TBOH Round Table, Pt. 1: Ryan Howard and the Fears of a City


Apr 28, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pinch hitter Ryan Howard (6) hits a pinch-hit two-run double against New York Mets relief pitcher Scott Atchison (not pictured) during the seventh inning of a game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Klugh: Welcome to what will be our monthly Phillies round table to discuss how stupid the Phillies are.

Your roster for the proceedings:

I’ll get things started with an objective inquiry: Will Ryan Howard be worth something at all in the near to long term future, and what will that be?  Remember to only answer with serious, baseball answers.

John Stolnis: No, poopy head, he won’t be worth anything because money is evil and lots of it makes baseball players play bad. Next question.

I can’t see Howard being anything other than an albatross right now. Not only can’t he hit lefties, but he can’t hit righties either. Yeah, he’s batting .327 against them, but is only slugging .436 for an OPS of .775. He has his only home run off a right-hander and NO HOME RUNS OR RBIS off a lefty. Two hits in 19 plate appearances.

Ethan Seidel: The Phillies really missed their chance to rid themselves of Howard when the Dodgers decided it was a good idea to consume half the Red Sox payroll. WIth Magic Johnson and the rest of that ownership group drunk on the money they made in that purchase they would’ve taken Howard, Lee, and probably the Phanatic too (who is really on the hot seat).

Alas, the Phillies are stuck with Howard for the next gagillion years, and he’s not gonna get much better.

John Stolnis: And it’s the TYPE of right-handed pitchers that are handling him that is concerning, too. He’s getting beat by right-handed relievers who throw in the low 90s with no breaking stuff.

And if you read Corey Seidman’s piece on CSN Philly, it’s especially worrying to see Howard has lost all ability to hit the ball in the air. Everything is on the ground. He’s lost up at the plate. I don’t know where spring training Ryan Howard went. But right now, he’s a -0.1 WAR player. Ugh.

Ethan Seidel: I think Howard’s biggest problem is above the shoulders. When a guy is struggling this bad you have to blow the whole thing up and get back to basics. He needs to close his stance and start trying to hit other way. Remember when he use to get all those cheap homers down the left field line? (sigh)

Apr 26, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard (6) in the dugout before the start of a MLB game against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Christy:  How is he on television? There might be a market for a Ryan Howard Baseball Academy too. Come and learn how to swing a bat! Hits are not guaranteed.

I just don’t even want to talk about it.  I am getting sad on the inside.  It is only 70 some at bats so far for the kid, but his OPS is in the .670s along with other formidable hitters like Placido Polanco and Martin Prado.

Justin Klugh:  **briefly scans what you guys said **

Yes yes, I agree, blow everything up.  I assume we are a loss or two away from Amaro whistling while dumping a gasoline canister all over the dugout.  So we’ve well establish that Ryan, barring any month-long periods of resurgence due to some as yet unseen X factor, has the potential to be a space-filling money goblin on the roster.

Is that starting right now? Are we seeing the beginning of the endgame?

I usually answer these type of questions by saying “YES!” and hurling my drink in the bartender’s face, but then Ryan will hit like two home runs and be “back,” probably just to make me look like an idiot, which is hard to do.

Ethan Seidel:  My only problem with this doomsday scenario is I don’t want Ruben Amaro Jr. to be the one pouring on the gasoline.

He built this roster, and I have slim to no faith that he knows how to properly evaluate baseball players. It’s all well and good to cut payroll and get younger, but name me one deal where RAJ looked really smart? **pauses for laughter**It’s a scary thought, so we’re better off praying that Cole Hamels doesn’t have to wait until July to win his first game, and the bullpen suddenly becomes an un-hittable tandem of wizards out there.

Justin Klugh:  That IS where we are, isn’t it?  Last year was the “fire sale” year; do you guys think any abysmal failure this year is met with serious change even higher in the organization?

John Stolnis: Well, let’s hold off on calling this year an abysmal failure already. The pitching staff has been very good for the most part. Yes, the offense has been so bad that some people are actually CLAMORING for Delmon Young to join the team. And I never thought that would be possible.

Bad offense is really hard to watch, and getting shut out by the putrid Pirates is not a good sign. But we’re still just 12% into this season. Let’s wait until at least 15% to blow it all up. Justin Klugh: That we’re waiting for Delmon Young to get here as if that’s some sort of awesome thing just fills me with poisonous dread. Of course, I was all about trashing Michael Young and of course now he’s the team offensive leader, statistically.Ethan Seidel: Let’s be real guys. The savior of this team is named Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz. Ritalin or no Ritalin, he should at least be able to give the lineup a boost and make Roy Halladay look like himself again. Or was it adderall? I can’t focus without my meds.

Jul 16, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies reliever Jonathan Papelbon (58) and catcher Carlos Ruiz (51) react at the end of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. The Phillies defeated the Dodgers 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Klugh:  It was stem cells.  And I’ve had about enough of promised change based on the return of a single player, thank you.

[Everyone jumps as BEN HORROW kicks the door in, removes sunglasses, and begins speaking.]

Ben Horrow:  Howard is a mostly a sunk cost. Barring a miraculous turnaround, the likes of which we really haven’t seen in the modern day. In order to justify his AAV this season he’d need to sport about 4 fWins, and in that number only increases from 2014 to 2016 (more like 5.5 fWins).

Other than 2006 and 2009 Howard has never shown he can be anything more than Adam Dunn without the walks (and the good OBP that comes with it). He’s a masher that strikes out a lot. So…. if he were to lose his ability to hit home runs (say fewer than 30 per season), which equates to an ISO < .210 and a SLG% < .450, than he is as useful in the Phillies lineup as the next sack of potatoes set to be turned into Herr’s chips.

That being said, trade value comes mostly from potential. Howard has, well, almost no potential at all. It is wrong, and I actually mean wrong, to equate what the Red Sox did in trading A-Gon, Crawford, Beckett, and Punto to the Dodgers to anything the Phillies could even remotely muster with Howard. In 2011 Nick Punto, the throw in of all throw ins, had a higher fWAR than Ryan Howard did. THAT’S INSANE! So, not only are we stuck with Howard, but unless RAJ is willing to eat, I’d say 90% of Howards contract, he’s going no where.

As far as salary dumping, the best guys to move are always the ones you don’t want to lose. Lee, Hamels, and Rollins, along with maybe Adams and Papelbon (who’s at least been solid) are the tradable pieces. Still, what the Red Sox gave up, in potential, still outweighs a deal involving say Lee, Rollins, and Adams. Still, by the time the trade deadline comes around, if the Phillies remain out of it, they should make the deals they can, get what they can, and try to move forward.

Ruben’s made some good deals, and some not so good. Howard’s contract is awful, but he got great value for Chase Utley, Ruiz, Placido Polanco, Rollins (his most recent contract), Halladay (I don’t care bout the prospects given up, Doc’s been awesome), and even the Cliff Lee deal. I’m not a fan of Amaro for other reasons, and since there are certainly some soon-to-be GM’s I would love the Phillies to hire, I’m perfectly happy to see RAJ go.

I’ve got more to say, ***k it, I always have more to say, so I’ll just stop typing.

Alex Christy:  If you don’t want to cry stop reading here.

Ok, I warned you.

A friend pointed this out to me- In his last 225 PA, Ryan Howard has a a .369 SLG with 7 HRs. In his last 225 PA, YOVANNI GALLARDO has a .369 SLG with 7 HRs.

So, yeah.

Apr 16, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo watches the game against the San Francisco Giants in the dugout at Miller Park. Gallardo was arrested early in the morning for drunken driving in Milwaukee. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

John Stolnis:  Oh. My. Poop.

Ok, let’s see if we can think of ANYTHING good Ryan Howard is doing. Is there anything?

The thing that sucks is, Howard seems like a great guy, a really really hard worker, and a solid teammate. Of all the guys you would want to see succeed on this team, Howard would be at the top of the list. It says something about him that, after they won the World Series, the guy lost 20 pounds.

So, after the weekend, are we feeling better about Howard? Maybe, like 2% better? It’s also nice Atlanta crapped the bed this weekend too.

Alex Christy:  I am back on board until I am not again.