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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Crash Bag, Vol. 76: Moose Tracks

Starting to get the distinct impression that the Phillies are gaslighting me.

@asigal22: “why on earth would RAJ purposely resign Michael Martinez? I’ll take a contract too if he wants to sign bad players”

I want to rip off 3,500 words about how dumb a move it is to re-sign Mini-Mart. But you know what? I can’t anymore. I’m not as young as I once was, and I just don’t have the energy to do it anymore. I used to get angry about the Phillies routinely, like truly, passionately angry, but I’m like an old dog with arthritis and kidney disease and I don’t want to do anything anymore except lie down on the rug and give you the sad eyes and drool all over the place while I wait to die.

It doesn’t matter, but the ship is sinking and signing any roster filler this early in the offseason, let alone someone like Mini-Mart, is just…why? It’s moments like this when it becomes clear that one of the universe’s few mercies is that life is short.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 75: The Fetishization of Bacon

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that this will be the final Crash Bag. Because we’re going to have to cancel the internet. Thanks to this:

That’s right. “Bacon Moustache” showed up in my timeline, and I’m declaring the internet closed, and by extension, Twitter, Crashburn Alley and the Crash Bag itself. We need to stop the scourge of internet speak and the fetishization of bacon. I think it’s time to add another one of Baumann’s Laws of Social Conduct. Baumann’s Third Law of Social Conduct: If you use the verb forms of “victory” or “failure” as a noun*, or if you engage in the worship of certain foodstuffs (bacon and Sriracha), you will be turned into a college freshman that doesn’t get invited to the cool parties. In 2007. And there you will remain forever, with Matthew Inman mansplaining about why it’s okay not to respect women on the internet.

*Caveat: “Win” is acceptable as a noun if and only if it refers to a discrete unit of victory, e.g., the Phillies are looking for their first win since 2011. We’re grown-ups here. Let’s start talking like it.

@Brandon_Warne: “One year in, is there any clarity as to who is winning/leading the Worley/May for Revere trade?”

Well, the jury’s very much still out on this one, and I’m uneasy about judging trades at any point but the moment the trade is made (so the vagaries of outcome don’t dilute the criticism of process) but I’d say the Phillies. We’re pretty familiar with what Ben Revere did in 2013–a month or so of being cooler than being cool (which is to say, ice cold) before bringing his batting average up over .300 and his OPS up to around league average. Add plus defense and 22 stolen bases in half a season and that’s not elite production, but it’s not bad. When he fouled that ball off his foot, by the way, Revere had put together 28 hits in his last 15 games. As a Phillies fan, I’d say I was satisfied by Revere’s performance, and I absolutely fell in love with his personality and style of play.

And apologies to Brandon (who for the uninitiated, covers the Twins), but the news isn’t so much overwhelmingly good for the Phillies as it is overwhelmingly bad for Minnesota.

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2013 Phillies Report Card: Justin De Fratus

The unknown is a seductive idea. When we were young, we looked off into the distance, into the future, with wonder, enraptured by the possibilities that the devil you don’t know can entail. Your life is boring, your routines tiresome, your friends wholly known. This is the appeal of a series of works of fiction that have become popular in the recent past, where a meek, unhappy man is lifted from his banal existence and into an exciting new future–Fight ClubAmerican BeautyBreaking Bad. Hope is escapism, and as long as that hope is deferred, we can continue to wonder if life might be better if we made a leap of faith and threw off the shackles of the known.

And so we once dreamed on Justin De Fratus.

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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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