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Monday, November 20, 2006

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"According to Baseball Reference, it was a good enough season to win the illusive Triple Crown in three different seasons." as quoted in ken mandel's phillies.com mailbag article - citing me as the researcher. (cough - pat myself on back - cough)

http://philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/article.jsp?ymd=20061009&content_id=1706305&vkey=news_phi&fext=.jsp&c_id=phi

By all means, Tim. Great work.

it's official Ryan Howard is your NL MVP ...congrats on a great season

it's now a slightly less worse day to be a Philadelphia sports fan...

i really would have gotten violently ill if ryan would have lost. thank you baseball gods.

MVP. Philadelphia Phillies.
Sounds weird, but feels great.

Couldn't have happened to a nicer ballplayer. Its been amazing watching him develop over the last couple of seasons... now if the Phils could only get him some protection in the lineup.

Congrats to Ryan Howard - as the negatives again pile up in the off-season, it's nice to be reminded of the things we as Phils fans have to be extremely grateful for, beginning with the NL MVP! That's not a bad starting point, after all...

WooHoo!

So now the question is: When do teams stop pitching to him? May, April? A friend of mine suggested Devcember, after the destruction Howard caused in Japan.

I honestly don't know who you could get to bat behind him that would provide him good protection. Can you think of anyone in the league that would make you say "Well, we better should take our chances with Ryan, XXX is up next..."

chase utley. if they want howard on base everytime let them pitch to chase. he holds up to jeff kent rather well if we're talking about bonds treatment. kent had 37 hr 108 rbi 52 bb 101 k and hit .313 the year bonds walked 198 times and they made the world series. chase can match that. (ryan would score more than the 117 times bonds did - i know that)

Great news, there will probably be a lot of backlash in Sabermetric circles about Howard beating Pujols, but I think this was the right decision. The Phillies were a better regular season team than the Cardinals and Howard consistently got big hits and played the entire season.

I know this isn't a real argument, but I also think Pujols will probably win three or four more of these, so it might be nice to spread it around.

Is it just me, or does anyone else remember caring more about things like MVP or batting titles years ago. I have a feeling we have put winning as "the only thing" at the expense of enjoying great baseball players.

Guys like Howard, Utley and Hamels are just enjoyable to watch, regardless of how the team itself performs. I consider myself a baseball fan first and a Phillies fan second, so being able to enjoy a player as talented and proffesional as Howard on my favorite team is really a treat.

Oh yeah, and the Triple Crown thing is a fun but meaningless stat....context, context, context...

I agree with Tim.
1. Vic
2. JRoll
3. Howard
4. Utley

Problem solved!!

5 thru 8...
Pray!

weeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Congrats to Ry How!

He is truely a beast and deserves it.

I think my autograph value just doubled!

Hey Tim, we agree! I think putting Utley behind Howard is the obvious answer.

I'm not sure why people dont't get this, but putting a RH hitter behind Howard would make it MORE likely that he would be pitched around. Also, you put Howard right behind Vic and Rollins, and those guys are going to see more fastballs. Chase, OTOH, can hit just about anything and wouldn't benefit as much from having Howard hit behind him as Vic and JRoll would.

i knew he was the mvp, he was the only choice in my opinion. utley he got some consideration, and because of those 2 i still hold out hope for the upcoming season.

"The MVP caps off a big year for Howard, which also included a Home Run Derby win, Silver Slugger Award and MVP of the Japanese All-Star series."

You forgot the NL Hank Aaron Award, for "best overall offensive performer."

Congrats, Ryan!

That's right, and technically, NL Rookie of the Year.

kdon - all we needed was some good news and everything is ok - lol.

good call about the sabermetrics crew. their computer print out panties are certainly in a bunch.

Awesome! Congrats to Ryan!

I too like the 1-4 of Victorino, Rollins, Howard, and Utley. Then again, it made sense at the end of last season and Charlie wouldn't do it. Unfortunately, I highly doubt he will try it this upcoming year either. If there is one person who gets into a rut with personnel, it is Charlie Manuel. I cannot wait until he is no longer the manager here!

I prefer it if Utley bats ahead of Howard somehow. He hits for higher average than the other two, gets on base better, has good speed and baserunning skill. You need baserunners ahead of Howard, too. It took Jimmy Rollins until late July to get his OBP solidly over .320.

Even though I was slightly critical of the Helms signing, I'm fully aware he could turn into a fairly pleasant surprise, considering what has just happened with Soriano. A Florida resident made the comment in an earlier thread that Helms seemed locked-in last season. Is it crazy to think he can't protect Howard at least part of the time? In watching Florida last season, Helms was definitely a solid presence.

I like Burrell hitting sixth no matter what.

kdon: Why would there be backlash among the statheads? Howard had more HR, more RBI and his OPS was only slightly lower than Pujols. About the only glaring difference between the two is on defense and that doesn't usually count for much in MVP voting. For a second-year player like Howard to have the kind of year he did, the MVP is appropriate on a stat basis or anything else you want to look at.

the other guy who hit behind bonds was benito santiago - so yeah - i guess helms (assuming he's like he was last year) could do it.

it really is going to come down to pitching. this entire offseason will be judged oh how successful the starting pitcher we acquire and the 8th inning guy we acquire are next year. burrell, the 5 hole, catcher, helms are all after thoughts.

If I was a betting man, Jimmy, Rowand, Utley, Howard, Helms, Burrell, Victorino, Catcher, pitcher is how they'll line up next season.

clout - pujols had a higher vorp than howards and all those stupid defensive numbers favor pujols too i think.

Weitzel,

I think that I would prefer to give Howard the extra at bats by having him hit 3rd, followed by Utley. Ryan is obviously the best hitter on the team, and should occupy 3rd in the lineup.

I don't know about Rowand hitting 2nd, I'm still not convinced that his sight is 100% after the wall collision. Hopefully he will recitfy that situation this offseason.

Hopefully Vic learns to steal bases, so that both Jimmy and Shane can be huge distractions to pitchers while Howard is batting.

Echo the other setiments. This is a great award to a really nice man. I feel so happy for Ryan. He's the kind of player that you can be proud to be a fan of. Unlike this year's NL Cy Young Award winner, Ryan Howard had a true MVP season that will stand up to the ages. People in the future, say 2060, will look at his stats and agree that he truly deserved the MVP award.

there's no argument that Pujols would have been a very deserving recipient of the MVP this year - although obviously I am very happy that he didn't. I think the deciding factor was, as kdon pointed out, that voters think (rightly) that Pujols is going to win a lot more hardware before his season is out. if Pujols had not squeaked out that victory over Andruw Jones last year, my guess is that we would be looking at runner-up Ryan Howard right now.

lots of stupid mistakes in that last post. I am very happy that he didn't *win,* and Pujols will probably win some more MVP awards before his *career* is through.

I'm very happy that Howard won the MVP – I certainly think it's tough to argue against him. The only question that comes to mind, however, is Pujols' RISP numbers; they truly are superior to Howard's.

That being said, I'm not complaining, as Ryan truly did have an outstanding season.

Voters should not take into account that a player might win the award a few years later.

That's pretty damn good. It's a squeak between pujols and howard - they both carried the team at different points this season, and their numbers are very similar.

Like clout said, for howard is for a player in his second year to become that invaluable is pretty damn incredible and I think that's what may have been the difference. But the argument about pujols getting plenty more is one which comes to mind too.

Kdon touched on something as well - this team are fun to watch, and for two seasons now they've had stretches of great, enjoyable baseball coming up to the finish line. I'm a phillies fan first and baseball fan second, but I love what this team might become. I'm just hoping gillick makes the right moves to strenghten them and give them a real platform for success.

Beerleaguer passed 20,000 comments today. Thanks, everyone.

This is a Phillies site. Why are there comments that tend to suggest that Pujols should have won the MVP? Shame on you guys!

2 years in the majors and all that's left for him to do is win a world series.

I see that tomorrow's Philadelphia Inquirer will contain a full page commemerative Ryan Howard MVP poster. I wonder if tomorrow's New Orleans Times Picayune will contain such a poster? Na-a-a!

chris - obviously I'm not saying they *should.* that doesn't mean they don't anyway.

LF, this is a Phillies site but that doesn't preclude objectivity. I'm happy for Howard and am thrilled he got the MVP, but I sure wouldn't argue with anyone who said Pujols should have gotten it.

Pujols probably deserved it, but the whole Cardinals team got more than they deserved in winning the whole world series. That said, Manuel should be sacked immediately if Helms bats in front of Burrell under the guise of "protecting Howard."

Why is everybofy saying that Pujols is going to win a bunch more MVP's. Why not Ryno. He won ROY and then MVP in his first two years. Who the heck, including Pujols, has had that kind of a beginning of a carrer. I think Ryno has just as much potential to win MVP's as Pujols. Howard is the next big star.

Parker -- cal ripken jr did that: ROY followed by MVP

This is getting nuts: Dodgers have reportedly agreed to five years, $44-45 million with Juan Pierre?

that's worse than the Soriano deal IMO. the Cubs at least have a shot at some upside.

and, because you asked, the reason I at least think Pujols will win more MVP awards: he's already got a spectacular track record. he's actually younger than Howard. he is very difficult to strike out. he seems less likely to break down physically (lord knows I'm hoping for Stargell out of Howard, but I'm fearing Cecil Fielder). go ahead, bash away.

Hey, does that mean we can get Kenny Lofton back?

I can't believe the Dodgers paid $9 million/year for a guy who is a total defensive liability and isn't a great offensive presence unless he is hitting .320 or so.

This is by far the most inflated market we have ever seen. If we can just get out of this without doing something phenomenally stupid, I'll be happy.

Why, $5 million more gets you Denny Neagle, and we all know how that turned out.

i can't believe that pierre contract. this is just getting stupid.

check out the comments on baseballmusings.com - those guys are acting like howard just shot pujols mom.

There is a lot more money than sense this offseason... I'd rather stick with what the Phillies have then be saddled with one of these all-kinds-of-stupid contracts that seem to be in vogue right now.

Look on the bright side...maybe the Phils' ownership will panic and feel like they're being blown out of the water financially, and they'll finally agree to sell to Comcast...a man can dream, can't he...

I agree, TOK. I wouldn't want most of these players even at reasonable prices. Too many teams -- and I'd rank the Cubs right up there on this score -- have underperformed so long that only a big free agent signing will subdue a fan mutiny. Consider that the Cubs, like the Phillies, have been a perennial preseason contender -- and there the similarity ends. They can't even get within spitting distance of .500, let alone a game or two away from the wild card.

Congratulations to Ryan Howard!! It could not have happened to a nicer guy. I just hope he stays grounded and continues to work hard.

rumors flying about the Phils now pursuing Carlos Lee...I gotta be honest, I would not mind that at all - unless it leads to a Burrell trade, because then you're basically trading a big contract about to expire for a big contract just beginning, with minimal improvement in production, if any. I know a lot (all?) of other posters are down on Lee, but he's hit everywhere he's played, he's tough to strike out, and he seems to be a pretty decent baserunner looking at his SBs and doubles.

lee would look great here.

mussino re-uped for 2 yrs/ 23 mil. i guess that translated to 4 yrs / 60 mil if he decided to really test the market.

Dave X, does Pujols deserve it because his presence helped them win 83 games to make the playoffs and go on to win the World Series? Howard doesn't deserve it because his team only won 85 games and missed the playoffs? Let's see Ryan hit more homers and drove in more runs. Oh! Puhols was hurt for awhile, so it wasn't fair? Poor Pujols!

Let's see Pujols had more 2B, SB, Runs, a higher AVG, higher OBP, higher SLG, was far more consistent versus lefties and righties, and had less than 1/3 the strikeouts of Howard. And he is, by all accounts, a far superior fielder to Howard. Howard played half of his games in one of the biggest hitter's parks in the league. Then there's also sabermetric things, like WinShares or WARP, which show Pujols ahead.

Maybe I'm just out of it, but I don't think the winner of the RBI-HR title should automatically be MVP, considering a player has little to nothing to do with RBIs and HRs are only a small part of the game. Howard was a top-5 player in the league this year, but I wouldn't go as far as to say he's the best just because he hits more HRs. Its your right to disagree, but I wouldn't call Howard the MVP over Beltran or Pujols.

damn, i wanted mussina.

Ok Gillick time to get creative.

Congrates to Ryan for his MVP and to Beerleaguer for 20,000 posts.

I'm still in favor of Howard batting 3rd, and I'd, assuming we still have Burrell go with:

v RHP
Rollins
Victorino
Howard
Utley
Burrell

v LHP
Rollins
Victorino
Howard
Burrell
Utley

Sometimes the best trade you make is the one you didn't make.

Dave X, America loves their home runs and RBI's. They don't give a rat's arse about WARP, 2B, SB, Runs, AVG, OBP or RISP.

I can see fathers all over America explaining to their sons:

"Well little Johnny, I know that Ryan hit 58 homers and drove in 149 runs, but he didn't win because Pujols hit more doubles, struck out less, had a better RISP and WARP. Homers are for the common people. Us knowledgable fans know that sabremetrics are the true measure of a player. We are WARPed!"

Howard deserved the MVP award not just because of his stats, sabermetric or not. What he did was re-energize a flagging team into a contender and rejuvenate baseball in the city of Philadelphia. He convinced the fans to embrace him and his team by his talent, attitude and personality.
For all his greatness as a player, Pujols has never had to carry that burden in St. Louis.
And I believe fans all over baseball felt that renewed connection with the fun of baseball whenever Howard came to town (the tape measure HRs sure didn't hurt, of course). By that measure it wasn't even close that he was the most valuable player in the league.

I heard Gillick interviewed on the FAN radio in Toronto this morning, accepting congrats on Howard's behalf. Says Helms will be the starter at 3rd and will slide to first on Howard's off days. Nunez expected to have 60 starts.
Oh, and he's leaving Toronto and moving his family to Seattle in January.

George S - You summed it up. There is more to the game than numbers and Ryan has displayed the best the game has to offer in each of the qualities you stated...talent, attitude and personality.

He didn't just win awards this year, he won fans and he won his peers as demonstrated by the Sporting News awards. In no small way he brought some respect back to the game we love. That alone might be worth an MVP award.

I wonder how many YEN the Tokoyo Giants would offer to negotiate with him? I'll bet he's the most popular non-Japanese in player in the land of the rising sun. He will stadiums here and he could fill them anywhere.

He is a quality person and nice to be able to say that about any athlete these days. I just hope the Phillies have the decency to take care of Chase and Ryan now as oppossed to later. No, I'm not saying go overboard, but renegotiating now for $1-1.5 mil would be a show of good faith. Might be good for the fans also.

This should end the Pujols vs. Howard debate. It turns out that they are offseason batting buddies. From today's Marcus Hayes column:

"Howard, who lives in St. Louis, noted that he has been hitting with some Cardinals players, including Albert Pujols, the past two offseasons. He has asked Pujols for pointers, and Pujols has obliged. "It was really just watching him, taking BP in the cage, watching to see what he does, his technique, trying to learn - any questions that I had, he'd answer for me," Howard said."

Larry: Thanks for passing along the information from Gillick's FAN interview.

I saw an interview with Gillick on Comcast this morning, with gillick saying that Ruiz would start and he was looking for a backup for "50-60" games.

What happened to Coste?

Will: I saw that too. Here's my take.

They need a No. 3 catcher no matter what. Currently, they have nobody at the Triple-A level, and Jaramillo still needs time in the minors. So they're shopping for another Fasano-type catcher and will probably present them with an opportunity to win the backup job in Spring Training.

Anyone watch Daily News Live last night and see the banter between Trotter and Hugh Douglas? Good Stuff.

After that, (I think) it was Hofman, argued that Howard didn't have a good September. Someone correct me if it wasn't Hofman, but one of those guys challenged Howard's September....

Is there any reasonable package that Gillick can put together that could get Toronto to part with Vernon Wells in the last year of his contract?

JW: I'd be fine with that. Making Coste earn the job again I have no problem with, simply replacing him without giving him a shot would be horrendous.

Coste has totally earned it. However, it's a tricky situation. Chances are slim to none they can sign a veteran backup knowing they will likely wind up in Ottawa, Canada. I read somewhere that Gillick is seeking a young catcher via trade. Some see this as a threat to Ruiz/Coste, but you have to look at the situation. I see it as the only way to fill that No. 3 spot in Ottawa with major-league ready talent.

Coste not getting the nod, today, is a slap in the face. I don't understand it, what else can you possibly ask from a guy?

I think that they need to waive him if they send hime down, and I suspect that someone, somewhere will pick him up.

J-

I see your point, you need a 3rd ML-ready Catcher in your system, because catchers get hurt so damn much.

Right. Coste isn't going anywhere. The 50-60 start business - it's all BS on Gillick's part to bait in a catcher and sign him to a minor league deal in case a trade doesn't happen. He knows Coste will see those starts and opportunities will be limited here.

Thanks for clearing that up, apparently I wasn't the only one confused by his statement. Obviously we need to have a young catcher to bring up in case of injury.

Plus, it's not a bad idea, either. Ruiz isn't that young, Coste is 34, and I'd rather have a guy with some upside rather than Kelly Stinnett or someone like that.

That's a laugh - Rich Hofmann, who proclaimed that getting protection for Howard wasn't an issue, then turns around and criticizes Howard for a poor September. No, there's no connection there at all, Rich.

Speaking of ill-advised statements, this one from Gillick, when asked about the possibility of extending Howard's contract - on the day he was named MVP - is flat-out irritating: "We might address it. We might not."

COME on. The guy made $350K this year and won an MVP with 58 homers and 149 RBI - meanwhile, inferior players like Soriano are getting $130 million contracts (from other teams, of course). Show your players some damn respect, even if you don't technically *have* to. It's stances like this which will make outsiders continue to belittle the quality of the Phillies' organization.

Jason,
I hope you are right. The Phillies treatment of COste has not only been offensive, it has just been bad for the team.

Obviously I have no evidence for this, but I really think him being sent to AAA the day before the season (behind fricking Gonzalez no less) set a bad tone for the team...there was all of this energy for the team (yes, possibly even chemistry!), and it all seemed to evaporate when Coste was sent down.

Back to Pujols (from a while ago), the stat argument is in things like Win Shares and WARP. I also think that anyone who wouldn't trade Howard now straight up for Pujols is crazy.

That being said, Howard had an absolutely fanstastic season and this is a legit MVP. You don't complain that you don't have Babe Ruth when you have Jimmie Foxx.

I hope I'm right, too. Coste did a great job for them. Besides surprising offense - and clutch hits by the bunch - he handled the pitchers well.

Man, I hope Gillick was in Toronto to get VWells. He is the answer.
Also, Chase batting 2nd would be best...he hit .340 there w/ as many hrs & more rbi in 06 and he's a career .330 guy there.

Carlos Lee helps nothing. His only position is LF and if you deal Burrell, you've got essentially the same offense you've got now except with an even worse bloated contract in LF. If he could play RF, it might be worth a shot, but his defense is a weakness. I'm guessing his contract will be nearly as obnoxious as Soriano's.

I'd like to see Utley second too. my ideal lineup is:

Rollins
Utley
Howard
possibly nonexistent big bat acquired in offseason
Burrell
Helms
Victorino
Ruiz/Coste

as far as Lee and Burrell both being LFs, I would take a chance that one of them could play right. CBP isn't that big in the OF, I'm willing to bet that one of them could be a tolerable RF. IMO Burrell has the arm for it; I don't know how Lee rates there. mobility is the big issue, but again - I would be willing to risk it.

I would love to see Wells patrolling CF but the Phils just don't have the prospects to trade for him.

ae, that would be one slow freakin outfield with Burrell and Lee. It probably would be funny to watch though. The CF better be able to cover some ground.

That lineup would rake though.

RSB,

I completely agree with you, especially after watching the Mets lock up Reyes and Wright, who are pretty good comps for our boys. It would be one thing to avoid this if we were trying to squeeze a huge acquisition onto the payroll, but in lieu of that it does become a respect thing. Plus, signing them now may be the fiscally prudent thing to do; in a couple years we might have to end up paying them twice what we would now.

I just don't want to see Lee here. Besides the huge contract he will demand - 5+ years at this point at huge money ($15+ million/year), he was terribly out of shape last year.

Lee has never been a workout warrior to begin with and I just don't see what incentive he will have to get in shape with a long-terr contract. In the AL, you can counter this to some degree by putting him at DH. Where you put a 300-pound guy in the field?

Jason: Obviously, I do very much hope that your assessment of the meaning of Gillick's Comcast statements are correct, but I am quite skeptical, given Gillick's history with Coste. In fact, I cannot recall a single unqualifiedly positive statement which Gillick has ever made about Coste. Gillick's shoddy treatment of Coste began this past season with Coste being the final Phillies' cut out of ST, in favor of two of Gillick's more glaring 2006 personnel acquisition mistakes: (1) the soon-to-retire and poorly-performing Gonzalez; and (2) the later-departing and poorly-performing Sal Fasano. You may well be better-informed than I on this Jason, and I always respect your writings, but IMO, Gillick need only make the "we need a veteran backup for 50-60 games" type statement to *agents* of the backups Gillick wants to sign. In other words, Gillick doesn't need to float the statement on Comcast, a comment which only has the potential to create negative buzz about (and directly to) Chis Coste. Actually, given Gillick's track record with Coste, I think Gillick meant precisely what he said, and that Chis Coste can soon expect yet another shafting at Gillick's hands. And to comment on Joe's thought that the Phillies would have to waive Coste, actually, by my understanding, Coste still has options left for 2007, and he could be stashed by the Phillies in AAA, being taken off the team's 25-man roster, while being kept on the 40-man roster. Such a thing, in my view, would be the most unconscionable of all choices. If Gillick does go ahead and trashcan Coste, the baseline minimum that the Phillies would owe the poor guy would be waivers, or a release, the latter to enable Coste to make a deal with a team which could use a guy who has exhibited clutch hitting in a "major sample" of big league work, with a .328 BA, .505 slugging percentage, and 32 RBI's in less than 200 at bats.

I understand the Phils need to acquire another catcher since Jamarillo is still a year away and there many things can happen during the season (injury, subpar performance, etc).

Coste was not necessarily mistreated coming out of spring training last year. Performances in spring training are almost completely worthless. Just noise (check Nunez and Floyd from last year).

Still, Coste showed that he is capable of performing at the MLB level last year. I am goign to be really frustrated if Gillick brings in another stiff like Fusano to catch 60-70 games. Gillick's does need to bring a veteran to put at T-AAA, like Stennett, but this guy should only be used in case of injury.

For a guy who is supposedly quick to admit mistakes, it shocks me that Gillick is looking to bring in another veteran stiff like Fasano when he already has a decent solution.

Maybe we could land a Piazza and keep three catchers on the roster. Piazza could back up first. Coste could back up third, provided he proves he can in spring training, and Ruiz could handle the rest and be the back-up catcher when the other two are playing. Give Piazza 2 starts (and plenty of pinch-hitting) a week, Coste 2 starts, and Ruiz 3 starts. Adjust it according to the hot bat. Problem solved.

Also, if one goes down, you have three who are major league ready.

Of course, Coste was the International League's starting All Star third baseman while playing for AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre during the 2005 season. IMO, there is no reason why Coste could not play at least occasional third base as a utility player for the Phillies next season. As Charley admitted to Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News, and as I posted at the time on this board, the fact that Coste did not see any time at third base last season was due primarily to the fact that Phillies' management did not want to further challenge the hitting confidence of the seriously struggling Nunez, after Nunez had been given the regular third base job after Bell was traded away to Milwaukee. At the time, I did not consider that to be a valid reason for the team's failure to at least try Coste at third base -- when Nunez's BA at the time was well below .200. Nevertheless, Nunez's defense remained superlative, and his hitting did improve markedly with his regular duty at third.

That's it, Davthom! They're penciling in Coste at third. That's why they need a catcher. Coste will share time with Helms at third and Helms will spell Ryan Howard from time to time. No hit nuni will ride the bench!

Heaven forbid we actually get rid of Nunez. It's bad enough he was here for one year, let alone two...

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