Jon Heyman credits Ryan Howard for being “worth every penny” of a contract that hasn’t started

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Here’s a tidbit from Jon Heyman’s latest column at SI.com:

It’s early in Ryan Howard’s $125 million contract. But Howard, who has a league-leading 29 RBIs, is worth every penny so far.

Couple things.

One, it’s so “early in Ryan Howard’s $125 million contract” that the contact hasn’t even started yet. He signed a five-year, $125 million extension that starts in 2012. Kind of hard to be “worth every penny so far” when he hasn’t even been paid any of those pennies yet.

Beyond that, Howard “has a league-leading 29 RBIs” largely because he’s come to the plate with significantly more runners on base than anyone else in the league. Howard has had 111 runners on base for his 125 plate appearances. No other NL hitter has had more than 96. Howard is hitting .266 with an .851 OPS with runners on, which is hardly anything special.

He’s also hitting .276 with six homers and an .854 OPS overall, which ranks 11th among MLB first basemen and 42nd among all MLB hitters with enough plate appearances to qualify for the leaderboard. If that’s been “worth every penny” of a $125 million contract that won’t even begin until next season then an awful lot of hitters should be asking for raises.

The Cubs send Kyle Schwarber to the minors

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Kyle Schwarber broke into the bigs in 2015 with a big bat. After missing almost all of the last season with an injury, he reemerged as a postseason hero, posting a .971 OPS in the World Series. As 2017 began he was supposed to be one of the key parts of a potent Cubs offense.

Then the baseball games actually started and he has hit a mere .171/.295/.378. Indeed, he has the lowest batting average among qualified MLB hitters in 2017. Given that he has very little if any defensive value, he has been a significant drag on the Cubs, who are just a single game over .500.

Now this:

The Cubs are also putting Jason Heyward on the disabled list, so the outfield is a bit of a mess these days. Lucky for them, they’re only trailing the Brewers by a game and a half.

The A’s designate Stephen Vogt for assignment

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A surprising move out of Oakland: the Athletics have designated catcher Stephen Vogt for assignment.

Vogt is suffering through a bad season at the plate, hitting .217/.287/.357, so on the basis of pure performance it’s understandable that the A’s may want to part ways with the 32-year-old former All-Star. That said, Vogt is considered to be a leader in the Oakland clubhouse and is one of the last players remaining from the A’s 2013-14 playoff teams.

Catcher Bruce Maxwell has been recalled from Triple-A to take Vogt’s place on the roster. Main catching duties will belong to Josh Phegley.