Personally I have found the following query munging to be helpful.
Suppose a person enters a multiple-word query, such as dorothy day. In
applications I have written, I have trapped this query before sending
along to the indexer and converted into the following Boolean query:

  ("dorothy day") OR (dorothy AND day)

I figure this is more explicit, and I hope phrase searches rank higher
than not. If the person entered the query including syntactical sugar
such as Boolean operator or a field designation, then I don't munge
the query but pass it along figuring they know what they are doing.

I fully agree  - and this is why I'm working on the migration to the Dismax handler as it handles this logic for us automatically.

Andrew