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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

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Lets give the Phils FO a little credit for resisting the pressure and temptation to sign Howard long term at $120MM+. Strikeouts are up. BA is down. Defense and throwing have not improved. He's one dimensional. (Granted, he's the best in the game at that one dimension....and its the most important dimension of the game.)

What's annoying and a little surprising is that he had such a good spring (also true of Ruiz, who's looked awful through the first 14 games). And the timing is unfortunate given the injuries. It really strains credulity, though, to imagine he'll be anything but fine and that he'll have weeklong stretches when he carries the team.

The only consistency between spring training and the regular season has been Kendrick. Otherwise, there's been no rhyme or reason between spring training and regular season performance this season. Howard was great, now stinks. Ruiz was hitting, now stinks. Werth stank and is hitting ... Last season, Rowand stank, and had a career year.

Jason, lest you forget Adam Eaton.

Honestly, who else isn't excited about having a possible No. 3 starter finally?

Howard looks like he's not into his at bats and disgusted after making an out-kinda like Burrell did the first half of last season. Warmer weather will be on the way, just like Spring Training. Look for things to pick up soon...
P.S.-Feliz is my hero

Slightly off topic -- though still related to last night's game.

Snelling didn't do much in ST, but he has very good career numbers in the minors and, even at the majors, has shown an excellent ability to draw walks. With Vic down, I'd like to see him get a start or two. It's not like Jenkins is tearing the cover off the ball.

If Snelling can show something over the next week or two, it wouldn't break my heart if he replaced Taguchi on the roster. I like Taguchi as a reserve outfielder, but he's very old and a limited offensive player, and even his defense has been atrocious to this point.

Did anyone else notice J-Roll kind of awkwardly hop on his bad ankle last night when he fouled that ball off behind home plate in the 8th? I hope he did not aggravate the injury.

There's only one solution: TRADE HIM!!!!11!!ELEVEN!!!111! Bring Rico Brogna out of retirement!! I bet he can still field!

Jason is right, he's hit a bunch of balls to the warning track that will be in the seats come July and August. He's a slugger. Sluggers go through streaks and slumps. You think Burrell will keep up this hot streak all year? No. He'll struggle. He'll have a bad month or two. Then we'll remind ourselves that we're happy this is his last year in this city.

I know there's been a lot of sarcastic stuff about Burrell getting a rare late-game at bat, and the fact that if he had reached base in the seventh, he probably would've been replaced. The fact is, ever since Manuel has shortened up Burrell's game on a regular basis, he's been a better player.

On an unrelated topic...I live in nyc and signed up for the mlbtv premium package for my computer. Last night I tuned in right as the flyers game was ending to catch the last of the phillies game. well the site was under construction or some bs and wouldnt work. i had to watch the phillies nasty comeback on gameday which is like getting kicked in the nuts repeatedly. is anyone else having a problem with mlbtv? This is not the first time this has happened to me.

On a different topic, it appears that the Brewers need to do something with one or 2 of their excess starting pitchers since they just signed Jeff Weaver and Gallardo comes off the DL. How do Beerleaguers feel about dealing for Dave Bush?

Angus:

I live in New York too and last night had the Flyers muted on the TV and MLBtv on my computer. I didn't have any problems with the feed although I seem to be having trouble getting the 1.2 MB feed, I have to "suffer" through the 800K one (Road Runner Cable is my provider).

Outside of Spring Training, I have no complaints about the MLBtv package.

I don't know jason . . . I have a hard time buying that that's the reason for PTB's improvement. Even before Burrell turned into baseball's best hitter, Cholly used to pull him in the 6th and 7th innings. It just didn't get everyone's goad as much as it does now because, at the time, Burrell was hitting so badly that there wasn't much offensive drop-off when they brought in the replacement.

Hitting in cold weather sucks. He'll be fine once it starts to heat up.

He's playing with a clean bill of health, too. Less action would certainly help keep him fresh ... just a theory.

I'm under no illusions that Burrell is going to keep up his MVP pace. Eventually he will hit a point where he goes 0 for 57, and everybody will be posting that we have to trade him.

Still, the one thing that leads me to believe that we may finally be seeing some sort of lasting improvement in Burrell's production is that he did substantially cut down on his strikeouts last year, while also increasing his walks even further. While he's still laying off as many pitches as he has always done, he seems to have improved his ability to make contact when he does swing -- and he has definitely cut way down on the called strike 3s.

Burrell will turn 32 this year, which means he may have about 3 or 4 prime years left before he starts to decline. It wouldn't surprise me if, in those 3 or 4 years, his batting averages are closer to .280 or .285 than to the .260-ish mark. And if his average goes up, it should take his power numbers up too.

Did I see Ry How sulking in the dugout while the rest of the Phitins were jumping up and down celebrating?


dont know if you all saw this article or not:

http://www.philliesnation.com/archives/2008/04/why-i-would-trade-ryan-howard

I love Ryan. But I have to keep an open mind.
What scares me is considering the track record of other Phlopin trades, I am pessimistic on the return....ie: abreu/lidle for who? where the F are they?
Rolen trade ?
Schilling ?
Thome ? --- well i could let that slide.
but still. i dont have faith in phillies trades.

we need an andy macphail-type to be bartering trades for us. If i was the Phils, i would have a whole department of scouts RIGHT NOW soley dedicated to scout other club's farm systems for a Howard deal down the road.

I have a feeling, they will wait til their backs r against the wall and make a trade for Joe Schmoe, Dick Harry, Larry Fine and Tweedle Dim.


Burrell is playing for a contract, nothing else. This is the biggest season of his career personally. He's matured as a hitter, but at 32 the decline starts in the next couple seasons.
Howard is in the same boat, playing for a contract. thankfully the phils won't meet his ridiculous demands and he can go DH for the Rangers in 2011.

Is Clout in such shock that Feliz actually contributed to a win that he can't show his face on here? Bigger mystery than Howard's slump if you ask me is where Clout went.

possibly interesting (or possibly irrelevant) fact about Burrell this season: 4 of his 5 home runs have come after an 0-1 count. the other he hit out was on the first pitch.

Jack: I'm quite pleased that your favorite player is now hitting .245, but I must say I'm beginning to worry about you. Every single one of your posts last night was about Feliz, except for one. Does that seem healthy?

CW: Who replaces Howard and Burrell after you get your wish and they're gone? Golson and Snelling?

Howard might well live to regret that he didn't sign a Chase Utley type contract.

Phanatics brother:

NO, you didn't. Watch the video from last night:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/
clubhouse?team=phi

Here's a picture:

http://www.delawareonline.com/blogs/2008/04/
april-16-call-it-comeback.html

Howard is the second guy out there after the man in the on-deck circle.

Hypothetically trading Howard has its merits, I guess, but I don't know how this story got legs.

sophist - just like in politics, perception matters more than reality.

It took a 3 for 4 night for Feliz to finally get his OBP over that .300 mark (it's now .302). Whoopee!!

Listen, we know what we'll get from Feliz this year. A sub-.300 OBP, a low batting average, about 15 or so homers and a few big hits amongst the massive number of bad outs all the while we should see a solid glove at the hot corner.

That's pretty clear, right? Does anyone disagree?

Clout: Actually, I think most of them were about Pat being MVP, but I don't really remember because I was just really happy about the win and the Flyers win. That said, wouldn't it make sense to have some posts about the guy who went 3-4 with the game-winning hit?

Were you happy with the win last night? What stuck out to you about the game?

Possibly relevant fact about Burrell . . last two years he has got off to a good start then slumped in May / June. Somehow this year feels different

jobbers - I agree.

Jack - you should point out, as well, that Feliz has been having better ABs this year than in previous years. His P/PA is up, his swing at first pitch percentage is down. Maybe (and it's early), he has acquired a bit more (seeing some of his ABs I still wouldn't say "a lot") plate discipline. If so, he could be considerably better.

Yes Howard is haphazardly hacking to no avail, but he'll be fine (still have tons of k's though). I am in favor of keeping him through arbitration then reassessing the situation at the end of those year (2011 I believe). Howard's defense pisses me off, his ever-mounting strikeouts piss me off, but all of that anger is erased when he gets hot, and he will.

Feliz had a good game, let's leave it at that.

I'm against pulling Burrell in late innings unless it's a crucial pinch-running situation. However, Weitzel's theory of extra rest does make some sense.

Jason: Interesting theory on Burrell. I've thought about that myself. However, it's something that can be argued about with no hope of ever being resolved, so I don't have much to say. I guess I'm ok with him limiting Burrell's use but would prefer he do so less than he has so far.

Talking about trading Howard in the next couple of years is unconscionably stupid. He is an elite player in his peak, which is exactly the type of guy you hold onto when you're trying to make the playoffs every year. If we fall out of contention in the next couple of years, then we can re-consider. But let's not get our panties in a bunch just because he hasn't been signed "long term". We have him for 4 more years, which is just as long as we have Rollins.
I agree with Carson, as long as his contract demands are astronomical, let's just keep him together with this core and not sign him for his potential Mo Vaughn fall off a cliff years at an insane rate.

Yeah, CJ, I agree (though I'd say his glove is a little better than solid). I'd just say that what you described is better than what we had. As for Burrell, even if the incessant pinch-running coincides perfectly with when he started to hit, and I don't think it does, correlation doesn't prove causation. I think it's just insane to constantly be pulling your hottest hitter.

Did anyone else see some of the Phils' career numbers against Oswalt?

Jenkins: .375/.423/.583 (52 PA)
Feliz: .480/.500/.920 (26 PA)
Howard: .333/.333/.667 (14 PA)
Werth: .400/.400/.500 (12 PA)
Taguchi: .444/.500/.444 (10 PA)
Burrell: .000/.182/.000 (11 PA)

Geoff Blum is the only Astro who's faced Kendrick. He hit a triple.

Sophist- thanks for those #'s, I had no idea the Phils have had so much success against Oswalt is the past. Rock him tonight fellas!

Most of them weren't Phils when they did it, but I guess that doesn't really matter.

Tempted to plug Taguchi in the lineup for Burrell because of past experience/success?

I say stick with Pat!

Anyone hear Snelling on the Post Game show on 1210am? Aussies are hilarious in interviews. He kept calling Sarge "mate" and kept saying "no big deal" about his hit!

Why does the "trade Howard" always seem to creep up when discussing him? Really has no bearing at what the Phils will do with him anytime in the near future.

Granted it is only 14 games and Howard has plenty of time this month to improve his numbers but they have been worse than even last April when he was hurt (maybe why Howard is so frustrated). When he came back in May off the DL, his numbers pretty much picked up right away. Here is hoping that as the weather improves in May, Howard does become a bit more productive.

Also, just because someone bad-mouths Howard doesn't mean the calling for him to be traded. Honestly, right now he deserves the scrutiny cast his way because he is playing lousy. That doesn't mean I want him off the team, it just means that he one of the reasons that this team is struggling right now, and an awful big reason because we NEED his normal production to "fire on all cyclinders".

I am still more concerned about the offense's inability to score runs without hitting HRs. More and more this offensive reminds me of the 2006 version than last year's team. Less speed and more dependent on the 2 or 3-run HR to put a few runs on the board.

GM-Carson: Except some of those people whining about his celebration are also talking about trading him (did you see the link to the Trade Ryan Howard Now post?).

Tray: No need to rehash it. I have a hard time believing a sub-.300 OBP is an improvement, especially at the price... and his glove hasn't been better than solid this year. That's all I'll say on the Feliz matter today.

MG - The Phils just haven't gotten many "big" hits (singles or doubles with men on base.) But I don't think this team is necessarily one-dimensional. I think it's just a matter of getting consecutive singles, which they have failed to do.

The most productive team in baseball right now is Arizona. The Phils have 26 fewer RS, but compare favorably in most other offensive metrics: hits (12 less), 2B (1 less), 3B (3 less), HR (4 less), BA, OBP, and SLG.

I imagine that the Phils numbers with RISP is towards the top in terms of chances and towards the bottom in terms of efficiency. The team is slower without Rollins and Vic, but I think they just seem to be relying on homers because they've failed to hit singles in their many opportunities with men on.

The law of averages says that the Big Guy will have a stretch of monster games and that this team will score plenty of runs. It's April 16th, relax. It's a long season.

It's all small sample sizes. Burrell will cool off. Howard will heat up. Eaton will suck. To what degrees I don't know, but it'll happen.

with RISP the Phils are .216/.354/.388 with a .222 BAbip and a 98 OPS+.

Their total numbers through 14 games are .256/.331/.458 with a .273 BAbip and a 117 OPS+.

Howard is 1-11 with RISP with 7 BB and 5 IBB. Feliz is 1-15.

Dave X: When you say "Eaton will suck" are you talking about him reverting to last season's numbers? If so, why?

Sophist: Expect to be attacked by Jack any moment now.

I just think this one-dimensional thing is a bit off. I mean, the Phils' BA with RISP is 26th out of 30 teams.

@ Clout : Maybe not as bad as last year, but certainly at an ERA+ of below 90 and a regular ERA of above 5. Much as Howard should improve as temperatures rise, Eaton should fall off a cliff with his fly ball tendencies and his declining strikeout rate.

They're 10th in Total PA with RISP, but 21st in Runs with RISP.

They finished the season 4th in Runs with RISP, and 2nd in TPA with RISP. Colorado is towards the bottom in this category so far this year as well. They and the Phils, like the Bonds of old, will get their hits.

I think the HR scoring trend is magnified by Jimmy and Vic not being in the lineup. Those are guys that can help to manufacture runs in other ways when they get on base. This team isn't solely reliant on the long ball. As mentioned above, Howard will get hot and hit a few, probably around the same time others begin to see mini-slumps and we'll be complaining about the lack of power. It's a double-edged sword that is magnified when playing in a band box (especially with the weather shifts).

I don't know how appropriate it really is to focus on Howard after a game like that. It's way too early to really be analyzing his season. We saw in spring training what he has the capacity to still do. He'll get there. If Feliz "is what he is", then we should accept that Howard is what he is, too: a dangerous slugger prone to slumps because he has yet to mature as a hitter.

Let's also stop right now with the idea that Burrell is just playing for a contract. What BS. Explain the similar start he got off to in '05, when he was right in the middle of the contract, if you're going to thoughtlessly jump to that sort of conclusion.

Anyone can say it after the fact, but Carson wasn't the only one who kind of 'called' Pat's HR last night. Valverde's first pitch was a low fastball on the inner half, right in his wheelhouse, which he took for a strike. I thought, wow - don't put it there again. Ausmus raised his glove high before the next pitch, but it was another low fastball, more towards the outer half, and Burell just isn't missing that pitch right now. Teams concentrate so hard on how to pitch Howard that it seems they almost forget about Burrell. Valverde pitched Howard tough, but made terrible pitches to Burrell.

Incidentally, commenting on the oft-repeated theory that Burrell would have been out of the game in the seventh had he reached base - some of you aren't paying much attention to Manuel's protocol. He doesn't remove Burrell late in close games when the team is behind. You only stand to favor defense when they're already ahead, or perhaps tied.

MPN: I noticed Rollins hopping around after that first swing as well. He should be on the DL, both he and the Phillies are in denial about it. I don't see why the team should play a man short for ten days just so they can avoid having to disable Rollins for the full fifteen.

Clout: I think he's basing it off of the fact that Eaton has been a bad pitcher most of his career.

Willard, I don't entirely buy this "manufacturing runs" thing. No matter who you have on second base, Victorino or Howard, the guy swinging the bat needs to get a hit to drive him in. Not having Vic, Rollins, and Davy Lopes hasn't significantly effected the number of times the Phils have RISP (which is what you'd think, since stealing second or stretching a double is one way to get RISP.) They're getting their chances - as I said they're 10th/30 teams in this young season w/r/t TPA with RISP. It's just that Burrell - and to a lesser extent Utley - is the only one hitting with men on (Burrell's 7-13 with RISP.)

Sophist - Yeah the Phils have been a bit "unlucky" with RISP and are more likely to revert near the NL level (.252 currently) in the coming weeks.

Right now the speed factor is an issue. Phils really don't have anyone in their lineup that can steal a base and a ton of guys (Burrell, Howard, Jenkins, Feliz) who will really struggle to go to first to third on a single.

The i

One more metric along these lines: The Phils are tied for 3rd in the NL in AB with the bases loaded (17.) But they are 10th in Runs with the bases loaded (6.) The team they are tied with, Saint Louis, has 7 fewer ABs but one more hit with the bases loaded.

The Phils are 12th in the NL in BA with the bases loaded (.118), and are 12th out of 16 teams in SLG with the bases loaded. Not surprisingly, their SLG is the same as their BA.

This team isn't one-dimensional; they just aren't hitting singles, or anything really, when men are on base.

What about 1st to home on a double to win the game?

Go Jenkins!

MG - I don't know if your post was cut off. But my point isn't only that they've been unlucky, but that, like last season, they are getting plenty of chances. So it's just not true that speed is costing the team chances to drive runners in from second and third.

Now, maybe they'd have even more chances if Lopes is helping a healthy Vic steal second or third, but even if Vic is on third, Howard is striking out lately.

Sophist, what about when Rollins/Vic is on first on a double? Wouldn't you think they're a bit more proned to score than their fill-ins? Speed isn't all about stealing bases.

And when talking about Rollins, I'd rather have him IN THE BATTER'S BOX than on first in many of these "RISP opportunities," as well. No doubt in my mind that these guys create more "non-HR" runs scored.

Jenkins was lucky because he looked like he was out last night at the plate. Would have been a goat if he had been because he clearly ran through Smith's hold sign at 3B.

Willard - True re: Rollins in the batters box. Just this past week there were a few times when the bottom of the lineup actually got hits only to have Bruntlett or Jenkins not get a hit. But that isn't really relevant to this dimensions argument.

Yes, Vic will score from first on a double more often than Werth or Ruiz will. I don't think that's killing this team right now, though. How often has that even been an issue. Last night, perhaps, but Jenkins managed to score.

Point I was making about RISP is that there is largely a degree of luck to it. Phils were hitting .225 a team going into last night and the league average was .251. Over the coming weeks, the Phils will likely climb much closer than the NL average if not exceed it.

I guess my point is that I see a team right now that can't do alot of things to create runs when they are struggling. Not much speed to steal a bag or take extra bases and not even a lot of hitters in this lineup that you can either bunt/hit and run with.

Believe me I am not a fan of "small ball" by any means in CBP over the course of the season but when the Phils are largely getting solid pitching and playing in lower scoring games right now, creating a run here or there is a big deal. Phils just don't have that ability right now.

OK, in 88 AB with a man on first, the Phils have scored 11 runs. 6 runs were off HR, since they had 3 HR in those situations. They have had 7 2B with a man on first and 16 singles. So they managed 5 runs somehow in between those hits - I don't know where those runs came from particularly, but it doesn't seem like they are having trouble on the base paths.

MG - game was on here in Austin, TX where I live, that sweep tag from Ausmus is what cost them, if he is blocking the plate Jenkins is meat. But as it was, his foot was in before the tag was applied. Needless to say, with one he should not have tried to score on that ball to LF ... but we were due for a little bit of luck.

MG - Last night aside, I don't think the Phils are struggling to get opportunities. As I said, they are in the top 10 in TPA with RISP (now, yes, usually they are top 3 in this stat, but top 10 isn't too shabby.) They are only struggling once they have men on base. And by "they" I mostly mean Howard and Feliz.

RSB: I whole-heartedly agree with you on the notion that Burrell is doing this because he's "playing for a contract." I believe there has actually been research on this notion and it has been proved to be BS. Common sense alone should tell you it's BS, because it rests on the necessary assumption that players are giving something less than 100% in non-contract years. That might be true for a small number of players, but not for the vast majority.

My take on Ryan Howard is that big muscles need warm weather. That's why he seems to suck in the April back north and tails off at the end of the season. If he played for the Marlins or the D-Backs he'd be a better hitter all season long.

Baseball Between the Numbers had a study on walk year performance. There is an uptick, but its not absolutely huge, and nor does it happen to every player.

No need to worry it's the same lineup as last year. Once it gets warm it's back to Gorilla Ball.

CJ: I wrote the Howard piece; I didn't say I want to trade him right away. I said it makes sense to look at the options. And I mean this no matter how he performs.

Mets have a $40 million payroll advantage now?!?! Wow.

http://mlbfleecefactor.com/2008/04/16/2008-mlb-payrolls-revealed/

RSB: That's what I am afraid of. Hopefully it's not that bad.

JW: Non sequitor: what ever happened to Oisin???? Always liked his transAtlantic posts.

So roughtly the difference between last years payroll and this years, is Ryan Howard's raise?

Howard will hit, and Howard will strike out, and then Howard will hit some more. His offense comes and goes in cylcles.

His defense, however, sucks. Anyone beside me notice that L.A. does not hesitate to call 'em as he sees 'em on Howard's defense? When he chides Howeard for taking the pick off throw 3 ft. in front of the bag, he's dead on. Same with his comments about how Howard could have made a better effort on the Utley throw the other day.

If Howard develops a fan problem in Philly, his defense will be the main cause.

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