CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported yesterday the Phillies were looking to find a trade partner for Ryan Howard, ideally in the American League. That report came on the heels of CSN Philly Jim Salisbury's report that the Phillies were looking at the possibility of trading or releasing Howard.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Salisbury releasing Howard is "not something [he is] contemplating." Amaro also added he did not know where those reports were originating from.
“Our goal is to try to get Ryan Howard straightened out so he can be a more productive player for us," Amaro told Salisbury. "As I’ve said in the past, I don’t expect him to be the Ryan Howard of 2006, 2007, 2008. What we expect is him to perform better than he is. I know he’s a better player than this. Has to keep working and it’s up to us to help facilitate that. That’s on him and on us to help him get back to being a productive player.”
Howard, 34, is struggling mightily. On the season he is batting .224/.305/.377 with 15 home runs and 60 RBIs. Since June 20th, Howard has been in a massive slump batting .178//.273/.224 with just one home run and 10 RBIs in 121 plate appearances - that's just 19 hits over that span. In addition to his lack of power, Howard isn't even driving the ball for extra bases as he has just two doubles and no triples over that time period.
Two of Howard's last three extra-base hits have come in the same game (July 10th v. Milwaukee).
It makes sense to get Howard out of Philadelphia to take a look at what younger guys can do at first base. Maybe the team wants to see if Darin Ruf can be their answer at first base. A knock on Ruf is he isn't that young as he turns 28 on Monday. The Phillies could look at top prospect Maikel Franco at first base despite his recent struggles at Triple-A. Heck, maybe they want to move catcher Tommy Joseph to first base to see if they can salvage any of the Hunter Pence deal.
They won't get an honest look at these guys at the Major League level with Howard sitting there as the starter.
What doesn't make sense is the Phillies handling of Howard right now if Heyman's report is true.. If they were trying to trade Howard, wouldn't they be playing him on a daily basis? It is tough to imagine his stock getting any lower than it is right now so wouldn't teams want to see him play? That's my thinking on this.
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg is starting Darin Ruf for the third consecutive game Friday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The mental break will hopefully have a good impact on the Phillies slugger as it did for minor league prospect Maikel Franco.
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