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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Comments

JW: Phlipper has informed me that Howard is above all criticism because he has one of the highest RBI/AB ratios in history. So I will not comment on this matter.

JW - Gaston had to be thinking with Romero on the mound yesterday and of all the lefties in the pen that he didn't have to worry about Howard.

Howard is a very good offensive player with some of the best raw power in the game today but an MVP-type offensive player shouldn't be largely reduced to a non-factor in a game with a lefty on the mound and 2 lefties in the pen.

I used to give some credence to complaints about Howard's numbers against LH pitchers, but no longer.

At this point, these type of arguments seem like those people who used to complain (or otherwise challenge the legitimacy of his dominance) about Michael Jordan taking so many shots, and his field goal percentage.

Ryan Howard is the Shaq to the Phillies Kobe (Utley). Utley is a much better baseball player overall, but Howard is a colossal force, without which, the entire team is different and probably worse.

The fact that Howard sometimes (maybe more than some would prefer) struggles against lefties is largely irrelevant. It is like complaining that a great player is not the greatest of all time. If Ryan Howard hit LH pitching better, the discussion would be whether or not he is the greatest offensive player in the history of the game (an argument that, even in his current LH struggles, is not totally ridiculous).

Howard is expected to hit HR's and get RBI's in bunches. Someone please notify me when, at the end of a season, he has not done his job. In the past three years he has done that job better than any single player in the game and at a rate that ranks among the best if all time.

But...........he is struggling against LH. So freaking what?!!

People need to stop looking at baseball on a game by game basis, if you do that you will go crazy. At the end of the year let me know if Howard doesn't hit 40-50 HR 120 RBI.

lace: Game by game basis? Howard has looked foolish against lefties for two years at least ...

The most sacred Cholly rule is that Howard always bats 4th all of the time. It didn't change when he spent months flirting with the Mendoza line last year, so it isn't about to change now, when he's taking down a huge chunk of the payroll for years to come. So you might as well consider whether the moon is made of green cheese.

IOP: Amen, brother. This discussion makes my head hurt. So long as Howard is driving in 135-140 runs per year, I could give a flying *bleep* at a rolling doughnut whether he's doing it against RH or LH pitching. Charlie needs to do his job & mix up the order a little. Otherwise, esp. considering all of the other problems the Phillies have, this is a non-issue.

As a huge Howard fan/supporter/believer, I still get sick to my stomach after some of his at bats vs lefties(sometimes poor LHP at that).

It is beyond aggrivating, but I advise everyone to stay patient and deal with his struggles for now, because I think he will heat up by time the season is over. When Howard gets hot, the handedness of the pitcher will have no impact on his tear through the league.

I have generally been on the side expressed by IOP and lace for the last few years with Howard. You have to put up with the struggles and, hopefully, he develops a better eye, a better approach and gets better production against lefties. I must admit, though, watching him last night I started to wonder whether he'll ever improve in that situation. .195/. 611 OPS ain't good enough.

I always find the RBI/AB ratios and such to be a bit disingenuous. Even knowing the problems of comparing nominal numbers across eras, you're basically comparing Howard's peak years to everyone else's career. Not to mention the problems inherent in RBIs in the first place.

That said, lefties, especially tough ones, come along infrequently. What would it hurt sitting him for the ever-elusive righty bench bat? And now that Chris Coste is free from his backup duties ... oh wait.

"Ryan Howard is the Shaq to the Phillies Kobe (Utley)."

Baseball isn't really analogous to basketball, but to be fair to Shaq, he was a truly dominant force--better than Kobe during that particular period in time.

If there is some kind of baseball analogue to Shaq, it isn't Howard. Pujols maybe...

anyone know how to do double splits?!

Howard vs LHP, in Sept?

MLB.com has double splits but i cant get it to do anything but 2009.

Well that was a bit awkwardly worded. Howard will always drive in his share of runs, especially with guys like Utley, Werth, Abreu, and Burrell hitting, at various times, in front of him. That doesn't mean he should be treated as some sort of sacred cow.

Ahhhhhh right. This seems familiar. Weitzel blows his little whistle and here come the Howard haters out of the woodwork. A bunch of degenerates looking for a scrap of dinner from daddy's plate. "OH DADDY WEITZEL PLEASE LEGITIMIZE MY HOWARD BASHING! PLEASE DADDY!" Pathetic if you ask me. Come on Bro's.

The Shaq analogy works on a different level: the free throw and his hovering around the 50% mark. Still, Shaq was an athletic force in his prime. Arguably, one of the top 10 or 20 players of the game even though his free throw percentage was disturbingly awful.

Different thread here: I'm just watching "The Pen" - seems clear that Charlie wasn't in favor of Taschner for the very problem of control he's been exhibiting. I wonder if Charlie would have selected Majewski instead. Doesn't matter now, but it shows why we haven't seen Taschner overly much. Interesting show!

Jason has officially joined the list of "Howard Haters."

Pauper Zeez: Your title is apt. You are and always will be nothing but a pauper. There's a reason you ain't the King.

I agree with thephaithful. As a huge Howard supporter I know that when Howard gets hot it won't matter the handedness of a pitcher. That being said, I'd be all for sitting him against a tough lefty when he isn't hot. Mayberry might not be a bad option.

There is no doubt that Howard's performance vs. lefties is a concern. None at all.

But, come on folks, reasonable people can disagree about the importance of this fact without childish name-calling.

I'm of the opinion that Ryan Howard should never miss an at bat. Period. I can accept that people disagree. I just believe they're wrong.

Oh no, I come back from lunch for this! Please tell me your joking Jason. 2 Threads today. One saying Ibanez is going cold and another complaining that Howard can't hit lefties.

Gimme a friggin' Break!!!!

Howard will have 40-50 HR's and 130 RBI's this year. Please, please can we talk about something that actually is wrong with this team please. I am begging now.

CJ: Now on this we agree.

MVP: The Internet is a big place. You are free to start your own blog, in which you are in charge of topic selection.

Jack: Hey Boio I can copy and paste from baseballreference.com too, it doesn't take a degree. Fact is you don't have the balls to be (BL ELITE). You're a small fry in a big boy world. You were the last kid picked in dodge ball, your mother had to chew food and spit it into your mouth because you were so weak, the doctor delivering you thought you were a girl, you got hairy muff nuts. I mean jeez bro lets be real.

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.

Someone behind me at the game last night, noting how far to short Rolen was playing during Howard's AB, suggested Howard oughtta drop a bunt down the 3rd base line. I realize that's not what he gets paid for, but I like the idea!

BAP: Well from the first 15-20 comments on this thread, I think it is pretty clear that mostly everything thinks this is a non-issue.

I should get a whistle. My next post will order Beerleaguers to stain my deck.

You quoted Hamlet on Beerleaguer (voice). And yet you're still the dumbest person on here.

I'm sorry you feel rejected from the BL Elite. I don't know what happened early in your life to make you feel so bitter towards those in power. But you disgust me. Normally I would try and help a lowly peasant trying to climb to the top of the internet blog posting world. But for you I will do nothing of the sort.

"Will no one rid me of this meddlesome Zeez"?

The Shaq comparison, although absurd, does work in some ways. Both are massively flawed and often criticized, but their production speaks for itself. Pujols is closer to Tim Duncan; great all around and better than Shaq anyway.

I'm curious...

Is there anyone here who disagrees with Jason's premise that Howard struggles mightily against lefties?

I would imagine there are just differences of opinion on the degree to which that fact matters.

Fact: Howard struggles terribly vs. lefties.
Opinion: Those struggles do not precipitate removing Howard from the lineup vs. lefties.

JW, you don't need a whistle. Just need to deflate some of the ego's of people who you post their post on threads. Which makes them think they are always right. Point in case:
"Werth is the wild card righty somewhere between 2 and 6, and frankly, he's not been enough of a presence in that role to this point."

Clearly 100% incorrect. Werth so far is on pace to have a similiar if not better year than last year.

2009: 60 games,60 hits, 11 2B,10 HR, 33 RBI, .261/.355/.448
2008: 134 games,114 hits, 16 2B, 24 HR, 67 RBI, .273/.363/..498

Mostly everybody?

Let me count heads. JW thinks it's an issue. RSB thinks it's an issue. Jack thinks it's an issue. MG thinks it's an issue. Curt thinks it's an issue. thephaithful thinks it's "beyond aggravating," which I assume means it's an issue. Hugh and Albert think it's an issue, unless Howard is in one of his torrid hot streaks when he can hit anyone (put me down as agreeing with Hugh and Albert). CJ thinks it's an issue, though not one for which there is any remedy (that might be true too). DaveX at least thinks it's a fair topic of discussion. Klaus implied that it's an issue. So who here thinks that any criticism of Howard is absolutely off-limits? MVPTommy, G-Town Dave, IOP (who also thinks that Howard is the greatest offensive player in the history of the game, which sort of discredits his opinion), and a couple of new posters who popped out of the woodwork.

I'd say there's a prevailing consensus that Howard's problems against left-handers ARE a significant issue.

JW: We'd probably do it, too ... but first you'd have to suffer through a protracted argument over the color choice & brand of the stain you chose --

"Yeah, that looks nice on the sample block, but the size of the sample block is so small ..."

"Sure, it sealed your deck from all of the rain we've had so far, but what if it reverts to career norms?"

"I know it's the highest rated stain available, but there's this new stain about to come out that's gonna be so much better!"

And on, & on, & on ...

In the end I think you'd be better off doing it yourself & leaving Beerleaguers out of the process entirely.

IOP: Wow this Shaq discussion makes so much sense it made me think of this equally informative and relevant question. What a great IDEA to compare basketball and baseball. Seriously, who ever came up with that comparison is really smart. Who would be who if the Phillie's were the 99 Trailblazers?


Howard - Arvydas Sabonis
Rollins - Damon Stoudemire
Utley - Detlef Schrempf
JC Romero - Rasheed Wallace
Cole Hamels - Scottie Pippen
Shane Victorino - Bonzie Wells
Carlos Ruiz - Steve Smith
Jason Werth - Jermaine O'Neal
Mike Dunleavy - Charlie Manuel

Come on Bro's don't be dummy's. This is BL for chrissakes.

BAP: Well then discuss it. But come July/August Howard will come alive as he usually does, then it will be over until of course end of August when he goes cold for 2 weeks and everyone freaks out. Then of course he will hit another huge bomb against Mike Gonzalez and all will be forgotten.

G-town Dave: Hilarious! And so true.

JW - That's a pretty amazing whistle you have. It does crappy domestic chores for you too?

One do discussions like this have to involve in "all or nothing" including Howard.

Howard has awesome raw power. Among the best in the game if not the best. Nobody is arguing that nor that fact that he is one of the better offensive players in the NL.

The issue is that his % BB and BB/K have continued to trend downward and that a LHP reliever almost completely neuters him late offensively.

Look at Howard's numbers after the 7th inning since the start of 2008 - they are horrible and with a sub .200 AVG and an OPS around .650.

Plus, opposing managers are pitching right around Utley to get to Howard in a game late with a LHP reliever on the mound. Hell, teams have basically stopped giving Howard IBB and they are right. The formula to shutdown Howard late is simple and easy:

1. LHP reliever
2. Shift on with your 2nd/SS playing a shallow RF on the grass. Cheat with your 3B over too.
3. Don't give him a 1st pitch fastball in the zone particularly middle in.

You follow those 3 things and Howard is basically going to do nothing late.

Howard's struggles against LHP startes are less of an issue simply because there aren't that many of them running around in MLB but almost every team has at least one (if not two) LHP relievers in their pen.

Howard is capable of putting up MVP numbers but don't you think an MVP player should be factor late in games too? If a LHP reliever is on the mound or availabe in the pen, Howard just isn't. Pretty hard to argue otherwise.

Zeez - I'd probably make Werth a combo of Bonzi, Sheed and Mighty Mouse Stoudamire.

To all who hate Howard: Did he not lead the NL in HR for LHP last year?

FWIW, I love some of the new characters on the board like Zeez. I think we need some humor on here to break up the serious baseball discussion. I get into the arcane details of baseball on here as much as anyone, but it's fun to get some comedy as well. Right?

Please Zeez: Wow, I forgot how good of a squad that was.

"Ryan Howard is the Shaq to the Phillies Kobe (Utley). Utley is a much better baseball player overall, but Howard is a colossal force, without which, the entire team is different and probably worse."

Howard has Shaq's size... and that's about it. Shaq was better than Kobe, a lot better. You can say, "well, Kobe could do all these things offensively, and play great perimeter defense when he bothered, whereas all Shaq could do was score 5 feet from the basket," but that doesn't matter. The one guy was vastly more efficient than the other, in addition to which, he was one of the league's top two or three rebounders. Saying that Kobe is better than Shaq was is sort of like, to exaggerate a great deal, favoring Juan Pierre over Adam Dunn.

Sneed: Werth clearly parties harder than Sheed, Bonzi and Damon combined. If this were the 08-09 Nuggets, he'd be Birdman, clearly.

It's not just that Howard has bad numbers against Lefties, he looks completely clueless in the at bats. The pitcher needs to make a horrible mistake and hit his bat during the 80% of the season when he's not on fire. But this is exactly an example where Howard comes across as an incredibly talented basher, but a very poor hitter. If he took any care and approach to hitting, he'd recognize what's happening to him and not swing the bat against lefties on any off-speed pitch, and then he'd get on base and help the team. He'd also then change the scouting reports, and force pitchers to throw more strikes and fastballs. If I were a pitching coach on another team, I'd fine any left-handed pitcher (or any pitcher for that matter) who ever threw Howard a strike or a fastball.

mvp - You are like the drunk at Chickie and Pete's who is a semi-knowledgeable sport fan but yells and screams and mentions facts that largely only support their viewpoints.

Oh, and I concur that Howard's struggles against lefties are an issue.

SmokeJoe - Agreed. Howard often tries to force the issue and largely look pretty poor against lefty handed relievers the past 2 seasons.

You expect a guy like Howard to strike out a fair amount. It is just part of his game as a power hitter. Still, he has to be willing to take some more walks and let the other talented guys in this lineup pick the team up. It is not exactly like their are a bunch of offensive stiffs around Howard in the lineup.

JW- Don't suggest staining your deck during a Mets series - you may not like the smell from some of the troll stains!

I hadn't noticed until 5 mins ago, but Howard's splits have really worsened this year. In past years, he struggled to make contact against LHP but still hit HRs against them, but he only has 3 hrs vs LHP this year. I think Mayberry should be on the bench anyway and don't see any reason not to give him a few at bats against LHP. sure...I'm a huge Howard supporter but count me in, as long as its not a platoon situation.

All I know is when it counts most Howards ALWAYS comes through. I couldn't care less if he hits .200 against lefties, as long as he hits .300 in September thats when it is crunch time.

So to get this straight, people are suggesting taking at bats AWAY from Howard against lefties? If so, then you all have gone bonkers!

Platooning Howard is still a ridicilous argument but he just hasn't made the adjustments against LHP pitching the past 2 seasons.

I think we can all look at those splits and say it's an issue. I mean, they're bad, and getting worse.

But, are you guys supporting a platoon or arguing for a late inning RH bat off the bench?

This is like an election and I'm trying to understand the platforms all of you politicians are advocating :)

Hydrant: Same with me. I say it is a flaw we need to live with. To take the bat out of his hands under any circumstance is just not smart. We know what his bottom line numbers will be, and they are outstanding. If he struggles against lefties then so be it.

Maybe Howard could become a switch hitter. That would screw up the defensive Howard shift and he could probably be close to hitting .190 left handed anyway.

I don't think anyone is advocating a platoon, nor should they be. But it wouldn't be terrible to have a guy like Mayberry around who could give Howard the occasional off-day against a tough lefty. When the chances are high that Howard is gonna go 0-4 that day with 3 Ks, there is no harm in giving him a day off, just like we give regulars days off throughout the season. Utley has already had a couple days off. So has Werth. So has Rollins. So has Feliz. Those days usually come when there's a type of pitcher that guy struggles against. Why can't Howard do the same thing?

Also, can you imagine having a Howard as late-inning pinch-hitting threat if the other team is forced into using a righty reliever?

Just to be clear- I'm against a platoon, but for Mayberry learning to play 1B and giving him the occasional start vs LHP.

Howard hits SOME lefties very well. For example

.350 vs Johan Santana
.333 vs Ted Lilly
.556 vs Eric Milton
.426 vs CC Sabathia
.400 vs Mike Hampton

Ever notice that Howard almost never strikes out looking? He swings at everything. He needs to be a little more selective. He needs to put at least a little pressure on the pitcher to throw strikes. As it is there is very little reason for a lefty to throw the ball over the plate to him. What is troubling is that as time has gone on he has not made many adjustments in light of all of this. He seems to be pull happy again too. When he is on a lot of his homeruns go to the left of center field. When he starts hitting a majority of his homers to right field I think he tends to get out of whack. With his power just hitting it where its pitched will produce a ton of bombs.

"I say it is a flaw we need to live with. To take the bat out of his hands under any circumstance is just not smart. We know what his bottom line numbers will be, and they are outstanding. If he struggles against lefties then so be it."

I don't get this argument. His bottom line numbers are really good, you say. Even though this doesn't show that he hits well across the board, you conclude he should hit against pitchers who we know he's unlikely to hit, and should take away at-bats from hitters who would be much more likely to hit those pitchers.

Jack gets what I was going for here. I wouldn't trade Howard for anything, but what would it hurt to give some reps to Mayberry in hopes he could one day spot Howard once in a while, in addition to the outfielders? Howard is a dynamic weapon who can't hit lefties. Nothing wrong with that.

Tray: Yes, because against lefties he hits around .230, it isn't like he is hitting .198 or else I would agree with you.

With the bullpen looking like it is , I think we are more likely to go with a short bench and add a reliever than to give Mayberry his shot at the bigs again.
If / when that gets better I would like to see Ryan get a day off now and then.

Congratulations to newish poster, Curt, for making BAP's list of Beerleaguer elite.

JW: Better watch out, I remember reading you compare yourself to Dalton the cooler from Road House awhile back, and just now I overheard mvptommyd muttering in the corner that he used to f@#$ guys like you in prison. Watch your corn hole bud.

Presumably, the argument against Mayberry on the bench is that he needs everyday reps in Triple-A to become a better player.

But with Vic, Werth and Ibanez all here through next year at least, Taylor and Brown in the minors behind him, and Mayberry already being 25, he has no spot to be an everyday player. You don't need to focus on grooming his potential by playing him everyday. This team is competing for the playoffs right now. If he can contribute at all to it, they need to let him do so. It's best for them and for him.

Since when does BAP decide who is Elite? Shouldn't all the Elite get to vote on who gets initiated into the inner circle?

Jack: That's probably a valid concern. Greg Dobbs should be exhibit A for that argument. He's fine if he's getting 20ABs a week, but if he's not, watch out.

Yawn.

Again with the "Howard struggles against lefties" crisis.

So what. The man had close to a .900 OPS going into last night and led the league in HRs and RBI's last year. But that's not good enough? He has to crush lefties too?

I guess JWeitzel, MG, bap and Jack expect him to produce even more and expect him to be Barry Bonds or Ted Williams. It's not good enough to be Willie McCovey or Willie Stargell these days. Stargell is in the Hall of fame and he looked just as helpless as Howard against LH pitching from what I remember.

Mikes77: Thank you, please save me from this insanity.

You guys raise a good point. I believe Howard has played every game this year. Do we even have a backup for him? Dobbs? He's a lefty too. And don't anybody dare say Bruntlett. This roster does have it's share of holes, doesn't it? Just like the Red Sox bullpen only having one lefty. That's about the only time you will see Ryan get a chance to bat against a righthander after the 7th inning whose name isn't something like Papplebon or Rodriguez.

When has this team ever had a genuine problem on offense? It's not like they wont score runs, in fact its something they do extremely well, to me the bigger problem is the bullpen and rotation. Bastardo and Happ have had good outings, but is anyone really confident in them down the stretch?

Before considering doing anything with Howard and Mayberry, the pitching situation needs to be addressed.

Howard will eventually settle in and hit like he has against lefties all his career, which isn't great. But has it really hurt this team? I think winning the championship last year answered that question.

Truth: I'm gonna be annoying and bring up an old topic, but, you said, "Brian G: Hypothetical situation- Downs locks the Phillies down for the 9th and 10th but they don't score runs and the teams play 15 innings. Blue Jays score a run in the top of the 15th but the Phillies score two off a subpar reliever because the closer has already been used. Does that score a point for the my side?" (then you say, no, just circumstantial)

My point is, the BJ's were going to have to use that subpar reliever anyway, so why does it matter when he blows it. Isn't there a strong case for putting off when you use your lesser relievers for as long as possible so that you give your offense the max # of opportunities to win the game. In your decision, you use the crappy reliever before the closer, which will more often give your offense less at bats. Don't you want to maximize the # of at bats your offense gets in a close games? That seems to make a lot of sense to me.

Don't you know that Mayberry is a delicate flower whose fragile development will be crushed by any more time on a major league bench?

Plus, we got Bako and Bruntlett on our bench, so no need to experiment with Mayberry up here.

Wait. I don't recall making a list of the BL Elite, or saying that curt was on the list. In fact, I would never out someone like that. Our secret society has very strict rules against it.

I know everyone's been waiting to find out my thoughts on Howard, so here it is.. I agree with CJ.

I understand and agree with the posts that say against tough lefties that Howard gets a day off. But do people here want Howard to be PH for in late game situations?
Also I really want to see Howard drop a damn bunt on these shifts, especially against a lefty.

"Tray: Yes, because against lefties he hits around .230, it isn't like he is hitting .198 or else I would agree with you."

But that's not true, the post itself notes that he's hitting only .194 against them.

Since Cholly likes batting anemic batting averages at the top of the lineup, maybe Howard and JRoll can swap batting lineup spots when a lefty is the starting pitcher. That makes about as much sense as some of this other stuff.

Tray: For his career he is batting .230. The sample size has been too small to just use this years numbers so far.

The real concern on this team is Hamels. His solid outings are way too few and far between. He really needs to step it up and start fooling hitters w/ his changeup. Too many foul balls =high pitch counts.

So just to warn everyone so they can mentally prepare. It's very likely we're just starting our June swoon. Last year we peaked on June 13 at 41-28. This year it appears to be June 11 at 35-23... yep, only two calendar days apart. The next month or so will be very frustrating, but rest assured that when all is said and done we'll be WS champs again.

Despite Lidge's perfect 2008, Ed Wade must feel pretty good about that deal right now. Lidge is a healthy scratch, while Michael Bourn has a .370 OBP, 22 SB and is playing gold glove CF.

Okay. I'd argue that the career .230 contains seasons that he's unlikely to ever replicate, or replicate anytime soon, but let's go with .230. Now, hypothetically, suppose that Mayberry could come on and hit .280 against lefties with decent pop, as opposed to Howard's .230. Why would you be opposed to Mayberry getting the occasional start or pinch-hit in favor of Howard?

I'm not advocating doing anything with Howard, other than Charlie sitting him down and explaining to him how good he could be, and how much he could help the team, if he would modify his approach a little and not try to be a homerun hero on every swing...with his mind made up before the pitcher even releases the ball. Howard has unworldly talent--unbelievable power, great hand-eye coordination, and amazing athletic ability for someone his size--but his approach to the plate (studying pitchers, understanding what they might be trying to do to him, willingness to adjust, showing some discipline at the plate) is pretty awful. I for one believe he could be a left-handed Pujols if he spent more time and attention to his craft.

Howard needs to close his stance a little and move a little closer to the plate. Anyone can see that. Except Manuel, Thompson and Howard himself. Even Thome had some trouble against lefties athough not to the extent of Howard.

Manuel is supoosed to be some kind of hitting guru and the Phils love Thompson as the hitting coach yet none of the flaws or exposed weaknesses that any of our hitters have ever seem to be corrected. And as you all know, if this team doesn't hit, it doesn't win.

So, what I'm hearing is, use Mayberry as a PH for Howard against LHP in high leverage, late inning situations? Is that a wise course of action?

I mean, has Mayberry ever been considered at 1B?

Tray: For 3 reasons, I am against that.

1. Howard is better at 1st than Mayberry defensively

2. Mayberry is not a gaurentee .280 hitter against lefties, let along righties too.

3. Howard has done this for how many years now? And he always deleivers to balance it out.

Patiently waiting for a new thread...

TK: Yea as am I. My best guess at the next one. "Should Ryan Madson be the closer when Lidge returns". Followed by a quote from clout, BAP, RSB, or AWH explaining why they are right about the stance.

So it is like the lesser of 2 evils.

I don't think Mayberry's the answer. Howard is the answer. Howard should rest only when he needs rest. But, he needs to improve. We've seen him apply himself to improving his defense and it paid off, recent struggles with throws to 2d notwithstanding. I have no idea what he's doing to improve against lefties. From what I see during the games, he hasn't changed anything about his approach. breaking ball low and away - SWING!! If he recognizes what pitchers are doing to him, he isn't recognizing the pitches when he's in the batter's box.

"Despite Lidge's perfect 2008, Ed Wade must feel pretty good about that deal right now..."

Considering that "perfect 2008" led to a world series win and near MVP season, I'm ok with it.

mike77 - Nah no one is expecting Howard to be Ted Williams or anyone but Howard but if he doesn't make some adjustments against LHP he is largely not going to be a factor at all late because he will see a LHP reliever in a close game whenever possible.

Should an MVP-caliber type player be almost completely removed as an offensive threat in late games that are close?

And the other point that no one talked about is that while MVP and Mike77 make think Howard is an awesome force opposing scouts and managers don't share that view anymore against LHP.

Opposing teams have gone right at Howard with a LHP reliever all season. This was a trend that started in the 2nd half last year and has continued this year. Phils don't have a better answer right now but they just need Howard to be willing to take the occasional walk against LHP. That's all.

Frankly, the Phils can't sit Howard against tough lefties because there's no legitimate option to replace him.

Are we asking for more at bats from Eric Bruntlett? Chris Coste at first, really?

And Mayberry's never played first, so that option would be a long way off if it ever happened.

I'm all for getting Howard rest on occasion, but he doesn't need much, and we don't have lots of alternatives.

And regarding pinch hitting... I'd hate that option as well, considering it may not just be one at bat that we lose from one of our most dangerous hitters.

Bruntlett is a pretty crummy offensive player. I don't think anyone would argue that BUT the one thing he does against LHP pitching is manage to work counts well and get on base via a BB.

This year - 4 BBs in 30 PAs vs. LHP
Last year - 12 BBs in 83 PAs vs. LHP

No one is expecting Howard to become a walk machine but he did have good enough patience against LHP in '06 and '07 to make them through some hittable pitches and walk enough have an okay OBP. That's the point that people are trying to make I think.

In context:

- Phils have the 3rd best winning PCT and the 2nd biggest divisional lead right now. As long as they can get through the rest of June and be up 2-3 games in the East, they will be in a good position.

MG: I understand the point some are trying to make. But neither you, nor anyone else, is suggesting it makes sense to play Bruntlett in place of Howard under any circumstances.

I'm saying it's painful to watch Howard versus left-handed pitching, because I believe with his God-given talent, he could be so much more...someone mentioned historically good earlier, which I believe is slightly disengenuous if you are talking about him right now in his prime, but on the mark if you are talking about his potential.

MG: Yeah, even has we focus on our flaws, the big picture shows we remain one of the best teams in baseball and a clear contender for another World Series crown.

Hey, Baxter! I'm sure Wade feels good being the GM of a last place team in a wimp division, too!

Well put MG. Think back to Ryan's MVP year. As August arrived and he really heated up, opposing teams realized that you just couldn't pitch to the guy. I didn't look it up but I remember him walking a ton to finish off that season. The most amazing thing was the patience he displayed. Far beyond his years. Sadly, we're not seeing much of that these days. The harsh reality is that a monster like Ryan Howard rarely sees many good pitches. If he continues to swing at the junk they are throwing, he may not see any. If they won't throw strikes to him he has to make them pay via the walk. Oh yeah, the guy behind him in the lineup aint too shabby either.

I really just like any thread where we get to discuss who is an who isn't a member of the Beeleaguer Elite.

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EST. 2005

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