So the general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, Ruben Amaro, has gone public to say that he's told first baseman Ryan Howard that the team would be better off without the St. Louis native and he's trying to get rid of him?
What's the point of that?
Does he expect Howard, one of baseball's nice guys, to say he's sorry for signing the ridiculous $125 million contract extension the Phillies offered him and quit?
Howard signed a five-year, $125-million contract before his previous deal was even close to expiration. He's got two guaranteed years left to go at $25 million each and a buyout of $10 million on an option year worth $27 million. Is he to blame for that contract or is it the team?
Some people point the finger of blame at the ruptured Achilles tendon Howard suffered in the 2011 playoffs against the St. Louis Cardinals. Before that he was a .275 hitter who averaged 36 homers and 108 RBIs. Since then, Howard has hit .233 and averaged 16 homers and 65 RBIs a year.
But that can't be denied in the downfall of this deal is the fact that Howard is presently 35 years old. He'll be 37 by the time it's off Philadelphia's books. Did the Phillies not expect a slugger of that age would have a statistical drop off?
It's disappointing to see the blame placed upon the player when Howard has worked so hard to come back from a devastating injury. A lot of folks thought he'd never play again because an Achilles injury is so harmful to a hitter's base. But Howard had a respectable 2014. While his average was only .223, he hit 27 homers and drove in 95 in a season where offense was down across the board.
Because offense is so hard to come by lately, the Phillies might have traded Howard to a team desperate for power (if they ate a portion of the remaining contract) had Amaro not shot his mouth off. Despite Amaro's insistence that he wouldn't release Howard, the net result is the player's trade value is now virtually nil.
The public announcement also will damage Howard's reputation among Phillies fans who aren't known as the most forgiving people. This is a guy who won a Most Valuable Player award in Philadelphia. He's had four seasons of 45 of more homers and finished in the top 10 in MVP balloting in four other seasons. He would have been one of the Phillies' most popular alumni if the stage hadn't been set for an entirely graceless exit.
Sure, Howard has made tons of money and lived the life of a famous athlete. I just think it stinks for him to go out like this. He's forced to lie in this bed. But he didn't make it. Amaro did. We're never going to see any sanity in the MLB salary structure if the people who pass out ridiculous contracts are held accountable when they blow up like this.