Howard Seems Unhappy at Platoon Possibility

Ryan HowardRyan Howard is the highest-paid position player in baseball this year, but Ryne Sandberg said yesterday that Howard’s salary will have little impact on future lineup cards.

Sandberg drove home that point soundly today, as he benched Howard in favor of Darin Ruf for a second consecutive game, but this time against Giants right-hander Tim Hudson. That is noteworthy because Howard has faced Hudson more than any other pitcher in his career, hitting .328 (22-for-67) with seven home runs, 17 RBIs and a 1.112 OPS against him.

“The way I see things,” Sandberg said before their 2-1 victory over the Giants, “I basically wanted to give Ruf two days in a row, just to get his feet wet, see him against a right-handed pitcher, then go from there. But in all likelihood, at least after today, it will be a scenario of … I’d be considering a platoon system at first base.”

The p-word has been uttered: platoon.

Sandberg and Howard held a closed-door meeting in the manager’s office for at least 10-15 minutes about three hours before the game. Howard was unavailable to comment afterward. He made a bee line to the back of the Phillies’ clubhouse upon leaving Sandberg’s office. He returned to his locker to grab his cell phone before going outside the clubhouse to make a call. The clubhouse closed almost immediately after he returned.

Howard had no interest in commenting about his situation after the game.

“Talk to him,” he said after the game, referring to Sandberg. “Bye. Talk to the manager.”

Asked if Howard was receptive to his talk, Sandberg said, “He wants to play and he wants to be in the lineup and that’s totally understandable. So as we go forward and there are some options on some days, then I’ll look at those options.”

It does not take a genius to see the 2006 National League Most Valuable Player is not happy.

If Sandberg follows through and platoons Howard and Ruf it would make Howard, who signed a $125 million contract in April 2010, a part-time player with $60 million owed to him after this season. What that means for Howard’s future remains to be seen. Sources said the Phillies have kicked around multiple scenarios regarding Howard’s future, including the possibility of releasing him in the offseason.

It would seem to be an awkward situation for Ruf, who is trying to prove himself as a regular big-league player. But he said he will not let the spotlight bother him as he is asked to take an iconic player’s place in the lineup.

“Ryan is a great player,” Ruf said. “He’s going to be counted on to help this team win in the last two months hopefully. If we can share a role in making that happen, or he becomes the player that he once was and that we know he can be, and if it’s my opportunity I’ll just look forward to proving I can be that guy, too.”

Ruben Amaro Jr. was unavailable to comment on Howard’s situation and future with the organization.

“Ryno wants to be in there,” Sandberg said. “I totally expect that, so we’ll go forward and make up lineups.”

There just won’t be any guarantee Howard will be in them.

10 Comments

This doesn’t really make sense to me. If Howard has good numbers against Hudson, why not play him? Are we just trying to lose at this point?

Howard 2005-2011 had good numbers against Hudson. You really think what he did pre-injury really matters now?

Howard went 5-for-13 with 1 double, 1 homer and 3 RBIs against him last year, so it isn’t just pre-2011.

Are the Phillies doing anything to protect their huge investment in Ryan Howard? Adjustments probably could be made to Ryan’s swing before the Phillies “scrap” him. I think Ryan’s problems are related to his past leg and foot injuries. He doesn’t use the lower part of his body; probably because he can’t. When Ryan does hit, it is usually into the “shift”. Maybe Ryan should consider adjusting his swing so that he hits down the left field line. If he did that on a consistent basis maybe the “shift” strategy would disappear. Hopefully the Phils are working with Ryan to make adjustments, etc. Ryan is a huge talent and it would be a grave error on the Phils part to “scrap” him. Work with him.

People have been telling Ryan to “adjust” his swing for years and working with him. No change. His recognition of pitches is almost non-existant. A low and outside beach ball is an automatic swinging strike. I’d rather they put him on the 15 day DL just do batting practice 4 hours a day, maybe he could get straight then. Otherwise, he’s a wasted AB.

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Howard doesn’t look like he cares much, on the field. And he’s not putting the mental work in to be ready to play, and to adjust his swing to his new physical realities. He’s rich, his team sucks, so he has checked out. He is ready to go to his castle in Florida. He realizes he is never going to get the big career numbers that once looked likely, and this team is going nowhere. There IS no recovering the team’s investment – that money is going, gone, goodbye. I hope the new team president and the new GM do the right thing and release him. Maybe getting picked up for free by a contending AL team can get him interested again, even if only as a DH. his time as a contributing member of this team is over.

Honestly, if this doesn’t give him incentive to go out there and make every at bat count, nothing will. He has no one to blame but himself for this mess. I think the team gave him every shot to install himself as the defacto 1B starter and clean-up hitter, but he either can’t or won’t rise to the challenge. Maybe he has checked our mentally. Maybe he just doesn’t “want it” like he did in the past. Or maybe he simply can’t get right, or doesn’t know how and isn’t getting the help he needs from the various coaches. But either way, this should be a real wake up call to him that the team’s patience is finally running out.

Well you sign the contract and that’s don’t play you that day so be it

Last night he went 0 for 5 with 8 LOB. He’s just a pathetic joke with a humongous ego. His bobble-head doll has more mental capacity.

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