I took this photo yesterday:
I’m an awful reporter so I neglected to get their names. But I did make a note of what the man said when I took the picture:
“I’m Dodgers, she’s Giants, I’m black, she’s white. She’s a lefty, I’m a righty. But we make it work!”
I feel like the Dodgers-Giants thing would be the deal-breaker here. I mean, if I met an otherwise perfect woman for me but found out she was a Phillies fan, I’d probably ruin any shot I had at her by being a big jerk and making jokes about the Ryan Howard contract, Ruben Amaro and obnoxious fans and stuff until she just stopped returning my calls. But that’s me. These people are way better than me.
Still, part me wonders if she ever goes out of her way to mention how long ago 1988 was. God knows I would.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. spent a portion of the off-season taking heat and eventually apologizing for criticizing first baseman Ryan Howard during a radio appearance. Now, he may be going in the opposite direction. As CSN Philly’s John Clark reports, Amaro said that Howard is in the best shape “since I’ve known him”.
Former major leaguer Dan Plesac, in Phillies camp as a guest instructor, echoed the sentiment, telling Howard, “this is the best you’ve looked in 4-5 years.” Howard told Plesac this was the first offseason in which he’s been able to strengthen his leg since tearing his Achilles tendon in his left foot at the conclusion of the 2011 NLDS. Howard returned in July 2012 but was a shadow of his former self. In 2013, Howard had a bit of a bounce-back, but tore the meniscus in his right knee. 2014 was his first full, healthy season since 2011, but he posted a career-low .690 OPS.
Howard is entering the fourth year of a five-year, $125 million contract. The Phillies, currently attempting to rebuild, have made it no secret that they would prefer to trade Howard. However, he is owed a total of $50 million for the 2015-16 seasons plus a $10 million buyout for the ’17 season (assuming no team would pick up his $23 million club option). As a result, it’s effectively $60 million for two years. The Phillies would have to eat a very large portion of it to entice a team to make a deal.
Times are changing in Philadelphia. The Phillies traded longtime shortstop Jimmy Rollins during the offseason and it’s likely just a matter of time before they cut ties with Ryan Howard and deal Cole Hamels elsewhere. But what about Chase Utley’s future with the rebuilding club?
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. said back in December that Utley would prefer to finish out his contract with the team. According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhily.com, Utley indicated today that would like to stick around, but he also left the door open for the possibility of a trade.
“Obviously I’ve said it before, I really enjoy playing with this organization,” Utley said. “They’ve done a lot for me, personally, and put together some pretty good teams over the years. So I have a lot of respect for the people making decisions. If you go back and look at 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, ’11 — they always gave us a chance to win. We’ve had some great opportunities over the years and I respect that.
“For as much respect as I have for the organization, if they ever came to me and asked me [to consider a trade], I would have to listen, but I don’t think much will change.”
Utley has full no-trade rights, so the Phillies would have to get his approval on any deal. It would likely require a situation like Rollins and the Dodgers, where it was the one place he wanted to go.
Utley, 36, batted .270/.339/.407 with 11 home runs and 78 RBI over 155 games last season. He’s owed $15 million this season with a series of vesting options from 2016-2018 which could max out at a total of $45 million.
In December, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro publicly criticized first baseman Ryan Howard in an appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic back in December. Amaro said, “It would probably bode better for the organization not with him but without him. With that said if he’s with us, then we’ll work around him.”
Since then, Amaro has taken some heat for the comment as it’s not exactly a good look to go on the media circuit to trash a player who could potentially serve as a trade asset.
That chapter of the Ryan Howard book has ended, though, as Amaro has apologized to the slugger, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports:
“Frankly, I apologized for those comments that I made that were public,” Amaro said. “And I think he appreciated that. Other than that, I want to keep the conversation private. It was a good talk.”
Howard, 35, is entering the fourth year of a five-year, $125 million contract extension signed back in April 2010. He’ll earn $25 million in both 2015 and ’16, and will receive another $10 million when the Phillies (or his eventual acquiring team) buy him out for $10 million for the 2017 season. Howard, who owns the Phillies’ single-season home run record with 58, batted a meager .223/.310/.380 last season but slugged 23 home runs and knocked in 95 runs.
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg met with the media upon arriving at spring training and said the following when asked about Ryan Howard’s status on the team:
Right now, unless he gets unseated, he’s the first baseman. He needs to prepare himself to be the best first baseman he can be.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has made it pretty clear that he’d like to rid the Phillies of Howard’s long-term contract, but obviously no teams are interested in taking him off their hands and Amaro has so far been unwilling to simply move on by eating all the money. And so that leaves Sandberg in a relatively tough spot where he has to dance around the fact Howard isn’t very good any longer without actually benching him.
All of which leads to quotes like “right now, unless he gets unseated, he’s the first baseman.” Sandberg did tell Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that he recently spoke to Howard and the former MVP is “very positive with the conversation” and “he wanted to be part of the process here with the younger players that we might have in camp.”