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Thursday, March 26, 2009


I'd like to see Werth hitting behind Howard rather than Ibanez. It's not because of the right-left thing. I just think Werth is a good hitter and I'd like to see what he can do in the middle of the lineup.

I absolutely HATE this L/L/L thing we've got going...its gonna kill us in the regular season.

JW, I couldn't agree more. When Howard is on his game, it doesn't matter who is hitting behind him. Sadly, the same is true when he's off.

JR, I would add that Werth may also hit for more power than Ibanez this season.

Ibanez has not hit for much power in ST. I hope it's not the start of a trend.

:::repost about Phils having possible 60% LHP rotation:::

Using Career OPS against:

Hamels vs RHB: .671
Hamels vs LHB: .742

Moyer vs RHB: .737
Moyer vs LHB: .767

I don't think handedness really hurts Moyer or Hamels at all. One theory i will throw out there is that most lesser LHB are benched vs lefties, so the reason the numbers look opposite is because they are pitching to only the more elite LHB.

But regardless, Hamels dominates all beings and Moyer's "stuff" is pretty much the same no matter what side of the plate you stand on. So I dont think it matters whether our 5th starter is a righty or lefty.

Xclent use of the word "malarky" ;)

Werth will definitely hit for more power than Ibanez this year...he did that last year in less ABs.


Werth - .498, 24 HR in 418 AB
Ibanez - .479, 23 HR in 635 AB

Overall, Werth is the better hitter to begin with.

Howard's problem is that he goes into every at bat with the mentality, "Oh I need to bash this ball into Ashburn Alley." Pitchers obviously do pitch around him, which can be seen with all the offspeed low and away he sees, but the main issue is that hot or cold Howard swings at this. Now maybe I'm wrong about his approach at the plate, but then it becomes and issue that he can't recognize offspeed out of a pitchers hand. What does everyone else think?

"According to research done by the Hardball Times, if a pitcher is trying to avoid pitching to a hitter, the hitter is significantly more likely to draw a walk, but is also moderately more likely to strike out"

research was needed to figure this out? I mean I'm as pissed as the next guy about no-flying cars, but c'mon baseball scientists...

I'm trying to keep an open mind on Ibanez, but I was always a Burrell fan and Pat is having a great ST last I looked.
Hope Raul plays well and makes converts of myself and I suspect a bunch of others.

Furious: Yeah, I suppose that isn't a groundbreaking finding!

The other problem is he tries to beat the shift too much.

1)The best protection for Howard is if he takes plate discipline more seriously - especially laying off the outside slop early in the season.

2) I've begun to be less troubled by the number of left-handed bats in our line-up. There have been lots of line-ups built on RH hitters which have done well. (I think of the Phils' line-up from the late '70s and early '80s, for instance.) And since we face more righties than lefties, that ought to be, more normally, a strength rather than a weakness.

3) The Cherry Flavoraid™ is much better tasting than the Lime.

JW, glad you brought up the shift. I believe, and hopefully someone can put up the numbers, but the best protection for Howard appears to be getting people on base infront of him.

like I've posted a couple times (I think), Howard's OBP drop in 2008 was really due to a huge decline in intentional walks:

2006: 704 PA / 37 IBB / 71 UIBB
2007: 648 PA / 35 IBB / 72 UIBB
2008: 700 PA / 17 IBB / 64 UIBB

you can see his unintentional walk rate is relatively consistent. (baseball-reference doesn't have pitch data for 2008, so I'm not sure how patient he was at the plate in terms of P/PA last year.)

I'm hopeful that the PtB corallary is in play here and that Howard learns some significant plate discipline as he progresses in his career. As Andy states above, plate discipline is the only "protection" that the big guy requires. Scouting reports need to change.

Everyone seems to miss the main problem with Howard. Pitchers pitch him outside when he's hot or cold, that's what is the time-tested approach to lefty power bats. When Ryan decides he wants to pull all that outside junk, he still can be around a 40 HR guy, but he's a .230 hitter too. When he takes it the other way, he can be a 50 + HR guy, and hit for a much higher average.

Ryan can't hit anything on the ground to the right of second base for a hit. The shift makes it wicked difficult. Nonetheless I'm confused how a man can hit so many opposite field homeruns but can't adjust to hit ground balls that way too.

Burrell and Howard appear to suffer from the same malady - a complete nonrecognition of the pitching strategy against them. If everyone in the park knows that Howard is getting a two strike outside offspeed pitch why doesn't he? I'm praying his over anxiousness is due to that feeling that he does in fact need to bash everything into ashburn alley. maybe now that he has his payday he'll get back to the patient approach he had in 2006. Assuming of course that 2006 wasn't due to the pitchers belief that they could get him out with outside fastballs...

Jimmy Rollins, the only American player to be named to the WBC's All-Tournament Team.

"Shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who went 4-for-4 in Team USA's 9-4 loss to Japan in the semifinals, was the only American to make the team. In all, Rollins batted .417 with a home run and four RBIs, and he tied for the tournament lead in stolen bases, with four."

I don't know how to embed links. Sorry.

When I watch Howard with two strikes, I'm fearing the high inside fastball just as much as the outside low offspeed. I've seen him get tied up high and inside plenty of times.

Pitchers are much more comfortable with going low and outside i'd assume, so when he adjusts to that pitch, they probably plan to go high and inside...and thats when mistakes end up in Ashburn Alley

Howard's prbolem has been touched on by many above; you are all correct. My question is why can't we get Hamel and Moyer to pitch to him ad nauseum to teach him to recognise the pitches so he can survive longer at the plate--becuase the data on Howard is that whenhe meets the ball he does whack it. Also why can't he be motivated enough to study the pitchers (Ortiz does) before he steps into the plate. Schilling became a good pitcher only after he made a science of studying the batters.
A real pro should appreciate what Shilling and others like him have done to get to that higher level of execution.

The problem some pitchers have by going high and inside is that they sometimes leave that pitch out over the plate and it ends up in the stratosphere...going low and away is usually easier for them.

I wonder what Howard's work ethic with studying pitchers, watching his previous ABs, and time in the cage is. I would guess its not THAT great. I do, however, get the sense he has recommitted himself this offseason/ST.

Furious: Who said anything about no flying cars...One just flew for the first time at the beginning of this month. See link below for the video

NEPP: Werth had a very nice year in 2008, but to appoint him as a 'better hitter' than Ibanez may be a bit premature.

Werth does seem to have more longball power than Ibanez, which should be expected when comparing a 30yr old vs a 37yr old, but Ibanez has been a model of consistency for the past 5 seasons. .290/.355/.475 is basically what he brings to the table 600ABs a year. Werth just had his first taste of 400+ ABs last year, and put up the same type of numbers.

I would keep Werth and Ibanez rotating between the 5 and 6 spots, with more RHP keeping Ibanez in the 5 the majority of the time.

AWH, Andy, and all-

It's getting a bit scary around here. I had forgotten that it would be dangerous to living things if I stayed up all night (I had to work today- in a frontline health care field), but I will be driving baggers to sites this afternoon.

Many folks have moved their pets, including us- if the dike goes, you can't go back and get them- and folks with small children are going ahead and leaving. The worrisome thing is that the river is expected to go to 41 feet and STAY THERE for 48 hours or so. That will be a test. Second line dikes are being made behind the primary ones.

A coworker reports that they are planning to work on shoring up the dikes in my neighborhood today. That's good because one of the temporary dirt ones is looking kinda boggy. We are fortunate to have a wonderful mayor who was something of a hero last time (1997), so if things fall apart it won't be due to stupidity or lack of effort.

Thanks again for your prayers and concern. I am touched.

The mention of Eaton on the last thread made me (well, gag, first, but then) wonder if it's too late to get any salary offsets for what he's owed from the T.A.R.P.

Ryan Howard's season-by-season batting averages on (non homerun) balls in play:

2005 .358
2006 .363
2007 .336
2008 .289

You can blame the shift for the drop-off after 2007. But if he hit .336 against the shift in 2007, there's no reason he shouldn't have hit around the same in 2008. So what's the deal? Bad luck in 2008? Good luck in 2007? A little of both? Or is the shift getting inside his head and increasingly screwing up his swing as he tries to beat it?

The answers to these questions will determine what Howard's 2009 numbers look like. For all the talk about his obscene strikeout totals, those strikeouts have been a constant throughout his career. Howard will succeed or fail based on what happens in the 400 or so PAs in which he DOESN'T strike out. Had he hit for the same BAPIP last year as in 2007, he would have had 17 more hits, resulting in a .279 average for the season.

I think Werth should always be after Howard and Ibanez after Werth, because even against righties, Werth has pretty much the same OBP numbers. Well at least in 2008 he did. That way they will still be covered for the guaranteed crappy lefty reliever in the 7th inning.

But I can see the argument for Howard-Ibanez against RH starting pitchers.

Wes Helms had this to say in today's Inky comparing Hanley Ramirez to JRoll:

""The thing that Hanley has that Jimmy doesn't, Hanley has more power," Helms said earlier this spring before an exhibition game at Roger Dean Stadium. "I think fieldingwise, baserunning, stuff like that, they're pretty much in the same category. But when it comes to power, that's where Hanley separates himself."

Ummm, am I missing something, or is Ol' Wes just plugging his own teammate's fielding ability.

I don't know what games he watches, but IMHO, when I watch those two play in the field it's not even close.

Phaithful: Thanks for the research on platoon splits I was too lazy to do. Here's another question I"m too lazy (actually, too busy at work) to look up -- is the success Hamels and Moyer have against LH batters unusual?

On Howard, the two-strike pitch I most fear is the curve ball just off the inside corner. I don't recall him ever hitting it.

phargo - Thanks for the update. Hang in there. You've been in my thoughts all morning.

ae - B-Ref does indeed list P/PA but you have to "turn it on." Howard's actually went up last year 4.06 in 2007, 4.19 in 2008. I guess it means they're throwing even more bad pitches to him.

PHIinBK - It's a matter of mechanics. On outside pitches, the bat tends to strike the ball later, meaning his wrists are farther along in turning over. It means that the bat head tends to be below the middle of the ball as it "travels through it." (It doesn't really travel through it, but it travels through the path of the ball below the middle.) IOW - he "gets under" those outside pitches - but is strong enough to crunch them. (Feliz does this, too, but only pops them up.)

On inside pitches which are pulled, the bat head strikes ther ball earlier and so travels over the mid-point of the ball's path (what those announcers mean when they say, "get on top of it").

I hope that was confusing enough.

Helms is plugging something all right.

Hanley made some huge strides in the field in 08 (from ridiculously embarrassing to above average with the glove) but he's not at the level of Jimmy.

He doesn't need anyone else to get his own thing groovin'. A little more discipline or rather, dedication to owning the plate would clear him of his major K rate.

He's still gonna strike out in bunches but if he makes the pitcher work a little more for that outside corner, it'd do wonders for his OBP. not to mention his next MVP trophy.

Alby, does it depend if that curveball is from a LH or RH pitcher?

In the final week of the 2007 season, when the Phils were matched against Atlanta and we were all worried, I remember Howard breaking open a game in the 1st inning by turning and crushing an inside breaking pitch against Smoltz.

It looked like a curve, and he just killed it.

Did anybody else see Mike Marshall, a PhD in Kinesiology on ESPN/MLB today talk about how to prevent injuries to a pitcher's arm? It appeared to be the best advice I have seen on the problem.

The credentials of the man's career and his stats ought to have baseball people, especially pitching coaches interested in what he has to say. He predicts that Tim Lincecum is on the way to wrecking his arm with the way he winds up and delivers the ball.

Considering that Cole Hamels is treading fairly close to Lincecum's vis a vis innings pitched recently, having the Phillies listen to Marshall ought to be a given.;_ylt=AnmIPtC.VgCEfnZK_rdaNYsRvLYF?slug=jp-marshall051007&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

MLB.TV headine: "Yanks face Champs"

Not to be overly critical, but does anyone else think that Zolecki's replacement on (Andy Martino) is pretty much worthless so far. His blog entries are weak to say the least. He IS traveling with the team, isn't he???

Nepp- Agreed but the return of the ZO Zone more than compensates for's loss.

Some really good comments. The playbook on how to handle Howard is out:

- Extreme switch in the INF (even move the LF and CF a bit left)
- Don't IBB. Go after him late in games especially if you have a lefty with decent control on the mound/in the bullpen

Doesn't mean that Howard still isn't a dangerous threat because of his power but he is clearly easier to deal with than 2 years ago.

In fact, Utley was IBB last year 14 times (up from just 1 IBB in '07) while Howard dropped to just 17 IBB. This basically tells you that a bunch of opposing teams walked Utley to go after Howard.

The thing I am most interested in this year is how Howard does late in games. His numbers here last year were horrendous.

In 7-9 innings last year, he had a split of .263/.316/.580 in 177 ABs. He hit a miserly .141.

In his 209 PA in innings from 7-9:

- 37% of the time he K
- 17% of the time he BB or IBB
- 4% of the time he hit a HR

So Howard struck out, walked, or hit a HR in just about 60% of his PA appearances late in games. This is really high and it is pretty fair to say that Howard didn't vary that much from one of these 3.

I look for more IBB to Utley and less to Howard especially if Ibanez is hitting behind him. I do hope Howard improves late because your cleanup hitter shouldn't be a liability offensively late in games.

Yo, new thread

Dr. Mike Marshall is the real deal. Unfortunately, much of his very sound advice about pitching mechanics has fallen on deaf ears. His advice is contrary to what most pitchers in the pros have been taught since little league.

To take advantage of the Marshall mechanics, most pitchers would have to take a whole bunch of steps backwards and effectively have to learn how to pitch all over again from Step One. It has been estimated that the process would move professional pitchers back about one season. I don't remember the names of the current pros who were injured and adapted the Marshall method but those I have read about have endorsed Mike Marshall and his message.

Dr. Marshall has a number of videos he makes available to amateur teams and he has an active lecture schedule. He is one experienced professional athklete and educator who more coaches should be listening to - especially at the developmental levels like little league, teener league, American Legion, high school and college. Unfortunately, too many coaches at these levels think they know everything and are resistant to changing anything from the way they were taught. I've seen a number of egocentric college coaches cut outstanding players because they didn't hit like most players are taught to hit in Legion ball.

Unfortunately, much of organized baseball has become an old boys' club and too many amateur coaches never learn how to think outside the box. If Yogi Berra were playing ball today, there are many college coaches who would cut him because of his unorthodox style.

sh$# - Vic just strained his hammy.

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