Howard vs. Phillies

By: Jim Vassallo

Since I am a Philadelphia fan, I knew that this debate would come up sooner than I had hoped. The Phillies and slugging first baseman Ryan Howard are 3 million dollars apart from where either would like to be regarding contract status. Let’s not worry yet, Howard is still a handful of years away from free agency (He can’t test the market until 2012). But here is where the worrying comes into play, if the two sides go to arbitration, will GM Pat Gillick ‘hurt’ the former NL ROY and NL MVP’s feelings by not giving in to his wishes? Let’s hope not.

In my opinion, Howard deserves the price that he is asking, which to me seems lower than he really deserves. Howard is asking for 10 million, the Phillies are offering 7 million. They are lucky he isn’t asking for the price that he truly deserves, 15 million. He has done so much for this franchise in terms of building an incredible fan base and putting on a show in the 2006 home run derby (he finished with 23 and the title in Pittsburgh).

Here are Howard’s credentials as to why he deserves the 10 million and maybe more:

  • He is only the second player in Major League Baseball history alongside Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. to win Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in back-to-back seasons.
  • In his first extended stint in the majors, 2005 (Thome on DL), Howard finished with 22 home runs and 63 RBIs in only 88 games. He added a .288 average too.
  • In 2006, Howard’s first full season in the majors; he put up 58 round trippers and 149 RBIs to lead the league. He also turned in a .313 average to go along with a .659 slugging percentage.
  • In 2007, Howard’s numbers declined a bit because of a stint on the disabled list, but he still finished strong. He picked up 47 long balls and 136 RBIs to go along with a .268 average.
  • For his career, which spans 410 games, Howard has a .291 average, 129 home runs, 353 RBIs and a .610 slugging percentage.

Howard’s presence in the Phillies lineup, especially at home, has bred success throughout the 1-8 hitters. From top to bottom, the Phillies lineup has been one of the most potent lineups in baseball over the past four seasons. The homegrown talent with the bat has been stellar; the hits keep coming from 2007 MVP Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Pat Burrell (when he is on his game) to go along with Howard.

Howard has provided a much needed left handed power hitter in the lineup to go with a solid glove at first base. He is the anchor of a young, talented group of homegrown infielder for the franchise. His presence in the lineup is felt even as he waits in the on-deck circle or at the top of the dugout steps.

The Phillies would be wrong to let this case go to arbitration, the first since Travis Lee went in 2001 with the team. The arbiter might rule in Howard’s favor, in the Phillies favor, or pick a number somewhere in the middle ground. Yet again, in my mind Howard deserves 15 million, five more than the 10 million he is requesting. Hopefully the two sides can settle before heading to arbitration on February 20th.

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