Wednesday, June 13, 2012

4 comments Cliff Lee Needs to Just Win The Game Himself

We all miss the JoeChats that Joe Morgan used to do for While it is nice he is no longer a member of the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball team, this also means we don't get Joe Morgan chatting with people on a weekly basis. We don't get him defending Ryan Howard using Matt Holliday as a comparable player, Morgan hating on wins and his consistent ability to stay consistent in answering consistently to the questions asked. So we need a Joe Morgan fix. Fortunately, Joe went on 94WIP with Michael Barkann and Ike Reese recently to talk about baseball recently. Joe Morgan has solved Cliff Lee's inability to win many games this year. His solution? Cliff Lee just needs to take it up on himself and go win some games.

We all know the Phillies have missed Ryan Howard and Chase Utley in the middle of the order this year, so let's look at what kind of run support Cliff Lee has received from his Phillies teammates when he pitches. Lee had made nine starts when Joe went on the radio and made his comments. Lee has pitched an average of 7 innings per start, has a 2.92 ERA, and is 0-3 on the season. The Phillies have scored 16 runs in 9 starts for him. Cliff Lee was 111th in run support average. Out of nine starts, here the scores from some games Lee has started, with Lee's innings pitched and earned runs in parenthesis:

April 7: 2-1 loss to Pirates (6 innings, 1 run)
April 18: 1-0 loss to Giants (10 innings, 1 run)
May 9: 10-6 loss to Mets (6 innings, 2 runs)
May 15: 4-3 win over Astros (8 innings, 1 run)
May 25: 5-3 win over Cardinals (7 innings, 3 runs)
June 5: 2-1 loss to Dodgers (7.2 innings, 2 runs)

This doesn't include the April 13 and May 20 losses where the Phillies scored three total runs in these two games. Let's just say Cliff Lee isn't getting great run support right now. He has gotten 16 runs in his nine starts. Fortunately, Joe Morgan has the solution for this.

This year, Cliff Lee seems to be getting the short end of the scoring stick with the Phillies. Joe Morgan says that sooner or later, Lee’s going to have to get a win on his own.

That's right. Lee needs to pitch a shutout, which he being a lazy and useless asshole, he hasn't managed to do yet AND he needs to drive in all the Phillies runs. Hey, if Dave Concepcion were a pitcher this is exactly what he would have done. Pitching 10 innings and giving up one run isn't doing enough to win a game. Pitching 8 innings and getting one run isn't enough to get a win either. Lee needs to drive in the necessary runs and pitch a shutout. It's really not that hard.

“There’s always a hard luck pitcher in the starting rotation,” Morgan told 94WIP’s Michael Barkann and Ike Reese on Wednesday. “There’s always going to be one guy that they score less for. Cliff Lee seems to be that guy for the Phillies.”

Which is why Cliff Lee needs to be a man and start working in the batting cage in order to drive runs in for himself.

Lee is winless so far this season, after losing a 2-1 decision to the Dodgers on Tuesday night. Lee pitched well, and took a 1-0 lead into the eighth, before giving up two runs with two outs in the inning.

Well there you go. Lee didn't do enough to win the game, did he? He threw 122 pitches but just couldn't get the job done. This isn't the fault of the Phillies' offense, not at all, that Cliff Lee hasn't won a game this year when he gives up two runs in 7.2 innings of work.

“There comes a time, when you’re a superstar, you’re the star, you’re going to have to do something,” Morgan said.

Joe Morgan directs this statement towards Cliff Lee, naturally, and not towards any of the Phillies hitters. It's not Jimmy Rollins fault. He doesn't need to do anything. His line was .247/.295/.344 when Morgan made these comments. Don't blame Shane Victorino. He's doing all he can hitting .248/.316/.407. What else can you expect from these guys? Cliff Lee is the guy who needs to step up and do something. After all, he's pitching well, so that should easily translate into also hitting well.

“Sometimes [Lee should say to himself], I’m going to have to win the game myself. I’m going to have to pitcher better than the other pitcher on the other team.”

Good idea. Lee already did this when he outpitched Matt Cain, when he outpitched Dillon Gee, when he pitched better than Jeff Karstans, and had the 9th best WHIP and 25th best ERA in the majors this year. Lee has outpitched other pitchers and just not had the luck to get a win. He's had tough luck this year. Outside of pitching a shutout every time out, and driving in the runs himself, there isn't much else he can do.

You can’t be perfect every time out,

Apparently Lee does have to be perfect every time out.

but there are times that the super star has to say I’m going to be better than the other guy on the mound tonight,” Morgan said.

How about there comes a time when Lee says, "How about the offense scores some runs for me? How about my offense is better than the other pitcher tonight, so I can continue to pitch the way I have and get some wins for my team?"

I get what Joe Morgan is saying, that it is on Cliff Lee to pitch well, but I think he's pitched pretty well and doesn't have a hell of a lot to show for it in terms of wins. Of course, this is further proof determining how effective a pitcher is based on wins is a losing proposition. Wins are a bad measurement of a pitcher's effectiveness.

I miss Joe Morgan. Here are some other nuggets from this radio appearance.

(At the 2:40 minute mark)

"Utley is a fine third place hitter and Howard is a great fourth place hitter. You take those two guys out and it just makes a ton of difference. I don't think anyone realizes how much that affects hitters on the offense...Chase Utley gets on and Howard hits a home you have a lead right away and that's just not happening."

Joe Morgan doesn't think anyone realizes missing two All-Star players from the Phillies lineup is making a difference in how many runs they can score? Howard and Utley are the #3 or #4 hitters. Of course those paying attention realize Utley and Howard's absence affects the offense. Joe Morgan is the one telling Cliff Lee to just go out there, pitch better than the other pitcher and win the game. It sounds like Joe Morgan doesn't realize what a difference Utley and Howard make. If he did, perhaps he could have better advice for Cliff Lee than to simply pitch better. I'm pretty sure everyone else knows without those two guys, it is a huge hole in the middle of the Phillies lineup.

Notice that Joe is acknowledging that a pitcher gets wins when his team scores runs, so the amount of runs scored by the offense is tied to whether a pitcher wins a game or not. Let's go back two years to when Joe Morgan was outraged, stunned and outraged I tell you, that Felix Hernandez won the Cy Young Award despite only having 13 wins.

Here's a money quote from Joe about his feelings on this subject...

There are so many things that are involved other than just throwing a number on something. If people think I’m not for that, then they’re right. Because I still think it’s a team game.

Yes, it is a team game, but the Cy Young is an individual award. The Oscar for Best Actor doesn't always go to the male lead in the film that wins Best Picture.

I just wish Joe could put it together that runs are tied to a pitcher's individual performance. It's like Joe understands this because he makes comments that indicate he understands, but he refuses to accept it as a truth.

(At the 5:18 mark when asked about umpiring in MLB)

"It's very difficult to be an umpire in Major League Baseball. I mean, it's not that easy. It's not as easy as it looks. I was an umpire when I was a kid, in college, so I know how difficult it can be at times."

Because umpiring in college and umpiring in Major League Baseball are the exact same thing and all. Not to mention, these MLB umpires make their living doing this job so they should be the very best of the best at umpiring baseball games. I would hope the standard for MLB umpires is higher than that of a college kid umpiring. Simply because it is difficult to umpire a game doesn't mean umpires have a right to be bad at their job and miss calls nor does this mean instant replay shouldn't be expanded.

All in all, I would guess Joe Morgan was a very consistent umpire. He's a pretty short guy, so I wonder if he had to stand up behind the catcher, rather than kneel, so he could get a good look at whether a pitch was a ball or strike. Overall, I would guess he was consistently consistent at umpiring and enjoyed umpiring back in college when there were still all-around good MLB teams...unlike in today's game of baseball when so few teams go on a 25 game winning streak that occurred solely in Joe's mind. There are no elite baseball teams anymore you know.

(At the 6:45 mark when talking about umpires not working together to get a call right)

"I would be more critical of an umpire for not getting the play right, than I am them just blowing it."

Yeah, I know---wait, what? Aren't these the same thing, just phrased differently?

(At the 7:15 mark when asked umpires having too much of an ego to admit they got the call wrong)

"I criticize not that they missed the play, but they let it stand as a group. I don't blame just the guy who missed that play, I blame the other three guys too. Because they saw it and they should have said something like you're saying."

I would say blame the guy closest to the call. It is part ego, but the other umpires possibly didn't get as good of a look at the play and trust their colleague to have gotten the call right. Umpires work as a team. There is absolutely a need for umpires to get together to get a call right, but if the first base umpire says a ball hit down the line is foul and the home plate umpires thinks, but doesn't know, it was fair should he overrule him? I would say, "yes," but a certain point an umpiring team has to trust each other to get the calls right. So I blame the first base umpire mostly because he has the better view in a situation like this.

"The role of the umpire is not to control the game and all that stuff you hear. The role of the umpire is to make sure one team doesn't take advantage of the other, so the game is played fairly."

Yes, to an extent this is the role of the umpire. The umpire is there to control the pace of the game and to control what goes on during the game. So to an extent the umpire does control the game in quite a few ways.

For instance we've all played pick up games where you umpire and you cheat, not cheat, but you make calls in your favor.

No, that is pretty much cheating.

The umpire is there to make sure the game is played fairly and one team doesn't take advantage of the other."

We are arguing the same thing, where Joe and I both think the umpiring needs to be better, but we have different views on what an umpire does. Obviously the umpire is a neutral observer of the game, but the umpire also controls the game in that he makes ball/strike calls, ensures meetings on the mound don't last too long, listen to player complaints and generally controls the flow and direction of the game in certain ways. I don't see their role as simply being there to make sure one team doesn't cheat.

I miss Joe Morgan. He should hire someone to start a website (since we know he probably wouldn't this himself) and do chats every week.


jacktotherack said...

Only thing this was missing was Joe saying he hasn't had a chance to see Cliff Lee in person, so he can't really say what has prevented him from getting wins. Other than that Joe hit his quota on stupid, uninformed, outdated opinions.

Bengoodfella said...

Jack, I tried to go through my archives to get to all the "Joe words" that he uses. I completely missed him always saying he hasn't seen him in person. As much as Joe annoyed me when he was here, he was always good for a laugh in his chats.

rich said...

Joe Blanton has five wins. Joe fucking Blanton.

While four of those he pitched well in (shockingly), his last start?

6.2IP, 5ER. Phillies win 9-6.

The incredible thing about Lee is that he has three decisions in ten starts, that's it.

His decisions:

7.2IP, 2ER
7IP, 5ER
7IP, 4ER

He has five starts in which he allowed two or fewer runs and in two of those games he went at least 8 innings, including the 10IP game you brought up Ben.

Here's the thing about the Phillies though. The offense can put up runs quickly (as evidence by the last 5 games against the Os and Twins), but can also suck the life out of the game. They were also on pace to have the lowest batting average with runners in scoring position ever.

The other thing and this is crucial: the Phillies bullpen fucking sucks.

Lets look at Tuesdays game against the Twins:

Kendrick comes in and sucks instantly giving up five runs in the first two innings.

Top of the fourth, the Phillies rally for four runs.

It's a 5-4 game!

Then Kendrick comes in and gives up a walk and a double because fuck you that's why.

Chawlie finally realizes Kendrick doesn't have it (God he's terrible at managing pitchers) and puts in Joe Savery... who gives up two more runs in the fifth.

Top of the sixth, Phils manage to make it a one run game again!

But Chawlie decides to leave Savery in and he instantly says fuck you, I don't like one run leads and gives up a run.

After finishing the sixth, Chawlie finally pulls Savery and puts in Rosenberg (who had been shelled the night before)... and he gives up two more runs.

The Twins were held scoreless in only two innings.

That's how bad the Phillies bullpen is.

Let me put it this way, the Phillies have exactly three relievers with ERAs under 4: Papelbon, Bastardo and Valdes.

What's awesome about this fact is that they sent Valdes to the minors so they could call up Rosenberg because Valdes is a lefty and Chawlie wanted a righty.

That's how bad the Phillies RHP in the pen are - they sent down a guy with a 2.13ERA for someone who has more earned runs in 1.2IP than Valdes did in 12IP.

Baltimore - Lee leaves the game tied 4-4. Phillies lose in 10.

LA - Lee leaves in the 8th after giving up two runs and the Phillies down 2-1. The Phillies manage 3 fly outs, two strike outs, a single and a groundout in their final two innings.

NYM - Lee leaves down 3-1. Phillies rally to take a 10-3 lead, thanks to 6 runs in the 9th. Valdes allows all three of his ER this year in the bottom of the 9th.

St. Louis - Lee leaves after 7IP, tied 3-3. The Phillies then manage 1 hit until the 10th when Pence homers.

Houston - Lee leaves after 8IP and a 3-1 lead. Chawlie puts in Qualls instead of Papelbon and Qualls allows 2 runs and 4 hits in 0.2IP.

NYM - Lee leaves after 6IP and a 4-2 lead. The Phillies bullpen then allows a run in every subsequent inning, with Kendrick allowing five runs in a single inning of work.

SF - Lee goes 10 innings, Phillies manage to have almost as many errors (2) as hits (4).

NYM - Lee leaves 7IP, down 4-1. Phillies go 0-8 with runners in scoring position, scoring an incredible 2 runs despite 11 hits.

Pitt - Lee goes 6 innings and leaves tied 1-1. The Phillies manage 10 baserunners all game.

Basically, Lee is getting fucked by pretty much everyone. Sometimes its the bullpen, sometimes it's the offense.

I honestly blame Chawlie more than anything for this. His constant mismanagement of the bullpen and borderline retarded lineups (why the fuck is Rollins hitting leadoff with a sub .300 OBP when you have Juan Pierre playing?).

Lee should have at least one win, but thanks to Chawlie pitching going to Qualls instead of his closer he doesn't.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, you sound like me criticizing Fredi Gonzalez. This is one of the many reasons I find wins to be an overrated stat. It depends on so many variables as to whether a pitcher gets a win or not. The other night Mike Minor pitched 7.1 innings of shutout ball and was up 4-0. Then the bullpen blows the game and Sabathia got the win. He didn't pitch poorly, but he got a win for a game he was outpitched. Things just happen that way sometimes for pitchers, which is why I am not a fan of the "win" stat.

I'm sure Joe Morgan's response would be that Cliff Lee needs to do something to win the game. He just has to go win the game himself by knocking in all the runs, as well as pitching a shutout.