Add this to the list of things Ruben Amaro just learned… Ryan Howard can’t hit lefties.
In an interview before the start of the Phillies’ all-important series against the Braves, Ruben Amaro told WIP that his $20 million a year slugger isn’t getting the job done.
“If Ryan Howard is now relegated to being a platoon player, he’s a very expensive platoon player and he needs to be better,” Amaro said. “I think he knows it. I know he’s struggling, I know he’s not happy with his performance — neither are we. I think he’s going to be better, but right now, he’s just not doing the job.”
Wow. Just wow.
Frankly, Steven Goldman put it best earlier today when he noted that Amaro only has himself to blame for the albatross that has become Ryan Howard.
Howard’s career splits now stand at .224/.301/.426 against lefties, .295/.390/.606 against right-handers. The real question here is not Howard’s lack of production against left-handers, but who the hell Ruben Amaro thinks he’s fooling. It takes a lot of chutzpah to blame a player for not doing something that he has largely been incapable of doing for the entirety of his career. What Amaro is really asking Howard to do is to metamorphose into an entirely new and fundamentally different player at the age of 33. This is spectacularly unfair and unrealistic.
With the exception of his MVP season in 2006, Howard has always been terrible against left-handed pitching. What saved him was his utter dominance of right-handers.
In 2011, Howard hit .266/.370/.550 for a .921 OPS with 30 of his 33 HRs coming against right-handers. Last year, those numbers fell dramatically in an injury-shortened season, with an OPS of .784 and just 8 HRs. This year, he has an OPS of .878 against righties, with 9 HRs.
The point is, Howard has always been a one dimensional player with severe limitations to his game.
It was also interesting to hear Amaro admit that the Phils were essentially platooning Howard. I speculated that was the case on Monday after their series against the Dodgers, when Howard was pinch-hit for by Kevin Frandsen in the eighth inning against a tough lefty. Amaro’s admission proves Charlie Manuel is doing what we have long been calling for… removing Howard against tough left-handed relievers.
Of course, someone making $20-25 million a year shouldn’t be a platoon player. But that’s the bed Amaro made when he signed a flawed player to a contract extension two years before his current deal expired. A deal that didn’t expire until he was 31 years old.
It has been Amaro’s biggest mistake as general manager, and now he’s trying to act like it’s Howard’s fault he can’t do something he’s never been able to do.