player from a couple years back, when Ryan Howard went bonkers on Scott Barry in a similar situation in 2010.
Side notes on the Howard clip: A) Have you ever seen Howard that jacked up about anything, positive or negative, before or since? B) How terrified would you be if a man Howard’s size came running at you? I’m frankly still a bit amazed Barry basically stood his ground.
2. Papelbon In Brief
A summary of Jonathan Papelbon’s use thus far:
- 12 appearances
- 5 saves in 5 chances
- An average of just over 11 pitches per outing, each of which has been for exactly 1 IP
- 11 straight scoreless outings with just 4 total base runners
- A Leverage Index rating of 0.22 for his last 4 outings
- Only 7 strikeouts in those 12 IP
It’s been an effective-but-unorthodox start to the season for Paps.
1. Sneaky Power
When Mike Fontenot was getting regular playing time from the Cubs a few years ago, some members of a sports message board I frequent took to nicknaming him “Sneaky Power” for his occasional homers (and .514 SLG in a reserve role in 2008) despite his size.
The same could be applied to Freddy Galvis. Galvis is listed at 5’10″ (don’t think so) and still doesn’t really hit for average, but he does have a surprising amount of pop: 24 of his 54 career hits are extra-base hits. He’s only 4-for-24 after the third inning so far this year, but those four hits are two doubles and two home runs. If he can continue to improve offensively, he may yet turn into the regular player his defense demands he be.
1a. Flashy Power
I love when guys strut after homers. I love attitude. Maybe it’s not ideally used in batting pratice (see Puig, Yasiel below)…
(Link; thanks @mike_petriello)
…but when you obliterate a baseball, taking a good look for a second or two is a-ok by me.