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Thursday, April 24, 2008

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A good note to make is that Gordon got out of a jam he in large part didn't create himself...

I didn't realize that Beerleaguer was into advertizing. I heard a radio spot on WEEU during the game. Maybe it's been on there a while, but it was the first time I heard it and the first time I've heard a blog advertized on regular media. Congrats.

I'll take 3 out of 4 in Colorado and Milwaukee any day of the week.

Starting to get a little worried with #6.

What a game. Burrell is an absolute monster right now,but you can't say enough about Flash working his way out of that jam. Incredible.

It would be nice if the Phillies actually start putting some effort into trying to build their farm system. There is nothing like the farm to help build for the future and I am willing to keep a wait and see attitude with the Amarobuckle tandem starting next year. They certainly have their work cut out for them.

Going into today's game, Burrell was batting a blistering .529 with runners in scoring position. He was hitting .515 with runners on any base. He's hitting just .220 with bases empty.

He's hitting .381 with two outs and .286 with no outs.

With the game within one run, he's hitting .415 in 51 PAs.

He's hitting .727 in 14 PAs in the 6th inning.

Any thought to the fact that Cholly pulls Burrell in the 7th to keep him fresh for the end of the season? Cholly doesn't seem like a fan of keeping people fresh for the end of the season, as it seems that Cole has gone at least 100 pitches in all his starts. But could this be the grand scheme on Burrell?

new Jayson Stark article on espn.com.. ranking the most feared hitters by manager vote.. Howard isn't voted by any managers as the most feared hitter..yet he wants a bigger contract than everyone on this list (Utley got chosen by one manager) except for A-Rod. I love Howard, just from what we have heard so far, I think he thinks he is a worth more money than he actually is.. I hope I am wrong and that the Phillies were just really lowballing. I don't know how much they offered him long term.

Pat “The Bat” comes through again. The Phillies back over .500 mark. Not to count too early, but I’m looking for 15-11 by Sunday!

Mr. Mack: They've certainly been making more of an effort since Gillick arrived. Ed Wade was fond of signing marginal free agents who cost the team first round draft picks. Gillick hasn't done that.

The other way to rebuild a farm system is to trade away your stars, which would be crazy for a team hoping to make a World Series run.

@Spitz: I highly doubt that is the case. For one, I don't think Manuel thinks about future games when he is managing too often. Hell, he barely thinks about future innings.

Secondly, Burrell was better the second half of the year last year despite not being pulled from games until later in the year. So keeping him fresh for the second half of the year by limiting his PT now doesn't make much sense either.

"The guy in St. Louis scares me more than Ryan Howard," said one manager who agrees. "Obviously, you don't want Howard to beat you. But you can still pitch to him if you pick your spots. When he's hot, you've got to be careful. But if you pitch to his weaknesses, you can strike him out. And that's a big difference from the other guy." - a quote from a manager in the article.. here's the link since i forgot to put it in the last post http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=stark_jayson&page=rumblings

johnnysanz3: For being so "unfeared," Ryan Howard leads the league in intentional walks, despite hitting in front of the hottest batter in the league.

Ya, I don't understand it either, points out in the article that the same thing happens to A-Rod, there was 32 more people last year with more intentional walks than A-Rod, yet he kept punishing people, same with Pujols keeps punishing people and doesn't get as many intentional walks. Confuses me honestly.

I used to get pissed when they intentionally walked Howard with men on base, but with Burrell behind him doing what he is doing now and with Howard is hitting, I hope every at bat they intentionally walk him. At least till Howard starts hitting .300 like he is supposedly guarenteed to do.

What happens when, or if, Burrell slows down? Or when Eaton starts getting lit up? We're barely a .500 team as is. The rest of the offense needs to start hitting.

"At least till Howard starts hitting .300 like he is supposedly guarenteed to do."

Who supposed that?

I know it's hard to defend Howard right now, but I don't know if many people thought he was supposed to be a better ("more feared") hitter than Pujols or hit .300. If he replicates last season (where he hit ~.270 and had a OBP near .400) I'd be happy.

The contract thing is irrelevant since the Phils have the luxury to arbitrate this thing for a few more years.

Tray - Agreed. Let's hope Rollins comes back not a day later than scheduled.

Does anyone have a read on Howard's workout/practice regimen? Does he think he needs to develop more as a hitter? Or does he think he's just in a slump and he just needs to keep swinging and the hits (and dollars) will come?

Utley and Burrell will have their slumps. Howard will go on a tear. And then the opposite will be true again. The sheer length of a 162 game season practically dictates that. You just hope you have enough guys who are hot (and healthy) at any given time to keep winning games consistently. A good team usually doesn't have all their players on fire at the same time--they have just enough of them on fire to keep winning. We all want Howard to start raking again--barring some serious mental or physical issue, I believe that's what we'll see soon.

Also. Stark seemed at a loss to explain why Pujols has so many fewer IBBs. I think it probably has to do with nobody in STL being on base when Pujols comes up...

All of this discussion about IBB and walks brings up the point that Burrell should be hitting cleanup right now and Howard should move to the 5 spot. Besides breaking up the the two lefties, it might mentally take a little pressure off Howard and force pitchers to give Howard better pitches if guys are on in front of him.

ML record for RBI's in April is 35 by Juan Gonzalez. Pat would probably need a four RBI game but it's not out of reach.

Regarding moving Burrell to cleanup, it does make logical sense because you'd split up two lefties. But, part of me thinks, he's leading the league in RBI's and is absolutely on fire - don't fix what isn't broken. It's working, leave it be. Howard very well may be getting better pitches to hit with Burrell behind him because they don't want to put him on. Of course when you swing at breaking ball no matter where it is, it doesn't really matter where you hit.

Mr. Ten Million Dollar Man Ryan Howard has only 7 hits in 63 at bats against the Pirates for a .111 batting average with no homeruns, only 4 rbi, 31 k's, and piss poor .303 OPS.

I wrote this yesterday, but I think it appeared at the end of the thread, so I'll repeat it.

My prediction of the day is that this Ryan Howard slump is going to end as it did last year: with a trip to the 15-day DL. I have no direct basis for believing that Howard is injured, but call it a hunch. When a good hitter has an extended period of hideous play, it's not uncommon for there to be an injury explanation. And, in Howard's case, he has only had one other slump like this in his entire career, and that was last year when he turned out to be injured. Also, we know from history that, if he were injured, the Phillies would have done exactly what they do when a player is healthy, which is to make no mention of any injury & keep plugging the guy into the starting lineup every day. I think the Phillies will wait til Rollins gets off the DL to take any action on Howard. But, when they reactivate Rollins, I predict they'll put Howard on the DL.

Tray: "What happens when, or if, Burrell slows down? Or when Eaton starts getting lit up? We're barely a .500 team as is. The rest of the offense needs to start hitting."

What happens when the first two hitters in our lineup get healthy and return to the lineup? What happens when Ryan Howard begins hitting like we all expect? This team is already over .500 at it is!

BAP: my eyes tell me the problem with Howard is mental, not physical. He can get out of it. But it begs the question of whether a guy prone to these kind deep, extended slumps is worth building around. I say no. I mean, everyone has their peaks and valleys. But Howard has shown he can just disappear for weeks, and it's not like he helps the team in any other way when he isn't hitting.

Looking at the numbers of Howrad so far, I see a few reasons for his slump :

A BABIP of .229. This is pretty low considering his career average is above .300. A big part of his 'slump' is luck.

Another problem is he's hitting a lot more grounders, so far, than he did last year. In his MVP season he didn't strike out as much, and last year his strike outs shot up but he hit a lot more fly balls (and thus HRs). If he strikes out a lot and doesn't hit fly balls when he makes contact, its a problem.

If he continues to hit balls on the ground and whiff a lot, he'll lose whatever intentinoal walks are coming this way. I think most of them this season have been to set up double plays, anyway, and they're keeping his walk rate and OBP afloat. If he starts hitting tons of flyballs, he'll turn to last year but not MVP form.

I don't think he's hurt. I think they may discover some phantom injury so they can DL him for a bit. But to me he just looks lost.

If Strikeouts were hits... Ryan Howard would be batting .400 on the button.

I don't think he's hurt either. Unless it's an upper body/rib type injury

Last year, when Howard was injured, you could tell by his batting stance (it was UPRIGHT) which was completely different from his 58 homer season, knees bent/agressive stance. He couldn't get into that stance because of his lower body injury.

He has the same stance this year as his 58 homer year. He just doesn't look like he's seeing the ball properly. For whatever reason.

And his the run and slide behind Utley on Tuesday night showed me he is not hobbled anyway.

Eye problems? Maybe.

Mental? Most likely.

Giving Howard the day off today was a start, but he shouldn't have come in at all, unless he was the LAST MAN off the bench. Now that I think about it, CHOLLY brought in Howard with no one on base to reduce the pressure.

At the end of the day, Howard finishes with 2Ks. How did that help the Mental Break you were hoping to give him?

Something that hurts Howard greatly is his inability to protect. Lately, pitchers get him to chase away, then bust something down the middle, like they did in his second AB today. With that big swing of his, and the fact that he's opening up all the time, he's having a tough time fighting off balls near the plate and staying defensive. Of course, he hurts himself too by chasing crap.

People say he should stand closer to the plate. Another Howard oddity is the size of his bat. It's massive, probably hard to control. Is that an adjustment that can be made, or do you let it go? Dropping a bat that size on a ball has a lot to do with +50 homers. But what good is it if you're all over the place?

I don't know if he's unlucky. He's BABIP is low, but I bet his LD% is low too. Most of his grounders, after all, are hit right into the shift. He's not seeing the ball well, and not making solid contact.

jason: Good observation. When a pitcher gets 2 strikes on Howard, it's all over. It's very much like Burrell earlier in his career, but with a different modus operandi. Burrell used to stand helplessly by as the pitcher threw strike 3 right over the center of the plate. Howard flails aimlessly at some pitch that is 3 feet outside.

Nats blew out Ollie Perez in the 6th, now lead the Metsies 9-4 in the 8th.

RSB: The thing about a streaky player, though, is that he's painful to watch when he's down, but he makes up for a lot of other slumping players when he's on. Burrell, for instance, is the most popular guy on Beerleaguer right now, but we'll all be heaping scorn on him (and I'll be doing a lot of the heaping) when he hits .127 for the months of May and June. For this reason, the regular season is not the time to evaluate which players are worth building around. It's a lot easier to assess these things rationally in the off-season.

Perez put the runners on, but it was Heilman who let up all the runs. He's just awful this year.

Intentional walks are highly situational -- they almost never occur unless first base is open. Chase Utley hit 48 doubles last year, Howard racked up 35 IBB. The numbers would probably be closer if they hadn't been injured at different times.

On an utterly unrelated and absurdly premature note, our assumptions about the wild card probably coming from the West are looking pretty rash: Nobody except Arizona is above .500.

This is a little unorthodox, but why not have Ryno try and bunt one down the third base line? If he isn't striking out, he's hitting ground balls right into the shift. It's unbearable.

I remember Thome dropped one down a couple of years ago. He even did a similar thing last night on a quasi-swinging bunt; got to first base without a throw. I know if won't help his swing any, but if it gets his mind off of this horrendous slump, why not? Have some fun, keep the opponent honest, and get on base.

Bloodbath, he did in the 2nd or 3rd game this year. He bunted foul. I agree. He needs to do this a few times and then the switch is a liability. He has had a lot of hits robbed since everyone started the switch.

Just read on yahoo! that Oswalt would consider waiving his no-trade clause if the Astros approached him with a trade offer.

Hmmm...

If we couldnt' get Santana, we have no chance at Oswalt. Even with Ed Wade on the other side.

johnnysanz: A-Rod doesn't get the IBB as much as the other guys because he usually has Giambi, Posada, Cano, et al waiting behind him. The Yanks offense is so dangerous 1-9 that you try not to put guys on first. That's the explanation that Stark and I pretty much agree with it. Pat is hot now, but the bottom of the Phils lineup is not nearly as scary. Also, Abreu gets so many walks that there is a guy on first a lot of the time that A-Rod comes up.

This won't beat the shift and won't change it one bit. Every team in the league would rather Howard try and hit an infield single, rather than swinging normally. It's fine for an occasional situational hitting spot. (Leading off for example or a man on first).

And you are asking Howard to do something that is uncomfortable and won't correct the PROBLEMS he's having.

@Alby -- While yes, IBB don't normally occur unless there is a man on base and a base open, THAT'S THE POINT of an intentional walk, but you can't say that it is MORE situation than fear of a dangerous hitter in this case.

This isn't putting the 8th guy on to get to the pitcher. This is FEARING one of the most dangerous hitters the last 2 and a half years.

Yes in SOME cases it's purely situational. But we have seen TWICE where Utley and Howard were both IBB back to back. You think that's purely situational?

When Mike Schmidt was in a protracted slump, Danny Ozark used to do something very goofy: he would bat Schmidt leadoff. Don't ask me what the idea was. Perhaps to get him more ABs, so as to give him more chances to get some positive momentum. Perhaps to stop him from stranding runners & take advantage of his high OBP. Perhaps just to do something so bizarre that it might snap some life into Schmidt.

I'm not suggesting we do the same with Howard. But, while we're on the subject of odd-ball ideas, I thought I'd mention it.

Alby: I picked the Brewers to win the WC. But, then again, I also picked the Padres to win the West, which isn't looking like such a swell prediction right now.

cunningham:

i addressed the fact that it wont help his swing/slump.... and i'm not saying it's going to alter how teams will play him.

i just don't see why he shouldn't give it a try. bunting should't be "uncomfortable" for any major leaguer. it's worth a shot. it will give him an opportunity to go up to the plate with a plan for once, however unorthodox and unexpected that plan may be. And if it doesn't work, chances are he would have struck out anyway.

For those who were watching 30 years ago: did Schmidt ever struggle as badly, and for as long a period, as Howard is now? Was Schmidt's idea of the strike zone and ability to make contact ever that bad? (I only watched Schmidt in his refined mode in the mid-'80s.)

Even if there is a parallel there, the players are ultimately dissimilar. Schmidt could run early in his career, and could always play defense - so he could still contribute even when he was slumping. Howard, on the other hand, is totally useless when he gets into this spiral.

I am no hitting expert, but all I know is Howard seemed like a much more dangerous hitter, when he was driving the ball to left field.

Remember just a few years ago, when people were worried here, because Ryno never pulled the ball? Most of his HR's were to straight-away left and dead center.

Now, it seems he is trying to pull everything. And, anyone who throws left-handed, he can't touch.

Late on the fastball and way out in front on the off-speed stuff? You can't hit in the bigs doing that. He looked great in ST, so he will eventually snap out of it.

Drive the ball to left again, and start using the whole field again. Just concentrate on taking a nice level, line-drive swing and the hits and HR's will come. He looks like he is trying to hit a 500 foot HR every time out now and all that does is slow his swing down, and makes for lots of swing and misses.

Nice column in the New York Times by Doug Glanville:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/25/opinion/25glanville.html

"But we have seen TWICE where Utley and Howard were both IBB back to back. You think that's purely situational?"

Absolutely. No opponent does that unless there's a man on third with two bases open. Of course, they don't do that with weak hitters. But they don't do that if there's a runner on second instead of third, either.

It's time for Ryan Howard to bust loose and shut everyone up, including me!

Happy 30th birthday to the Philly Phanatic. He made his debut at the Vet in 1978 on April 25th.

Considering we couldn't even find 4 million for a season worth of Kyle Lohse, I don't see how the phils will be able to pry away Oswalt because

A) we have nothing to trade to the Astros that would even begin to consitute fair value

B) we have no money to sign him to an extension/long term deal, because of the self-imposed Salary Cap.

We just may just be able to shake a stick at them if they include ausmus(is he still catching for the stros?) and we turn around and give them Ruiz, Golson, Cardenas, And a Pitcher or two.

I personally don't care enough one way or the other about Ruiz, and he's proven his batting is inconsitent, and I feel, will continue to be. I also don't care if our catching is subpar, and should it really end up being horrendous with Two old catchers, we can always bring up Jaramillo early just to be a defensive catcher.

We all know how highly Wade Covets position players, and it may just work. Of course, I've been up all night, and I'm probably out of mind thinking the Phillies would even remotely stand a chance of getting Oswalt.

RSB,
Schmidt certainally did have his struggles. I would point you to his 1978 season. He had already been in the league 5 or 6 years and won home run and rbi titles, but he struuggled the entire year. I am not sure but he may have been injured at some point that year too. And of course his first year or two were tough as well. It is tough to compare these two though for the reasons you pointed out. I do think Ryan will be fine though. As many have pointed out he needs to be more patient. When he hits the ball the other way it is a sign he is comming around.

Alby: True enough about the NL West, but even with that, the Wild Card STILL wouldn't come out of the East. If the standings stood as they do today, the WC comes out of the Central. A couple posters predicted that very thing pre-season. I still think a West team gets it, but feel more confident than ever that the WC won't come out of the East.

Re: the bullpen. I know most were pessimistic, but so far it's hard to argue with success. So far, the best case scenario is happening with pretty much every pitcher out there.

Morty - That's what I'm worried about. A lot is going our way right now. We can't expect PTB, Seanez, Durbin, Werth, etc. to keep up their production. They are all going to tail off to their norms. Are Rollins returning and Howard maybe finding his stroke again enough to compensate? I'm starting to think they aren't.

It is true that a lot of things are going the Phils way right now, Burrell, Eaton, and the bullpen all performing at high levels. It is also fair to assume that these players will level off to their career norms. However, that is not guaranteed. There is always the anomoly of the "career year". Remember the '93 Phils? That was a team full of mostly mediocre players who all had career years at the same time.
So lets all think positive and believe that the Phils keep this going all year. Except for Howard, who we hope turns things around. Then a healthy Rollins and Victorino will be a huge boost and we all can enjoy the summer, on into the fall...

When Howard is swinging the bat well, his swing is on top of the ball, staying level with the pitch. Right now it looks like he is uppercutting on every swing. A typical Howard AB looks like this - swing and miss at high pitch over the plate, called strike on a low and outside breaking ball that make Howard give a look of dismay and frustration, and finally a flailing strike three swing and miss on another outside breaking ball. He'll work his way out of this (history shows that he can) but right now he has no idea what the strike zone is.

While we likely dont have the prospects to pick up Oswalt, he is signed through 2011 so the contract would not be an issue. How would this team look with Utley at First, Oswalt on the mound Cardenas at 2b (Obviosly not ready for the show yet) and Howard in Houston? Dont get me wrong, I love Howard I think he's going to hit the back of his baseball card this year but if Cardenas was ready that's something I'd have to think long and hard about. My only issue with Howard is he reminds a little too much of Mo Vaugn and Big Hurt. A amazing hitter, but for how long?

@Alby -- you don't get it. In those "situations" you are walking those batters because they are "FEARED" not because the situation dictated.

Do you think Acta is walking Feliz and Jenkins back to back in that "situation"?

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