BDD: Willie Freed

Willie Randolph was finally fired, though he certainly didn’t deserve it. That’s not the interesting part of the story, though. They fired him at 3 AM EST after making him travel coast-to-coast. I discuss Omar Minaya’s cowardice at Baseball Digest Daily.

Jerry Manuel is the interim manager of the Mets. It’s a humorous coincidence that he has the same last name as the Phillies’ manager. Maybe Minaya thought there was something to the name that would bring success. Too bad their Manuel has had exactly two seasons over .500 as a manager (out of six seasons) while the Phillies’ Manuel has had six out of seven (including this season).

As a Phillies fan, it’s nice to watch another organization implode upon itself, but I can’t help but feel sorry for Randolph along with Rick Peterson and Tom Nieto, who were also fired. I’d be angry if I was forced to take a long flight from the East coast to the West coast with the idea that I’d at least be there for a few days (they’re on a six-game road trip), only to meaninglessly manage one game, succeed (the Mets beat the Angels 9-6), and get canned.

What the Phillies Really Buried

From the “Stuff You Don’t Hear Every Day” Department, the Phillies re-buried a time capsule they had created in 1983. They planned to dig it up again in 2083 assuming they’d stay in Veterans Stadium forever. Obviously, the Phillies didn’t stay at the Vet forever and moved into Citizens Bank Park for the 2004 season. As a result, they had to dig up the capsule, but now they’re ready to send it back down.

What’s in it? From the article on

At the time, the capsule was filled with a 1983 team media guide, yearbook, calendar, a baseball autographed by the entire ’83 squad, Mike Schmidt’s uniform from that season, a bat autographed by Pete Rose, copies of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, among many other items.

Before the new capsule was placed in the ground Tuesday, the team added several items, including: a piece of artificial turf from Veterans Stadium, a 2008 team yearbook and media guide and tickets to the final game at the Vet in 2003 and first game at Citizens Bank in ’04, along with many other items.

I think they’re holding back some information, though. There’s some stuff in there they didn’t want us to know about. In no particular order…

  • Curt Schilling’s towel: Yes, the one he buried his face in when Mitch Williams was pitching.
  • Chase Utley’s hair gel: L.A. Looks.
  • The boot: The one that was used to kick Ed Wade out of town.
  • Rocket shoes: Pat Burrell was wearing them when he ran out to the mound when Brett Myers closed out the final game of the 2007 season when the Phillies clinched the NL East division. As catcher Chris Coste put it,

[...] Pat Burrell, the slowest man in major-league baseball, beat me, the second-slowest man in major-league baseball, to the mound. As excited as I was, every time I see that highlight from here on out, I’m going to be embarrassed by the fact that, No. 1, I didn’t keep the ball – go figure – and that Pat Burrell beat me to the mound.

  • Spittle: Collected from the many Larry Bowa tirades. Also included is drool, collected from the fans that fell asleep watching Phillies games in the late 1990′s and early 2000′s.
  • A folding chair: A metaphor for the 2007 New York Mets.
  • Bull’s BBQ Sauce: Evidence that Citizens Bank Park was home to the best food at any baseball stadium.
  • Harry Kalas’ vocal cords: Just for the extremely small chance that we can clone him, or at least his voice in the future. That DNA is valuable.
  • Mike Schmidt’s golf clubs: He used them to beat the hell out of his wife. Really.
  • The papers: They verified the trade of Kyle Kendrick to the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, used in the hilarious prank before the start of the 2008 regular season.
  • Shaving cream pie, Tomas Perez: At least when the Phillies were bad, there were some good moments, most of which were provided by Perez shoving shaving cream pies in his teammates’ faces.
  • Radar Gun at Citizens Bank Park: Billy Wagner hated it because fans would boo him for not throwing 100 MPH. Or for sinking a season by giving up a ninth-inning, three-run home run to Craig Biggio.
  • Triple-U’s machete: Ugueth Urbina, whose middle name is Urtain and thus the only Major Leaguer ever to have the initials U.U.U., attempted to kill farm workers working on his property in Venezuela.
  • Darren Daulton’s testimony: No, not a court testimony. He claims the world is going to end on December 21st, 2012, at 11:11 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time. When the capsule is opened up in 2083, Daulton will be remembered fondly.
  • A Philadelphia police badge: A reminder of Jason Michaels’ escapades.

If you think I missed something that the Phillies put in the capsule, let me know. This is serious stuff.

Countdown to the Braves’ Whining…

If there’s one thing we can count on the Braves for nowadays — it certainly isn’t playoff appearances — it’s whining when things don’t go their way. There aren’t any quotes in the Associated Press recap that is used on most of the major sports websites like Yahoo! so we’ll probably have to wait until tomorrow to hear their bawling.

In case you’re wondering, here’s the story: the Phillies are down 2-1 with two outs and runners on first and second in the ninth inning when Chris Coste comes to the plate. The Braves’ bullpen, as we all know, isn’t reliable but they should have been able to get the last out. Coste swung at the first pitch — great at-bat! — and pops it up down the right field line. Kelly Johnson botches the catch and Eric Bruntlett (who pinch-ran for Geoff Jenkins, who walked) came around to score. Pedro Feliz, not the fasted runner around, was easily thrown out trying to score as well.

The Braves had been whining about pitches all game, as they usually do. Closer Brad Lidge came in for the tenth inning to try to nail down the ill-deserved win for the Phillies, but was in a jam. After Brian McCann struck out, Josh Anderson slapped a single past shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Gregor Blanco laid down a nifty bunt that he just barely eked out (remember that one, Bravos) and Anderson raced to third base. Lidge wasn’t paying attention to the runners and, as a result, Blanco took second base to remove the double play.

Lidge got the second out by striking out Greg Norton, leaving the Braves’ hopes of a comeback to Yunel Escobar. Lidge’s first pitch was a high slider over the plate that was called a strike; Escobar made a frowny face and yapped at the umpire before stroking the next pitch into center field. Anderson scored easily; Blanco was safe and the game would continue without a perfect throw from Shane Victorino. Unfortunately for the Braves, Victorino’s throw was perfect: a laser right to Chris Coste who expertly caught the ball and applied the tag in about the same motion. It was very, very close but Blanco was called out, correctly, as replays will show. Escobar and manager Bobby Cox argued it (justified) to no avail.

Now is the time to sit back, let the results of the game sink in, and drift off to sleep. Tomorrow, some of the Braves will make some snide comments about how lucky the Phillies are (or how unlucky they are) and whine about the umpiring, par for the course with the Braves when they play the Phillies.

For their sake, I hope they prove me wrong.

A Simple Rebuttal of Anti-Bonds Arguments

Fire Joe Morgan has an interesting back-and-forth dialogue vis-à-visopen letters” between Ken Tremendous and Dak. KT takes the position that the Red Sox should not sign Barry Bonds to replace the injured David Ortiz and Dak argues that they should. This isn’t a response to them per se, but I am going to cite KT’s arguments against Bonds as the basis of this article, since most of them are common arguments. I’ll respond to them in the order in which he lists them.

1. KT cites Bonds’ 50% PECOTA projections which are “.233/.387/.462, EqA of .293.” We really don’t know how having half the season off will affect him, so we can’t cite that for either side of the coin. However, last season in 340 AB at the age of 42, Bonds had an OPS+ of 170 (.276/.480/.565, EqA of .345) and, aside from his injury-plagued 2005 season, has played in at least 126 games every year of this decade. As a DH, his balky knees won’t really come into play, and his being a liability as a defender is moot. Why would Bonds have a huuuuuuge decline in production simply from being a year older already in his 40’s? Do we expect Jamie Moyer to put up a 35 ERA+ next season simply because he’s turning 46, despite having an ERA+ of 87 or better since turning 40?

KT goes on to write,

there isn’t a good reason to think that the guy will hold up that well, especially since it turns out that the zinc and flaxseed oil he was using was actually [...] Winstrol/Stanozolol, Deca-Durabolin, HGH, The Cream, and The Clear, among other things. Without that kind of zinc and flaxseed oil, this could be one broken-down 43 year-old pituitary case.

What is the consensus year that Bonds stopped using PED’s (allegedly)? They started testing in 2003 and essentially got progressively tougher each year. Allegations have him using them in 1999 due to jealousy of the Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa home run chase. Well, here are his OPS+ numbers since 1999…

1999: 155

2000: 188

2001: 259

2002: 268

2003: 231

2004: 263

2005: 174 (42 at-bats)

2006: 156

2007: 170

So, say what you will about the PED’s he took (allegedly), he’s still one of the most productive players in baseball with or without them, even at the ripe age of 43.

Also, KT lists a bunch of substances Bonds allegedly used, and superfluously tacks on “the cream” and “the clear” at the end. “The cream” masks the substances and “the clear” refers to tetrahydrogestrinone (THG).

2. KT talks about the defensive liabilities of Manny Ramirez and Bonds, and talks about using Ramirez as a DH and Crisp/Ellsbury in left field with the conclusion that getting Ramirez out of left field and either of the other two in there will more than make up for the additional offense Bonds creates. He uses runs above average (RAA) for fielding (FRAA) which are flawed, but just to make everything equal…

Bonds, 2007: 44 Batting RAA (BRAA), -12 FRAA; Net: 32 RAA or approx. 3.2 wins.

Ramirez, 2008 prorated (550 PA): 26 BRAA, -2 FRAA; Net: 24 RAA or approx 2.4 wins.

Ellsbury, 2008 prorated (550 PA): 22 BRAA, 24 FRAA; Net: 46 RAA or approx 4.6 wins.

Crisp, 2008 prorated (550 PA): -2.5 BRAA, 11 FRAA; Net: 8.5 RAA or approx 0.85 wins.

. . .

Bonds DH, Ramirez LF, Crisp/Ellsbury CF (average of the two): 95 RAA or approx. 9.5 wins.

Ramirez DH, Crisp LF, Ellsbury CF: 80.5 RAA or approx. 8 wins.

Bonds is worth about a win and a half more.

3. KT writes, “Barry Bonds hasn’t played baseball yet this year.”

As mentioned, this can’t be cited as a good or a bad thing since there’s no way to prove how it affects a player.

4. KT writes, “Barry Bonds has never played in the American League.”

I don’t think the difference in leagues matters, especially given inter-league play and the fact that Bonds would be a DH in the AL. If anything, moving to the AL would benefit Bonds. There’s the obvious disadvantage of having to face a bunch of pitchers he’s never seen before, but we’re not talking about a scrub that is being called up from AAA; we are talking about one of the three best hitters ever to play the game of baseball, and arguably the best eye in baseball history.

5. KT cites Bonds making comments in June 2004 about the city of Boston being “racist.” Bonds used that as a reason he would never play for the Red Sox. I don’t see how this is a reason not to sign Bonds. Was it an ill-advised, politically-incorrect statement? Absolutely, but baseball isn’t about public relations first and foremost, is it?

6. This will be a long one. KT lists six reasons for Bonds being “world’s biggest douchebag.” It’s a very detailed ad hominem, but I’ll humor it anyway.

Consider that he (a) has been cheating at baseball for like 10 years

So have hundreds of other players, a lot of whom didn’t have any trouble finding jobs anyway. As Dak pointed out, the Red Sox had the steroid-using Eric Gagne.

(b) lied about it the whole time

I don’t blame him. Until 2003, there was no way to get caught other than red-handed. If players shouldn’t be signed for being “douchebags,” and lying is douchebaggery, then most baseball players are douchebags and therefore should not be signed to baseball teams.

(c) cheated on his wife and used non-IRS-reported cash to buy his mistress a house in Arizona

His relationship with his wife and others is not germane both to the “douchebag” argument and to the “he shouldn’t be signed” argument.

His “non-IRS-reported cash” is germane only if it is still an ongoing legal issue. As far as I can tell, it isn’t. They’ve been trying to nail Bonds for the last four years or so and they’ve come up empty each time. In fact, Bonds has been so hard to nail that the federal prosecutors had to revise their original indictment and break it down into pieces to reflect each falsehood Bonds is alleged to have made. Why would they do this? They know that they’re not going to win in some – and more likely, most – of them.

As Golden Gate University law professor Peter Keane told the Associated Press, “It is two ways of saying it is lying. There is really no substantial difference between what he was charged with then and what he is charged with now.”

(d) claimed racism everywhere he went for whatever reason if it suited his purposes

Is it really that outrageous for one of the most prominent African American athletes to be aware of racism that still obviously exists in this country? I think some people would prefer if people would just simply keep quiet about racism simply because they don’t want to hear about it.

Even if he’s excessively vocal about it, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” applies here.

(e) once dragged his fucking kids into a press conference and used them as literal human shields to try to protect himself from questions about whether he was using steroids (which, again, he totally was)

Did Bonds say that was the reason he brought his kids to the press conference? It’s a strawman argument otherwise.

And no one has proven that he ever used steroids. Regardless of how obvious you feel it is that Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs, he still allegedly took them.

and to try to make the reporters who were asking the questions feel guilty for asking them


(f) didn’t even show up to the fucking HR-hitting contest held at his own [freaking] ballpark

What KT fails to mention is that Bonds had legitimate reasons for sitting out. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “Bonds said Thursday he will not participate because of the strain it would place on his body, ‘especially when you’re 42.’”

Now, I know a lot of guys in professional sports can proudly claim one or more of (a)-(f). But only one has all of them. And you want to put that guy — that 43 year-old mini-scrotumed douchebag — on your team?

If that “43-year-old, mini-scrotumed douchebag” gives my team a better chance of winning – and, as proven, he does – then absolutely I want him on my team.

7. KT rehashes #2 and is still wrong, as shown.

8. KT says that, because the Red Sox have won two World Series in 2004 and ’07, the front office shouldn’t feel pressure to win another one this season. The goal of every team every season is to win a World Series. The concern of not selling the farm to win now is legitimate, but Bonds would only cost cash, something the Red Sox have plenty of with the second-highest payroll in Major League Baseball.

To say that the Red Sox should just shrug their shoulders and hope for the best with the loss of their most important hitter is to ignore the goal that every team has going into each season.

9. KT has a funny scenario in which Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy introduces himself to Bonds. It doesn’t further the argument, but it’s good levity.

10. KT says that the “real problem” is pitching, as if signing Bonds would prevent the Red Sox from improving their pitching. This is what’s known as a false dilemma. As mentioned, Bonds would likely cost the Red Sox under $1 million (all of the rumors that Bonds wants $10+ million are unfounded; no one has even called Bonds or his Agent Jeff Boriss in speculation). The Red Sox have money to spare.

11. KT responds to Dak’s willingness to ignore most off-the-field issues as long as his team is successful. KT disagrees. They both humor lots of egregious scenarios which would never happen with Bonds, such as “Barry Bonds tested positive for steroids and HGH and let’s say, for the fun of it, black tar heroin,” “SpyGate II for the next 25 years,” “Barry Bonds had fixed the games,” and “[Bonds] had personally taken some of the not-reported-to-the-IRS cash.”

As we can see, a lot of the common anti-Bonds arguments are very error-prone and based largely on emotion rather than objectivity. Things would be a lot easier if people would just own up and say that they don’t like Bonds and don’t want him wearing the home team’s uniform instead of pretending to throw salvos of facts around. The verdict is in and it’s unanimous: Bonds’ value as an offensive player is far too great to simply pass up for essential pennies on the dollar. Almost every team in Major League Baseball would benefit from adding Bonds, even in the National League where his defensive shortcomings come into play.

Manuel Sends the MVP a Message

The Phillies took 3 of 4 from the Reds thanks to a Cole Hamels complete game shutout, improving their home stand record to 8-2. With a nine-game road trip through Georgia, Florida, and Missouri looming, there was a bit too much tension in the air, especially for a team that’s as hot as the Phillies are.

Scott Lauber writes,

Manuel did, in fact, bench Jimmy Rollins in the fifth inning today, two innings after he didn’t run out a pop fly that wound up being dropped in shallow left field by Reds shortstop Paul Janish.


This could’ve been an explosive situation at the end of an otherwise wildly successful 8-2 homestand. But Manuel didn’t embarrass Rollins, and Rollins took full blame for what happened.

It takes some gusto — to put it kindly — to bench the reigning NL MVP. Manuel is way down on the list of managers most likely to be a disciplinarian with one of the team’s most vital players, but as Philadelphia radio personality Howard Eskin learned last year, Manuel can “get angry.”

As Manuel said, there’s not too much to talk about. Rollins owned up to his mistake of not running out a routine fly ball and isn’t going to hold any grudges, and Manuel didn’t roast his player in front of the media. For a situation that could have been explosive at one of the worst possible times — in the middle of a hot streak — both handled it like true professionals and now the focus is on tomorrow night’s Moyer-Hudson match-up in Atlanta.

Say what you will about Manuel’s in-game tactics, but he deals with the personalities on his roster as expertly as anyone in the game.

. . .

Conversely, Phillies Assistant GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. took questions on 610 WIP on Tuesday and handled that poorly, as I talk about at Baseball Digest Daily. He was asked about signing Cole Hamels to a long-term contract and his answer was a swift kick in his own mouth.

Also at Baseball Digest Daily, I talked about some issues I have with the All-Star Game and offer up some solutions.

BDD: The Phillies Offense is Hot!

Today’s offering at Baseball Digest Daily is a recap and some trivia regarding the Phillies’ last two games in which they’ve scored 20 and 15 runs.

Sunday, I discussed the youth movement with starting pitching and why it’s not just a fluke occurrence.

Saturday, I cautioned baseball fans against correlating the decline in offense to the stricter drug policies.

I’m a bit late with the sixth installment of The Ryan Report, but I think I may put that on the shelf until this weekend just to keep it on schedule.

Jose Valverde Not As Tough As Brett Myers

Houston Astros closer Jose Valverde was hit by a line drive — indirectly — off of the bat of Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Pedro Feliz. The line drive hit his glove first, then hit the right side of his face.

Jose ValverdeValverde flopped to the ground after being hit and laid there as assistant trainer Rex Jones, manager Cecil Cooper, catcher J.R. Towles, and all of the infielders came out to assist him.

After being examined, he demanded to stay in the game to finish off the ninth inning. Valverde had allowed a lead-off single to Pat Burrell, who advanced on center fielder Michael Bourn’s fielding error. He then retired Geoff Jenkins on a weak grounder up the middle before the RBI single from Pedro Feliz hit him in the face.

After persuading Jones and Cooper that he was well enough to pitch, he allowed a single to the first batter he faced, Carlos Ruiz. Pinch-hitter Chris Coste, hitting for pitcher Ryan Madson, feebly struck out, leaving it up to Jimmy Rollins to attempt to the game with two outs. Rollins came through with a line drive double to right field, but it was impressively cut off by Hunter Pence, and Feliz was held at third base as a result. Shane Victorino couldn’t get a hit, instead flying out to Bourn in center field.

When Valverde was hit, I was instantly reminded of when Brett Myers was hit in the head with a Michael Barrett line drive in the second inning of a game against the Cubs in Chicago on May 8, 2005. Not only did Myers stay in to finish the inning, he pitched an eight-inning complete game, allowing only two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out ten. If you want to watch it, click here to go to the May 2005 highlights page on the Phillies’ website, go down to May 8, and click on one of the videos for “Myers hit.”

The line drive goes right off of Myers’ head and ricochets all the way out into left field with momentum to spare. If you watch the video, you’ll notice that Myers doesn’t even hit the ground; he gets right back up. Myers’ only mistakes in the game were solo home runs to Neifi Perez and Aramis Ramirez in the fourth inning. The Phillies were stymied by Carlos Zambrano, getting only a Bobby Abreu solo home run off of him.

Valverde, on the other hand, got the save, but allowed two runs on four hits in one inning of work, and he held up the game after getting hit by a line drive that was first deflected.

Myers vs. Valverde

Sorry, Jose, you just aren’t as tough as Brett Myers. Thanks for playing.

Now to find some way to set up another line drive to hit Myers in the head so he can start pitching as well as he did back on that day in May ’05…

Natural reflex
Pendulum swing
You might be too dizzy
To do the right thing

Rush, “Stick It Out”