Beerleaguer wonders what happened to the young player who used to earn praise for being such a nimble, capable defender for a big man.
Something I haven’t seen mentioned is the error charged to Jimmy Rollins in Monday’s game. Yet again, Howard stayed on the bag instead of retrieving a ball that sailed wide. For all his successes, Howard’s glove remains one of the single, biggest disappointments of the last few seasons. Baseball America once named him “Best Defensive Power Prospect” in the Eastern League and I’m fairly certain he received similar BA accolades while playing in the International League.
His agility is still decent, and his mobility isn’t the real problem, either. Think how he tracks down balls in foul territory; he’s actually quite capable. It’s the mental part, the flash decision making, followed next by his arm accuracy and quickness, evidenced by the number plays that gobble him up. The bottom line is he has the tools to be better than he is. Unfortunately, I just don’t sense that he takes much pride in it. It's just one more thing for the Phillies to bring to the arbitration table if the two sides can’t agree on a new contract after the season, and they have every right to do it.
Several hitters heating up: Jayson Werth isn’t the only hitter swinging a hot bat. (Via the pre-game notes) Chris Coste, .333 (11-33), HR, 7 RBI last 12 games; Jimmy Rollins, .472 (17-36), 2 HR, 10 RBI last nine games; Chase Utley, .396 (21-53), HR, 5 RBI last 13 games; Jayson Werth, .395 (15-38), 4 HR, 10 RBI last 11 games.
September excellence: Continuing with the press notes, because it’s just so easy to copy and paste away the entries while we wait for the start of the game. Over the past four seasons (2004-07), the Phillies have gone an NL-best 70-42 (.625) in September. Over the past three seasons (2005-07), Howard leads all major league players in September HR (30) and Rollins has the most hits (126), triples (12) and extra-base hits (55).