What's Ryan Howard's problem?

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Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Inquirer offers five possible explanations for Ryan Howard’s struggles during the World Series:

(1) He’s putting too much pressure on himself;

(2) That’s just baseball. Slumps happen;

(3) The time off between the NLCS and World Series cost him his “mojo”;

(4) The Yankees pitchers are just executing; and

(5) The Yankees have a better game plan against Howard than anyone else;

Reasons number one and three are basically unquantifiable for us in the peanut gallery. What’s the scientific definition of mojo anyway? Who besides Howard can say if he’s putting too much pressure on himself, and even if he is, might that not be a reaction to his slump as opposed to its cause?

I’m far more partial to reasons two four and five. Partially because they represent phenomena that can actually be observed in the rational universe as opposed to residing inside someone’s head, but also because all three of them go together nicely.  The Yankees have a bunch of good pitchers. They have a pretty sharp pitching coach and a manager who was a pretty spiffy defensive catcher. Slumps happen.  It’s all of a piece, really, and that’s before mentioning the fact that Howard can’t hit lefties to begin with.

Any other possibilities here? Body snatchers? El Nino? An international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids?

Report: Alex Cobb expected to sign soon

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Update (5:36 PM ET): Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports the Orioles are close to an agreement with Cobb. The contract is believed to be at least three years and in the range of $50 million.


Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that free agent pitcher Alex Cobb is expected to sign with a team soon. He notes that the Orioles are believed to be the favorite for Cobb’s services. Cobb has kept pushing for a multi-year contract rather than settling for a one-year deal.

Cobb, 30, posted a 3.66 ERA with a 128/44 K/BB ratio in 179 1/3 innings for the Rays last season.

If Baltimore is indeed his next destination, Cobb will provide a much-needed boost to the Orioles’ starting rotation, which currently includes Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashner, and Chris Tillman.