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.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.

Angels demote C.J. Cron to Triple-A

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Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.

Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).

While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.