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The Dip: A Prescription For Southpawitis

This is The Dip, a weekly column penned by our own commenter, The Dipsy. Agree or disagree with what he says? Tell us by visiting our contact page.

My view of patriotism is not standing idly by and supporting your country no matter what decisions are made and what actions they take, but to also give voice, sometimes at very high volume, to things we do that I think are completely screwed up. I do this not because I want people to hear me shout but because I want to try and help make things better.

I feel the same way about the Phillies and Ryan Howard. I love Ryan Howard but he should be pulled from the four hole against lefties — until and unless he starts to hit them with just a modicum of success. The numbers I am about to show you will shock you, so please keep kids away from the computer at this time. Batting average is the first number and OPS is the second.

Against LHP:

2007
Howard: .225/.976
Ibanez: .256/.650
Werth: .375/1.058

2008
Howard: .224/.746
Ibanez: .305/.866
Werth: .303/1.020

2009
Howard: .179/.558
Ibanez: .305/1.055
Werth: .306/1.455

Ryan Howard’s performance against lefties is abhorrent and the reasons are familiar to every game watcher. He has no plate discipline (he swings at the first pitch almost every time, and if not, he watches a first-pitch strike, then swings at the second pitch). He swings at every pitch as if it’s thrown at 100 miles per hour. He then gets behind in the count and ends up striking out on the pitcher’s pitch, which is an out-of-the-strike-zone curve or slider. And then he walks back to the dugout with a bewildered look on his face. But here’s one man’s Rx:

Drop him to sixth against lefties. Tell him to not swing at the first pitch under any circumstances. If its a ball, which it mostly is, that gets him to 1-0 and then he can gear up for the fastball. If he doesn’t get a fastball in his zone to hit, don’t swing. His goal then is to either: walk or hit a fastball. If he strikes out — well, he’s doing that now. The hope would be that he would get his head out of his — you know — and to foster better plate discipline. We know he can hit lefties. He did it in 2006.

This move also serves another purpose: It makes the 4/5/6 in the order (against LHP) Ibanez, Werth, Howard. It gets your better hitters more at bats, adding the feature of splitting the lefties up so late in games Werth will get more lefties to hit.

Let me reiterate that I love Ryan Howard, but he has really got to get it together in this area. I cannot believe that Charlie Manuel has these statistics at his fingertips and has not at least given this option serious thought. I am not worried about taking away Howard’s aggressiveness. In fact, that is exactly what I am trying to do. Hey, I’m just here to help.

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