Ryan Howard: The Philadelphia Phillies’ Replaceable Superstar

August 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

Of all the players on the Philadelphia Phillies who might be deemed “irreplaceable,” the Phillies and their fans are coming to grips with the fact that Ryan Howard is no longer one of those players.

Howard is a swell guy. A behemoth at the plate with unrivaled power (when he actually connects with the ball), Howard has been present for some of the greatest moments in Philadelphia Phillies’ history.

And many of those moments would not have occurred if not for the Phillies’ fantastic first baseman.

But how long has it been since we had one of those moments?

By now, the City of Brotherly Love is awash in talk of the earthquake that hit the region on Tuesday afternoon, and a firestorm that hit the New York Mets on Tuesday night.

For the second straight day, the Phillies have pummeled their most-hated rival into the ground, drawing clearer and more deeply the distinction between a baseball team doing everything right, and the New York Mets.

After a 10-0 whitewashing on Monday night, the Phillies picked up where they left off for the second straight day, staking out a 9-0 lead through five innings before finally allowing the Mets to score a run in the series.

That 14-inning, 19-run outburst was not without its stars: John Mayberry has hit two home runs in the last two days to continue his red-hot second half hitting; Hunter Pence has scored five runs in two games with a home run, a single and two walks; Shane Victorino, batting leadoff in place of Jimmy Rollins, followed up Monday’s triple, walk and two-RBI performance with a home run and a two-run triple on Tuesday.

And Ryan Howard?

On Monday, he went 1-for-4 with three strikeouts, all looking, before being lifted late in the game; and on Tuesday, Howard got the night off.

And the offense did not miss a beat.

It has now been five years since Ryan Howard broke out in 2006 with one of the greatest offensive seasons in Philadelphia baseball history.

It has been three years since Howard last led the NL in home runs and RBI, and helped lead the Phillies to a World Series championship.

It has been two years since Howard led the NL in RBI before going cold in the World Series. And it has been one year since Howard ended the Phillies’ season with his bat in hand as a called strike three went sailing past.

And where are we now?

Howard’s reputation as a run producer is unrivaled and has reached mythical proportions, but know this: After tonight’s game, the Phillies are now 4-1 on the season in games in which Howard does not start.

But that is too small a sample size to discuss. Howard’s supporters will be quick to point out that while Howard’s numbers overall may not be great, Howard excels at “doing what he gets paid to do” (i.e. driving in runners on base).

And to a degree, this is true. In 2011, with runners in scoring position, Howard is batting .312 with a .415 on-base percentage a .500 slugging percentage.

Not too shabby. With runners on base (as opposed to in scoring position), Howard is hitting .285/.378/.494.

Also pretty good.

Compare that with the NL average of .253/.340/.385 with runners in scoring position, and .259/.332/.393 with runners on base, and Howard is clearly well above average.


At the same time, what about .333/.467/.556 and .317/.441/.568? Those are Prince Fielder’s numbers with runners in scoring position and with runners on base.

And what about .425/.543/.745 and .368/.504/.626? Those are Joey Votto’s numbers (WTF?!, by the way). 

And then there’s .340/.416/.596 and .337/.401/.564.

These are the numbers that present a problem, because, you see, these aren’t Albert Pujols’ numbers, or Adam Dunn’s numbers or Adrian Gonzalez’s numbers. They aren’t Mark Teixeira’s numbers, or Miguel Cabrera’s numbers or Ike Davis’ numbers.

These numbers belong to a 29-year-old first baseman in his first full season in the majors. He is currently making $1.05 million, and he is hitting for a better average (.319), a better on-base percentage (.374) and a better slugging percentage (.554) than Howard.

He also has just five fewer total bases than Howard (224 vs. 219) despite having over 100 fewer plate appearances (537 vs. 436).

Oh, and he has more hits and more doubles than Howard while hitting into fewer double plays than Howard.

This player’s name is Michael Morse, and for about five percent of what Howard is earning in 2011, Morse is outperforming him.

At the end of the day, as he sits on the bench and watches his Phillies destroy the New York Mets without his help, one has to wonder whether Howard realizes that if the Phillies traded him to the Nationals for Michael Morse tomorrow—straight up—they probably wouldn’t miss a beat.

Because that’s a thought that could fester for a guy who has suddenly become one of the most replaceable players in the Philadelphia Phillies lineup. 

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Knocking on the Door of the Century Mark in 2011

August 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

One hundred wins.

Unless you are the New York Yankees, 100 wins is a difficult and rare accomplishment.

In the 128-year history of the Philadelphia Phillies, the team has only won 100 or more games twice, and that happened in back-to-back seasons in the late 1970s. There are several teams that have never won 100 games, including the Colorado Rockies, Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays, but also including teams like the Washington Nationals, San Diego Padres and Milwaukee Brewers.

Winning 100 games is such an incredibly rare accomplishment that no National League team has managed to do it since the St. Louis Cardinals won exactly 100 games in 2005.

It has happened more frequently in the American League,—thanks to those Damn Yankees—but even so, the only teams other than the New York Yankees to win 100 games in the last 10 seasons were the 2002 Oakland A’s and the 2008 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

We could go on and on, but let’s arrive at the point, shall we?

After Monday night’s lambasting of the New York Mets, the Philadelphia Phillies sit at 82-44, which means the Phillies have officially clinched a winning record for the 2011 season.

But that’s not all.

If the Phillies play .500 ball the rest of the season (and, keep in mind, they have not played “.500 ball” over any significant stretch of the season to this point), they will go 18-18 the rest of the way—and they will finish the season with exactly 100 wins.

Which is ridiculous.

In fact, maybe this is an idea for a motto for the 2011 Phillies season:

2011 Philadelphia Phillies: Where Ridiculous Happens.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies “Stun” the World by Losing to Washington Nationals

August 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

We have known all season that this Philadelphia Phillies team would have the ability to stun the world.

We’re not completely sure we thought it would happen in August.

Stunning victories are, for lack of a better word, stunning. Sometimes, they leave the viewer sitting agog in his or her seat, unable to conceive of what just happened.

Other times, a stunning victory will cause sheer elation—a moment of heightened sensation akin to the birth of a child or the winning of a lottery.

At the end of the day, though, it can be said that a victory stuns fans when it comes against all odds, against all expectations, in the unlikeliest of scenarios.

We all remember the great “stunning” victories:

In 1951, Bobby Thomson of the New York Giants “stunned” the Brooklyn Dodgers with his Shot Heard ‘Round the World, to beat the Dodgers in Game 3 of the NL tiebreaker series, catapulting the Giants to the World Series.

Ten years later, in 1960, Bill Mazeroski stunned the baseball world with his World Series-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 against the mighty New York Yankees; the unlikeliest hero delivering the winning shot for the unlikeliest champions.

In 1969, Joe Namath stunned the world when he predicted that the New York Jets would beat the mighty Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, and then did just that.

So, too, was the world stunned in 1980 when the United States Olympic hockey team topped the Russian national team in Lake Placid, New York.

In 1988, Kirk Gibson stunned the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of the World Series when, with two injured knees, he limped to the plate against Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley and cranked the game-winner over the right field wall.

Other stunning victories came for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993 (Joe Carter), the Florida Marlins in 1997 (Edgar Renteria) and the New York Giants in 2008 (helmet catch).

These are just some of the many “stunning” victories over the years—shocking, momentous, unpredictable and somewhat unbelievable victories in important moments.

And now, we can add one more.

On August 12, 2011, Livan Hernandez took the mound against the Philadelphia Phillies in Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park in a divisional matchup between NL East foes. Little was in doubt, as the Phillies are running away with the division and the Nationals, loaded with young talent but not quite ready for prime time, are out of the race already.

It looked to be just another game in the dogs days of summer.

But Livan had other things in his mind.

Hernandez pitched 6.2 innings, allowing only one unearned run, and also managed to go 2-for-3 with two RBI singles. The Nationals held down the fort for Hernandez, and the Nationals won by a score of 4-2.

Just another night, right? Not if you are CBS Sports.

In the next day’s recap, made up of compiled CBS Sports Wire reports, came under the following headline:

Hernandez single-handedly stuns Phillies as Nats win.”

And there it is.

Overreaction? Sure. Hyperbole? Maybe. A statement about the disparate positions of these two franchises? Of course.

But at the end of the day, Philadelphia Phillies fans, take a moment to love it.

It was just another game on just another August night; a game on a night in a sport in which any team can lose to any other team on any night.

But on this night, the losing team was the Philadelphia Phillies.

And in Major League Baseball in 2011, that fact alone stuns the world.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Ryan Howard and the 10 Worst Players Ever to Lead the League in HR and RBI

August 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

Ryan Howard is the best hitter in the National League.

After all, it very much looks like he is ready to turn up the heat in the second half, and in all likelihood he is going to lead the league in home runs and RBI this season.  And, of course, if he does that, he will be the best player in the league and easily earn his $20 million salary for the season.


Well, not necessarily.

Surely, by now we demand something more from our very best players. And while leading the league in home runs and RBI is an impressive feat, it is not the end-all be-all measure of greatness in the league.

To prove, let’s take a look at the quite bad players who have led their league in home runs and RBI.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

2011 MLB Trade Deadline: 10 Things to Know About the Hunter Pence Trade

July 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

Ed Wade continues to build a winner in Philadelphia.  

The Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies completed a trade late Friday night that sends All-Star right fielder Hunter Pence to the Phils in exchange for a collection of minor-leaguers.  For the Phillies, Pence represents the right-handed bat that many think is the final piece of the championship puzzle.

Ed Wade, of course, is the General Manager of the Houston Astros but also happens to be the former General Manager of the Phillies, and this marks the third time in five years that Wade has sent one of his stars to the Phils for prospects.

This deal promises to make the Phillies significantly better while ensuring that the Astros will be rebuilding for another year. 

And the Phillies are grateful.  If they win the World Series in 2011, Wade will need to be fitted for a ring.

Let’s have a look at the deal and at the Phillies’ new outfielder.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Top Player in the History of Every Major League Team

June 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Is Chase Utley the Greatest Philadelphia Phillie of All Time?

As of now, no. That title goes to Mike Schmidt, and after Schmidt there are probably at least three other players—Ed Delahanty, Steve Carlton, and Pete Alexander—ahead of him on the list, to say nothing of current teammates Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, and maybe one day, Roy Halladay.

Just to see where we stand, here is a Major League Baseball-wide look at the greatest player in the history of each franchise.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

MLB Trade Rumors: Will the Philadelphia Phillies Re-Acquire Cliff Lee?

June 24, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro has a decision to make, and Phillies fans can only hope he makes the right one despite recent history.

The Philadelphia Phillies need to get Cliff Lee back.

In seeking to acquire a certain pitcher at the trading deadline whom he also acquired last season at the trade deadline, Amaro has only negative history in the recent past to guide him.

In 2003, the Chicago White Sox traded away three little-known players to acquire Roberto Alomar from the New York Mets.  The Sox intended to have Alomar help them make a playoff push, but it did not go as planned.  Alomar played terribly, Chicago missed the playoffs, and in the off-season Alomar signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

In 2004, the White Sox again needed help making a playoff push, and they again acquired Roberto Alomar.  The White Sox again missed the playoffs, and Alomar signed in the off-season with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and then retired.

The lesson here would appear to be straightforward: do not acquire the same player at the trade deadline two years in row because it will make you look foolish.


In truth, the Chicago White Sox-Roberto Alomar situation is different in every respect from the Philadelphia Phillies-Cliff Lee situation.  Unlike the 2003-2004 White Sox, the 2010 Phillies are a legitimate playoff contender.  Unlike Roberto Alomar circa 2003-2004, Cliff Lee circa 2010 is a dominant major league ballplayer.

And unlike the White Sox consecutive-season snatch-up of Alomar, re-aquiring Cliff Lee for the remainder of the 2010 season is the right move to make.

As of tonight, Cliff Lee is now 6-3 with a 2.39 ERA and 76-to-4 strikeout to walk ratio in 86.2 innings pitched.  Keep in mind he has done this pitching in the American League for a losing team (though with four starters with ERAs under 3.40, it has hardly been the pitching or defense that is costing this team games).

The reasons the Phillies must re-acquire Cliff Lee are simple: they know he can succeed in the National League; they know he is a perfect fit in the clubhouse; and (and perhaps the most important) the Mets or Braves may also be in position to acquire him.

The more relevant question is: Can the Philadelphia Phillies afford to acquire Cliff Lee?

This is a two-pronged question.

From the Seattle Mariners perspective, the team won’t simply take back the players they traded to get Lee.  Lee’s value is certainly higher now than it was in the off-season, but more importantly, the three players they sent the Phillies have been terrible this season.

Tyson Gilles is currently hitting .238 with a .619 OPS in Double-A.  Phillippe Aumont is 1-6 with a 7.22 ERA combined at Single-A+ and Double-A.  J.C. Ramirez, the best of the three, is 5-3 with a 4.22 ERA at A+ and Double-A combined.

These are not three players that will get Cliff Lee back to the Phillies Cliff Lee.

But who will?

At this point, it is clear to all comers that the Phillies’ success in the postseason, and for that matter their success in even getting to the postseason, is going to depend far more upon their ability to match dominant National League pitching than it is going to depend upon, say, inconsistent power-hitting from a home-field hero right fielder.

Like Cliff Lee, Jayson Werth is in a contract year but, unlike Cliff Lee, Werth is hardly putting up the types of numbers that merit a big contract at the end of the year.  Since May 19th, Werth is hitting .187 with a .643 OPS and four home runs, 13 RBI, and 9 runs scored.

But you know what?  Werth would make a great American League hitter.

At some point, and probably soon, the Seattle Mariners are going to announce that they have a deal in place to seen Cliff Lee to a National League East team.  For the sake of the Philadelphia Phillies, general manager Ruben Amaro, and Philadelphia area sports fans, that NL East team needs to be the Phillies.

Never mind the fact that the Phillies acquired him last year.  Never mind the fact that when the Chicago White Sox acquired the same player two years in a row it was a debacle.  The Phillies aren’t the White Sox, and Cliff Lee isn’t Roberto Alomar.

The Phillies need to have a conversation with Seattle, and the conversation needs to start with Jayson Werth.


Asher B. Chancey lives in Philadelphia, PA, and is a co-founder of BaseballEvolution.com .

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Why the Philadelphia Phillies Are Delighted To Lose 13-10 To Minnesota

June 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

When you are a fan of a team like the Philadelphia Phillies, sometimes you’d rather score 10 runs and lose than score one run and win, particularly when your team has been struggling to score runs.

Saturday was one of those days.

The Phillies lost to the Minnesota Twins on Saturday afternoon by a score of 13-10 in a wild game in which the Phillies led 9-4 going into the ninth inning and managed to blow a five run lead.  

The Phils tossed the game when four different relievers allowed runs to give the game away the Twins in the later innings.

The positives from Saturday’s game far outweigh the negatives. The Phillies got off to a fast start, scoring eight runs in the first three innings. The Phillies came up with some clutch hitting, with Ross Gload hitting a game-tying two-out home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to extend the game.

Most of all, the Phillies hitters have come back to life, and frankly the entire City of Philadelphia finds itself climbing back in off the ledge.

Ryan Howard hit his fourth home run in the last four games and is now batting .291, Chase Utley went 3-for-5 to get his batting average “up” to .267, and Jayson Werth is starting to salvage his contract year after a devastating drought.

Hell, even Wilson Valdez hit a home run and failed to add to his staggering 10 double plays on the season.

Cole Hamels also had an effective outing for the Phils, which is always re-assuring. After giving up three runs in the first inning, Hamels settled down and gave up only one more run while going seven innings. Hamels finished with seven strikeouts and only one walk.

In fact, the only part of the Phillies game that failed to function on Saturday was the part of the Phillies team that they expect to get trouble from—the bullpen. Jose Contreras, Brad Lidge, Chad Durbin, and Danys Baez combined to give up nine runs in less than four innings of work.

And you know what?  The Phillies will take it.

When Roy Halladay pitched his perfect game against Josh Johnson on May 29th in Florida, it was a very exciting game for everyone involved.

At the same time, though, there was something disconcerting about the win: the Phillies managed only a single unearned run against Johnson, and barely won the game despite Halladay’s dominance.

That is not how this team wins games.

At the end of the day, the Philadelphia Phillies will win games in 2010 the same way they did in 2009 and 2008: by scoring lots of runs and surviving their pitching. And when a team follows that model, there are going to be days in which that team is going to lose 13-10. But on most days, the team will come away with a victory.  

And if scoring 10 runs on Saturday is another sign that the Phillies offense is back, then they know there will be plenty of victories to come.

This is where the Phillies need to be.


Asher B. Chancey lives in Philadelphia and is a co-founder of BaseballEvolution.com.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Top 10 Baseball Events You Missed During Game Seven of the NBA Finals

June 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

The NBA FInals are always fantastic. A Lakers-Celtics Finals is all-the-better. A Lakers-Celtics Game Seven is a can’t miss.

We understand that you were pre-occupied with basketball last night. That’s why we provide this primer on the top 10 things you missed in baseball yesterday.

This is a must read, because some of what you missed was nothing short of historical.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Six Rare Baseball Feats That Have Occurred Twice in a Season

June 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

We’ve officially had two perfect games this season, and really we’ve had three.

How shocking is that?

Before 2010, Major League Baseball had only seen 18 perfect games—16 if you don’t count the two in 1880, during an era in which baseball was very different from its post-1901 incarnation.

To have two (three) perfect games in one year defies logic and common sense. But sometimes these things happen.

Take a look.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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