Howard’s Week, Ryno’s Lineup Carousel

Howard Is BackIt has been a heck of a week for Ryan Howard.

He had struggled through the season’s first eight games — not as much as Chase Utley, although he heard more about it — when Ryne Sandberg sat him Wednesday against Mets left-hander Jonathon Niese. It was the second time in nine games the Phillies had faced a left-hander and the second time Sandberg had sat Howard against a lefty. Howard said Wednesday he had talked to Sandberg and had received no indication he might be platooned at first base, although Sandberg left the door open.

“Kind of take that a series at a time,” Sandberg said.

Then last night Sandberg dropped Howard all the way to seventh in the Phillies’ lineup.

From possibly platooned on April 15 to hitting seventh against a right-handed pitcher whose fastball tops out at 88 mph on April 16.

“I’ve been in situations like this before,” said Howard, who had not his seventh since 2006. “This isn’t the first time that I’ve gotten moved down in the lineup or anything like that. For me, you just try to look at it as an internal challenge. Do I feel l can hit fourth? Yeah, I know I can. I’m not worried about it. I’m not trying to look too far into it or anything like that. If I’m hitting in the seven-hole, do the best I can that day.”

I must say I’m a little surprised Sandberg made these moves only 10 games into the season. I’m not saying Darin Ruf should not see more time at first base against left-handers (Ruf deserves more playing time, period). I’m not saying Howard should not have been moved from the cleanup spot. I’m also not saying these moves weren’t coming. Howard has struggled against lefties for some time and he struggled hitting fourth last season. I’m saying I thought Sandberg might wait a little longer, unless he told Howard before the season he would have an incredibly short leash. I’m also a bit surprised he dropped him all the way to seventh.

After all, if there was such little faith in Howard’s ability to produce why start the season with him in the cleanup spot in the first place? It is kind of the same thing with Ben Revere. He dropped from first to eighth after just seven games. Cody Asche also was benched a couple games last week after a slow start.

Clearly Sandberg is trying to find a lineup combination that works, but hitting also involves confidence and right now hitters might be thinking, “Boy, if I go 0-for tonight I might be dropped in the lineup or benched.”

That is not why they Phillies aren’t hitting, but I also think it comes into play if players never know where they stand.

6 Comments

How many games back should he waited? 6 games back ? 12 games back? 24 games back?

He can shuffle that lineup anyway he wants to and the result will be the same: last place in the division. The issues go far beyond Howard at this point….

I’m pretty sure the players know what the situation is this year. The lineup shuffling isn’t throwing anyone off their game or scaring anyone with “not knowing where they stand”. Everyone involved knows this season is a “throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks” year.

And this is all ignoring the fact that Howard simply sucks now, no matter where he is in the lineup. I’ve always thought the idea that changing someone’s spot in a lineup might magically make them hit more was one of the more ridiculous notions in baseball anyway, but here, with this team and with Howard, it’s doubly so.

I guess with this team there’s not much to write about.

Nonsense. If he can’t hit in the 4 hole then he has to be moved out. It is too important a spot in the lineup. How many men does he have to LOB to get him moved and platooned. People seem to think he needs to be babied. No way. He gets paid no matter what he hits! I think it is time to just cut losses and release him. No one in either league wants him taking up a roster spot.
2008 is long gone and so should he.

For one, this sycophant Zolecki thinks Howie needs to be babied. At least that’s how his columns read. Poor Howie was sat…poor Howie was moved down from cleanup. Poor Zolecki! What a tool.

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