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The Dip

Hamels, Madson, Rollins: Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

Posted by The Dipsy, Sun, August 28, 2011 06:08 PM Comments: 50

(PHOTO: NJ.com)

This post was written by one of our commenters, The Dispy.

The general consensus is that, after the season is over, the Phils will have three big contract issues to deal with: the pending free agency of both Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Madson along with an extension for Cole Hamels. The Phillies, by design or good fortune, have a lot of expiring money coming off the books.

In my view, they are not cash strapped, yet good business and an eye to the future dictate they be prudent when letting their money go. That said, lets tackle these contracts one at a time:

1. Cole Hamels: He is the “must do” out of the three. Its not my money, but I would not be much interested in playing hardball with Cole. He is a star, he’s young, and he’s lefthanded. If I were Cole I’d want five years. Cliff got it so why shouldn’t he? Buying out his 2012 arb years is worth what….16m? Then give him 20m a year after that.? Dipsy’s price: 5y96m

Continue reading Hamels, Madson, Rollins: Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

  • 50 Comments
 

Time to Vote Again? So Soon?

Posted by The Dipsy, Mon, December 06, 2010 06:22 PM Comments: 9

In an unnecessary move made no doubt to ingratiate himself to people that he thinks highly of in baseball, Bud Selig has again deconstructed the manner in which the Veteran’s Committee votes for individuals for admission into the Hall of fame.

As of July 26, 2010, all individuals eligible for induction but not eligible for BBWAA consideration will now be considered on a single ballot, grouped in areas of three different time frames: Pre-Integration (1871-1946); Golden (sickeningly presumptuous, isn’t it?) (1947-1972); and Expansion (1973 and later). What this means is that players, managers, broadcasters, execs, etc all get thrown into the pot for the era they contributed in. The voting for each era rotates so that each “era” is voted on once every three years on a rotating basis.

This year, a committee of 16 players, writers, execs, etc from the “Expansion” era will vote on 12 individuals that contributed form 1973 to present. Thats right, guys from your era vote on you. No more pesky “downers” like Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Bowie Kuhn etc, around to screw up your chances. The results are to be announce tomorrow. Without further ado:

The Nominated

Vida Blue, Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Pat Gillick, Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Billy Martin, Al Oliver, Ted Simmons, Rusty Staub (I’m not kidding), Marvin Miller, and George Steinbrenner. These individuals were selected by what was quite sensibly named the “Historical Oversight Committee”.

The Voters

Johnny Bench, Whitey Herzog, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Frank Robinson, Ryne Sandberg, Ozzie Smith, Bill Giles, David Glass, Andy MacPhail, Jerry Reinsdorf, Bob Elliot, Tim Kurkjian, Ross Newhan, and Tom Verducci.

Well, if you’re like me your seeing problems already. Firstly, I believe that we should be removing guys from the Hall of Fame, not adding any. As it is, Cooperstown is littered with undeserved and ill considered members and, while I understand we can’t extract any of them, I would sure like baseball to take some steps to choke off the flow of more coming in. That said, when I reviewed this whole new apparatus, I came to the following conclusions:

1. Players who don’t get in the first time around should never be considered again (In bold). Most of the aforementioned nominees were on the ballot for fifteen years, got voted on, and didn’t get in. As far as I’m concerned, thats the end of the story unless you did something really great after your fifteen years elapsed. What’s so “oversight…uh…ful” about a guy that had fifteen years to grab enough votes to get in but couldn’t? Nothing. he didn’t get enough votes because he wasn’t good enough and the voters were probably right.

2. The voting pool is comprised mostly of guys that played with you or covered you. At first blush, one might surmise that there would be no one better to vote on these players than the other guys that were on the field with them? Firstly, do you really think that all the other Veteran’s Committee members that have been excluded from this vote are so clueless that they could not fully grasp the impact of a particular player even though they didn’t sit in the same dugout with them? Well, if they are then they should be thrown out as voters, period. I predict that this method will make for rampant “croneyism”. I fear that some voters, many of whom have personal relationships with the guys they are being asked to vote for, will set their objectivity aside and give one of their pals the nudge they need to get in. I know that if I’m Davey Concepcion, I’ve already been on the phone with Johnny Bench and Tony Perez for a little exercise in lobbying. The bottom line: The perceived fairness of having contemporaries vote for one another be subjugated to the concern the lack of subjectivity one might encounter when buddies are ask to vote for each other. Prospective members should be voted on by a fair cross section of Hall of Fame voters, not exclusively by their peers.

3. The “Tommy John” question. Yes, he was a real good pitcher who pitched for good teams. A little addition: If you added up the number of Tommy John’s World Series winning teams plus the number of times he won the CY Young Award plus the times he led the league in either wins, era, or strikeouts, then you would get a number of precisely zero. Nice career but lets face it, the only reason he his on this ballot is because he was the first guy to have the Frank Jobe surgery. Thats said, lets induct Dr. Frank Jobe, and I’m so not kidding.

4. Who will get in: Concepcion, Garvey, John, Miller If you construct a panel of sixteen people and ask them to vote they’re not going to choose no one. Thats part of the screwy nature of the process. When a voter gets a list of candidates, its inherent that those asking you to vote are suggesting that you vote for someone. And that’s my theory.

5. Who should get in: Marvin Miller. If this little ad hoc crew really wanted to get it right, this would be their one and only choice. Im am not pro-union or pro management, but before Miller showed up as head of the first players union, these players were slaves. A true Hall of Famer and a long time coming.

In summation, in his inexorable march towards fixing everything in baseball that’s not broken, the Bud Selig, or his proxies, have installed a stupid and skewed new process that no doubt will bug a lot of people. I just hope not too much damage is done between now and the next time its changed.

  • 9 Comments
 

Ryan's Hope

Posted by The Dipsy, Sun, November 28, 2010 06:59 AM Comments: 87

The Phillies lineup has some problems that we are all aware of – and most pronounced is that its too left-handed. At present, Placido Polanco and Carloz Ruiz are the team’s best right-handed hitters and this just shouldn’t be. The lack of a good right-handed bat particularly hurts Ryan Howard, and in some very concrete ways.

I would suspect that Ryan may be a bit confused sometimes about what hitting approach to take. One would think that a part of him might like to go to the plate, when a man is on base, with the luxury of knowing that someone behind him can knock in the run if he doesn’t. He doesn’t have that and that leads to wild swinging and an unwillingness to take walks. This “I do it or it doesn’t get done” attitude, and the hitting approach that goes with it, leads to pitchers giving him slop to hit because they know he’ll swing…because he feels he has to. And he does. Taking a walk means nothing to Ryan nor should it.

Now let’s put a premiere hitter in back of him. An RBI man and a run producer. At that point, perhaps Ryan becomes a more selective hitter because he’s got the security behind him. A guy that could make a pitcher pay for walking him. Unafraid to take a walk, Ryan would see better pitches, which then makes him a better hitter. Add a little Bonds to his Fielder (Cecil), so to speak. This type of thinking is by no means novel and I think the Phils would get the hitter to fill that spot for Ryan if at any point it becomes feasible. Now it is.

The day before Thanksgiving, The White Sox declined to offer arbitration to Manny Ramirez, thus removing his Type-A free agent tag. This means any team can sign him without giving up draft picks. Now, if you don’t think Manny can hit anymore, I guess you can stop reading here. I believe that, if motivated, Ramirez can still produce a 35/120/.320 season. Yup. Notwithstanding his last two seasons comprised of suspensions, in season vacations, injuries, and attempts to grow mammary glands, I believe that if Manny wants to play, that he will hit. “Good” Manny would the best offensive option available to the Phils…by far.

He’s a head job. A drama queen. A poor fielder. He also owns two World Series rings. He is dedicated to the art of hitting and has become one of the greatest offensive players of his generation. He’s right handed. And he’s played for Charlie Manuel. If Manny wants to play, and we don’t know that he does, then Ruben oughta seriously explore what it would take to put him in red pinstripes. Financially, and I have not been consulted on this, it would no doubt have to be a heavily incentive-laden contract. If the guaranteed base salary the Phils give him is low enough, it would make his acquisition a low risk ,high reward venture. I was thinking about 3 mill.

Let’s find Manny, wherever he might be, and kick the tires a little. Find out what’s going on in that coconut of his. In the event he thinks the sun hasn’t set on his career and that he would like to play for a potential World Series winner, if he’d be willing to do what it takes to be a good teammate (or a reasonable facsimile), if he is in baseball playing shape, then put ink to paper and MapQwest him some directions to Clearwater. Make no mistake, Manny is a lunatic. But he is THAT good.

  • 87 Comments
 

The Dip: Two Players, Too Much Alike

Posted by The Dipsy, Wed, November 17, 2010 11:23 PM Comments: 41

This is “The Dip,” a column penned by our own commenter, The Dipsy.

If you look at the statistics of Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins over the last three years or so you will realize that they are strikingly similar. In fact, their offensive games nearly mirror one another. In a given year, you can expect 10-15 hrs, 60 rbis, .270 and 40 SBs from each one. Now these are good numbers, especially when you consider that the two don’t play what are generally considered to be big offensive positions. When you add the fact that both Rollins and Victorino are exceptional defensive players, one would think that any manager would be happy to write their names on the lineup card everyday. But not so fast.

On most of the teams in baseball, both of these guys would be asked to be offensive stalwarts for their teams. But the Phillies are not most teams and they’re offensive engine for the last three years have been Utley, Howard, and Werth. That said, the guys surrounding those three should be focused on getting on base, getting in scoring position, and helping to get other guys in scoring position. Guys like this were once referred to as “tablesetters”. The Phils need Rollins and Victorino to be those guys but their games’ just are not suited to that role.

Residing in the shadows of the traditional measurable offensive statistics are the duo’s inability or unwillingness to do the other things a strong offensive team requires from the top of the lineup. Neither of them walk. Neither of them bunt. Their OBPs are atrocious. Neither of them are effective at moving runners. Groundouts always seem to go the shortstop when a guy is on second with no outs. Flyouts never seem to go far enough to turn into sacrifice flies. Jimmy’s season high in SFs is 7. Shane has 11…for his career. In short, when these two are not hitting balls in the gaps when they can run real fast and get triples, while everyone stares agog admiring the raw talent, they do very little to move a lineup along and create RBI opportunities. While their numbers may look good at the end of the season, Shane and Jimmy spend as much of their at bats being anemic as they do being dynamic (I know they don’t rhyme, but its close). For this reason, one of them has got to go.

There is a lot to praise about their respective skill sets. They are not bad offensive ball players. They are not going to change nor should they be asked to. I write here that the repetition of their inadequacies in this lineup contributes greatly to the bouts of stagnation this offense suffers through every season. When we hear the common refrain that this team “can’t play small ball” and “if they’re not hitting home runs, they’re not scoring”, you can point directly at Shane and Jimmy as the main reason why that is. I hate the phrase “productive out”, but I guess its part of the lexicon now, so that said – these two don’t make any. To me, this lineup would work a lot better with a guy who might give you less of the speed and the triples and the SB’s but would instead offer you a higher batting average, better “situational hitting”, and the desire to work a walk. A manufactured run counts just as much as a home run and the Phillies don’t get them. They need more scratch runs if they are going to avoid the prolonged slumps that have plagued them in recent seasons and allow them to realize their full offensive potential.

Who to trade? Because he plays the most expendable position of the two, and because the Phils would get good value back, and because the Phils wouldn’t have to eat any cash: I trade Shane.

  • 41 Comments
 

The Dip: A Response to Paul Hagan

Posted by The Dipsy, Fri, July 30, 2010 12:30 PM Comments: 38

On the back of today’s Philadelphia Daily News read the teaser: “Oswalt is Phils’ Admission That Trading Lee Was A Mistake”. The article that lied therein was written by Paul Hagen who, while I guess still technically a beat writer covering the Phils, has been paid for years to report on the most mundane aspects of Phils baseball. But apparently, Hagen is not without an opinion, and some bad ones at that.

Firstly, Hagen opines that the Phillies should have just kept Lee and avoided this whole necessity to trade for more starting pitching. Implicit in this reasoning is that Ruben Amaro, Jr. knew at the beginning of the season that Joe Blanton, no fragile animal, would injury himself early and struggle to become effective for most of the season. Ruben must also have known that JA Happ would himself miss almost the whole season with injuries of his own. And that Moyer would blow out his elbow. While we all know that injuries are a part of the game, the necessity of relying primarily on two starters for the whole season is something that I think we all agree that no one could have foreseen. Injuries are an unknown variable and when the Phillies started to bear their allotment to the point where their pennant hopes were started to slip away, Amaro made the big move to compensate. Kudos to you, sir.

In his article, Hagen seems troubled that the Phillies might be mortgaging their future for the sake of the present:

[The Oswalt Deal] ..also increases the odds that, in the not-too-distant future, they will have a roster chocked with costly older players on the downside of their careers and reinforcements down on the farm to replace them.”

Paul, in case you haven’t noticed, Ruben has structured the Phils payroll to siphon out big money starting after the 2011 season. Gone will be Lidge, Moyer, Ibanez, and after 2012, Rollins and Polanco. So I guess you mean those artifacts, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, and Chase Utley that will be hanging around for awhile. None will be 36. Some may disagree with the Howard contract (I don’t), and that’s fair, but on the whole, Ruben has managed this payroll nicely.

No reinforcements? Let me throw some names at ya: Domonic Brown, Jonathan Singleton, Harold Garcia, Trevor May, Brody Colvin, Jarrod Cosart, Phillip Aumont, J.C. Ramirez, Tyson Gilles, Vance Worley. Wait, my fingers are getting tired. While most of this talent is still in A ball, the drip of contributing players will start in about two years, the time when the older players start to leave. My gosh, it almost seems like a plan.

So Paul, you are wrong as wrong can be and in every facet of your reasoning. Roy Oswalt coming to the Phils is all about adjusting to circumstances, to think on one’s feet and the ability to be nimble. The Phillies don’t bemoan things that didn’t work; they go out and fix things.

  • 38 Comments
 

The Dip: Like It Or Not, We’re Still In it

Posted by The Dipsy, Sun, July 18, 2010 10:33 AM Comments: 82

What a bad place to be. In the thick of a wild card chase, waiting for injured players to return and healthy players to play better, deciding whether to trade one of our best players – while at the same time trying to figure out whether we are good enough (honestly) to make any noise in the post season (if in fact we actually get there). So many unknown variables to deal with. As it stands, the Phillies are not one of the best four teams in the National League. It’s also true that any team in the current wild card cluster is capable of going on a run, improbable or not, that puts them in the playoffs. So, Ruben Amaro has to watch his team for the next couple of weeks and decide whether the Phils are contenders or pretenders, and based on his decision, he will proceed accordingly. Some background:

Some fans are convinced that Cliff Lee’s departure took the heart right out of the team before the season ever began. The Halladay/Lee “thing” showed that the Phils wanted to stay very good yet stopped short of daring to be great. Last I checked, Cliff Lee does not hit home runs, steal bases, or field. He cannot pitch every day of the week and does not have a medical degree. Cliff Lee’s absence is not the problem. Injuries have compromised the Phils’ proficiency in every area: pitching, fielding, and hitting. Old timers say that injuries are not an excuse for losing. Actually, that’s not true. Injuries can be an excuse as to why you’re losing. You’re just not supposed to say it. Any sane person can understand that when you lose a zillion player games – all star player games at that – to injuries, that your team is probably not gonna play well, if not flat out suck. Mets fans learned that the hard way. So, what to do now? I think the Phillies’ fate revolves in large part around what the Phils decide to do with three key players: Jayson Werth, Joe Blanton, and Brad Lidge.

Jayson Werth is not playing well. He looks clueless at the plate. He is also, by his own admission, eagerly awaiting the end of the season so he can sign a big, fat contract…the one he has been “waiting his whole life for.” Is Jayson’s little slump a product of the Free Agent Blues – grinding his bat into sawdust and tightening up at the prospect of one less zero at the end of his next contract? Hey, I don’t know. But I do know that Ruben can replace Jayson’s current production by trading him for another righty bat and probably a lefty reliever. If you don’t believe me, compare Jayson’s stats with that of other outfielders and you’ll find that he’s not so special this year. But of course, he could get hot. Sitting around and waiting for someone to get “get hot” seems like a waste of time to me. If I find the right deal, I trade him.

The Phils have made it known they are looking for starting pitching. Joe Blanton is a good pitcher having a bad year. But Joe has a justified track record where he turns it on in the second half of seasons. Joe is a stone cold 14-10, 3.90, 200 IP guy – and those numbers don’t grow on trees. You gotta trust him to come around and lay off the temptation to trade for an Oswalt or Haren, mainly because the Phils have a bigger problem in…

Brad Lidge. He is not a major league closer anymore. While the in-the-dirt slider is still one of the best out pitches in the game, he cannot get ahead of hitters consistently enough to get in the position to throw it. His fastball is not fast and, unless perfectly placed, is a candidate to leave the park at any time. That little baby slider that he throws is fine but if he gets it up, it gets hit. In short, he does not have enough “stuff” on any of his his pitches not named “slider” to get away with a misplaced pitch. And he gets hit. A true closer must give you more than sporadic periods of effectiveness – and Lidge doesn’t offer that. The Phils will win nothing with him finishing games. If I am Ruben Amaro, I fill this hole before I look for another starter. Some more quick analysis shows why.

We know that Ibanez is an albatross and isn’t going anywhere. Domonic Brown is not getting called up before September. Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick will continue to provide little at the back of the rotation. J.A. Happ probably won’t contribute soon. Utley has to come back faster than forecast. These things, you just have to hope to be surprised and see some good things happen. Hope for a little luck, let’s say.

In conclusion, at some point in the not too distant future, RAJ is gonna have to take a hard look in the mirror and decide who this team really is. Whatever decision he makes he’ll get killed for it and that comes with the job. If he decides to push all in, then I think it’s OK to trade Werth for immediate help to address our need areas. If not (and that would take a mean losing streak), then try and clear the decks: Werth, Moyer, Madson, Lidge, Ibanez can all go, while paying some salary along the way. But before that decision has to be made there is some baseball left to play. Go Phils.

  • 82 Comments
 

The Dip: On Fan Etiquette

Posted by The Dipsy, Tue, June 15, 2010 10:40 AM Comments: 40

Boo?When it comes to freedom of expression at sporting events, it’s a common refrain that the fan -  who pays his money – has the right to do what he or she wants,  short of disturbing the game or seriously compromising other fans’ enjoyment.  You can’t fight, you can’t swear profusely, you can’t be falling down drunk (most of the time), and you sure as heck can’t run on the field.  In short, there are parameters.  While at times the line may be hazy, I think we all have a basic understanding as to what it is.   But among true, dyed-in-the-wool, baseball fans, I have found that a higher code exists.  Some observations and opinions:

When a fan is in their own stadium, things aren’t that difficult.  You can heckle, in  reasonable degree, anyone on the field:  visiting players, your players, umps, mascots, grounds crew…whoever.   Be anywhere between gracious to tolerant towards fans of opposing teams, for most of them are probably pretty cool.  They are permitted to wear their teams caps, jerseys, etc.  They are fans, too.  They just have a different home.  Some of the most pleasant experiences I have had at games is sitting down next to a knowledgeable and civil fan of the other team and sharing some good old fashioned baseball talk.  Cardinals fans are great.

Unfortunately, I have also had bad experiences with opposing fans.  My manner in dealing with them has surely become more tempered as the years have gone by but when an opposing fans’ conduct reaches a certain point, I feel that they should be taken in hand.  That said, here are some suggestions for fans, Phils fans also, when seeing a game in another teams park:

  1. When you get to your seats, try and introduce yourself to the fans seated immediately near you.  Demonstrate that you’re a real person with admirable qualities before the wedge of fandom is driven between you and the rest of the patrons.
  2. Never heckle their players if it is known you are a visiting fan (this is a no-brainer).
  3. When reacting to good plays by your team, try to stay seated and clap.  More than a golf clap but less that a WWF clap.  If there is a homer, you may stand and clap.  Do not yell “YES!”, or hoot, or scream “THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN’  ‘BOUT” at any time.  Do not stand and high five your mates.
  4. Do not cheer the home teams’ errors.  A golf clap is fine.
  5. Use your common sense.  If the game heats up and it’s close, you may elevate your intensity a little bit.  The other fans are fans, too – they should understand.

If you haven’t divined this by now, the governing concept should be that you are a guest in their “house”.   While not cowering or being intimidated, accord them some respect.  Root for your team without showing up their team.   Disagree?

Yes, I did say that at times some fans must be advised that their behavior is unacceptable.  An illustration:  A couple of weeks ago I got a couple of tickets in the rich seats against the Cubs behind the visitor’s dugout.  There was a corny, middle aged man who would stand up and cheer every Cub success and every Phils foible vociferously, while at times turning around and pointing at the crowd.  He was taunting.  When the Cubs ran in from the field he stood up and cheered and Soriano winked at him at one point which sent our section into a lather.  From that point he was treated to a torrent of barbs and tongue lashings until his insubordinate manner had been adjusted.  No swearing.  No “mom” talk.  Just good old fashioned, razor sharp heckling.  I was involved.  The point of the story is that, while it is nice to be a gracious host, those who seek to take advantage of your hospitality to an unreasonable degree should be addressed and inspired to moderate their conduct.   In the end, we probably ended up doing that guy a favor.

So, there it is.  The Dispy’s little handbook on fan etiquette.  While I don’t hold it up to be the Emily Post of fan conduct, I think its all pretty reasonable and if we all followed it, we should all be in good stead.  Am I a little territorial and provincial?  Perhaps.  But I’m a fan.

  • 40 Comments
 

The Dip: Crime and Punishment

Posted by The Dipsy, Tue, May 11, 2010 05:58 PM Comments: 65

Field runners have been around baseball for as long as I can remember. Usually they’re drunk kids who make a mad dash for the field, run around with no apparent purpose, only to be quickly lassoed by local law enforcement and hauled into the stadium tunnel. In the 70′s there were streakers. These were people that actually ran naked onto the baseball field only to meet the same fate. There was also the buxom Morganna, a head full of mad platinum blonde hair and enormous breasts, who used to run onto the field directly towards a player, kiss that player, and then go back to her seat. For the player it was considered an honor. I can’t remember a player ever being assaulted by a wayward fan who had run onto the field. But that was a simpler time. We listened to disco for god’s sake.

Then came 9/11 and the world changed and we could never take our safety for granted again. Shoebombs. Anthrax (not the band). Virginia Tech. Society has shown it can get a little screwy and scary so now, when a person runs onto a baseball field, where we all used to laugh and hoot, many of us become alarmed. This is because recent history has taught us that anything can happen. Simply put, for the safety of those on the playing field, what was once a little harmless fun, is now something to be taken seriously.

So, it was at the intersection of my youthful naivete and our restless future where I saw a waifish, 17-year old kid brazenly run onto the outfield wielding a hand towel, hopping around, and looking for all the trouble he could handle. What I saw next was surreal – perhaps absurd.

Look, I know the difference between danger and somebody doing something stupid. That said, that kid posed no more danger to a player, or anyone else on that field, than a windblown hot dog wrapper. The drill started as usual. The kid came on the field. He ran around. Everyone ran towards him. But dangit this kid was wiley and hard to catch. Now the Philadelphia Police Officer had decided he had seen enough and broke out his weapon and sent currents of electricity through the interloper’s body. Are you kidding? Is this what we’ve come to? I for one hope that, while field running can not be tolerated, tasers are not routinely pulled from holsters at first sight of an intruder.

My suggestion for the future? Why not employ a common sense approach. In the interest of those playing in the game, why not measure the use of force to be employed on a case by case basis? Stay with me here. For instance, if a guy that runs on the field has the Quran in one hand and a grenade in the other, or is the mohawk guy from the Road Warrior, then bring in the cavalry. But if its a 17-year old boy flouncing around the outfield for kicks, or someone jumping out of his seat along the baseline to get a baseball, or a monarch butterfly fluttering around the pitchers mound, please keep the weapon on your hip and catch the offender the old fashioned way: by expending the necessary energy to chase him down, tackle him, and roughhouse him down to the station.

Yes, it can be said that we live in dangerous times – so lets be vigilant and protective. But not careless. If shocking people with electricity is the way those smarter than me think that it should be handled, then I guess that’s the way it’ll be. But I can’t help but think what a sad commentary that would be on where this crazy world is headed.

  • 65 Comments
 

The Dip: Doomsday Scenario #483 – Brad Lidge

Posted by The Dipsy, Tue, April 06, 2010 08:29 PM Comments: 53

There is good possibility that Brad Lidge will never be an effective closer in the majors leagues again. Throughout an inconsistent career he has had one shining season. Now on the north side of 30, he has spent the better part of the last 18 months battling through injuries – including two surgeries and just recently a cortisone shot in that right elbow. While I hope for the best, I am expecting the worst. My only request: Please do not bring him back until he’s as close to 100% as he going to be. I don’t really want to see Charlie having to walk the Lidge tightrope like he did last year. If Brad doesn’t have it when he comes back, I hope Charlie makes the swift and decisive move to option #2: Ryan Madson.

Okay, in the past Ryan has not been a good closer. Maybe we haven’t seen enough of his body of work in that role to pass judgment. Let’s give the guy a chance and see what he can do for a month. Maybe he can harness all that talent and be the closer some feel he can be. Not working come July? Move right to option #3: Danys Baez.

Baez has pedigree – he has been a successful closer in the past. If his arm is all the way back from surgery and he is pitching well the first couple months, please move him in if Madson falters. In the event Baez is a bust, then Ruben can step in to handle option #4: Trade for a closer.

I imagine this would happen, if needed, anywhere between the all star break and the trade deadline. There will be names out there (I don’t know why Trevor Hoffman’s name keeps ringing in my ears) and Ruben will surely know who he can and can’t trade by that point. And it might hurt. Perhaps it will be some variation of a Jayson Werth trade. I do know that a “closer-by-committee” situation is generally a bad idea; and that this team deserves a true closer to shut down the game. Anything less cheats everyone.

In summation: Assess what very well may be a cluster(bleep) of a bullpen in thorough but timely fashion. If the answer is not here, let there be no hemming and hawing about going out to find it somewhere else. Let Ruben bear in mind the words of a great mind from years gone by who once said, “He who hesitates is lost”. He’ll be doing everyone a great service.

  • 53 Comments
 

The Dip: Roll Call

Posted by The Dipsy, Mon, March 15, 2010 07:13 AM Comments: 87

#11 Jimmy Rollins Takes off for second

Dave Bancroft, Travis Jackson, Bobby Wallace, and John Ward. No, this is not a list of NASCAR drivers. It is a list of men who have played shortstop in the major leagues and have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Suffice it to say, these guys don’t evoke the grandeur and prestige (tongue firmly in cheek) of that hallowed institution. This is one important reason why Jimmy Rollins, if he continues at pace for another 3-5 years, will go into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Not only that, but he has a chance at being considered one of the greatest shortstops of all time.

Sure, maybe I’m not giving the above-mentioned individuals enough credit, but if they were really that great, I would have at least heard of them before I actually looked at the list of actual Hall of Fame shortstops. I am one of those guys that really don’t take baseball before Babe Ruth that seriously. Further, I don’t really consider the truly “modern era” of baseball to have begun until Jackie Robinson broke in. Even so, as it pertains to this discussion, I cannot dispute that Honus Wagner was just incredible and stands head-and-shoulders above the rest. With the way he hit, he could have been a butcher in the field and it wouldn’t have mattered.

The shortstops in the Hall can be sorted into groups.

  1. The guys that played when dinosaurs roamed the earth: Bancroft, Jackson, Wallace, Ward, Hughie Jennings, Rabbit Maranville, and Joe Tinker (check his stats when you get a chance).
  2. Guys who got in mostly through their association with great teams: Pee Wee Reese, Phil Rizzuto, Loe Boudreau
  3. The truly deserving: Joe Cronin, Arky Vaughn, Luke Appling, Robin Yount
  4. The truly great: Wagner, Luis Aparicio, Cal Ripken, Jr., Ernie Banks, and Ozzie Smith

Now you have some context. Jimmy Rollins, during is first ten seasons in the league, has led the league in AB’s and triples four times, won three Gold Gloves (the beginning of a string I suspect), won one MVP and one World Series. He has averaged out of the lead-off spot, 660 AB’s (wow), 105 runs (wow again), and 36 stolen bases while hitting .274. There is no better defensive shortstop in the game. If this caliber of play continues it would take him right over the “truly deserving” category and into the “truly great”.

Of the shortstops currently in the Hall I would take three – and only three – before Jimmy: Honus Wagner, Ozzie Smith, and Luis Aparicio. Aparicio, was a World Series winner, 10 time all-star, 9 time Gold Glove winner, and led the AL in steals 9 straight years (bet you didn’t know that). He was the first state of the art modern day shortstop and an incredible fielder. Ernie Banks only played half his career at shortstop, and if not for that, he would be there with the other three. If you compare Ripken and Jimmy, I’ll take Jimmy’s total offensive game over Ripken’s power. In the field, Cal would catch any ball he could get his hands on, and so can Jimmy. The difference is that Jimmy gets his hands on more balls.

Yes, the roster of Hall of Fame shortstops is not reflective of superior offensive prowess, with shortstop being a defense-first position. Jimmy has more years left to play and hopefully another World Series or two to win. He is a phenomenal two way player who’s biggest sin is not walking more. While Phillies fans tend to be more agog these days over Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, let this little write up serve as a reminder of how good we’ve got it at shortstop. We may actually be in the presence of greatness. Jimmy Rollins is that good.

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