Sunday, July 25, 2004

Cubs Vs. Phillies, 25 July 2004

Sorry for the light blogging recently. Sam and I went on the road this weekend with our brother and dad to catch games in Baltimore and Philadelphia. The Baltimore game against the Twins was nice - it was '70s night, so the Orioles had lots of '70s O's players there, including Boog Powell, Mike Cuellar and others. And both teams wore hideous '75 throwback uniforms. (Twins starter Terry Mulholland probably arrived at the locker room that day and had disturbing flashbacks.)

But the Phillies game against the Cubs was fantastic, at least until it ended horribly. Mark Prior faced off against Eric Milton, and both pitched well. Milton, in fact, pitched VERY well, staying around the plate and dialing up to 93 deep into the game. He racked up Ks - twelve in all - and when the ninth inning started, he had a no-hitter going.

But then something terrible happened. The ground parted, the gates of hell opened and, with an evil cackle, DOUG GLANVILLE ENTERED THE GAME, substituting for Ricky Ledee. Michael Barrett hit a dying quail to shallow center, and Glanville got a very poor read on the ball, then had trouble as he approached it, and it dropped in for an easily preventable double. Milton then struck out Jose Macias and Alex Gonzalez, which would have ended the game with the no-hitter intact.

If I'm a Phillies fan, something like this causes me to throw up my cheesesteak or whatever it is Philadelphians do when they feel overwhelming disbelief and disgust. If I'm Eric Milton, well, I do something far worse than that. Essentially, Milton's bid for a no-hitter failed because somebody thought Doug Glanville would help the Phillies win. Is Glanville even worth the roster spot? Here's how he has hit the last three years:

2002: .249/.292/.344/.636
2003: .264/.286/.346/.632
2004: .228/.271/.267/.538

Ugh. He won't help a team with his offense, that's for sure. He does run well, but he gets on base so rarely that it's hard to put that skill to use, and there aren't enough roster spots to keep guys who can only run and don't have any other skills.

What about his defense? His Ultimate Zone Rating, which is the most nuanced single tool for evaluating defense, says he's twenty runs below average in centerfield per 162 games. Marlon Byrd, who's currently at AAA Scranton despite having a considerably better bat than Glanville, is at just one run below average. Would Byrd have caught that ball? I think it's very likely. Glanville's range factor was also below the league average in 2002 and 2003 (I don't have the data on league averages for 2004). While using numbers to evaluate defense is still difficult, it's pretty clear that Glanville isn't a good defensive centerfielder anymore - he's certainly not better than Byrd, and he's probably not better than Ledee, either. Milton lost his no-hitter because the Phillies gave a roster spot to a pointless player, then chose to use him in an important situation. Milton should feel cheated, and so should Phillies fans.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Stated!

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