Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Thoughts on Rowand and Wheeler

from ben schuchardt:
The things we think but do not say

As you know, I've followed the Phillies with particular interest, and as such feel justified in making a couple of points that most will not agree with.

Aaron Rowand can't hit, and we shouldn't count on him as a part of the new nucleus as this team turns the corner. Wow. It hurts me to say that. You know how much I value "up the middle defense," and I rate Rowand near the top in the National League in this category. But it has become painfully obvious that he is an automatic out against competent pitching. Anyone willing to throw two pitches on the inside corner gets the automatic flail on the low, outside slider on the payoff. Aaron Rowand has no shot at anything other than the blooper he hit to right field tonight on the middle-in hard one. Too bad. Most big leaguers kill for pitches middle/in. We need to save the 8-hole for next year's catcher. You can sacrifice (this much) for a catcher or a shortstop, but not for a center fielder.

Now the big one...

Chris Wheeler is by far the best announcer the Phillies employ, and they were right in trying to get him more involved in their telecasts as they ease out Harry Kalas.

Since I've bagged on Wheeler longer and louder than anyone, I'll elaborate on how I think he has taken fan criticism to heart and improved his performance.

He no longer giggles like a schoolgirl. I've been listening critically all year and it just doesn't happen anymore.

He has stopped with the knee-jerk homerisms, generally opting (within reason for a Philles' employee) for honest and impartial evaluations of umpire calls, managerial decisions, and player performances. Larry Anderson ("takes one right down the middle for a ball") has assumed the homer role.

He has curtailed over-analyzing the behavior of uneducated, simple 25 year-olds. I haven't heard him trying to get into what a pitcher was thinking when he scratched his balls (McCarver) in months.

He has lowered his voice measurable, both with respect to octaves and decibels. He simply isn't that annoying anymore.

He has given up the dream that Harry Kalas will ever like him. He treats Harry professionally and with proper respect, but Wheeler has stopped trying to kiss Harry's a$$ and given up the dream that Harry will forgive him for trying to steal his best friend's job. It's really helped the pre-game dynamic, in particular.

He isn't Scott Graham. Has it occured to anyone besides me that Scott Graham has a crush on Larry Anderson? I have no problem with this other than it interferes with my enjoyment of the game.

He isn't senile. Egad, I've loved Harry the K my entire adult life. My college roommate once won the "Phanatic Fan Contest" (or something like that) and got to sit in the booth for an inning during the mid-eighties. He had a blast with Kalas and Ashburn (who each had multiple, empty plastic beer glasses by their sides during the game). I wasn't there, but I've always felt like I was because my friend tells the story so well.

But right now, Harry has no clue what he's talking about half the time. He forgets the count, the number of outs, who is pitching, and all sorts of other things that are somewhat important to the game. He really doesn't have a good feel about the other team's players, who throws what, who hits what, etc. I still love Harry, but he doesn't give me insight into the game anymore.

On several occasions this year, Chris Wheeler has told me something I didn't know, but cared about.

In this land of redemption and second chances, I'd like to say that Chris Wheeler has won me over this year. He's having a hell of a season.
just a couple of questions from me, ben.

- does the fact that roward was a contributor toward the white sox series win impact your conclusion? is it possible that he's just in a prolonged slump rather than showing his actual baseline? i ask, having factored into the equation that someone can be a very successful hitter while having serious deficiencies at the plate -- e.g. scott rolen, who hasn't seen a 90 mph fastball that he can't swing at and miss (before any rolen fans lurking out there start killing me, i can explain some of it by my observation that rolen sits on breaking pitches more often than most hitters, but really he does swing and miss at an inordinate number of belt high fastballs not going anywhere near 95 mph).

- i thought the conflict between harry k and wheeler started when harry refused to continue pimping for wheeler on the road so chris could get laid. was wheeler's attempt at stealing whitey's job a precursor to that?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

"does the fact that roward was a contributor toward the white sox series win impact your conclusion? is it possible that he's just in a prolonged slump rather than showing his actual baseline?"

I hope you're right, Pete, but I'm growing increasingly concerned. Everybody around the league seems to see the same hole in Rowand's swing that I do. Watch the way other team's pitch him. Bust him in, bust him in, dust him low and away. Why do you think he's getting hit by so many pitches?

The frustrating thing for me is how predictable the pattern has become. Most quality hitters kill even good pitching when they know where the ball is coming. I wonder if the catchers are whispering to Aaron "Here come the old number one on the inside corner..." before snickering.

To Rowand's credit, at least he isn't afraid of the ball like the Phillies equally inept right hander, Pat Burrell.

With respect to Wheeler and Harry, I've never heard the pimping story. However, it rings potentially true to me for the following reason: I used to live next door to a woman named Catherine (1985). She told me a story of meeting Harry Kalas in Philadelphia one night. Harry invited her to dinner as the "date" of Richie Asburn. Catherine was thrilled until she overheard Whitey ask Harry, "Does she put out?" The date never happened. If Harry really was "pimping" for Whitey, perhaps he did the same at some point for Wheeler. I kind of doubt it though. Harry & Whitey never hung out with Wheels on the road as far as I know.

By the way, Wendy and Shaner went to see Phil Hughes pitch today (while I was at work, the dogs). The kid mowed down the Binghamton Mets. He's on his way. The trade that Gillick couldn't make looks worse to me every day.


8:48 PM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

I hope you're right, Pete, but I'm growing increasingly concerned. Everybody around the league seems to see the same hole in Rowand's swing that I do.

you noted a flaw in rowand's swing since day one. i'm just grasping at straws and hoping here.

8:55 PM EDT  
Blogger Payne said...

Dear Ben,
Haiku for Ugueth Urbina:
Who are all these guys?
Get the machete adn gas
Don't swim here again.


1:48 PM EDT  

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