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Ryan Howard: The $125M problem at first base

Who would have known the man who clubbed 58 home runs in 2006 is now being put up on the trade block for scrap metal and a bag of peanuts.

It’s hard to write this story about Ryan Howard as he has been a part of a prolific infield that consists of Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. Fast forward to now and Philadelphia fans are torn about seeing the Big Piece go. The guy, we thought who had the chance to hit 500 home runs, probably will never get to that the number, the way he is producing.

Howard currently has 326 home runs over his 11 year career. The man who signed a five-year, $125 million contract is looking like a bad deal for the future of the club. Ryan Howard, before this season had two injury plagued seasons as in Spring Training, he made it clear that this is the healthiest he has been in years, but this season proves otherwise.

This season, Howard has 15 home runs and 60 RBI. Which isn’t bad but he is batting .224 with an on base percentage of .305 and .377 slugging percentage. Low numbers for the big man means he isn’t producing.

Let’s not forget about the strikeouts. This season, Howard has 118 strikeouts. Just seeing 118 strikeouts has me scratching my head. If Howard’s batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage were higher than his number of strikeouts wouldn’t be a problem. In fact, Howard has tried to change up his batting stance and it has not worked in the least.

Now, we are at a point and time where manager Ryne Sandberg has sat Howard for the past two games. Especially Thursday’s game against Tim Hudson where Howard has owned him. On the other hand, Sandberg decided to go with Darin Ruf, who was just called up this week.

Also on Thursday, Howard pointed toward Sandberg’s office saying “talk to him” when reporters were asking him about why he didn’t play. Is this a sign of Howard getting frustrated? Yes but the question at hand is can the Phillies trade him?

It’s hard as he is owed $72.5 million over the last three years of his contract. For the Phillies to trade him they will have to eat most of that money.

Looking back on the deal, Howard was worth $125 million but now and till this day he can’t even beat the shift.

So where does Ryan Howard’s future lie, with the Phillies or somewhere else? Well, if he doesn’t get traded by the deadline then he could be cut or released by the end of the season. If that happens, I could see Howard as a DH in the American League. If he is a DH, I think his numbers will vastly improve and he won’t be a defensive liability.

That’s where I think Howard should be, a DH in the American League and not the Phillies’ $125 million problem anymore.

[Photo: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports]