All of the worry surrounding Ryan Howard not being a Phillie past the 2011 season has been officially taken care off. Before their game against the Giants in San Francisco Monday night, the Phillies opened their checkbook and signed Howard to the largest contract in the franchise’s history: 5 year, $125 million, taking effect in 2011. They have a $23 million club option in 2017 with a $10 million buyout. Only one other person signed a contract for more than $25 million a year: Alex Rodriguez. The Big Piece is remaining The Big Piece, and to me, this is well deserved. Let’s forget about all the ridiculous numbers he puts up. We know those. The man is truly a clutch performer, carrying the team on his shoulders ever September, pushing them over the edge into October and showing that he can prove himself on the biggest of stages. All the while, he seems to be shrinking every year. He arrives at Spring Training more lean, better in shape, quicker and improved in his all-around game, especially defense. He works hard and it shows.
Now the eyes of the free agent world turn to outfielder Jayson Werth. He is an extremely important part of this squad, mostly because of his right-handed power numbers among a left-handed-heavy lineup. With the kind of stats Werth is putting up, he could be looking for a Matt Holliday or Jason Bay-type of contract, one that would really stretch the limits of the club’s budget.
All indications are the Phillies are working as hard as they can to retain him. His teammates love him. The city loves him. And he loves them back. Will he take a “hometown discount”? Will a fatter paycheck lure him away? OR, will any of this even matter?
The way things are going with the Phillies pitching staff now, something drastic may need to be done i.e. trade. Starter J.A. Happ has been put on to the 15-day disabled list with forearm problems. Call me crazy, but my Spidey sense is tingling. I have a bad feeling this is much worse (or is going to get much worse) than it is. J.C. Romero is back and Joe Blanton is one rehab start away from returning, but all the starters not named Roy Halladay have been terribly inconsistent. The bullpen is not helping either. Three blown saves and lots of nail-biting are making the day-to-day operations very tiring.
The only person they have that can really garner the type of pitching talent the team needs to continue in to the postseason is Werth. A 38-year old Raul Ibanez and his $10 million/year contract is not going to attract any team, especially the way he is playing right now.
Luckily, the rest of the NL East is playing their own brand of inconsistent ball, so the Phillies have not been really losing any ground, still holding on to first place by a half a game, even with a Halladay loss last night to the Giants. Yes, a LOSS. And the one team showing signs of life? The New York Mets. Clearly, the apocalypse is nigh.
About the Author
Written by Bryan Sargent
Bryan Sargent is a lifelong Phillies fan, currently residing in the least hospitable city for such a person as himself, New York City. This coming January he will be attending Phillies Phantasy Camp in Clearwater, FL. He is currently documenting the entire process on his blog (http://www.bryansargent.com). You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @BTSargent.