Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard has followed up a career-worst 2014 season with a terrible start this year, going 4-for-24 (.167) with zero walks and eight strikeouts through six games.
Howard has hit a combined .232 with a .306 on-base percentage and .409 slugging percentage in 1,281 plate appearances dating back to 2012 and now at age 35 teams have given up all pretense of treating him like a former MVP.
Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes that the Mets “made it no secret … they don’t think Howard can hit a good fastball” by rarely even throwing him an off-speed pitch.
Admittedly the Phillies’ other lineup options are lacking, but manager Ryne Sandberg has kept Howard in the cleanup spot. He did bench Howard in the one game the Phillies have had so far against a left-handed pitcher, which is a no-brainer move at this point.
It’s no secret that the Phillies would love to part ways with Howard, as reports all offseason stressed their willingness to eat a big chunk of the $55 million left on his contract. Their inability to find a taker for a 35-year-old first baseman who’s below average offensively and defensively is predictable, but if Howard doesn’t turn things around fairly soon the possibility of simply releasing him becomes more and more realistic.