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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Comments

"Sherrill (0-1 with 2 BBs, 1 K)"

I'd hardly classify this as neutralizing.

Forget Howard for a second. The precipitous decline in Utley's numbers and erratic D really have been ignored and unscrutinized by the BL elite. One can only think there are one or two reasons for this:

1) Utley signed a team-friendly deal and isn't locked in to a super-contract for the next five years
2) I don't know, what's the other big, instantly discernible difference between the two?

2)

"It provides context for the point of this discussion."

I'll buy that, I guess. But it would be a whole lot more fun to blame the league-wide decline on Howard and watch you go ballistic.

"Has Howard been neutralized for good?"

Umm, no.

In the long term, I'm definitely uneasy about whether Howard can continue putting up numbers that even remotely justify his future contact. In the short term, I'm not terribly worried about him. For all the hand-wringing about his faults, I just find it hard to believe that there is some kind of magic blue print for nullifying Ryan Howard's power output, but it took the league 5+ years to figure out what this magic blue print is.

I'm reasonably confident that, if he stays healthy, Howard will hit .270 with 40+ homers and 130+ RBIs next year.

I did a post on We Should Be GMs a few weeks ago about Howard's contract and pointed to some concerning stats/themes.

2 of my points:
*Ryan Howard's WAR (Wins Above Replacement Player) was only 2.6 in '07, 2.8 in '08, and 2.1 in last year. Over the past 3 seasons he doesn't even crack the top 70 in the majors for WAR (this includes both batters and pitchers and takes into account position scarcity and fielding).

*Slugging 1st basemen are a dime a dozen, just look around the Majors and you'll find a plethora of them- Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, Fielder, Morneau, Huff, Dunn, Miguel Cabrera, Youkilis, Votto, Butler, Konerko, Teixeira, Pena, Berkman, and Morales that all have better or very similar OPS to Howard. And that's just players of his same position. Put him in the mix of every position and Howard's OPS hasn't cracked the top 15 in baseball any of the last 3 seasons, and ranks 19th overall during that span.

Now, this doesn't mean I dislike Howard or want him gone. I simply feel Amaro was foolish in signing him to that huge extension at the beginning on last season and that the Phils could be possibly better served allocating money elsewhere in the future, especially if he continues to post .850ish OPS.

Yes, Utley is trending downward too and it is a concern, but he wasn't signed to a mammoth contract that pays him like a Top 5 player in the majors. Therefore, not as much bitching about his situation. Howard is a great player, a pleasure to have on the team, but that contract seems undeserved in my opinion based on performance. Homeruns and RBI are awesome, but when you sign a declining big 1st baseman that's on the wrong side of 30 to a huge extension then criticism is likely to follow.

Utley has also dealt with some serious injuries the last 3-4 seasons - the broken hand, the torn thumb ligament - so all I really want as a New Year's resolution from him is to stay healthy for an entire season. If he does I'm sure we'll be more than satisfied with his production.

So GM-Carson's whipping boy was Hamels last year and it looks like this year it will be Howard.

MG: NEPP - You just subtract the career numbers vs. LHP from the career numbers vs. LH starters. It is amazingly how bad Howard is against left-handed relievers. Next to useless although last year Howard was 18-51 (.353) which is pretty amazing. "

MG - this is incorrect. The B-ref split of "LH Starter" or "RH Starter" include every at bat a player has in a game where the starting pitcher was either hand.

If Howard played a game vs a left handed starter, and a right handed reliver faced him later in the game that at bat would be included.

For Howard, this is pretty evident. His OPS vs RHB is 1.038 while his RH Starter OPS is .977. THat 60 point drop is most likely from the inclusion of facing LH Relivers in games that were started by RHP.

His career LHP OPS is .766 while his LH Starter OPS is .859 - again most likely because of the inclusion of at bats vs RHP later in games that were started by LHP.

jason, then how does one break out the numbers vs. LHRP?

(Oh where, oh where, is sophist when you need him?)

Redburb, Carson is a classic Philly guy in the sense that he has to be either angry about something or pissed at someone. :)

redburb: if howard can make carson look anywhere near as dumb as Hamels did, we will all be very happy with Ryno in 2011.

Heck yeah, I hope Howard makes me look dumb like Hamels did. Of course when I was bitching about Hamels he stuck for '09 and the beginning on '10, but go ahead and ignore those facts.

Anyway, Howard isn't my whipping boy, nobody currently is. I like Howard, he simply doesn't deserve that massive contract. All the stats that I pointed out, along with Weitzel's are facts, not opinions.

Carson: of your list of 1B that are better/as good as Howard, who is actually obtainable by the Phillies at less thana 5yr/$125M offer.

Pujols: No, he will sign for much more than $125M as a FA or re-sign.
Gonzalez: No, he is signing a long term deal with Boston.
Fielder: Possibly, will only 5 years get it done?
Morneau: No, signed thru 2013 so would have had 2 year diff between Howard
Huff: Yes.
Adam Dunn: No, signed thru 2014.
Cabrera: No signed thru 2015(at $22M/yr last few seasons)
Youklis: Possibly, under team control 2012, so would have 1 year difference between Howard's deal.
Votto: No, under team control thru 2013
Butler: No, under team control thru 2013
Konerko: No, signed until 2013
Texieria: No, signed thru 2016(@ $22.5M)
Pena: Yes.
Berkman: Yes.
Morales: No under team control thru 2013.

So Carson, you listed the following players who are actually options of signing for less than Howard's contract and are actually obtainable:

Aubrey Huff
Carlos Pena
Lance Berkman

Youklis is an option after 2012 and Fielder would likely sign for similiar, but i guess you could squeeze a few $M.

So "GM"Carson, good luck winning with Aubrey Huff/Carlos Pena/Lance Berkman in 2012-2015 and the extra player you get with those savings.

I think part of the signing was about sending a message to the Phillies organization that we're willing to back up one of our boys, spend the big bucks to keep our homegrown stars.

The question is, were the Phillies market makers, or did they really believe his market value was 25m/ year (which it might just well be)

I'm not complaining about having Howard now, I'm complaining about having him for $25M a season after his arb years (this would have been his last year of arb).

But you know what, we'll see who looks "dumb" in the upcoming seasons when Howard continues to perform well, but not great or elite like his contract suggests he should.

At $25M a season that could be Derek Lee/Adam LaRoche at 1st, plus decent outfielder to replace Werth or Ibanez, and a solid bullpen like Downs, Crain, Benoit, or the like.

Whoops - Huff is under contract thru 2013 too.

So Carson's got a 1B batting under the mendoza line or a 36yrold Lance Berkman. Hope he uses those savings to re-sign his boy Hamels cuz they'll need some pitching.

Jason- if the Phils hadn't signed Howard to the extension, they would have explored trading him this offseason, which would have opened up the possibility of signing Huff, Dunn, Konerko, LaRoche, Derek Lee, or Pena.

Howard is possibly the best of the group (I would argue he's with Dunn as the best), but they're all far cheaper than Howard and take lesser year commitments.

Howard was signed until 2011 back in the 2008 offseason, when arbritration was already awarding him close to $20M as is, so they bought his 1st free agent year at $20M in 2011.

Your beef is the 2012-2016 contract that pays him $25M per season towards the end. You are probably right, Howard will not perform at the full $25M those last 3 years. I understand its not ideal.

However, when you use Joey Votto and Miguel Cabrera to prove why he is overpaid, that is just fantasy world junk. They are not real options. When one of those two outperforms Howard, you can't point and scream the Phillies should pay Howard less!! Look at what Votto just put up!

Yeah, the fanbase would love to have see Howard walk to be replaced by Aubrey Huff.

jason, does anyone seriously think Votto isn't looking for the same kind of money Howard is getting, at least inhis first Fa year, 2016? Maybe, jsut maybe, the market contracts by then, but I doubt it.

Votto: Probably just as good as Howard offensively, but better defensively, MVP, 16 SB...

and almost 4 years younger.

I suspect, if the Reds are fortunate enough to sign him to an extension, it will look like this:

8MM - arb
12MM - arb
16MM - arb
25MM - FA
25MM
25MM
25MM

Total would be for 136 MM, and he'll get as much as Howard is getting when he becomes an FA.

Tex, Howard and AGon are setting the market at over 20MM/yr.

Barring injury the Reds will have to pony up at least that.

But, as Jason points out, Votto is not available, so it's a moot point.

But I'll wager he gets at least as much per year as Howard during his FA years.

Unfortunately, when Amaro signed Howard, he signed the death warrant of the franchise. Had he not tied up future funds with the extension, he could have signed Werth before Werth got greedy and hooked up with Scott Boras. The Lee signing wouldn't be such a burden on the payroll, and there would be no need to dump Blanton. The offensive lineup wouldn't be overstuffed with lefties. Signing Howard could also affect Utley's future defense; as he ages, the team should have the option of moving him to first base open. It was a dark day in Philly when Amaro bought into the ridiculous overhype of a player that can't possibly sustain a long and productive career. Howard was ideal trade material--a spectacular player without much of a future--and could have been used to replenish the farm system in the 2009-2010 offseason, leaving Lee in Philly.

AT: Howard makes $20M in 2011. He makes $20-$25M/yr over course of 2012-2016.

How can Howard be worth prospects to restock the farm system - but also be the burden of death to a franchise, all at similiar dollar amounts at the same time?

AT: If we never traded Cliff Lee away, he would have signed a contract extension less than what he signed as a free agent?

How does Howard have any affect on Cliff Lee?

The Phillies signing Cliff Lee is an exact example that proves everyone who thinks Howard is a burden COMPLETELY wrong.

So much for Howard killing the Phillies...all they could do is go out and sign the #1 free agent in all of baseball. Damn you Howard, release us from your awful burden of death!

Damnit...with Howard locking up $20 million, we only had $145 million to get 24 other guys.


POVERTY!!!


"You are probably right, Howard will not perform at the full $25M those last 3 years."

"death warrant of the franchise"

Ha.

Up next: Did Bill Gates overpay for his Ferrari?

He might not be able to get the rims he wants as a result!?!

awh: Votto is better than Howard offensively, not "just as good."

Anyway, the question of Howard's contract should be separated from the question JW implicitly poses above--which is how productive will he be next year. Very few people even bother trying to say that Howard's performance will justify his contract anymore (and it doesn't even kick in for another year). That's beside the point.

More importantly is how he will do next year. I think he's got at least 1 or 2 more big years left in him, and I'm hoping it's 2011 (we'll need it on offense). I'm looking at a .280/.370/.575 line with 45 HRs. Considering his other limitations (everything except offense) that doesn't make him a top 5 or 10 overall player in the league, but it at least makes him one of the top hitters in the league, and this team is really going to need him to be that. I think he has that year in him. He just really, really, really needs to learn to lay off balls outside the zone.

It's cause he's black!

Dave Cameron just made a graph on why Gates should have got a Toyota for much less cost and used his savings on space-age cup holders.

Thread Over.

Gates could have gotten 10 Toyota Corollas for the cost of that 1 Ferrari!!!

Ryan Howard Age 26: .313/.425/.659
Joey Votto Age 26: .324/.424/.600

GM-Carson: "Homeruns and RBI are awesome, but when you sign a declining big 1st baseman that's on the wrong side of 30 to a huge extension then criticism is likely to follow."

And yet the criticism is of Howard himself, not the team, which is who gave that extension.

Interesting.

What's sad about this thread is that Jack didn't get on til the very end, missing the opportunity for a full day of Howard bashing.

To make up for it, I suggest JW's next thread be "Kendrick Can't Possibly be a Successful Major League Pitcher."

Is there some kind of a league rule that states that Phillies fans must launch into absurd rants complaining about ridiculous "problems?"

I mean, really, would fans of another team hand-wring about having one of the best sluggers in the history of the game?

jasontp - You are right about the splits. It only says it in pretty obvious type below at Baseball Reference. Unfortunately, there is a public domain site where you get drill down on Howard vs. left-handed relievers on a year-by-year basis.

Kind of defeats the purpose of having their splits for 'LH starters' and 'RH starters' since the data is muddled.

I would imagine you would see a subscription to Stats, Inc or maybe Baseball Prospectus.

Clout- I'm not really criticizing Howard, I'm just listing facts about him. I blame Amaro for the crazy extension. Howard was smart to take it, he did well for himself.

Also, Jack, if Howard posts a .945 OPS with 45 homeruns and 125+ RBI then I'll shut my trap...on the extension for the time being, not on other matters.

flipper: Did you not read this post from AT?

"Unfortunately, when Amaro signed Howard, he signed the death warrant of the franchise."

This is the quintessential Beerleaguer poster.

If Howard had not been locked up when he was all the fans would have been b*tching about how the organization refuses to committ to its star players, and they would let him walk to the Yanks, Cards, etc...I can see now that the jubilation over the Lee signing has worn off, we're back to the Howard-bashing that commenced the night we were knocked out of the playoffs. The fact is this organization will NEVER see a player with this much productivity over his career for decades to come. You can replace Werth (eventually) and his bawdy 27-90RBI, you can't replace 45-145.

"Unfortunately, when Amaro signed Howard, he signed the death warrant of the franchise."

Apparently there is one BLer who undervalues Howard even more than Jack.

And they said it wasn't possible.

I doubt he'd give us a .945 OPS next year but I could easily see something in the .900-.925 range with no surprise.

07-09: .928 OPS

Thats what I'm hoping a "healthy Howard" is going to give us.

Maybe he'll pull a Thome and surprise us.

For God's sakes the friggin Mets fans still worship at the alter of David Wright, despite a FULL season where he hit 10 home runs. If Howard had done that we would be entertaining trading him to the Giants for Renteria.

"flipper: Did you not read this post from AT?"

See follow-up comment above, clout.

That may have been the funniest, most counter-factual post in the history of Beerleaguer.

Beerleaguer Hall of Fame material, IMO.

Who's bashing him?

I haven't read too many comments that are bashing Howard. I've read statements supported by stats...so is that bashing?

I still hold out hope that when Howard starts to fall off precipitously, Tex in NY or whichever dude is playing 1st in Boston is having a worse year and we can unload him there.

When it comes to straight-up raw power sluggers then yes, Howard is one of the best, if not the best. Bashing homeruns isn't all that matters. Hitting lefties late in game with runners on matters. Not striking out half your playoff at bats matters. Fielding your position adequately matters. Howard is what he is. I think most can agree that we're happy to have him as a member of this franchise. However, I'm not sure how happy we'll remain with him as part of this franchise in a couple seasons.

"A declining 3rd baseman on the wrong side of 30?"

He was hurt for a significant chunk of the 2010 season and still had a year a lot of big leaguers would envy. And if he's on the "wrong side of 30" maybe that's the fault of the organization which has notoriously brought up talent either too early or too late. I guess Dom Brown is on the wrong side of 30 also since we've all determined that he stinks.

Joe- Dom Brown doesn't stink. Those words nor thoughts ever came from me.

Howard had a good year, but my argument is that it's not a year you expect from a player being paid like 1 of the top 5 in the majors.

I think we need a thread where we all discuss what our individual lives are about, what our significant others think we are doing when we are posting here and what sort of institutions or residential care facilities has placed a majority of us in at certain points of our lives.

"Hitting lefties late in game with runners on matters."

A classic Howard-bash worthy of Jack.

If you isolate on a weakness of his game and focus on that, then you undervalue him as a player.

His weakness against LHP just goes to show how historically amazing he's been against RHP - in that despite his poor hitting against LHP, in aggregate he's been productive at rates equaled by only a few players in the history of the game.

Why don't you focus on his astounding production rates against RHP - and instead choose to focus on his production against LHP?

And seriously, all this hand-wringing about the "opportunity cost" of his contract is ludicrous.

The Phillies will have at least one of the better sluggers in the game for years to come. It astounds me that anyone who suffered through decades of drek can actually find something to complain about there.

That last sentence should have "where controlling interests of society have placed us"

Player A

vs. LHP: .763 OPS
vs. RHP: .937 OPS


Player B
vs. LHP: .768 OPS
vs. RHP: 1.038 OPS


Who would you rather have?

The fact that nearly every MLB team has 1 if not 2 or more lefties in the pen to neutralize Howard in late game situations is troublesome. But if he's doing enough damage against those righties earlier in the game then it won't matter as much later will it?

I'm done debating. I have my opinion on Howard- I like him. I have my opinion on his contract- hate it. It's an opinion, can't be right or wrong. You have yours and you're entitled to it.

Of course I want player B, but out of context that's an unfair question. Do they play the same position? What's their age? How much do they make? How's their fielding?

Player A is Willie Stargell...Player B is Howard obviously.

The point being that Howard is hardly the first slugger to have issues with LHP.

McCovey had the same issues and similar splits:

vs. LHP: .766 OPS
vs. RHP: .926 OPS


Of course, in the Stargell and McCovey era, bullpen specialization didnt exist and they saw far less LH pitching than Howard does. Howard sees over 1/3 of his ABs against LHP while neither of the other two saw more than 1/4. Closer to 1/5 IIRC.

Different eras. Stargell played a lot of outfield. Also, those are #'s through Stargell's entire career. Lets see where Howard's OPS are once he's finished.

Howard power number splits:

Big Man gets paid to hits HRs. Why he won the big contract. Here are his splits by year:

Career:

RHP: 11.2 AB/HR (188 HRs in 2109 ABs)
LHP: 17.4 AB/HR (65 HRs in 1128 ABs)

By year (LHP):

2006: 12.3 AB/HR (16 HRs in 197 ABs)
2007: 13.1 AB/HR (16 HRs in 209 ABs)
2008: 16.9 AB/HR (14 HRs in 237 ABs)
2009: 37.0 AB/HR ( 6 HRs in 222 ABs)
2010: 16.1 AB/HR (12 HRs in 193 ABs)

By year (RHP):

2006: 9.1 AB/HR (42 HRs in 384 ABs)
2007: 10.3 AB/HR (31 HRs in 320 ABs)
2008: 11.0 AB/HR (34 HRs in 373 ABs)
2009: 10.1 AB/HR (39 HRs in 394 ABs)
2010: 18.8 AB/HR (19 HRs in 357 ABs)

What does this really tell me off hand? Not alot except that it goes with Howard's gradual leveling off in power.

Adjustments he did make appeared to help him from the left-side of the plate last season and that his AB/HR from the left-side should be somewhere in the high teens and below 20.

Question is was it just largely a fluke & his ankle injury that put him in more normal AB/HR territory and away from his more historically great career numbers so far?

Not sure although as I said earlier I would love to see an analysis of the pitchers that Howard has hit out for HRs. Verducci did it in his article on Howard on 2009 early in 2010.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/tom_verducci/03/01/howard.phillies/index.html

if howard is injury free in 2011,he will have his usual 40 plus homer 120 rbi year.
the last 2 months he was playing on one leg.

****Different eras. Stargell played a lot of outfield. Also, those are #'s through Stargell's entire career. Lets see where Howard's OPS are once he's finished.

Posted by: GM-Carson | Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 01:16 PM
****

I agree with that and all but the point about splits is the same. Howard is no different a hitter than McCovey or Stargell (both HoFs) He just plays in the wrong era as bullpen specialization kills him.

I love that Howard gets criticized for "not playing like a Top-5 paid player" as though he should have said no to the contract offer and instead signed something that would only make him a "Top-20 paid player" or a "Top-50 paid player."

This place is hilarious.

NEPP- fair enough, point understood.

CJ- this is what I don't understand. How was I criticizing Howard? I'm not, and I don't mean to either. The contract was Amaro's doing. Howard took the money because he was offered it. Job well done by him.

"But if he's doing enough damage against those righties earlier in the game then it won't matter as much later will it? "

No one says it doesn't matter, or that his strength against RHP negates his weakness against LHP.


But you can't make a statement about his overall value to the team by focusing on his weakness - you have to look at his overall production in the full context - which is that he's been productive at historic rates.

Why would anyone choose to be miserable now based on speculation that he might be overpaid in three years? It makes no sense. Even if he is "overpaid" in three years - but is still reasonably productive - would that mean that the team won't be successful in three years? Does anyone think that the the BoSox and the Yankees haven't had any "overpaid" players during their recent runs of success?

GM Carson: "Howard had a good year, but my argument is that it's not a year you expect from a player being paid like 1 of the top 5 in the majors."

So then, what is your point?

My employer offered me a 50% raise yesterday for the same work I do anyway. I turned it down because I simply dont feel that I'm in the Top 5 at my job in the office.

NEPP,
It is only considerate of you if you insisted that they take that money and fix up the bench and bullpen at work.

So - the "death sentence" of the team has been signed by Amaro when he inked the "albatross" - a contract that will ensure continuity to the team's roster by keeping a "quality" star who has contributed hugely to the team during an unprecedented run of success, show potential free agents that the team is willing to reward quality players, keep a fan favorite around, and bring huge amounts of external revenue to the team through the marketing of a high-profile player?

And this is all because in 3 years he might be paid like a top-5 player even though he only performs like a top-20 player? (When we actually have no idea what top comparable players will actually be paid in three years?)

Or at least bring in a RH accountant under 30.

Howard's deal isn't an "albatross" unless he simply stops being productive at all. If he continues to give us around 40 HRs/120-140 RBI a year for the next 4-5 years, its fine. Sure, they're not "making money" on it but its not dragging down the payroll.

If we were the Brewers (or any other small market club), yeah, it'd be prohibitive as it would represent probbaly 1/4 of our total salary. But with the payroll currently in the $160-170 million range, its barely in the 10-15% range. We can easily build a competitive roster with Howard earning 25 million...as long as we dont need to pay him AND another 1B.

I think Howard has been overrated but is still a terrific hitter. I like to think that in 2010 he was making some adjustments and that we will see dividends in the future.(His stats month-by-month, even factoring in the injury, are kind of odd. Check his BB% for Sept/Oct.) I think there were a lot of positive indicators going forward, but we'll just have to see how it pans out. A loose comparison I like to make is with Schmidt's 1978 season. I do think that contract was a bad idea, but I don't blame him for taking it.

But mainly I want to talk about that called third strike to end the Phillies' season. It was an excellent pitch, borderline, arguably a ball--he obviously thought it was a ball, in which case he was right to take it. Too often people refuse to realize that the pitcher is trying to get the hitter out. If he swings at that pitch the very best he can do with it is foul it off. It was a good at-bat.

If that had been Barry Bonds at the plate, it would have been called a ball. Same as if it was Pujols.

Howard was right not to swing as it was low but he simply doesnt have that type of reputation so he doesnt get the call.


Still feels like a knife to the gut to watch.

"Still feels like a knife to the gut to watch."

No question. I kept seeing alternative images in my mind for weeks: it is called a ball, bringing up Werth with the bases loaded; it's slightly over the outside part of the plate, and he ropes a gapper or HR; he fouls it; etc.... very deflating ending. But it's irritating reading people still complaining about him for it.

It was a good 3-4 inches low. I remmeber posting the strikezone plot immediately after it happened. The umpiring in that series (and the entire playoffs) was just atrocious for all teams involved. We got a couple pretty weak calls go our way too in the Cinci series.

Team Blue shouldn't be affecting outcomes like that.

i missed out on posting last nite(prolly more than made it up for it today) but wanted to thank everyone who typed "Get me to the plate, boys" in response to the people acting like Howard isn't a big time player.

One of the coolest/most memorable moments of recent phils history and so-called Phillies fans are on here trying to act like they never saw him get a big hit before.

"the death warrant of the franchise."

If only they hadn't signed Howard to such a huge contract, the Phils could have traded for two big-name pitchers last season and signed another great pitcher to a long-term deal this off-season. What a shame that Howard's contract prevented them from doing any of it.

Sh!t...I didn't mean to make it look like I was making fun of the cancer thing (suck & throat).

Just sad is all. No offense intended at all.

NEPP: Not sure anyone would have thought that without you pointing it out. It does, in fact, suck. One of the games truly great sluggers.

Don't think that anyone took it that way, NEPP.

I saw the title and for some reason, in my head (of little brain) I thought it read: "Has Howard been Neutered for good?" I thought this thread was going to be chock full of rigorous debate around which cheerleader had locked up Howard or some such nonsense, but alas, it is just the normal off season discussion.

Does anyone think Rex Ryan inherited his a, personal fondness for the lowest extremity, from his father?

"Howard had a good year, but my argument is that it's not a year you expect from a player being paid like 1 of the top 5 in the majors."

We can say the same about the vastly overrated and overpaid Jayson Wert, at least Howard had a body of work that somewhat justified his salary. Werth had one good season where he still didnt break 100 RBI.

Killer's power numbers are absolutely ridiculous for the pre-juicing era.

I don't think you'll ever find me criticizing a player for the amount of money he's making... or creating a new standard based on his salary. No player should ever be blamed for taking a contract offer that gets him as much money as he can get. That's the American way.

The fact that Killebrew is now 11th on the all time homer list is a testament to how many frauds now occupy that list. For years we were able to rattle off the top ten like the alphabet. Those days are long gone.

Joe: I hope you're not including Rafael Palmeiro among those frauds. Afer all, only yesterday, he once again assured us that he has never taken steroids.

BAP: Or Sammy Sosa, who suddenly lost his Spanish-to-English dictionary on his way to the hearings?

But hey, we're not here to talk about the past, right?

Howard needs to do the follwing: 1. Close his stance a little and not be so spread out 2. Move a little closer to the plate. 3. Stride into the ball when he swings, and 4. Stop taking that lazy swing to left field.

Howard also needs to stop the pre-season chats with Barry Bonds.

Howard needs to DEFINITELY avoid advice from amateur batting coaches on fan blogs!

DPatrone,
I realize I am the one who won those trophies, awards, MVP, that WFC, etc. I know I make commercials and TV appearances, I signed a giant asssssss contract and bang fine hoes but thanks for the advice. Where can I send the check, d-bag?

Man, I'm jealous now after that post by Ryan. I hope I can get that new contract locked up....

NEPP, I like alot of your reasonable factual responses. I too believe that Howard is in some kind of transition - from a hacking free swinger to more "control." We saw alot of singles and better situational hitting last year but it was sporadic. I also believe the Phils gave him the big contract because he has attempted to improve his game from fielding et. al. to his weight. Fact is, he is still maturing and we have yet to see the "experienced" Howard.

As for Bleacher Reports - they ought to be ashamed of that report on Phils' prospects which was dreadfully off the mark. The three kid pitchers (May,Colvin,Cosart) deserve much higher acclaim and Singleton as no. 5 ? A very sorry report all around !

"Team Blue shouldn't be affecting outcomes like that."

This brings up an interesting question: Haven't we reached a point in technology where it should be unnecessary to have an umpire decide balls and strikes at all?

The game changes with the times. Calling balls and strikes can, and should, be completely automated. Human error is no longer necessary.

Will: Automating the strike and ball calls will further erode the nature of the game. The unique nature of baseball is that much of it is based on judgement calls, no matter how boneheaded they may be. The biggest mistake MLB made with regard to officiating was combining the NL and AL umpires, both leagues are completely different in all phases of the game and how it's called.

I have no problem with the home run reviews but to go further than that would be to transform baseball into football, which is basically a video game played on turf and grass. That's not baseball.

No one is criticizing Howard re: the contract. That's the team's fault, not his. Anyone who still thinks saying "Howard is overpaid and hurts the team with his contract" is a criticism of Howard is stupid. That's a criticism of the front office, not him. Anyway, there's no point in judging the contract right now. It doesn't even kick in until after this season, which may be the most amazing part about it.

A starting point for this season would be reversing this trend:

BB%
2007: 16.3
2008: 11.6
2009: 10.7
2010: 9.5

"How was I criticizing Howard? I'm not, and I don't mean to either. The contract was Amaro's doing. Howard took the money because he was offered it. Job well done by him."

GM-Carson, you've stated that reasonable point a few times, but those who don't want to hear it, won't. You're not allowed to say that he's a great power hitter. You must say that he's the greatest power hitter in MLB history, all of his problems were because he was hurt and that he was correct to take that last pitch.

He isn't, they weren't, and he wasn't.

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