Monthly archives: July 2007
What a Lohse-er
What ever happened to Stand Pat Gillick!?!
Kyle Lohse? For who? For what?
Lohse is at best a tail-end starter who can hold a spot in a major-league rotation. He has a 60-74 career record with a 4.83 ERA (or 95 ERA+). That means his ERA is 5% worse than the park-adjusted league average.
That's at his best. At his worst, he's Adam Eaton! I wonder what that guy is doing now.
Overall, he is an upgrade over Paul Abbott, their midseason pickup from three seasons ago (1-6 with a 6.24 ERA with the Phils in 2004). He's better than his 6-12 record so far this year in Cincy but probably worse than his league average 4.58 ERA.
Where does he fit into this dysfunctional staff? God only knows. Ostensibly, he replaces rookie J.D. Durbin in the rotation, but he is by no means an upgrade over Durbin. Durbin has done a yeoman's job after being recalled from the minors to plug the gaps when Jon Lieber and Freddy Garcia went down. He is 3-1 with a 4.38 ERA in four starts and 3-2, 4.30 overall in seven appearances.
Those are not spectacular numbers especially when one considers that he has walked 17 and struck out only 18 in 29.1 innings. In fact overall Durbin and Lohse have similar numbers. Durbin's park-adjusted ERA is 104; Lohse's is 101. Both strike out about five and one half men per nine innings pitched (Lohse, 5.47 and Durbin, 5.52). The biggest difference is in the walk ratio, but I prefer to give Durbin the benefit of the doubt given the small sample size.
All that said, let's say that Lohse is a slight upgrade over Durbin given his experience7 major-league years plus four postseason series, the walks, and the established (though slightly sub-par) track record. But why bother? Especially, when a good-looking young arm (Matt Maloney) is sacrificed in the process.
This is hardly Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz. Lohse is no Alexander and then again, Maloney may not be a Smoltz, but he looks pretty good so far. He was 16-9 with a 2.08 ERA in High Single A last year when he was picked as the most outstanding (or some other senior superlative) pitcher in the Sally league. He was promoted to Double-A Reading this season and had been unspectacular (9-7, 3.94 ERA), but has struck out 115 in 125.2. He has been bitten by the homer bug (13 in 125.2 innings), but that might be a Reading aberration given that he never displayed a tendency to give up the long ball in his previous two seasons. I would bet on any 23-year-old pitcher who strikes out a man an inning any day (he has a 9.00 strikeouts per 9 inning ratio in his pro career).
Given that Hamels and possibly Kendrick are the only men who project to be in the Phils' rotation next season, the Phils need decent young arms. I would expect Maolney to be ready for the rotation by mid-2008.
The argument for trading Maloney is that the Phils are in a playoff chase now and can worry about 2008 in December. That's valid to a certain degree, but I would prefer trading a decent prospect to fill a need.
Lohse fills none of the Phils immediate needs. Their biggest need may be to replace Ryan Madson as an innings eater in mid relief. The rest of the bullpen is, as always, a concern. The lack of a starting third baseman has been a sore spot all year. And with Voctorino and Bourne out for a few days, they need a right fielder (though Roberson will probably be recalled).
Yes, the rotation is a concern given that it contained two inexperienced arms (Kendrick and Durbin), an aging star (Moyer), an under-achieving perennial number five starter (Eaton), and a staff ace with just a year and one half under his belt (Hamels). But Lohse is not the answer.
So the Phils have traded two young arms who strike out almost a man an inning and potentially could be ready for the majors with a year or two to rent Tad Iguchi for a month while Chase Utley rehabilitates and for Lohse. Iguchi was traded for pitching coach Rich Dubee's son Michael earlier this month. He was 4-4 with a 3.88 ERA and has a 8.73 K per 9IP ratio (7.57 overall in his pro career). The best thing that can be said for him is that maybe his father may follow him to Chicago next year.
So the Phils have addressed just one need this season and it was short-term one (the immediate need to replace Utley for one month). Their problems were apparent ever before camp opened, and yet somehow this team continues to win. They have won nine of ten, and will probably start Greg Dobbs, who has played five games there (and twenty in total in the outfield) in his career, in right field.
I just keep telling myself that this team is no worse than the Cardinals were last year, and eh, who knows? It's not much to look forward to, but that's all you get as a Phils fan.
It's the Big One, Elizabeth, Pt. 2
More on yesterday's historic Padres-Astros game:
Tim Stauffer in his first start becomes one of five pitchers in recorded history to have his team score ten or more runs in the first and not get credit for the win. He is one of two to have an 11-run lead before his first pitch and yet not pick up a win (Joe Gibbon in 1967 being the other).
Here are all five games:
Two of those five games were actually converted to losses: Cleveland came back last season after a 10-run KC first to win 15-13, and the Phils beat Pittsburgh 15-11 after a ten-run Pirate first.
Here is a quick run-down of those doomed starters:
On August 23, 2006, Jorge De La Rosa had a 10-1 lead after one but could only last 3.1 innings. He existed leading 10-4 but was also responsible for two more runners who scored. Overall, he allowed six runs on six hits, 3 of which are homers, and one walk.
On June 29, 1967, Bob Gibson lasted just 2/3 of an inning allowing 9 runs, all earned, on 7 hits and two walks (and a game score of 1(!)). Joe Gibbonno relationthe Giant starter, had a 10-run lead before he threw a pitch, but left the game without retiring a batter. He allowed a triple to Lou Brock and three straight singles and was replaced by Bobby Bolin, who got out of the inning without allowing further damage. Bolin earned the win, allowing two runs through nine innings.
On April 27, 1980, Twin starting pitcher Geoff Zahn lasted 4.1 allowing 8 runs on 14 hits and 2 walks after a 10-run Minnesota first. Reliever Doug Corbett picks up the win in a 20-11 wild one.
On June 8, 1989, the Phillies make history by beating ex-Phil Bob Walk, 15-11, after allowing ten Pittsburgh runs in the first. Walk lasted 3.2 innings, allowing 5 H, 6 R (all earned), 4 BB, 2 K, and 3 HR. Von Hayes homers twice, with four RBI, against Walk, but the star is a player who did not even start the game.
Improbably, Steve Jeltz hist two of his five career home runs, one from each side of the plate, and collects five RBI, almost doubling his season total to that point (11)he finishes the season with just 25. His first home run came with two outs in the fourth, cutting the lead to 10-6 and chasing Walk from the game. It was his first career home run off a right-hander. He'll pick up one more in his career, off of Scott Sanderson. The second home run, was off Walk's replacement, Bob Kipper, bringing the Phils within one (11-10). It is the final home run Jeltz will hit in his career from the right side. His success might be due to his not being in the game at the time of the ten-run Pirate first inning. He replaced starting second baseman, Tommy Herr, after the first.
With the Astros scoring 7 in the fourth, the game also becomes one of a handful of games in which opponents have scored a total of 18 runs in total between their two best half innings. There are seven other instances where teams scored more, the most coming when the Phils score 8 in the eighth after the Cubs scored 14 in the fourth en route to a 26-23 win on August 25, 1922. There are 51 hits, 23 walks, and 10 errors in the game. The Phils leave the bases loaded for a total of 16 LOB on the game.
Here are the other games that make the list:
The Padres-Astros also played just the seventh game in recorded history in which each team scored at least seven runs in a half inning:
As far as the biggest scoring inning for both teams, the Padres-Astros don't make the list. The most was 19 by the Indians and Red Sox in 1977. In the eighth inning of a 3-3 tie ballgame on April 10, the two teams score 19 total runs, 13 by Cleveland and 6 by the Sox. The Indians tack on three more for 19-9 win. Cleveland goes through four relievers in the eighth after pulling starter Reggie Cleveland. The winner, Dave LaRoche, gets pulled after allowing a single, walk, wild pitch, and a walk. He ends up with a third of inning pitched and three runs allowed and an 11.57 ERA to go with his win:
It's the Big One, Elizabeth
Imagine starting your first game in the majors and being staked to an eleven-run lead before ever throwing a pitch. Now, imagine not getting the win.
I'm sure that Tim Stauffer never imagined that he would be in that position, and yet today he was.
The Padres staked Stauffer, who was called up yesterday, to an 11-0 lead in the first inning in Houston aided by two-run homers by Mike Cameron and Adrian Gonzalez. Stauffer even got his first major-league hit, a two-single that made the score 5-0, before he faced his first batter. The eleven runs tied for second all-time for runs in the first inning by a visiting team.
And yet, the road to Stauffer's historic first win in the majors was blocked by seven-run Astro fourth inning, and the win ended up going to forty-year-old reliever Doug Brocail.
The biggest first inning for a visiting team was on August 29, 1937 when the Philly A's went into Comiskey and scored 12 in the first inning of the first game of a double header. Bob Johnson drives in six on a two-run double and a grand slam in the first and goes 5-for-6 on the day. The A's prevail 16-0.
The record for first-inning runs is a bit higher, however. On May 21, 2952, 19 straight Dodgers reach base, a major-league recordthat's batting around twice plus one for good measure without an outwith one out in the first against Ewell Blackwell and the Reds and scored 15 runs en route to a 19-1 route. Pee Wee Reese reaches safely three times in the streak. The last two outs come on a caught stealing at third (Andy Pafko) and a Duke Snider strikeout. Brooklyn pitcher Chris Van Cuyk leads all batters with four hits. And Snider makes up for the first-inning K with a two-run homer while Bobby Morgan has two.
Seven home-teams have exceeded the visitors first-inning record:
Runs Amok II
So apparently they added another game to the Royals-Yankees series. Of course, when I reported that the Yankees swept KC, it was still just a three-game series.
Anyway, to cover up for my screw-up, I have more fun facts from the world of high scoring. New York beat up on Tampa Bay so badly they registered one of the highest run totals by one team in a four-game series in the "modern era". There were only ten other four-game series since 1900 in which one team beat the Yanks 49 runs from the D-Rays series:
Oddly, just four of those twelve series were sweeps. Now, here is the all-time list. I can't resist a list that is led by a Players League team, Buffalo in this instance, and it is properly peppered Union Association representatives:
I would remise if I didn't point out that the Blue Jays beat the Twins 13-1 to tie them in the wild card standings at one game above .500. The score itself was not that remarkable, but the fact that Toronto scored 11 of those runs in the sixth inning. That made me wonder how often a team scored double-digit runs in one inning and then was kept virtually scoreless the rest of the game. It turns out that it is not that rare. Toronto becomes the 126th team to score ten or more runs in an inning but two or fewer runs over the rest of the game.
There have been 25 games in which a team has been shut out aside from a double-digit inning. The last was Phillies last year, who beat the Marlins 10-2 by scoring all of their runs in the ninth. They broke up a 2-0 shutout by Dontrelle Willis and denied him his 22nd win, which he finally picked up five days later. The first ten Phils batters in the ninth reached base. They were aided by four ninth-inning errors by Florida (their most ever in an inning) to go with their eight hits, all singles, and one walk. Four of the ninth inning runs were unearned. Todd Jones relieved Willis after a Luis Castillo error loaded the bases with none out. Jones had a streak of 28 chances without a blown save broken while recording no outs and allowing five runs, four earned, and four hits on just nine pitches and he threw away a Chase Utley bunt attempt for one of the four errors, allowing the go-ahead run.
The game is one of three in baseball history in which a shut-out team grabbed the lead in the ninth with a double-digit runs in the ninth. The other two were when the White Sox beat the Indians, 10-2, on August 15, 1962 after trailing 1-0 through eight innings and when the Reds lost to the Cubs, 11-10, on September 26, 1912.
The Reds trailed 9-0 after eight innings and then scored ten runs to pull ahead, 10-9, but eventually succumbed after two runs in the bottom of the ninth. The scoring came almost exclusively on walks. Starter Jimmy Lavender absorbed five runs before he was lifted in favor of Fred Toney. Toney, with the bases loaded, goes on to walk the only three batters he faced before being replaced by Larry Chaney, who walked two straight to give the Reds a 10-9 lead. The Reds catch the base on balls fever as Ralph Works walks a batter and then hits another to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Rube Benton then relieves him and walks three straight to give the Cubs an 11-10 win. The Cubs then shut the Reds out 10-0 in the second game of the double header that day.
Here are the other teams that scored ten or more runs in an inning and were shut out the rest of the game:
In other news, Tom Glavine won his 299th game. After his next win, baseball will have three active 300-game winners for the first time in twenty years and just the seventh time in baseball history. Roger Clemens (351) and Greg Maddux (340) are already there. Here are all the seasons with three or more active 300-game winners:
These are the pitchers for each of those seasons with their win total as of the end of the given season:
If all four stay active next season and Randy Johnson (284 wins) should some reach the milestone, that would give us four for the second time since 1892 (1986 being the other). This comes after baseball had no active 300-game winners from 1994 after Nolan Ryan retired until 2003 when Roger Clemens reached the milestone. At the time the prevailing theory was that 300-game winners were close to being extinct.
Finally, the Phils rode Ryan Howard's 28th home run, walkoff dinger, to a 7-5 win in fourteen innings. The eighth Phillies pitcher, Clay Condrey got the win, his fourth on the year without a loss. If the season ended today, Condrey would have the third highest ERA (6.29) for an unbeaten pitcher with at least four wins:
But it's not the end of the season. Condrey projects to six wins for the year. If he ends up 6-0 with his current ERA, he would be just the second unbeaten pitcher in baseball history to win at least six games while recording a 6.00+ ERA. Here are the highest ERAs with at least five wins:
The Yankees continued their offensive ways again tonight beating the Royals, 7-1, behind Mike Mussina thereby completing a three-game sweep of KC and outscoring them 25-7. The Yanks now have 63 runs in their last five games.
The all-time record for runs in five consecutive games was 116 or over 23 per game by the first Philly A's in 1871 (by game: 20, 49, 5, 20, and 22). Of course, the top bunch of teams on the list (actually, 69) are from the run-happy nineteenth century. The most since 1900 was 82 by the 1950 Red Sox. 26 teams, including the 2006 Braves, scored more than 63 in five consecutive games.
Here are the most all time:
And now since 1900:
Further Yankee Doodles
The Yankees continued their offensive ways with a 9-2 win in Kansas City. They have scored 47 runs in the last three games. Just eleven teams since 1900 have scored more runs over three games.
Tonight they can add to that streak when they face Scott Elarton in Kansas City. Elarton owns a 9.17 ERA this season and his ERA is even worse at Kauffman Stadium (11.34 in four starts). Nine runs would give the Yankees 56 in four games; 11 runs, 58 overall.
Where would that put them on the all-time list? Well, 224 nineteenth-century teams amassed more than 58 runs in four games. The old, old, old Philly A'sthat is three iterations backscored 100 runs in four games in 1872. They beat Baltimore 34-19, Boston 10-7 (before a reported crowd of 5,000), Troy 25-5, and Cleveland 31-7 between May 1 and May 18. Overall, they outscored their opponents 100 to 38 or 25 to 9.5 per game.
However, since 1900 only six teams, and none since 1950, have scored more than 58 runs in a game. The most was by the 1950 Red Sox, who shut out the White Sox 12-0, lost to Chicago 4-8, and then beat the Browns 20-4 and 29-4, all at Fenway Park. That team also scored at least eleven runs in the three games before this streak and allowed thirty in total in the two games after it. The '50 Sox finished in third with a 94-60 record, four games behind (who else?) the Yankees. They had a 4.88 team ERA and outscored opponents 8.12 to 5.55 at home and 5.22 to 4.90 on the road.
The Yankees need to score 18 runs tonight to match the '50 Red Sox four-game offensive output. The most that the Royals have allowed this season was 17 runs to the A's May 10 at home. They have, however, scored 17 three times this season.
For the record, here are the teams that have scored the most runs in the consecutive games all time:
And since 1900:
Now, the most in a four-game stretch all time:
And since 1900: >
The Yankees have officially hit their stride.
Remember that this is a team that was under .500 at the All-Star break. They are 9-3 since the break, and even though they are trail the AL East lead by 7.5 games and the wild card by 6.5, c'mon these are the Yankees after all.
Led by former Trenton Thunder "Serpentine" Shelley Duncan and his two homers, the Yanks beat the D-Rays 21-4 yesterday, one day after a 17-5 whipping. The 38-run total for the two games is the most by New York in straight games since they took two from the Philly A's by a collective score or 40-3 in 1936 (i.e., 15-1 on May 23 and 25-2 on May 24, 1936).
The Yankees also collected twenty hits in two consecutive games (20 on 7/21 and 25 yesterday) for the first time since the franchise moved to New York in 1903. Elias reports that the franchise amassed twenty hits in two straight games 105 years ago (Aug. 23 and 25, 1902) when they were still know as the Baltimore Orioles.
The last time any team accomplished this feat was four years ago when the Cubs collected 20 hits on July 20, 2003 in beating the Marlins on the road 16-2 and then 21 more the next day, 15-6 at Atlanta. The first game ended Dontrelle Willis's nine-game win streak to start his career. The Cubs trailed the second game 5-4 in the fourth when starter Shawn Estes was pulled with the bases loaded and none out in favor of Dave Veres, who not only got out of the jam without allowing a run, but ended up winning the game.
A team has collected twenty hits in consecutive games seven times in the last twenty seasons. I could find only one game prior to that in Retrosheet's data:
The Yanks 38 runs in the two games are nowhere near the all-time "record". Here are all two-game totals of fifty runs or more. Note that Troy holds the "record" with 70 runs in two games; however, they lost one of those games and allowed 65 runs in the two games:
They do become just the ninth team since 1900 to score 38 or more over two straight games:
Also, there are just six teams since 1900 including the 2007 Yankees that have scored 38 or more runs in consecutives games against the same opponent:
The Yankees scored double-digit runs in the fourth inning for just the 29th such inning in their recorded history. Here are their highest scoring innings in Yankee history. They scored 13 in an inning in two separate games against the D-Rays two years ago:
The most runs scored in an inning from the Retrosheet data was by the Red Sox, 17, in 1953:
Who needs pitching, huh?
The Phils collected 26 hits yesterday in a BP-like route of the Dodgers, 15-3. J.D. Durbin collected his first major-league win to go with his three hits, the first of his career as well. Ryan Howard collected two homers and four RBI. Shane Victorino and Aaron Rowand collected five hits each. Rowand had three doubles along with a homer, and Chase Utley had two. Every starter got a hit, the last being Chris Coste who singled in the ninth. In total the Phils had 26 hits: four home runs, a triple, six doubles, and 15 singles. Oddly, they had just one walk (Burrell) to go with three strikeouts, two of which were Howard.
And yet it seemed that the Phils offense was going to be reined in early in the game. After scoring three runs in the first, they loaded the bases with no outs to start the second. After Durbin was out at home on a Chase Utley grounder and force out and was guilty of dogging it down the line. Howard then struck out and Rowand popped up, his only out of the night. The Phils then went down in order in the third… And then the five-run fourth put the game away.
The team record for hits was set on August 17, 1894—36 hits, 28 of which are singles, Both are major-league records. It came in a 29-4 win over the Louisville Colonels with Big Sam Thompson hitting for the cycle and going 6-for-7. The game was played at the University of Pennsylvania Athletic Field, a UPenn park of some sort that predated Franklin Field.
Three other Phils (CF "Sliding Billy" Hamilton‚ SS Joe Sullivan and catcher Mike Grady) also collected five hits, a record for 5-hit teammates. Big Ed Delahanty—a lot of Big's in the lineup—scored five runs, Lave Cross and Jack Boyle both had eight ABs, and all eleven players in the lineup got a hit.
Oddly, three days earlier with the Phils playing at the same ballpark, allowed 6 homers to Louisville getting pasted, 13-7. The Phils then won the last three games of the series, 14-4, 17-3, and 29-4 (the 8/17 game). Those games and a doubleheader played against the old, old Washington Senators (a team before the first AL team), which the Phils won 10-7 and 16-4, are the only games ever played at that UPenn field. The Phils went 5-1 outscoring their opponents 93-35 there (or about 16-6 on average).
The Phils batted .349 as a team that year with four starting to semi-starting outfielders registering a batting average of .400 or better (actually .404 or better), the only time that has ever happened.
The next most hits in a game that I could find was 33 by the Indians on July 10, 1932, in an 18-inning losing effort against the A’s. The A’s had 25 hits and won 18-17. The 58 hits for both teams in that game set a major-league record.
The next most hits were 31 by the NY Giants June 9, 1901 in a 25-13 game in Cincinnati which ended up a forfeit and the Brewers back when they were in the AL beating the Blue Jays 22-2 at Skydome on August 28, 1992.
The Giants were added by a plethora (Jefe, do you know what a plethora is?) of ground rule doubles due to the seventeen-plus thousand fans in the overflow crowd being ringed in in the outfield. As the crowd grew so did the GR doubles. A 15-4 game at the end of six grows to 25-13. With two outs in the ninth and the crowd infringing on the infield, plate ump Bob Emslie declares the game a forfeit to the Giants. The Reds had 18 hits themselves, and the two clubs collected an NL-record 36 singles (22 by NY, 14 by Cincy). Three Giants collect at least five hits—Kip Selbach (6 hits), George Van Haltren, and Charlie “Piano Legs” Hickman.
This was the Reds final season in old League Park (II), which was largely destroyed in a fire the previous season (one grandstand survived and the field was repositioned to accommodate it). In 1902 they opened a new concrete and steel ballpark, the palatial Palace of the Fans, on the same site. Redland Field (renamed Crosley Field in 1934) was built also on the same site on 1912 to address the need for box seats. Basically, the Reds played in four separate ballparks on the same site, a former brickyard, from 1884 to mid-1970 when Riverfront Stadium opened.
But I digress…The Phils also set a new record for the most hits in Dodger Stadium and tied the record for most hits allowed by the Dodgers at home since they moved to LA. The record was set in 1958, their first in LA, when they played in old LA Memorial Coliseum while awaiting the completion of Dodger Stadium. The previous record for hits in Dodger Stadium was 25 by the Angels last year in a 16-3 win.
Here are the most team hits in a Dodgers game since their 1958 move (at least 20 hits by one team):
* = Second game of a doubleheader
Have You Heard About the Lonesome Loser?
(The albatross and the whales are his brothers.)
So the other shoe finally dropped. The Phils lost game number ten thousand with very little fanfare, at least coming from the Phils themselves. I understand that setting a losing milestone is nothing to celebrate, but couldn't the team have turned into an opportunity to advertise the history of the franchise and of baseball in Philly in general?
Hey, it ain't beneath me. So here goes
First, looking at the progressive history of the all-time losingest teams, the Phils have only led the pack since 1992. The Braves were in the lead from 1987 to 1991, but fourteen straight division titles will dig you out of that hole. The Phils and Braves have been swapping the title of losingest team since the Braves wrested the crown from the Cardinals in 1920. The Braves owned the title from 1920 to 1956 and from 1987 to 1991, and the Phils from 1957 to 1986 and then from 1992 until today. The Braves still outclass the Phils, by 21 years, in the category of total years owning the biggest loser crown.
There have been nine franchises in baseball history who have held the title of big loser in sports. Besides the Braves and Phils, just two others, the Cubs and Cards, are the only active ones:
The Braves can at least boast to own the biggest winner title for 36 years, the last coming in 1907, however. The current leaders are the Giants who having owned the crown every season since 1988:
The Phils have lost to 38 different opponents. They have lost to 28 of the 29 other active teams (they are 3-0 against the Texas Rangers) and to ten different defunct teams. Here are their all-time opponents (through 2007) ranked by most losses:
Now, the Phils have used 858 different pitchers on the road to 10K losses. Here are the ones that lost the most games for the team:
The Phils have used 25 pitchers this year and are on pace to potentially break the all-time record of 37 by the Padres in 2002. Given that they have about two or three reliable starters and possibly fewer reliable relievers, I wouldn't be surprised if they broke that record even with Stand Pat in all his standing pat glory. Here are the teams that used at least thirty pitchers in a year:
The Phils will unquestionably set an all-time franchise record for most pitchers in a season. They are within two of the "record":
Finally, the Phillies have used 51 different managers en route to 10,000 losses. Andy Cohen (1-0) is the only one without a loss. Here are the top twenty losers on that list. Guess who comes in at #20:
Loss For Words
If you didn't like lat night's All-Star Game, you are just not a baseball fan.
The game abounded with weird bounces and odd caroms. It boasted purportedly the event's first ever inside-the-park home run, by the game MVP Ichiro Suzuki. It ended with a rally that brought the NL within one run with the bases loaded and two outs. Of course, it was a Phillie (Aaron Rowand) who flied out to end the game, but how often do you find yourself at the edge of your seat at the end of a (relatively) meaningless exhibition game? I ever watched the inane Jeannie Zalasko interview of Ichiro by proxy, i.e., via a translator.
They had me before "Hello". The pre-game stuff with Willie Mays, who appeared to be wearing eight to ten layers of sports paraphernalia, being paraded around the ballpark throwing balls to the crowd, I eat that stuff up like a kid in a candy store. They even made that old curmudgeon Ted Williams seem nice and avuncular with a similar event many years ago. Prior to that the snarky Williams was revered but pretty much hated everywhere even in Boston (I lived up there at the time). After that All-Star game he resonated cuteness akin to an ewok with the American public.
Anyway, when we left off the Phils won a game in Colorado to end the first half as they were seemingly destined to do so, at .500. Some time this week or next, the Phillies will not be able to slake the groundskeeper gods by helping the local crew lay down the tarp during a rain delay and will lose a ball game.
It will, of course, mark their much anticipated ten thousandth loss. The Phils will then become the first team to reach this dubious distinction.
And I say So what?
What does such a "record" say about the team? Does it make them the worst in sport? Uh, no, no other sport has played nearly as many games or had the history of baseball. The NFL plays just a tenth the games and wasn't formed until 1920 (as the American Professional Football Association). The NBA has franchises that date back to the Forties prior to the merger of the Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League which birthed the current-day league, and they play about half as many games. The NHL dates back to 1917 and also plays about half the games that baseball does.
So maybe it says they are the worst in baseball, right? Well, no. To compete with the Phils you would have to have a franchise that started in the nineteenth century and the AL didn't become a major league until 1901, which leaves out half the teams. Consider also that half of the 16 NL clubs originated as expansion teams dating no farther back then 1962.
That leaves eight teams, the NL's original eight. So when the Phils reach this new record, it will say that they were the worst of the original eight. OK, I can live with that, but it seems like much ado about not a whole not. Anyone with a passing knowledge of the sport could probably tell you that.
Below is a breakdown by decade of the teams with the most losses in baseball. The Phils don't register in the top five until after almost forty years as a franchise, in the 1920s. However, the set up residence there for the next three decades sealing their fate. Even though they haven't made the playoffs since 1993, their best decade since the 1910s is the current one.
This is basically a team that has had very few peaks and ones that were not that high while suffering through many abysmally deep and long valleys. Tell me something I don't already know.
The Phils are not the worst team in the majors. Here are the up-to-date standings, worst to best for all active clubs. The Phils rank fifth even with their decades of futility:
To put this in perspective, here are the sixteen teams that would exceed 10,000 losses had they played as many seasons as the Phils (124.5):
To further illustrate how the Phils are doomed by their pre-Whiz kid failings, here are the breakdowns for all active franchises before and after 1950:
Even though it is organized baseball second city (after NYC), Philly's baseball image is further besmirched by some of the lesser A's teams from a Connie Mack housecleaning. Here are the most losses by city all time (actually through 2006):
Philadelphia still comes in no worse than 12th on the all-time losing, rather than winning, percentage (for cities with at least five seasons):
Oddly, two teams, the Giants and Cubs, are already over 10,000 wins and yet I don't remember all that much hoopla surrounding that achievement for either teams. The Dodgers should reach the milestone some time next year and the Cards soon after. Here are the original 16 ranked by wins:
The Cubs 10K win came June 3 in a 10-1 win at Wrigley over the Braves. The Giants reached 10K on July 14, 2005 when, appropriately, they beat the Dodgers 4-2 in LA.
Isthmus Be My Lucky Day, Part II
While I was sitting around wondering how long I was going to be able to stand Chris Berman's repeated "Back! Back! Back!"'s tonightthe answer is one round of the home run derbyI came up with a little bit more info on multiple 13-inning games on the same day.
Oh, but one further comment on the HR derby before I goin how much bad taste was Joe Morgan's repeated comments on Willie Mays being the best player he ever saw? It was an obvious dis of Barry Bonds in his own stadium while he played host of sorts to the rest of baseball. Simply gratuitous. Besides, and I only saw Mays at the tail-end of his career but, Bonds is better.
Anyway, dianagramr asked in the previous post if two New York teams had registered 13-inning games on the same day before. The short answer is yes, but I prefer the long one
Here are the days that the Mets and Yankees both made the list:
Lest us forget, New York had two other franchises until the late Fifties. Here are all the days that more than one New York/Brooklyn team registered a 13-inning game:
And before we ignore all the other mutiple-team cities out thereyou know who you are, Chicagohere are all the days that two teams from the same city (dropping Brooklyn from NYC this time) played at least 13 innings:
That dead horse is officially beaten.
Isthmus Be My Lucky Day
July 7, 2007 turned out to be a lucky day after all, at least for the Mets, Angels, and Tigers. All three won games in the thirteenth inning or later, the Mets on a Carlos beltran go-ahead single in the seventeenth, the Angels on a pair of Miguel Cairo errors (two of the Yankees five on the day) in the thirteenth, and the Tigers on a Pudge Rodriguez walk-off hit.
The three games marked just the fifth time in baseball history that three games have gone at least 13 innings and the first time in 27 years. The last time it happened was July 13, 1980 (the ides of July?) and the only other times it happened was June 15, 1910, June 16, 1921 and April 12, 1966.
Here are the scores for all of these games:
Oh, and the Yankees' five errors are far from a record but represent just the ninth five-error game in the last ten years. Here are the rest:
By the way, the most errors I could find were nine by the Cubs on May 5, 1911 against the Reds in a 13-2 loss. I know there are nineteenth century games with more but Retrosheet does not have a record of them.
Should I Stay Or Should I Go?
Change is one thing, progress is another. "Change" is scientific, "progress" is ethical; change is indubitable, whereas progress is a matter of controversy.
On May 31, 2005, Buddy Bell was named to replace Tony Pena as the manager of the Royals. Pena had resigned three weeks earlier and was being spelled by bench coach Bob Schaefer on an interim basis. Bell quickly reeled off four victories in his first four games, their first four-game winning streak in two seasons, and has done nothing basically with the team in the last two years.
Less than one month later, on June 20, 2005, the Reds made a change replacing manager Dave Miley with former backup catcher Jerry Narron. Narron was first named the interim manager, but after guiding the Reds to a .500 record, he was awarded with a new, shorter titlemanager. He proceeded to have a record in Cincy that was similarly marginal to Bell's, but he made the mistake of front-loading his tenure with some competency and an air of hope whereas Bell's Royal team has been consistently awful.
On August 4, 2005, the O's realized that they had Lee MazzilliLee Mazzilli?as their manager, something akin to putting Bon Jovi in the Rock'N'Roll Hall of Fame, and promptly fired him in favor of bench coach cum interim manager Sam Perlozzo. Despite going 23-32 with a .418 winning percentage over the rest of the season, the Orioles took the interim qualifier off Perlozzo's title because they weren't very bright after all. Repeat my comments about Bell's and Narron's most recent managerial tenures for Perlozzo and rinse.
On September 6, 2005, Lloyd McClendon was mercifully fired as the Pirates manager. Bench coach and former Phillie scrub Pete Mackanin took over the team on an interim basis compiling a decent 12-14 record but wisely did not repeat the managerial career of the aforementioned Bell, Narron, and Perlozzo though the Pirates' fortunes are not the better for it.
But what is of note about these four managerial changes two seasons ago? First, they represented the last midseason managerial changes in the majors for over a year. No managers changed hands during the season in 2006. There are just a handful of seasons in major-league history in which they happened, or didn't happen I guess, and just two in the last 65 years. They are in descending order 2006, 2000, 1942, 1931, 1926, 1920, 1903, 1901, 1893, and 1878.
Don't expect 2007 to appear on that list. All that changed rather quickly in the last two weeks.
That is the other thing that is of interest. Three of the characters in the narrative above are already involved in midseason managerial changes this season, and it's not too late for Bell to get into the action.
So far this year, three managers are already gone, two in the last couple of days. Jerry Narron has been, at least on an interim basis, replaced by Mackanin in Cincy. Mike Hargrove "up and quit", as the saying goes, in the middle of an eight-game win streak yet and was replaced by John McLaren, who once managed the Sex Pistols, if memory serves. June 18 the O's replaced Sam Perlozzo, who always seemed like an interim manager to me anyway, with Dave Trembley. I mean no slight against Mr. Trembly, but that name does not exactly inspire confidence in his managerial skills. Too bad Joe Girardi took one look at that mess of a team and quickly replied, "Thanks, but no thanks," to the O's request to take over the team.
If you are wondering what the "record" is for managerial changes in a season, the answer is 1890 when 18count 'em, 18!managers were let go during the season. In all fairness, there were three major leagues that season, as the players union formed a one-year "brotherhood" league, the Players National League or Players League for short. For two-league seasons, 1961 is tops with 16 midseason managerial maneuvers though all but six were the result of the Cubs' "College of Coaches", otherwise known as a manager by committee that was the brainchild of owner Philip K. Wrigley (El Tappe, Lou Klein, Vedie Himsl, and Harry Craft).
Here are the seasons with the most in-season managerial changes:
Here's hoping that Charlie Manuel can help 2007 make that list.
Anyway, all this change coming almost at once a season after the owners thought it appropriate not to make any managerial changes made me wonder. In each of their cases, it wouldn't have mattered much if they were fired this year or less. It seems that a large percentage of managersand McClendon was the epitome of thisslough along with a sub-par club that never seems to get much better.
So why not just make changes whenever your team is struggling a la George Steinbrenner circa 1978? I guess it gets expensive after a while, you know, all the new stationary, and there's always that guy who has to painstakingly paint the manager's name on the little glass window of his office door while everyone keeps opening and closing the door causing him to mess up repeatedly.
Besides does it work? Do teams fair better? Let's take a look.
I ran the numbers for all managers that started the season but were replaced at some point as well as for the managers that replaced them. Here are the results:
Not that in this past decade you really had to do a horrible job (.434 winning percentage) to get fired, but your replacement or replacements have not faired much better (a 2-point increase in winning percentage).
Historically, changing a team's manager resulted in just a 7-point improvement. Over the course of a full 162-game schedule, that means translates into less than one win.
Of course, teams most often make midseason changes not to reach the playoffs that season but rather to right their course and potentially set themselves for contention the next season. So how's that going?
Here are the managerial changes from above but now I have added the team's record in the next season with the change from before the managerial change. (Note that the numbers do not match those above for the early years of the game since some of these teams never made it to "next year" back then):
So that is a 44-point improvement though these teams are still on average losing teams. For the three teams that switched managers midseason this year, that would translate into a .464 winning percentage for the O's (75-87), a .422 winning percentage for the Reds (68-94), and a .621 winning percentage for the M's (101-61) for next season. The first two are good betsI'm not so sure about the 2008 Mariners.
Also, two of the newly appointed managers (McLaren and Trembley) are rookiesactually, McLaren managed the Mariners to a 4-0 record in 2001 when he substituted for then-manager Lou Piniella because of the death of his father-in-law. Mackanin is hardly a veteran himself with just 26 games as a major-league manager under his belt. Is it advisable to hire newbies or go with veteran managers when you dismiss the old guy?
First, let's broaden this to managerial changes in the offseason as well. Here are the records of all teams after they switch to a new manager whether midseason or at the start of the season:. For each the managerial turnover and overall team turnover rate are listed (Note: the records of new/expansion teams are included):
Now here are records for teams that retained their manager from the end of the previous season:
OK, maybe that's not a big surprise: winning teams don't fire their managers.
Let's look at midseason vs. end of season managerial changes. Which is the best way to go?
Overall, it's advisable apparently to wait for the end of the season if possible. Teams seem to be realizing that as midseason firings are have been going down since the Eighties.
So what about rookie managers? I took a look at managers in their first season and compared their records when they start the season to when they are a midseason replacement (Remember what happened to Drive?):
Again, it's best to stick a rookie in there when it is the start of the season.
Finally, it appears that Trembley et al have little to fear about losing their jobs during the season. The 2000s have witnessed just four teams that have made more than one managerial change, the last being the aforementioned 2005 Royals:
One Final Note: The third entry in my series on umpires is up at Baseball Prospectus. This one's on umpiring "homer"-ismDoh!
Screwing Up The All-Star Rosters
[With nods to my friend Chris, "The Baseball Procrastinator", for the title]
Mike Bauman at MLB.COM opines that "[t]he voting for the 2007 All-Star Game indicates, more than anything else, that the fans have been paying attention." I beg to differ with the estimable Mr. Baumantruthfully, I don't know if writing for MLB requires more than a head for the byline picture, but the fans' vote was as unfathomable as ever to me.
I mean, there were a few favorable signs: Russell Martin, Prince Fielder, Chase Utley, all are young players that are the best at their respective positions that were tabbed to start the All-Star Game by the fans. But really Martin and Utley had no real competition and these plusses in no way outweigh the minuses at other positions.
Selecting Ivan Rodriguez was particularly indefensible given that he is not even in the top five catchers in the AL this year. Pudge is not in Jorge Posada's or Victor Martinez's league, so to speak. Placido Polanco is having a nice season as usual, but Brian Roberts should have been the starting second baseman. Cabrera was a better choice than David Wright at third. Carlos Beltran may have been a worse choice than Pudge Rodriguezthere were nine outfielders that were arguably better than him but did not get chosen.
Actually, Bauman chides the fans for picking Barry Bonds was a "sentimental vote" that it indicates that the " the Giants' 'Vote Bonds' campaign was a big success" and that "voters were willing to overlook the steroid allegations, and give a nod to the weight of Bonds' career". This is completely ludicrous. Bonds is not only arguably still the best outfielder in baseball, he is among the top handful of players in the National League at the age of 42. Bonds is one that the fans got right.
As for the players and managers, they had more than their fair share of bad picks. J.J. Hardy was tabbed as the backup at short for the NL, but Edgar Renteria was a better pick. They also picked Alfonso Soriano, the eighth best NL outfielder, and Carlos Lee, the 15th. In the AL, the players took Justin Morneau, largely because he is the reigning league MVP. He is having a fine season, but at first, he might be the sixth best candidate. They also picked Manny Being Manny Ramirez, the 13th best OF candidate.
By the way, I have to mention that Morneau got tabbed largely because he is the current AL MVP, but the reigning NL MVP got no respect, not even in his hometown. Ryan Howard was the 24th best position player in the NL (by my method below) while Morneau was 23rd, and Howard's been even better since he returned from early season injuries. But Howard is batting in the .250s, so the NL pollsters completely overlook him. What is worse is that in Philly the talk is all about Jimmy Rollins getting snubbed, even though there are two clearly better shortstops who aren't going either. In my opinion, none of these three players should go to the ASG, but it's curious that Morneau can be tabbed to be the only true first baseman on the AL roster.
Tony LaRussa made maybe the worst selection, Freddy Sanchez, arguably the 55th best position player in the NL, as a reserve at second. He overlooked Edgar Renteria, perhaps the best SS candidate. In the AL, Jim Leyland made some very fine selections in Victor Martinez and Brian Roberts, arguably the best players at their respective positions in the league. However, Leyland also picked seventh-best shortstop, Michael Young, and the fourteenth best outfielder, Carl Crawford, and before you say that he had to take Crawford as the obligatory D-Ray, I would argue that Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton were both better selections (even Brendan Harris was). In fact, they were in the top two at their respective positions in the league. With DH David Ortiz as the starting first baseman, Leyland had cause to pick another first basemanthere are four in the NL.
And top-ten players Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkilis, Eric Byrnes, and Edgar Renteria were the big snubs.
As far as the method I used, I ranked the top eighty or so players per league by OPS and then added in rankings for Baseball Prospectus' VORP and Bill James' Win Shares. Ranked the players finally by the average rank. And here are the final results by position:
And in the AL:
This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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