Friday, November 8, 2013
Phillies 2013 Review: First Base
First base used to be a position of strength for the Phillies but ever since Ryan Howard tore his achilles tendon in Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS, first base has been a weakness for the Phillies. Since Howard tore his achilles tendon in the last game of the 2011 season he missed about half of 2012 while he was recovering from his injury and people were not expecting big things when he returned in 2012 because it was going to take a little while to get used to playing again. And in 2012 Howard was not extremely productive. His best stat was that he had 56 RBI in 74 games but he had a -1.1 WAR, a .295 OBP, and only 14 home runs.
With having an entire off season to prepare for 2013, fans and colleagues around Major League Baseball were expecting Howard to have a good season with 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI. This did not happen. In 80 games in 2013, Howard hit 11 home runs and 43 RBI with a .319 OBP. Howard injured his knee in the beginning of July and did not return for the remainder of the season.
So now moving forward there are a lot of questions surrounding Ryan Howard. Can he stay healthy for a full season? If he does stay healthy can he produce like the way we are accustomed to seeing? Nobody knows. In 2013, Howard was only on pace for 22 home runs which is extremely rare for someone as big and strong for Howard. From 2006-2011 he had at least 30+ home runs in each season. Although his home run total has gone down from being in the 40's from 2007-2009 to 30's in the 2010 and 2011 season. I am not as concerned with home runs from Howard as I am with him driving in runs. His RBI total was 56 in 2012 in only 74 games so over the course of a full season his RBI total would have most likely been over 100, which is the magic number here. We need Howard to drive in 100 runs or more. And as stated earlier, in 2013 he only drove in 43 runs in 80, which is worrisome.
Right now it seems like the Phillies are stuck with Howard. Over the next three seasons he is owed $25 million in each season, which makes Howard unmovable. To me, I think if Howard produces like the way he did in 2013 then the Phillies have a clog in the middle of their line up. You have to play him because there are no other options. Yes, they could play Darin Ruf against left handers from time to time but Ruf has not shown much that shows that he can play consistently.
If I am the Phillies front office I am trying to trade Howard and offer to eat between $8-10 million of his salary for the next three years which would be about a third of his salary and if Howard was able to produce at all then the $15 million or so the new team would pay him would be about what he should make. Getting rid of Howard would open up a lot for the Phillies. Right now, the Phillies can't sign any left handed hitters because of the surplus they have. With Utley, Howard, and Brown in the middle of their line up, they cannot afford to sign another one because they can't have a line up with four left handed hitters in the middle of it.
If Ryan Howard comes back to the Phillies in 2014, which will most likely happen and he can produce like we have seen in the past then the Phillies will be in business but if he does not produce and continues down the path of injuries then the Phillies are stuck in a big hole.