Ryan Howard‘s time in Philly is winding down. On the year it has wound down pretty ignominiously, with the former MVP hitting .195/.249/.440 with 20 homers. August went well for him, however: he hit .314/.364/.706 with 6 homers in 16 games. Which is why he was perturbed when manager Pete Mackanin said on Tuesday that Tommy Joseph, with whom Howard has largely been platooning, will be getting some at bats against right-handed pitchers in September, not just his usual lefties.
“I don’t necessarily think it’s right or fair, considering this is my last month here, but it is interesting . . . I’m not going to sit here and lie. I’ve got one more month here and I just want to play and finish out playing . . . I think there comes a time when there needs to be more dialogue and more of an understanding of, ‘Why now?’ Now, when you’ve got three weeks left in the season? Why now? I’m going out and hitting and playing better and all of sudden it’s another wrinkle.”
Howard is mad at both not getting the playing time he wants and that the news of his reduced playing time for the final month came via Mackanin answering a reporter’s question as opposed to a face-to-face conversation. He likewise repeated, over and over, that he’s looking to finish out his time in Philly strong so he can latch on with another team in 2017.
All of which is understandable, but it’s also somewhat naive. Howard knows very well that, however much respect they have for him and his history there, the Phillies top priority is to win baseball games, particularly in the future. Doing that depends a lot on having a regular first baseman who can serve as an offensive threat and the organization is obligated to determine if Tommy Joseph can be that guy. That requires that he get looks against righties. And there is no better way to do that than against live major league pitching in games that count as opposed spring training 2017.
“Why now?” Howard knows exactly “why now.” He may not like it because it may harm his post-Philly playing career, but that’s not exactly the Phillies’ problem. They’re making the right decisions for the future of the organization. A future which has no place for Ryan Howard, as unfortunate as that may be.