Ryan Madson and the Arm That Was

Former Phillies reliever Ryan Madson is a free agent, a nearly forgotten man who has missed the entirety of the past two seasons, owing to some obviously serious elbow issues. That kind of time away from the game can dull memories of what once was and, in Madson’s case, that’s a special shame.

Madson was never a high-profile reliever. He became somewhat well-known as his production continued to improve after his conversion to full-time relieving in the second half of the 2006 season. From 2007-11, and especially from 2009-11, Madson made his way up the subjective ranks of relievers to borderline elite, striking out 314 against 75 unintentional walks in 329.2 IP. He was never comfortably embraced as such by Phillies fans en masse because of a low save conversion rate from 2009-10 (11 blown saves in 68 save situations, although five of said blown saves came before the ninth inning), but that small bit of bad timing hid the bigger picture of just how effective Mad Dog was on the whole.

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Michael Young and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Playoff Game

Friday night, former Phillies infielder Michael Young entered Game 1 of the NLCS in extra innings. He would have two plate appearances.

The first one, with one out and men on first and third in the 10th, went like this. The second one, with one out and men on first and second in the 12th, also ended in a double play, although of the more conventional variety.

Young hit into 18 double plays with the Phillies – 21 for the whole regular season – but those two double plays tonight were the most crushing of all. Young amassed a -.527 WPA for his efforts, which amounts to the sixth-worst WPA of any postseason game, and the second-worst of any player who had just one or two plate appearances. The worst belongs to Cliff Bolton, who did this in 1933, his second and final playoff PA.

Rk Player Date Series Gm# Tm Opp Rslt PA WPA
1 Felix Millan 1973-10-14 WS 2 NYM OAK W 10-7 7 -0.563
2 Cliff Bolton 1933-10-06 WS 4 WSH NYG L 1-2 1 -0.547
3 Reggie Sanders 1995-10-10 NLCS 1 CIN ATL L 1-2 5 -0.543
4 Jeff Kent 2004-10-10 NLDS 4 HOU ATL L 5-6 5 -0.542
5 Ron Gant 1993-10-10 NLCS 4 ATL PHI L 1-2 5 -0.532
6 Michael Young 2013-10-11 NLCS 1 LAD STL L 2-3 2 -0.523
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/12/2013.

Sorry, Los Angeles.

2013 Phillies Report Card: Raul Valdes

Yesterday, Raul Valdes, after 42 relief appearances and 2 spot starts for the Phillies, was claimed off of waivers by the Houston Astros.

It’s hard to talk about the Phillies bullpen at all lately, mostly because of that sour bile-y substance that wells up in one’s esophagus — that’s not just me, right? 2012 could have been the year that the parade of young arms popping on and off the active roster in previous seasons assembled itself into a cohesive and effective bullpen. That didn’t come to pass. The bullpen was slightly above average in terms of runs allowed per game, but failed from a situational perspective, ranking near the bottom of the MLB in Win Probability Added and Inherited Runners Scored. In 2013, things only got worse; the pen, by most of the relevant metrics, was near the bottom of the league.
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Obscure Former Phillies Hour, Vol. 3: Tomas Perez

By popular demand! Enough people requested Tomas Perez that I can’t hold up one. Consider this the 2006 Time Man of the Year cop-out of Obscure Former Phillies Hour. There’s so much to discuss about Tomas Perez that I feel like I’m only wasting your time up here. Straight to The Pieman’s career in eighteen points.

  1. Before we start, I want to tell you about the first time I ever saw Tomas Perez. I was watching a Blue Jays-Orioles game at my aunt’s house in Virginia in 1996. I was nine years old, and Robert Alomar had just been signed as a free agent with the Orioles. Now, Roberto Alomar is a Hall of Famer, and I remembered him at the time as only one of the stars of that 1993 Blue Jays team. And to replace him, Toronto had promoted a backup infielder named Tomas Perez to the starting lineup, and because I was a child, I assumed that the replacement would be as good as the original. I remember being shocked that I wasn’t hearing very much about Tomas Perez for years afterward.
  2. Tomas Perez was born Dec. 29, 1973 in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. Remember when I said the flag of Willie Montanez’s home city was cool? Well this one’s even cooler, if a trifle busy.
  3. As you might know, it is de rigeur for Venezuelan-born infielders (particularly shortstops) to wear No. 13 in the major leagues, starting with Dave Concepcion with the legendary 1970s Cincinnati Reds. Notable examples: Omar Vizquel, Freddy Galvis, Macier Izturis, Ozzie Guillen, Asdrubal Cabrera…you get the idea. Perez was no exception, wearing that fabled number first with Toronto, then for a year and a half with the Phillies, before switching to No. 9 partway through the 2001 season. As far as I can tell, this took place as a result of–and I’ve found only circumstantial evidence of this, so I could be wrong–Turk Wendell joining the Phillies via trade. That’s right, sportsfans, Turk Wendell. I remember that trade vividly, though again, I don’t remember what it did to Tomas Perez’s uniform number. We might do another one of these for Turk Wendell someday.
  4. Tomas Perez joined the Phillies in 2000 via free agency. Despite playing for four major-league teams (and in five other teams’ minor-league systems) in a 12-year major league career, Perez was only traded twice. One of those trades was from the Blue Jays to the Anaheim Angels for one-time Macho Row cleanup hitter Dave Hollins. On a personal note, Dave Hollins was the last person to play for both the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Philadelphia Phillies. Though I’m still rooting for you, Mike Cisco.
  5. As a Phillie, Tomas Perez played for Terry Francona, Larry Bowa and Charlie Manuel. Very few players can make that claim. Jimmy Rollins, Brett Myers, Pat Burrell, Mike Lieberthal…I’m sure there are others, but it’s starting to look like Tomas Perez deserves a spot on the Wall of Fame.
  6. Tomas Perez stole six bases in his major-league career, but never more than one in a season.
  7. Perez was walked intentionally 24 times in his career, which wouldn’t be strange except for his career OPS+ of 65. And that would be strange except he hit in front of the pitcher often enough to garner 11 free passes in 2003. I just find it amusing that in about half as many career plate appearances, Perez has been walked intentionally exactly as many times as Ryan Braun has.
  8. On May 28, 2004, Perez started at first base and batted eighth in a game against the Braves. He went 0 for his first 3 plate appearances, but when he came up with the Phillies down 2-1 with one out in the bottom of the 8th, he lined a 1-2 pitch from Chris Reitsma into the right field corner for a game-tying double. His next time up, he hit a walk-off home run (also with two strikes) in the bottom of the 10th. This game is also a reminder that Chase Utley once batted seventh.
  9. Of course, Tomas Perez didn’t deliver many walk-off hits in his career with the Phillies. His most notorious connection with walk-off hits is through his role as the Phillies’ unofficial shaving cream pie specialist from 2000-2005. This earned Perez the moniker “The Pieman,” a cognomen that was cruelly stolen some years later by Lee Pace’s character on Pushing Daisies.
  10. Here’s a picture of Perez as a Tampa Bay Ray, having been hoisted on his own petard.
  11. In 2000, Perez played shortstop exclusively, but in September of that year, the Phillies called up Jimmy Rollins, making Perez and Desi Relaford the Tony Fernandez to Rollins’ Derek Jeter. Relaford had a .363 OBP that year too. CRAZY.
  12. Tomas Perez pitched once! It’s true–May 13, 2002, in the midst of 17-3 loss to the Houston Astros. Down 9-1 in the bottom of the 8th, Phillies pitcher Hector Mercado allowed eight of the 10 batters he faced to reach, so Larry Bowa moved Perez from third base to the mound and brought in outfielder Jason Michaels to play third base (also Michaels’ only career appearance in the infield). Perez got his first batter, Jeff Bagwell to ground a ball to…Michaels, who bobbled the ball for one error, then threw it away for a second, allowing Gregg Zaun to score and Bagwell to reach second. The next batter, Jason Lane, flied out to right, and the nightmare was over.
  13. I’m going to repeat part of that last bit, because you might have missed it with the excitement of Tomas Perez pitching: Jason Michaels played 1/3 of an inning in his career in the infield, and in that time he had one ball hit to him and committed two errors on the play. Scott Rolen started that game at third base, in case you were wondering.
  14. Despite playing in nine organizations, Tomas Perez never played in a playoff game.
  15. Tomas Perez played six positions in the major leagues. He missed out on playing catcher, left field and center field. And DH, which is a good thing, because, again, he had a career OBP of .290.
  16. Perez’s hometown of Barquisimeto, Venezuela is actually a pretty big place, a state capital and home to some 2 million residents, making it considerably larger than Philadelphia. I’d never heard of it before, because I don’t think I can name two dozen cities in the whole of South America. Anyway, Barquisimento has produced 15 major leaguers. Of those, 11 were position players, and of those, Maicer Izturis is by far the best hitter. Apparently Miguel Cabrera, Bobby Abreu and Magglio Ordonez (you know, the Venezuelans who can actually hit a little) grew up elsewhere.
  17. Maicer Izturis is the half-brother of fellow major leaguer Cesar Izturis. Fellow Barquisimeto native Steve Torrealba, however, is not, however, a relative of Yorvit Torrealba, which comes as a shock to me because I was convinced for years that Steve and Yorvit Torrealba were, in fact, the same person.
  18. Saving the best for last: This is from Phillies Nation’s Jay Floyd a couple weeks back.

The Pieman abides, sports fans. If you have any other Tomas Perez stories, you know where to share them. In fact, if you have any pie, I’d like for you to share that as well. I myself am fond of Boston creme pie, cherry pie, strawberry rhubarb pie, pecan pie….

Obscure Former Phillies Hour, Vol. 2: Willie Montanez

Hello and welcome! It’s Obscure Former Phillies Hour!

Today’s lucky contestant comes courtesy of reader @jcamaratta, who submitted a favorite player from his childhood. We’ve chosen him because out of the list (and I do have a list) of suggestions after the first OFPH, most of them were from those terrible Phillies teams around the turn of the century–which, if I’m honest, is kind of what I had in mind–but it’s good to acknowledge that there was Phillies baseball even before the 1990s.

So step on down…Willie Montanez! This is your career in twenty points.

  1. Willie Montanez was born April 1, 1948, in Catano, Puerto Rico, home of what is actually a pretty awesome municipal flag for a small town:
  2. Willie Montanez was originally property of the St. Louis Cardinals, but he was selected out of rookie ball in the Rule V draft by the California Angels at the age of 18.
  3. Montanez’s cameo with the Angels went about as well as you might think: eight games, two plate appearances (both strikeouts), two runs and a stolen base. He was back with the Cardinals by May.
  4. Among first-year position players to debut in the 1960s, age 18 and under, Tony LaRussa played in the fifth-most games. Dave Duncan played in the seventh-most. Dave Duncan went on to win three World Series with the A’s and had a long and successful career as a pitching coach. Tony LaRussa went on to drink a lot of wine and fall asleep behind the wheel of his car.
  5. You know how Curt Flood was supposed to be traded to the Phillies in 1969 and refused, retired, then sued MLB for free agency and lost, serving as kind of a spiritual martyr for the Messersmith Case? Willie Montanez was the guy the Cardinals sent to Philly instead.
  6. Montanez had a cup of coffee with the Phillies in 1970, but it was in 1971 that he broke out, hitting 30 home runs, posting a 124 OPS+ and finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting.
  7. In 1972, Montanez led the major leagues in doubles with 39.
  8. In his first three full seasons, Montanez hit a combined .255/.324/.417, good for a 107 OPS+ and a total of 1.8 bWAR.
  9. Something  changed for him in 1974, though, because for some reason, his batting average shot up about 50 points from his career average, and over the next three seasons, he hit .308/.350/.415, but thanks to the changing run environment, his OPS+ only went up to 111. Still not great for a first baseman, but serviceable.
  10. On May 4, 1975, the Phillies traded Willie Montanez to the San Francisco Giants for Garry Maddox. Candlestick Park flooded the next day…get it? Because 2/3 of the world is covered by water and the rest is covered by Garry Maddoooooh forget it.
  11. Montanez was a horrific basestealer: 32-for-74 in his career. That’s the 12th-worst percentage in history, minimum 25 stolen bases.
  12. Montanez got traded a lot: eight times in 14 major league seasons.
  13. Montanez was traded for two Hall of Fame pitchers in his career. He was traded from Atlanta to the Mets on December 8, 1977 in a four-team, ten-player trade that kind of reads like this: “Willie Montanez…mumblemumblemumblemumble…BERT BLYLEVEN…mumblemumblemumblemumble…Al Oliver.”
    The other sent him from the Rangers to the Padres on February 15, 1980 for a package of three players that included Gaylord Perry. I mean, yeah, Perry was 41 and pretty well cooked by that point, but I can’t say that I was traded for a Hall of Famer…and two other guys.
  14. The third-most similar player to Montanez, according to Baseball Reference, was Vic Power, another athletic first baseman from Puerto Rico with a reputation for a slick glove. Vic Power, according to Bill James in the New Historical Baseball Abstract, was widely regarded as a flashy, hot-doggin’ player, and as such, was a rather polarizing figure. Remember this.
  15. The first sentence of Willie Montanez’s Wikipedia page says, essentially: “Willie Montanez is a retired ballplayer.” The rest of the first paragraph is more or less all about how he was a show-off and everyone hated him.
  16. I didn’t have to look that stuff about Vic Power up, because my copy of the New Historical Baseball Abstract spent my last two years of college next to my toilet. As a result, I’ve pretty much got James’ 998-page volume memorized.
  17. Vic Power, by the way, was actually named Victor Pellot, in case you were wondering (as I was) how a Puerto Rican got the last name “Power.”
  18. Montanez was traded again on August 31, 1980, from the Padres to the Montreal Expos for minor leaguer Tony Phillips. Tony Phillips might be the most underrated player of my lifetime. During his career, he started at every position except for pitcher and catcher, and in an 18-year major league career, he posted a .345 wOBA and accumulated 51.5 fWAR. He was like the Ben Zobrist of my dad’s generation: a guy who was massively valuable, but no one noticed because of his relatively low batting average and because he played a bunch of different positions for a (bunch of, in Phillips’ case) relatively unheralded team(s). I’m not saying he’s a Hall of Famer, but let’s give the guy some respect.
  19. Montanez wore three different numbers with the Phillies, and eight different numbers overall. I’m not sure why that was necessary, but he did. Chuck Klein wore seven different numbers with the Phillies, so whatever, I guess.
  20. In an act of adorable bookendishness, the only time Montanez changed teams via free agency was his last–after being released in mid-1982 by the Pirates, Montanez signed with the Phillies on August 10, 1982. He played in 18 games, collecting a single and a walk in 17 plate appearances, and was released on November 4 at the age of 34. He never played in the major leagues again.

A sincere thanks to Joe Camaratta for suggesting such an interesting Obscure Former Phillie, and a sincere thanks y’all for taking the time to read about Willie Montanez.

Obscure Former Phillies Hour, Vol. 1: David Dellucci

I had a little compulsive fit on Twitter over the weekend in which I went to Jeromy Burnitz‘s Baseball Reference page and rattled off several interesting facts about his career, which turned out to be sneakily compelling. On the request of Rant Sports writer Jake Pavorsky, I’ve decided to do the same with former Phillies reserve outfielder David Dellucci. If there’s interest, I’ll make this a running feature, so if you’ve got requests, let me know, either in the comment section or via Twitter.

And now, without further delay, David Dellucci in eighteen points.

  1. David Dellucci was born on October 31, 1973, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Three Louisiana natives (Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Fontenot and Mike Stutes) have appeared for the Phillies this season, but Dellucci was the only player born in Louisiana to play for the Phillies from 2001-2008.
  2. Louisiana is one of two states in the union not to divide itself into counties. In Louisiana, counties are called “parishes,” while in Alaska they are called “boroughs.” Alaska’s North Slope Borough is the largest county in the United States, which, at nearly 90,000 square miles, is roughly the size of Ireland. That doesn’t have a thing to do with David Dellucci, but you’re just going to have to deal with it.
  3. David Dellucci’s wife is pregnant. The due date (February 23, 2013) is posted on Dellucci’s Wikipedia page. I feel like that’s particularly important information for public consumption.
  4. Also from Dellucci’s Wikipedia page: he was inducted into the Louisiana American-Italian Hall of Fame in 2011. Which is a thing, I guess. Other notable members: James Gandolfini’s character in the remake of All the King’s Men. I can’t think of any other Louisiana American-Italians off the top of my head.
  5. Also on Dellucci’s Wikipedia page: he was voted one of the 50 greatest athletes in the history of the University of Mississippi. I mean, Dellucci had a 13-year major league career, but it’s not like Ole Miss is North Dakota Directional A&M. This is an SEC school. They do big sports there. And Dellucci is one of their top 50 athletes ever? Okay: Archie Manning, Eli Manning, Mike Wallace, Armintie Price, Patrick Willis…maybe Lance Lynn and Drew Pomeranz in a few years…All-time XFL leading rusher John Avery…Michael Oher? Wow, Ole Miss athletics suck.
  6. David Dellucci was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 10th round of the 1995 amateur draft, four spots behind Ryan Freel, who I always loved as a player for three reasons: 1) He played a bunch of positions 2) he was really fast 3) he discussed his imaginary friend Farley openly during his playing days. Gotta respect that.
  7. David Dellucci was chosen with the 45th pick in the 1997 expansion draft. The best part of that draft? Tampa Bay taking Bobby Abreu, then flipping him to the Phillies for Kevin Stocker. That was awesome? Why don’t the Phillies trade punchless infielders for borderline Hall-of-Famers anymore. You think there’s any promise in a Freddy Galvis-for-Wil Myers deal? No? Damn.
  8. David Dellucci led the National League in triples in 1998. I was unaware of that previously.
  9. Rickey Henderson, perhaps the greatest power/speed threat in baseball history, never led the league in triples. Neither did Tim Raines. Nor did Jackie Robinson.
  10. In 1998, Dellucci stole three bases and was caught five times. In 2003 he stole 12 bases and was not caught once. Dellucci’s 1998 might have been one of the weirdest speed seasons ever.
  11. In 1999, Dellucci was hitting .394/.463/.505 before a wrist injury ended his season in July. Yet he’d only had 123 plate appearances through that point despite having been on the roster since Opening Day. Now, I know 123 plate appearances is a small sample, but if a guy’s hitting close to .400, at some point you’ve got to start riding the hot hand, right? Maybe this is why Buck Showalter got fired.
  12. The second-most similar player to Dellucci, according to Baseball Reference, is John Vander Wal, another lefty fourth outfielder who made his name in the NL West. Vander Wal is best known for his ridiculous 1995 season, where he posted a 1.026 OPS for the Rockies as a pinch-hitter. His 28 pinch hits that season set a new major league record. Eat your heart out, 2008 Greg Dobbs.
  13. David Dellucci was part of a package that was traded for Raul Mondesi at the 2003 trade deadline.
  14. The Phillies acquired David Dellucci for pitcher Robinson Tejeda and minor league outfielder Jake Blalock. Jake Blalock is the younger brother of former Texas Rangers all-star third baseman Hank Blalock, and part of a proud lineage of the Phillies having the wrong brother. I’m looking at you: Ken Brett, Mike Maddux and Jeremy Giambi. (shakes fist angrily at the sky)
  15. David Dellucci qualified for the batting title exactly once in his career: 2005 with the Texas Rangers, where he hit 29 home runs and posted an .879 OPS.
  16. A testament to his career as a bench bat, Dellucci batted nearly eight times as often against right-handed pitchers as he did against lefties. There’s a good reason for this: Dellucci’s career OPS against righties was .803 (roughly equal to Torii Hunter). Against lefties? .550, which is roughly equal to Blue Moon Odom, who was a pitcher. In the late 1960s, the worst offensive period since the Dead Ball Era.
  17. David Dellucci had more career home runs than Frank Baker, a Hall of Fame third baseman whose nickname was “Home Run.”
  18. David Dellucci was active in charity work during the relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina. For this he was commended by the Louisiana state legislature. We too commend him for this.

I give you David Dellucci, 1999 National League triples champion. If you would like to see a player honored in Obscure Former Phillies Hour, don’t hesitate to ask. It’s going to be a long offseason.