Saturday, May 17, 2008
Back in 2006, Ryan Howard was the best first baseman in baseball. He hit for power (58), had a good average (.313), and kept the Phillies in the playoff hunt for most of the season. The following season, Howard still hit for power, but his average dropped dramatically and strikeouts went way up. He is back again in his third full season, but has failed to make the proper adjustments. He is batting .188 with 9 HR and an OBP of .294. That is not going to cut it as your three hitter. Luckily, Chase Utley has stepped up big time early on and kept the Phillies in it. Howard is making 10 million dollars this season and won't be a free agent until 2011, so that is bound to go up.
The Phillies minor league system has decent depth, but it is not great, and trading Howard would help fill that. He appears DH bound at some point in his career, but he could probably handle first base for another couple of seasons. It is a little early, but several teams could use his bat in their lineup. Teams that go after Mark Teixeira will likely look to Howard sometime next season as a fall back option. The Yankees and Phillies are on good trade terms and could swing a deal similar to the one that sent Bobby Abreu to the Yankees.