The Old Big Piece in 2013?

Ryan Howard stood in front of his locker at Citi Field late last night and tried to explain why his swing became so compact and so quick in the ninth inning after it looked so long and so slow in his first three at-bats.

“I blacked out, I guess,” he said. “Maybe I need to black out more often.”

Howard crushed a 0-1 fastball from Mets left-hander Josh Edgin into the upper deck in right field for a two-out, two-run home run to propel the Phillies to a 3-2 victory. It kept the Phillies’ faint postseason hopes alive. They remain four games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card with 13 games to play, meaning even if they finish the season 10-3 the Cardinals would need to finish no better than 6-7 to tie.

But, hey, at least they still have a chance.

They can thank Howard for that.

Howard has had an interesting year. He opened the season on the disabled list following left Achilles surgery. He has played nearly every day since his return, but is hitting just .225 with 11 doubles, 11 home runs, 48 RBIs and a .718 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Howard’s batting average, .303 on-base percentage, .416 slugging percentage and OPS would be career lows — by far — if projected over the course of a 162-game season, but his RBIs project to 123 because he is hitting .344 (21-for-61) with runners in scoring position.

Ruben Amaro Jr. and Charlie Manuel both believe Howard’s left leg has been a factor in his struggles this season. They also believe a full season of strength training and conditioning will get him back in shape.

They have to hope that’s all it takes, anyway.

Howard begins the second year of a five-year, $125 million contract extension next year. His numbers generally have been in decline since 2006, so unless he reverses that trend next season the Phillies are going to be in a bad spot in the future. Sure, the Phillies will try to add a bat or two in the offseason, but if it ends up being one of the guys most people mention (i.e. Michael Bourn or B.J. Upton) I’m not sure they’re going to be saviors. (I hear a lot about Upton’s tools and potential, but can somebody show me the production?) That means they need guys like Howard to continue to carry the weight.

Is it realistic to ask that of him? Unfortunately for the Phillies, they have no choice.


We don’t have any choice but to hope that he is the old “Big Piece” next season.
As far as Upton, he strikes out 160 times a year, and his OBP is what you’d hope his batting average would be. I think he’s the best of a mediocre lot. He’s making $7 million in 2012. Is he worth a 5-year deal at $12 to $15 per?

Thinking about Upton at $12 to $15 million per year for 5 years makes me realize what a steal Jimmy Rollins is at $11 million per year for 3 years. Another way to look at it is to ask if Upton is that much of an upgrade over Mayberry to pay Upton at least $10 million more next year alone regardless of how it pans out over the next 4 subsequent years?

You know Amaro is going to overpay for lousy ass Bourn and we will commence bitching about him being awful for ~5 years… CANT WAIT

Yeah, Howard appears to be declining alright. Projecting his production to date over a full season puts him at 30 HRs and 136 RBIs. Not bad for a gimp. Use to think Charlie the Hitting Guru has not produced any really good hitters under his watch. But I read an article recently indicating the Phillies want Brown to pull the ball more. Got me to thinking about what bad influence Charlie has had on Howard and Utley for that matter with this incessant “pulling the ball approach”. It might be that rather than having no influence, Charlie has had a bad influence all of these years.

That would really concern me if Charlie is trying to get Brown to pull everything, and I doubt that is true. They have been trying to get Mayberry to hit the ball where it is pitched for three years now, so why would they take a different approach with Brown?
And I think Howard will be fine. An offseason getting his leg strength back should work wonders.

Who said anything about Brown pulling everything? Charlie wants Brown to pull the ball more on certain pitch locations. Why? Because, to quote Charlie, that is where Brown’s “power is”. Did Charlie tell Howard the same thing? Funny how through his first two seasons (247 games to be exact) Howard BA was .305 and his OPS was 1.029. He had 80 HRs and 212 RBIs. Why did Howards approach change? Please do not try to tell me the opponents approach changed because that would beg the question, why did it take the opposition two years to change? It is apparent that Howard’s approach changed and the opposition countered Howard’s change. Why? My best guess is because of the bullshit Charlie fed him as he is feeding Brown now. Hitting guru, indeed.

Well, Brown’s power is certainly pulling the ball. I beleive all of his HR’s and the majority of his extra base hits are to RF. But that is not even remotely close to what Ryan Howard does, and Charlie knows it. He has uncommon power to all fields, unlike the vast majority of MLB power hitters.

Bourn or Upton? And are we going to rob our minor league system to get them? Oh, they’re free agents so we’ll just decimate our payroll. Phillies win when they build from within. Check out the champs from 1980 and 2008. A well placed free agent is great (Thank you, Pete Rose), but the core of a successful Phillies team must come from within.

No Steve, they’re free agents. They’ll be robbing the season ticket holders – again.

B.J. Upton will get paid next year for his brother giving them a good name. He has some clutch moments, no consistency. Hopefully we don’t pay him. Let Bourn go elsewhere, too. I’d rather see us keep Juan Pierre around another year, maybe even Schierholtz, and let our young guys grow and learn. There is no silver bullet signing out there. Like Steve said, grow from within.

both the ’80 and the ’08 teams had a core of home grown talent, but went outside for the missing pieces. The ’13 team will have a home grown talent pool of Ruiz, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Brown, Mayberry, Hamels, and countless Pen guys. Need to go out and get CF and 3B

Does Mayberry count as homegrown talent?

No. He was drafted by the Rangers and spent 3 years in their system before they traded him to the Phils in ’08.

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