Ryan Howard officially announces his retirement

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Ryan Howard has not played baseball in 2018 and, in 2017, spent the year with the Triple-A affiliates of the Braves and Rockies. It was clear, then, that his major league career was over, even if he never formally announced his retirement. Still, a player of Howard’s caliber is entitled to an official retirement announcement and today he made his, in a post at The Players Tribune.

It’s a lengthy post, primarily a love letter to the fans in Philadelphia and the Phillies organization, chronicling all of the highs and all of the lows of his career, all thirteen big league seasons of which were spent in a Phillies uniform. He closes it like this:

All you can hope for in baseball, I think, is a moment of perfection every now and again. You can hope for a few, perfect moments — moments that belong to you, that are yours. And then you can hope for them to matter.

And if it’s cool with everyone reading this … I’m going to feel like my moments did.

So thank you to the entire Phillies organization. Thank you to my teammates turned brothers. Thank you to my beautiful wife, Krystle, our two daughters, Ariana and Alexandria, and my son, Darian. Thank you to the crazy game that I’ll miss, and the crazy city that I love. And thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to the most passionate group of fans in the world.

Y’all took a chance on this big, quiet kid from St. Louis — and for that I’ll always be grateful.

Howard’s big league career ends with a line of .258/.343/.515 with 382 career home runs and 1,194 career RBI in 1,572 games. He was the 2005 NL Rookie of the Year, led the league in homers in 2006 and 2008, hitting 58 bombs in the former season, for which he won the NL MVP award, and hit 48 in the latter. He had two other seasons with 45+ homers and led the league in RBI in 2006, 2008 and 2009, driving in more than 140 runs in each of those seasons. Howard, of course, won a World Series ring with the 2008 Phillies and played in the 2009 World Series as well. He was the MVP of the 2009 NLCS.

His peak was certainly Hall of Fame worthy, but the bookends of his career left him with a resume that will keep him out of Cooperstown.

He got a late start to his big league career, thanks to a conservative approach to promoting prospects by the Phillies front office and thanks to being blocked by future Hall of Famer Jim Thome at first base early on. As such he did not make his big league debut until he was almost 25 years-old despite the fact that he destroyed minor league pitching from 2001-2004. The back end of his career was impacted by an achilles injury in the final play of the Phillies Game 5 loss in the NLDS to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011 that cut short his following season, with additional injuries hampering him in 2013. He was never really the same after that.

Despite all of that, Howard’s career was a wonderful one, which he chronicles with much love and affection in his post today. Go check it out.

Phillies select active duty Navy aviator in MLB Rule 5 draft

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SAN DIEGO — The Philadelphia Phillies took U.S. Navy aviator Noah Song in the Rule 5 draft Wednesday, hoping the former top pitching prospect can still be effective once he completes his military service.

There is no definitive date on when the 25-year-old Song might be able to join the Phillies.

Song was picked from the Boston Red Sox system in the draft for unprotected minor league players. Philadelphia put him on the military list while he continues his active duty and he won’t count on the 40-man roster, the pool from which major league teams can select players for the 26-man active roster.

Song impressed in his only pro season, making seven starts for Boston’s Class A Lowell affiliate in 2019, with a 1.06 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 17 innings. With a fastball clocked in the upper 90s mph, the right-hander dominated that year as a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy, going 11-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 94 innings.

The Red Sox drafted Song in the fourth round – he likely would’ve gone much higher, but his impending military service caused teams to back off.

In November 2019, Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed a memo clearing the way for athletes at the nation’s military academies to delay their service commitments and play pro sports after graduation. Song’s request to have those new rules retroactively applied to his case was denied.

Song began school as a flight officer in the summer of 2020 and finished that phase last April. He started additional aviation training in May.

Song was among the 15 players, including three Boston pitchers, taken in the big league phase of the Rule 5 draft, which wasn’t held last year because of the MLB lockout.

Washington took righty Thad Ward from Boston’s Triple-A roster with the first pick. Baltimore took Red Sox minor league pitcher Andrew Politi with the ninth choice and the Phillies chose Song with the 11th selection.

Teams pay $100,000 to take players in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft. The players must stay on the big league roster next season or go on waivers and, if unclaimed, be offered back to their original organization for $50,000.