Crash Bag, Vol. 97: Jelly is Great

Tonight, on the Crash Bag: The Phillies fail to score, a man asks a record-breaking question, and I distribute breakup advice.

@asigal22: “Will the Phils be as bad in the regular season as they have been in Spring Training. I know Spring Training is stupid.”

Relax.

I mean, yes, the Phillies are going to be bad, but relax. We’ve gotten so used to the Phillies winning, or expecting to win, that we’ve lost the ability to be relaxed about them losing. The lost 89 games last year, they’ll probably lose about that many this year, and we’ll give up this ridiculous delusion of being able to compete with the Braves and Nationals by Flag Day. So what are they going to do about it?

Well, they’re going to run out the clock on some of their current bad contracts, hope their bad draft luck reverses itself and take advantage of higher picks to rebuild the farm system instead of losing first and second-round picks chasing past-their-prime free agents. It means hiring a new coaching staff and giving playing time to younger players. They’re doing all the right things–it’ll just take a while to work.

Anyway, they won’t be this bad. Like, they’re not going to flirt with getting no-hit every day. At least I hope not.

@TimothyRPierce: “what prospects are you most interested in the Phillies drafting this year with such a high pick?”

Chris Crawford put out his first mock draft this week, and he had the Phillies taking high school shortstop Jacob Gatewood at No. 7. I’d be totally down with that, though I’d rather have someone a little closer to major league readiness, all things considered. If Trea Turner falls, I’d love him. The same goes for Vanderbilt righthander Tyler Beede, who’s long been a favorite of mine (and who’s facing off against LSU righty Aaron Nola on Friday on ESPN3 in what will be the best game on TV this month, including the MLB games in Australia). And all joking aside, Max Pentecost is a catcher who can hit. If the Phillies took him, name aside, I’d be totally cool with that.

@chrisginelli: “What’s the best kind of donut? I love jelly, but my girlfriend finds anything w/ filling gross. Please advise.”

My first instinct was to tell you to ditch the girlfriend, because people who don’t like doughnuts with filling are emotionally stunted and untrustworthy. Because you’re right–jelly is great. My personal preference is Boston creme, but jelly is wonderful as well. Anyway, if your girlfriend hates jelly doughnuts, this is a great thing, because doughnuts are purchased in variety packs–you don’t actually have to share the doughnuts. This means that you have all the jelly doughnuts to yourself. In fact, if you’re convinced that this shifty-eyed, non-filling-eating, potential serial killer you’ve taken up with (seriously, Chris, where do you find these women? I keep telling you, but you never listen) isn’t going to murder you in your sleep, then this doughnut thing makes her marriage material.

@ethan_witte: “with the Phillies probably not being contenders, and the possibility of trading Lee growing, what prospect are you targeting?”

This one.

@Parker_Adderson: “where does an aspiring nerd/social scientist who wants to learn STATA or similar go to find baseball datasets?”

Grad school. That’s where I learned STATA at least, though that might not be the most effective use of your time and money. My advice would be, if you don’t 1) have STATA already or 2) have access to it through school, don’t buy STATA. Buy a used statistics textbook so you learn the basic principles, then tool around in Excel for a while. If you’re not bored yet, then go get STATA and ask someone else what to do, because I have no idea what the next step is.

@connorgucci69: “How much regression do you expect from Chris Davis in 2014?”

Well, I don’t think he’s going to slug .634 and post a 7-win season again, if that’s what you’re asking. ZiPS projects .267/.340/.546 with 41 home runs. I don’t think that’s unreasonable. PECOTA’s 50th percentile projection is a little less optimistic: .258/.323/.478, 30 home runs. In any situation, I’d trust a well-designed projection system to predict the future over any individual prognosticator, but I lean more toward his ZiPS projection than his PECOTA projection. Because I’m an optimist.

@tssmythe: “I take this from your OBP list: names were better back in the day. Arky Vada Stuffy Chubby. What’s your best name starting 9?”

Do I get to use full names or just first names? Because there’s a difference between Stuffy Stirnweiss and Johnny Dickshot. Full names for now–the better to bask in the absurdity of the best names. This is just off the top of my head–I’m sure I’m leaving out some better names.

  • C: Ossee Schrecongost (fuckin’ Pennsylvania Dutch)
  • 1B: Walt Dropo
  • 2B: Sibby Sisti
  • 3B: Ossie Bluege
  • SS: Roger Peckinpaugh (big day for the 1924 Washington Senators)
  • LF: Yoenis Cespedes
  • CF: Lyman Bostock
  • RF: Johnny “Ugly” Dickshot
  • P: Ambiorix Burgos

@Morri_Mike: “will Temple sports matter to white suburban fans before the NCAA is abolished? LOL”

I think it matters when the basketball team is good. My college basketball allegiance (and I know this is awful and it shows how little I care about college basketball, so leave me alone) has shifted between whichever of Temple and Villanova is better at the moment. But no, the suburban folks, including, for some reason the suburban folks on the New Jersey side of the river, are all Penn State fans. Which sucks, because Penn State is, well…

It’s just weird, because to me, anything west of the Schuylkill River is Pittsburgh. This should be Temple country.

Mike (via email): “Thanks for your hard work on the Crash Bag. It’s always a welcome highlight in my week.”

Oh, thanks, Mike. That’s really sweet of you to say. Great name, btw.

“I read the recent Deadspin article concerning the merits of an Olympic sprinter being utilized as a pinch-runner in MLB and it reminded me of a similarly crazy-sounding idea that I tried to pitch to friends of mine a couple of years ago.”

Ah, yes. The Sam Miller article from Baseball Prospectus. I love that guy.

“I’d love to hear your opinion on it.”

I’m all ears.

“When July rolls around each year, we always hear about contending teams looking for one more ‘reliable arm’ or ‘innings eater’ to top off a rotation. I’ve recently held the opinion that even World Series contenders can’t hope for much from their No. 5 starter as they try to win their division.”

 

This is true. Long have I said that pennants have been lost for want of a bad starting pitcher. But even so, all you’re really hoping for is a guy who can throw strikes for six innings so you’re not counting on Adam Eaton or Kyle Weiland with the division title on the line.

“My belief is that these teams could maximize their rotation’s effectiveness by utilizing a tandem system for the No. 5 slot. When you think about it, the last guy in the rotation is usually comparable to the long relievers in the bullpen. They’re all guys who have proven themselves as borderline MLB pitchers, but can’t be depended on for more than a few innings. 

“Instead of letting a No. 5 guy get in trouble and hurting the bullpen by sending plenty of guys in to finish off the game, why not assign two of these borderline types to serve in a tandem role? If they both perform well, you’re in the 8th or 9th with plenty of options. If they both flame out, they’ve still eaten up plenty of innings in a game that you never counted on winning and you can still go into the next few games – started by your best pitchers – with a well-rested back end of the bullpen to close out games that should be more winnable.”

That’s an interesting idea. The major misgiving I have with that, and all tandem starter assignments, is that they don’t really shorten the rotation or get more innings out of your best pitchers. If you go tandem for No. 5, what you’re doing is really adding a sixth starter to the rotation, and if both pitchers are borderline, the odds of each of them getting through four innings without giving up a bunch of runs are slim.

My suggestion would actually be to do the opposite: only carry four dedicated starting pitchers and skip the fifth spot when practicable. When it’s not, you’d carry a dedicated long reliever/swingman–someone who’s amped up enough to go two or three middle innings at a time but stretched out enough to go five should circumstances dictate. This swingman could help alleviate bullpen burnout in blowouts and extra inning games and allow a young pitcher to break into the staff. Given the choice between having someone like Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez (maybe a bad example, but insert a different promising odd-starting-pitcher out here) pitch the fifth and sixth innings of Fausto Carmona’s starts or using two crappy anonymous veteran relievers to pitch those innings, I’d much rather blood one starter than waste two roster spots on two relievers.

“Now that I look at this question/novela/diatribe, I see that it’s a bit long for the Crash Bag.”

Nonsense. It’s a good question and I’m coming up a little short this week anyway.

“I’m making an honest attempt to wean myself off of thinking games through “by the book” and trying to see the bigger picture of the emerging stats that can help managers navigate through games. If the above is too long-winded to include, even a thought or two in response to give me perspective on how good, bad, or crack-addled my theory is would be much appreciated.”

I don’t know that this is a stat-based question. I can’t believe that the current five-man rotation, seven-man bullpen of one-inning relievers is the best way to manage a team, but the trend is toward more and more relief pitchers in shorter and shorter stints. I think we might be reaching a point of inflection where we start to use fewer relievers less often, but for more innings at a time. But it’ll take one team to start experimenting with this, and if it works, the rest will follow soon enough. The trick is to get the first team to try it.

Mostly I want to say that I love this kind of discussion. Baseball’s form and tactics are relatively constrained, so it’s a lot of fun to imagine what would happen if someone departed from the orthodoxy. Good talk, Mike. Thanks for writing in.

@TyLau27: “Took girl on date. She is into me. I am not as into her. How do I tell her I never need to see her again, but in a polite way?”

Oh man, that’s rough. I mean, nowhere near as rough as the opposite. I want to start out by saying that if you want advice on what to do if a girl likes you more than you like her, “baseball blog” is probably not the right place to take that question. Certainly not my baseball blog. Because it’s happened to me once, where I’ve been interested in a girl and she was even as interested in me as I was in her, and we’re married now.

But I’ll try to use my imagination and answer your question in the spirit in which it was asked. I feel like people, when they’re receiving bad news, want to be told directly, personally, and discreetly. So if this is a co-worker or a classmate or someone in your friend circle, just tell her the next time you see her, particularly if she brings up the possibility of a second date. There’s this whole Nada Surf song about it. I mean, it’s one date–unless she’s the kind of unpredictable banshee who doesn’t like jelly doughnuts, she’ll understand. Polite, nice, but direct. It might be awkward, but not nearly as awkward as if you lead her on for two months and meet her parents and then ditch her because you never liked her in the first place, because that I’ve done and it’s rough for everyone involved. And I’m not entirely sure it matters what you say, just as long as you’re not a dick and the word “no” is in there somewhere.

If you wouldn’t run into each other in the course of ordinary life–and I asked two actual women about this–just wait for her to call you. If she doesn’t call, you’re in the clear. If not, just do that kind but clear and direct thing. Being wishy-washy with bad news is for the weak: even if she gets the message, she’ll judge you for lacking the fortitude to be direct about it.

Or whatever. I don’t know jack about dating, except what I learned from watching How I Met Your Mother.

@JimmyFricke: “What do you think about the NBA allowing nicknames on the back of their jerseys in tonights Nets Heat game”

It is a dishonorable act. Nicknames on the back of the jersey is bush league. Leave that Brazilian soccer-ass bullshit to the XFL.

Thank you for patronizing the Crash Bag. See you next week.

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3 comments

  1. Robby Bonfire

    March 16, 2014 02:19 PM

    Re: “It means hiring a new coaching staff….” Well, can the default G.M. now considered a coach?

  2. Robby Bonfire

    March 16, 2014 02:20 PM

    What does it matter if they have nicknames on the back of their jerseys when they are running around in short-hem dresses? That’s o.k.?

  3. Chuck

    March 16, 2014 05:01 PM

    C’mon?! No Rusty Kuntz????

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