Thursday, July 12, 2007


Frank Helps You Think It All Out is taking a break.

It is time for summer vacation. But I'll be back in early August.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Who Knows What They Are Talking About?

I stumbled upon this link- and found it sort of interesting. It concerns evaluating one of the bigger recruiting websites: Rivals.

The link below is basically the Rivals Top 50 from 2002- the five year class that came out in this current draft- and how their projections faired. Interesting that their top 2 players were total studs in college. Of the entire 50, my off the cuff count is 20 or so were good or great players- another six to eight probably would have contributed at a place like Tulane- and a dozen were hurt or had off the field issues. Particularly if you discount the criminals and dopes- Rivals isn’t really projecting who would be likely to go to, say, Baton Rouge, to commit gun crimes- at least half were good players. Another quarter arguably belonged in I-A- but maybe not a BCS League.

This is pretty powerful evidence that- at least concerning the top players in the country- Rivals is a solid evaluator of potential. I know I didn't expect- after taking out non-football factors- they'd have a strike rate arguably in excess of 60%. While the author clearly has an axe to grind versus the Seminoles, I can agree with his conjecture that more of these guys than not were above average college starters.

NFL teams simply don’t get close to that sort of success ratio in the first 50 guys taken in the draft. It isn't a perfect comparison- but 2/3rds or so of the first 50 NFL picks don't go on to be above average starters (see Patrick Ramsey!)- but Rivals has that hit rate with their first 50 selections- at least in 2002 anyway. At the very least, the list simply isn't guys on a list because LSU is interested in them and not Tulane.

Personally, would guess that Rivals has enough candlepower to at least evaluate the top players. Past that... I dunno; it isn’t definitive- one year is not a sufficient sample size- just interesting.


Monday, July 09, 2007

C- For the Phillies

Well, yesterday’s win was a perfect capper to the first half of the Phillies’ season, right? The Phillies scored eight runs- which the club categorically can do. Unfortunately that sort of total only gives them a kind of sporting chance to win. Adam Eaton sort of slopped through- but he’s got eight wins, should win fourteen-fifteen, so I think he gets a pass. It is more that his “success” is so emblematic of what passes for accomplishment around the Phillies lately. Anyway, you cobble together another unique bullpen solution- Madson has it going today so let’s pitch him until he falls over- and the road trip was merely a bad one versus a disasterous one.

Maybe they were, you know, stretching Madson out? Just sayin’.

Heading into the all-star break, clearly the biggest ray of hope for the Phillies isn’t about them. No rather, it is that the Mets have shifted into an increasingly tepid ballclub- two starting pitchers hurt, corner outfield problems, core line-up issues (Beltran and Delgado are simply minuses right now), a bench worse than the Phillies (I know, I know- how crazy is that?). That tepidness is extending into weeks and weeks now- maybe it won’t go away! So the Phillies still have a chance if just cause the pace has fallen from 100 wins (impossible) to something more like 88-92 (merely improbable!).

I picked the Braves pre-season to win this division- and I am still pretty confident in that selection. They are the club with the most chips and front office competence to improve themselves for August and September.

Still, to their credit, the Phillies are completely relevant. They’re less than five back- a trade we all would have taken late April. They’re healthier in the field then they ever were the second half of last year- and reinforcements might be en route to the bullpen. And again, the Mets and Braves are simply less imposing than six weeks ago.

Yes, any grade you give the Phils can’t be better than a “C”. Frankly, they should win more than they lose- and you can’t say that about them. But I kind of want to give them a little credit: credit for hanging around, not giving up after they were utterly buried by April 25th. Throughout May, they gave the Mets a chance to let them back in to the race. They seized a chance to sweep the same Mets to become germane. Maybe they have a little more stomach for a fight then they get credit for.

Charlie deserves credit. The guy has clear flaws, particularly concerning game day strategy, for a big league manager. Consider two things though:

First, guys play for him- and just like the determination the club showed for Charlie after Gillick’s fire sale, this year is another example. They could have gone comatose after their awful start or any of a half-dozen injuries: two closers, three starting pitchers, Ryan Howard. Put it this way, they’ve been not much better than terrible for the better part of two weeks- but no one doubts they’ll show up after the break still trying. Charlie has kept the “we’re not too good” problem from turning into a “why bother?” problem.

Second, he’d made the call that saved the season. You can roast the move of Myers to the ‘pen all you want. The bullpen was beyond horrible- and Myers restored a little order down there- just long enough for the team to take advantage of a five week span of good play. The fact there even is a second half is due to Charlie’s bold call here. He might have cost them a game here and there- but he saved the season.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day


Monday, July 02, 2007


I woke up this morning thoroughly disheartened. There is so much going wrong right now that I can’t keep up. The Sixers blow the draft. Three picks in the first round- and King can’t emerge with one player (one!) who will help in the next two years or, worse and worse, who can play for sure. The Flyers are throwing big money at multiple free agents (three now!) who either are or will be well in to their 30s for most of their contracts.

Big money to aging players- paying players into their 30's for their achievement in their late 20's- is surest road to ruin in pro-sports. Of the three, I can almost guarantee two will disappoint- simply because no one ever plays better after 32-33 years of age than before. Something like nine guys in baseball history have better average numbers after 33 than before.

But that can all wait until fall. The biggest joke in Philadelphia was the Phillies this weekend. That made me mad. I kind of have been off their case this year- as I never thought they were a serious threat to be much better than a little better than .500. And at 42-40, I guess they were I thought they would be. Can't get crazy about that.

But this was a joke. A huge four game series with the Mets- a chance to justify the season- and all the Phillies can scrape up is J.A. Happ, Kyle Kendrick, and- heck I can't even rememebr that guy's name.

That is institutional failure. Period. Someone should be fired. A major league team, with that building and their revenue, cannot throw out triple AAA slop night and night after night in that sort of spot. It cannot get to that. Ever. It was embarrassing.

I’m not talking about running J.C. Romero, Brian Sanches, Mike Zagurski and Antonio Alfonseca out to shut the door on the Mets. They’re just bad or unproven- but at least you can weave some sort of story, no matter how weak, that they can help win games. They're not good- but it isn't surrender.

But the starting pitching… you know, the Phillies have some sort of an obligation to the League to at least try to field a major league team- which is not really square-able with the rotation options the Phillies presented their fans, opponents and the Braves (who foolishly assumed the Phillies were at least trying to win games against a key divisional rival) with this weekend. They were a joke. At least at 4-10 the club was trying. The front office didn’t try this week. Gillick was not prepared; he sent out garbage and purposely tanked the weekend in front of big crowds. And not trying is the cardinal affront in pro-sports. And I’m mad about it.

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