Roy Halladay spoke at length with the media after last night’s loss. A lot of Phillies fans sent me the article quoting him because of the stuff he said about the state of the team and all of that. It’s interesting in its own right because Halladay has never been the most loquacious player.
But I found his stuff about Carlos Ruiz’s ejection for arguing balls and strikes while on defense the most interesting:
“He didn’t turn around, he didn’t get in his face, he didn’t use obscene language,” Halladay said. “He simply said the pitch was a strike. He said it a couple times. I don’t know. I’ve never seen one like that before. And it’s unfortunate, because he’s our best player and he gets run out of the game, really for saying a pitch is a strike. I’ve never seen one like that.
David Murphy noted his surprise at the quote, as it’s rare that you hear someone calling Chooch the Phillies’ “best player.” He may very well be given how well he’s hitting at a premium defensive position, but it’s not something you hear very often. As Murphy says, you hear a lot of Ruiz being underrated or important or that he’s the “heart and soul,” but a flat-out declaration that he’s “the best” is interesting.
Also interesting: Halladay said the Phillies have “great chemistry.” Which is something people rarely say about a team that’s struggling. It’s usually some post-hoc description of a team that’s doing great, with the chemistry being the result of the relaxation that comes from success. I usually call b.s. on that, but I think it’s way more significant when it comes from a player as opposed to a reporter. And way more significant when it happens when things aren’t going well as opposed to when they are.
The Nationals bullpen is a tire fire. They’re about to add another tire. Per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Washington is about to sign free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez.
K-Rod was released by the Tigers last week after posting an ERA of 7.82 over 28 appearances this season. He has a 1.658 WHIP, is allowing 11.9 hits per nine innings and is posting his highest walk rate in five years. Also worth noting: the Detroit Friggin’ Tigers decided that he was not good enough to be in their bullpen.
So, yeah, good luck with that Washington.
I’ve spent years arguing with people about team chemistry. You know the battle lines on all of that now: people who talk a lot about team chemistry tend to attribute winning or losing to good or bad chemistry, respectively. I tend to think that characterizing chemistry is a retroactive exercise in which teams that win are happy and then cite their happiness as the reason and vice versa. Jim Leyland agrees with me, for what it’s worth, so I’m pretty happy with my take.
Not that I’ll claim a monopoly on wisdom here. I’ve never played on a professional baseball team. I don’t know what it’s like to try to prepare to play baseball while surrounded by jackwagons who don’t get along with anyone. I can’t imagine that makes life easier. Indeed, based on the testimony of players I have spoken to, I will grant that there is at least some intangible yet real benefit if everyone is happy an gelling. I dismiss team chemistry arguments for the most part, but if I ran a team I’d at least try to get rid of bad seeds if their bad seeding was not outweighed by seriously outstanding on-the-field play. You want your workers happy, folks.
All of which makes me wonder what the heck to do about this passage from Ken Rosenthal’s latest column. It’s about the reeling San Francisco Giants. They have all kinds of issues — their offense is putrid, their pitching isn’t much better and they’ve been without their ace most of the year — but today Rosenthal looks at their team chemistry. It’s a quiet and subdued clubhouse, he notes, and it has a lot of people wondering if something is wrong there. What could it be?
Sandoval, who was an often noisy and boisterous presence during his time with the club, departed as a free agent after that season. Pence has suffered a number of injuries in recent years and declined offensively, making it difficult for him to be as vocal as he was in the past. Some with the Giants muse that the team even misses Angel Pagan, who created an odd sort of unity because most of the players disliked him.
Read that last sentence again. And then go on with your talk about how team chemistry is a legitimate explanatory concept regarding what makes teams win or lose as opposed to a post-hoc rationalization of it.
Not that it’s not a good article overall. There’s some interesting stuff about the Giants’ bullpen culture. And, of course, we now know why no one signed Pagan last winter.