Bill Baer

MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 22:  Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies walks in the dugout during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on April 22, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Is it time for the Phillies to release Ryan Howard?


In his 10 Degrees column published yesterday on Yahoo Sports, Jeff Passan discusses Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard‘s contract and his continued struggles this season. Howard inked a five-year, $125 million extension with the Phillies back in 2010. Due to injuries, age, and the league figuring him out, Howard has been worth -3.9 Wins Above Replacement since the contract began in 2012.

Passan wonders if it’s time for the Phillies to release Howard, who has struggled all year to the tune of a .161/.233/.381 triple-slash line in 133 plate appearances. Howard, who can also neither run nor field adequately, is the second-least valuable first baseman in baseball (-0.7 WAR) behind the Mariners’ Adam Lind (-0.8), according to FanGraphs.

The Phillies recently promoted Tommy Joseph, a former catching prospect whose career progress had been paused due to concussion issues. He has hit well enough in 17 plate appearances since his promotion, racking up three singles and a homer. The 24-year-old offers more upside than Howard does for the surprisingly-contending Phillies.

Owed $25 million for this season plus a $10 million buyout for 2017, no team is going to want to acquire an ineffective Howard even if the Phillies cover all of his salary. Even if he were to get hot ahead of the August 1 non-waiver trade deadline or the August 31 waiver deadline, the Phillies won’t get anything of significance in return — maybe a mop-up type of reliever or a Quad-A type of hitter.

It would certainly behoove the Phillies to simply release Howard just to clear up the roster space. Howard is still a fan favorite but no one buys tickets anymore to watch him play nor are his jerseys flying off of the shelves at the store at Citizens Bank Park. Meanwhile, the Phillies are expecting utilityman Cody Asche to return possibly by the end of the month, and outfielder Aaron Altherr could be activated in July. Outfield prospect Nick Williams could earn a promotion to the majors at some point in the next two months as well. There just aren’t enough spots on the 25-man roster for the Phillies to carry an ineffective veteran who provides zero present value and zero future value.

Kevin Kiermaier out eight to 10 weeks due to hand surgery

DETROIT, MI - MAY 21:  Kevin Kiermaier #39 of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts after injuring his left arm making a diving attempt on a fly ball hit by James McCann of the Detroit Tigers during the fifth inning at Comerica Park on May 21, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier will undergo hand surgery on Tuesday and is expected to miss eight to 10 weeks, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Topkin adds that team specialist Dr. Doug Carlan will perform the procedure. Kiermaier suffered two broken metacarpal bones on Saturday, attempting to rob Tigers catcher James McCann of a hit.

It’s a big loss for the Rays. Kiermaier is one of the top three best defensive center fielders in the game and was hitting a solid .236/.307/.447 with five home runs and 16 RBI in 137 plate appearances.

Mikie Mahtook is starting in center field on Monday night against the Marlins. He and Desmond Jennings will share time in center field while Kiermaier is out.

Josh Hamilton to undergo knee surgery, miss the rest of 2016

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 11:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers hits a double in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during game three of the American League Division Series on October 11, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton had a second opinion on his knee and has opted to undergo knee surgery. The procedure will take place on June 8 and he is expected to miss the rest of the year, Jared Sandler of the Rangers Radio Network reports.

Hamilton, 35, underwent two procedures on his knee in the latter half of 2015 and the Rangers were hoping to get him back some time this month. He began a rehab assignment in late April but the knee gave him trouble shortly thereafter.

Hamilton’s five-year, $125 million contract expires after the 2017 season, so the Rangers will have only one more year with him. He’s earning $30 million both this year and next year, but the Angels are paying a majority of that.

Lucas Duda has a stress fracture in his back, says, “It will be a while.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Mets first baseman Lucas Duda has a stress fracture in his lower back,’s Anthony DiComo reports. He’s been placed on the 15-day disabled list and Ty Kelly has been recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas. Duda said of his injury timetable, “It will be a while.”

Duda has been bothered by back discomfort for most of this month and his performance has suffered as a result. He owns an uninspiring .231/.297/.431 triple-slash line with seven home runs and 19 RBI in 145 plate appearances on the year.

Eric Campbell is starting at first base for the Mets on Monday night against the Nationals. Kelly could also see some playing time at first base in Duda’s absence. At Triple-A, Kelly was hitting an absurd .391/.478/.548 with 12 doubles, two home runs, and 15 RBI in 137 trips to the plate.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Monday’s action

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches during the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on May 17, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images
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The Pirates and Rockies kicked Monday off with an afternoon game at PNC Park. It unfortunately saw starter Ryan Vogelsong carted off after he was hit in the head by a Jordan Lyles pitch. We should hear more about Vogelsong’s status this evening.

Later tonight, at 10:10 PM EDT, Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw will take on Reds lefty Brandon Finnegan in a series opener at Dodger Stadium. After Cubs ace Jake Arrieta tossed his second career no-hitter last month, I wrote that Arrieta — not Kershaw — is the best pitcher in baseball. Kershaw has done a terrific job since then of proving me wrong.

Entering tonight’s action, Kershaw is 6-1 with a 1.67 ERA and an 88/4 K/BB ratio in 70 innings. If you divide 88 by four, you get 22. No one has had a strikeout-to-walk ratio that good in baseball ever, and no one has even come close. Twins starter Phil Hughes set the all-time record with 11.625 strikeouts for every one walk back in 2014 with 186 strikeouts and 16 walks in 209 2/3 innings. Bret Saberhagen previously held the record with 11 strikeouts for each walk, and Cliff Lee came close in 2010 at 10.2778.

Kershaw has accrued double-digit strikeouts in each of his last six starts. The record is eight, done by Pedro Martinez in 1999 and Chris Sale last season. He’s facing a Reds team that has struck out 355 times this season, the fifth-highest total in the National League. It seems like a good bet that he’ll make it to seven. If he does, he will then attempt to tie the record next Sunday at Citi Field against the Mets.

The rest of Monday’s action…

Cleveland Indians (Mike Clevinger) @ Chicago White Sox (Mat Latos), 5:10 PM EDT (Game One)

Cleveland Indians (Cody Anderson) @ Chicago White Sox (Erik Johnson), Time TBD (Game Two)

New York Mets (Bartolo Colon) @ Washington Nationals (Gio Gonzalez), 7:05 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies (Vincent Velasquez) @ Detroit Tigers (Mike Pelfrey), 7:10 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Matt Moore) @ Miami Marlins (Wei-Yin Chen), 7:10 PM EDT

Los Angeles Angels (Nick Tropeano) @ Texas Rangers (Derek Holland), 8:05 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Ian Kennedy) @ Minnesota Twins (Ricky Nolasco), 8:10 PM EDT

Chicago Cubs (John Lackey) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright), 8:15 PM EDT

Oakland Athletics (Rich Hill) @ Seattle Mariners (Taijuan Walker), 10:10 PM EDT

San Diego Padres (Drew Pomeranz) @ San Francisco Giants (Johnny Cueto), 10:15 PM EDT