Friday, May 22, 2009

Steve Phillips says that Carlos Beltran is Not a Winning Player

Former New York Mets general manager and current ESPN analyst Steve Phillips addressed a question during his chat in regards to his comment on Sunday night's baseball telecast on ESPN.

From the chat:

"Beltran Stays (New York): Steve, while I respect your work, I disagree with your statements about Carlos Beltran on Sunday Night Baseball. The guy has done nothing but produce, and name me a CF who's better in the game right now.

SportsNation Steve Phillips: If the Mets don't make the playoffs, I firmly believe they need to reconfigure the core of this team. While Beltran does have talent, I just don't see him as a winning player. Even after my comments on Sunday night, Beltran let a fly ball drop in between himself and Angel Pagan in the Dodger game. I see him putting up numbers but not making plays to win games. I would take Torii Hunter, Grady Sizemore, Curtis Granderson, and Nate McLouth over Beltran, and use the financial difference to improve the team in other ways. Beltran isn't a $17 million dollar a year player. He just doesn't have the kind of impact for that kind of money.

SportsNation Steve Phillips: Many people think that Alex Rodriguez is the best player in the game, but he's never won anything. I look at Beltran in a similar fashion as Rodriguez--a great talent that just doesn't seem to have what it takes to win championships. Maybe the Mets can keep him and add pieces to the core around him and still win. But when you're dealing with a budget and the screams of immediacy in New York, I'm not sure the Mets can wait to piece it together around him. I know there are a lot of people who disagree with me, but it's just the way I see it. Beltran is a very good person and a solid citizen, in addition to being a guy who puts up numbers. I like him, I just don't think they can win with him."

I read something about Phillips making those comments about Beltran during the game, and I appreciate that Phillips took the question and addressed it with his opinion. That said, I see no reason to think Phillips is right.

Baseball is not really a team sport and not really an individual sport. It's a weird mix. On the one hand, it is essentially pitcher vs. batter with a defense behind the pitcher. The batter is not affected by his teammates. The catch is that it is 9 batters going one on one against the pitcher and his defense. Carlos Beltran, David Wright and Jose Reyes do their parts very well.

I'm not going to get into the numbers because we all know Beltran puts up good numbers. Phillips acknowledges this. The point is that Beltran and Alex Rodriguez do their parts really well and do contribute to winning baseball. If we're looking at World Series rings, well, no they have not won a championship.

But Phillips says this:

"I would take Torii Hunter, Grady Sizemore, Curtis Granderson, and Nate McLouth over Beltran, and use the financial difference to improve the team in other ways."

Torii Hunter, Grady Sizemore, Curtis Granderson and Nate McLouth all have zero World Series rings. Coco Crisp has a World Series ring. Want him instead? How about Shane Victorino? Juan Pierre has a ring.

If the New York Mets were concerned about the financial implications of Beltran's contract and their inability to sign contracts, maybe they shouldn't have signed Luis Castillo who made $6.25 million last year or the inconsistent Oliver Perez to a three year $36 million contract.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Max Scherzer goes for win number two tonight

Tonight Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Max Scherzer aims to get his second win in his big league career. It took Scherzer 14 starts and 23 games dating back to last year to notch his first victory last week against the Atlanta Braves in a 12-0 victory. He pitched six shut out innings, but he could have pitched a mediocre six innings of four-run ball. For a pitcher who boasts an impressive 147 ERA+ for his career along with good career rate stats of 9.5 strikeouts per 9 innings and 1.27 WHIP, the fact that it took him 93.2 career innings to notch his first victory shows the flaws in the win-loss stat.

Livan Hernandez was 13-11 last year with the Minnesota Twins and Colorado Rockies. Not bad. Certainly better than Scherzer's career record of 1-7. Look a little deeper and Hernandez had an ERA+ of 69, a WHIP of 1.667 and struck out 3.4 batters per 9 innings.

Looking at Scherzer's game logs this year, you can see why it took him so long to get the first victory. On May 5 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he pitched six innings and gave up 3 runs (2 earned) in a 3-1 loss. On April 30, he pitched six innings of shut out ball against the Milwaukee Brewers, but the Diamondbacks lost 4-1. On April 19 against the San Francisco Giants, he gave up 1 run in five innings in a 2-0 loss--a game where Randy Johnson gave up one hit in seven innings.

While I know and you know that Scherzer is a pretty good pitcher despite his 1-7 record, Cy Young voters still use the win-loss record as a criteria. While a great pitcher will most likely have a nice win-loss record, sometimes the lack of wins kills a pitcher's chance. Two recent examples come to mind when Chris Carpenter won in 2005 against Roger Clemens and in 2004 when Roger Clemens won against Randy Johnson. In 2005, Clemens had his best ERA+ of 226, a microscopic 1.008 WHIP and struck out 7.9 batters per 9 innings. Carpenter had a great season, but you know the voters gave him the Cy Young because his 21-5 record looked nicer than Clemens' 13-8 record. Perhaps it's justice because while Clemens had a great 2004 year, Randy Johnson was better. Johnson had a 16-14 record which is no indication of how dominating he was that year. He posted a league best .900 WHIP. Nobody was getting on base against him.

While a poor win-loss record may hurt a pitcher's candidacy, a great win-loss record will improve a pitcher's candidacy. Makes sense, right? Russ Ortiz won 21 games with the Atlanta Braves in 2003 to finish fourth in Cy Young voting. Impressive. Of course his ERA+ was 112. While he was above average, he was merely 12% above the average pitcher in earned run average. His league leading 102 walks did not help his cause. What happens when your ERA is only 7% above the average major league pitcher and you post a 1.532 WHIP? You finish 5th in Cy Young Voting. Aaron Sele threw up those horrendous numbers with the Texas Rangers in 1999 along with his impressive 18-9 record. To his credit, he did strike out 8.2 batters per 9 innings. Of course Arlington Stadium is a hitter's ballpark, but ERA+ is league adjusted.

Coming in fourth or fifth in Cy Young voting is nice, but it's not like they won the award. Bartolo Colon won the award in 2005 with the Los Angeles Anaheim California Angels. He had a very nice season. He threw 222.2 innings with two complete games and put up a 122 ERA+, a 1.159 WHIP and struck out 6.3 batters per 9 innings. He had a very good season, but we all know he won the award because of the 21-8 record. Mariano Rivera finished second despite striking out 9.2 batters per 9 innings and putting up a .868 WHIP. He had his usual dominating season. That said, the real travesty was Johan Santana not winning the award. Santana threw 231.2 innings with three complete games and two shutouts along with a 1.55 ERA+, a .971 WHIP and struck out 9.2 batters per 9 innings. He dominated Colon in every category. Of course the 16-7 record for Santana was totally his fault.


After I wrote this, I went to and noticed this little gem from Rob Neyer. He writes about the great Johan Santana, but this is the paragraph that emphasizes my point:

"But while Santana was not robbed of the award in 2008, he most certainly was in 2005 when -- finishing 16-7, just like last year -- he led the AL in strikeouts and finished second (by a hair) in ERA but finished third in the Cy Young balloting because voters are obsessed with wins and losses."

My post was about Max Scherzer finally getting that coveted first win, but I had a deeper theme about how good he is despite his poor win-loss record. Then I used some historical examples to prove my point. I will say that as a young kid, I was impressed with wins and losses. It was Neyer who showed me how meaningless records are in the big picture years ago.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"This Guy" is doing a nice job filling in for Manny B.

In my last post, I callously referred to Juan Pierre as this guy. And while he won't keep this impressive run of games going and definitely won't post a .403/.477/.532 line for the rest of the season, he certainly will be good enough during the 50 game Manny vacation.

In my Manny taking a vacation post, I mentioned:

"At this point there is no mention of steroids. Also, I know it is extremely possible that he juices now and juiced back then. But until we know more, how can I make that giant leap?"

Well, we're almost at that leap. You know there are reporters are digging for more information and trying to link to his past. If he was smart, he would face the press and tell every little detail. Otherwise, something like this will happen.

As for the Dodgers, they don't need a Manny apology, they just need him to be in shape and ready to play once he serves the 50-game suspension.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Manny B. Manny Taking a 50 Game Vacation

I was prepared to write a post today about Mets manager Jerry Manuel and his foolish managing, but I got a text message from my friend Jennifer at 9:00 this morning:

"Manny suspended 50 games for steroids! Ha ha"

I go to and see the headling: Manny Tests Positive.

What? My favorite player. How could this be?

After reading the article with the misleading headline, I see that it doesn't exactly list steroids or performance enhancing drugs. Manny B. says, "Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me. Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now."

Seems reasonable and considering there is no mention of steroid or performance enhancing drugs, I have no reason to suspect otherwise until more information is uncovered.

Now onto the reader comments:

dthom516 says:

"Another tarnished legacy. Once considered possibly the best hitter of his era, he will now join Bonds, A-Rod, Clemens and the rest of the PEDs users who got caught and saw their reputations slip away so fast...what a shame..."

What? Where's the mention of PEDs in the article? Look it's completely possible that he was taking a drug to mask steroids, but as of now, we have minimal information.


"Not surprised at all.......they all do roids these days, now maybe Arod wont be so dumped on. Sox fans have to be soooo disappointed."

Where was the mention that he did anything with the Sox? Possible but no information linking that. Now I'm thinking that some reporter will go Seleena Roberts on Manny and try to find out as much information as possible. This kind of story just leads itself to that sort of thing. How many books about Bonds, A-rod and Clemens have come out since there names have been linked with steroids?

True, I am slightly biased because he's my favorite player, but I'm also realist. At this point there is no mention of steroids. Also, I know it is extremely possible that he juices now and juiced back then. But until we know more, how can I make that giant leap?

Now of course there's the whole 50-game suspension. No matter how you break it down, the Dodgers are replacing Manny B. Manny with this guy. Fortunately, they still have Russell Martin, James Loney, Andre Ethier, Matt Kamp and Orlando Hudson. Also, they have Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw pitching. Yes, losing Manny for 50 games and replacing him with a guy who has OPS+ 73, 75 and 82 the last three seasons is not a good thing, but the Dodgers have plenty of talent and play in a so-so division. This does give hope to the Diamondbacks and Giants though.

Also, it's funny that I wrote a lengthy post about the Dodgers mustached GM and all of his bad signings. All signings I thought were garbage from the start. And the one move I praised for being high-dollar but short-term might join that list of bad signings. Essentially the Dodgers are paying $25 million (with 50 games prorated) for 100 games. But hey, at least this time it was hindsight