Tag Archives: Ben Revere

My NL Cy Young Pick Nearly Threw a Perfect Game Last Night

Back on the eve of baseball season, I made a prediction that I essentially knew had little chance of coming to fruition.

Every year, I make a bunch of baseball picks, and in 2014, I selected Madison Bumgarner as my NL Cy Young winner.

I feel like I got earlier exposure to the San Francisco lefty than some others because he was a vital part of the Giants defeating the Phillies in the 2010 NLCS. I liked his peripherals and always thought he had a breakout year coming.

Plus, it was just more fun than the stereotypical Clayton Kershaw or Adam Wainwright pick. Everyone who makes predictions gets a safe one when they choose Mike Trout for AL MVP but after that, you need to have some fun.

Bumgarner won’t win it, but he should solicit some votes, and he showed last night why he could one day challenge Kershaw for it, tossing a one-hit complete game gem against the Rockies and carrying a perfect game into the eighth inning.

Bumgarner 2

Justin Morneau, who currently stands between Ben Revere and a batting title, ruined the party with six outs to go when he laced a double off the right field wall.

Bumgarner 1

No worries though. Bumgarner promptly recovered, striking out four of the final six Rockies batters. Some will point out that the Rockies have the second worst record in the league, but they also have the second highest run total in all of baseball.

The Giants’ lefty entered last night 22nd in pitching WAR with a solid 3.0. He has a 3.02 ERA backed up by a 3.00 FIP. His strikeout rate per nine innings is 9.15, and he is now tied for the league lead in wins with 15 (whatever that means).

Even though I will ultimately be wrong, thanks for making me look smart for a night. You also may have put my on the bubble fantasy team in the playoffs, so high five.

Do your thing, Mad Bum. Maybe someday, maybe someday.

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Evaluating My MLB Predictions at the All-Star Break

Every year on the night before Opening Day I scribble down a bunch of baseball predictions for the upcoming season and post them on social media.

It has been a thing for much of the past decade, akin to a kid writing out his Christmas list every winter except this is a collection of what I think will happen, not necessarily what I want to happen.

For a decent amount of them, I pour over numbers and data. There’s also a few where I just shoot from the hip and try to have a little fun. Unfortunately though, I usually forget about a lot of the more detailed ones once October rolls around. This year I told myself that I wasn’t going to let that happen, and in order to help prevent it, I figured I’d take a look at how things are holding up halfway through the season.

Some are almost spot on, and others are embarrassingly bad, but unlike pond scum hack Mike Freeman, I will hold myself accountable when I get something wrong.

Let’s dive into it starting with the division standings and team records:

*Current record in bold and parentheses next to prediction 

NL East

Nationals (97-65) (51-42)

Braves (86-76) (52-43)

Phillies (76-86) (42-53)

Mets (74-88) (45-50)

Marlins (68-94) (44-50)

Overall, nothing jumps out as awful here. The Nationals would have to play .700 baseball to hit 97 wins, so that probably won’t happen, and the Marlins would really have to go south to only win 68 but no glaring errors here.

NL Central

Cardinals (95-67) (52-44)

Reds (90-72) (51-44)

Pirates (85-77) (49-46)

Brewers (78-84) (53-43)

Cubs (64-98) (40-54)

The big mistake here is obviously the Brewers. Despite a recent tailspin, it would still be quite a shock for them to finish under .500 at this point. Still plausible that the standings finish in the order I predicted though.

NL West

Dodgers (96-66) (54-43)

Giants (88-74) (52-43)

Diamondbacks (83-79) (40-56)

Padres (81-81) (41-54)

Rockies (71-91) (40-55)

The NL West seems really hit or miss for me. Dodgers, Giants, and Rockies predictions all have a chance to be pretty close. It would take a lot for the Diamondbacks and Padres to reach .500.

For real though, the Phillies might be brutal, but I’m not sure how people in San Diego do it.

Padres

AL East

Red Sox (95-67) (43-52)

Rays (94-68) (44-53)

Yankees (87-75) (47-47)

Orioles (86-76) (52-42)

Blue Jays (69-93) (49-47)

Let’s just take this and throw it in the trash, kk? I still wouldn’t be shocked if the Red Sox or Rays make a run in the second half, but this was kinda bad. Okay, really bad.

AL Central

Tigers (92-70) (53-38)

Royals (86-76) (48-46)

Indians (84-78) (47-47)

White Sox (70-92) (45-51)

Twins (62-100) (44-50)

The Twins will certainly eclipse 62 wins, but overall this looks pretty good. For the time being, I have the division order completely correct.

AL West

Rangers (90-72) (38-57)

A’s (89-73) (59-36)

Angels (86-76) (57-37)

Mariners (75-87) (51-44)

Astros (61-101) (40-56)

Yeesh. Perhaps I was a little too high on the Rangers, but I don’t think anyone anticipated them having the worst record in baseball heading into the All-Star break. The Mariners are on the way toward making me look stupid, and I welcome that because getting to watch Felix Hernandez in October for the first time ever would be awesome.

More predictions below:

NL Playoff Teams: Nationals, Cardinals, Dodgers, Reds, Giants 

If the playoffs started today, the Nationals, Dodgers, and Giants would all be in with the Cardinals and Reds knocking on the door. I have a chance to hit all five there, so things could be worse.

AL Playoff Teams: Red Sox, Tigers, Rangers, Rays, A’s

The American League is obviously less accurate. I’ll hold out hope that either the Red Sox or Rays make a run to get me three teams from that group.

World Series: Dodgers over Red Sox in six games 

With a playoff rotation of Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu, the Dodgers certainly look capable of coming out of the National League. Red Sox, as already mentioned, are another story.

AL Cy Young: David Price

This is going to King Felix in all likelihood, but Price is 11th in the AL in WAR, 11th in FIP, and has the sixth best strikeout rate per nine innings in all of baseball. He may not win, but he’ll get some votes.

NL Cy Young: Madison Bumgarner

The popular thing here is to pick Kershaw or Adam Wainwright, and Kershaw will win it, but I decided to go a different route back in March. Bumgarner’s been good enough to make the All-Star game, so I’ll take that.

AL MVP: Mike Trout

Speaking of boring/safe predictions…I don’t think much else needs to be said here. Trout is going to win this time, and with the way the Angels are playing, none of the voters will be able to use them missing the playoffs as reason to vote for someone else.

NL MVP: Joey Votto

This was a shaky pick made worse by an injury plagued season for Votto. Oops.

AL Rookie of the Year: Xander Bogaerts

An awful June and July eliminated any chance of this. It’s Jose Abreu’s or Mashairo Tanaka’s (if he’s back by September) award to win.

NL Rookie of the Year: Billy Hamilton

This was a bit of an easy pick but for good reason. After a slow start, Hamilton has been everything I expected. Anyone who can swipe multiple bases off Yadier Molina in a single game deserves a medal.

First Manager to be Fired: John Gibbons

Turns out the Blue Jays are better than I expected. Despite a recent 2-8 stretch, Gibbons is likely safe so long as they’re in contention.

Ryan Braun bounces back and finishes in the Top five of NL MVP Voting

Braun’s battled injuries to put together a good first half, but this probably won’t end up happening.

Miguel Cabrera leads the league with 40 home runs

With only 14 on the season, Cabrera won’t get to 40 and certainly won’t lead the league. Hai Jose Abreu and Nelson Cruz.

Adam Wainwright leads league with 19 wins

This looks pretty good. Wainwright is currently tied for the league lead with 12, and one of the other pitchers with 12 is Tanaka who will be out at least six weeks.

Last but not least, the Phillies predictions:

The Phillies finish with a record of 76-86

In order to finish with this exact record, the Phillies would need to go 34-33 in the second half. Not likely but definitely not impossible.

Ben Revere will hit his first career home run on June 24th 

I was 28 days late, but he did hit a home run which is more than some would have realistically expected.

Dom Brown hits .271 with 30 HR’s and 90 RBI’s 

Go ahead and LOL. This is bad. It would take a monster second half for him to even sniff the same area code of that predicted average and home run totals. I know the negative 1.2 WAR is ugly as all hell, but the splits at least show that he’s been better lately at the plate. Hopefully that’s a sign of a bounce back second half.

Brown Splits

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez never throws a meaningful pitch for the Phillies

Accurate so far. I don’t hate on Ruben Amaro Jr. as much as a majority of the fanbase does, but this was a bad move, very bad.

Marlon Byrd, career high 26 home runs

With 18 already, this looks on its way to being accurate. The 26th likely won’t happen in a Phillies uniform though.

On July 26, Cliff Lee throws eight shutout innings and receives a standing ovation at Citizens Bank Park. Three days later, he is traded to the Rangers at the trade deadline.

In a weird/completely lucky coincidence, Lee is scheduled to pitch this exact game. The trade obviously won’t be to the Rangers who are out of the race though. This is going to be a hot topic for the next couple of weeks leading up to the deadline.

My take: Keep Cliff, move him in December. He’s only scheduled to make two starts before the deadline. I fully expect him to come back strong, but I have a feeling teams are going to try to shortchange the Phillies citing questions about Lee’s health. Amaro already messed this up in 2009, and the repercussions would be much worse this time. Show him off for two months and wait for teams to come calling in the winter.

That’s all, folks. Obviously there’s a mix of good, bad, and average here, so I look forward to seeing where things are at in another three months.

If you have any thoughts or predictions of your own, please share in the comments.

It is Time for Ruben Amaro to Act Like a GM Instead of a Fan

Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat:

Ruben Amaro is not as bad of a general manager as you think he is.

Sports may be a “show me/what have you done for me lately?” business, but in order to evaluate the job performance of the Phillies GM since he inherited the gig in November 2008 fairly and in a non-scorching take manner, we need to look at the big picture and remember 2009-2011.

It may feel like eons ago now, but Amaro once turned a 92-win team into a 93-win team. He then followed that up overseeing a squad that won 97 games before topping out with 102 victories in 2011.

Appreciate that number for a second while allowing the next paragraph to sink in.

Since then, no team in Major League Baseball has finished the regular season with more than 98 wins. The last National League club other than those 2011 Phillies to reach the 100-win mark goes all the way back to the 2004 St. Louis Cardinals.

During the aforementioned time frame, there was no shortage of good moves made by Amaro. Even though he was a drag on the lineup by the time his contract expired after 2011, replacing Pat Burrell with Raul Ibanez proved to be the right call. The Cliff Lee trade in July 2009 was highway robbery.

By not giving into J.P. Ricciardi’s outrageous asking price for Roy Halladay, Amaro essentially got the Blue Jays GM fired at the end of the season. Two months later, he got his man anyway. Not one player moved in either of those deals has gone on to have any type of successful MLB career.

While they weren’t the slam dunk trades that Lee and Halladay were, he essentially got Ed Wade fired for the Roy Oswalt and the Hunter Pence deals too.

Trading Cliff Lee to the Mariners on the day Halladay was acquired proved to be a disaster, but Amaro had way more hits than misses during that three-year span.

Travel back to December 14, 2010 when Lee spurned the Yankees and came back to Philadelphia. I guarantee that I could go back and find a ton of tweets from everyone talking about what a great job Amaro was doing as a general manager.

I’m not going to do that because it’s a waste of everyone’s time. I’m not the baseball Twitter police, and this is a blog post, not some in-depth investigative piece, but if you can honestly tell me that you never believed Amaro was a good GM between 2009 and 2011, reach out to me. I’ll take your word for it, but I’ll also be incredibly surprised.

The problem obviously is despite the increase in regular season wins each year, the Phillies never hoisted the World Series trophy again. Those 2009, 2010, and 2011 squads were not without their flaws, but they were certainly capable of winning 11 games in October.

I often wonder how differently Amaro might be perceived had they won again. If Cole Hamels was his typical self against the Yankees, if Ryan Howard lifted the bat off his shoulder when facing Brian Wilson, if Cliff Lee — one of the greatest big-game pitchers of this generation — had just protected a 4-0 lead against the Cardinals. The trophy case would be more crowded, and Amaro would have one to call his own.

In many ways, the odds were stacked against Amaro to sustain the success of 2008. The Phillies were on top of the baseball world, and aside from the 1998-2000 Yankees and 1992-1993 Blue Jays, teams don’t repeat. Furthermore, Amaro had inherited the keys from one of the best ever in Pat Gillick.

The architect behind the aforementioned Blue Jays repeat, he always left a team better than he found it, and teams always got worse once he decided to move on. Even though he’s now 76 years old, I’m honestly surprised no struggling club has tried to lure him with a lucrative offer to work his magic one more time.

What Amaro did during his first three years was impressive, but as the final result got worse each year, a troubling theme sticks out.

Just about all of the good decisions were big-name moves. When handed a very good team, Amaro has no trouble adding another piece come late July, but when the foundation begins to leak as it did in 2012 and 2013, he doesn’t know how to fix it.

It’s kinda like a driver who knows how to operate the vehicle but is awful with directions. He can fly down I-95 no problem, but once he gets off at the exit for Center City and has to navigate downtown Philadelphia streets, he’s lost and just praying the GPS gets him to his destination.

More to the headline, he begins behaving like a nostalgic fan instead of remembering that his actual job is to make smart baseball decisions that might annoy your 2008 apologists who believe everyone is above reproach because they delivered a championship a half decade ago.

When the tables are turned and Amaro is the seller, he’s either getting fleeced with the July 2012 Hunter Pence trade to the Giants, curling up into a ball and doing nothing last summer, and last but certainly not least, doubling down on old players who are now a shell of their former selves, but Amaro remembers the good ole days and dammit, he’s not loosening his grip no matter how hard the game pulls.

Not all of these individual moves are bad ones. Chase Utley is still sabermetrically one of the best players in the game. The contract extension handed to him last July looks alright.

A lot of Phillies fans have this confirmation bias at work whenever Amaro does anything. It goes something like:

I think Ruben Amaro sucks, and I can rattle off past decisions he’s made that sucked, so I’m going to look for any reason possible to say this particular move sucks because I think Ruben Amaro sucks. 

That’s not the case. Marlon Byrd and A.J. Burnett — while certainly playing into the old narrative — have been very good signings.

The real issue is that Amaro has inspired no confidence that he has a any type of long-term vision and is simply trying to catch lightning in a bottle as the lid gets tighter and tighter.

A spontaneous go with the flow and let the chips fall where they may lifestyle can be fun, but when running a sports franchise, you need a blueprint.

As the crowds at Citizens Bank Park get smaller and the calls for his head get louder, it’s somewhat understandable from a human nature standpoint that Amaro doesn’t want to undergo a full rebuilding process considering his contract only runs through the 2015 season.

That reasoning is good enough in late May. No one blows it up 47 games into a season, however that won’t be good enough come late July.

Between now and then, the Phillies ownership needs to approach Amaro with a loaded yet valid question:

WHAT’S YOUR PLAN? 

If Amaro presents a realistic strategy, he should be given ownership’s blessing and promised that his job is secure through the length of his deal.

A franchise cannot be completely turned around in a year, but there will be signs to determine whether or not progress is being made when evaluating Amaro’s future.

I’m not paid a hefty salary to come up with a plan, and I haven’t really begun studying prospects that I would want back in trades, but let’s start with Cliff Lee — one of my favorite athletes of all time. If this injury is just a minor blip and Lee is back and effective, he’s the type of player who could bring you back a couple of guys that go on to be future franchise cornerstones.

Jonathan Papelbon is pitching well enough that a contending team would be willing to overlook the salary and give a decent return. Jimmy Rollins — if willing to waive his no-trade clause — is having a good enough season to fetch something back. The list goes on with similar players like this.

The one wildcard here is Utley. CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury has a solid piece on just that topic today where he advocates for pulling the trigger if the right offer comes along. Salisbury, in my opinion, is the best on the Phillies beat, and 10 months ago, I would have completely agreed with him, but now I’m not so sure. Even at age 35, Utley looks like a guy you could rebuild a team around.

Either way, the worst thing that can possibly happen in two months is a repeat of last year where Amaro sits on his hands and does nothing — Another year of prolonging the inevitable as the wheels spin but the car remains stuck in mud.

If ownership is convinced that he has no plan after speaking with him, then it’s time for them to move on rather than accepting the status quo.

Amaro has shown in the past that he can be a competent general manager.

Quite simply, it is time for Ruben Amaro to do his job, and if he won’t, it is time for the Phillies to find someone else who will.