Tag: Larry Bowa

A Manuel for the ages?

Best Phillies manager of all-time (over several posts). Here goes.

You don’t have to go very far down this path before you bump into a big problem: best, in this case, means different things to different people. There is no answer to this particular question, only a bunch of different opinions.

For purposes of this post I am looking only at Phillies managers who have managed at least 299 games for the Phils since 1884 (in 1890 the team changed its name from the Quakers to the Phillies). It would be 300 games, except that would exclude Dallas Green, who managed 299 games for the Phils.

Some things are easy. Gene Mauch, who managed the Phillies between 1960 and 1968, has managed the most games for the Phils and has the most wins (646).

In terms of sheer magnitude of games managed and games won, Phillies history features a big three that includes Mauch, Harry Wright and Danny Ozark. All three of the group managed over 1,000 games and won about 600 for the Phils. Mauch was 646-684 (.486). Wright managed from 1884 to 1893 and went 636-566 (.529). Ozark managed from 1973-79 and went 594-510 (.538).

After that trio there’s a big drop — Jim Fregosi (’91-’96) is next in terms of games won and he won only 431, 163 less than Ozark, who had the fewest wins of the group of Mauch, Wright and Ozark.

Anyhow, if you thinks it’s all about the number of wins it makes your job easy. It’s Mauch and you’re done. I’m going to keep going, though.

Twenty-five managers have been at the helms for at least 299 games since 1884. I am going to eliminate ten of them immediately. They are:

Hugh Duffy (1904-06, 206-251, .451)
Art Fletcher (1923-26, 231-378, .379)
Burt Shotton (1928-33, 370-549, .403)
Jimmie Wilson (1934-38, 280-477, .370)
Doc Prothro (1939-41, 138-320, .301)
Frank Lucchesi (1970-72, 166-233, .416)
John Felske (1985-87, 190-194, .495)
Nick Leyva (1989-91, 148-189, .439)
Terry Francona (1997-2000, 285-363, .440)
Larry Bowa (2001-04, 337-308, .522)

I don’t think any of those ten are the best manager in Phillies history.

Of that group of ten, seven, Duffy, Fletcher, Shotton, Wilson, Prothro, Felske and Francona, meet all of these criteria: 1) They had a winning percentage while managing the Phils of under .500 2) Their Pythagorean win percentage was higher than their actual winning percentage (ie, they won fewer games than the formula expects) and 3) they never took the Phillies to the post-season.

Incidentally, Charlie Manuel and Francona have now managed the same number of games for the Phils. Manuel has gone 354-294 (.546). Like Francona, Manuel’s Pythagorean win percentage is worse than his actual win percentage. It is also worse by almost exactly the same amount (Manuel has a .546 win percentage and a .548 Pythagorean win percentage while Francona’s are .440 and .441). Francona never won the World Series with the Phils, however.

Bowa, Leyva and Lucchesi also were eliminated.

Leyva has a .439 winning percentage and Pythagorean win percentage that was the same as his actual winning percentage.

Lucchesi’s .416 winning percentage was miserable, although it was slightly better than his Pythagorean win percentage (.404).

Bowa’s .522 winning percentage was solid, but not as good as his Pythagorean win percentage of .524. Among the 25 managers in the group, the difference between his actual win percentage and Pythagorean win percentage is tenth worst. Also if I thought Larry Bowa was the best manager in the history of the Phillies I would have trouble taking myself seriously.

That leaves 15 for the next post.


On the plus side you can get a mean kielbasa

While the 2008 version of the Phillies’ pen looks sure to be improved, chances are good that you’ll still be able to look directly at without risking any type of eye injury. Better without being real good seems like a safe guess. One of the problems that’s worse than a weak bulllpen is a weak bullpen that has to pitch a lot, and I think you have to wonder to what degree pitching at Citizens Bank Park ensures that the Phils will have to call on their relievers to throw more innings than they would like.

It makes intuitive sense that at Citizens Bank Park your starting pitchers would not be able to pitch as long, forcing your relievers to throw more innings. That may or may not be true. What is true is that in the first four years they’ve played at Citizens Bank Park, the Phils have called on their relievers to throw more innings than they did the four previous years. This could be caused by other factors, of course, worse starting pitchers, better offenses on other teams, different strategic approaches by the manager about when to use the bullpen among them, but here are the numbers for innings pitched, NL rank in innings pitched, run allowed and NL ranked in runs allowed by relievers for the Phils over the last eight seasons:


Year

Park

Manager

IP

NL Rank

RA

NL Rank
2007 CBP Manuel 520 8 285 13
2006 CBP Manuel 539 4 243 5
2005 CBP Manuel 478 7 253 11
2004 CBP Bowa 540.1 2 246 8
2003 Vet Bowa 474.2 10 211 T-3
2002 Vet Bowa 500.1 T-8 237 8
2001 Vet Bowa 484.2 6 226 7
2000 Vet Francona 434.1 13 299 14

The good news proves to be that it’s possible to have a reliable bullpen even at Citizens Bank Park. In two of the four years that the Phillies have played there they’ve been in the top half of the league in runs allowed by relievers.

The bad news may be that shorter outings by the starters mean more innings for the relievers. This could be caused by factors other than the park (worse starting pitchers, for example), but if you look at the last eight seasons the Phils have had their relievers throw a lot more innings in the years they played at CBP than the years where they played at the Vet.

In the four years they’ve played in Citizens Bank Park, Phillies relievers have thrown 2,077 1/3 innings, an average of 519 1/3 innings per season. In each of the four years they have been in the top half of innings pitched by relievers for every year. In the four years previous, they threw 1,894 innings, or 473 and a half innings per year.

In his four years managing the Phils, Bowa used his bullpen the most in his only year managing in Citizens Bank Park. In the three years before the 2004 season, Bowa had called on his relief pitchers the most in 2002 when they tossed 500 1/3 innings. In his first year managing in Citizens Bank Park, Bowa’s relievers threw 40 more innings, 540 1/3.

The transition to Citizens Bank Park and the toll it took on starting pitchers is arguably telling if you look at the guys who pitched for Bowa in both 2003 and 2004. Kevin Millwood, Brett Myers and Randy Wolf all pitched for Bowa both in 2003, the last year at the Vet, and 2004, the first year at Citizens Bank Park. In 2004, all three 1) had worse ERAs 2) had worse ratios and 3) threw fewer innings than they had in 2003 (although for Millwood and Wolf that may have been compounded by health issues). Myers was the most dramatic of the three. In 2003 he went 14-9 with a 4.43 ERA and a 1.46 ratio in 193 innings. In 2004 he had the worst year of his career. He threw just 176 innings and posted a 5.52 ERA with a 1.47 ratio.

On a separate note, here is the Phillies’ pitcher that threw the most innings in relief each of the last eight seasons:


Year

Pitcher

IP
2007 Geary 67.1
2006 Geary 91.1
2005 Madson 87.0
2004 Cormier 81.0
2003 Cormier 84.2
2002 Silva 84.0
2001 Mesa 69.1
2000 Gomes 73.2

I again want to point out that the Phils may miss Geary this season after he led the team in innings pitched in relief for two straight seasons. The Phillies have not had a reliever throw more than the 91 1/3 innings that Geary threw in ’06 since 1998.

Hard to imagine things didn’t turn out for the best in 2000, what with Wayne Gomes chucking a team-high 73 2/3 innings of relief. In Gomes’ defense, he was pretty solid that season, throwing to a 4.40 ERA with a 1.45 ratio.

Carlos Delgado agrees the Mets are the team to beat in the NL East.

They’ve already busted out “speed never goes into a slump” when talking about Michael Bourn in Houston. Didn’t take long.

Rod Barajas says he never worked at a gas station.

Wes Helms doesn’t really sound in love with his time in Philly. Pat Burrell’s dog is apparently too fat for his condo.

This article suggests that Odalis Perez will sign with the Nationals or the Red Sox.


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