Thursday, August 16, 2007

Steve Phillips, I Don't Like You

Has anyone ever noticed that Steve Phillips either doesn’t move his hands at all when he talks, or he moves them around like a mad man – like every word gets some dramatic hand movement?

Yeah… me neither…let’s look at some chat answers. These aren’t Joe Morgan level bad but I’ve already started typing.

Greg (Gig Harbor, WA): Morning Steve. I'm curious about your thoughts on the Mariners. Do you think they have the starting pitching to reach the playoffs? They seem to just be steady and I think that's a great asset in this league.

Steve Phillips: Here is something you should know, there have been only two teams to ever make the playoffs with a starting rotation with a record below .500. The Mariners starting pitchers are currently just under the .500 mark. But with the improvement in the offense and one of the best bullpens aound, I think the Mariners have a great chance to win a Wild Card and even the West if they get hot.

Summary – Mariners’ starting pitching is not that good, but offense is “improved” and they have one of the best bullpens. They have a great chance to make the playoffs.

I’m going to reorder a couple of questions here to get this one next:

Mike (Fresno): True or false - the Yankees will make the playoffs.

Steve Phillips: False. The easy thing to say right now is that they will make it because of how they have played out of the All-Star break. But the reason they are winning now is because of their offense, which is very, very good. But to be a playoff team you have to pitch. And I have my doubts that the offense will continue to go as it is going, and I do not think they have the pitching to bail them out when the offense is not there. But they deserve a lot of credit for fighting their way back into this race, because myself, along with many others, counted them out a long time ago.

Summary – Very, very good offense (an understatement), but pitching not good enough.

Let’s take a crude look at some quick stats:

Post All-Star Break:
Runs Scored:
Mariners – 157 – 7th in AL
Yankees – 246 – 1st in AL

Team ERA:
Mariners – 4.98
Yankees – 4.48

To me, this is an odd train of thought. The Yankees have better hitting and better starters, but the Mariners will get in because their hitting is “improved” and their bullpen is very good. The Yankees score substantially more runs and give up less runs, but their pitching is not good enough, in comparison to the Mariners, whose starters have a sub .500 W/L record, which to you (Steve Phillips) is meaningful in a historical sense. Oh okay.

The Mariners run differential so far this year is 6. The Yankees’ is 149.

Liz ( Big Apple): Please tell me the Idea of Tony Larussa Managing the Yankees next year or in my lifetime is a joke? (I'm 29)

Steve Phillips: I would be surprised if LaRussa would want to come to New York to manage. He is a tremendous manager, and he may be having his best year ever with all the adveristy he has faced in St. Louis this year. But I do not think Tony, at this stage in his career, would want to deal with the NY media and all that comes with it. There has been speculation that he will go to the Reds, but I find that hard to believe, since it will be difficult to put a winning team together in that ball park. Joe Torre should be the Yankees manager for as long as we wants, in my opinion. Nobody could have done a better job in the last 12 years.

Why will it be difficult to put a winning team together in that ball park? Why would OPPOSING TEAMS have a better chance of winning in Cincinnati than the Reds, if they can field a quality team? He must mean that Riverfront Stadium is old and out dated (not enough luxury boxes) and therefore is not “economically viable” to generate the required revenues to field a competitive team. Oh…their ballpark… is new?

Being serious for a second, is the thought behind this that it's easier to hit homeruns, and therefore it increases the variability of results (lesser players can hit homeruns easier). If that is the case, you can focus the pitching staff on pitchers who give up fewer homeruns and load the team with power hitters. As opposed to, say, flyball pitchers and guys who steal bases. I'm being overly simplistic, but you get the point - no team should be doomed to losing because of their ballpark.

Adam (Flushing, NY): What are the chances that A-Rod signs with the red Sox next season? What would they have to give up in order to get him.

Steve Phillips: Well if he is a FA they would not have to give up anything, and the Yanks would never trade him to the Red Sox. But it will cost somewhere inthe range for 30 million dollars per year for 8 or more seaons to sign him. remmeber this, he is a great player, but he has yet to win a title, and baseball is not just an individual game. You need to have a balanced and deep roster to win, and no matter what your payroll, giving one guy 30 mil. limits what you can do with your roster.

That’s true, since there’s a salary cap in baseball and you can’t just spend a ton of money on other players…we wouldn’t want teams like New York and Boston doing that! His point is moot if you can afford to spend $150 million plus on the rest of the team. Really, are we looking at baseball players this way in 2007? Measuring them in championships? You can not treat MLB players like NBA players. Ted Williams and Barry Bonds never won championships…so fucking what? They are arguably the two best offensive players ever.

MATT (MINN): Where is Tory Hunter going to end up?

Steve Phillips: I think there are many places he could end up, from Boston to Atlanta to Philadelphia, Baltimore, Texas, and so on. I think he will be the most highly pursued FA this offseason, including if A-Rod is a free agent. Teams will look at the price tag on Rodriguez and think that they can sign Hunter and two other players for the same amount of money. He is still in his prime and would be a great addition to any team.

A summary of that Q & A:
MATT (MINN): Where is Tory Hunter going to end up?
Steve Phillips: Anywhere!

Also, Steve Phillips has the biggest hard-on for talking bad about A-Rod and/or the Yankees. I vividly remember Steve Phillips talking about A-Rod during his crazy-bad summer last year when he hit like 2 homeruns OPS’d .179. I remember him saying last July that A-Rod was intimidated by New York and would never get back to where he was if he stayed there. He and Harold Reynolds were saying this, and John Kruk was just saying that he was in a little bit of a slump and would be fine. You don’t forget moments when John Kruk is the only guy who is right.

Nick (Philly): Any chance Cole Hamels can pull out the Cy Young award this year? If it weren't for the bullpen, he'd be close to 20 wins already.

Steve Phillips: I think it will be very difficult for him, unless he rattles off seven or eight high quality performances that lower his ERA under 3. Chris Young (2.02) and Jake Peavy (2.23) have better ERAs. Hamels is a good young pitcher who will win a Cy Young award, but it just wont happen this year.

Side note: Young and Peavy pitch in a pitcher’s park. But check this out, Jake Peavy has a 1.06 ERA on the road.

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