2018 Recaps

An embarrassment: Braves clock Phillies, 15-2



So here we are. The Phillies are 1-2 after a 15-2 loss Saturday night to the Braves. Well, it wasn’t a loss as much as it was a thorough embarrassment.

A number of embarrassing things occurred in this game, but the two that stuck out to everyone – including the entire baseball world – were the following:

  • Gabe Kapler came to the mound to relieve Vince Velasquez in the third inning, after allowing five runs on more than 68 pitches, and signaled for left-hander Hoby Milner. Only there was a problem: Milner wasn’t warming up. So Kapler stalled as Milner decided that, yes, he would come into his third-consecutive game, then hastily threw a couple warmup pitches in the bullpen. Umpire Jerry Layne was not happy about this, nor was Atlanta manager Brian Snitker, who argued this charade. Snitker was ejected, which seemed misplaced. Anyway, Milner came into the game and finished off the third.
  • In the eighth inning, with the Phils down 13-2, Kapler called upon his 10th reliever, utility man Pedro Florimon, to pitch. It seemed like a big heaping pile of karma after removing Aaron Nola far too early in his start Thursday. Florimon, the first ever position player to pitch within the first three games of a major league season (and in March), promptly allowed a home run.

I’m a proponent of using data to help make decisions on field. I believe what Kapler preaches can be put to constructive and successful use. But there are no two ways about it: This three-game series was arduous, sloppy and mismanaged, and if we never have to talk about it ever again, I’d be content.

On top of that, after claiming full responsibility for the clown show we witnessed, Kapler doubled down and guaranteed the Phillies would make the 2018 playoffs.

Look, I want optimism. I need optimism. I love the energy. But this is not the time to say “we’re gonna make the playoffs.” Instead, admit full responsibility, apologize to your reliever who you dragged out of the bullpen without fair warning, apologize to your fans who had to witness such sloppiness, and then do better next time.

Also, back to being a proponent of using data: Kapler is doing what the Dodgers, Astros and other good teams have been doing for a few years now, but one (or three) steps further. There’s a real problem with that, however: This team has Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta, and relievers who – let’s be frank – haven’t completely proven themselves capable of getting outs on a consistent basis. I know this because I’ve been watching this team for the last 30-plus years. There’s room to experiment, and there’s room for data, and there’s room for optimism, but there also has to be room for reality: You can’t bet your bullpen’s health and happiness on Velasquez and Pivetta.

And that goes back to Thursday – when your ace gives you that kind of performance, you ride it just a little.

Anyway, I planned to not write this much, because honestly who wants to write about a 15-2 loss?

One last thing: Fans (maybe you’re one of them) will call for Kapler to be fired after three games. I understand why, but I also implore those fans to step back, take a breath, and remember that this is a marathon, and that those who achieve learn from their mistakes.

I also implore those completely against analytics in baseball to look at the Dodgers and Astros, the Red Sox, Yankees and Cubs. Those teams all have been using analytics in the front office and dugout to improve themselves, and they’ve all shown that it works. What we’re seeing is a rookie manager having trouble early on, leading a less-talented group, and using approaches we’ve not seen in Philadelphia. If it fails it doesn’t mean analytics fails. That’s unfair and not allowing for nuance.

Anyway, I think we can all agree that we don’t want to watch baseball like that in the future. Nobody does. Here’s hoping the guys right the ship when they reach New York on Monday.

25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Pat Holton

    April 1, 2018 at 12:21 am

    What can you say about this? Charleeeee!

  2. Betasigmadeltashag

    April 1, 2018 at 1:00 am

    The difference between the teams you mention and the Phillies, during the season they don’t match up pitchers from game one. Kapler is a clown and he did not learn from his mistakes in game on. By using his whole bull pen again last night. Having a day off my help and since it is going to rain in NY all 3 days maybe a few extra days off to start again on Thursdays home opener.
    I will give him a second chance, but if Kapler doesn’t get his head out of the analytic books and learn the game, I want him gone by July. Which I think will happen if he does not change his pitching strategy.
    It was a bad hire and the sooner they realize that the better off the Phillies will be. Because with a few right trade/moves this Phillies team could be good sooner then later, and I mean playoff good.
    (Packaging Franco/Herrera/Altherr/Williams) 1 if those outfeilders have to go because all 3 need to get consistent ABs and are really too good to be 4 th outfeilders on this team. And Kingery needs to play everyday as dies Crawford if you believe they are the future.
    But these first : games were almost unwatchable, and I’ve watched a lot of bad Phillies teams since I have watched them since 1972. And I watch almost every game and live in Vermont and have had a Sunday season ticket package since 2007. And for me to say Games are unwatchable takes a lot more than you think.

    • SK7359

      April 1, 2018 at 7:36 am

      Wow. Your spelling and grammar is atrocious. Reading your comment made my head hurt.

      • Chase

        April 1, 2018 at 10:30 am

        Your a moron. To cyber bully. Let’s meet. Love to teach you not to bully. Then I will make your head hurt. You punk.

        • Tim Malcolm

          April 1, 2018 at 10:39 am

          Hey guys, chill out. No threats or we’ll ban.

      • laszlo ptarmigan

        April 1, 2018 at 10:53 am

        Obviously, he’s using the Greek alpbet. And, yes, I spelled that rong just too hurt you’re stinkin’ head. Jajahjah

  3. Vernon Dozier

    April 1, 2018 at 1:18 am

    I think the Vince Velasquez as a staring pitcher experiment is close to being over. A lot of people have felt all along that he belongs in the bullpen, and they look more and more correct every time Velasquez makes another start.

    #BeBold

  4. Jeffrey Orbach

    April 1, 2018 at 1:21 am

    I believe in using analytics as part of a comprehensive baseball strategy, but you can’t use it as an entire strategy. Baseball players are (as far as I know)human beings who are always under pressure over the fear of being replaced.Moving them around all the time exacerbates that fear.

    I hope Kapler learns this as the season progresses.

  5. Dennis Lutz

    April 1, 2018 at 5:44 am

    I have a much better idea. This is Easter. Fire Kapler right now on the off day and bring in a competent, qualified baseball person. Resurrect the team. This genius (moron) and his mode of operation will be playing to an empty stadium. I really pity the young players who will have this time of their careers wasted. At least I as a fan can turn away and follow another team until they right the ship and fire this horrendous mistake. Wish I had tix for opening day so I could join in on the greeting for Kapler.

    • Vernon Dozier

      April 1, 2018 at 6:37 am

      This is Klentak’s guy. He’s not firing him after three games.

      #BeBold

  6. Jeff S

    April 1, 2018 at 7:28 am

    The ridiculous move of taking Nola out after 68 pitches was pure analytics BS and started this whole thing rolling. If a starter is pitching well you stick with him until he’s thrown too many pitches or he’s not.

  7. Mitchell Nathanson

    April 1, 2018 at 8:14 am

    Look, there’s a learning curve and then there’s this. This is so far outside of the realm of normal that no learning curve is possible. I never thought he would be so incompetent. He just doesn’t understand the numbers. He sees them but he doesn’t understand them. there’s a difference. I’m a proponent of analytics but this isn’t analytics. He’s giving the term a bad name. Three games and three egregious mistakes (I’m being kind. I could point out several others but I won’t). He will lose the clubhouse by the home opener. He’s probably lost it already. You don’t put your players’ health in jeopardy and get away with it for very long.

  8. Craig Glessner

    April 1, 2018 at 8:41 am

    The worst part is Florimon pitched as well as the other relievers. Velasquez has to have a short leash before finally ending up in the bullpen. One ray of hope we are missing Neshek, Hunter, and Leiter. Pen has to pitch better GO PHILLIES

  9. Vinnie

    April 1, 2018 at 9:12 am

    Cal Ripken Sr was fired after 6 games in 1988. I would pull the plug now.

  10. Bob

    April 1, 2018 at 9:57 am

    I try to be objective but Gabe Kapler comes off as being pompous, zero humility, and thinks he is the smartest man in the room. If he would have taken more responsibility for pulling Nola and said he made a mistake I think I could give him a shot. But he acts like he is superior in his thinking versus what the fan thinks. And even if he is he needs to relate to the fans. And the debacle last night oh a miscommunication but I take full responsibility….really. You threw the pitching coach under the bus. I realize it’s 3 games but I don’t like this guy. And it will take a lot to change my mind.

    • Pops

      April 1, 2018 at 1:58 pm

      I think u hit a bullseye Buddy. The Man coaching 3rd Base has worked with most of our young talent, and actually as had winning squads in our system, so if Move is needed, he is man I go to…..Bye gabe.

  11. Jay

    April 1, 2018 at 11:11 am

    Ugh, what happened to philliesnation.com? Lol remember when this used to be a great site?

    • Tim Malcolm

      April 1, 2018 at 11:15 am

      I’d love to hear some detailed critiques.

  12. Chuck

    April 1, 2018 at 11:19 am

    Forget the analytics and throw the book out the window. There’s no magical way to win babeball games. You don’t have to be a Einstein. You have to feel your way through the game with your gut. That’s how to win.

  13. JSF

    April 1, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    So the Phillies have all this great young talent with a lot of potential . As one of many Phillies fans who were looking forward to a decent season it is off to a very disappointing start.
    I am scratching my head at some of the descisions that were made. How long do you think management will give Kapler to right the ship? Does he know anything other than analytics to manage a team? Managing anything is not easy but you have to look at every aspect and how it can affect your team and outcomes not what just looks good on a computer or on paper. Still hopeful!!

  14. czontixhldr

    April 1, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    Tim, nice writeup. I tend do agree with what you wrote, but I think a happy medium lies somewhere between what you wrote and some of the more critical here.

    I think your caution is warranted – I think it’s silly to fire Kapler at this point, or even call for it – and like you I believe in analytics, but my criticism of Kapler is thus: I think he overdoes it with the pitching changes, and even worse, he’s inconsistent in the application.

    My biggest fear is that if this mess isn’t turned around quickly, it causes him to lose the locker room. Not that I think they’ll dislike the guy, but that they’ll lose faith in his ability to put them in the optimum situations for them to succeed.

    Lastly, I do think it is legitimate to criticize him for perceived smugness. Whether he IS a smug guy, I do not know, but he can surely come off that way at times, and smugness is not something that fans want to see in a manager that has presided over 3 games of a clusterf**k.

  15. Keg

    April 1, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    We’ve all made the point about his pitching faux pas. What else we’ve seen to not discuss is, he’s just not ready. He may be a great person, and a wonderful motivational speaker, but he’s a front office guy… not a head coach.
    Like I’ve said on multiple occasions; analytics are for before the game not during. You can’t map out what needs to be done before the game is played. That’s why horrible teams beat good teams all the time. Anything can and will happen. Set your best lineup including pitcher, and let it go.
    I still love my Phillies, we’ve won with overrated coaches, and lost with good ones, but they’ve all understood the game. I hope he learns quickly or excepts that he’s not ready and resigns. Yesterday is the past, here’s to a happy future. Go Phillies!

  16. Vernon Dozier

    April 1, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    The Phillies are getting a formal warning letter from MLB for the Milner debacle. I’m wondering what Rick Krantz, Rob Thomson, and even Jim Gott where doing during the entire sequence? It comes off as a complete communication disaster.

    https://twitter.com/Buster_ESPN/status/980512159233859585

    https://twitter.com/jaysonst/status/980524818519986176

    #BeBold

  17. Abbe

    April 2, 2018 at 12:01 am

    I live outside Atlanta and we spent good money to see the Phillies and it was a sh;t show. It almost felt like the team was mad at the coach and they made errors on purpose. These are MLB level players, the errors were embarrassing! I had to do the walk of shame to the car.

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