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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

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Well, that's unhappy. I was hoping it was just a funk he'd break out of. Maybe he will yet. It will be tough to win without him, since that means there is no reason not to walk Chase Utley. Esp. if Jimmy and Shane don't get on base.

If our #1 & #2 get hot and Werth hits well, then there will be hope.

I still see Yankees in 6, but I am really hoping to at least go 7, so Pedro can earn a W. And I am halfway hopeful that the fighting spirit of the Phils will pull them through. Worst of all would be a losing in the 9th inning. Frankly, I'd rather be trailing the entire game than that.

I have enough hope that the Phillies do this - I know they have the ability and the drive - that I will watch, of course! But it will be tough versus the Yankees, with Mariano Rivera, their lineup, and a quiet Howard.

Feel free to lambast me for my pessimism. :)

Sweeney Murti on 610 and saying that he is concerned about Pettitte on 3 days rest because of the facts I stated yesterday. Andy hasn't pitched on 3 days rest in a long time. Also, he hasn't pitched on anything LESS than 5 days rest in 2 months. Sweeney is also very confident that Pedro will pitch well.

Sweeney also offered the ideas that NY is a little on the edge about this situation and some people are even discussing throwing Mariano for 3 innings if it is required. Finally, he predicts there will be a game 7.

"First, this slump could simply be the law of averages bringing him back to his mean level. "

The law of averages doesn't mean that if he performed above average level earlier in the post season, he will perform at significantly below average level in the World Series.

The law of averages means that if he performs at above average level earlier in the post season, he will perform at his average level in the World Series.

It's all in the strike zone, and unless he changes his approach - which seems unlikely - he will continue to suck if the Yankees get the wide strike zone, and even more if the umpiring remains so inconsistent.

In Manuel-speak, Howard isn't letting the ball get deep on him. He's become pull-conscious, lunging too early at the ball instead of staying back. It's that simple. We see Howard get into the same habit several times a season. When he stays back, he has far better plate coverage and discipline, and he hits the ball to all fields.

RSB: You are right on point. I was in the middle of typing thats ame point. It is so obvious, even McCarver is pointing it out, "You see there, Howard is lunging at that ball, so he is just fouling it off."

In last year's World Series, Howard went 6/21 (.286 BA) with 3 home runs and 6 RBI. Take out game 4 against Sonnanstine - who is far, far inferior to any pitching he has faced (or will face) in this current World Series - and he was 3/17 with 1 home run and only 1 RBI. Also, bear in mind, that home run was against Garza in game three, right after he gave up a home run to Utley and he grooved a fastball to #6.

I'm not trying to advance that Howard isn't a "clutch" player, or doesn't have what it takes to succeed in the World Series - I mean hell, he DID crush balls off of Sonnanstine and Miller in game 4.

But against the caliber of pitchers Howard is facing this World Series (for example Kazmir, Shields, Garza, and the Rays' bullpen) he looked lost for the vast majority of the World Series last year. I think it's a combination of advanced scouting of the opposing team, the ultimate focus and attention to detail of the pitcher of every single pitch thrown, and finally just some nerves and anxiousness of appearing in the World Series.

Milt needs to teach him how to swing defensively with 2 strikes, rather than continuing with his Stairs-esque swings.

I wonder what Howard's foul ball numbers are, particularly those balls that are hit decently (not dribblers). On Monday he seemed to make pretty good contact. Perhaps this is a sign. Is there evidence to support this?

It's the lefties, and I think his AB's in Game 2 affected him. Burnett's outside curve kept getting called a strike, and it messed with his perception of the strike zone.

Here's a prediction:

If Vic doesn't play, and Francisco is in center, and Stairs is the DH, and he strikes out...

We will read criticism of Stairs on BL.

I know it's a bold prediction - but I'm sticking with it.

The scouting comment reminds me of Matt Stairs' awful at-bat in the ninth inning of game 4. He lets two fastballs go for strikes and then ends up having to take a hack at a breaking pitch and grounds out. Why the Yanks would give Stairs a fastball kind of makes sense- with a three run lead, you just need to throw strikes. Why Stairs didn't swing until he was buried in the count? That has no answer.

Phlipper: Here is another prediction:

Top of the 1st and Rollins flys out....

We will read posts such as "season= over" on BL.

Howard can kill LHP when he's locked in. He just needs to click once and its on.

He'll come up big tonight.


No way in hell Vic doesn't play. He's a gamer. Give him some painkillers and some anti-inflammatories and he'll be set.

Just as I was leaving for work, watching Fox & Friends, Brian Kilmeade said that Cholly has not announced a starter for a possible Game 7, intimating that it would not be Hamels, because Hamels has an "attitude problem." Something in this story doesn't sound right to me. I have learned that you can't believe anything that the news media tells you. Is there any confirmation to this story? Thanks!

****We will read posts such as "season= over" on BL.****

At least you've been paying attention on BL.

Jason, this is one of your best thread headers. There's a lot of meat and great insight in this one. I agree with you wholeheartedly how the weird strike zones have affected the outcomes of some of these WS games.

loctastic: Definitely. They just kept throwing that "strike" out there in Game 2 and he just kept getting called strikes - he was clearly turned out by it and has been having bad at-bats ever since.

Foxnews lie?!?

I simply refuse to believe such slander!

Is Obama the Anti-Christ or merely Satan's lackey? YOU DECIDE!

Its the SI Jinx. Simple as that.

If Vic somehow doesn't play or can't play effectively, the lack of depth/too few extra players on this team will finally have caught them at the worst time.

Because you would be looking at either DH'ing Eric Bruntlett or two lefties (one of whom has been nailed to the bench for a while now because of sickness). Not a good situation, when you are potentially facing 2 lefty starters the rest of the way.

Or maybe Antonio "Why am I still on the playoff roster?" Bastardo can DH.

phlipper -Alternate prediction:
Vic does play , Stairs still DH , Stairs and Howard both see the short RF porch and get opening day of NY winter hittin' season off to a great start, & Uts solidifies his MVP bid .
Pedro lays an egg , Pettite is just as bad .
Game takes 4.75 hours. Joe West throws out at lest 2 Yankees for "delay of game".
Phils win 14- 11.
(And oh yeah- I win the lotto)

I'm not sure if Howard's become pull-conscious, or that anything has really happened to him at all. Nothing seemed wrong with him in game 1, even while Sabathia is a tough match-up for anybody. Game 2? Something seemed wrong with everyone, but that's just a case of Burnett being on his game. Something seemed wrong in game 3, but here's where Pettitte, with his junk off the plate, was a tough match-up for every lefty in the lineup, mainly because he was getting the calls on breaking pitches that this post and phlipper refer to. In game four, a game in which Howard did look sorta-kinda bad, he had a big hit and run scored. In game 5, he worked two walks. He struck out twice, sure, but he was on base 2 of 5 PA. Not a bad game in my book.

In last year's WS, everybody was concerned about Ryno because he looked bad in games 1 and 2. Then he looked good in games 3 and 4. As was the case after games 1 and 2 last year, I think there have been too few games to make any solid inferences about something being wrong with him.

How can Howard remedy his "stinkiness" v. LHP? Video? Extra BP v. lefties?

I saw a movie about a kid who lost an arm and went on to play ball for the St. Louis Browns one year (during the war, when there weren't as many ballplayers around). He learned to hit & throw from OF. Granted, he had the rest of his childhood/adolescence to learn. But, still, if someone can overcome a handicap like that - and there was that pitcher, too, I remember - then surely Howard can overcome his "handicap" v. LHP. Can't he?

Perhaps Fox and Friends isn't the best place to go looking for insight into the inner workings of Charlie's mind...

If no Vic, Werth should be in CF and Ben in RF.

Ugh.

With the thought of Bruntlett at DH, I fear for BAP's safety.

My recollection is that Pettite was working lefties inside and outside with that breaking pitch. He crowded howard and Utley with that pitch that started out at their shoulder and then dipped over hte inside corner. If they can adjust to that pitch, or if Pettite makes a mistake with it, I think that will be his downfall. When he throws that Tom Glavine special and the umps are calling it (West will), it's downright unfair.

I think Vic will play. He was already doing poorly at the plate, so he probably won't get any worse there - Maybe he can stand really, really close and get hit a lot to get on base. :)

And in the field, hopefully, the injury won't prevent him throwing well.

I still say, if he can't play, Werth should be in center rather than Francisco (who should be in RF). What do you suppose is the reasoning for BenFran in CF instead of Werth? Maybe I'm missing something, but I thought best fielder (range, arm, etc) goes in CF, and that Werth is our best fielder next to (or equal to) Victorino?

Well there is a pic of Vic on a luggage cart in Center City getting ready to load his family's luggage into his car. I think he is fine.

In other interesting news, here is a link to a NY article, declaring the series over tonight.

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/2009/11/04/2009-11-04_yankees_will_show_em_how_series_is_won.html

Be careful what you say Yankee fans....

To answer my question, either Fox was wrong or my interpretation of Fox was wrong. It's probably my stupidity. Here's Reuters version of the story:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has yet to name a potential World Series Game Seven starter, but was quick to defuse speculation he would seek an alternative to leading candidate Cole Hamels because of an attitude problem.

The Phillies were keeping options open though it would be Hamels's turn in the rotation.

Last year's World Series MVP for victorious a Philadelphia, Hamels endured a storm of criticism from local media and fans after telling reporters following his 8-5 Game Three loss on Saturday he could not wait for his frustrating season to end.

"I'm not going to say who's going to pitch," Manuel told reporters at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. "Cole Hamels can pitch for me any time. We're just not ready to say. We've got to play tomorrow."

Manuel said he and Hamels talked after the Phillies' 8-6 Game Five win in Philadelphia that trimmed the Yanks' advantage to 3-2 in the series.

"There's definitely no quit in him, and I know he shows emotions at times, and he's had like a freakish year and he's going through a bad time, but at the same time he'll get through it and he'll be the pitcher that you saw last year."

"He is a gamer and he's a fighter."

Manuel downplayed reports of a testy exchange between Hamels and fellow-pitcher Brett Myers, who was overheard remarking to Hamels in the clubhouse, "What are you doing here? I thought you quit."

"First of all, they're friends," explained Manuel. "Brett was being Brett. Brett likes to throw that jab at you, and sometimes it doesn't matter who's around. I think people when they hear that sometimes, they don't know how to take it."

Hamels made it clear he wanted to take the mound and end the season in triumph.

"Who wouldn't want the ball in Game Seven?" Hamels told reporters.

"This is the ultimate dream to be able to pitch in the most competitive situation anybody could ever be in -- Game Seven of the World Series. Even though I might not have the best results leading up to it, I've always wanted it."


If Vic isn't in the lineup, be prepared for another clubhouse spat. Can't imagine him not going crazy in the dugout while having to watch Game 6 from the bench.

From ESPN: "Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino says his hand is fine, despite being hit by a pitch Monday during Game 5, and he expects to play in Game 6 of the World Series against the New York Yankees Wednesday night.

'Two thumbs up, everybody,' he told reporters, illustrating the point with his own thumbs. 'That's all you need to know.'"

Hitting for Ryan is especially tough. He only gets 1 pitch per AB to hit and must hit it. When the plate is too big it makes it much tougher and tonight it will be bigger than ever but, Petitte will not be hitting his spots and there should be mistakes to hit. So this BL'er is calling for big game by the big MAN.

Go RYAN and Go Phils.

Lake Fred: I think the problem is you're getting your sports news from "Fox & Friends" and not BL.

"Who wouldn't want the ball in Game Seven?" -- the entire 2009 Yankees staff.

Nah, phaithful, CC wants it, I have no doubt.

I heard Keith Law this morning (on Mike & Mike) say that the difference between Howard being hot in LDS/LCS and being cold in WS is better left-handed pitching, saying that Howard has never developed that part of his game. While true, I think it is an oversimplification.

Howard is a streaky player. He has times where he sees the ball well, his timing is on, and nobody can pitch to him. He has times where he's lost, and I could pitch to him. It's the nature of his approach at the plate, with the long uppercut swing; you take the good with the bad.

Now I will oversimplify: I would bet that Howard spends 25% of the time being "locked-in", 25% of the time being ice-cold, and 50% of the time somewhere in the middle. When he's cold, he's below average against right handers, but atrocious against lefties. When he's hot, he's above average versus lefties, white hot against righties. In the middle, he's above average vs. right-handers, but below average vs lefties.

Now while I don't think the long layoff necessary caused the cold streak for Howard, I think it did exacerbate the transition between hot and cold. Unfortunately, I think we are in the phase with Howard where you actually hope he can just take walks against left-handed pitchers. He can still contribute, if he's willing to take pitches.

Where the impression that West has a monster strike zone came from? I know he has called some pitcher's battles before, and Buchholtz's no-hitter the other year, but Schilling was calling him a "hitter's ump" on WEEI when he was named to the officiating squad of the ALDS.

predictions for tonight:

Howard finally hits a big one off middle relief, Phils win 6-4. game takes 9 hours because Posada and Pettite decide to host a taping of the View on the mound during a big Phils 5th inning. And I die of a heart attack because Charlie brings Lidge in for the 9th, who brings the winning run up to the plate, but ARod pops out to end it.

If Vic can't go, dh lee. He's probably the best bat on the bench.

Going back to last thread and statistics:

Statistics are great for determining what happened (over many data points) and predicting what will happen in the future (over many data points) if the same conditions continue to apply. However, they are not very useful at telling why something happened, or very useful as predictors for small periods of data (1 week, 1 game, 1 atbat, etc.). So for instance, on streaky hitters, it may take a while for the actual performance to approxiamte the statistics in the beginning of a streaky period. This is where the experience (the "eyes") come in.

You can spout your statistics about Howard all you want, but when I see that approach of Howard waiting for the ball to get deep in the zone and hitting it hard the other way, I know he's locked in, and he's much more likely to hit better than his average statistics would predict. And when he flails at the curve/slider that's either in the dirt or 2 feet off the plate, well you can forget about it for a while.

Howard will be the key tonight, especially against Pettite. You know they're not going to give Chase anything to hit now, so Howard is going to have to make the tired old lefty pay early, or it will be a long night.

TEB 33, Bed Beard & NEPP, I normally don't tune in Fox for sports news. I had it on to get election returns with the sound on low. The Hamels story caught my eye and I was not sure if I got the whole story at the time. Now I know that I got it wrong.

loctastic "And I die of a heart attack because Charlie brings Lidge in for the 9th"

Dial 9-1 on your phone when Lidge comes in & keep your finger poised over the final 1 .

That or drink heavily.

BTW, in contrat to Howard, Werth can flail hopelessly at the plate for one at bat, and then crush one the next at bat (or even in the same at bat). His particular approach during any particular swing does not seem to indicate whether he is in the zone or not. Makes sense since he is in the mode of Thome as a "guess" hitter. Howard, on the other hand, doesn't seem to give that same impression. He's more of a "read & react" guy that needs to have timing and rhythm down, so when it goes, it goes for a while and is apparent in almost every at bat.

That's okay, I was just teasing you Lake Fred.

I'm just thankful for the Howard conversation. All this talk about Hamels starting game 7 before we play game 6 has me sick. Let's focus on the things that matter for tonight's game!

and let's do ourselves all a favor and never tune into fox news - even if it's for election returns. ridiculous excuse for news.

lack of alcohol will not be a problem. I've been drinking Jameson whenever he comes in for months now. Although, I did miss Sunday (was at the game), so that might explain why he blew it..

Pedro!

If you had told me five years ago that Pedro Martinez would be pitching Game 6 of the World Series for the Phillies in Yankee Stadium, I would have called you crazy. Games like this are precisely why I follow baseball. It doesn't really get any better than this: elimination game, Yankee stadium, Pedro's legacy. Everyone is predicting a high scoring game but I think we're gonna see the opposite: two aging but gutsy pitchers going head to head, one upping one another inning after inning. Expect a beauty of a game.

If Lidge makes an appearance at Yankee stadium, I'd think that the "Who's your daddy?" chants would be apropos. Then again, after this season, that chant would be appropriate in just about every other stadium, too...

All signs seem to point to a slugfest. I suppose that means it will be a 3-2 nailbiter.

Hugh, I was talking to a Yankee "fan" this morning (one of those that I didn't even know he liked baseball until the Yankees were in the WS), and mentioned that I was thinking tonight will either be a 3-2 pitching duel or an 11-8 offensive explosion. Could go either way.

Willard, I don't think I've predicted a damn thing right in this series. Possible exception - I thought Blanton would hold his own in game 4 and he did. It looks like a game that the eyes of any and every baseball fan should be there for every pitch.

Yo, new thread.

I agree with Milt, Howard is just trying to hard. If he would just meet the ball, he'd do much better.

He has not seen many pitches good pitches, but the ones he has seen he either fouls it off or wiffs completely. And they are big cuts too. Trying to kill the ball.

Also, I think he needs to forget about the strike zone and count for the first two pitches and focus on his sweet spot. If it's not right there, don't swing.

Lastly, Is his stance different? I just get this feeling watching him lately. Wait, let me check the videos....MLB.com...game highlighs...search...howard...page 10...1st HR in Atl.....2nd HR in Atl.... page 1... Howard Strugles... Huh.

I think he is opening up his stance slightly. His front foot in the HR videos stays more even with is back foot (as in distance from the plate). And his ankle rolls a little. In the strikeouts his front foot turns and points towards the pitcher. And I think it's away from the plate a little more. Hmm.. I think he's pulling his hip out a little earlier now than he was then.

Does anyone know Howard's or Milt's e-mail address?

Yankees won't let Howard beat them, they've kept him off balance with pitches *and* stepping off the mound to ruin his rhythm - It's more Yanks than Howard.

So, at least swap him with Werth tonight, or 'boldly' move Howard to 6th and see if it lights some fire, and bumbles Pet's lights out focus on our 3/4 hitters.

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