Monday, December 04, 2006

On Second Thought....

Albert Pujols wants to apologize to Ryan Howard for his remarks last week about the MVP vote.  That is big of King Albert.  Less big, however, is Pujols’ complaint that his apology is in order because his remarks last week were taken out of context.  He said what he said, consecutive translation notwithstanding.  (The translations, by the way, were fine.)  What Albert miscalculated was that apart from winning on merit, Howard is extremely well liked by everyone including the voters who cast their ballots for the St. Louis first baseman.  When no one rushed to Albert’s defense, he chose option number two:  blame it on the reporters who “misquoted” him.


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Thus far this off-season the Phils haven’t done anything to improve their area of greatest concern, the bullpen.  Nor have them found the big bat to protect Ryan Howard.  As they go into the Winter Meetings, the few remaining free agents available hardly offer much consolation let alone…well…relief.  More and more it appears that any help will have to come via a trade, but it is also generally acknowledged the Phillies have virtually nothing to offer in return except for a few untested pitchers like Gio Gonzalez, whom they are loathe to surrender, and Aaron Rowand, who is still scheduled to be a starter.

Before everyone starts moaning again about the lousy farm system of the Phillies and Ed Wade’s role in its depletion, keep in mind J-Roll, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, and Carlos Ruiz are all products of that system.

On the other hand, the problem for the Phils’ farm system today is that as is the case on Wall Street, the markets are only interested in future earnings, not past performance.

It would be encouraging to read a few stories about how much the Phillies are investing in overseas scouts in Latin America and Asia as well as how much they are doing to improve domestic oversight.  In addition, it would be nice to learn the Phillies have finally recognized too many of their prospects move up through the organization without ever learning some of the basics that would include but are not limited to:  learning when to take a pitch or two, moving runners along, hitting behind runners, and bunting.  This includes the Phillies’ pitchers, who are atrocious at all of the above.

There is a lot of competition out there for all athletes let alone baseball players, but every organization should be capable of demanding a certain level of proficiency from the ones they do sign.

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Barry Bonds is still without a job and is it any wonder?  No, this isn’t Collusion II on the part of the owners.  Who wants the expense of hiring Bonds for one year at today’s ridiculous prices?  Will he make that money back in additional revenues for his new team?  He’s just as likely to break the mark on the road as at his new home, though you can be sure he will sit out a game or two if the schedule has him returning home as he closes in.  And who among the NL teams wants the liability of watching him limp along in the outfield, unable to perform the most routine plays he used to do so effortlessly?  That prospect makes it more likely he will sign with an AL team and DH.  Finally, who among all MLB teams wants the guaranteed aggravation of the media circus that is sure to ensue as he nears the mark, replete, no doubt, with his inevitable I-am-the-victim-here soliloquies?   One thing seems certain:  while MLB will fete him should he break Henry Aaron’s mark, Hammer’ Hank won’t be among the celebrants.

1 comment:

George S said...

I keep watching Phillies’ fans repeating this ‘protection for Ryan Howard’ mantra, and there is not one shred of evidence anywhere that ‘protection’ helps a batter at all. It’s one of those baseball myths that managers and fans just ‘know’ has to be true, except it’s not.
So how about we turn this thing around backwards and look at two things:

If protection is so important, then who should bat in front of Howard and receive his great ‘protection’? Well, how about Burrell? Of all the players who would benefit from seeing more hittable pitches, which is the supposed benefit of protection, Burrell would seem to be the perfect candidate. Let the lineup be Burrell-Howard.

Secondly, there is also a school of thought that says this ‘protection’ idea actually has a negative impact, not a positive one. In a lineup of Utley-Howard, the idea is that Utley will suffer because of Howard batting behind him. The positive view says that pitchers will not risk walking Utley because Howard will then come up with a man on base. Therefore, they will give Utley more strikes to hit. The negative view says that pitchers will do everything they can to get Utley out, bearing down on him much more than any normal hitter, because they don’t want Howard to come up with a man on. In this view, Utley sees a lot more of the pitcher’s best stuff.

There is no need for the Phillies to beat the bushes looking for protection for Ryan Howard. It doesn’t help.