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Monday, June 30, 2008

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Why put ANY blame on Rollins?

He is not under performing, he is performing EXACTLY in line with his career norms.

Career .264/.326/.431/.757
2008 .277/.331/.441/.772

2007's less then stellar OPS of .875 will likely be a career high. If you want to find under-performers to blame look to Howard. He is a heart breaker.

I suppose if you'd settle for production closer to what he did in his early 20s. Most people were expecting a little more following an MVP year.

Your numbers are wrong, too:

2008: 264/.326/.431

I like how PhillR disappears for months at a time, then suddenly pops up to take cheap pot-shots at his least favorite player by citing career numbers that are, in large part, driven by stuff that happened 5 and 6 years ago. And all under the pretense of "defending" Rollins for his poor play this year.

So many people are ready to blame the Phils' problems on Howard. Once again, last night, he's the ONLY player on the team who got an RBI with RISP. Even Utley has slowed down in that area. I just don't get it. I know Howard doesn't get on base, but his average with RISP means that he's at the top of the league in RBIs. Isn't that what you need out of a 4/5 hitter? And folks say that RBIs are the product of who's hitting in front of him. Well, just how many hitters have been getting on base in front of him lately?

Sorry I inverted career and 08.

"Most people were expecting a little more following an MVP year."

Thats the problem. It wasn't an MVP year by any measure, now people expect him to perform to a level he has never achieved. Granted I would hope he would OPS over .800, but to date he has been below that mark more often then above it.

The worst thing that happened to Ryan Howard was his early success. He doesn't think he needs to make adjustments even though the rest of baseball has figured out as long as they don't make a mistake to him, he'll get himself out, usually by flailing and missing at strike 3

Jeremy: Your point about adjustments is on the mark.

Oh yeah, and while I'm at it. Look, Burrell has come through a lot in the clutch this year, but it's amazing how much of a free pass he gets at BL as compared to other players - Howard in particular.

Burrell has 18 fewer RBI and scored 7 fewer runs. Given that he's hitting right behind Howard (except lately), it seems that walking more, striking out less, and hitting for a higher average haven't enabled him to be more productive in either knocking in runs or in scoring runs than Howard.

I'm not knocking Burrell, just saying that I don't get why everyone jumps on Howard when you look at that comparison.

In fact, I wanted to include something about that in the header and went back and did it, about adjustments. I'm glad he got the RBI yesterday; he stayed back on it and put it in play. But when will he do it again?

Flipper: 'Cause Howard used to be a superstar and Burrell used to be a goat?

This is only a guess.

JRoll deserves blame on another level too - leadership. Other players haven't seemed to step up here either. I would like them to get their swagger back and maybe playing NL teams will get them back. Wow, 6 series losses in a row.

13 games left til the break with the last 10 at home. They way they are playing I hope it is at leat 7-6, but it would be nice to see them make more than a peep and go 9-4, especially with 7 against the Braves & Mets.

Wake up fellas...you are not as good as you think you are.

Yeah, but Burrell is hitting behind a guy that's hovered around .200 most of the season and has 114 strikeouts. Howard's on base about as much as Carlos Ruiz.

I get that when you have higher expectations out of a player you're more likely to be disappointed - but seriously, I wonder whether in other cities Howard would get the same level of criticism he gets here. I also get that Burrell was brutalized until he turned it around in the middle of last year. But seriously, can't the man get some credit for the job he's done in knocking in runs?

I'll give Howard credit on the runs he's knocked in but he desreves the opposite with the mutlitude of poor plate appearance and strike outs in key situations. Plus, his D is more bad than good.

Been out of action this weekend. Drove back to Houston and got back to my apartment in time to see the Rangers triumphantly walk off the field on FSN. I decided to watch to post game show to catch any Phillies highlights. (Let me preface my next comments. Up to this point in my life, I was indifferent to the Texas Rangers. I neither liked or hated them. They don't exist on my baseball radar or universe.) Beyond a shadow of doubt, the Texas Rangers postgame show was the worst I have ever seen. They are home team oriented to the hilt. Their post game show was featured corny announcers and fans. We saw all the Rangers highlights ad nauseum. Now, I hate the Texas Rangers. I am no longer indifferent to those bushleaguers. To them the Phillies didn't exist.

Looking at the boxscore, the Phillies hitters didn't exist, but up until Mad Dog coughed up two more runs, it was only a two run game. I did see how the Phillies mustered zero hits or walks over the last three innings. What a waste. Due to my lifelong Phillies upbringing, I can safely declare that I will not commit suicide, yet.

I get that, fearless leader. And for much of the year, Howard has been hitting behind a guy who's been on fire. But that hasn't been true lately, and Howard's still the only one knocking in runs.

Further, unless you have a situation where Howard made the last out or grounded into a dp, most of the time Burrell comes up with the same runners in the same scoring positions (an fortunate by-product of Howard's unfortunately high level of strikeouts), and Burrell has far fewer RBI. Why? Because is average with RISP is lower.

If I attempted to apportion individual responsibility for the Phillies' woes, I would probably put Rollins first on the list, with Howard & Myers 2nd and 3rd. But, in truth, this has a been a true team-wide melt-down. Even Utley has been a very significant contributor. He hasn't hit well since early May -- hitting just .259 in May, and .266 in June. Throw out that 4 for 5 game in Oakland, and it's .236 in June.

Same is true of most everyone else. Victorino has somehow managed to avoid criticism, but he has been absolutely pathetic: .235 with just 4 RBIs in June. Coste was bound to cool off and he has -- .267 in June. Same with Dobbs -- .250 with 1 RBI in June. Ruiz -- .178 (throw out the 4-hit game and it's .103). Jenkins -- .133 (.133!). Howard -- .234, with a .287 OBP. The only hitters who have performed to par in June are Burrell (.256/.398/.558), Werth and Feliz. But Werth is a part-time player and, in Feliz's case, par is nothing to write home about. And, while you can't really criticize Burrell for a month in which he actually out-performed his career stats, neither can you expect him to carry the team -- as he occasionally does -- while hitting just .256 for the month.

Hitting w/ men in scoring position:

           AVG    OBP    SLG    OPS
Howard:   .327   .448   .592  1.040
Burrell:  .271   .425   .542   .967

Howard's been excellent at the plate with men in scoring position. Burrell hasn't exactly been chopped liver, though, either. Burrell's lack of RBI's, I would assume, have to do with what previous posters have mentioned: he's rarely on base in front of Burrell + his strikeouts never allow a runner to move up a base, putting the men in scoring position.

To highlight this second point, check out the number of times Howard and Burrell came up to bat w/ men in scoring position:

Howard: 98 AB, 24 BB
Burrell: 59 AB, 17 BB

I beg of everyone, please do not sugarcoat this team's struggles. Pointing out Howard's rbi total is great, but what about the rest of his horrible stats, and continued atrocious defense. Go ahead and make excuses for the offense because of all the "great pitching" they've faced, but what about all the crappy pitching they've had the chance to tee off on? Remember you can sugarcoat a turd, but it's still a turd in the end.

flipper: Fine, Howard has hit well with RISP. But this is literally the only aspect of the game in which he has done well. It is an important aspect, to be sure. But when it's 3 months into the season, you're on pace to shatter your own single-season strikeout record, and you haven't hit above .225 all season, I'd say you're more than fair target for criticism -- especially when you just received the highest salary ever awarded in arbitration and you fancy yourself a $250 million player.

As I said in my last post, Utley has also been pathetic lately. There, I said it. But the reason people don't harp on it is because, as a whole, he's having a terrific season. Howard, on the other hand, has been pathetic from Day 1.

BAP- I ripped on Rollins before I disappeared. Sorry but there was not much time for me to rip on him while I was working in Bucharest. I am back now, and when he comes up, the truth shall be known! Mostly because to blame Rollins for the current woes obscures the truth- that the primary problems are (1) Howard (2) Starting pitching (3) The bullpen. Utley btw deserves nothing but praise imho.


As for this discussion of "clutch", it is all nonsense. We are dealing with less then 100ABs of sample size, at which point the difference between .270 and .330 is 5 hits? No conclusions can be drawn from this.

Good points, fuzzy. I wasn't criticizing Burrell, I think he's had a good year. I'm just using Burrell as a point of comparison to explain why I think the criticism Howard gets is a bit over the top.

I just looked that the "clutch" stat at "THT batting." Howard leads the freakin' majors. By a wide margin.

Baxter: Please don't say this ever again. "Also- Ryan's defense has improved to the point where its currently underrated." If Howard's defense was underrated he would've made the easy scoop on Feliz's throw in the 8th inning for a double play, and I would've said, "Hmm, maybe Howard's defense has improved to the point where it's currently underrated."

That didn't happen. Another run scored. And Howard's defense continues to be a liability.

I agree with BAP's analysis. The blame goes team wide shared by the entire line-up. The pitching goats seem to be Myers and Flash!

Fair enough, BAP, but again, I think the most important measure of a 4/5 hitter is his ability to knock in runs. Other stuff is important, but just not as important. And I really couldn't care less about how much he gets paid. He won an arbitration which means he's getting market value for how he's performed. If Howard's money is an issue, than I think it warrants criticism of the FO, now Howard.

Now, why is it again that the Phillies don't win? Is it because of Charlie Manuel's southern accent? Or per chance, would this item (lifted from Conlin's column today) have a little something more to do with it?

"The Phillies had about $1 million to spend on international bonuses this year. Contrast the Mets, who went into the North Coast golf town of Rio San Juan in 2005 and gave 16-year-old outfielder Fernando Martinez a DR-record $1.4 million bonus. And he's knocking on the big-club door. Then they land Venezuelan blue-chip righthander Deolis Guerra. There are no commissioner's guidelines to violate in the non-draft countries, no pecking order - only good, old-fashioned, free enterprise at work."

This is the stuff that doesn't get noticed by fans. The front-page, surface level is money doled out in December to Jim Thome and Geoff Jenkins. This is the reason why it comes to that.

This organization's biggest crime is that it cuts corners in its player development. Simply indefensible.

RSB, I read somewhere that 60% of a club's value comes from scouting. You are pointing out an area of this where the Phillies are weak. You are absolutely correct!

Howard has come to the plate 353 times this year. 34% of those PAs (123) have happened with RISP, and he has hit .333/.452/.596 in those situations. Overall, however, his stats are .215/.310/.460.

I'll leave it to you to figure out what his numbers are the other 66% of the time, when runners AREN'T in scoring position. Those PAs matter too. The grief that Howard is getting on Beerleaguer is richly deserved.

Obviously, BAP, his performance with the bases empty or runners on first are beyond pitiful. But I'll maintain that those situations are compensated for by his performance when runners are in scoring position. Completely? No. Does he deserve some criticism? Yes. But I just don't get where people rank him among the top problems when he's done so well at what #4 hitters are paid to do - knock in runs.

Flip: I agree that Howard's record at driving in runs is a feather in his cap. The problem most BLs seem to have with him this year is that it's the ONLY feather in his cap. :)

PhillR: It doesn't happen too often, but I, more or less, agree with your point about so-called clutch hitting and its statistical significance. But, whether statistically significant or not, it IS true that Howard has succeeded in driving in runs when the opportunities have arisen -- so, in that aspect of the game (and that only), he can't really be criticized.

And I would also add this point. Although I don't normally ascribe to the significance of situational statistics, Howard's case may be different. When runners are in scoring position, it forces the defense out of the Howard shift. That very well could have a lot to do with why his numbers are so much higher with RISP. The same trend was true last year. It wasn't true in 2006 but, as I recall, teams didn't start using the shift until late 2006 and early 2007.

This is a repeat of my post on the previous thread and makes me wonder if this team needs a jolt of pitching, as most of us assume, or a jolt of hitting:

For the month of June, the Phillies team is hitting .235 with an OPS of .725. This coincides with the toughest part of their schedule all season.

At the same time, the pitching has been the best of any month this season: 3.62 ERA.

The going got tough and the pitchers rose to the challenge. The hitters did not.

So where's Sophist and CJ to tell us all that's it's gonna be fine, marathon not a sprint, etc.?

At this point, I'm finding it difficult not to feel down on this team. To be shut down by Hurley yesterday; well, let's just say he wasn't exactly Rich Harden's clone. We gave the kid his first major league win. It seems like they were just mailing it in so they could end IL play as soon as possible.

When do the offensive woes stop being a "slump" and become something more serious?

I agree that it is a team-wide meltdown, but if we must assign blame to individuals, I would have to start with J-Roll and Utley. They are the leaders of this team, and their performance has been flat to say the least. There is plenty to knock about Howard, and maybe he isn't the player we thought he was (or he thinks he is) but at least he is knocking in runs.
It just looks like a different team than a month ago. Hopefully, playing the lousy teams in the NL East will wake them up again.

Who'd have thunk that the Phils would have the 5th best team ERA in the NL at the halfway point, and BLers would have a lot to bitch about?

If what had been predicted had happened - the offense produced as expected and the pitching struggled - would BLers have been happier?

Last comment for awhile, and then I've gotta get to work.

With RISP, Howard has stuck out in "just" 26% of his PAs or, if Clout prefers, 32% of his ABs. The rest of the time, Howard has struck out in 35.6% of his PAS and 38.6 of his ABs. The shift, or lack thereof, could definitely have something to do with Howard's improved performance with RISP. But the difference in strikeout totals just looks to me like a statistical fluke. Undoubtedly, his average with RISP is going to drop considerably, while his average the rest of the time will probably rise. I won't predict where it will wind up on an overall basis; I'll just say that I see little reason for optimism.

Also, an accurate measure of Howard's performance with RISP needs to take into consideration all the times he has struck out when contact would have scored the runner, or grounded out weakly to second, when a fly ball would have advanced the runner. I don't say this to denigrate his overall performance with RISP. But his .346 BA with RISP definitely over-states how effective he has been in those situations, since it fails to account for the fact that, when he fails, the failure is almost always a total one.

All disappointments in Burrell and Howard (both better than average hitters at best) are made worse and more visible because of the lineup. After these guys fail in an at bat, we have to wait for five more hitters to get to another one of Major League caliber. The end of the lineup, like Leiberthal and Bell before them, is pitiful. Does the organization have even one player who can bunt, hit and run or at least make a valuable out (i.e not strike out or pop up) to start a rally or keep one going?

Flip: Happier? Probably, if only because it lends itself to a lot of "I told ya"s from predictions made at the beginning of the season, but there'd still be the requisite b*tching; it's what we do.

All this trouble & somehow we are still in first place by a game!
Hard to believe.

I'm not a hitting expert. But I seriously think it would help Ryan Howard if he just went up there and kept the bat on his shoulders for a few games. Make the pitchers adjust. Don't swing until there's a strike.

Is anybody confident that moves will be made (Gordon/Myers to the DL/pen, Happ call-up, Taguchi waived)? I'm not. Why is Gordon not on the DL? Who do they think they're fooling?

Brian G: Agreed on Howard and scooping the bad throw from Feliz, although worth noting Feliz might've made a better throw had he not dropped the ball and then had to retrieve it first.

PhillR, could you tell me why you list the bullpen as the third biggest problem? The Phils have the second best bullpen ERA in the majors. Yes, Gordon has been a weak link lately, but overall the bullpen has been very good. If I were going to list all the Phils problems, the bullpen would be last.

I, for one, would be happier if the pitchers continued to pitch the way they have been (which, save for Myers, have been decent enough to keep us in most games) and the offense actually does what it was designed to do.

And I'm tired of this "we're still in first" argument. We are not playing like a first place club. If the Phils don't find a way to win/split this weekend, we'll have tons of new reasons to bitch on BL.

Does anybody else think we might be missing Rowand's leadership more than conventional wisdom suspected? Who's keeping these guys together off the field? Because, man, do they need it now.

A plus is that the Braves offense has looked pretty stagnant since Larry Jones went down. That should coincide well with our new "strike out a lot and occasionally hit into double plays" strategy.

doubleh - it wouldn't really be consistent of me to change my opinion in two days. it's a long season, remember. So long that this apocalyptic losing streak (against the AL surprise surprise) still only stuck the Phils with a ~.500 month of June.

Since June 10, the Phils are hitting .227/.312/.377. And, yes, that includes their 20-run night, which they earned and should be included in their totals.

They've scored 4.2 runs/game in that time. They're 5-13 in that time.

In their 65 (39-26) other games they produced .263/.341/.454 and scored 5.2 runs/game.

Their BABIP in the last 14 days is .243. On the season it's still .282, which means it was even higher before these last two weeks.

Do you think we'll keep seeing the Phils of the last 18 games? The Phils were, as usual, were awful in IL?

Not that I think they'll break out of the slump tomorrow, but my guess is that over the next 40-50 games they'll look more like the 5.2 runs/game team than the 4.2 team. Just a guess.

Honestly, they don't even need to score 5.2/game to win with the pitching they're getting. As Tray pointed out, they were a *bad* 5.2/game team in that time (that is, relative to other 5.2 teams, on a given night they scored that well less often.)

---------

"It wasn't an MVP year by any measure, now people expect him to perform to a level he has never achieved."

PhillR - how bout we do this: we ignore the MVP label and simply look at what Rollins did achieve last year. I think that's what all us reasonable BLers were doing.

Last year Rollins had a 118 OPS+. He hit .296/.344/.531. This is something Rollins actually did, regardless of whether you think he deserved the MVP or not. It's all-star caliber performance. Maybe it was a career year, but, at 28, I at least expected him to build on it and not return to, say, his 2005 performance.

However, this year his OPS+ so far is 95. His worst since he was 24. Maybe we should have anticipated a slight return to form -- a return to his slightly above average offensive performance (performances which earned him 2 AS appearance prior to last year.) But I'm not sure it was reasonable to expect a 29 year old to slow this much.

I expect a huge second half from him, though (barring injury), since he's mostly been unlucky.

Oh, and did anyone see the new ESPN commercial with Rollins talking to Van Pelt about the slump that Van Pelt has been in? They show a bunch of fake screwups that Van Pelt made with Rollins shaking his head and making comments. I couldnt help but think that it should have been the other was around. They should have had Van Pelt shaking his head at the way the Phils have been lately. That would have been funnier.

I wasn't on the game thread last night, so you didn't get to hear my outrage over the Rangers bunting in the bottom of the 8th with 2 on and up by 3 runs. And, I don't want to hear "a 3 run lead is nothing over the Phils." BS. With the way the Phils were playing, the Rangers knew they had this game in the bag. Earn your hit, Kinsler you little b****.

Oh, and whoever posted about being worried about Ollie Perez when the Phils face him: he always pitches well against the Yanks. Perez is to the Yanks as Moyer is to the Marlins.

That's one game I would feel good about, because Perez usually follows up a good start with a bad one.

Oh, and Chipper to the DL. But Church is back on the Mets, which is bad for us. Church always kills the Phils.

How is it that Uggle sprains his ankle and is only expected to be out a few days but Rollins was out a month? Are the Fish lying, too?

remember, at the onset of Rollins injury, he was only supposed to be out a few days too

More likely they will skip Myers for one start in the rotation and try to go with four starters with the day off today or get by with a Condrey, Durbin, Madson combination until they get to the set uppers and closer on Thursday. And give Myers another shot next week back at the Bank where he has pitched more effectively.

Getting Lidge and making the 07 closer the opening day starter were Gillick's signature moves in the off season. He was so proud of them to polish off what he must believe are his HOF credentials. He is not going to give up on the Myers move that easily.

doubleh: You have to admit it was a great bunt. Madson had no chance.

Yeah, I don't buy this argument that last year was a career year & the real Jimmy Rollins is the one who hits .264 with 14 homeruns.

Last year WAS a career year, but Rollins also hit 25 homeruns, 79 extra base hits, and slugged .478 the year before that. The year before that, he hit .290 with 61 extra base hits, and the year before that, .289 with 69 extra base hits and a .455 slugging pct.

I wasn't quite expecting a repeat of 2007 this year, but I was expecting something along the lines of Rollins' 2006 performance. And if he's not going to supply any homerun power, he sure as hell needs to hit a lot better than .264. He also needs to start hitting some doubles & triples. He's slugging just .431. And his OPS is the lowest it has been since 2003.

I do think Rollins will have a strong second half, and finish with good numbers. But he is killing the team right now, and has been for about the last month. I mean REALLY killing them -- far more so than Howard. If they gave out a Least Valuable Player Award for the season's first half, Rollins would get my vote.

"How is it that Uggla sprains his ankle and is only expected to be out a few days but Rollins was out a month? Are the Fish lying, too?"

Doubleh, the baseball gods are cruel!

The most confusing thing about Rollins is he's walking around out there with this big "whatever" look on his face. Last year he was so intense.

Clout: yes, it was a great bunt, but if we ever see that Kinsler again, I want him plunked! Whatever happened to the baseball rules?

It's one thing if you're down by 3 runs in the 8th (*cough, cough* Phillies could have tried something similar if any of them besides Vic could actually bunt *cough, cough*) but when up by 3, it's questionable strategy.

Fred: You are correct, they ARE cruel.

The one thing that is most disturbing is just how many things SEEM to be falling in the Phils' favor, but they just can't seem to take advantage. Like Pujols/Wainwright out when the Phils faced the Cards...with Chipper likely out this week, the Phils had better strike back against the Braves. The ATL hasn't exactly been lighting the world on fire as of late, even though they are one of 3 teams with a winning IL record (the Mets are another).

clout, doubleh: It was a great bunt, but precisely because Madson had no chance, I thought the better play would've been to let it roll foul. Perhaps my eyes deceived me, but that ball looked like it was rolling toward the line.

Know everyone is bummed about the lackluster performance the last 3 week or so but to me the next week or so is going to be really telling. At a minimum, Phils need to come away with a winning record from their 7 games against Braves/Mets.

If they don't take care of business here or at least tread water with a 4-3 mark, then I will begin to really worry since it will allow their division rivals to make up that much more ground.

At that point, you have to wonder if the 3 week of really solid from late May to early June were really the fluke and this team is closer to what we saw the first 5 weeks of the year/last 3 weeks.

Regards to the Benson article:

- When are the Phils' beat writers going to stop wasting so much ink to this complete non-story? If Benson actually has 2 or 3 rehab starts where he goes at least 5 innings with decent results I might care. Until then stop wasting some much time and PR for the Phils' spin machine.

MG: Reading between the lines in that piece, I got the sense that it's unlikely Benson will see any big league action this season.

Benson himself said that he didn't think he would be 100% by the end of this season...how can you count on that?

I'm with Clout on that one: I see the Benson PR as the Phillies basically saying Benson is not the answer. None of what they've written/reported has been particularly positive.

doubleh: with all due respect, you don't have a very firm grasp on the nuances of the game. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Kinsler bunting for a hit with his team up by 4 runs in the 8th. 8 or 10 runs up is one thing. But that ballpark is notoriously hitter-friendly and the Phillies at least have a notorious reputation for being offensively explosive. Just as there was absolutely nothing wrong with Jacoby Ellsbury stealing bases with a three-run lead in the 8th a couple weeks back. That's not just my opinion. Any player on any team will happily tell you that neither of these players was in any way out of line. It would be more disrespectful in those situations to play as if you're assuming the other team won't come back.

Jerry:

"All disappointments in Burrell and Howard (both better than average hitters at best) are made worse and more visible because of the lineup. After these guys fail in an at bat, we have to wait for five more hitters to get to another one of Major League caliber. The end of the lineup, like Leiberthal and Bell before them, is pitiful. Does the organization have even one player who can bunt, hit and run or at least make a valuable out (i.e not strike out or pop up) to start a rally or keep one going?"

Amen. Although, I would say that Feliz's value is more for his glove than his bat. Either way, Feliz is better on both sides than the garbage (See Abraham Nunez and washed up Wesley Helms) the Phils have thrown out there the last couple of years. Geoffrey Jenkins has no saintly swing either, for that matter. I put myself in the category of those who overestimated his potential contribution, although I think the platoon (Werth/Jenkins) is actually performing better in power numbers than Rowand (in every other aspect, they are deficient, although Vic's D is a saving grace here).

BTW: Anyone think that Abraham Nunez can play catcher? I think we should try to acquire him to take Ruiz's spot. Wait, is Nunez catching for the Phils? I can't tell any difference when they are batting.

RSB: I am still learning, that's true--I've never played the sport myself. Maybe I wouldn't be so angry about it if the Phils showed any signs of life and had a response instead of laying down and dying after they did it.

Although I must tell you that my household, who has played/coached forever, didn't appreciate it much, either--so I guess we're all idiots.

BTW: For all of my criticism of Carlos Ruiz, I would not necesarily characterize him as the biggest problem on the team thus far this season.

That is, unless you see a guy who can't hit MLB pitching as a major problem when they are in the starting lineup 3 times a week.

If he is not the biggest problem, it is only because of his position in the batting order (BTW: not a good reason to sugar-coat futility). Regardless, anytime I would rather see any of the Phils pitchers (except Myers/Moyer) hit instead of an everyday player, it is a serious problem. Ruiz stinks, and I have really had enough of seeing him in the lineup.

Prediction: Ryan Howard will lead the league in home runs and RBIs this season.

Howard's .333 AVG with RISP could be related to the shift not being on in most of those situations. The shift is very real. Ted Williams hit .200 for half a season, when teams started shifting him. The best hitter of all-time struggled with the shift.

Prediction: Ryan Howard will lead the league in home runs and RBIs this season.

Howard's .333 AVG with RISP could be related to the shift not being on in most of those situations. The shift is very real. Ted Williams hit .200 for half a season, when teams started shifting him. The best hitter of all-time struggled with the shift.

Prediction:

Comparing Ryan Howard to Ted Williams will qualify as an all timer on Beerleaguer...

Baxter brings up a good point (the shift), and one I'm sure he will be lambasted for, as I have in the past.

I will throw out something that I can only speculate on the basis of empirical information:

I think that it is at least possible that Howard's success W/RISP has something to do with the fact that teams take the shift off with runners in scoring position. I know they do when he hits with the bases loaded. It would be interesting to know what his numbers are like with the bases loaded. I'll try to find that out. I'm not saying the shift is a complete defense to his play thus far, but I'll say that it is something of a mitigating factor.

Does anyone know what happened to Bastardo? He hasn't pitched since June 12. I was thinking he might get the nod to replace Myers in the rotation if that's the route they go.

TK - I don't think baxter compares Williams and Howard in the way that you find laughable. In fact, Williams' superior abilities only strengthen his point.

Parker: in 13 PA, Howard is hitting .250/.308/.333 with the bases loaded. Not much of a sample.

Stop making excuses for Howard, baxter. When he first came up he was nowhere near as easy to defense. He hit the ball all over the damn place. Now he's so homer and pull-conscious that it's like some thrilling event to see him go to left field. I agree with the poster who said the worst thing that could have happened to Howard's career was his early success. He show no signs of adjusting now, or even making any effort beyond a single game; rather, he seems to take it for granted that eventually he'll get pitches to hit and mash them to his heart's content. He's a much better hitter than the one he seems content to go along being now, and I think it's disgraceful that neither Howard nor the coaching staff can bother addressing the need for him to become more sophisticated.

Well he is 3/12 with 8 RBI (Nothing stunning about that). However, without knowing every occasion in which the shift is taken off, it is impossible to verify whether or not his stats improve dramatically. For instance, I'm not sure whether the shift would be (or has been) taken off with runners on 1st and 3rd, etc.

This much is certain, his numbers are drastically better when runners are on in general, than when he is up and there are no runners on base. Make of that what you will.

How does the defense play Howard when a man is on second?

With a man on second Howard is hitting .444/.556/.806 in 45 PA. His BABIP in those situations is an astronomical .619.

skeeter: J.A. Happ. Remember the name.

It's hard to watch Howard seemingly get fooled all the time and not wonder whether it's a lack of coaching or an unwillingness to heed it. Either way, guys, .215 is .215, and .215 is Rob Deer.

Even though its easy to jump on that Ted Williams comparison, there IS a point there--unlike all the other mysterious slumps that the rest of this lineup is involved in, Howard's declining average does have one obvious explanation: the shift. Yes, he needs to adjust, and his ability to do so over the rest of the season will go a long way towards determinig whether he is truly closer to Williams or Adam Dunn. But in any case, at least there's an explanation there, one that seems pretty well supported by the stats. Figuring out the struggles of these other hitters is a much more difficult proposition.

Howard:

Men On: 148 AB, 41 H, 10 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 56 RBI, 27 BB, 1 HBP, 53 K, .277 BA, 554 SLG, .939 OPS.

No runners on: 159 AB, 25 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 11 HR, 11 RBI, 15 BB, 1 HBP, 60 K, .157 BA, .373 SLG, .611 OPS.

Based on those stats, I would say that there is something of a correlation between the shift and Howard's performance. With almost every number being the same, he is batting .120 higher with men on. He K's almost at exactly the same rate, but walks more often with men on. IMO, the shift has at least something to do with the large disparity in those numbers. It may not be huge, but it is something. And of course the RBI numbers are skewed because his only RBI's with no one on base are going to be HR.

Again, I don't think the shift is entirely to blame. What's ultimately more to blame is that Howard has turned into a completely predictable hitter.

RSB, I agree, which for me begs the question: Where is the coaching staff? What are they doing to help Howard, because from the looks of it, they're doing nothing.

@RSB -- then how do you explain the disparity between runners on and bases empty, if it's not the shift?

Why would they pitch differently (less effectively) when there is runners on versus not? Isn't Howard MORE dangerous (capable of driving in more runs) when there are runners on base??

The HR rate is the only thing that is slightly worse with men on, than not. But 120 points in batting average suggests something else. And I don't think it's predictability.

The Question is, why is Howard a different hitter with men on than not?

Come on Cholly- Re Open Hittin' Season -Please!

RSB - DO you have access to Howard's hitting charts from 2006 to the present?

It would interesting to find out how much mroe or less predictable he's actually become. I'm not questioning your memory, just wondering if anyone knows where to find this info.

"And I'm tired of this "we're still in first" argument. We are not playing like a first place club."

hh, fortunately, for the Phillies, neither are any of the other NL East ballclubs.

Here's something I found on FOX Sports' website:

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/
playerHitChart?categoryId=223779

AWH - There are two teams in all of the NL with winning records in their last 10 games: MIL and HOU.

This is actually up from a few days ago, I believe, when only MIL had a winning record in its last 10 games of all the NL team.

Not surprisingly, MIL had one of the easiest interleague schedules around: MIN (twice), BAL, and TOR.

Why the Philadelphia Phillies are losing:

1)The Ownership-
For the Phillies players, their early run must've felt like dating a beautiful girl who'd never marry them: fun while it lasts, but the better it gets, the more you worry about the future. Every Phillies trade rumor mentioned a frustrating decision that shouldn't be made by big market contenders: win now or win later. These trade rumors brought the Phillies back to earth, by reminding them of the glass ceiling over their heads. When the players realized the ownership's unwillingness to keep the core of this team together, they started worrying about the future; where they're gonna play next season, etc. The whole situation is so depressing, they probably wondered if its even worth trying to win a World Series in Philadelphia, for a franchise who'd rather pocket the profits than upgrade the rotation. Those rumors were a reality check- as soon as the "hot stove" started heating up, the bats cooled off.

2) Ownership- No other reason comes close. The "win now or win later" trade rumors were an enormous buzzkill to this entire organization.

3) Ownership- Why should players commit to winning championships for a team thats unwilling to commit to them? No, the small market mentality doesn't apply in Philadelphia.

4) Ownership- Kyle Lohse was willing to resign for 4.5 million, after being offered 21 million over 3 years. Lohse actually wanted to stay in Philadelphia, but says they pulled their original offer after a very short time. Whats their excuse- they spent that money on Pedro Feliz? Still mad at Scott Boras over JD Drew, who we also should've signed?

5)Dave Montgomery- He's killing this franchise. The Phillies will not win a World Series as long as Montgomery is team President.

I hope the Phils are planning to skip Moyer's spot, and bring up Happ to take Myers' spot. Moyer could use the rest, and Myers could use the timeout. Let him go to the bullpen and pitch in a couple low leverage situations. Let Happ pitch in Myers' spot until he sinks or swims.

It is interesting to see the split in Howard's numbers with RISP vs. not. Would some of the more stat-centric posters weigh in on the value of Howard's season? Overall his OPS looks terrible, but his RISP numbers are fantastic. What grade do the statheads give him?

Someone brings up an interesting point: What about the coaching staff? The guys flat out ignore Steve Smith on the field (and not without good reason sometimes), so what do other BLers make of the Phils' current coaching staff as a whole?

I've never been a big fan of Dubee's; always have coveted having someone like Dave Duncan, who seems to always get the most out of his SPs. Henderson seems to be a decent BP coach (and HR Derby pitcher extraordinaire).

Speaking of HR Derby, who else is with me in NOT wanting Utley to participate if asked? His swing is not designed for HRs like Howard's (much like Abreu); anyone else think it could screw him up a bit?

Mr. cunningham, with men on pitchers work out of the stretch. That may be one explanation.

Is RH concentrating more with men on base?

Is he being pitched to differently when men are on base?

Bill James addressed these Ryan Howard related topics in his latest book: "Bill James's Goldmine 2008". I'd paste the whole section here but its nowhere online. Here are the relevant points:

-Early in his career, Ryan Howard hit more opposite field home runs than anyone ever. EVER. Howard hit more home runs early in his career than anyone ever, but thats not the point.

-Most good hitters, especially power hitters, hit to the opposite field more frequently in their first few years. Around their 3rd or 4th season, they just start pulling everything. Bill James referred to this phenomenon as "negative learning".

-Bill James also showed how many hits Howard had to every part of the field, every season. Howard never hit a lot of ground ball to the opposite field.

Anyone else seen this?

Manny Ramirez shoves Red Sox traveling secretary upon being informed that the secretary could not meet his ticket allotment demands.

Hey Manny, here is an idea:

Buy a ticket like the rest of us!

Parker: You think he'll get DFA'd like Chacon? Yeah, I didn't think so, either.

Just terrible behaviour.

God, this slump is disgusting.

I too am a bit surprised that the coaching staff has not (seemed) to address Howard's approach at the plate. Although, who knows, maybe they have made solid suggestions and he is ignoring them. Or maybe he is working hard and long with the staff. Ultimately he will have to be the one to break out of his personal slump, but it does seem like he's just up there floundering now, and could use some assistance.

I missed much of the Rangers series, but what I have seen over the past few weeks is concerning. I understand baseball more than other sports is a game of peaks and valleys that does not lend itself to an approach of getting mad and thus playing better. But, does the team as a whole seem a bit too, shall we say, nonchalent about what has been happening?

doubleh: It is, finally, his personal choice, but this is another "NO" vote for HR Derby for Utley at the all star game. AS I recall, Abreu never was right after the HR derby he participated in a few years ago. Whether Chase were hot or cold from a selfish perspective I would hate to see him messing around with his swing.

Howard looks a lot more comfortable at the plate right now...he might've finally found his swing...i wouldn't mess with him

The HR derby is pointless, and while it can be fun to watch (on a DVR, of course...it's endless watching it in real time), it could potentially cause more problems than it's worth.

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EST. 2005

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