Will some padded stats for Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard help trade him this offseason?
Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote the other day that the Phillies are playing Howard in the hopes that they can move him in a trade:
The front office's hope, according to sources familiar with the situation, is that an American League team will take a chance on Howard if he reaches plateaus such as 25 home runs and 100 RBIs. (He is on pace for 23 homers with 99 RBIs.) Howard, who turns 35 in November, is owed $60 million after this season. While the team held internal discussions about releasing Howard, according to CSNPhilly.com, that is viewed as a last resort. Ownership is not keen on the stigma of such a move.
However, Gelb remembered that Phillies Manager Ryne Sandberg stated he is well-aware of what Howard can do:
"I know what he can do," Sandberg said of Howard. "I've seen him for 100 games. I know what he can do. I think it's important to see what a guy like Darin Ruf can do also going forward."
Sandberg is not alone. Will the other teams not already know what Ryan Howard can do? Will RBI numbers be enough?
Here are the numbers Ryan Howard has that the team hopes will land them a trade partner:
- 255 of his 485 at bats (53%) of Howard's at bats have come with runners on base.
- 144 of his 485 at bats (30%) of Howard's at bats have come with runners in scoring position.
- In comparison, RBI leader Giancarlo Stanton had 225 of 496 at bats with runners on base (45%) and 126 of 496 in scoring position (25%). Stanton has 14 more RBI going into Sunday's game.
- Howard's 19 home runs tie him for 16th in the league. He is being outhomered by the likes of Corey Dickerson and Mark Reynolds, annual scrap heap inventory.
What teams will notice is Howard's WAR. At a -0.9 (yes, that's a negative nine-tenths). Only seven players in the National League with 450 plate appearances have a negative WAR.
The Phillies would indeed prefer not to just release Howard out of respect. However, there was the day that Bill Giles appeared on television with tears in his eyes to tell the fans that beloved "Lefty" Steve Carlton had played his last game with the Phillies. The Phillies honored Carlton by retiring his number the season after he finally hung up his spikes, and have brought him back every year since to celebrate Carlton on alumni weekend.
Ryan Howard likely will have his face on the Wall of Fame. I do not see number six ever being worn by another Phillie in history. Whether the Phillies trade Ryan Howard to a team who pays just $5 million a season times two or just outright release him, none of this will change. However, the delusion that padding RBI totals will help the Phillies save Howard's dignity is a secret to no one.