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Friday, May 04, 2007

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Right now-

Good at the plate: Jimmy, Rowand, Utley, and Chooch (considering he's bottom of the order).

Ok at the plate: Burrell, Victorino

Below Average at the plate: Helms, Barajas

Horrid at the plate: Nunez, Howard

I know we scored 9 runs last night, and I should be happy with that, but I'm still confused as to why Howard is allowed to continue to struggle horribly in the cleanup spot and why Nunez is allowed to play at all and when he does bat above Ruiz. And why the hell was Vic pulled after going 3-3 with 2 sb's?!

I usually do not propose lineups, but based on current performances, this is what it should look like.

1. Rollins
2. Victorino
3. Rowand
4. Utley
5. Burrell
6. Howard
7. Ruiz (or Helms if Barjas starts)
8. Helms/Barajas

thoughts?

Jason, It got late for me, but I stuck it out through 4.5 (where I fell asleep up 9-2). Needless to say, prior to this morning, I actually felt pretty good about last night's effort. A ton of hustle on the basepaths, Vic getting on base, Rollins hitting triples, Utley continuing his surge.

I wake up this morning and see a score that is a lot closer than I would have anticipated. I figured that the 'pen might give up a few, but early in the game Eaton was pretty serviceable.

I'm disappointed with last night's win. I know a win is a win, but the Phils jumped on them early and failed to put them away for good. Glad to see Myers get his first save, though.

Carson,

Makes too much sense. What I'd really like to do is trade Rowand while he's playing out of his mind for our next young RF or 3B.

The Phils entered last night with a 50-36 record in May since 2004. That's tied for second in the NL with St. Louis, behind only San Diego (56-30). Too bad they play like crap in April (31-42) past 3 seasons.

Why is Manuel using Madson as a setup man instead of the trusty reliable Gas-Can Geary? Oh that's right, Manuel is an idiot!

Barry Bonds spent time with Ryan Howard before last night's game- thanks Barry...4 k's in 5 ab's.

Looks like Gordon is going to be DL'd. Possible callups- Condrey, Bisenius, Ace of Walks Matt Smith, and even Yoel Hernandez. I say to hell with another pitcher, give me Chris Coste!

I grew up loving Schmidt (3rd baseman). Then there was Dave Hollins for a few good seasons. Then came golden boy Scott Rolen (you may hate him, but he did well here). Since then- David Bell, Wes Helms, and Abe Nunez...our 3rd baseman suck the past few seasons.

Right now, the 4-5 hitters Howard and Burrell are a disaster. Glad to see Burrell walking a little, but 1 HR and 11RBI is a joke. He's terrible. We can thank Ed Wade for that albatross of a contract and no trade clause.

Lets hope the Phillies do not have 2 Pat Burrell's hitting back to back the rest of the way. Give Howard a $50,000,000.00 contract

And to think, the Phils allegedly had a deal in place to send him to Baltimore, but he didn't want to go there.

C'mon guys, I'm absolutely without a shadow of a doubt sure if the Phils would have bumped Howard's contract to the 1 million plus area he'd be producing identically if not better than he did last season.

*Wow, my sarcasm meter almost went off the charts.

There's something pretty bizarro about the lineup right now. Besides Utley, it's almost as if every single player is hitting in the wrong spot in the order. I've never seen anything like it, and I wouldn't even begin to know how to fix that. Where is the best spot to bat Burrell? What about Rowand? Rollins is hitting the ball about as well as anyone in baseball. Meanwhile, cleanup hitter is batting .205 with 36 strikeouts.

Very, very strange offense. This needs to be a separate post. If I didn't know anything about these players and was going strictly on what they've done this season, I'd think the lineup was arranged randomly out of a hat.

Yikes, I just saw this from the Inky:

Righthanded phenom Tim Lincecum is expected to start Sunday. Lincecum, the team's first-round pick last June, will face lefthander Cole Hamels. Lincecum is 4-0 with a 0.29 ERA for triple-A Fresno.

This is a classic situation where the Phils struggle. They usually can't hit a no name pitcher they haven't seen before, let alone a "phenom." And damn, he was just drafted last June? Time for Drabek to get going!

I'm a long suffering Phillies fan from the Bay area. I bitch about the Phillies in daily, rambling e-mails to my brother & father (both Phillies fans too), who generally don't have the time to respond. So I decided this might be a better venue for my rantings.

Since the game was local, I got to see it last night -- though somewhat intermittently, as I was switching back & forth between the Philles game & the far more interesting Warriors-Mavericks game (I do root for Bay Area teams in every sport except baseball).

I've seen the Philies on tv three times this year &, to give you an idea of my luck, I got to see Eaton pitch all 3 times. I think when they refer to Eaton as an "uncomfortable at bat," they mean that the hitter never knows when he's going to get hit by a pitch. During his 6th inning meltdown last night, he hit one guy in the foot on an 0-2 count (how he ever managed to get an 0-2 count, I have no idea). If the ball hadn't hit the guy, it looked like it would have landed 10 feet behind him.

This guy just has no command whatsoever. He falls behind in the count on practically every AB and he seems to have no idea where his pitches are going or, for that matter, where his release point is supposed to be. On a lot of pitches, he seems to hold onto the ball for too long, which results in the ball winding up about 5 feet from home plate. Thank God the Phillies are only stuck with him for one year. Doh!!

Howard looked completely hapless at the plate. His ABs remind me very much of Burrell's during his .209 season. He falls behind in every count and, once he's got two strikes on him, it's over. I fear we're well past the point at which Howard's situation can be written off as a slump. His struggles started in spring training, so they have been going on more than 2 months now. For that matter, recall that he struggled badly for about the last 2 weeks of 2006 also. Somewhere along the line, pitchers realized that Howard simply can't hit a breaking ball. Not only can't he hit it; he can't lay off it. He was swinging at pitches all over the place last night. He looked like the hitter's version of Adam Eaton.

Hopefully the Phillies can go on a little winning streak now, so I can keep my posts positive like this one.

Count me in the "officially worried about Ryan Howard" camp. Every time he gets into a pitch, like the other night against James, I think it could be that "one swing" they keep telling us will get him out of his funk.

How is it that every color commentator - like Phillips on ESPN - can identify the flaw in his swing in 2007 compared to 2006, but Manuel, Milt Thompson and Howard cannot?

I don't get it. His numbers are NOT that far off from last year (at this time), with the exception of BA. But I'm worried that his confidence, always high and steady, will be shot.

Damn guys. How much did we lose by?

Eaton stinks, and we won the game. This is a good day for the Phils. We now have Moyer, Lieber and Hamels going over the next three days.

I think this bodes very well for our chances of picking up another series win.

I think lineups have to change to suit the streaks and strengths of players at any given time. Screw comfort. They're paid to play wherever they land. Here's the lineup:

1. Victorino
2. Rowand
3. Rollins
4. Utley
5. Burrell
6. Ruiz
7. Howard
8. Helms

Until Howard gets it going (and count me in as worried that may not happen), he has to be taken out of a run production spot.

bridoc -

i'm sure that the phillies hitting instructors have been working with Howard, and have identified the hole in his swing and are trying to work on it.

First, the slump is at the point that it has to be in his head. It may have started physical, but it is definitely mental at this point.

Teams are still pitching around Ryan. He sees one or two borderline hittable pitches every night. It is tough to get into a groove with that few opportunities.

He will break out. But this is why you don't sign a 2nd year player to a long term contract.

I can't believe that Ryan Howard's tribulations can occur much longer. I mean, the guy hit almost 60 homers last year. almost 150 RBI....this is not accidental. His talent is undeniable but he isn't able to figure it out just yet. I don't think that Kip Wells trade looks any better than it ever did at this point....not that you are saying that it does.

Hope you're right, Joe.

I'm not so familiar with Howard's minor league stats. Has he struggled like this in other periods of his pro career?

We all know how capable he is of putting up huge numbers in bunches, once he is in that groove.

As for a call-up to fill in for Gordon while he is DLed, what about Anderson Garcia at Reading? His numbers look quite impressive, or is he just more developed than the AA batters he is facing? (I was also impressed with the numbers of SS Jesus Marchan, but at 26 he just might be a bit more seasoned than the pitchers he is facing.)

Also, has anyone else seen the numbers on this Zagurski guy at Clearwater? 22 Ks in just over 10 innings pitched, a GO/FO ratio of 3.50:1. Impressive.

They recalled Yoel Hernandez. So much for Coste. This is typical Phillies thinking. One would hope that Gillick would somehow make some kind of deal for a pitcher but says pitching is at a premium and "everybody's looking for the same thing". So what! Take a chance and try to improve the team. Instead they call up a young kid who plays cheap and may not be ready.

well he'll probably just sit out there; maybe he'll get a junk inning or two. we all know how manuel operates with pitchers like that. i think we would have been smarter to call up another bat for the bench.

Hippo, Pen needs 7 arms with Eaton and Garcia unable to go 6.

So, now Gillick should overpay for someone?

What bat for the bench? There isn't anyone.

Surprised they passed on bringing Rick Bauer up? Is he even in the mix anymore? At least he did ok in the Majors last year.

billy mac, manuel has shown time and time again that he'll use an inexperienced 12th arm almost never anyway.

I'm very surprised with the Yoel Hernandez call-up. Now he will just sit out there and rust with the likes of Francisco Rosario and Fabio Castro. Why bother calling up a guy Manuel won't use? Charlie is a dumb creature of bad habit.

JW, et al: "If I didn't know anything about these players and was going strictly on what they've done this season, I'd think the lineup was arranged randomly out of a hat."

FWIW, Seamheads will tell you the batting order really doesn't matter. These are the guys who run like 100,000 simulated seasons and look for variations; runs scored vary the same amount no matter how the same 8 (or 9 for AL teams) regardless of batting order.

Ribbies writes: "And damn, [Tim Lincecum] was just drafted last June? Time for Drabek to get going!"

Lincecum will be 23 in June. Drabek is 19. More on Lincecum -- a strikeout pitcher despite his small size (6 foot, 175 lbs.) from BAseball America's draft preview last year:

Lincecum's mechanics are another part of his game that scouts are not used to seeing. As he and his coach describe it, he recoils at the start of his delivery, turning his back to the plate. Putting his entire body in motion, and with a long stride to the plate, Lincecum then unwinds his body as he throws. "It's kind of a pinwheel action," Lincecum says. ... Lincecum has been able to show scouts that he has more than just heat in his arsenal. He has added two more pitches this season, a slider and changeup, to go along with a mid- to upper-90s fastball and a devastating curve." (This was as a college pitcher at University of Washington).

why not bench the big Ry Ho for a game or 2.
Need to get in his head so he can get out of his head.
You would do it to anyone else..
keeping him in might only be perpetuating the problem...
No one can do worse than 0-5 4 Ks..
well maybe someone could 0-5 5ks..

cmon Ryan !!

D. Patrone, the "kid" Yoel Hernandez is 25.

"FWIW, Seamheads will tell you the batting order really doesn't matter. These are the guys who run like 100,000 simulated seasons and look for variations; runs scored vary the same amount no matter how the same 8 (or 9 for AL teams) regardless of batting order."

I do think that they also find that in certain special cases, there are 'bad' lineup combinations. One of the biggest is putting two big left-handed bats back-to-back, allowing for easier usage of a lefty out of the pen.

I believe that the problem with the simulations is that it doesn't fully take into account the usage of situational relievers.

Once again- thank goodness the game is actually played on the field and not via a computer program!

Yoel Hernandez is actually 27 years old, definitely not a kid.

DK: Baseball Cube lists Yoel's birthday as April 15, 1982.

Carson writes, "Once again- thank goodness the game is actually played on the field and not via a computer program!"

Yes. But thank goodness that Fans Without Lives also run the computer programs, so that questions like this can be tested. Otherwise all we could do is assert opinions that could never be put to any kind of test. Of course, I'm sure there are some who would prefer it that way...

Don't get me wrong; I think statistical analysis is a very useful tool. But statistical analyses are only as good as the premises on which they rest or the definitions they use. We've all seen the studies which say there's no such thing as clutch hitting. But these studies generally define clutch hitting as hitting with RISP or runners on base. How "clutch" is it to get a hit with a man on 3rd in an 11-1 game? I think most of us think of "clutch" situations as situations where there is some sort of inordinate level of pressure -- i.e., a playoff game, or the ninth inning of a tied game (regardless of whether there are men on base).

To say that lineup construction is irrelevant defies common sense. Does that mean it's ok to bat the pitcher leadoff or to put Abraham Nunez in the cleanup spot? Surely these statistical analyses rest on some faulty premises.

Yes, it defies common sense, which is why it's so valuable to disprove the "common sense" argument. Here's one for you: If you switched Nunez and Howard in the Phillies batting order for the past two weeks (for the games Nunez plays, that is) how would it hinder the Phillies' ability to score runs? Their stats are, after all, rather similar, no?

Jason...
Your comment about a lineup arranged randomly out of a hat inspired me to try it. Here’s what I got from the hat:

Utley
Victorino
Rollins
Burrell
Ruiz
Rowand
Howard
Helms

That’s not bad for randomness, but to put a little method into the madness, how about having them bat in alphabetical order? I betcha Charlie could figure this out, with a little help from his many assistants.

Burrell
Helms
Howard
Rollins
Rowand
Ruiz
Utley
Victorino

Well, that’s just dumb, but if they went in reverse alphabetical order it’s not so bad.

Victorino
Utley
Ruiz
Rowand
Rollins
Howard
Helms
Burrell

How about if they bat alphabetically by first name? We get:
Aaron
Carlos
Chase
Jimmy
Pat
Ryan
Shane
Wes

That’s better. Plus, in this scheme, Abraham Nunez can never, ever start. That alone makes this a superior method of arranging the lineup. And if you flip flop Shane and Carlos, it’s even credible.

Those who keep score might like a lineup arranged by position number. To keep the pitcher from leading off, we go in reverse order:

Victorino
Rowand
Burrell
Rollins
Helms
Utley
Howard
Ruiz

Well, we can’t have Utley batting sixth. We’re going to have to move him to left field and put Burrell at 2nd base... no, ah, wait a sec... Burrell at 3rd base and Helms at 2nd. That works, sort of.

Last and probably least, we’ll keep it really simple and have them bat in order of uniform number. That gives us:
Burrell
Howard
Victorino
Rollins
Helms
Utley
Rowand
Ruiz

This is about the worst lineup imaginable, which leads me to conclude that what’s really wrong with the Phillies is that they are all wearing the wrong uniform numbers!

Alby,

Good point. Common sense is often wrong. But sometimes it's right too. If some study leads to a result which defies your own common sense, isn't it fair to ask whether the study may be flawed?

Your own example of Nunez in the cleanup spot is based on the very type of small sample size that statistics are meant to refute.

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