With the Phillies in the middle of a rebuilding effort, they are facing some tough (and long overdue) truths with their veteran players. After officially dealing shortstop Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. made an appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia yesterday and was pretty blunt about how the club feels about the future of longtime first baseman Ryan Howard.
Matt Lombardo of NJ Advance Media has this quote from Amaro’s interview:
“We’ve talked to Ryan,” Amaro said in an interview with 97.5 The Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli on Friday afternoon. “And I told him that in our situation 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. We’ll hope he puts up the kind of numbers that we hope he can and we’ll see where it goes from there.”
As we have said many times in this space before, moving Howard is no easy task. He turned 35 in November and is owed $60 million through 2016. The Phillies would likely have to cover most of his remaining salary in order to get a deal done, but that still leaves a limited number of teams would could be in the market for a declining DH-type player. Howard amassed 23 home runs and 93 RBI last season, which are appealing numbers on the surface, but he hit just .223 and his .690 OPS was 119th among 146 qualified hitters in MLB. He has a .720 OPS (and a 98 OPS+) over the past three seasons. While the Phillies want to turn the page, Amaro has no plans to release Howard if they can’t find a trade partner.
Matt Spiegel of 670 The Score Chicago heard from a source that Major League Baseball executives have been discussing a 100-game season that would begin on July 1 and conclude on October 15. It would essentially pick up the second half schedule, eliminating the All-Star Game while hosting the World Series at a neutral warm-weather stadium — ideally Dodger Stadium.
In the event the Dodgers, who won 106 games last year, made it all the way through the playoffs, the World Series would be hosted in Anaheim or San Diego. The earlier rounds of the playoffs would be played in the cities of the teams involved, which might be tough since the postseason would extend into November.
Spiegel went on to describe this vision as “an absolute best case scenario,” and that’s accurate. In order for the regular season to begin on July 1, the players would need to have several weeks if not a full month prior to get back into playing shape — more or less an abbreviated second spring training. And that would mean the U.S. having made significant progress against the virus by way of herd immunity or a vaccine, which would allow for nonessential businesses to resume operations. The U.S., sadly, is faring not so well compared to other nations around the world for a variety of reasons, but all of which point to a return to normalcy by the summer seeming rather unlikely.
Regardless, the league does have to plan for the potential of being able to start the regular season this summer just in case things really do break right and offer that opportunity. Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated multiple times about the league’s need to be creative, referring to ideas like playing deep into the fall, changing up the location of games, playing without fans in attendance, etc. This rumor certainly fits the “creative” mold.