Ryan Howard is in the Best Shape of His Life

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Man, it’s starting early this year. Take it away Ruben Amaro:

Amaro said Ryan Howard’s offseason conditioning program has already shown results. “I think he’s lost a significant amount of weight, which bodes well for him,” the GM said.

Good for Howard. And good for Amaro for making it safe for all general managers and agents to make reference to a player’s offseason conditioning program as if a player getting into decent shape is a net positive as opposed to the rectification of previous problem. It’s a long offseason and we have to fill it with stuff that doesn’t really matter at all between now and spring training.

In other news, tell me how these two statements later in the article, separated by a mere couple of sentences, conflict with one another:

The Phillies have a reputation for being a by-the-book organization that values good citizenship. It’s difficult to envision them making serious plays for [Josh Hamilton or Melky Cabrera]

and

“I don’t have any problem with Brett [Myers], as long as he could help us,” Amaro said.

Viva by-the-book behavior and good citizenship.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.