Ryan Howard vs. Rich Harden

If you happened to catch Ryan Howard’s at-bat against Rich Harden in the first inning, you probably thought RyHo looked awful. Pitch F/X makes him look even worse.

Howard struck out on three consecutive sliders from Harden. Have a look. Click the image for a larger version.

Thanks to Brooks Baseball for the chart.

The 9,923,984th Steroid/HoF Article

For those of you tired of my PED spiel, feel free to click the red X at the top right of your browser (assuming you’re a PC user) and go back to scouring the Interwebs for the Erin Pageviews peephole video. But the war wages on: I must FJM as many stupid, incessantly boring, relentless “OMFG STEROID USERzs R  BAD” articles written by pseudo-intellectuals employed by various mainstream media companies.

Someone, somewhere, some time will get it. The light will switch on and they will realize, “Damn, that was freaking stupid. Why’d I even do that anyway?” Car keys will be jingled and their attention will be diverted from drug use in baseball, and the hot air the sportswriters have been blowing will exit the Internets faster than a movie crowd on the premiere of Gigli.

The perp this time is Terence Moore of Fanhouse. You can see his picture to the left of his column. His eyes are squinting, if not completely shut. Either way, it serves as a metaphor to his recognition of real issues in Major League Baseball.

No steroids guys in Cooperstown.

What constitutes a guy as a “steroids guy”? What about women? The 1976 German swim team?

Seriously, though, if you’re not going to allow “steroids guys” into the Hall of Fame, then what of users of amphetamines like Mike Schmidt and Mike Cameron? Spitballers and ball scuffers and Gaylord Perry?

No Roger Clemens. No Barry Bonds. No Mark McGwire. No Sammy Sosa. No Rafael Palmeiro. No Alex Rodriguez.

Alex Rodriguez admitted to using steroids. Okay. I can sort of understand the argument there, but it’s still wrong by a million miles. Barry Bonds failed a test for amphetamines, so you have to ban Schmidt and others as well. Mark McGwire used androstenedione which was legal both under baseball’s rules and under U.S. law at the time. Sammy Sosa corked his bat, so you’d have to sweep out about a quarter of the Hall of Fame. Palmeiro failed a test for steroids. Nothing really on Clemens besides a Congressional hearing that went nowhere.

Terence, you have A-Rod and Palmeiro. Can’t really make a case against anyone else without substantial evidence.

Nobody within a syringe of evidence showing they were artificially enhanced during any portion of their playing career.

Smart, my man — smart. When unable to meet standards… lower the standards! The mantra of the U.S. education system.

I don’t care that Ty Cobb was a racist (and possibly worse)

Since anti-PED people often argue from a perspective of integrity and character, you should care that Ty Cobb exemplified many qualities of a person we despise.

But, no, Cobb’s racism shouldn’t keep him out of the Hall of Fame and nor should any player’s suspected or found drug use.

The Hall of Fame is not supposed to espouse any particular viewpoint. It is supposed to be a historical account of the great game of baseball. To attempt to keep Bonds and Clemens and McGwire — all deserving players — out of the Hall of Fame is to attempt to rewrite history; to pretend that their careers never existed.

Twenty years from now, we are going to look back on writers like Moore and wonder how we ever allowed them the privilege and power of espousing these close-minded and intolerant viewpoints to the masses.

that Mickey Mantle joined others as prolific drunks

Speaking of drunk, didn’t Babe Ruth drink alcohol during Prohibition? Prohibition lasted from 1920-33; Ruth’s career spanned 1914-35 and I find it hard to believe he never once drank in those 14 years during his playing career. So, Ruth was consuming a banned substance.

Most will react to that as “Eh, who cares? It was a stupid rule.”

Exactly.

Also, how is being a “prolific drunk” somehow a lesser offense than being someone who uses anabolic steroids for the purpose of enhancing athletic performance? The latter seems almost noble while the former seems embarrassing.

that Gaylord Perry spit his way into Cooperstown

If Moore didn’t include this sentence, his logic could have been at least defensible since he could say that he only cares about players who used illegal substances that enhanced performance. But to not care about Perry’s offense in putting an illegal substance on the baseball to enhance his performance as a pitcher is to have entirely contradictory logic when throwing barbs at steroid users.

They’re already in the Hall of Fame. I can’t do anything about their entries

You can write articles about how they don’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, sort of like what you’re doing now. You can try to change public opinion, sort of like what you’re trying to do now.

I can do something about Clemens, Bonds and the rest.

It’s always entertaining to read these sportswriters who fancy themselves as David going up against the steroid-loving Goliath. Like they’re doing something noble.

Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds need to be stopped! They have already sullied the integrity of the game during their playing days. Baseball had a lot of integrity before.

What Black Sox scandal? What hundreds of ball-scuffers and bat-corkers? What amphetamines users?

The point is, in contrast to most of the other Halls of Fame in amateur and professional sports, Cooperstown is more about quality than quantity.

This is an unprovable statement. May as well have never written it.

Mostly, I don’t care that you’re innocent until proven guilty under the law of the land. 

You don’t care that it’s a fair and logical and rational way to allow accused parties to defend themselves and their reputations?

TERENCE MOORE PLAGIARIZED AT LEAST 50% OF HIS ARTICLES.

Imagine that got passed around and everyone started to believe it. Writers and radio show hosts and TV commentators started talking about it, and suddenly, you’re guilty before you’ve even had a chance to address the issue.

Fanhouse fires you and there are no other publications that want to hire you because of your baggage.

And you have no way to defend yourself because, hey, “innocent until proven guilty” is freaking stupid, right?

Empathy, Terence. Try it.

And if somebody slips across Cooperstown’s city limits before folks discover he was guilty of steroids use, no problem. Baseball should do what college football once did to Billy Cannon when he was in its Hall of Fame and later was arrested by the feds on counterfeiting charges: Just kick the guy out.

This is funny because Terence apparently has a Hall of Fame vote. In the above paragraph, he says “Baseball should do…”

Major League Baseball can’t tell the Hall of Fame what to do; the HoF is privately owned. The HoF could put up religious propaganda and NFL memorabilia and a disco ball. Sure, they’d lose a lot of paying customers, but they could. Bud Selig can’t walk in and tell them what to do.

Secondly, earlier in the article, Moore says that he can’t do anything about Gaylord Perry being in the Hall. Yet, in the above paragraph, he has no problem with retroactive punishment: “Just kick the guy out.” So if Terence wants to remain logically consistent with keeping drug users out of the Hall of Fame, he should not be so lethargic to past offenses.

The difficult part is convincing others that Jackson, Rice, Telander and I have it exactly right, because we do.

It seems to be that the more confident a person is that he is right, the more likely he is to be wrong. See: Bush administration re: WMD’s in Iraq.

Honestly, no one is “right” as it pertains to this issue. It’s not a right or wrong thing. There is no such thing as a “right” set of morals, despite what Bible-thumpers claim.

Telander wanted the group to form a committee to develop guidelines for evaluating players from the Steroids Era when it comes to Hall of Fame voting.

Yes, the same group of guys who last year gave Edinson Volquez (not a rookie) three second-place votes for NL Rookie of the Year … should form a committee. Great. Grand. Wonderful.

Go on.

We’re left with the likelihood that a slew of cheats will be immortalized in bronze forever.

The appeals to emotion are so akin to Republicans using the terrorism scare as a tactic to get votes in elections during the Bush administration.

This isn’t life or death. Even if everybody mentioned in the article is 100% undeniably guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs, where does their offense rank among all offenses?

Certainly Brett Myers’ assault on his wife in Boston is much, much worse. His contributions to the Phillies’ 2008 World Series championship will be mentioned, even just in passing, in the Hall of Fame. Where are the articles campaigning for his removal from baseball history?

The reality is that using performance-enhancing drugs is a very minor offense. Using it affects only the user and no one else. Murder, rape, assault, theft, etc. are all offenses exponentially worse and there are some guilty parties enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

Furthermore, if PED’s do indeed enhance performance, where is the evidence? Nowhere is there a study that shows a statistically significant correlation between steroid, HGH, or amphetamine use and increased performance in any facet. For every Barry Bonds there is an Alex Sanchez. In fact, for every Bonds there are likely a hundred Sanchezes.

As a Hall of Fame voter, I’m a strict constructionist. To me, the key words in those rules are “integrity” and “character.” You don’t have integrity or character by using steroids.

There was a bunch written before this but none of it really noteworthy, but for some context, you may want to go ahead and read what was written before this. Stuff about the Constitution and interpretation. Yawn.

Remember above, when I wrote, “Since anti-PED people often argue from a perspective of integrity and character, you should care that Ty Cobb exemplified many qualities of a person we despise”?

Moore doesn’t care about Cobb and does indeed argue from a perspective of integrity and character.

How many contradictions are there in Moore’s argument now? Three? Four?

Loose constructionist see the key words in those rules as “record,” “ability” and “contributions.” To them, it sort of matters that a guy used steroids, but they mention he still had to swing, throw, run and catch at a high level.

Well, yeah. Give me steroids, give me a world class trainer, and give me any amount of time that you want. I will never, ever hit even 1% as well as Barry Bonds hit because I don’t have his talent or his intellect or his physical capabilities.

These blockhead mainstream sportswriters grossly overestimate the impact that performance-enhancing drugs have on an athlete. To boot, they use absolutely no science and argue entirely from an emotional, irrational perspective. And yet, they’re so sure, so confident.

This is simpler: Just listen to Jackson, Rice, Telander and me.

Just like I should have listened to people about Y2K. Like I should listen to Darren Daulton about 2012.

The more confident you are that you have all the answers, the more likely it is that you have no answers.

This is turning into a cult. “Follow me. Listen to me.”

It’s become more about being right than doing what’s right.

Tool had a great song called “Aenima” about L. Ron Hubbard and his cult of Scientology, but I think some of the lyrics apply here.

Some say the end is near.
Some say we’ll see armageddon soon.
I certainly hope we will.
I sure could use a vacation from this
Bullshit three ring circus sideshow of
Freaks

Phillies/Cubs Series Preview

The Phillies are on a roll. They’ve won eight games in a row and 12 of their last 13. In their eight-game streak, the Phils have scored 43 runs and allowed 24. The offense is on fire thanks to the usual suspects. In the three games since returning from the break, Rollins has a 1.000 OPS; Utley .905; Howard 1.323; and Ibanez 1.783.

Thank the starting pitching as well. Against the Marlins, the starters allowed one run in 19 innings (0.47 ERA). J.A. Happ continued his push as an NL Rookie of the Year candidate, Cole Hamels got back on track, and Jamie Moyer proved he hasn’t lost his touch at 46.

The Phillies now are faced with the unfortunate task of facing the Cubs’ three best starting pitchers in Ted Lilly, Rich Harden, and Carlos Zambrano. They will counter with their worst three in Rodrigo Lopez, Joe Blanton, and Jamie Moyer (though all three have pitched well lately).

The Cubs have a below-average offense that scores 4.23 runs per game on average, but have the league’s third best pitching staff that allows only 4.04 runs per game on average. Oddly enough, both the Cubs’ starters and relievers have an ERA of 3.77, showing you just how balanced their pitching staff is.

Historically, the Phillies have not fared well against the Cubs’ big three. They hit Lilly the best, are anemic against Harden, and struggle against Zambrano. Lilly and Zambrano are having great seasons for the Cubs while Harden has hit some rough patches, including when he missed about a month between his May 17 and June 13 starts.

Considering the match-ups, the Phillies should feel fortunate if they win two of three.

Let’s go the supremely awesome charts.

Hitting

Chicago Cubs @ Philadelphia Phillies, July 20-22

Chicago Cubs @ Philadelphia Phillies, July 20-22

Pitching

Chicago Cubs @ Philadelphia Phillies, July 20-22

Chicago Cubs @ Philadelphia Phillies, July 20-22

If the blurriness of the images bothers you as much as it does me, it’s because WordPress automatically reduces the image quality for some unknown reason.

Thanks to Todd Zolecki, here’s tonight’s lineup against Lilly:

Rollins SS
Victorino CF
Utley 2B
Howard 1B
Ibanez LF
Werth RF
Feliz 3B
Ruiz C
Lopez P

I presume that Werth is hitting sixth instead of fifth (breaking up the left-handed hitters) because of his recent struggles. After a stretch of 12 games from June 27 to July 9 in which he hit 7 HR with a 1.537 OPS, he has only one extra-base hit and a .561 OPS in the six games since.

BDD: Handicapping the RoY Race

At Baseball Daily Digest, I take a look at the many rookies making an impact across Major League Baseball this season.

Kenshin Kawakami’s pitching performance is most closely aligned with what we’d expect based on factors he can control (strikeouts, walks, home runs), while J.A. Happ has enjoyed much more success than we would expect.

Due to the fact that Happ plays on a winning team that just so happens to be the defending World Series champions, he will get a lot more notoriety for pitching well than Wells or Kawakami as both play on mediocre teams unlikely to reach the post-season. However, it will take a sterling pitching season to yank the Rookie of the Year award from Colby Rasmus.

BDD: Charlie Manuel, Sabermetrician?

At Baseball Daily Digest, I investigate into the matter of Charlie Manuel possibly subscribing to Sabermetrics.

As Brian Joseph pointed out yesterday, he’s a lot smarter than he is given credit for. Early in his tenure with the team, Phillies fans mocked his Southern drawl and an assumed lack of intelligence. No longer, of course. Throughout his stint with the Phillies, Manuel has generally done a good job with decision-making, especially with platoon splits. He doesn’t La Russa his bullpen, but he’s certainly not passive.

Why Intra-division Trading Is a Bad Idea

On Twitter, Sky Kalkman of Beyond the Box Score and I have been going back and forth on the merits of trading within one’s own division. As the debate grew, Twitter’s 140-character limit became increasingly annoying, so I figured I’d write a short post explaining why I think intra-division trading is a bad idea.

Of course, the subject of the conversation was Roy Halladay, and Sky didn’t think the Toronto Blue Jays should be afraid of trading him within the division to the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox. They should be, however.

Between 2002-08, Roy Halladay has been worth over six wins above replacement per season. As of right now, the Yankees have accrued 19 WAR in 88 games and the Blue Jays have accrued 12.4 in 90 games, putting them on pace for 35 and 22 WAR, respectively. Prorating Halladay’s average production for the rest of the season, if the Jays traded him right now to the Yankees, they would be losing about 3.3 WAR and the Yankees would be gaining about 2.7 WAR. Overall, that’s a 6-WAR shift, or about 10.5% of the WAR the teams are on pace for. That’s without accounting for players the Blue Jays acquire and contribute during the season.

If the Jays simply traded Halladay out of the AL East, they would only have to worry about losing the 3.3 WAR as opposed to another team also picking up 2.7 WAR on them.

We could get down to the nuts and bolts of it and calculate specific WAR estimations that include various packages the Yankees could put together in a Halladay trade, but it’s not necessary because any package the Yankees can put together can be matched in some way, shape, or form by other teams.

The only reason a team should ever trade an impact player within the division is if intra-division teams are the only ones willing to offer players that satisfy specific needs, or if they’re the only ones willing to take on bad salaries (which is why, if I’m J.P. Ricciardi, I’m insisting the Yankees take on Vernon Wells with Halladay as well). The Jays can get a good return on Halladay from a number of teams; they need not look to the Yankees for this, nor should any other team look to a division rival when it comes to trading.

That’s my take on the matter. I invite Sky to respond to this post via comments here or even via a response blog post.

Be sure to check out Sky’s breakdown of the Roy Halladay trade scenarios at BTB.

UPDATE: Here’s Sky’s response to my argument.

He points out that the Jays trading Halladay does hamper their 2009-10 post-season hopes but enhances them in future seasons (and hampers the Yankees’). This is true, assuming the prospects all pan out as predicted, which doesn’t always happen. As Matt Swartz pointed out in one of his submissions for BP Idol:

In total, 51% of first and second rounds picks make the majors.

So, the Jays would essentially be flipping a coin as many as four or five times, depending on the amount of top prospects they get.

Matt further points out:

Of the 2052 players in the study, 1041 of them made the majors. Of those, only 109 players were traded and then debuted with a different team than the one that had drafted them. Of that group of 109, only 19 accumulated a WARP3 of 10.0 in their careers. As it turns out, for all the fans who scream at GMs for trading away the farm system, rarely do the GMs trade away impact prospects.

Historically, the Jays would be running against the numbers if they were to trade the Jays to a division rival for a wealth of prospects. Probabilistically, if they are going to trade within the division, they should demand Major League-ready talent or bust.

UPDATE #2: Sky responds.

Prospects are a gamble no matter whether you acquire them intra-divisinally or inter-divisionally. But they have the same expected value.

The difference is that when you trade an impact player like Halladay within the division, you can confidently write in permanent marker that he’s going to provide his new team with around 6 WAR. Sure, he could get injured but he’s been very durable since 2006. There are a lot of sticks that could get caught in the gears, so to speak.

With the prospects, as Sky points out, it is a gamble. Going back to the figures from Matt Swartz, cited above, we have the following probabilities with four first- and second-round prospects:

  • 12.5% chance of all making the Majors; 25% three of four make it; 50% two of four; and 75% one of four.
  • 17.4% chance the prospect will contribute a WARP-3 of at least 10.0 over their careers (even less if you assume that many of the prospects end up playing with different teams than the ones they were traded to).

(Note: WARP-3 and WAR are not interchangeable. That may be obvious but I feel it’s worth pointing out.)

So, if the Jays trade Halladay to the Yankees, they are almost definitely going back 6 WAR in the division race (less MLB contributors they acquire) in at least the next two seasons. Halladay, at 32 years old, is going to start to decline at that point, so we can’t expect 6 WAR every season until he retires.

At any rate, the odds of the prospects providing an average of 3-5 WAR from 2011 until the end of Halladay’s career are not in favor of the Jays. To make an analogy to poker, the Jays making this trade to a division rival is like chasing an open-ended straight draw. If the Jays are going to gamble, they may as well gamble without spotting a division rival an average 6 WAR in 2009 (prorated) and ’10, and anywhere from 3-5 in ’11 and a couple years beyond.

Phillies/Marlins Series Preview III

Going into the second half, the first-place Phillies will match up with the second-place Florida Marlins who are four games behind. As they usually do, the Marlins have an above-average offense but a below-average pitching staff, which explains their near-.500 record. Since inter-league play ended, the Marlins have only been able to beat subpar teams, sweeping the Nationals and winning two of three against the Pirates while dropping two of three to the Giants and splitting a four-game set with the Diamondbacks.

When you think of the 2009 Marlins, you think of Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson, and rightly so. They are the only two standout players on the squad. Ramirez boasts a 158 OPS+ and Johnson a 153 ERA+. Both will be contenders at the end of the season for the National League MVP and Cy Young awards, respectively. Other than that, the Marlins are rather mediocre.

Likewise, the Phillies are enjoying MVP-caliber campaigns from Chase Utley and the recently-activated Raul Ibanez but otherwise have not had much to write home about. The starting rotation has been disappointing, especially Cole Hamels, who has only the third-best ERA+ among the Phillies’ current starters, and none have an above-average ERA+.

However, things have been shaping up lately after a slow couple months. Jimmy Rollins, still with a sub-.650 OPS, has caught fire. Since July 2, he has 17 hits in 42 at-bats, including six doubles and a home run. Additionally, he’s drawn ten walks and has been perfect in five stolen base attempts.

Since May 26, Joe Blanton has a 2.44 ERA in 59 innings in nine starts. In that span, opposing hitters have only gotten on base at a .290 clip. Even better, he’s gone at least seven innings in six of the starts, helping to keep the Phillies’ overworked bullpen fresh.

Aside from Cole Hamels, everyone in the starting rotation is pitching better as a matter of fact. In his eight starts since May 31, Jamie Moyer has five quality starts and J.A. Happ has been impeccable since earning his first 2009 start on May 23. With a 3.03 ERA in his ten starts, Happ is easily a Rookie of the Year candidate but I don’t believe he qualifies even though he is under the innings-pitched threshold due to the number of days he’s spent on the Phillies’ 25-man roster.

Now on to the incredibly amazing tables, which are new and improved. Instead of simply including the eight most frequently-used players, I’ve included each team’s bench players as well. If you’re getting too excited, go ahead and use that defibrillator I’ve conveniently added as well. The first column of numbers is the hitter’s OPS against the pitcher, and next to it is the amount of plate appearances in which the two have squared off.

Hitting

Philadelphia Phillies @ Florida Marlins, July 16-19

Philadelphia Phillies @ Florida Marlins, July 16-19

Pitching

Philadelphia Phillies @ Florida Marlins, July 16-19

Philadelphia Phillies @ Florida Marlins, July 16-19

Since it’s the second-half, so it’s officially okay to watch the scoreboard. Here are the match-ups for the Mets and Braves.

  • July 16: Oliver Perez @ Derek Lowe
  • July 17: Mike Pelfrey @ Jair Jurrjens
  • July 18: Johan Santana @ Kenshin Kawakami
  • July 19: Fernando Nieve @ Javier Vazquez

Since the Mets are a half-game behind the Braves, we should statistically hope that if the two teams don’t split the series, we want the Mets to take three of four.

You won’t hear me complaining if the Mets get swept.

BDD: Jonathan Sanchez

At Baseball Daily Digest, I go through various reasons for being both optimistic and pessimistic about the Giants’ Jonathan Sanchez, he of the recent no-hitter.

There are rumors that the Giants are considering trading him, perhaps to help improve the offense. The Giants have the fifth-worst offense in the NL (4.18 runs per game) and they’re currently the favorites for the fourth and final NL playoff spot, so they certainly have incentive to move Sanchez if they should so choose. Add to that the huge boost in value to Sanchez’s name thanks to the no-hitter.

Any team that acquires Sanchez is getting a pitcher with a lot of upside.