Olney: Phillies discussed Howard-Pujols swap

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howard pujols.JPGHere’s the craziest thing you’ll read all week (and it’s only Sunday):  According to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, the Phillies at one point kicked around the idea of offering Ryan Howard to the Cardinals for slugger Albert Pujols. 

Inside Olney’s oddly-formed story we get a flat-out denial of any such talks from Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro Jr., so it’s safe to say discussions are not ongoing (and may have never actually started).  Even if the Phillies threw around the thought internally, it’s not exactly a fair swap and we highly doubt Cardinals GM John Mozeliak would even hear the idea through.  Howard is an excellent player, but he’s a couple of months older than Pujols and not nearly as valuable. 

Pujols, who turned 30 in January, has a .334/.427/.628 career batting line and is widely regarded as one of the top defensive first basemen in the National League.  Howard, 30 in November, has a .279/.376/.586 career batting line and isn’t nearly as solid in the field.

Sure, Pujols is headed for free agency and is likely to command one of the richest contracts in sports history, but you pay for what you get.  Albert’s stat lines over his first nine major league seasons rank among the finest marks in the game’s 120-plus years of existence.  Thanks for the fun, Buster.  Is it April yet?

Report: Shohei Ohtani has sprained UCL in pitching elbow

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The Angels signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for a $2.3 million signing bonus last weekend. They may have damaged goods on their hands. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Ohtani underwent a physical that revealed a first-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. As a result, he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on October 20. This was made known to teams after Ohtani entered MLB’s posting system, so it wasn’t like the Angels went into this blind.

Ohtani’s report said, “Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists, he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” It also said Ohtani “will most likely be available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.”

Passan notes that the report also mentioned that a “small free body” floats in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL.

Ohtani isn’t without other injuries. He battled hamstring and ankle issues throughout 2017 and underwent right ankle surgery back in October. Thankfully for the Angels, this diagnosis is about as good as it could be considering the circumstances. However, if Ohtani does exacerbate his UCL issue, he may ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point, which would take him out of action for at least a year.