Dr. Strangeglove

They Are the Eggmen; I Am the Walrond

Posted by Michael Baumann, Fri, June 03, 2011 07:00 AM Comments: 1

As you may or may not be aware, the Phillies are once again the employers of one Les Walrond. Walrond, who was, a week ago, signed out of independent minor league ball, was promoted yesterday to AAA Lehigh Valley. For those of you who are not familiar, Walrond is a 34-year-old left-handed reliever with a career major league ERA of 7.07. In general, if your ERA is going to be the model number of a jet airliner, you tend to want to go with an Airbus, rather than a Boeing (3.40 versus 7.37 and so on). Walrond made his major league debut in 2003, and has played for three major league teams since then, but he’s never had more than the proverbial cup of coffee. In fact, by innings pitched, Walrond is still a rookie. In 2008, he was a roster filler for a few weeks with the Phillies, and we, as fans, gravitated to him because of his funny name. But the more I think about Les Walrond (and yes, I do spend time thinking about Les Walrond), the more I see him as a player of great sociological significance.

Walrond is the exemplar of the itinerant worker of major league baseball, the man who was never a prospect or a star but aimlessly wanders through the underground wasteland that is the high minors for a decade or more, hoping, in his heart of hearts, to catch on for that one last chance at breaking into the show, but expecting only his next paycheck. The high minors and independent ball are full of such players as these men, traipsing aimlessly around like the title character in “Charlie on the MTA” while younger and more promising talents are skyrocketing past him. Continue reading They Are the Eggmen; I Am the Walrond


Dear Commentariat

Posted by Michael Baumann, Fri, May 20, 2011 04:19 AM Comments: 65

Dear Commentariat-

You’ve been a bunch of assholes. The lot of you. Assholes. Even me, I’ll admit it. There seems to be a lack of understanding about these parts, and I think it’s time to do something about it. It seems to me that a lot of the arguments that take place down there revolve around statistics, as is, regrettably, so often the case these days. I think I’ve made it clear over my time writing here that I fall on the side of sabermetrics rather than what I like to call “baseball card stats” (pitcher wins, RBI, batting average, and other stats that are, you know, found on the back of a baseball card) in that debate, but I don’t take any sort of normative view on people who don’t. What gets me is that it’s turned into an orgy of ad hominem attacks and evolved into the kind of passionate, dogmatic shouting match that has made the discussion of religion and politics into a chore.

I’ve tried to address this issue before, but I think I’ll give it another crack. I think it might be useful to try to explain where those of us who prefer advanced statistics are coming from. If you prefer to be more old-school, I hope that, if you’re not converted, you’ll at least understand why we approach baseball, and evaluating it, the way we do. I know that some of my more devout brethren might take exception to this olive branch, but screw ‘em. I’m sick of the crap that goes on in this comment section.

Continue reading Dear Commentariat


Examining “Should of Kept”

Posted by Michael Baumann, Fri, May 13, 2011 01:48 AM Comments: 16

This is FanSince09. You may have seen him on the comment boards of various Phillies blogs (including this one), or on Twitter. He’s been a vocal critic of the trade that sent J.A. Happ to Houston for Roy Oswalt and argues that Cole Hamels (or “Coal Hammels” as FanSince09 prefers to put it) should have gone to Houston instead.

But his greatest contribution to Phillies internet culture has been the introduction of “should of kept.” FanSince09′s disregard for usage rules or inability to distinguish “of” and “have” has caught on like wildfire. For instance, whenever Cole Hamels screws up, the response would be “should of kept J.A. Happ.” Whenever Chase Utley strikes out, “Should of kept Marlon Anderson,” and so on. It’s become so popular that there’s already a backlash against it. But before this meme becomes completely passe (and I fear I may be too late), I’d like to address the underlying question behind FanSince09 and his catchprase: Should the Phillies of kept J.A. Happ? Should the Phillies of kept everyone? Let’s compare, then, the current team on the field for the Phillies to the best possible team of active players drafted by the Phillies, assuming, for the sake of argument, that everyone is healthy. Results after the jump. Continue reading Examining “Should of Kept”


On Booing Jayson Werth, Forest Fires, and the Brian Clough Approach

Posted by Michael Baumann, Fri, April 15, 2011 10:29 AM Comments: 18

“The age of miracles,
The age of sound,

Well there’s a golden age,
Comin’ round, comin’ round, comin’ round.”

-”Golden Age,” TV on the Radio, 2008.

I think I’m falling into a trap where a post that starts with an epigraph identifies potential profundity in what follows. Either that or I want everyone to be aware that I’m so hip and with it that I can quote songs by cool underground bands that haven’t been particularly cool or underground in several years.

Neither is this post truly about booing Jayson Werth. I’m puzzled by why someone with even a modicum of intelligence and empathy who’s paid attention at all to the situation would hold Werth’s signing with Washington against him. A friend of mine who’s a huge Werth fan sent me a text message during last night’s game, apoplectic about the Phillies fans in Washington who were booing Werth and holding signs calling him a mercenary or worse, all the while cheering Cliff Lee, who took a richer contract, per year, than did Werth.

The fact is that Washington offered Werth a contract that, based on his age, past performance, and other offers available, the Phillies would have to be crazy to match and Werth himself would have to be crazy to turn down. Likewise, Lee was willing to sign for well below market value, and the Phillies would have been crazy not to sign him. There ought not to be any normative value to that chain of events, and I’m not sure what people are thinking when they make normative statements about it.

The fact is, also, that I’m absolutely sick and tired of talking about Jayson Werth, who, as a former Phillies outfielder, is only marginally more relevant to the Phillies in 2011 and beyond than other former Phillies outfielders, such as Jason Michaels or Michael Bourn. Or Sliding Billy Hamilton. So let’s move on past the SEO-friendly title.

I’ve already made clear how I feel about booing former Phillie stars, and how blessed we’ve been to watch this particular vintage of Phillies baseball, but I’d like to revisit Werth’s departure as an example of sport’s equivalent of recycling: the Brian Clough approach.

Continue reading On Booing Jayson Werth, Forest Fires, and the Brian Clough Approach


It is Time to Overreact!

Posted by Michael Baumann, Fri, April 08, 2011 09:49 AM Comments: 7

So we’re five (or six, or seven) games into the major league season, and apparently, some people are already drawing conclusions from an absurdly small sample of games. Apparently the Red Sox have a serious problem after only six games (as if they can’t make up a five-game deficit in the division over the last 156 games of the season). Or apparently one start from Cole Hamels, because it came at the start of the season, outweighs a lifetime of great performances from the lefty. But anyway, I think the fact that this particular stretch of six games bears special significance in a way that no other randomly-selected six-game stretch does, just because it came in April. (Need proof? First-place Kansas City Royals and last-place Boston Red Sox as of April 7.)

So about a week ago, we posted staff predictions for the final MLB standings and for awards. I’d like to revise my previous predictions. I figure you won’t mind, since it’s only been a week. But by keeping everyone’s rate stats the same, and projecting counting stats out over 162 games (for position players) or 33 starts (for starting pitchers), I think I can get a better picture of how this season will turn out.

Continue reading It is Time to Overreact!


On Chase Utley’s Knee and the Origins of Public Panic

Posted by Michael Baumann, Thu, March 31, 2011 02:36 PM Comments: 7

I’m sure you’ve all seen this movie before, but go to about 2:35 in this video and watch until 3:45. The important text is below:

You know… You know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.” Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all “part of the plan.” But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!
Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos.

I intend to apply this logic to the effect that Chase Utley‘s knee injury has had on the fan base. You see, what’s bothered me, at least, about Utley’s injury is not that the Phillies will be without the services of Chase Utley, who is fifth all-time in rWAR for the first eight years of a second baseman’s career (the top 4? Jackie Robinson, Eddie Collins, Joe Gordon, and Frankie Frisch, all Hall-of-Famers). Rather, it’s that I don’t know how long he’ll be out. And here’s why.

Continue reading On Chase Utley’s Knee and the Origins of Public Panic

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