Friday, September 16, 2011

In Defense of Ed Wade attempt to revive the blog didn't work. My bad. Maybe I'll follow up with a post about my experiment later. That's besides the point.

Rany Jazayerli over at Grantland wrote an article this week about the demise of the Houston Astros. Prominent in that piece was Ed Wade, easily the worst GM in baseball. As a Phillies fan, I suffered through Wade for far too long. I could go on about all of his shortcomings, but I won't. I, along with all other Phillies fans, am in a far better place now. Instead, I'm going to do something I never thought I'd do: defend Ed Wade.

In a line that is only tangentially related to the point of his story, Jazayerli writes, “Wade's tenure in Philadelphia was most notable for his apparent fetish for relievers. Of his several bullpen acquisitions, the most regrettable came in 2005, when he traded starting second baseman Placido Polanco for Ugueth Urbina.” I completely disagree with this statement; this was one of the few defensible trades Wade made in his tenure as Phillies GM. What follows is a very surface-level evaluation of the trade involving data on WAR. I'm not a sabremetrician, so go easy on me if you feel I overlooked or misinterpreted the stats.

This trade wasn't really about just acquiring Urbina - it was about opening up 2B for Chase Utley to be the full time starter. The Phillies weren't expecting to even have Polanco in 2005 - they offered him arbitration in hopes of getting draft picks, but he accepted it unexpectedly. He was a free agent after 2005, as was Urbina. The Phils weren't going to sign him - Chase was the 2B of the future, and they clearly were sticking with David Bell at 3B (that was the real failing of Ed Wade. He should have dropped Bell and moved Polanco to 3B a long time before). You can't evaluate the trade by noting how good Polanco was in later years with Detroit because that was on a 4 year extension he never would have signed with the Phils. Same goes for Urbina. He was a free agent after 2005 anyway, so the fact that he went and hacked someone up with a machete and went to jail is irrelevant. The trade was essentially 4 months of Polanco for 4 months of Urbina and Utley.

It's hard to exactly compare because doesn't break WAR down by months for individual years (at least that I can see) but Polanco put up 4.3 WAR in 2005, 1.7 with the Phils and 2.6 with the Tigers. Urbina put up a whopping 0.1 WAR in his time with the Phils. Utley had 6.2 WAR that year. Since I can't find a month by month breakdown for him, let's just prorate it, so he had about 4 WAR after Polanco was traded. 4 + 0.1 > 2.6. Yea, Urbina didn't perform, but the hope was that he would be able to duplicate his 2003 success after being traded to the Marlins at the deadline. He put up 1.9 WAR in half a season and was a big part of their World Series (for perspectives sake, Ryan Madson has never put up a 1.9 in an entire season, and Brad Lidge's perfect 2008 was worth 2.8). So considering the fact that the trade itself was based on a bad decision (David Bell had -0.5 WAR in 2005), Ed Wade probably acquitted himself as well as he possibly could have.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Reviving the Blog in the Most Unconventional Way

I couldn't sleep last night. Turns out sleeping in until noon on your last day of spring break isn't conducive to getting back on a normal sleep schedule. Naturally, my thoughts turned to baseball. The Phillies had just followed their four game sweep of the Padres with two dispiriting losses to the Diamondbacks. Lidge and Contreras are on the DL. So is Chase Utley, and who knows if he's going to play at all this year. The offense went two weeks without scoring more than four runs. Dom Brown is starting his rehab assignment, but Ben Francisco looks exposed as an everyday player and Raul Ibanez has turned into a black hole. Never has a 15-8 team with four aces looked so vulnerable. This wasn't helping my sleeplessness.

I took to Twitter to see what the scribes were saying. Unfounded speculation that Oswalt's back is hurting? Awesome. Now I'm concerned about our rotation. (Note: News broke this morning that Oswalt has left the team for personal reasons. Super.) What's that you say Matt Gelb? Harold Garcia tore his ACL and is out for the year? Uh-oh. He's never played a full season above A ball? I don't care, this is awful news! Now I'm curious and need to see who else we have in the minors could help. * * crickets * * Uh, that would be no one. Come to think about it, withholding judgment on Dom Brown, the organization hasn't developed an impact bat since Ryan Howard in 2005. We really have turned into the Yankees.

That's all tangential to my point though. I'm obsessed with this team, and I don't know if that's a good thing. You wouldn't think it'd be like this though. 2008 exorcised Joe Carter crapping on my seven year old heart. Everything else should be icing on the cake. That didn't happen though. Maybe I felt like I had to escalate my commitment to the team to prove I was better than the bandwagon fans, I don't know. Why should this even be necessary? Bandwagon fans don't remember such luminaries as Wendell Magee, Jr., Desi Relaford, or Wayne Gomes. They didn't go to the Vet enough to be recognized by ushers. Yet I still need to justify my fandom. I need to read more blogs, know the farm system better, travel farther to see them play.

I feel like Bill Simmons' father, or at least the character Simmons has created to feed into his schtick. I need to talk it out with someone after a tough loss. Why though? Even the best baseball team is going to lose at least 60 games each year. There is literally no reason to overanalyze any individual loss. It's tiring. I was burned out like this once before. In 2006, I had a perfect out though. I studied abroad in New Zealand for the second half of the season. Taking into account the time difference and the slow internet connections there at the time, following was nearly impossible. I watched one game on ESPN International and remember reading about Howard's three home run game against Tim Hudson in a backpacking hostel in Melbourne. That's it. It was awesome.

So I'm going to try instituting a forced hiatus from my uber-fandom. Step 1: Twitter disconnection. I'm going to unfollow all my favorite beat writers and bloggers. Step 2: Cutting out the blogs. No Fightins. No 700 Level. No Zoo With Roy. If I want news, I'll have to read stories published in the newspaper. Step 3: This is the big one. I am going to pretend I live in a pre-internet era. I will only listen to the radio broadcasts of games, with the exception of nationally televised games of the week.

Will I really lose anything by not knowing what the latest meme is or not understanding the newest ZWR shirt? I don't think so. How long will I last? Not sure. Is blogging about my disconnect a contradiction? You bet. Game on.