Thursday, January 28, 2016

2016 Preview: Ryan Howard

As we move toward the 2016 season, let us take a look at each player on the roster and what a reasonably successful season would look like. We started with Aaron Nola. Our most recent entry was Jeremy Hellickson.

Name: Ryan Howard
Age: 37 in November
Bat/Throw: Left/Left
Number: 6
Experience: 1,460 games

What we saw in 2015

We knew we'd have to get around to The Big Piece at some point. This one's a hard one to write because there can be no doubt Ryan Howard had some big struggles in 2015. His walk rate continued the downward trend from earlier in his career. He walked just 27 times last season. It's astounding, really. In both '06 and 07, he was intentionally walked more than 35 times. His fielding and base running continued to not bring anything to the table. That said, he did provide some pop. At age 36, he hit 23 homers and 29 doubles.
Truth be told, that's probably what the team expected at this age when it signed him to his record-breaking extension.
What they surely didn't expect - and what makes his contract so troublesome - was the lost seasons of his age 32-33 years.

Important goals for 2016
Get on-base: Howard will no doubt hit 20 homers if he's healthy. But the fact that he gets on-base at a .300 clip the last four years really hurts. If he could find away to work more walks into his equation, it will help improve his value.
Cut down on his at-bats against left-handers: Howard had an .802 OPS against right-handed pitchers last year. Not in 2011. In 2015. If Pete Mackanin limits the big guy's exposure to southpaws, his numbers should improve.

I've got to make a confession. I still like Ryan Howard. I know he's not a great player. I know he hasn't been for years. But there's a big part of me that would love to see him end his Phillies career with a strong season.
I think the fan base has really forgotten how important he was for the team. Every now and then, I watch highlight videos of the 06-11 seasons and marvel at how often he came through in the clutch.
There's a chance the Phillies might cut Howard at some point, but I think that's unlikely unless Darin Ruf tears the cover off the ball in Spring Training, April and May.
Either way, one thing's for certain Ryan Howard will play his last game in Philadelphia this year. When he finally plays his last game he will have taken the team and its fanbase for one hell of a roller coaster ride with plenty of valleys and the summit included a World Series ring.


GM-Carson said...

When it all boils down, I don't dislike Ryan Howard, it's the cumbersome contract that I hate.

If played solely against RHP, I could see a .250/.800, 20 HR, 70 RBI campaign out of him this year. That falls on the manager. Howard has proven he's a platoon player. Play the guys to their strengths- Howard against righties and Ruf against Lefties. It'll make for a decent 1st baseman combined actually.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I definitely think they should have done this awhile ago. Ruf needed to play more against lefties for about 2 seasons.

GM-Carson said...

Phillies just claimed 29 year old lefty Bobby LaFromboise off waivers. He's a decent pickup, having a 3.63 ERA/1.12 WHIP in parts of 3 MLB seasons over 27 appearances. That's mostly in line with what he's done in the mirons, having a 3.56/1.34 ERA/WHIP over 337 appearances. He strikes out about a batter per inning and has good control (only 2 BB per 9 IP).

The Phillies certainly will have a lot to arms to choose from to fill their bullpen this season.

LaFromboise took failed 1st round pick that is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, Jesse Biddle on the 40-man roster.

Even if he doesn't make the Phillies, he can be stashed at Lehigh Valley.

jhilton32 said...

Disappointed in that move, Carson. Biddle still has upside (although I have/had my doubts he would ever realize it in Philly). If we were going to part ways with a former top 50, 1st round pick, I'd rather it be for something decent -- not a 29-year-old journeyman lefty specialist. I've never heard anyone say "once we get a lefty specialist, we're on our way!"

GM-Carson said...

Biddle is likely o go unclaimed, then remain in the organization by being outrighted.

jhilton32 said...

I doubt he goes unclaimed. Think about it: if you're the Padres, Rockies, A's, Braves or other teams who are rebuilding and/or have poor farm systems -- why wouldn't you claim a very talented SP who is still young and is a great candidate to benefit from a change of scenary? Let him recuperate for a year and take a shot with him. Cost is very low. He will be claimed.

rslitman said...

Biddle was probably put on the 60-day DL, which opens up a spot on the 40-man roster and does not involve putting the player on waivers.

GM-Carson said...

Can't put on 60-day DL until the season starts (at least that is my understanding). Also, any club claiming him would have to have a spot on the 40-man roster empty.

2014 - 4.60/1.42
2015 - 4.95/1.66
Overall - 3.90/1.40

Looks like a failed prospect to me anyway.

rslitman said...

Thanks for the clarification regarding the 60-day disabled list. I came back here to correct what I had said anyway. The Phillies did waive him from the 40-man roster. In the past year or so, the Braves have traded for about 4 pitchers who were not immediately available due to recovering from Tommy John surgery. One was Padres prospect Max Fried.

Bob D said...

Risk is low for another team to claim him. Many teams are being forced to waiver players as they add new ones now. Such as Phillies made a claim of one and had to make a move.