Thursday, November 5, 2009

World Series Wrap-Up

I have to admit that I'm disappointed. I don't mean because the Phillies lost (although I am certainly disappointed by that), but rather that this series was just kind of mediocre, that it just kind of happened. The Yankees and Phillies had clearly been the best teams in their respective leagues all year, and I expected an intense, thrilling, clean, well-played series on both sides. But we didn't get that.

I expected a series where both teams would put their best foot forward, and at the end you would say "Wow, they both deserve to win and it's a shame one of these teams has to lose." Kind of like the Cardinals-Steelers Super Bowl back in February. But as a baseball fan, I feel a little cheated that we didn't get that from two great teams.  The Yankees won, and were definitely the better team in the Series, but they were very beatable. Who had a great series? Before Hideki Matsui driving in six runs against Pedro Martinez, a pitcher he has owned, Chase Utley most likely would have won MVP honors for the losing squad. Just a weird series in that regard.

Onto my final thoughts about the 2009 World Series...

- Looking at the two lineups, and the two teams, it's hard to see an advantage. Look how they matched up. You can find a comparable player in both lineups. Ryan Howard (.174, 1 HR, 3 RBI) matches with Mark Teixeira (.136/1/3). Raul Ibanez (.304/1/4) and A-Rod (.250/1/6). Jayson Werth (.263/2/3) and Jorge Posada (.263/0/5). Chase Utley (.286/5/8) and Hideki Matsui (.615/3/8 in 13 at-bats). Carlos Ruiz (.333/1/2) owned Nick Swisher (.133/1/1) and Robinson Cano (.136/0/1).

- So how did the Yankees win? What is the difference? The top of the orders. Jimmy Rollins was .217 with 0 home runs, 2 RBI and 3 runs while Derek Jeter was .407/0/1/5. In the second slot in the order, Shane Victorino was .182/0/2/3 while Johnny Damon was .364/0/4/6. The top two guys in the lineup were always on base for the Yankees. They were rarely on base for the Phillies. And that made all the difference.

- It really is striking how close the correlation between Rollins scoring runs and the Phillies record is. In the 2009 playoffs, they were 7-0 when he scored a run, 2-6 when he didn't.

- On top of that, one of the games they won when Rollins didn't score was game four against Colorado, when Ryan Howard's two-run, two-out double gave the Phillies the win. Victorino scored the tying run, after reaching base on a fielder's choice that forced Rollins. So what I'm saying is, that's a run Rollins shoul've scored, but Victorino vultured. Which just furthers the point that the Phillies win when Rollins scores runs.

- The other major difference, obviously, was that the Yankees had Mariano Rivera, and the Phillies didn't.

- Both teams had their struggles in middle relief, and not surprisingly, whoever's middle relief struggled more lost that particular game.

- The umpiring in the World Series was much better than the earlier rounds of the playoffs, with the only real complaints coming in the form of the age-old griping about the strike zone.

- Alex Rodriguez is receiving plaudits for his post-season performance, but let's be real about it. Rodriguez struggled offensively and defensively in the Series, delivering five hits, eight strikeouts, and an error. He also looked whiny complaining about getting hit three times when the Phils were clearly trying to pound him in, and a few balls got away? The Phils weren't throwing at you, Mr. Rod, they were pitching you inside. And do you know why? Because you weren't getting any hits when they were doing it effectively.

- A common complaint amongst myself and many baseball fans is that that the Yankees buy championships, and Yankee fans retort that they have alot of players that are homegrown or developed in the Yankee system. Oh really? Let's examine that a bit further. We'll look at the World Series roster for both teams. In this matchup, we'll separate players that each team acquired because of wealth (scrap heap acquisitions have details in parenthesis)...

Homegrown/Scrap Heap:
Phillies: Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino (Rule 5 draft), Jayson Werth (non-tendered by LAD), Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Ryan Madson, Scott Eyre (waivers), Antonio Bastardo, J.A. Happ
Yankees: Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Melky Cabrera, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Mariano Rivera, Brett Gardner, David Robertson, Alfredo Aceves, Brian Bruney, Phil Coke

Acquired through wealth:
Phillies: Eric Bruntlett, Ben Francisco, Matt Stairs, Raul Ibanez, Cliff Lee, Brad Lidge, Joe Blanton, Pedro Martinez
Yankees: Alex Roriguez, Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, A.J. Burnett, Damaso Marte, Andy Pettitte (was a Yankee, but only able to come back because of Yankee wealth), C.C. Sabathia, Hideki Matsui

Normal acquisitions (relatively average priced free agents, trades, etc):
Phillies: Pedro Feliz, Chad Durbin, Chan Ho Park, Paul Bako
Yankees: Jerry Hairston Jr, Chad Gaudin, Jose Molina, Eric Hinske

First off, not to sound like an elitist, but if you don't know what 'Rule 5,' 'non-tenedered,' or 'waivers' means, you're not qualified to argue the point.

Yes, the Phillies and Yankees both have 12 of their 25 players who were developed and/or rose to their current level with their respective teams. But the Phillies 12 includes six All-Stars, six of eight everyday position players, three of their top five starting pitchers and their best setup man. The Yankee 12 includes three All-Stars, four of nine everyday position starters, one starting pitcher and the closer.

Meanwhile, the Yankees 'wealth' players include seven All-Stars, five of nine everyday position players and every starting pitching performance in the 2009 playoffs. The Phillies have benefitted from wealth also, no doubt, but have only two All-Star appearances combined (Lidge 2008, Ibanez 2009) out of their so-called 'wealth' players. Let it also be noted out of the Phillies 'wealth' players, six (Lidge, Bruntlett, Blanton, Stairs, Lee, Francisco) were acquired in trades that cost a total of 11 prospects (most of whom are middle to elite level) that the Phillies had drafted and developed, while the Yankees traded for three wealth players (Rodriguez, Swisher, Marte) that cost nine middling prospects and/or marginal major leaguers.

If you take away the 'wealth' players from the Phillies and the 'wealth' players from the Yankees, the Phillies are still in the playoffs, while the Yankees have a few great players and a bunch of nobodys.

I don't begrudge the Yankees for doing what they do. They have an advantage and use it, and why not? But don't tell me the Yankees built their team through scouting and development, because it just didn't happen.

- 151 days until Opening Day

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with you in that this was a really disappointing Series. When your team is not in it (as mine wasn't) then all you can really ask for is an exciting playoffs, and this year didn't deliver. (Aside from the Tigers/Twins play-in game, which may have been The Best Ever.) I only half-watched since in the end, we were left with the Yankees on the field and Tim McCarver in the booth; a Perfect Storm of baseball evil. (When will Fox learn that McCarver is easily the worst commentator in the game?) No matter which two teams are in it next year, here's hoping for a Game 7!