Tag: Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard’s Contract Option Declined by Phillies: Latest Comments and Reaction

The Philadelphia Phillies made a long-expected move Thursday, as they announced they have declined the 2017 club option on first baseman Ryan Howard‘s contract, making him a free agent.

According to Spotrac, the Phils would have had to pay Howard $23 million next season had they exercised their club option, but they instead decided to buy him out for $10 million.

The Phillies honored the 36-year-old veteran prior to their final game of the 2016 regular season in a move that signaled the end of his time with the organization.

Despite that, Howard made it clear he wanted to continue playing elsewhere, according to ESPN.com: “I know there’s more in the tank. I’ll know when it’s time.”

Howard hit a career-low .196 last season, and his 56 RBI were the fewest of his career in a season that saw him play 100 or more games.

The 2001 fifth-round draft pick of the Phillies did club 25 homers, however, which was his highest total since hitting 33 in 2011.

Howard finished in the top 10 of MVP voting every year from 2006 through 2011 and won the award in 2006, when he hit .313 with 58 home runs and 149 RBI. He was named to three All-Star teams during that six-year run and averaged a .274/44/133 line per season while also leading the Phillies to a World Series championship.

The five years since then have illustrated a significant fall from grace, as Howard averaged a greatly reduced .226/19/66 line during that time frame.

With Howard’s skills eroding at the plate and his already mediocre defense getting even worse, turning the page on him was an obvious move for the Phillies.

Also, 25-year-old Tommy Joseph emerged as a power threat at first base last season, hitting .247 with 21 home runs and 47 RBI.

There was no longer any room for Howard on the team with Philly fully embracing a youth movement, and keeping him for $23 million as a part-time player and pinch hitter wouldn’t have been a smart economical decision.

Howard could still have some value, potentially as a designated hitter in the American League, but his best days are undoubtedly behind him.

If he can be had at a bargain price in free agency, then Howard’s contributions in 2017 may be viewed far more favorably than they were when he underperformed while making over $20 million per season with the Phillies.


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Fan Accused of Throwing Bottle at Ryan Howard Cited by Police

The identity of the person who threw an aluminum beer bottle at Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard was revealed Monday.

According to the police, 21-year-old Sidney Smith, a student at the University of Delaware, turned himself in last week and confessed, per Chris Palmer of Philly.com.

He was cited for disorderly conduct, and authorities did not disclose what caused Smith to come clean.

After grounding out in his only at-bat to end a 6-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on June 4, Howard was walking back to the dugout when the object was launched toward him and landed at his side. Howard yelled into the crowd, but Smith bolted out of Citizens Bank Park before security could apprehend him.

A witness to the incident said Smith moved down to the front row of his section and tossed the bottle, per Palmer.

“He just chucked his beer and turned around and got out of there as fast as he could,” Dennis Gabert, the witness, said. 

Deadspin posted an image of the suspect on Twitter:

Police believe the man in the photo to be Smith, according to Palmer.

Howard commented on the issue the following day, per the Associated Press (via Fox 29 in Philadelphia).

“I’ve done too much in this town to have that kind of stuff,” he said. “If you want to yell out…that’s whatever. But when you start throwing stuff, that’s when stuff gets personal.”

The 36-year-old slugger is struggling this season. Through 53 games, he is hitting .150 with nine home runs and 20 RBI. Howard, who is making $25 million in 2016, has struck out 56 times.

Fans may be frustrated with Howard, but throwing debris on the field is uncalled for. Hopefully, the public backlash from the incident discourages other fans from engaging in similar behavior. 


Statistics are courtesy of ESPN.com.

Contract information courtesy of Spotrac.

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Ryan Howard Comments on Fan Throwing Bottle at Him During Game vs. Brewers

Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard felt the wrath of his home crowd at Citizens Bank Park during Saturday’s 6-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers when a fan threw a bottle at him.  

On Sunday, he spoke with the media about the incident, according to Philly.com’s Matt Breen:

I’ve done too much in this town to have that kind of stuff. If you want to yell out ‘You suck,’ that’s whatever. But when you start throwing stuff, that’s when stuff gets personal. … We have to be held accountable. If someone throws something, we’re just supposed to sit there and wear it and get hit. Nah man, we’re human beings first and foremost. People get it twisted. They see the baseball stuff and they don’t see you as a human being. They see you as someone that just plays baseball.

On the baseball side of things, Howard has struggled this season, batting .151 with eight home runs and 19 RBI in 49 games. Including Saturday, he hadn’t started for three games, and the 36-year-old has been a shell of the player who won a National League MVP in 2006. 

After being inserted as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning and grounding out to end Saturday’s game, Howard was walking back to the dugout when the bottle went flying.

“I turned around and it was down near my feet,” Howard said. “I don’t play that. To me, that’s crossing the line. It becomes a security issue. It’s not necessary. That stuff infuriates me.”

The incident put Howard in an unfortunate situation, as he believes professional athletes are unable to defend themselves in predicaments like these:

If you’re in the street and you do that to somebody, you might get hauled off on. But we’re supposed to hold ourselves to a different standard and what not. Somebody has to do something. Somebody should get reprimanded for it. Because if I would’ve done something, if I would’ve went into the stands and tried to beat this dude up, I would’ve gotten in trouble by Major League Baseball. He probably would’ve tried to sue me. But it’s OK for him to throw a bottle and then go home and be on his merry way? Nah, that doesn’t work.

Conduct like this is nothing new in the city of Philadelphia, as the fanbase has a reputation of being one of the harshest in sports. After all, Philly fans chucked snowballs at Santa Claus during an Eagles game in 1968. 

Much more recently, though, Flyers fans littered the ice with wristbands given out to commemorate late owner Ed Snider during their first-round playoff series against the Washington Capitals. 

Their behavior earned the Flyers a two-minute bench minor, much to the frustration of Wells Fargo Center public address announcer Lou Nolan, via 94 WIP’s Cindy Webster:

These public displays over the years tarnish the image of Philadelphia fans. On Saturday, though, one fan in particular took it too far in the treatment of a man who helped deliver the Phillies their second World Series title in 2008. 

Howard doesn’t sound like he’s ready to forgive anyone too quickly, either. 


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com

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Ryan Howard Reportedly Files Defamation Lawsuit Against Al Jazeera America

Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard has filed a defamation lawsuit against Al Jazeera America, according to Jim Salisbury of the CSNPhilly.com.

“Today I authorized my attorneys to file suit against Al Jazeera and its reporters. Their irresponsible reporting forced me to take this action to protect my name and to fight back against the spreading of these lies. I will have no further comment, as the filing itself contains all I need to say,” Howard said in a statement, per Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.

Reuters also reported Tuesday that Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is suing Al Jazeera as well. Howard and Zimmerman share an attorney, according to Chris Cwik of Yahoo Sports.

An Al Jazeera documentary titled The Dark Side: The Secret World of Sports Doping claimed that players including Howard, Zimmerman and NFL superstar Peyton Manning used steroids and human growth hormone and linked them to a clinic that distributed them. 

Charlie Sly, a pharmacist who allegedly supplied the athletes, claimed that both Howard and Zimmerman used a steroid called Delta-2, per the Huffington Post’s Travis Waldron and Ryan Grim.

Sly recanted his statements from the documentary, however, while Howard, Zimmerman and Manning have all vehemently denied the claims in the film.    


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Fit and Healthy, Former MVP Ryan Howard Angling for Late Career Rebirth in 2015

It was one game, two at-bats. Also, it’s spring training. So take this with a boulder-sized grain of salt. Still, when it comes to Ryan Howard and the Philadelphia Phillies, any good news is welcome.

On Tuesday, Howard delivered some good news.

Hitting cleanup in the Phillies’ spring opener against the New York Yankees (we won’t count the embarrassing loss to the University of Tampa on Sunday), Howard went 2-for-2 with an RBI. And more importantly, he looked good doing it.

Here’s manager Ryne Sandberg, discussing his much-maligned first baseman on Feb. 26, per NJ.com‘s Matt Lombardo: 

His body right now looks like it will allow him to be more productive. … Just running the bases he even looks better. It looks like he has a much better chance of scoring from second base, much better getting to the cut-off spot playing first base. There should be some more range there with the way he looks from the waist down.

It was worth wondering how the former MVP was doing between the ears after Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told 97.5 The Fanatic‘s Mike Missanelli in December that it would “bode better for the organization not with [Howard] but without him.”

Howard is owed $50 million over the next two seasons, plus a $10 million buyout for 2017. So it’s no surprise Amaro found no takers in the trade market. Howard posted a paltry .223/.310/.380 slash line in 153 games last year and paced baseball with 190 whiffs.

“His lower half has quit on him,” an unnamed evaluator told ESPN.com‘s Buster Olney after last season. “He just can’t move. I think of him as a .240, .250 hitter. He’s not a legitimate 40-homer guy anymore; he’s a legitimate 20-homer guy.”

Given Howard’s trajectory, even those lowered expectations seemed Pollyanna-esque.

I say “seemed,” but you could keep it in the present tense. Again, a little “best shape of his life” buzz and one good spring game don’t erase three years of steady decline.

But imagine if Howard could recapture the form that led him to four consecutive top-five MVP finishes between 2006—when he won the award—and 2009.

How much would that guy fetch, either at the deadline or next winter, especially if the rebuilding Phillies were willing to eat part of his salary? 

That’s jumping way, way ahead. Even if Howard keeps hitting and looking spry in the Grapefruit League, he’ll have to translate that success to the regular season before anyone takes his comeback seriously.

The list of injury-plagued 35-year-olds who have resurrected their careers is a short one.

For the moment, though, Phils fans (always a critical bunch) can be forgiven for looking through rose-colored glasses. 

Howard is an easy guy to root for—affable, energetic and by all accounts a visible clubhouse presence. Last year, as CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury noted, that all melted away:

There were times in 2014 when you’d look at Howard plowing his way through pregame sprints and wonder if he really wanted to be there. You’d look at him walk dejectedly back to the dugout after one of his majors-leading 190 strikeouts and wonder what was going through his mind. Money can’t buy confidence and Howard’s appeared to be shattered in 2014. 

In addition to his on-field struggles, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News reports Howard was embroiled in a legal battle with family members “over control of his finances.”

So we’re looking at a mountain of distractions that explain Howard’s plightand cast serious doubt on his ability to overcome.

That doubt won’t disappear tomorrow, or the next day, or the next, no matter what Howard does on the diamond.

Still, for a player who not so long ago ranked among the game’s most feared sluggers, it had to feel pretty good to be doing positive things on the diamond once again.


All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Breaking Down Buzz on Ryan Howard, Justin Upton and More

With so many of the league’s top free agents signed to big contracts, MLB teams still looking to make an offseason splash will likely have to do so via trade.

The Los Angeles Dodgers set the bar fairly high with a frenzy of deals that netted them a sweet-looking double-play combo in Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins, among other players. One might think that by mid-December, most teams are secure with their rosters and don’t see the need for much tinkering, but the rumor mill suggests otherwise.

Several notable names have found their way into the latest chatter from around the league. Here is a look at the buzz surrounding four players who just might be sporting new colors and crests in 2015.

Ryan Howard

The Philadelphia Phillies enjoyed a great deal of success over the past 11 seasons relying on the terrific trio of Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

However, the Phillies are breaking up the band after finishing last in the NL East in 2014 with a 73-89 record. As previously mentioned, they traded J-Roll to the Dodgers, and it appears the team wants to offload Howard as well, per Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe:

The Phillies are trying to get teams interested in Howard, and a team source indicated they are willing to pay a great majority of his contract to move him. Howard, who hit 23 home runs and knocked in 95 runs last season, is owed $60 million between 2015 and ’17, which includes a buyout. The Phillies are trying to sell him as a DH. The Rays and Orioles could have needs in that area.

Howard was once one of the most feared power hitters in the game, but a sharp decline in productivity, injuries and poor defensive play have seen the 35-year-old become more of a liability than an asset.

Indeed, there is no way the Phillies move Howard without eating a large chunk of his contract. A mid-30s slugger whose one remaining tool is a blunt instrument is a big risk for another team to assume, a risk Philadelphia is apparently aware it has to mitigate.

Neither the Baltimore Orioles nor Tampa Bay Rays have a predilection for large payrolls, so it’s possible they would still pass on Howard if Philadelphia can’t or won’t eat much of his contract.

If no team bites on Howard, it’s possible the Phillies could make Howard a ludicrously expensive platoon member at first base. 

“General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. indicated Tuesday that it was possible that Howard could be a platoon player if still with the team,” writes CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury.

Manager Ryne Sandberg was essentially mum on that possibility and said he hadn’t discussed it with Howard.

“No, just kind of waiting to see what plays out and what happens,” he said, according to Salisbury. “It’s hard to have some conversations when you don’t know what the roster is going to be.”

Barring a miraculous return to all-star form, platooning Howard doesn’t help this team move on into the next era, especially when prospects like Cody Asche and 21-year-old Maikel Franco could be future first baseman for the club.


Justin Upton

It appears the San Diego Padres aren’t done bringing some much needed brawn to their reedy lineup. Having already agreed to a deal for the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp, the Padres are reportedly looking to bring Justin Upton into the fold, according to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

“It’s true — the Padres want Justin Upton in addition to Matt Kemp,” Rosenthal notes. “They’re also looking at other hitters, but one rival executive says the Pads are ‘all over’ Upton, confirming a report by Mark Bowman of MLB.com.”

Bringing in both Kemp and Upton would be a welcome infusion of runs for a team that finished dead last in scoring in 2014.

The 30-year-old Kemp—who finished in second in MVP voting in 2011 but has struggled with injuries and ineffective play over much of the last three seasons—came on strong in the latter half of the 2014 season, but the Dodgers had to do something to relieve the logjam in the outfield, and it’s likely his massive contract made him expendable.

Pairing Kemp and Upton in the outfield should sell tickets from behind the backstop out to the bleachers, but the fans in the latter seats might have a bone to pick with the defensive play from this potential duo.

Kemp finished last among innings-qualified outfielders in Ultimate Zone Rating in 2014, while Upton ranked 47th out of 55 outfielders over a three-year span from 2012 to 2014, per FanGraphs.com. The defensive play means the Padres would also need to hold onto their strong corps of starting pitchers.

According to Rosenthal, the Padres are reluctant to trade the likes of Ian Kennedy, Andrew Cashner or Tyson Ross.

While defense is a concern, Rosenthal also notes that bringing in Upton would likely clean the coffers, assuming the Padres aren’t able to dispense with some salary in a trade with the Atlanta Braves:

The additions of both outfielders would increase the Padres’ commitments next season to $71.525 million for 10 players, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Add the nine Pads eligible for arbitration, and the number would zoom past $100 million, according to projections by Matt Swarz of MLBTradeRumors.com.

Something would have to give – the Pads’ Opening Day payroll last season was a club record at $90.6 million. Perhaps the team could trade Kennedy, who projects to earn $10.3 million or closer Joaquin Benoit, who is under contract for $8 million.

The Padres aren’t deep enough at other positions to trade any bona fide major leaguers and remain competitive. If the reported interest in Upton does indeed mean San Diego is looking to contend rather soon, then it’s likely some of the organization’s top prospects would have to be involved in any trade.

Upton and Kemp would bring plenty of lumber to a run-starved team, but it likely won’t be enough for the Padres to scaffold all the way to the NL West penthouse. 

For the Braves, this could be a good bit of business if they do intend to rebuild. They already traded away Jason Heyward to the St. Louis Cardinals this offseason. If the team can land a mix of prospects and/or picks from the Padres, it could push the perennial NL East contender to a full-on rebuild, albeit with a solid foundation thanks to the swaps.


Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmerman

The Washington Nationals are set up to be perennial contenders if they want to be. They finished with the best record in the National League in 2014 and have a solid corps of both young and proven talent that includes the likes of Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Jayson Werth.

However, two members of the team that played so well last season could be set to leave the nation’s capital, per Rosenthal:

The Nats indeed are open to moving Zimmermann and Desmond, perhaps even in the same deal. They recently engaged in multiple conversations about both players with the Mariners, according to major-league sources. One of the many ideas the Nats proposed was Zimmermann and Desmond for right-hander Taijuan Walker and shortstop Brad Miller, sources said.

Rosenthal also reported in his column that the Nationals had talks with the Boston Red Sox about Zimmerman.

Desmond and Zimmerman are in the last years of their contracts and set to make $11 million and $16.5 million in 2015, respectively, per Spotrac.

It appears the Nationals are willing to part with two players who have been solid contributors for much of their careers. Desmond’s average and on-base percentage took a notable dip last season, but he still hit 24 homers and notched 91 RBI while playing 151 games at shortstop, clearly no easy feat.

Zimmerman, who was an All-Star in both 2013 and 2014, had the best year of his career last season, going 14-8 with a 2.66 ERA. At 28 years old, he’s in his athletic prime and has pitched in 32 games in each of the last three seasons.

Considering the team won 96 games last season, it would likely be a frustrating development for Nationals fans if these players were traded for prospects. A bounce-back year from third baseman Ryan Zimmerman could put the Nats over the top, especially considering other NL contenders might be taking a step back. The Dodgers lost offensive firepower by trading Kemp, and the San Francisco Giants are without Pablo Sandoval now.

Of course, the Nationals could end up with nothing if one (or both) of those players decides to leave as a free agent at the end of next season.

This is a team the front office really should try to keep together. With a championship in reach and players like Ryan Zimmerman, Harper and (hopefully) Strasburg to carry them through lean years, the Nats would likely be better off holding onto both Zimmerman and Desmond in 2015 and taking their chances.

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Phillies’ Ryan Howard and Marlon Byrd Are 1st Teammates to Strike out 180 Times

Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and outfielder Marlon Byrd are the first teammates in MLB history to each strike out 180 or more times in a season, per Lee Sinins of Complete Baseball Encyclopedia.

Following Thursday’s game against the Florida Marlins, Howard has an MLB-high 188 strikeouts, while Byrd is tied for second place in the National League at 181 with Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond.

In the American League, only MVP front-runner Mike Trout (181) and Houston Astros first baseman Chris Carter (179) figure to reach 180, though Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (173) was well on his way before getting suspended for amphetamine use.

For Howard, the lofty strikeout total comes as no surprise, with this season marking the fifth time he’s piled up 180 or more in one season. Previously, Howard had 180-plus strikeouts in four consecutive seasons from 2006 to 2009, a span that also qualifies as the peak of his now-disappointing career.

In Byrd’s case, the strikeouts come as more of a surprise, as he had previously never topped 144, the total he posted last year. The outfielder’s late-career renaissance has not been hampered by his increased proclivity for the punch-out, as Byrd has more than made up for the lack of contact by posting the two best homer totals of his career in the last two seasons.

Prior to 2013, Byrd never had more than 98 strikeouts or 20 home runs in one season. He then had 144 and 24 last year, only to top both marks in 2014. In addition to his 181 strikeouts, Byrd has 25 home runs heading into the final three games of the season.

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Philadelphia Phillies Injury Report: Latest Updates Heading into Spring Training

The Philadelphia Phillies are noticeably and understandably excited about the start of spring training in Clearwater, Fla.:

Given the painfully dull and disappointing offseason, it is no wonder the Phillies want to talk about something else. 

With pitchers and catchers set to report on Feb. 13, baseball is set to make its annual re-emergence as the days steadily lengthen and spring gets ever nearer.

The Phillies are an old team who, more than most, will need to run very lucky with health to compete for a playoff berth in 2014. That starts with their overall condition going into spring training.

You will recall that a number of prominent Phillies ended the 2013 season on the shelf.

Ryan Howard is the biggest name of the sometimes walking wounded. The Phillies have $85 million more left to pay Howard on his abominable contract extension. They would love to see him do something to earn that money in 2014.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is optimistic that Howard can bounce back. “Ryan Howard is at one hundred percent, finally. It’s the first time he’s actually felt normal. He’s down there at Clearwater hitting and working out,” Amaro Jr. recently told Angelo Cataldi on the WIP-FM 94 morning show (h/t CBS.com).

In that same interview, Amaro Jr. indicated that setup man Mike Adams is “throwing well” and that he had received “very good news” about the right-hander from Phillies coaches who watched Adams work.

Center fielder Ben Revere did not play again in 2013 after breaking his his right foot on July 13. The best news on Revere’s injury is no news—there has been no recent indication from any news outlets that Revere will not be ready for spring training or anything less than 100 percent when the season starts.

Likewise, right-handed starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick ended the season on the disabled list. But the Phillies just gave him a one-year contract for almost $7.7 million to avoid an arbitration hearing, so presumably he is fit to pitch.

Finally, fellow right-hander Jonathan Pettibone is coming back from a shoulder strain that ended his 2013 season in late July. Pettibone recently told Jim Salisbury of csnphilly.com that “I feel good now. Going into a season, it’s the best I’ve felt in a while. I’m ready to go.”

Without a medical degree, it is nearly impossible to know just how healthy any of these players really are. The good news is that, as of right now, none of them are disabled and none of them are complaining of pain.

The Phillies need those good feelings to last all summer long.


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Philadelphia Phillies: Phillies Should Place Ryan Howard on Disabled List

Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies and the word “injury” have been used together in the same sentence for more than a year now. 

Last season, after returning from an Achilles injury and struggling for the remainder of the season, Howard’s poor performances could have been attributed to needing more time to fully heal while the Phillies played through a disappointing season.

This season, however, is a bit different. 

With more current and former key contributors set to become free agents after the season, the trade deadline should bring even more intrigue for the Phillies.  If they continue to have trouble winning consistently, a number of players may also be mentioned in trade talks, even more so than last season.    

The Phillies have just one fewer loss this season than they did this time last year, yet general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has said that he will take his time deciding what to do at the trade deadline.

Amaro was recently quoted, after talking about sticking with the Phillies core until the trade deadline, in an article by Jim Salisbury on CSNPhilly.com as saying:

The reason I say that is because [the races] are still really dicey, he said.  No one has really stepped out and gone crazy.  The Dodgers are playing their butts off now all of a sudden.  Now they’re six games back and they’re in it.  We’re only seven back.

We had one streak where we’ve really played well.  And we’ve only had a brief period where we’ve had our whole team on the field.  We’ll find out.  I honestly think it’s going to end up going to July 20 or July 30 or somewhere around then and we’ll decide which direction we’re going to go.

If Amaro intends to let the team continue to play as is until right before the trade deadline, he must be hoping that the team can show signs of consistent improvement at the end of the first half and beginning of the second half of the season.

If that’s the case, the Phillies should place Ryan Howard on the disabled list now.

Hopefully that the rest will give his knee time to recover and lead to more of a power surge following the All-Star break.

Howard is currently batting .268 with 10 home runs and 41 RBI, which includes a .304 average against right-handed pitchers.  However, it also includes a .173 average against left-handers.

He has actually had a very solid June, batting .298 with two triples, three home runs and a .386 OBP.  However, in the power department, Howard’s 10 home runs on the season are only three more than he hit during spring training.

Howard hit seven home runs in 28 games during spring training.  It was not until game No. 53 of the regular season that he hit his seventh home run.

Word came yesterday that Howard will be given two days off, June 28 and June 29, to clear his head and continue to work on his hitting, as noted in Ryan Lawrence’s article on Philly.com

The article also says that Amaro has not ruled out placing him on the disabled list.

As a power hitter, it’s reasonable to think that Howard’s lack of home runs so far could be due to his knee.  If he cannot generate enough power from his lower body, it will be difficult for him to see any increase in home runs. That means he will stay well on pace to have the lowest home run total for a full season in his career.

Rather than trying to modify Howard’s swing to compensate for a lack of power from his lower body, the Phillies would be better off trying to let Howard heal and return with the same swing.  Even if Howard is able to adjust his swing for the rest of this season, he would likely have to return to his previous one after an offseason of rehabbing and healing.

If his knee is already too sore for him to play at 100 percent and generate power consistently, chances are it will only become more difficult as he has more innings and more games under his belt.

By placing him on the disabled list, the Phillies would likely lose offense at first base, unless the team decided to move Michael Young to first and play Kevin Frandsen at third.  However, the Phillies have consistently remained around seven to seven-and-a-half games out of first place even with Howard’s bat in the lineup.

A few weeks off could improve Howard’s knee, which could lead to higher power numbers during the second half of the season.

The Phillies will still need much more than Howard’s improved offense to turn around the season, but more offense from the cleanup spot in the lineup would be a start. 

And as it currently stands, Howard playing at less than 100 percent is not helping the team win with any more consistency.

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Why Philadelphia Phillies Should Be Sellers at MLB Trade Deadline

It is about that time of the Major League Baseball season.

Despite having played only a little over a third of their season, the contenders are starting to separate themselves from the pretenders. And with that separation comes speculation of whether certain teams will be buyers or sellers come the MLB trade deadline at the end of July.

One team that faces a particularly tough decision this year is the Philadelphia Phillies.

Currently sitting seven-and-a-half games back of the National League East-leading Atlanta Braves and seven games back of the second wild-card spot, the Phils are slowly starting to see their season get out of hand.

Now, this is not to say that the Phillies are totally out of the playoff hunt. After all, it is only the beginning of June. And of course, it was less than six years ago when the “Fightins” erased a seven-game deficit with 17 games remaining to snatch the division crown from the New York Mets.

However, this is a completely different team than what we saw back in that memorable fall of 2007. Gone are the days of seeing a healthy Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins take the field on a daily basis. The core of this team is six years older, and while they may still have some gas left in the tank, it is safe to say that the best years of their careers are behind them.

Before I go on, I must say that it is simply too early to say that Philadelphia will definitely be sellers come the July 31 trade deadline. Only the next six weeks will tell us whether the Phillies will look to start building for the future or add big-name talent in hopes of a last-gasp playoff run. 

However, the obvious must be stated: The Phillies are a team on the decline. Howard, Utley and Rollins are all on the wrong side of 30 years old. None of the three can be guaranteed to stay healthy or contribute regularly. Formerly the core of this franchise, the heart and soul of Philadelphia’s beloved baseball team, these three can no longer be counted on to lead the Phillies to the playoffs and beyond.

Even the starting pitching, which was said to be the bright spot on this Phillies roster, can no longer be trusted. Roy Halladay cannot seem to stay healthy, Cole Hamels is having one of the worst years of his career and the back end of this rotation simply does not have the experience to take over the reigns just yet.

Despite positive performances this season by Cliff Lee, Kyle Kendrick and Jonathan Pettibone, the Phillies are simply not getting consistent outings from their starting rotation.

All in all, the outlook is not bright for Philadelphia.

So, what does this mean for the team’s trade deadline plans?

Although Philadelphia may not have the best chance to make the playoffs this season, this does not silence the fact that this team still has plenty of talent on its roster.

Namely, Cliff Lee, who has been having an outstanding season compiling a 7-2 record with a 2.45 Earned Runs Average, may in fact be one of the players that Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. decides to deal by the July 31 deadline. 

At age 34 and set to earn $75 million over the next three seasons, the time is winding down for Lee to win a championship in Philadelphia. Amaro Jr. may well decide that if Lee’s age and money is too much for him to stay in the City of Brotherly Love, then it could be his time to go. Apparently, even Lee is preparing himself to be in another deadline trade.

However, Lee is not the only one who could find himself out of Philadelphia before the end of the summer. Chase Utley, the beloved second baseman for the Phillies, may be playing in another uniform later this season.

At 34, Utley is in the final year of a seven-year, $85 million contract and is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. While Utley has been cursed with injuries throughout his career, he is still producing at a level that may interest teams who are looking to be contenders later this season.

With seven home runs and 25 RBI to go along with a .272 BA so far this season, Utley may be the missing piece for some teams who are looking for depth come the postseason. Moreover, Amaro Jr. may feel that he might not be able to re-sign Utley to the terms he may be looking for in the offseason. This might force Amaro Jr. to try and get some value for Utley while he still can.

However, the single biggest reason why the Phillies will turn out to be sellers come this year’s MLB trade deadline is their farm system. Or, shall I say, lack thereof.

According to Baseball America, the Phillies have the seventh-worst farm system in all of the major leagues. While fans love to see the big-name players such as Lee, Utley and Howard play at Citizens Bank Park on a regular basis, most would probably agree that it is time to restock the farm. 

It is clear that the Phillies’ window of opportunity is closing quickly. After a run of success from 2007-2011, Philadelphia’s record has tailed off significantly over the past year-and-a-half. One way to regain this success may well be to start from scratch and build for the future.

Becoming sellers at the trade deadline and dealing the likes of Lee, Utley and Rollins may be the best way to do so. 

Only time will tell whether or not the Phillies become buyers or sellers in late-July. If, six weeks from now, the Phillies were to be right in the midst of the playoff hunt, then you can put money on this team staying together. 

However, as the age and the health of this roster is undoubtedly on the decline, the chances of this happening certainly seem bleak. While it is unlikely that the entire core of the Phillies roster will be traded, it is safe to expect that certain ballplayers will find themselves cleaning their lockers at Citizens Bank Park come later this summer.    

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