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Thursday, August 21, 2008

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He sure looked in his element striking out 3 of 4 in the 9th inning.

See, Brett? Just pitch a CG SHO every time and you still CAN be a closer!

Weitzel, you look oddly like Jayson Werth. But don't worry not rookie anakin skywalker Jayson Werth, or fugged up (probably hung over)city hall celebration Jayson Werth.

A friend and I split a 17-game plan, and so far this year I've seen Myers five times. With me present: 4-1, 1.55 ERA
Without me present: 2-9, 5.78 ERA

Anyone wishing to sponsor my presence at more games is welcome to do so. :)

Score demoting Brett as a win for the FO and Charlie...they knew how best to challenge their red headed stepchild of a pitcher.

Damn his curve looked good last night...When he's on that curve is one of the best in all of baseball.

Hell Kiko...with that record we should send you on the road for his starts there too.

Adam Eaton in exile however does not look like it's going to have a happy ending.

Can someone here (someone who knows more about hitting than I do) explain why Ryan Howard continues to try hitting into the shift?

The shift is credited to Cleveland player/manager Lou Boudreau, but was actually used earlier than that against the A's Cy Williams. Here is what Ted said in an interview after he retired:

"That year (1957) I started hitting to left field a bit more and now they're opening up. I went to Chicago and I think I got 3 or 4 hits at least in the first game and then 3 or 4 hits the next day, and boy that shift was going out the window. Because I'd hit them all to left-center, through the box, shortstop, nobody there. So now they start opening up. Now the weather's getting hotter, June, July, and August. Now, I'm really starting to hit my own way and I had all kinds of room."

Williams hit .388 that year.

Howard is no Ted Williams I guess, but he did hit .313 in his rookie year. Is it because he can't do it? Because the team doesn't want him to? Or because he is to stubborn to adjust?

"whirling a nasty deuce"...wow. i'm currently sliding my lunch away from me, as any semblance of hunger has passed.

Before the game yesterday, Daily News Live asked Brad Lidge if he was thinking NL Cy Young. I haven't give Lights Out Lidge any consideration for this prior to that question, but he does deserve some votes if he keeps his mastery of the 9th inning rolling all season long. Webb will likely win the Cy Young, but it's nice that Lidge is making people talk.

Correction: Howard hit .288 in his rookie year (2005). He hit .313 the next year.

Jimmy Rollins chatted with reporters before last night's game to discuss his comment that Phillies fans were "front-runners." He was asked whether players on other teams ask about the fans.
"We've had a lot of things said about fans here," Rollins said of questions and comments by opposing players. "Most of them you can't repeat. That's their opinion. They get to come from the outside and look in. I think a lot of players, they ask knowing their free-agent year is coming up. They try to get a feel for how the fans are. I think they have a good idea of how the team is. They like the team. They enjoy the team.

"A lot of times, and I've actually heard it, they don't want to put their family and kids in a situation where they come to the field and these are the types of things their kids are going to have to sit through and listen to. That's just the truth. Those aren't my words. Those are words that I've actually heard."

As he had predicted, Rollins heard some boos before he led off the bottom of the first. Comcast SportsNet viewers could not hear the crowd's reaction because the station was playing a taped interview with Rollins at the time.

Ryan Howard's MVP season was one for the ages. I never expect him to bat near .313 again, but a .250ish average would be nice.

Eaton in exile seems like a happy ending to me...though Adam might disagree.

Two years ago I caught a Phils' game in Phoenix. There were four guys sitting behind me who were ragging the Phils; some really abusive stuff that ticked me off and all the fans around me. About the fourth inning I got it that they were from Philly when they started talking about Steve Jeltz. Who the hell else knows about Steve Jeltz?

So...abusive Phils' fans take their show on the road too.

"Eaton in exile seems like a happy ending to me." Great line, NEPP.

Every team has abusive fans, not just the Phils. Even the saints of St. Louis have fans that bad-mouth the club.

A tired subject, but I think you have to put Rollins words into perspective. How are the Yankees / Red Sox / Mets fans when a player slumps? He has never played for another MLB team, so what is his basis for comparison?

Eaton has done the Phillies and especially the fans a huge favor. Going down and absolutely imploding is the best thing that could happen. It means he won't be up here fouling things up. Even the FO writing those fat paychecks to him has to see that now. Of course, he'll get a look next year in spring training because they're still on the hook for next year. They hate to pay playeres not to play for them, but they sure seem to do it a lot.

Manual: That is old news, happened two days ago. We are over the whole Rollins thing, he shot at us amd we shot back by booing on Tuesday which we should have. Now we have to worry about winning the division.

NEPP- good analysis- agree wholeheartedly

rollins should keep being honest with reporters. he's a really smart guy.

Excited for tonight's game with Moyer taking the mound. Almost time to start scoreboard watching boys!

I wonder how often Ryno sits around the clubhouse and talks about how great baseball is in STL? I wonder how depressed he is by the fact that the greatest 1B of the last 30 years is playing in his hometown, is locked up long-term, and that STL isn't an AL team so there's no DH slot for him.

Moyer is my favorite Phillies pitcher to watch...honestly its a privilege to watch the man work.

Jimmy should have said some of that at a time when he hasn't been benched twice for not hustling and being late, or when the team wasn't in an embarrasing hitting slump, bc right now it comes as a cop out. Is Philly any different than Boston(before they became sissified by success) or New York? Players never seemed to have any qualms about taking the money there.

And why couldn't Adam Eaton have been concerned about his family?

NEPP: The greatest firstbasemen of the last 30 years? Aren't you forgetting someone? Wait for it.....Rico Brogna!! The man was a god.:)

Eaton's probably looking at the upside of his demotion in that he'll likely have all next summer off and still be getting paid $8 million...there are alot worse situations to be in.

okay, okay 2nd greatest 1B of hte last 30 years.

Honestly though when I said 30 years I thought about it and I can't think of another 1B I'd rather have on my team...He's probably the best 1B since Gehrig and his numbers compare favorably with the Iron Horse.

NEPP: 100% with you, I hope Moyer pitches again next yr then takes over in 2010 as pitching Coach.

Brian G: Yea but I can see it from here. He will get waived and go on to pitch like loshe.

NEPP: That's exactly what I was thinking about Eaton. It's probably unfair to try to read his mind, but he just seems like that type. He doesn't seem to have the pride most professional athletes have. I know I'm just speculating and that's probably not fair, but that is the way it looks. He never looks like he gives a damn. Another 3 inning start? Oh well...at least the paycheck will clear.

I can't wait for the Rollins/fans thing to finally die out. It's getting tiresome.

As has been stated numerous times, Philly fans are nothing but "passionate." That passion creates some tough times for players that aren't producing. But, just wait for that one fateful season when the Phils finally do bring home that WS trophy. That same passion will create memories that will last a lifetime for every player on that team. Don't forget, Red Sox fans were pretty doom and gloom before they finally won the damn thing a few years back, and look what's happened since. The boos are fewer and farther between (even for JD Drew when he was sucking up the joint). The "grace period" is in effect.

Lesson to be learned for Jimmy and the team - win the WS if you don't want to hear the boos. That simple.

Absolutely no arguments on Pujols. We talked about it before. He will go down as one of the 5 best righthanded hitters of all time, IMO. The next ten years or so will determine just where he lands on that list, assuming he doesn't get hurt.

"Almost time to start scoreboard watching boys!"

You mean I wasn't supposed to be before now? Crap! My wife is long sick and tired of me flipping over to the Mets games after the Phils games are over.

According to BR: Right now, Pujols most comparable player is Joe DiMaggio (he played for the NYY a while ago...didn't amount to much)...#2 and #3 are Jimmie Foxx and Frank Robinson...pretty good company for him. If you look at his stats and Gehrig's stats though...they are almost identical except for RBIs (Gehrig was in a more prolific lineup to say the least)

Willard: A good Mets loss can always be cheered but nothing to have a carinary over if they win. IMO End of August beginning of Sept. is when the heat goes up in the kitchen so to speak.

By the way it is Hampton against Pedro tonight which means a 13-10 game. Maybe 20-15 game if the mets bullpen implodes again.

On the shift:

There are two sides to the Ted Williams shift story. Apparently, he struggled when he tried hitting the other way, then succeeded when he went back to just hitting into the shift. I think the idea is: "hit it harder". The shift isn't only defensive, its also psychological. When you can force a slugger like Ryan Howard to make adjustments and change his approach, he's less likely to hurt you with the long ball. I think the Phillies are better off getting runners on base than messing with Howard's head. He already seems way too "busy" in the batters box.

As much as Rollins has struggled with the bat and spent way too much effort on media self promotion- I am still in awe of that DP last night.
Watching on TV i was surprised they got an out much less a DP- credit Utley on a great pivot and throw.
Our maligned SS has kept up his defense in a big way.

baxter: Right... Howard already hits the ball the other way, and many of those go out of the ball park. What we don't want Howard to do is try to spray the ball the other way to pick up singles and raise his BA. His power and BA will likely end up going down because he won't be hitting the ball as hard overall.

Remaining Schedules:
Mets:
1 vs Atlanta
4 vs. Houston
2 @ Phillies
3 @ Florida
3 @ Milwaukee
3 vs Phillies
2 vs Washington
3 vs Atlanta
4 @ Washington
3 @ Atlanta
4 vs. Cubbies
3 vs Florida


Phightins
1 vs Washington
4 vs Dodgers
2 vs Mets
4 @ Cubbies
3 @ Washington
3 @ Mets
3 vs Florida
4 vs Milwaukee
3 @ Atlanta
3 @ Florida
3 vs Atlanta
3 vs Washington

Gotta say I like our schedule better with the road teams we go to. I rather go to Wrigley than to Milwaukee this time of year. Also rather be playing Atlanta and Washington final 6 rather than cubbies for 4, ouch!

Also worth noting we have 2 off days the finals 2 weeks, where the mets have 0. They have their off days in the beginning of September

Howard used to hit a good portion of his HRs to the opposite field...that was supposedly his strength as a hitter...last year he suddenly decided it was more fun to try and smash a square peg into a round hole repeatedly.

That is totally unfair and sorta ignorant. Bill James showed that essentially all young power hitters hit more opposite field HRs in their first few seasons. Howard still hits as many opposite field home runs as anyone in history, its just that in 2006, he hit MORE opposite field home runs than anyone in baseball history.

According to HitTracker, Howard's hit 19 of his 33 HR to the left side of the park this year.

He hit 19 of 47 to the left side last year.

32 of his 58 in 06 were to the left side.

http://www.hittrackeronline.com/detail.php?id=2008_122&type=hitter

That's

08: 57%
07: 40%
06: 55%

Yeah...I own that book (Bill James Goldmine) too Baxter. The difference is he could hit his way out of the shift but he doesn't. This is a guy who has hit over .300 and in the high 200s but is now barely putting up a .230's average. He's easily the most productive .230's hitter in history but there is still something wrong with his approach.

I know Howard hasn't hit many out lately, but honestly I don't remember the last one he hit to dead right field. I don't know why he tries to pull the ball at all. I don't have any stats to back me up but it seems like most have gone to center or left of center. A few to right center and almost none dead right. Am I off base here?

~tips cap to Sophist~

Good statistics as always...what the hell is wrong then? Other than he simply can't hit lefties this year for some reason.

Should have known Sophist would have the numbers. Didn't know he could read minds though.

I honestly think that Howard is just having an off year (like Burrell in 03). I can see him coming back next season and having a monster year. Because of that I'd still want to lock him up long-term...especailly now while his value is somewhat down.

I defined opposite field as anything between dead left and 1 degree left from center.

It was only the Nationals but I think other clubs may have had trouble with Myers last night too.
I never thought I'd see that sweet nasty curveball again. Sure was pretty.

Looking at those remaining schedules, I can't help but think that 4 game sweep at LA is going to come back to bite the Phils.

That's something I hadn't really thought of before in regards to Howard. Do you think it's possible to "buy low" on a long term contract coming off an off-year. Because if we could lock him up long term at something not astronomical, it would certainly be a great idea.

I like the Mets schedule a whole lot more. Both teams play a ton of Atlanta and the Nats, but the Phillies get LA instead of Houston, and the Mets may be facing the Cubs when they already have the division locked up.
So bottom line.. we need to hand it to the Mets when we play them heads up. I'd pitch Hamels Friday so he sees them twice. Of course, it doesn't really matter unless Rollins/Utley/Howard start hitting.

The real story of the Phillies the last two months is that despite a horribly ineffective and inconsistent offense, the pitching staff has been great (save a few bad performances which are inevitable). Hamels, Myers, Moyer, Kendrick, Blanton should be more than enough to get us to the postseason as long as the offense improves even just marginally. And it sure is nice to have Brad Lidge closing things out!

Myers pitched a well deserved complete game last night, but I'm still beaming over the reintroduction of the sacfly from Tuesday's win.

By the way, I Facebook friended Dave Murphy (DN Phils beat writer) last night in a drunken stupor and he accepted. So, if anyone has anything important to ask him, I can give him a wall post or maybe a bumper sticker. Or challenge him to online Scrabble.

I'd have to say, as a Mets fan, I like our schedule - at least the timing of when we play the Cubs again. At that point, they should well have clinched, so guys should be resting. (Or so I keep telling myself.)

I was at Wrigley when the Mets were there in April, and they just rolled us.

Houston has been playing pretty well lately. 22-12 in their last 34 games including a 3 game sweep of the Mets.

I remember in Howard's first full season after he had won ROTY thinking if this guy ever learns to hit lefties the rest of baseball is gonna quake in fear of this guy. About a month or two into the season he started to pound lefties and that magical season was the result. Also, if you remember, some time late in August the rest of the league realized they just couldn't handle him. At that point he was lucky to see one good pitch a game. So he showed remarkable maturity and walke 2 or 3 times a game and still was able to keep hitting homeruns. At least enough of them to end up with 58 of them. That September was insane. For whatever reason, that Ryan Howard has been MIA since then. I know the shift is part of it, but homeruns foil the shift every time. I don't care how good you are, you have to hit the ball where it's pitched. If they bust you inside big guy, feel free to turn on the pitch. When a pitch is away, slap it the other way. You're the only guy that can slap a ball 400 feet. Use that to your advantage like you used to.

vegas - boy are you into sacflys! I can almost imagine you at the game greeting those long right field fly balls as though they were walk off home runs!

seriously, not trying to yank your chain, I love well executed small ball too.

Vegas: I posted something similar after Tuesday's win. Even a few more sac fly's this season could have the Phil's in the catbird seat. And yes I know other teams could say that as well, but I have to believe we are way down on the list of sacrifices.

For the Phils to win the division, they are going to have to win at least 3 of 5 against the Mets. Otherwise, I just don't see them being able to make up the difference elsewhere in their schedule.

JW - Your reputation as a prominent blogger continues to grow. When are you going to set up the inevitable "Beerleaguer" merchandise site with autographed items by the man himself?

I remember Mets fans counting heavily on their easy schedule last season as well.

Can't use my tickets for Sunday night. 2 Seats in section 109, row 10. Face.

marc.reed@alliancebernstein.com

I don't think Howard's failure with the shift is the cause of trying to pull the ball more than usual.

When howard beat the shift, it was always about pitch selection. A few times in the last few nights posters have noted Howard letting fat strikes go and swinging at pitches out of the strikezone. When he connects on those pitches you are getting the weak grounders into the shift. (Even if he went the other way on those pitches, they would still be weak grounders, maybe they would "beat the shift" maybe not. Either way, these aren't the pitches he should be swinging at.)

The way you beat the shift is spraying linedrives. If he's hitting linedrives that means he's swinging at the right pitches.

get'm on, get'm over, get'm in. The all or nothing offense hasn't worked consistently for 10 weeks. I'd like to see some "back to the basics" type play. I'm afraid Charlie teaches swing for the fence every at bat.

Speaking of hitting against the shift, how about Uts going the other way twice last night...one was even a 2 bagger.

Can anyone else imagine Cholly at the front of a classroom teaching? I always saw him as a better example of a drunk school bus driver (had one of those by the way in high school).

@East - it was more a matter of preference of schedule, not counting on it for anything.

@ MVP

4 vs. Houston
2 @ Phillies
3 @ Florida
3 @ Milwaukee
3 vs Phillies


that'll make or break the mets.... they were swept by Houston last time... I think its then that thier bullpen will kill them. And yes they may be able to beat up on the Nats, Pirates, and Braves all fielding minor league teams but its in the above games that a lack of bullpen comes back to kill you. Advantage Phils!

Remember Delgado saying last year that his Mets got bored playing losing teams?

Maybe they'll find their schedule to be the same this year.

Baxter: Agreed, "He already seems way too "busy" in the batters box." But it looks like he has to do one or both of two things in order to improve: make contact more often or go against the shift. It'd be nice if he could do both.

NEPP: I hope you are right about "just having an off year" I'd hate to see him morph into Dave Kingman.

Is it just me that is tired of watching him hit line drives right at the short-fielder?

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? Push a couple of bunts down the third base line and we'll see how long that shift lasts. BTW, bunting for base hits isn't a bad way to get yourself out of a slump either.

Here is a solution to how Ryno could throw off the shift... switch hit... come up and hit right handed everyone would scratch thier heads me included and then smack a double down the LF line! Everybody hits wooo hooo!

Just finished reading coste's book while watching the game last night... in the last few pages he mentions catching for Myers who had "established himself as the Phils ace" a couple of years ago... as soon as i read this, i looked up, and watched Myers strike out his ninth to end the game... i got a warm fuzzy feeling knowing he's back

donc: I love the idea of bunting with the shift on, make it work for you. (Utley slapped a nice one down third last night) When is the last time anyone can remember a hit a run play?

I've been using the "buy-low" argument on Howard all year. The only reason trading him ever came up was because of his astronomical contract demands. Now that his trade value and (probably) contract demands have dropped, I don't get the reasoning behind trading him. Now is the time to lock him up long-term. I really think once everyone gets behind Howard, he'll erupt.

Metsblog tells us that the Sunday game at Shea has been switched to an ESPN game.

We seem to be the Sunday night game every week these days.

not sure if it has been said, but Ross has officially signed with the Red Sox.

Vegas: I posted this a few weeks ago about this same topic. In the late 70's I was at a game against the Reds. The Reds employed the shift against Richie Hebner who was a notorious pull hitter. Pete Rose was the only fielder on the left side of the infield. The first three times up Hebner bunted down the third base line for base hits. Bye bye shift. Pete Rose had steam coming out of his ears. Utley has got to be able to do that. He just has to. It's practically an intentional walk for crying out loud. And I wouldn't mind seeing Howard do it every so often too. Especially leading off an inning when trailing by a few runs. At least make the other team think about it some. Baseball is a game of adjustments. That is the definition of an adjustment. I'll bet many think it's stupid, but I don't think there are too many guys as into small ball as we are. Oh yeah and one added benefit of this strategy; it makes the other team look stupid if you do it repeatedly.

I doubt Howard's contract demands have dropped. I think he values himself way to highly for that.

I would think Howard's annual trip to the arbitration table will be very interesting this year. Not often a guy can lead the league (potentially) in homeruns and rbi's and have a lousy year. I wouldn't want to be that arbitrator.

I like Sarge but he should just be called "Captain Obvious" but I still prefer him over Tom McCarthy. McCarthy is the bar none the worst guy the Phils have had in the booth since Andy Musser.

If the Phils do one thing this offseason, I hope it is that they fire McCarthy. However, I doubt the chances of this (like them buying out Eaton this offseason) are slim to none.

EF: That's good, cause if I'm looking at this correctly, Hamels is slated to pitch that Sunday, meaning he won't have to pitch during the day.

donc - I'm interested to see the Phillies' approach to arbitration this year (assuming they don't sign him to a long-term deal). Where would you start to argue against $10-$12M a year? His production v. lefties and defense would be a logical start. SOs are so last season.

The only way the mets-cubs series doesn't matter is if the mets have a 7 game elad by that time. And somehow I do not think that will be the case.

Phils need to win tonight, take 3 of 4 against the dodgers, then I will take a split against the mets at the very least. At that point we will see how we stand going into the mets hardest part of the schedule to begin sept.

The fact that 19 of Howard's homers have been to left field this year should tell him that he needs to be looking to drive those pitches on the outer half the other way more often. He isn't. I commented on his one poor AB which resulted in yet another strikeout last night, but equally disconcerting was an AB where he rolled over an outside fastball and schlubbed a weak grounder to second. When's the last time he even hit a ball hard straightaway? Using the whole field doesn't just make Howard a higher-average hitter, it makes him a more effective power hitter.

PB: No doubt the big guy is giving them lots of ammo if it gets nasty. Baxter's point is a good one. If this poor season represents a buying opportunity then it should be explored. Otherwise they'll just slug it out at the table. You wonder if you couldn't win the battle but lose the war in that scenario. In other words win in arbitration but further damage Howard's psyche/attitude. I often wonder if that hasn't happened already.

DonC: Agreed. If he goes to arbitration he is going to get 15 million for next yr. So why not just throw a 5 yr/67 million dollar deal his way and call it a day. That will bring him to 32-33 then he goes to the AL.

donc - I sure hope the Phillies entertain the idea. Float an offer by his agent, see if he bites. But in all honesty, I see Howard leaving town. To me, the Rollins comments were more tell about how Howard feels about playing in Philly than Rollins.

The problem with the "buy low long term contract" with Howard is that we don't know if this is as bad as it gets. You have a gut feeling he'll get better one day, but no hard proof to put money on. A couple years ago, if I said he would sink so low so fast you would have thought I was on the pipe. Who wants to put 10 million on where he'll be in 2011?

mvp: My original point though is; will he actually get 15 mill in arbitration? I'm not so sure. I think that arbitrator will have his hands full. How do you give a guy a 50% pay raise when he has a worse year than last year? It's gonna be really interesting. And as far as the trade him/keep him controversy, I want him here for good. If Brett Myers can come back seeminly from the dead, I have no doubt that Howard can bounce back in a big way from his current difficulties. They're just a blip compared to Myers problems IMO.

10 million=no problem. The question is whether he's worth 18-20 mil a year.

PB: But he can't leave town until 2010. So if he doesn't sign a deal and goes on year by year arbitration until 2010 if he stinks next yr or the year after then he won't get anything.

as far as "where he'll be in 2011", i think its fairly safe to say he'll be leading the league in HRs, RBIs and strikeouts.

It's the Cubs that are going to be 7 up when they play the Mets.

Baxter : You forgot to include misplays at 1st base

mvptommyd - that's the risk you take with arbitration, which Howard and his agent are obviously comfortable with. The sides are so far apart, I just can't see this ending amicably - with Howard in Philly long term.

Squatter: A long term deal is always pure speculation. Nothing more. Nothing less. There is always risk. The Phillies are trying to minimize that risk by going year by year with him. It is the cautious approach they usually take. Only time will tell if it works. Howard's case is unique considering the peaks and valleys in his short career. The only thing that seems certain is that he won't duplicate his mvp season any time soon.

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