The Dip: A Prescription For Southpawitis – Phillies Nation
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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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0 Comments

  1. The Little Guy

    August 7, 2009 at 8:12 am

    I agree with maybe moving Howard to 6th, but telling him how to approach LH pitchers, come on dipstick, don’t be Wheels

  2. Geoff

    August 7, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Well he clearly needs special instruction on that because he just gives away at bats against them. Ive never seen anything like it – so maddeningly predictable. Werth crushes left-handed pitching, so I would let him try to bat cleanup against a left-handed pitcher with Ibanez catching the runs that he doesnt drive in. Howard should probably indeed hit 6th until he rediscovers his approach at the plate against left-handers.

  3. The Dipsy

    August 7, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Geoff – think boot camp – left, right, left.

    The Dipsy

  4. Jeff of NoVa.

    August 7, 2009 at 8:45 am

    As always Dipsy well played.

    I have been saying it for weeks the man has been so undisciplined at the plate. Some of the this has to fall on Milt Thompson and Manuel, for allowing him to keep doing what he is doing.

  5. Brian of CO

    August 7, 2009 at 8:49 am

    My question is has Ibanez ever hit Clean-up in his career, and how did he do? Werth has hit 5, and done well, but from a mental standpoint, while I think Ibanez is not that mental player to let a batting order affect how he hits, some others are. Some people completely disagree, but to me, for certain players (not all) they let the order affect how they hit or completely alter how they approach the at bat. Like they say for some players, the proof is in the pudding. I still think it would work better then it is currently working, or not working for howard. Geoff pointed it out “until he rediscovers his approach at the plate against left-handers”. Howard always hits REALLY BAD slumps and it hurts the team ALOT, but for some reason at some point a light bulb goes off, and all of a sudden WATCH OUT! He can and has in the past hit slump (granted not this bad that I recall) but once that light bulb goes off, he will carry the team on his Shoulders. Another question is what is his pace for Strike-outs? its seems a little higher, but it also seems that some of those balls he has been hitting would have been homers in years past, meaning, How much did him losing weight affect his swing, and power?

  6. Miles

    August 7, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Dipsy I agree with the analysis, don’t get me wrong, but this is another case of suggesting something that just isn’t very unlikely. I felt the same way when everyone was clamoring for Jimmy to be moved down. Charlie isn’t going to do it. He rides the horse that got him there. He won a WS last year with Howard posting those brutal numbers against lefties in the 4 hole, so I guarantee if he read this post that is exactly how he would respond.

    The big problem with Howard against lefties right now, and for the last year or so (in my opinion) is that when he does get a fastball to hit he fouls it back. I personally don’t care if he swings at the first pitch but if it’s a strike, especially a fastball strike, he better be putting a good swing on it. Obviously its not happening. I still have faith in the big man, though. He has the ability to carry this team like on one else can.

  7. Miles

    August 7, 2009 at 8:54 am

    is* very unlikely, not isn’t

  8. Geoff

    August 7, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Lineup vs left-handed starters:

    rollins
    victorino
    utley
    werth
    ibanez
    howard
    feliz
    ruiz

    yes there are two left handed hitters in a row but you cant really hit howard 7th.

  9. Brian of CO

    August 7, 2009 at 8:56 am

    I agree with Jeff of NoVa. Some of this does have to rest with Milt and Cholly. I know Charlie likes to have have faith in his players, but at some point either he or Milt needs to have a “heart to heart” with the former MVP. J-Roll is a prime example. J-Roll looked HORRIBLE at the plate for several months. Charlie finally said enough was enough, benched him, and while he looked even worse when he came back (0-28), the light bulb went off, and he has been carrying the team. His Average, if not over .400 since the 0-28 stretch is close to it, and now has a 12 game hitting streak, and has been 1 hit off of the cycle I believe 3 times since then. I just hope Charlie doesnt let Howard go as long as J-Roll before that “heart to heart”.

  10. Miles

    August 7, 2009 at 8:57 am

    @Brian….I think the main reason for balls in play not going out is that he continues to yank everything, and when he does that he puts that wicked top spin on the ball. Almost every time he puts solid contact on a ball to center or left it flies out, so he’s just gotta work on shooting the ball there. I had never thought about the weight but I guess that could contribute to it as well.

  11. Brian of CO

    August 7, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Miles, agreed, but to me, I think the weight is something to think about. some people put your hips into the swing, put everything have into it, things like that, but if you drop 30 to 40 (he lost about that didnt he?) thats 30 less pounds to put into a swing. Im not saying that is the reason, but it might be a factor. Also how did he lose weight? Did it affect his muscle? did the lack of extra “padding” effect how he swings, or the velocity of the swing? Maybe in years past he had a slightly slower, but more solid swing, but with less weight, the velocity of the swing went up, maybe not as solid, and just not getting those swings? Just food for thought.

  12. Griffin

    August 7, 2009 at 9:33 am

    I totally agree with The Dipsy. When Howard faces lefties, he turns into Carlos Ruiz.

    Chollie MUST break up the 3 lefties at all times to prevent a LOOGY from coming in and pitching to Utley, Howard and Ibanez.

    Is Chollie ever going to take Howard out of the cleanup spot? No shot.

  13. Repeat!

    August 7, 2009 at 9:40 am

    Great article. I wrote a comment about his struggles(and entire lineup) on Sunday. V-mart from Cleveland would’ve solved that one. Switch hitting catcher w/pop that can moon light at 1st base. Oh well. Howard right now has the Pat Burrell(2002 or 2003) complex going. Of course Pat struggled other times. But that year he looked like he was blind. It was whatever yr Pat went blonde. Hopefully people will forget that one. It’s almost like Howard walks up there 0-2. I say he turns it around. But when? He always K tons. But this something diff. Sept can’t get here soon enough. Maybe Dutch could let Howard use his Astro Travel machine for a one way trip to September/October Baseball. RA has to find a right handed utility bench guy. That’s a staple and a necc. for Oct. baseball. Charlie’s been a little stubborn and neg. He should’ve given Howard a day off(maybe he did. not sure?) or 3. It has worked for J-Roll and Raul. It may help him relax. And he has to split up the 3 lefties. If Manuel splits them up they’d have 5 or more wins. In post season play a team w/great left arms in pen like the Dodgers would eat us alive and it would allow to save pitchers as well. Come on Charlie get w/the ucking program. Charlie, have you been talking to Eagles? If so;stop. The Eagles are the Gold Standard and the modern day Roman Empire though. Right? “The NFC Championship Game Runner-up Dynasty.” Decius, Valerian and Gallus are all prob.turning in their graves. Maybe a trip to the minors helps him correct this and take some of the edge off. ; I’d try it and just put Dobbs at 1st. And there’s still the option of a 1-3 day-ff or benching. We have to have Howard’s big bat if were going to repeat obviously. No need to belabor the point Dipsy. Leave that to Sarge. I mean that in a nice way. We all know you like Ryan. And that your comments or opions about him or anyone else for that matter is based soley on their performance or lack there of. Let’s put those damn Marlins out of sight out of mind. Like the Mets.

  14. beta sigma shag

    August 7, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Just like when all you clones were agreeing with the idea to move JRoll down in the order until he started hitting, it is not going to happen, and it should not happen. Charlie’s approach work with JRoll wheather you think Charlie and or Milt did anything for Jimmy in his time off. Charlie is not going to move the Big Guy down in the order, and he shouldn’t, Maybe a day off, here or there, but I think that may happen in Sept. if they maintain the lead in the East, so just like last year sit through the slump, and wait until he gets on a roll.
    Oh and by the way, how is JRoll doing leading off now, should he still be hitting in the 6 or 7 hole like you suggested vigorously a month ago? Dippy

  15. Geoff

    August 7, 2009 at 9:48 am

    J-Roll started hitting only a few games after he was benched. He hit rock bottom right away and then turned it around, now he very well may be the hottest hitter in all of baseball, certaintly one of them.

    So corrective action on the part of Charlie clearly did something there. Perhaps it allowed him to see that he wasnt standing up straight enough and was slumping in his stance (which is what Jimmy said is what he changed before going on his still continuing hot streak).

    Perhaps similar corrective action would help howard against left-handed pitchers.

  16. psujoe

    August 7, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Great article.

    I like the line up with Werth 4, Ibanez 5 and Howard 6 against lefties.

  17. Geoff

    August 7, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Also, they DO have a RH utility bench guy, Ben Francisco. He is EXACTLY what they needed. RH Hitter with some pop who can drive the ball who can start a few days a week to spell certain guys and who can pinch hit when called upon. Young, cheap, and under team control for a few more years. The IDEAL 4th outfielder.

    I really dont have a problem with Bako. If a better backup catcher falls in your lap then ok, but it is NOT a priority right now because with such a short time left in the season Ruiz is going to still get all the playing time in the playoffs anyway.

    They need a better utiltiy infielder for the playoffs who can also pinch hit. If they can find one thatd be great. I also think an additional quality relief arm would help. Left or Right, doesnt matter. Just get someone relatively fresh in there who isnt beaten and worn down and injured like some of our guys are back there.

  18. NJ

    August 7, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Whether its a good source to quote or not on the epsn baseball today posdcast yesterday, Peter Pasquerilli suggested the effect most coaches have is overrated, they only help 2 or 3 players a year and some guy just it just doesn’t get through. To me this is where Ryan Howard falls, I love the guy and appreciate his off-season efforts to improve his game but he seems incapable of making adjustments at the plate. Using the football analogy you need to give different looks on defense to keep the offense off-balance, Howard never seems to look any different when he steps up to the plate hot or cold.

    Most times I watch Howard and feel like he’s not having good ABs the same thing comes to mind, he always seems to end up in a pitchers counts.

    Howard Pujols
    AVG OBP SLG OPS
    Count 0-0 .244 .262 .488 .750 .412 .462 1.088 1.550
    After 0-1 .204 .246 .414 .660 .330 .351 .699 1.050
    After 0-2 .156 .188 .273 .461 .258 .277 .484 .761
    After 1-2 .180 .243 .308 .551 .276 .308 .471 .779
    After 2-2 .174 .297 .330 .627 .325 .398 .649 1.047
    Count 3-2 151 .418 .208 .626 .226 .478 .452 .930

    The majority of Howards AB’s end after a 1-2 (69ABs) or 2-2 count (70ABs).
    The scouts clearly know his weaknesses which is why even mediocre relievers seem to key on the exact same spots in the strike zone (and out where he tends to swing at balls) to get ahead and put him in pitcher friendly counts. He makes the majority of his outs in those counts and doesn’t really hit the ball much so it’s no wonder he so often has such little affect on a game for a guy who’s meant to be one of the most dangerous hitters in the league. He’s only seen 58ABs all year where the count has gone past 2-0 compared to 133 after its gone 1-2, 27ABs after the counts 3-1 compared to 77 ABs 0-2.

    The reality is until he develops better plate discipline to stop pitchers arbitrarily putting him in pitcher friendly counts his numbers aren’t going to improve one bit because he’s predictable, 2 or 3 pitches inside to get ahead and then any pitchers going to feel pretty good about their chances of Howard making an out with those numbers above.

  19. The Little Guy

    August 7, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Just saw on ESPN bottomline that the Mets are open to trading Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado by the Aug 31 post-season roster limit thingy.

    Haha wow have they hit rock – bottom…gotta love it

  20. Dhall

    August 7, 2009 at 10:03 am

    I’m not surprised…Charlie is an idiot. If he had moved Rollins down in the order when we asked him, we’d have a 20 game lead in the division right now. He won’t move Howard down to 6th. It’s like the parent who won’t discipline their kids for fear of losing their friendship. Ryan Howard is a pure power hitter. He’s not a good hitter, he’s not Mike Schmidt, he’s not going to hit for average, he’s going to strikeout ALOT. Then again, isn’t the definition of insanity “doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results?”

  21. NJ

    August 7, 2009 at 10:04 am

    ^sorry guys the spacing screwed up there. The chart is Howard vs Pujols with the first 4 numbers after the count for Howard and the second 4 for Pujols-
    count 0-0 Howard .244/ Pujols .412
    ater 0-1 Howard .204/ Pujols .330
    etc…

  22. Don M

    August 7, 2009 at 10:09 am

    I think Wagner’s contract is up after this season?? Is he even going to pitch this year?

    Carlos Delgado should go to the AL.. maybe back to Toronto.. and just swing for the fences for his remaining years

    Mike Schmidt is a career .267 hitter… and he used to Strikeout ALL THE TIME, while hitting for less power than Howard

    Howard is a career .276 hitter … weird

  23. Don M

    August 7, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Not for nothing, but people need to relax with thinking they know how to manage baseball teams from their computers (me included)

    Howard batting 6th would mean he sees ZERO pitches to hit.. and then Feliz and Ruiz are your hope to make something happen

  24. Manny

    August 7, 2009 at 10:13 am

    This is a move I would do but AFTER the season ends and if Howard keeps sucking at the plate against lefties. We all know that he tends to becomes a HR-hitting machine in August/September, so I would really want to avoid taking him out of the 4th spot right now. If he actually never heats up during the rest of the season, then moving him to the 6th spot against lefties would be a good move, next season.

    He’s also pretty damn expensive to have in the 6th hole… you gotta keep giving him a shot as cleanup hitter until he proves you that he cannot carry this team. So far, he hasn’t done it… but he just might in a couple of weeks…

  25. The Little Guy

    August 7, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Voice of reason- Don M strikes again

  26. Geoff

    August 7, 2009 at 10:16 am

    The Mets are almost as big a failure as the Federal Government.

    If they were going to trade people they should have done that last week. Now you will only be salary dumping. Too bad they wont trade Jose Reyes. I am torn between never wanting to see him again in our city and loving that he is floundering around on the Mets.

  27. Geoff

    August 7, 2009 at 10:18 am

    If Jose Reyes wasin the NFL he would be one of those turd WR’s that gets arrested for pot and drunk driving every week but still doesnt get suspended at all or even fined. That doesnt run out routes fully and wont go over the middle to make the tough catch. Thats exactly who he reminds me of.

  28. Brian of CO

    August 7, 2009 at 10:19 am

    He wont move Howard, personally I think a similar benching like the J-Roll issue would work, but I also think this is just a slump. He had a slump last year heading into playoffs I believe, its just the rest of the a team was on fire. If I had to choose between a slump here with no homers, or a slump in the playoffs with no homers, I would choose now for sure. I mean lets hope this is THE slump, and the rest of the team can keep it going. If this is THE slump, lets also hope he starts sending out moon shots every game (which he is capable of doing) in September/October.

  29. Repeat!

    August 7, 2009 at 10:21 am

    B. Fran can play the infield? I didn’t know that. I guess anyone can play 1st.

  30. Geoff

    August 7, 2009 at 10:24 am

    No hes an outfielder (Francisco) as far as I know. They do kind of also need a utility infielder because Eric Bruntlett sucks. Jamey Carroll is the ideal target there, great glove. Im going to the game tonight, fired up. I usually go to all the saturday gamees but I switched with my parents – better seats – rock on.

  31. Repeat!

    August 7, 2009 at 10:26 am

    The parade has made me forget some details of the 2008 regular season. But I can’t remember him looking this confused on off-speed pitches durng last season. The playoffs for a while yes;but the regular season too?

  32. The Little Guy

    August 7, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Geoff are you going to be able to get through work? Seemed quite pumped, too many red bulls? Might wanna grab a Xanex or something haha jk of course

  33. Brian of CO

    August 7, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Geoff that was FUNNY AS HELL (and true for that matter) “The Mets are almost as big a failure as the Federal Government.”

  34. Brian of CO

    August 7, 2009 at 10:37 am

    red bull, red bull, red bull, red bull….LOL

  35. Repeat!

    August 7, 2009 at 10:46 am

    I don’t know about the drugs(maybe PEDs) or alcohol? But does anyone else have Direct TV and the SNY channel. Every nite they give their little Jose Reyes update. It some funny sh*t unless your a Mets fan. They prep it in the beginning of the show as a teaser.”Coming up next on SNY…. The Mets lose again. How close is Jose to returning? It may be a lot sooner than you think. Stay Tuned” But they always make u wait to the end. Are ratings that bad? He’s always shown running around in a long sleeve jersey shirt and the “1970’s NBA Shorts” with his hair flowing in the wind. And he’s always smiling from ear to ear like he’s coming back in a week. Then SNY says “Jose Reyes has suffered another set back. He has more tightness in the calf and he going’s to see a special. tomm. There is no immeadiate time table for his return. WTF??

  36. Chuck

    August 7, 2009 at 10:58 am

    “If he had moved Rollins down in the order when WE asked him”…….

    Since when did WE personally ask Charlie Manuel to adjust his lineup??

  37. Ed R.

    August 7, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Well done Dipsy. I agree with you completely that against southpaws, Howard should be moved down in the order. It is not like this year is a fluke, he is clearly trending downward. I don’t know if he is swinging at more junk than before or if the pitchers have him figured out and are throwing him more breaking balls. I would think its the later. Hitters are going to swing at what they think is hittable. It is hard to tell a guy to lay off certain pitches. It is much easier to say, don’t swing at the first pitch every at bat than to say don’t swing at a slider low an in, or a fast ball up and in. This is obviously not just on Howard though. Part of Charlie and Milt’s jobs are to put these guys in positions to succeed and I don’t feel that either of them are doing that. Not only are they allowing Howard to continue to hurt himself but it is hurting the team as well.

    This is a combination of things and people, again its not just Howard and its not just the coaches. But someone needs to figure this out and soon. I don’t see Manuel benching Howard like he did with J-Roll. Especially now with the season coming to a close but if he is not going to do that then he needs to move him down. Whether that will happen or not is anyones guess.

  38. Brian of CO

    August 7, 2009 at 11:08 am

    And how do WE know that actually would have worked? You cant say stuff like that as fact DHall. Also, check your Mike Schmidt stats again buddy. Mike Schmidt is my favorite Phillies player of all time, but “hitting for average” and not as many strikeouts? Try again.

  39. Bob

    August 7, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Um I think Rollins is doing ok right now……

    Now I know Howard has stuggled against LH’s but am I the only one that has seen better at-bats from him this season? It seems to me that he has ran deeper counts (Except lately).

    Howard is what he is, a power hitter will give you 40+ HR’s and 100+RBI’s. That is damn fine production from the 4 hole! And he is Mr. late August/September.

  40. Miles

    August 7, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Sorry DHall but I’m gonna have to say you’re the idiot on this one, not Charlie. Listen, I know the guy has some great players but how come when Torre or LaRussa wins a WS everyone worships them for being such a good coach but when Chollie wins everyone has this “every blind squirrel finds a nut” outlook?

    So you think moving Jimmy down to the 6 hole or whatever would have gained us 13 games? That’s a fairly bold claim. All I know is that right now we have a happy and productive Jimmy and we have a 7 game lead, so you won’t hear me complaining. And @Repeat!….Dobbs is just as bad as Howard right now so I don’t want to see him play first either.

    As for Victor Martinez, he wouldn’t have been worth it. Outstanding player but we can survive with Chooch’s offense (and Bako’s recent POWER SURGE haha). I have no doubt that Ruben will grab a righty infielder in the next couple weeks. Freddy Sanchez is who I wanted but there are tons of others like him out there. And

  41. Ed R.

    August 7, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Miles I think you are being a little unfair with your assessment of peoples reaction to Charlie winning the World Series. Obviously I am glad he won, and I think he had a lot to do with their success. His skills as a manager, his attitude with his players, his overall style is what that team needed. I think it would be foolish for anyone to say that the players won in spite of him or that he he got lucky. However, you can not compare him to Torre or LaRussa, they are two of the best coaches in baseball history. They have each won multiple World Series titles. Baseball is the ultimate team sport, and the team is not just the players or the coaches, its both.

    I do agree with you that there are some that think Charlie did get lucky, but there are always going to be those people in all walks of life. But the majority of Phillies fans, the real ones at least, know that Charlie had a huge impact on the Phillies and was a big part of their past, present and hopefully future success.

  42. Chuck

    August 7, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Because of Charlie’s folksy, down-home way of speaking a lot of people mistake that for him being stupid or something. That’s why Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa don’t get the same criticism…because they don’t talk that way. Also…..remember……La Russa and Torre have a few more seasons and rings than Charlie, too. And that’s not to detract from what Charlie has done. I, personally, am VERY glad that he’s the manager. He’s the right guy for right now.

  43. The Dipsy

    August 7, 2009 at 11:35 am

    See…to me it is soooo easy. Maybe it takes a person that is far away from a situation to see it. Ryan should be taking a lot more pitches against everyone, especially since we don’t have to rely on Pat Burrell to knock him in if he walks. He’s got Ibanez and Werth behind for Chrissakes. WALK! PLEASE! Don’t swing at a breaking ball because they’re NEVER strikes! What can’t you understand?????? Its maddening. And preventable.

    The Dipsy

  44. The Original Chuck P

    August 7, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Listen, I’m not dismissing the idea but we all know that it won’t happen… if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it. We have a 7 game lead in our division. Do you really want to mess with that?

    Even though Howard can’t hit lefties… and he can’t… you can’t move him down that far. He’s an RBI machine and a threat to hit the ball out of the park at any time. Like Don said, he would see ZERO pitches with Feliz behind him… The only way that he’s going to get better is to continue to see meaningful at bats. It’s painful and maddening (credit Geoff for the word usage) but he’s our horse… Big Brown.

    Not fair to compare ANYONE in baseball to Albert Pujols… what do Albert Pujols, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx and Hank Greenburg have in common?

    ——–

    The only 6 players in MLB history with .300 BA, .400 OBP and .600 SLG.

  45. LH

    August 7, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Power hitters see fewer strikes and they do strike out more with the power of their swing. It certainly would be better if Howard hit at least an out rather than strike out sometimes. Howard resting sounds palpable during August but not after. Why is Howard impatient with lefties? Is it because he can’t see the pitch as well? Oddly, every September he seems to overcome his deficiency and proves his patience at the plate with walks. He seems like a guy who wants to improve, which is reflected in his better fielding this year, but he needs to bring his ‘A’ game to the plate for a full season against lefties. I also hope Milt, in 2010, teaches him to punch a ball pass the lonely guy on the third base side which would remove the shift, increase his hits, and a possible repeat of the MVP award.

  46. Chuck

    August 7, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Right on Dipsy…..every time he faces a lefty I have to remove myself from the room. I’m afraid I’ll be a danger to everyone around me.

  47. The Original Chuck P

    August 7, 2009 at 11:46 am

    My bold prediction:

    Charlie Manuel will go down as one of the greatest hitters coaches of all time…

    He can say that he had a hand in one of the greatest offensive teams in AL history AND one of the greatest offensive teams in NL history (hitting coach with the Indians teams of the 90’s and this Phillies team).

  48. psujoe

    August 7, 2009 at 11:47 am

    One thing is clear. Chase isn’t getting squat to hit against LEfties because opponents know Howard is an automatic out. Funny thing is our backup first basemen can’t righties or lefties. heck if not 6th bat him 5th to go L-R-L.

  49. The Dipsy

    August 7, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Chuck. He is an RBI machine…against righties. He’s a HR machine….against righties. He can’t hit lefties and, honestly, I don’t think he’s quite interested in changing his approach to remedy that. With all that said, addressing you’re point that if it “ain’t broke don’t fix it”, it would necessarily follow that people should be happy with “good” or “real good” as opposed to striving for excellence. A wiser man than me said “don’t let the good be the enemy of the perfect”. If you think your team becomes better by making any type of switch I think you do it and not worry about “rocking the boat”. That goes for jamie Moyer, too.

    the Dipsy

  50. Chuck

    August 7, 2009 at 11:49 am

    And Manuel will be the first to admit that he leaves the pitching side of things up to Rich Dubee. That recognition of his weakness and someone else’s strengths is what makes a great leader.

  51. NJ

    August 7, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Dipsy agree with you Howard needs to take more pitches, unfortunately the pitchers seem to have keyed in on this and they get ahead in the count against Howard and he isn’t going to walk in an 0-2, 1-2 count and he sure as heck isn’t going to see something to hit against a half decent pitcher…

    After a 1-2 count Howard’s OPS this year is .551, Carlos Ruiz .656… After an 0-2 count Howard’s .461, Carlos Ruiz .771

  52. The Dipsy

    August 7, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    NJ – They get ahead because he swings at the first pitch. No matter what it is or where it is.

    The Dipsy

  53. CMax

    August 7, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Manuel likes to stick with gut-feelings, and I think he pays attention to player chemistry more than the average manager, which is probably why he has seen these numbers and refused to do anything about it. This is also why he moved down J-Roll only a couple of times in the batting order when he was struggling; the message was clear that J-Roll was going to be our number 1 no matter how badly he was doing, he was going to stay in the spot until he woke up. I think he feels the same way about Ryan, and probably wonders (as I do) whether moving Howard down in the batting order could affect him mentally or affect team chemistry in some way. I think its true Dip, that just because things are good doesn’t mean you can’t still try to improve them, but the fact of the matter is is that Howard has been in our 4 spot for years, and it’s not like his OVERALL stats aren’t good. Moving him down would probably seem odd, and insulting, and one of the ways Uncle Cholly has kept this team together through tough times is by supporting them through bad times and good times. To the players, Cholly has got their backs, no matter what, and I think that’s reassuring. Moving Howard down every now and then may disrupt Cholly’s greatest managerial strength.

  54. Chuck

    August 7, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Sometimes you can tinker with things TOO much….I agree with your post CMax

  55. NJ

    August 7, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    He’s not always swinging at the first pitch but somehow he ends up in pitchers counts especially against lefties. From looking at how left handed pitchers pitch him they seem to start of throwing him fastballs and change-ups inside where he seems to have the most holes in his swing, once they get the ball over against him almost 9/10 it’s a predictable ending.

    I don’t think it’s simple enough to say Howard shouldn’t swing at the first pitch because time and time again I’ve seen pitchers take advantage and throw a first pitch strike because he’s predictable when he’s not tearing the cover off the ball, I’m no scout but I’m pretty sure the advanced scouts have sussed his patterns. Once he’s in an 0-1, 1-2 hole his number say he’s a Juan Pierre-ish threat and pitchers will be well aware of that.

    The reality is Howards going to hit a lot of dingers and drive in the most amount of runs, the trade-off is if he isn’t driving in a run he’s probably just embarrassed himself at the plate.

  56. The Dipsy

    August 7, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    See, with those stats, and we can talk chemistry, gut feelings, what Howards approach should be and so on. But the other half of this is that Ibanez and Werth are so GOOD against lefties. Frankly, I think it borders on malpractice not to try the switch. So many more at bats that go to two better hitters. Hey, if you had two shmos batting behind Howard, that were just “ok” against LHP, this article doesn’t get written.

    The Dipsy

  57. Chuck

    August 7, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    I can’t argue with your logic, Dipsy…..but IT AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN…..and you know it.

  58. The Dipsy

    August 7, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Yup. I do.

    The Dispy

  59. therookie300

    August 7, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    They obviously made corrections to Feliz’s approach at the plate this season. It may have zapped some of his power, but he has been a lot more productive. Maybe they should alter Howard’s approach at the plate in the same way. He’s still big and strong so it won’t zap his power as much. Just get him to make some more consistent contact against lefties. What he’s doing now ain’t working.

  60. Brian of CO

    August 7, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    90% of all pitches thrown when Howard is at bat are strike (because he swings at utter crap).

  61. Dhall

    August 7, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Sorry Brian of Colorado…I do know my Schmidt stats. He wasn’t a good hitter when he first came up but he worked at it and became a good hitter. Look at his average in the 80’s compared to his average in the 70’s. Howard is striking out at unprecedented rate. He is averaging 193 K’s per season in his 3 full seasons and he is on pace for 202 this year (over a 162 game schedule). Schmidt’s career high in K’s is 180 in 1975. His next highest total is 149, so he’s nowhere near the numbers of Howard. At Howard’s rate, he will surpass Schmidt as the all time Phillies strikeout leader in only 10 full seasons! As for his average being .276 compared to .267 for Schmidt…Howard’s getting a big boost from that first full season of .313 Since then he has been below .270 every year. I’d rather see a guy start poor and get better over the years than the opposite. Schmidt would be a monster in this ballpark on this team. It’s really like comparing apples to oranges. In all fairness, I’m sorry I brought Schmidt’s name up:-)

  62. Don M

    August 7, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Feliz doesn’t currently need surgery on his back … maybe that’s the biggest reason he’s hitting better ?

    Howard doesn’t hit lefty’s real well … most lefty’s don’t hit other LHP’s real well

    but in his career, Howard hits a HR every 17.5 at bats….
    Werth every 14 …
    Raul Ibanez.. once every 32 at-bats

    So there isn’t a huge need to readjust the lineup, and move guys to different positions every 3rd game.. it takes away from them being comfortable, and different spots in the lineup have different jobs.. Howards is to swing hard and drive in runs .. he does as good a job of that as anyone in baseball over the past 3 seasons..

    leave the lineup alone, its arguably the best top-to-bottom in baseball

  63. The Dipsy

    August 7, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Don, wouldn’t you like lineup to be better the “arguably the best top to bottom”? Look up the word “misoneism”.

    The Dipsy

  64. The Original Chuck P

    August 7, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    I respect your opinion and you’ve uncovered some numbers that are astonishing… like I said, logically speaking, it makes a lot of sense to move him down the order against lefties and his continued failure against lefties is an area that he and Charlie need to work on …you knew this was coming… BUT Howard batting cleanup is a huge reason why Werth and Ibanez are having breakout seasons (and further, why this team is in first place). Moving him out of the cleanup spot could affect him AND the other players on this team that might hold some sort of allegiance to Howard (I wonder how they would feel about moving Ibanez, the relatively new guy, into the cleanup spot). I don’t think it’s a good idea to rock the boat… not with the way things are going. We should strive for greatness… you are right but I think that falls on Howard/Charlie. Does it make sense? Absolutely. Could it have negative consequences? Yes.

  65. DeanH

    August 7, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Something has to be done w/ Howard. He is killing us too much this year. This idea sounds fine.

    Another item, we need a utility player that can hit atleast .200! I believe that is easy to find, isn’t it?

  66. Repeat!

    August 7, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Something must be wrong with my computer. My last post never made it to show. It said in more detail in my last post that Edr… I would like to apologize for calling you a racist or an Uncle Tom. I would also like to apologize if I offened any one this board. My last post was much longer. But I have to get back to work now. I’ll type the rest later.

  67. Brian of CO

    August 7, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Dhall, did you by chance look at the number of at bats? Like you said apples to Oranges. Schmidt was a gold glove hall of famer, Howard is power not usually known for his glove, but also, Schmidt averaged about 550 At Bats, Howard averages 573 at bats with 610 last season. Looking at the averages of all the seasons, Schmidt averaged striking out .5 to 1 at bat LESS than Howard. Still a strikeout king for his time and number of at bats.

  68. Don M

    August 7, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Fear of change …… isn’t the same is the fear of making bad moves, like dropping Ryan Howard to #6 against ANYONE …

    Ryan Howard is the best cleanup hitter in baseball … you dont drop him to 6th


    I would like our lineup, starting rotation, bullpen, and bench to be better..

    But I like what we have.. We have guys succeeding in their roles, in their spots in the lineup.. due to a large part because they are in the same spots everyday, and they are comfortable, they know what their job is.. and probably more than ever, they have been doing their job

    Howard moving up or down the lineup every other night won’t help him one bit.. and we’re already scoring tons of runs, so why mess with a good thing?

  69. The Dipsy

    August 7, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Is someone actually comparing Ryan Howard to Mike Schmidt? Please. Yes, I’ve known for a very long time that Ed is a racist. Its a shame because otherwise he’s a good man. Little does everyone know that Ed is actually black and was born blind. He was raised by a white family and grew up in Mississippi. For reasons that are known only to Ed and his family, he was never told he was black and he was a raised as a white supremacist. Suffice it to say this has caused a great deal of conflict in his life and many of his comments on race should not be taken seriously.

    The Dipsy

  70. Brian of CO

    August 7, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Dhall started, but them stated it was like comparing apples to oranges.

  71. Brian of CO

    August 7, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Dipsy, always the comedian.

  72. Brian of CO

    August 7, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Well looking back I guess he didnt “compare” them, but bringing Schmidt up started a discussion.

  73. Bob

    August 7, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Dipsy got that one from the Chappelle Show ill bet, LOL

  74. CMax

    August 7, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    I just think it’s incredibly easy to say “look at his numbers, look at their numbers, let’s move him” but the truth of the matter is that baseball is never that easy. You can’t clamor to move the man without acknowledging possible negative consequences that come from that move…and I know these guys are professionals, but if you don’t think that moving Ryan from the 4th to 6th spot against LHP will affect his attitude and his mental approach to the game, you’re crazy.

    It’s an interesting idea, but these guys aren’t machines. They are humans. Ryan Howard is proud of his role as clean-up. Moving him hurts his ego (and while this guy isn’t completely egotistical, he’s also not the most humble guy in the world either). This post gets into a larger debate too between the importance of stats and numbers in baseball. I think they are important, but statisticians sometimes like to take the human element out of baseball, an element that Cholly values a whole lot.

    My verdict: leave him in. Any possible pros to the move would be offset by an upset Ryan Howard. As long as his RBI counts keep rising, I don’t care what his average is. Many people looked at his average last year, but I look at the 140+ RBIs and I’m very much satisfied with the Big Man’s performance.

  75. CMax

    August 7, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    However, my verdict don’t mean &%^$. I’m a poor college student surfing Phillies Nation instead of actually working.

  76. The Dipsy

    August 7, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Cmax: While people will tell you that we can make say numbers say anything, and most of the time we can, sometimes you see a number that, existing alone, in a vacuum, or in a much broader context along with other factual data, that totally blows your mind.

    1. 100 degrees is really hot;
    2. 10% unemployment is really high;
    3. Sex with 4 girls in one night is really awesome (for the guy)…..
    4. and batting .179 is absolutely ridiculous. No matter how you look at it, what impact it has on other players, how great he is against righties, how big of a snit he would throw if he got busted to sixth, its just a staggering number that demands action be taken as opposed to schluffed off. I’m sure Ryan would be fine with it as soon as you showed him a copy of his latest bank statement.

    The Dipsy

    The Dipsy

  77. Chuck

    August 7, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    I understand the argument being made here…BUT…..messing with the lineup that much is not practical….AND…..IT’S NOT GONNA HAPPEN anyway…..I mean, while we’re at it, let’s Put Cole Hamels in the bullpen to see if he snaps out of whatever it is that’s he’s in and let’s give Brad Lidge a start so he gets completely back on track (yesterday’s performance not included).

  78. The Dipsy

    August 7, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Whats not practical about it????? Practical is not the problem. I think your confusing “practical” with “inconvenient”. All it takes is a pencil to make this happen.

    The Dipsy

  79. Chuck

    August 7, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    It’s not practical because it messes with the rest of the lineup and….like Don said…..it messes with the roles and comfort level that everyone else has. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that Werth and Ibanez benefit greatly from Howard hitting cleanup.

    What DOES have to happen is Ryan Howard just being more patient at the plate. Take a walk once in awhile. Don’t ALWAYS try to be “The Man” and kill the ball. Whatever….

  80. Bob

    August 7, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    How about swapping Howard and Utley vs. LH’s.

    Someone noted that Utley isn’t seeing any pitches from lefties because they know Howard is behind him, knowing how to get Howard out. Well if you swap them, Utley seeing more pitches and Utley gets better protection vs LH’s with Ibanez behind him.

    I dont think that would kill chemistry. Chase is a gamer and can hit anywhere in the lineup.

  81. Bob

    August 7, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    And with Utley behind him, Howard in turn may see better pitches (if he can realize they are coming from a LHP)

  82. Chuck

    August 7, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    That wouldn’t be too bad because you’re only involving two players and two spots in the lineup and it’s just a matter of up or down ONE spot. Batting 3rd certainly isn’t a “demotion” in any sense. Hell, doesn’t Pujols bat 3rd?

  83. CMax

    August 7, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    I have two numbers for you Dipsy.

    4, as in 4th, as in Ryan Howard’s ranking as an RBI leader in the NL.
    And 121, as in 121+, as in the number of RBIs Howard is projected to have this year.

    121 is production. 4th in total RBIs so far this year is production. And plus, historically Howard gets real hot in August and September as well, so he may have even more.

    Sure it is a decline, and sure .179 is a bad, bad number. I don’t disagree with you that there is a problem. In fact, 75% of his RBIs have come against RHP (which is crazy if you think about it).

    But you don’t want to mess with that production. Moving him to 6th will mess with it. It most definitely will. He will throw a tantrum, he will be angry. There has to be a better way to solve this problem, a way in which his numbers can improve and his pride will not be hurt. Working on his swing, giving him some days off, or even just mentioning it to him. Having him lay off the first pitches. I don’t know, Charlie is the hitting man, I’m sure he has plenty of ideas.

    But moving down to 6th will create just as more problems than it would solve.

  84. Don M

    August 7, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Switching Howard with Utley in the lineup isn’t a smart move.. because why would you Howard getting MORE at-bats against the LHP if he struggles with them?

    He isn’t moving anywhere.. the lowest he would ever go would be 5th.. and I don’t see that happening either..

    We’re on pace for 93 wins right now, I don’t think we need to try to change things too much

  85. Don M

    August 7, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Utley bats 3rd because he is the best PURE hitter on the team.. (either him or Ibanez??) and Howard bats 4th because he is the best POWER hitter on the team

    they won’t switch the order around when our offense is scoring over 5.25 runs per game …

    Our pitching seems to be coming around, and we’re already one of the most dangerous lineups in the league… making changes for change’s sake isn’t smart

  86. George

    August 7, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    I don’t agree with moving Howard, and it’s not because of “fear of change” (An easier term easier to understand than a twenty-five dollar word thrown about in attempt to prove superiority.) I don’t agree because I think that messing around with a proven lineup is just asking for trouble. What kinds of pitches would Ibanez/Werth see if lefties thought they could get Howard out? If Howard were to start the inning, what kinds of pitches would Howard see if pitchers knew that only one decent hitter was due to follow and the pitcher would soon be up? Lineups are built in certain ways because one player sometimes feeds on the others. Hitting stats are not an isolated phenomenon.

    One might experiment with lineups, but not in the middle of a winning season. Tinkering should be done in the spring, or when no one is hitting.

  87. psujoe

    August 7, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    CMAx, Ryan Howard has a whopping 18 RBI in 160 ABs for 1 every 8.8 ABs against Lefties. Against Righties he has 61 in 248 ABs for 1 every 4.06.

  88. Chuck

    August 7, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    So 93 wins is ENOUGH for you?? Why not try to eek out a few more? Who knows if this race is going to tighten up to the point where 94 or 95 wins is what it’s going to take to win the division. That’s probably not going to be the case, but I’m just playing devil”s advocate for a minute.

  89. psujoe

    August 7, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Food for thought. Ryan Howard has a better Lifetime Batting average and HR percentage from the #5 and #6 spot in the line up than he does at the #4 spot. hmmm.

  90. psujoe

    August 7, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    I digress, but Alex Rios was supposedly claimed off waivers. Team not known yet. Any guesses?

  91. Don M

    August 7, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Because we’re on pace for 93 wins RIGHT NOW.. just based on win % …. that has counted lots of starts by Chan Ho Park .. an ineffective Hamels.. an inconsistent Moyer …

    If we see Lee, lots more Happ, maybe Pedro?.. and if Hamels can turn it around… I see this team pushing past 95 wins

  92. Chuck

    August 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    “If we see Lee, lots more Happ”…..

    Exactly why a 6 man rotation is stupid….because it’s LESS of Lee and LESS of Happ…..

    Giving Pedro a “tryout” start and possibly making him a spot starter…along with Moyer….is really the only way to ensure that Lee and Happ…and Hamels and Blanton…..get their FULL number of starts.

    I actually think that “tinkering” with the rotation by making it a pure 6 man is worse than batting Ryan Howard 3rd for a few games..

  93. Don M

    August 7, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Hamels could use some extra rest here and there.. since he threw so many innings last year… Lee, Blanton, and Happ need to keep their spot in the rotation, as scheduled

    I think Blanton is nasty.. maybe starts a fight tonight throwing inside and finally plunking someone.. the Marlins suck

  94. Chuck

    August 7, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    I’m up for a little action like that!!

  95. Az Mike

    August 8, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Dipsy – That was a very. very, very good article re Ryan Howard. I have thought your exact same thoughts for a couple of months now. I love the man as well, but something must change! Your suggestions should be put into place immediately. I live in Phoenix and recently when the Phils were here Ryan was interviewed by a local TV guy. When asked about his SO’s Ryan said that SO’s were part of the game and were the same as any other out. He wasn’t too concerned about it. Well, what about putting wood on the ball to move a runner over, to hit a sacrifice fly or to simply make the fielder make a play. Some of them do make errors at times. Also how about learning to hit some pitches on the ground to left field. Show the pitcher you can hit and you’ll probably get better pitches
    to hit. Lastly don’t take this criticism as if we’re picking on you. Try it, you’ll like it and so will we!

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