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Thursday, August 21, 2008

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Some tough pitching on the horizon. Time for the offense to take care of business and shake the past 2 months.

I have a 50 person group headed to see Hamels vs. Kershaw... Should be epic.

That Santana Kendrick game on the horizon sure would be a nice one to steal.

Agreed, going to hopefully a fun next week and a half

I actually saw Ruiz play in a game in Seattle a couple of weeks ago. I saw the 'Ruiz - DH' in the scoreboard lineup and couldn't figure out who it was. When I saw it was our man Randy, I couldn't believe it. He was the biggest man on the field that day, by plenty.

Someone asked about Ayala and Reyes and whether the Phils could have prevented the Mets from acquiring them.

On Ayala: The Phils chose not to make a claim on Ayala allowing him to pass through to the Mets.

On Reyes: As PhillR points out, he never even had to clear waivers. He refused assignment and was released. I suppose the Phils could have made him an offer, but they couldn't block the Mets from getting him.

@bap -- from last thread.

It was a joke. You are the most vocal Ryan Howard Long Term Contract Foe. And you mentioned it was your first post in days.

Saw where Pavano is starting for the Yanks on Saturday. That guy has be to Adam Eaton's idol. Ridiculously overpaid, only real chance at big league redemption lies in injuries to the regulars. The only real difference is that Pavano is just brittle. Eaton suffers more from inept crappiness.

To add insult to injury, Benson (who hasn't pitched competitively at the big league level in years) is in AAA, while Eaton rots away in Reading. Nice knowing you Adam. There's always Al's Diamond Cabaret!

Those pitching match ups vs. the Mets really scare me. This is really going to be the do or die stretch with the Dodgers, Mets and Cubs. Time to start hitting. It is now or never. The only way we are going to be successful is if these bats catch fire. Good news is that Manny has come back down to earth since we saw him last so hopefully that keeps up.

"You are the most vocal Ryan Howard Long Term Contract Foe."

No, that would be me. I just haven't bothered bringing it up for several weeks.

Len: This time of year Freaking Tim Redding scares me.

Deutche Phan, it will be interesting to see how Kershaw reponds when he sees the short porches at the Zen.

There's a big difference between it and Dodger Stadium.

OTOH, he's a high-velocity pitcher and could come in and just dominate.

But if the breeze is blowing out he may find that what would be "li'l old fly balls" at Chavez Ravine turn into runs for the Phils in the cozy confines of the Zen.

If that happens it will be interesting to see how he responds.

Also, this Dodger lineup could be licking their collective chops at the opportunity to hit in Philly.

It should be fun.


Lastly, I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that since the Phils couldn't land Ross, that either Marson or Jaramillo gets the call in September.

Let's just worry about signing Burrell to a deal. There is an average 2009 Outfielder class so I am assuming besides Manny no one else will get an ridiculous deal. So with that said, can we get together with Pat's agent and seal a 5 yr/ 57 mill deal already?

Another option is to let burrell go and sign rocco baldelli for an outfield of werth, baldelli in center and victorino

I correct myself sorry I forgot Baldeli has been injury plagued the last 2 seasons. Looks like the bat is the ebst option

donc: "Speaking of Utley, why not drop a bunt against the shift every so often. If I told you when you stepped into the box there's a way you can get on base 90% of the time, wouldn't you have to do it?"

Wow, Utley is such a good bunter that 90% of the time he bunts he'd get a hit? He'd bunt it just right so the pitcher or catcher couldn't get to it, always down the thirdbase line and with the shift on there's no one to get it. I'm shocked neither Uts nor anyone else has figured that out!

Um, unless it's b--lsh-t.

Baldelli is such a sad story. The guy has had probably the most horrendous string of injuries of any ballplayer in the past ten years. (And it's got to kill him to see the Rays finally start to have some success)

On Pavano at least he hasn't cost the Yanks as many wins as Eaton has cost the Phils since he has always been injured and barely pitched.

mike: Obviously, I knew you were joking. And, yes, I've been on Howard's case this year, but I think RSB was actually the first guy out of the gate with the idea that maybe it's not such a grand idea to put Ryan Howard at the epicenter of the team's long term plans.

eaton can swing the bat.. he should try to pull a rick ankiel...

"can we get together with Pat's agent and seal a 5 yr/ 57 mill deal already?"

Ridiculous.

Guys on this blog don't want to sign Ryan Howard, but want to sign the most one dimensional player in the league to 57 million? Pat Burrell can't run, can't field and is hitting like .200 since the end of May. Burrell is replaceable.

MVP - Read this a few weeks ago on Baldelli. Maybe I was way out of the loop... I knew he was injured, but I had no clue the fight he was mounting for his "comeback"

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/07/sports/baseball/07baldelli.html

I'm not about to offer Burrell a 5 year deal, but to say he's "one dimensional" in comparison to Howard is absurd. Howard's not exactly a gold glove, base stealing 5-tool guy, either.

I would rather have Burrell then Howard in a long term contract. As I have been saying for months, Howard should be/have been traded at his peak value.

I would say the sooner we trade him the better, but really it might be best to hope he has a resurgence next year and then do so. This years has given us a glimpse of Howard's future, and I don't think anyone here would argue that a long term big money deal is smart.

Burrell though will likely hit quite well for 5 more years.

mikes77 - Burrell may have his limitations, but if Burrell is "replaceable" who are the readily available contenders to replace him?

This has been discussed over and over again on this board, but Burrell is a RHB with over 120 OPS+ the last 4 seasons (a 140 OPS+ this year.) The only LF ahead of him in VORP this year are Ryan Braun, Carlos Lee, and Matt Holliday. Since 2005 he has the 8th highest OPS+ among LF in all of baseball.

Either you think he will severely decline or you are wrong. Burrell is not feasibly replaceable.

PhillR - I think if you want to trade Howard at peak value, the best bet is to go through arbitration for at least one more year (or get a deal, if possible, on a long-term contract at a friendlier price.) I'd think Howard's stock is at a career low currently. The only way he has a worse year next year is if his power disappears or he suddenly forgets how to hit RHP as well.

Just read some more of the one dimesional comments on Burrell. You are f'n crazy. He has had a rough august, but he has been the man every other month, post an OPS over 1 once, .900 twice and .850 once.

His OBP is always good and the complaints about his offense are total BS. He is no gold glove but he has average to slight above average RF and average FP.

Its not hard to argue the Pat has been the best offensive member of this team. He certainly has the highest OPS this season, and I am confident that he will continue to OPS in the .900s for several seasons to come.

Until he is gone no one here will realize how good we had it with Pat. He is so under appreciated it will serve us right to see him in Mets blue next season raking against us.

mike: If you want to argue against resigning Burrell, fine. But let's have that debate on real facts, not made-up ones. Burrell is hitting .252 since the end of May. His OPB during that time is .368, and he has hit 16 homeruns.

clout: Like I said I saw Richie Hebner do it 3 times in one night and he wasn't a bunter either. Pushing a bunt is just about the easiest thing to do with a bat in your hands. If you push it more than about 40 feet its a base hit every time.

"This years has given us a glimpse of Howard's future, and I don't think anyone here would argue that a long term big money deal is smart. Burrell though will likely hit quite well for 5 more years."

Ryan Howard is the cleanup hitter and is hitting over .300 this year with runners in scoring position. Howard leads the ENTIRE major leagues in Homeruns and RBI over the last 3 years... Pat Burrell's career HIGHS don't even compare to Ryan Howards's career LOWS, but guys can make the argument that Pat Burrell will hit better than Ryan Howard... Amazing.

"The only way he has a worse year next year is if his power disappears or he suddenly forgets how to hit RHP as well."

Well . . . maybe. When a guy has huge declines two years in a row, I don't think you can just go projecting a comeback, based on career norms. Howard will still hit his homeruns next year, but I could easily see an enormous drop in his RBIs. All it would take would be repeat of this year's performance, accompanied by a reduction in the substantial (and to a large extent, flukey) gap between his numbers with RISP and his numbers in all other situations.

PhillR - Agreed. CBP also plays well for Burrell's strengths (short-porch in right) and weaknesses (not a lot of space to cover defensively.)

I don't know about the idea to trade Howard at his peak price, though, unless you are convinced that he will decline with every year. Such trades rarely seem to work out well to me, and the Phils' FO has no history of successful big-name trades in particular. I don't know. It's hard to talk about abstractly.

I wouldn't sign Burrell or Howard to a long term contract. I'd much rather spend that kind of money on Hamels and a good free agent pitcher. That said, I really think they do need to sign Burrell, unless they're getting Manny (I just lol'd). Maybe we can get him for 3 years at a ton of money since he wants to stay here.

donc -
Saw the Hebner game, too. It was against, I believe, the Pirates. I remember thinking it was a great idea. But he never did it again.

Signing Burrell at 5/57 or an equivalent amount for less years in this market sounds like highway robbery to me. If I were him (which I'm clearly not) and got that deal (which I clearly won't), I'd fire my agent immediately.

BAP - I wasn't predicting a comeback based solely on career norms. I was stating that it would be hard for Howard to be any worse next year unless the only things he does consistently well (hit against RHP and hit HR) decline as well.

I would be surprised if he didn't OPS at least .900 against RHP next year and hit 20 HR off them (29 HR/1.078, 31 HR/1.072, 25 HR/.932 the last three years.)

Where else could he get worse? How likely is it that he'll be worse than .184/.254/.337 against LHP next year? That is his current line against them -- there's not much worse you can be than that.

So as I said: Either he somehow hits .100 against LHP next year (which wouldn't be *that* much worse) or he forgets how to hit RHP.

Howard's *performance* may be at a low after this season, but his palatability to other teams won't necessarily be: keep in mind that whoever would deign to trade for him would control his contract for an additional year if they did it now rather than later - and the longer the Phillies wait, the less leverage they have to get back value (see Rolen, Scott; Abreu, Bobby). That extra year of guaranteed service before he would hit free agency might be worth just as much in terms of trade value than if he were to come away with a bigger year in '09.

The Phillies will have to sign Burrell to *some* kind of contract because they will otherwise be totally devoid of right-handed power. The best hope is that they can get it down to 3 or 4 years, maybe 3 with an option.

"but guys can make the argument that Pat Burrell will hit better than Ryan Howard... Amazing."

I haven't seen that argument on this board. The only argument I see is PhillR's argument that he'd rather have Burrell in a long-term contract than Howard, which doesn't amount to the same thing.

mike: No stat is more flukey than batting average with RISP. And including Howard's 2006 season in your arguments is ridiculous. I don't even think Howard's staunchest advocates think he's ever again going to approach the numbers he had in 2006. If they do think that, they're delusional.

Howard is a tremendous power hitter, but that is literally the only skill he has that is not substantially below average. That's a very important skill, to be sure, and if he were still making $900,000 per year, it would be well worth the gamble that he could come back next year & have a season similar to his 2007 season. But at $12M per year, it isn't -- especially when taking into consideration that he still has substantial trade value. And I disagree with sophist that his trade value stands little chance of going down. If he has another horrific season against left-handers -- as is very likely -- then the genie will be out of the bottle: he is nothing more than a very talented right-handed platoon player. Platoon players don't have much trade value, no matter how good they are.

Andy: I was at the game. I thought I rememberd the third baseman being Pete Rose. But I couldn't swear to it. But whoever it was stopped using the shift on him and if I remember correctly they were about the only team that shifted him. So he didn't need to do it again.

@donc: " Pushing a bunt is just about the easiest thing to do with a bat in your hands. If you push it more than about 40 feet its a base hit every time."

if that were true, everyone could do it.

Such an absolutely incorrect statement.

Burrell will be 32 next year; Howard will be 29. The difference is, Burrell's year-by-year performance has been on a steady upward path over the last 4 years. Howard's has been on a rapid downward path. The other difference is that Burrell's main skill -- his tremendous batting eye -- is one which will stay with him even as he hits his late 30s. Howard's hitting stats, on the other hand, are largely dependent on bat speed. His bat speed already seems to be slowing down, and it's only going to get worse as he gets into his 30s.

Even pitcher that can't hit can usually bunt decently. Assuming of course that they work at it.

BAP - I was thinking many teams think that based on this year alone, but I suppose if he duplicates this year (~.600 against LHP, ~1.000 against RHP) it would further support the idea.

RSB also makes a good point about Howard's contract.

In any case, regardless of its effect on his trade value, I'd think it unluckly Howard is worse next year than this year considering how poorly he's played against LHP this year and his consistently good numbers against RHP. I don't love the idea of these sorts of trades anyway, as I stated a few minutes ago, especially when the Phils' FO is involved.

mike: I've tried arguing this before when it was suggested that Ryan Howard should bunt for base hits.

If drag bunting were so easy... lots of people would do it.

It's not.

Mike C: Everyone can't. Only those who have the shift employed against them, bc they don't have to worry about pushing it too far towards the 3bmen. That's the point. I wouldn't mind seeing Utley work on it a little bit.

mikes77phillies: RBIs are a meaningless statistic. For instance, Ryan Howard has 80 more plate appearances the Burrell with men on base. Assuming his BA with men on is constant, equalize the PA's and Burrell would have 96 RBI to Howard's 104.

The BA with RISP is a really small sample size, and is likely chance and random variation more then anything else.

The home runs are nice. Unfortunately that is all he is doing.

Ryan Howard currently has a 103 OPS+. Meaning he has been just BARELY better then league average. Pat Burrell has a 140 OPS+, making him close to an elite offensive force this season. So no, Ryan Howard's low are way way way worse then Pat Burrell's highs. Pat Burrell has only one season (2003) where he was worse then Howard this season.

The fact is that Burrell has been remarkably consistent through out his career, and is arguably getting better. Ryan Howard has had major variations in his production and it really does look he is actually declining.

Its really not even a question that this season Burrell has been a far far better offensive force then Howard. It also looks quite likely that Howard is not slumping but is just not as good as he was.

if no one is down at third - you can just throw your bat at ball and its gonna be a hit
its definitely not an absolutely incorrect statement

donc: Pitchers work at it ALL THE TIME... and many of them absolutely suck at it. That means you're suggesting a hitter, who's already slumping, should stop working on hitting better but should instead work on becoming a drag bunter. That's insane.

Drag bunting is far more difficult than push bunting. I just think bunting to foil the shift should be tried. Trying to hit line drives through 3 guys on the right side of the infield is like banging your head against the wall. Of course my original statement about 90% succes rate was an exageration. A good athlete like Utley should be able to do it a lot though. If he isn't a good bunter (almost never see him do it so not sure) then he should work on it. It's the first thing little leaguers learn to do. There is no excuse for major leaguers not to be able to do it.

fljerry: You ignore numerous factors in your over-simplification of bunting:

1) Bunt foul
2) Bunt in the air
3) Bunt that the pitcher fields

And that's if you even get your bat on the ball.

donc: What is push bunting?

Drag bunting doesn't describe dragging the ball down the first base line (as a lefty). It describes dragging your bat through the strike zone as you bunt... which is what we're asking Utley and Howard to do.

The opposite of drag bunting is sacrafice bunting, where you show your intention and you "catch" the ball with the bat, attempting to deaden it.

Whether they pull it down the first base line or push it down the third base line, it's still a "drag bunt."

If it's not, they'll square early, show their hand, and likely be thrown out anyway.

CJ:I am not talking about drag bunting. Chase Utley is a left handed hitter. If he were drag bunting he would be bunting towards first base. That is the opposite of what I propose. Drag bunting by a lefty against a shift truly would be insane.

I'm a new guy yo this board, but I am not new to Baseball. I've been a Phillies fan for 30 years.

While i can see guys being down on Ryan Howard this year for battin .230, I just don't understand the venom against a guy who has broken every Homerun and RBI record this team has. The numbers that Howard has put up don't just happen and if he gets 40HR and 130rbi again this year, he did his job... Pat Burrell has been a one dimensional, underacheiver for over 5 years and now that his contract is up, people want to make believe he is as good a player as Ryan Howard and he is'nt.

donc: Read above. Drag bunting doesn't mean pulling the ball down the line. You don't understand the definition of a drag bunt. It's about dragging the bat through the zone... whether you elect to pull it down the line or push to the opposite side. Both are drag bunting skills and both are difficult.

It's not like squaring around for a sac bunt.

just throwing this out there...

i read a quote from manuel that says pedro "first pitch" feliz isn't aggressive enough. how in the world can he be any more aggressive? run out to the mound and try and hit the ball while it's still in the pitcher's hand?

CJ: Wouldn;t dragging the bat through the zone for a left handed hitter mean he was bunting to first base. If not one would need to be a magician with the bat. That would be difficult to do. A sacrifice bunt to me means squaring early and thus telegraphing your intentions. Also not a good idea, I agree.

drake: We had this discussion earlier in the year regarding Pat Burrell. It's not neccesarily how early in the count he swings that determines his "aggression"... it's how he attacks the pitch he chooses to swing at. Perhaps Manuel is concerned that he's swinging defensively, just hoping to make contact, as opposed to swinging aggressively, hoping to drive the ball.

PhillR - Celebrating RBIs to the extent they were until recently is short-sighted, but so may be calling them "meaningless." They're certainly more influenced by those around you than other numbers, but that doesn't mean their meaningless, only that context is more important in determining their value than other stats.

In his career Howard is batting .276/.423/.570 with RISP and .282/.410/.609 with men on base.

In 07 he had a 1.109 OPS with RISP even though he hit .239/.320/.482 with the bases empty.

As has been discussed endlessly here, the same phenomena is occurring this year (.968 OPS with RISP vs .698 with bases empty.)

Generally speaking differences between hitting with RISP and hitting overall are usually sample size induced. Given time, a player's numbers should be even (maybe with a slight pop to the RISP numbers since it's easier to get a base hit when men are on base.) But Howard's situation *may* be an exception.

fljerry: " no one is down at third - you can just throw your bat at ball and its gonna be a hit."

Wow, another amazing thing that baseball people don't know about. The majors are loaded with power guys who get defensed by shifts and yet no one has ever discovered how simple it is to bunt for a base hit against a shift. Heck, Howard could hit .900! Can we send this crucial info to Cholly?

The point is there should be an effort to beat the shift. Whether to practice a slap hit to the open hole down third like Utley did last night or lay down a bunt. No, it is not easy to do. But I'd hope players like Utley and Howard practice situational hitting to have another weapon in thier arsenal. I'm suprised that players who are subject to the shift don't try it more often.

vegas: It's because turning them into situational hitters is actually worse than having them fail when they hit into the shift.

What value does Ryan Howard have if you eliminate his slugging?

CJ is exactly right in his definitions of drag bunting and sacrifice bunting. A drag bunt can go in any direction, including down the thirdbase line by a lefty. The problem here is some posters have no clue how difficult it is to bunt for a base hit even when a shift is on.

I'm not saying it's impossible to bunt for a base hit against the shift. In fact, Carlos Delgado did it once against us. I'm simply saying that this 90% success rate is ludicrous. And asking your sluggers to practice drag bunting is a waste of time.

Now I'm a huge Pat Burrell fan but this season has all the indications of being a Career Year for the Bat. Do we really see him getting any better than he has been this season? I personally don't. I think he could be an effective hitter until he's 35/36 but I'm not sure he'd be in LF at that point. He'd almost certainly have to move to 1B and then his numbers aren't quite as impressive. A corner OF with a .900 OPS is much more impressive than a 1B with one. Signing Burrell long-term means admitting that Howard is done at 1B in a couple years. By long term I mean the 5 year deal that someone bandied about. 3 years I could see maybe even 3 with an option year where we know we're gonna be screwed in the final year of the deal unless he's a 1B...but 5 is a long time for a slow LF with limited range albeit a very good accurate arm.

Honestly though, I think this season will be Pat's high-water mark and Howard's worst until he's 34-35. I don't know where that leaves us when it comes to off-season signings though.

CJ: Right now none. I'd like to believe that players that have that kind of talent could adapt and learn a new skill set. Just like the ageing pitchers out there that can be effective at 40 years plus.

I don't know. 90% is extreme as is having him to do everytime he's up, but I'd be interested in seeing an attempt -- especially from Utley.

Not that this is dispositive of anything relative but the AL is batting .447 on bunts and the NL .350 this year. Of course, I'd think that's largely supported by the Juan Pierre's of the world. Boston is batting .694 on bunts this year.

that should be "anything relevant"

Like I said before guys, 90% was an exaggeration. I'd just like to see them try it once in a while. Maybe it would loosen up the shift a bit. Especially at a time when they're not hitting much.

mikes77: "Pat Burrell has been a one dimensional, underacheiver for over 5 years."

This statement is demonstrably false. PB's OPS+ for the past 5 years: 107, 128, 122, 127, 140.

Sophist: Wouldn't those bunting statistics be bolstered by the fact that many bunt attempts don't count against batters because they end up being sacrifice bunts?

game chat up

The Giants just beat the Marlins on a walk-off wild pitch. One recent development that I haven't seen mentioned much on BL is the play of the Marlins. It took longer than most of us expected, but they are really fading fast -- and, ironically, right at the time that they got their 2 injured starting pitchers back. They're certainly not completely out of it yet but, at 5 1/2 back, it's starting to look more and more like a 2-horse race.

If Ryan Howard were on another team and a free agent, everyone here would be crucifying the front office for not going after him. I can just imagine it: "We coulda had the league-leader in HR and RBI! I don't care what it costs, this team never goes after difference makers!"

But since we already have him -- he sucks.

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