"We created circumstances for ourselves so that most of what we saw in the latter part of the game could have been avoided," said Tracy.
"We had second and third with no out in the fourth inning and couldn't advance a runner. We threw a glove at a ball and sent a man to third base and set up a run. We [Cesar Izturis] didn't get a bunt down after a leadoff single in the ninth [by pinch-hitter Ricky Ledee]. We gave up a home run to the opposing pitcher.
"You can't make those types of little mistakes in situation baseball, and it all leads to the fact that Eric Gagne would have been in the game to pitch. When you do not execute, you get beat."
Jim, just because it is not a save situation does not mean that Gagne can't pitch.
I would have actually bought the thinking that Gagne pitched two days in a row, and you didn't want to overuse him after just coming of the DL.
This, however, is just ludicrous. Saying that in no way could Gagne could have pitched that inning is absurd. It's not like the Diamondbacks bullpen could have held us scoreless for that long. Throwing a tie game away simply because it isn't a save situation in just beyond stupid. I have no clue how a man can keep his job with rationale like this.
``Everybody had a great day,'' Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. ``You know it started out, Brady gets the double and then you play fundamental baseball. Cirillo bunts him over and you're playing for one run there and the next thing you know you get five.
I sensed dread coming into this game. I was right.
Weaver is hurt, no doubt about it. The gun on the broadcast said that Weaver was throwing 90. However, the same gun said that Odalis was throwing 96 a couple weeks ago. This puts us firmly back into "Bad Weaver" territory.
Possibly inspired by the weekend series with the Angels, Tracy decided to give small ball a try. He started with his usual, send the runner on a 3-2 count with less than two outs. Amazingly, it didn't result in a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play, as Cesar actually managed to make it to second base, bringing his stolen base rate to 37.5 percent. Like most stolen bases, it turned out to be completely irrelevant, as Choi and Kent struck out.
Small ball came into play again in the next inning as Bradley successfully stole second. Again this turned out to be irrelevant as Bradley got gunned at the plate by thirty feet thanks to Glenn "Little Joey Cora" Hoffman. There's another run wasted thanks to small ball.
After Weaver gives up home runs to Matheny and Schmidt (who have a combined 61 home runs in 23 years of major league service) The Dodgers get something going in the fifth. Schmidt is clearly laboring, after giving up a double and a walk. The situation is first and second, down by four, with Izturis, our hottest hitter coming to the plate. So, Tracy does what any man named Guillen would do in this situation. He has Cesar bunt.
Playing for one run when down by four against a laboring pitcher does not help. Bunting is never a good idea when you have anything resembling a decent hitter at the plate, reducing your expected runs in every situation. If he was trying to stay out of the double play, well, it's not that smart when the person that is hitting only has three GIDP's in 184 at bats.
Of course, this ends up as immediately worthless again, as Drew walks in the following at bat. We score due to a clutch balk and a productive out. Some Houlton scariness and Duaner studliness later, it's over.
Small ball isn't the only reason we lost this game, that completely discounts how bad Weaver was. There are two options here: last year was a fluke, or he's hurt. If it's the former, at least we aren't paying twice as much to an equally ineffective pitcher. If it's the former, we need to bite the bullet and put him on the DL. It hurts to lose two members of the rotation, but we have no other recourse. Weaver should not pitch again until he gets his velocity back.
An injury isn't entirely Weavers fault either. He leads the Dodgers in innings pitches thrown, 31 ahead of second place Lowe, and 269 ahead of third place Perez. Does it makes sense that the starter with an ERA near six gets to throw so many pitches? No, it doesn't. It is a simple observation that Tracy leaves Weaver out there to die. That's an easy way for any pitcher to develop a dead arm.
Weaver needs to skip a start, and Tracy needs to stop playing small ball. We do that, things might be looking up in the future. If the Dodgers lose to Tomko tomorrow, I will be in a much worse mood.
In an effort to confirm the fact that yes, he really is the dumbest manager in So-Cal, Jim Tracy did some outstanding things today.
Cesar leads off the game with a hit, and Tracy immediately decides to send him. Izturis was two for six in steals heading into this game. He is now two for seven. Choi then manages to end a great at bat by getting hit, and Drew then lines into a double play.
Line for the inning: two hard hit balls, one hit by pitch, three batters, zero left on base. If I would have just taken this as a sign like I should have, I could have just turned off the game right there, and spent the rest of the day in blissful ignorance.
Of course, I'm a sucker for punishment, and kept watching. After watching the Dodgers scrap and claw for a run in the seventh (driven in by our new third baseman, Antonio Perez, who I fully endorse, at least for a week), Tracy decides that it's Carrara time. Normally, I don't mind having the man up there, but, he immediately gets into trouble. After the Angels catch a couple of lucky breaks, there is a runner on second with one out. After falling behind Figgins 3-1, he doubles into the gap, giving the go ahead run.
What happens next is inexcusable.
We intentionally walk Erstad to get to DaVanon (thank god he's hitting third, and not someone good.) Tracy decides it's now Wunsch time, and he chokes immediately. After allowing another run, Duaner has a good outing, and ends the inning.
Who comes out in the ninth though? Gagne. Of course, bring in your best pitcher when your team is already pretty much out of the game. Not when there is still a game left to salvage. While I don't completely agree with Steve at FJT's assessment that Figgins should have been walked at 3-1, Gagne should have simply come in and taken down Erstad and DaVanon, rather than pussyfooting around with Wunsch. Damn conventional wisdom.
Tracy manages to top this off by not hitting for Bako in the ninth. He thought it would be best if Phillips were instead held back to bat for Gagne, just in case Bako actually got on. That way he could double switch in the tenth. Truly inspired strategy.
Despite all this, I can't fully place the blame on Tracy, the offense was just too anemic. Penny looked good shutting down a completely hopeless team, and Antonio Perez looked good, but, other than that, today was not a good day.
Scoscia did his best to ruin the game for his team, by doing things like having Jose Molina bunt with no one on, then having McPhearson bunt immediately after that. Despite his best efforts, however, Tracy managed to hold on to the title of worst manager in Southern California.
One of the many things I've criticized Jim Tracy for in the past is his mismanagement of Eric Gagne. When someone has that violent of a throwing motion, they probably aren't going to be able to last long. I'm surprised it's taken him this long to have any sort of injury problem. I had stacks of anecdotal evidence suggesting that Eric Gagne can not pitch more than one inning, and, if he does, it screws him up for the next day.
Seeing as today's an off day, and I needed something to write about I decided to look at Gagne's career stats in these situations. Anecdotal evidence is nice, but, having more actual evidence as to why Jim Tracy is an idiot is always a good thing.
I'm taking stats from when Gagne first became the Dodger's closer, ignoring his stats as a starter, as well as this year.
Gagne when pitching more than one inning:
Number of times this occurred: 42
Innings Pitched: 71.2
Strike Outs: 95
Home Runs: 4
Gagne the day after pitching more than one inning:
Number of times this occurred: 15
Innings Pitched: 14.2
Strike Outs: 17
Home Runs: 1
Gagne All Other Times:
Innings Pitched: 160.2
Strike Outs: 253
Home Runs: 8
Well, that pretty much defeats any point I may have had on this subject. While Gagne does get worse when pitching more than one inning, he still is better than any other pitcher on our staff, and I doubt the degradation is worse than any other closer. Yes, he does not pitch very well the day after putting in that much work, but it is a very small sample size, and a lot of that can be attributed to an outing where he pitched one third of an inning and allowed four runs.
So long as Tracy doesn't pitch Gagne multiple innings every game, he should feel free to pitch him in crucial situations in the 8th inning.
Since Joe Morgan now has an Emmy, ESPN has now decided that Insiders get exclusive access to Joe Morgan. Lucky me.
What epiphany does Joe have today? That Tino Martinez supplies more than just intangibles, and the fact that he's hit eight home runs in nine games are a big reason why the Yankees are winning. Personally, I'm shocked. I would have never figured that when your below average first baseman goes on a massive tear, you will win some games. (I went searching for a column where he says the Yankees are done, but, unfortunately, he wasn't a fool about this.)
Apparently, Tino is able to do this because he's not on the roids, and thus is able to make adjustments better than people who have size 9 1/2 caps. So, it's not a hot streak, Tino really should be able to hit 55 home runs this year. Hmmmmm....
I wonder why there isn't an article on Bobby Abreu instead? While people where busy gushing over Tino, no one seemed to notice that Abreu has been even better over the same time period. Maybe it's because the only intangible he brings is finding his fiancée on a porno site? (It is interesting that this sudden power surge happened directly after this event. I think Bill James needs to write an article on the subject.)
The sad thing is that this is a good Morgan article. He's not really wrong about anything, he's just pointing out the obvious. Hooray.
The Dodgers have a chance to tie the game. Their hottest hitter this month is coming to the plate. The crowd is waiting for the inevitable sound cue so they can do their chant. The Dodgers might salvage this horrible game just yet.
But, wait, what's this? Jack McKeon has come out of the bullpen, and he's calling for the lefty. No, it can't be, it just can't be. Oh crap, it's Matt Perisho! We can't have a lefty hit against a lefty can we, no matter how bad said lefty is. Olmedo, grab your gear, it's time to hit for the guy with a 1.196 OPS this month!
Of course, we all know how this story ends, Olmedo flies out, the Dodgers lose again. Everyone is sad. Well, I don't know about everyone, I'm sure most of the twits on Dodger Talk were explaining exactly why we should have retained Lo Duca, and how great it was to see him again.
Honestly, it makes a lot more sense at this point in the season to hit for J.D. Drew rather than Hee Seop (important note, I do not endorse this action.) Hee Seop basically can't get out this month, while J.D. has looked pretty shaky since he got sick.
This is a tired point, but I'm going to make it again. The only player on this team that gets jerked around like this is Hee Seop. If Olmedo gets sent up there against a lefty, his career .600 OPS against lefties gets to swing away. Repko, Ledee, and Grabowski get all the chances in the world against pitchers of various dexterities. But, Hee Seop gets sent up there, red flag, time to pull the man.
You can read Hee Seop's thoughts on the subject here. (If you aren't familiar with that site, it is easily the best website in recorded history. Heck, forget other websites, let's throw names like Chaucer and Dickens up there.) I'm not blaming tonights loss on that, our pitching was far too inept to place the blame solely on Tracy, but this treatment of Hee Seop is just ludicrous.
Just got a call from the Dodgers asking to take a survey. When asking if there was anything they could do to improve the game experience, I should have said "make beach balls punishable by death." My response was "uhhhhh....no".
I just had my chance to make a difference, and I blew it.
After reading this post on Fire Jim Tracy, and doing some research for the comment I made, I discovered that, unsurprisingly, the Angels do better when they get more runners on base.
However, in looking at this, in 2002 and 2004, the Angels were ranked higher in runs scored than they were in OBP. In 2004, even though the Angels were ranked 16th in OPS, they managed to finish 11th in runs scored. Maybe there is something to this small ball thing.
Well, actually, there clearly is. If you can send a runner from first to third 100 percent of the time, it will help your team win, and there is no way to dispute this. If you are successful in 100 percent of your stolen base attempts, you should be running on every pitch. Small ball starts to fall apart, however, when there is less than perfect execution. The question is how good do you have to be at aggressive base running, steals, and sacrifice bunting before it makes a difference?
To compute expected runs, I am using Nichols's Expected Runs Table. However, before I get into this, realize there is one very large flaw: the table does not take into account the skill of the batter. Obviously, your run expectancy goes up when Vladimir Guerrero is up rather than Darin Erstad. I don't know where to find data like that, however, so I'm going to have to use these numbers.
So, what we are trying to find is the percentage of success of aggressiveness is equal to when playing station to station ball.
The formula used to define find equality = (runs scored when successful)*( success percentage)+(runs scored when not successful)*(1-success percentage) = (runs scored when not aggressive)
SRx + UR(1-x) = NAR
(SR-UR)x = (NAR-UR)
Advancing from first to third 0 outs.
Expected runs with runners on first and second, 0 out: 1.5
Expected runs with runner on first, one out: .52
Expected runs with 100 percent success rate on advancing from first to third: 1.75
Necessary Success Rate: 79.675%
Advancing from first to third, 1 out.
Expected runs with runners on first and second, 1 out: .92
Expected runs with runner on first, two out: .23
Expected runs with 100 percent success rate on advancing from first to third: 1.17
Necessary Success Rate: 73.404%
Advancing from first to third, 2 out.
Expected runs with runners on first and second, 2 out: .44
Expected runs with three outs: 0
Expected runs with 100 percent success rate on advancing from first to third: .5
Necessary Success Rate: 88%
Interestingly, it is the most profitable to be aggressive with one out. Also, the old baseball adage of "you don't want to make the last out at third base" holds true.
How about steals:
Stealing second 0 out
Expected runs with runner on first, 0 out: .88
Expected runs with runner on second, 0 out: 1.13
Expected runs with no on, 1 out: .26
Necessary Success Rate: 71.2%
Stealing second 1 out
Expected runs with runner on first, 1 out: .52
Expected runs with runner on second, 0 out: .69
Expected runs with no on, 0 out: .1
Necessary Success Rate: 71.2%
Stealing second 2 out
Expected runs with runner on first, 0 out: .22
Expected runs with runner on second, 0 out: .33
Expected runs with no on, 3 out: 0
Necessary Success Rate: 66.67%
Stealing second seems to be more profitable than I expected, and having the chance of running yourself out of the inning is actually the highest percentage play.
Stealing third 0 out
Expected runs with runner on second, 0 out: 1.13
Expected runs with runner on third, 0 out: 1.37
Expected runs with no on, 1 out: .26
Necessary Success Rate: 78.3%
Stealing third 1 out
Expected runs with runner on first, 1 out: .69
Expected runs with runner on second, 0 out: .96
Expected runs with no on, 0 out: .1
Necessary Success Rate: 68.604%
Stealing third 2 out
Expected runs with runner on first, 0 out: .33
Expected runs with runner on second, 0 out: .38
Expected runs with no on, 3 out: 0
Necessary Success Rate: 86.8%
With the exception of stealing third with one out, it is far less optimal to steal third. This would make sense, as having a runner on third with one out optimizes the effect of the sacrifice fly. (It is possible with zero outs, but there is far more likely to be a big inning.)
Stealing second with a runner on third
Expected runs with a runner on 1st and 3rd, 0 out: 1.75
Expected runs with a runner on 2nd and 3rd, 0 out: 1.98
Expected runs with a runner on third, 1 out: .96
Necessary Success Rate: 77.45%
Expected runs with a runner on 1st and 3rd, 1 out: 1.17
Expected runs with a runner on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out: 1.4
Expected runs with a runner on third, 1 out: .38
Necessary Success Rate: 77.45%
Expected runs with a runner on 1st and 3rd, 2 out: .5
Expected runs with a runner on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out: .61
Expected runs with a runner on third, 3 out: 0
Necessary Success Rate: 81.97%
Overall, this is the most foolish scenario to run in, which makes a lot of sense. You are in position to score a lot of runs here, and potentially eliminating a base runner is not worth it.
Sacrifice bunting is almost never worth it. Moving the runner over at the expense of an out costs an average of about .25 runs. You need a very bad hitter up there for the bunt to be a favorable play.
In overall stolen base situations you need to be successful a 75.156 percent of the time for it to be worth it.
When considering these stats, however, you need to consider that this is the expected out come only if the average hitter from 1984-1994 is at the plate. This hypothetical player's OPS is only approximately .700 (I say approximately since I simply took the average of the league OPS in all those years, rather than computing it properly.)
Since I lack an exact formula, I'm going to use a simple ratio. This will be the ratio of current OPS, to all time OPS. Then, the necessary percentage for stolen bases (75.156) will be multiplied by that to get the expected result weighted by the proficiency of the subject's hitting proficiency.
As a team in 2004, the Angels had an OPS of .770. Using the simple ratio I described, the Angels now need an 82.6716 success ratio in order for their aggressiveness to be worth it. They were actually successful 76% of the time.
Maybe the Angels only sent runners in optimal situations, so maybe the 76% success rate is enough. After seeing the way Mike Scoscia manages, however, I doubt this is the case.
So, if the Angels were unable to perform efficiently enough to have their aggressiveness payoff, was any team able to in 2004? Surprisingly, yes.
The Mets had a .726 OPS, requiring a success rate of 77.947 to be efficient. They had a stolen base percentage of 82 percent. The Brewers has a .708 OPS, requiring a 76.014 percent success rate, they had 78%
Are these stats perfect? No. They're based on a formula I took two seconds to make up. However, the results produced are similar to what several other looks at small ball have said, so I can conclude that they are reasonably valid.
What does this all come down to? Well, frankly the same conclusions as we already know. Back when offense was hard to come by, being aggressive and taking the extra base was worth it if your team was good enough. However, in todays day and age, where the average team can put up an OPS 65 to 70 points higher than the average player of 10-20 years ago, it is simply not worth it to waste outs unless you are incredibly proficient at what you do. Considering that a team that is heralded for it's aggressiveness is unable to pull this off (they did have the 4th highest stolen base percentage in baseball), and the two teams that did pull it off finished in the dregs of the division, we simply have to come back to the fact that small ball just doesn't work.
I have relatively little problem when Ryne Sandberg, Jayson Stark, or any of the other Internet boneheads choose to write about baseball. Yeah, they suck, but at least they're free. I have my laugh at how stupid they are, and move on. At the very least, it gives me something to post about that doesn't require any research.
However, when my 30 dollar ESPN subscription gets me the same utter tripe I start to get upset.
In case you were wondering here's what your 30 dollars will get you if you sign up for ESPN Insider.
Rob Neyer - The reason I signed up for this.
Eric Karabell - Probably the most accurate fantasy writer I've seen.
Jerry Crasnick - He doesn't really write enough to merit any mention, when he does, it's very much hit and miss.
Buster Olney - The less said about Buster, the better.
Tony Gwynn - He would be promoted if he understood there were punctionation marks other than exclamation points.
ESPN The Magazine - It generally doesn't last me one trip to the bathroom
And the reason I felt the need to write this: Steve Phillips.
Today's column, "The All Underrated Team", provides some insight as to why the Mets thought it was a good idea to trade Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano, as well as various other hilarious incidents in the last few years for the Mets.
To be fair, he did get some things right.
People that are actually underrated on this list:
Jeff Kent (People think he's just as good as Alex Cora)
Not actually underrated, but still good
Now though, we have to get to the hideous abominations that are on this list. I'll start with the least extreme one.
Omar Vizquel: In the steroid era of baseball, we have been consumed by the home run. Vizquel is not a power hitter, but he is a power fielder.
Ozzie Smith, a Hall of Famer, had a .978 fielding percentage for his career. Smith is arguably the best fielding shortstop ever to play the game. Vizquel's career fielding percentage is .983. Vizquel made only three errors in 156 games in 2000 and had four seasons in which he played 150 games or more and had single-digit errors. Smith only did that once. Vizquel's offensive numbers are on par with Smith's and in some categories are better. Yes, Vizquel is a Hall of Famer.
Now if this were 1997, he might have an argument. However, in the last few years he's greatly diminished. With the exception of last year, the highest he's hit is .275 with a .341 on base percentage since 2001.
His defense has also been on the decline since 1998, with an adjusted DRAA of -7 from 1998-2004.
Vizquel is a decent player, but he's certainly not overrated, and he's certainly not worth giving four million dollars to when he's 40.
Jaime Moyer-Moyer is 4-0 thus far, and he's done so at the age of 42, when most other older pitchers are going down like flies. You might be asking, "Yeah, but does that make him underrated?" Well, who has more career wins, John Smoltz or Moyer? The answer is Moyer, who has 196 compared to 165 for Smoltz. Moyer or Pedro Martinez? Moyer again, 196 to 185. And one last one: Moyer or Curt Schilling? Moyer again, 196 to 185. I rest my case.
Moyer is up here simply because of the logic he uses. Isn't it highly likely that a 42 year old will have more wins than someone who is six years younger than him? Yeah.
There are still a lot of people who consider Moyer a good pitcher, even though he allowed 45 jacks last year. I don't think that counts as under rated.
And now for the two horrible choices:
Darin Erstad - He's a three-time Gold Glove winner. This guy is the first player ever to be awarded a Gold Glove as an infielder and outfielder and the first to be recognized at three different primary positions (left field, center field and first base). He offers a tremendous amount of flexibility to both the manager and general manager. Erstad is also one of the toughest players in the big leagues.
I just simply have to ask this: how the hell is Darin Erstad underrated? I have heard Charlie Steiner call him an elite player. Mike Scoscia says he'd rather have Erstad than anyone else on his team. He is the middle of a four year 32 million dollar contract. So, what does your 32 million dollars get you?
Notice that Phillips only focuses on two things: defense, and intangibles. However, with a little bit of analysis, it's pretty easy to see that if you take out Erstad's fluke 2000, he has a career .735 OPS. Think about that. The most underrated first baseman in baseball has a .735 OPS. I'm just going to repeat that in case you're skimming this. The most underrated first baseman in baseball has a .735 OPS.
I would go as far to say Darin Erstad is the most overrated player in baseball. He's not even the best first baseman on his team for Christ's sake. (See Casey Kotchman.)
But, what about his productive outs? Whenever Erstad advances the runner, he goes back acting like he hit a grand slam. That's got to count for something, right? I think Erstad fails to realize that his team might have been a little better served if their first baseman actually did something crazy like get a base hit. Advancing the runner is not doing your job. Advancing the runner and not creating an out is doing your job.
I'm sure his CORP is tremendous, though.
Jim Tracy - Everyone thought the Dodgers would fold after the trading deadline last year when they dealt away Guillermo Mota and Paul Lo Duca. They didn't. Everyone thought the Dodgers wouldn't be good this year with a mish-mash lineup and poor defense. They have been one of the best stories of the early season. A big part of that success is because
Jim Tracy took a mish-mash lineup and made it great. He must be a great manager! Ummm...no. While pinheads like you were calling this lineup a miss-mash, intelligent people realized that this was one of the best lineups in the league. Intelligent people aren't shocked the Dodgers are leading their division. Intelligent people don't think a team is garbage because one part of the infield defense is a little shaky.
Has it occurred to you that maybe the Dodgers are simply a better team than you give them credit for? Of course not, you thought acquiring Mo Vaughn was a good idea. Simply because your team wins, does not mean your manager is good. Anyone who pays any attention realizes that the Dodgers are winning despite Jim Tracy.
Anyway, I think I can be an ESPN Insider writer, let's try.
The top six managers in baseball:
Mike Scoscia - Small ball and aggressive base running have lead this team to the top.
Ozzie Guillen - See above. Ozzie's brand of "smart ball" has lead them to the top, despite their .303 OBP. Pay no heed to the fact that their staff ERA is a run and a half in front of everyone else's in the
Whoever manages the Orioles - I couldn't be bothered to look this up, but look at the O's record, he must be good!
Jim Tracy - He salvaged DePodesta's horrible winter and taught this miss-mash of players how to win.
Tony Larussa - Before Pujols met Larussa, he was a 5'4, 97 pound weakling, now look at him.
Jack McKeon - A caveat: the Braves are up 5-2 right now, if they win this one, I'm going to have to give this honor to Bobby Cox.|||111523627877037269|||I Paid 30 Dollars For This?