Crash Bag, Vol. 87: Blizzard Shopping with Ruben Amaro

Hey, hey hey, interrogate me hey…

@mdubz11: “your hall of fame ballot, opinions, etc etc”

I’m shocked that nobody asked me this before now, but I guess there’s a certain point past which nobody cares about my opinion. Anyway, I answered this last year, and nobody got in, so a lot of my answers are the same…actually, look at that, it was Dubs who asked for my hypothetical Hall of Fame ballot last year too, the sneaky bastard.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 84: The Burrito Emporia of Queens

Good set of questions this week, so I’ll dive right in. First from the boys at Cespedes Family Barbecue. In my Roy Halladay tribute piece on Grantland earlier this week, I called Zoo With Roy the weirdest, most passionate blog…excuse me, “bolg”…in the history of sports, but Cespedes Family Barbecue is about 94 percent as weird as ZWR. Anyway, they sent a barrage of questions, starting with this one:

@CespedesBBQ: “if you were Domonic Brown, what team would you want to be traded to? you can’t choose the Expos”

So I’m going to interpret this question as involving the following parameters: putting my personality and tastes in Dom Brown’s body. So I’m the same person, but instead of being a married 26-year-old writer who looks like Jonathan Frakes’ slobbish nephew, I’d be a single 26-year-old baseball player who looks like an underwear model and whose salary is like mine, but with significant multiplication involved.

And because this is me being Dom Brown, and not Dom Brown being Dom Brown, this list would look different than you’d expect.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 82: The Hanukkah of Excess

So last week I made an effort to keep the Crash Bag largely baseball-focused. This week, not so much. Sorry.

@jlwoj: “is Friday Thanksgiving Kosher or does it violate everything?”

I think if there’s a good reason for you to celebrate Thanksgiving on the Friday–like work or travel restrictions–then go for it. I don’t presume to impose my own relatively conservative cultural norms on everyone else without a reason. Oh, wait, that’s exactly what I do whenever I write about something like the DH or the shift. This brings up the secondary question, however, of whether it’s appropriate to eat an enormous amount of food and watch an equally enormous amount of football on Friday. And the answer to that is yes. The presence of Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches and two days of college football rivalry games almost makes Thanksgiving a de facto three-day holiday. Four, if you count Wednesday night as the official day of going out to the bar, getting irresponsibly drunk and running into people you hadn’t thought about since high school.

Thanksgiving, in short, is like the Hanukkah of Excess. And here was I, getting all tetchy about having to get on a plane to see the relatives. I’ve been looking at it the wrong way all along.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 81: Semi-Serious Baseball Questions

I got a new laptop since the last time I wrote the Crash Bag, and it has a touchscreen. It’s so cool–I could never go back to a non-touchscreen computer now. This week I tried to scroll on my wife’s Macbook by touching the screen and nothing happened and my first thought was: “What a piece of junk.”

The only thing I need now is some kind of program to make my desktop and all my applications look like the LCARS system from Star Trek. You know, like this:

And I know there are apps that let you play around and press the buttons and stuff, but I’m talking about the whole shebang. I had a Winamp skin that did this a while back, but never anything for the whole computer. Let’s get on this.

And let’s get to your questions.

@dschoenfield: “Don’t you think somebody should do a study on when MLB players peak? Could perhaps be helpful for RAJ.”

Yeah, that’d be nice. Someone ought to get on that and show it to Ruben Amaro before he signs another player who’s old enough to be my dad. Well, Marlon Byrd isn’t literally old enough to be my dad, but you get the point.

I’ll say this–there’s something to be said for swimming against the current. To a certain extent, you’re not going to find low-risk, high-upside bargains in the free agent market, because that’s not where the value is anymore. But shouldn’t you be able to finagle the occasional bargain by taking a stab at a player most teams think is too old? For instance: the Mariners got 29 home runs last year out of Raul Ibanez, a 41-year-old they paid less than $3 million. And he would’ve been a steal at that price if they’d DH’d him full-time instead of giving him 97 starts in left field, which is something an insane team would do. As a little more than a half-time left fielder, he gave back about two and a half wins (NOT RUNS, WINS) with his defense alone. Ibanez got 97 starts in left and his glove alone was about as great a detriment to the Mariners as Domonic Brown, an All-Star, was a net positive for the Phillies. You can’t let that happen. Civilized people don’t let that happen.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 80: Sex is Real

Oh, hello. Eric Longenhagen here. Please, let me explain.

I don’t like answering emails via the written word. I don’t find it fun. I take baseball too seriously (I’m aware of how dumb that sounds) to infuse fun and humor into questions about Marlon Byrd and Kevin Frandsen like Michael does so well. I just can’t do it. I DID want an excuse to do a podcast, however, which is why I accepted the responsibility of writing this week’s CrashBag. It is a dense 35 minutes long. Writing, recording and editing this thing took forever and it features more parts of me than I’d like to admit including, but not limited to, my fascination with villains, my inexplicable fluency in Yiddish slang and my love for juxtaposition between the ultra-serious and absurd. This podcast starts out as bland and boring as anything you’ve ever heard. At about the 15 minute mark, you’re gonna start wondering if you’re having a stroke. I hope you enjoy it and that I still have a job here on Monday.

Produced by: Phil Milia (@BeercanStudios)

Written and Directed by: Eric Longenhagen (@longenhagen)

Music by: The Transmission Now

Guest Starring: Jillian Galm and Glen Longenhagen

 


2013 Phillies Report Card: Ryan Howard

This latest era of Phillies ignominy was, for me, inaugurated by Ryan Howard. Specifically, it began as he collapsed to the ground in agony, clutching at what turned out to be a ruptured Achilles tendon, as in a blur, out of my focus, the Cardinals completed the force at first and began celebrating their trip to the 2011 NLCS on the field.

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2013 Phillies Report Card: Michael Martinez

Bill James once wrote that batting average represents about half of a player’s value (he might have said “offensive value,” but this post isn’t worth my going to look it up). That’s not true for every player–Sean Casey‘s batting average was a much higher percentage of his value than half, while the opposite is true for J.J. Hardy–but it’s an interesting way to look at how offense is created, and that framework informs a conception of why certain players are valuable.

In that same vein, I remember a while back, someone wrote to the Fringe Average podcast with the following question: imagine a player whose defensive value is nil or close to it, who never walks and only hits singles. How high would this player’s batting average have to be in order for him to break a lineup? How high would it have to be for him to be a Hall of Famer?

Jason and Mike mulled this over and decided the closest we’ve come to seeing this player was Tony Gwynn, a bad defensive corner outfielder who didn’t walk a lot and didn’t hit for much power. But even Gwynn’s career line was .338/.388/.459–even the supposed archetype had 135 career home runs, 543 career doubles and 315 career stolen bases. Someone who had literally no patience, power or defensive value would have to hit something like .375 to be a valuable everyday player, and over .400 to make the Hall of Fame, again, depending on how many of the outs he made were strikeouts and so on.

This brings us to Michael Martinez.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 79: Return of the Monkfish

I think it’s time to bring back the monkfish. A friend of mine, Matt Winkelman, is encountering the wages of writing about minor leaguers for a team-specific blog, which is to say that people are trying to tell him that Maikel Franco is a better prospect than Miguel Sano.

I don’t think that’s literally the dumbest thing you could possibly say on any topic, but it’s up there.

And poor Matty Winks, besieged by stupid people, is in the kind of place that I was in last summer, when I wrote a bunch of stuff telling people what to think and how to act on the internet. Most notably, I made a list of things Phillies fans used to say that made me want to hit them in the face with a fish.

It’s time for the Return of the Monkfish.

None of them was as stupid as saying Maikel Franco is a better prospect than Miguel Sano. Because “Oh they got a big Dominican third baseman, well so do we and that’s the same thing right? Except ours is better because why do you hate the Phillies?” is worthy of The Monkfish.

@Wzeiders: “I you could pluck one Phillies player from the 93 team and place him on next year’s team, who would it be?”

Almost certainly a position player, because the 1993 Phillies had a pretty terrible pitching staff. Which is to say that they had four starters who had pretty good careers, but none of them was all that good that year. Well, three starters who had pretty good careers, plus Tommy Greene, who got Cy Young votes with a 116 ERA+ because man was less evolved back then.

But those Phillies had kind of pedestrian pitching and a bunch of terrible defensive players, but they were on base constantly: three players had OBPs over .400, three more were at .360 or better. I’d probably take Lenny Dykstra, because if you hit .305/.420/.482 with 37 stolen bases, you’re going to score an enormous amount of runs. Dykstra would’ve won the MVP that year if Barry Bonds hadn’t been Barry Bonds. Other acceptable answers: Darren Daulton, who wasn’t as good as Dykstra in 1993, but who represent a bigger improvement over whoever replaces Carlos Ruiz than Dykstra does over Ben Revere, and Dave Hollins, for the same reason except with Cody Asche.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 78: Ted Williams Shift

The other night, when I was watching a Cardinal (I believe Carlos Beltran), hit a screaming line drive straight into the Ted Williams Shift for an out, I remarked that if I were dictator of baseball, I’d outlaw the shift, which generated this response:

@SamMillerBP: “Why?”

Fair question.

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