During last night's Phillies game, Ryan Howard seemed to hit a new low. When all Howard had to do was simply make contact and the Phillies would win the game, he was unable. Having suffered a gruesome achillies injury that some never recover from, Howard still has yet to look comfortable planting his feet. While he has all the raw power in the world in his arms, if you cannot plant your feet, you cannot anchor that swing. Thus, begins talk of the end of the Ryan Howard era in Philadelphia.
Jim Salisbury stated tonight on Philly Sports Talk on Comcast Sports Net that he can see a change coming:
And there is good reason. Here are a couple troubling trends about Howard's performance that might give the Phillies the ability to move on.
When Howard gets on base, he is pretty much immobile:
From baseball-reference.com - Tonight was 11th time this year Ryan Howard was on 1B when a teammate doubled - but only 2nd time he scored— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 23, 2014
When Wil Nieves doubled last night, Howard was unable to score. Granted, it was the 14th inning and the run itself did not make the difference, it could make a difference the next time. On a team that finds it difficult to score runs, the Phillies cannot afford to lose even one.
Howard can be easily replaced:
Incomplete list of batters less valuable than Bobby Abreu in 2014: Jay Bruce, Jackie Bradley, Jr., Gordon Beckham, Ryan Howard— Jonathan Bernhardt (@jonbernhardt) July 23, 2014
Bernhardt is tongue-in-cheek about this, but his point is well-taken: the offense Howard can give the Phillies is easily replicated. Howard has driven in 60 runs, but anyone else batting .224 with some reliable tablesetters could perhaps also replicate these numbers.
Corey Seidman of CSN Philly wrote today that it was time to move Ryan Howard:
At what point does this experiment end? Howard is hitting .224 with a .305 on-base percentage. He has one home run in his last 121 plate appearances. He has three doubles in his last 55 games dating back to May 22.
The Phillies are throwing away games and costing themselves wins by batting Howard fourth nearly every night. It hurts to write that about a player as gregarious, as friendly, as easy to root for as Howard, but it's the truth. There is no longer a logical defense for him.
Granted, the Phillies do not have to bat Howard fourth, but out of respect for him, they do not feel they can bat him anywhere but fourth.
John Finger of CSN Philly does have one good point:
Ryan Howard gave up the health of his body. The money seems like a fair trade.— John Finger (@jrfingerCSN) July 23, 2014
The Phillies have plenty to thank Ryan Howard for: a 2006 MVP and 2007 through 2011. Consider the $125 million he has been unable to earn fair compensation for what he did for the team to transform the Phillies franchise forever.
Howard has earned it. We should be grateful.