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Tag:Ryan Howard
Posted on: March 9, 2011 9:59 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 10:01 pm

Getting to know the Phillies

By Evan Brunell


HowardWith Jayson Werth gone and Chase Utley injured, the focus is that much brighter on Ryan Howard.

Howard, who has yet to even start his crazy five-year, $125 million contract (that kicks in for 2012) is entering his age-31 season coming off his worst season in the majors to date. Sure, 31 home runs and an .859 OPS is pretty awesome for most players, but Howard's usually good for over 40 home runs a year and the Phillies absolutely need him to return to being a force in the middle of the order. Otherwise, the offense could be the Achilles heel of the club. If Howard can't return to previous levels, not only will the Phillies be stuck with one of the worst contracts in the game (really, who gives a bulky first baseman $125 million two years before they have to that kicks in at age 32?) but the offense might be poor enough without Utley to make the NL East a race to watch between the Braves and Phillies.

PLAYER ORACLE -- From the 17-81 Quakers back in 1883 to present day...

  • Emil Gross played with Bill Gallagher for the 1883 Philadelphia Quakers  
  • Bill Gallagher played with Tom Daly for the 1884 Philadelphia Keystones  
  • Tom Daly played with Nick Altrock for the 1903 Chicago White Sox
  • Nick Altrock played with Ossie Bluege for the 1924 Washington Senators
  • Ossie Bluege played with Early Wynn for the 1939 Washington Senators
  • Early Wynn played with Tommy John for the 1963 Cleveland Indians
  • Tommy John played with Tony Phillips for the 1985 Oakland Athletics
  • Tony Phillips played with Roy Halladay for the 1998 Toronto Blue Jays


In the hilarious comedy It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, airing on FX, Mac penned a love letter to Chase Utley back in 2009, in the way only Mac can write it. The video is below. (Note that one swear word appears in the video.) Utley would later appear on the show along with Ryan Howard on Dec. 3. You can view more information on that episode here

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: January 19, 2011 1:23 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2011 12:19 pm

Three arbitration cases that could get nasty

While 119 players filed for salary arbitration, by the time it came down to exchange salary numbers on Tuesday, only 37 players submitted numbers -- and three of those already have agreements.

Of the 34 remaining cases, only a handful will make it to the arbitration hearings, scheduled to begin Feb. 1. Last year, only eight hearings took place. The reason is that neither side wants to go in front of the three-person panels, not as much for the fear of losing, but more because of the process.

Deals can be made up until the point the parties enter the room, but once there, it's one number or the other, there's no more compromise or negotiation.

Once that door closes, a front-office member who has told me, it can get pretty nasty and hurt the relationship between a team and a player for years to come. Here's the three pending cases that could get the most contentious in this process:

Josh Hamilton 1. Josh Hamilton, Rangers -- Hamilton has requested $12 million, while the Rangers have offered $8.7 million. No player, perhaps, in the history of the game has done more to make the case for both sides easier. Hamilton can point to his MVP and associated numbers, while the Rangers don't have to do too much digging to get into Hamilton's past and find some demons. They can even point to his recent five-day stay in the hospital for pneumonia as a concern that he can stay healthy considering his past drug use and his own admitted depleted immune system.

Jose Bautista 2. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays -- Bautista has requested $10.5 million, while the Blue Jays have offered $7.6 million. Ryan Howard's $10 million decision in 2008 is the record judgement in arbitration, but he already had an MVP under his belt and was coming off a fifth-place finish in the award the season he became eligible for arbitration. Bautista has nowhere near the same track record, breaking out in 2010. There have been questions about the methods he used to improve so drastically in one season, and they will certainly be brought up in a hearing.

Edinson Volquez 3. Edinson Volquez, Reds -- Volquez has requested $2 million, while the Reds have offered $1.3 million. The fact that the difference is so small makes it even less likely the Reds and Volquez go to arbitration -- and the fact that Volquez was suspended 50 games for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs last season would make it more interesting than either side would like. The team publicly supported Volquez during his suspension (and coming off of Tommy John surgery, he didn't actually miss any time he would have played and actually ended up saving the Reds money because they didn't have to pay him during his suspension), but they may sing a different tune in an arbitration hearing.

Others to watch: Astros lefty Wandy Rodriguez has asked for $10.25 million, while the Astros countered with $8 million. Rodriguez lost his hearing last season. The process has already gotten some teeth with the Brewers and second baseman Rickie Weeks, who has asked for $7.2 million, with the Brewers offering $4.85 million.

Update: Volquez and the Reds agreed to a one-year contract worth $1,625,000 on Monday, Jan. 31.

Rodriguez and the Astros reached an agreement on a $34 million, three-year contract on Tuesday, Jan. 25.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

To see the full list of exchanged numbers, check out the arbitration scoreboard .
Posted on: January 16, 2011 1:23 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2011 4:58 pm

Reds, Votto agree to 3-year deal

Joey Votto The Reds have agreed to a three-year deal with National League MVP Joey Votto worth $38 million,'s Mark Sheldon reports .

The Reds avoid arbitration with Votto, buying out all three years of his deal, but Votto doesn't give up any free agent years with the extension. The deal is pending a physical, which is expected to take place on Monday.

Votto, 27, led the National League in on-base percentage (.424) and slugging (.600), and was the overwhelming winner of the National League MVP, getting 31 of 32 first-place votes.

The Reds drafted Votto in the second round of the 2002 draft out of Canada and he made his debut in late 2007 before earning the starting first baseman's job in 2008, when he finished second in Rookie of the Year voting, behind Cubs catcher Geovony Soto.

Votto was arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason and had been reluctant to discuss a long-term deal.

In December, Votto told reporters he couldn't fathom signing a 10-year deal like Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki.

"I don't know as far as beyond three years, I think it's a real unfair question to ask," Votto said (via Sheldon ). "This is not me saying I don't want to be here. But last year was a difficult year for me. This year was a better year for me. It's really hard for me to think three years ahead, five years ahead, seven years ahead or 10 years ahead. When Tulowitzki signed that 10-year contract, I was blown away. I can't imagine seeing myself 10 years from now saying I want to be here. It's an overwhelming thing to ask a young person like myself and say, 'here's a lot of money, be happy with this over 10 years, deal with it.'"

Votto's new deal will buy out his arbitration-eligible years. As a first-year arbitration-eligible player, the three-year deal will not affect his free agent status, he'll still be a free agent following the 2013 season.

For the small-market Reds, they now have payroll certainty -- they know exactly what they'll be spending for one of the game's best young players of the next three years.

Arbitration numbers are due this week, and it's possible Votto could seek to equal or top Ryan Howard's record $10 million judgement. He will now average more than that over the next three seasons, but with another MVP-type season, Votto could ask for even more.

It's not without risk for Cincinnati -- the team is essentially banking on the fact Votto will improve from his breakout season in 2010, when he hit .324/.424/.600 with 37 home runs and 113 RBI. In 2009, Votto missed chunks of time dealing with depression and panic attacks following the sudden loss of his father. He also suffered with vertigo-like symptoms.

Cincinnati also locked up its other young talent, Jay Bruce, earlier this offseason. Bruce, who was arbitration-eligible as a "Super Two", signed a six-year deal worth $51 million to avoid arbitration.

The Reds, who haven't gone to arbitration with a player since 2004, have three arbitration-eligible players remaining, left-handed reliever Bill Bray and right-handed starters Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: January 13, 2011 3:07 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2011 3:28 pm

Howard's ankle 90-95 percent healed

HowardRyan Howard's power numbers were so affected last season, he hit "only" 31 dingers.

That's how spoiled everyone has been in watching Howard blast home runs since coming onto the scene in 2004. In a full season of playing time, Howard had never hit less than 45 home runs until 2010, when a left ankle sprain hobbled him in August, costing him three weeks on the disabled list. It may have also cost him some power, as his home runs per at-bats dropped to 17.74 after a 2004-09 mark of 12.1.

As he tells, Howard isn't quite fully healed yet, with the ankle at just 90 to 95 percent health.

"I still get a little bit of stiffness every once in a while," Howard said. "I'll take it now and see what happens in Spring Training. I'll just continue to look after it and take care of it. Those kinds of things linger, like the Cranberries."

Well, there you have it. Howard just compared his ankle injury to the Cranberries.

What else did Howard have to say about his ankle?

"It feels good," he said. "It's a lot better than it was. I got a lot of work done to it. I got a lot of the swelling out. Like I said, every once in a while, I get a little bit of stiffness or soreness, but I've been working out, and so far, so good."

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
Posted on: December 14, 2010 9:17 am
Edited on: December 14, 2010 10:50 am

Winners and losers in Lee aftermath

Cliff Lee What in the world of Mike Cuellar is going on?

By adding Cliff Lee to the already-potent Roy Halladay-Roy Oswalt-Cole Hamels top of the rotation, the Phillies potentially have the best top of the rotation since the Orioles had four 20-game winners in 1971 with Cuellar, Pat Dobson, Jim Palmer and Dave McNally.

It's certainly the best rotation since the mid-90s Braves that featured Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, followed by someone like Steve Avery or Denny Neagle.

The bad news for the Phillies is that it wasn't starting pitching that let them down in October. It was not scoring enough runs against quality starting pitching from the Giants.

As for the offense, how has that changed? Jayson Werth, the team's best offensive player last season, is gone. Raul Ibanez and Placido Polanco are a year older -- and Jimmy Rollins seems to age two years for every year nowadays. He's not been the same player the last two years that he was before. There are also emerging questions about Chase Utley. And then there's Ryan Howard, who is still imposing in the lineup, but suddenly looks less protect and reminds people that he's 31 with fewer home runs than the year before in each of the last two seasons.

Still, ask most teams and they'd take their chances with Howard, Utley, Polanco and even roll the dice on whether Rollins will be happy, as long as they're behind a starting rotation for the ages, like the Phillies have accumulated.

The Phillies are the clear winner in this whole deal. Because even if there are chinks in the armor, it's still one heck of a suit of armor -- especially the sleeves.

For the Yankees, Andy Pettitte becomes that much more important to the Yankees. Pettitte has reportedly been mulling retirement, but is crucial to the team's rotation going forward. And if you think the Yankees feel bad about these developments, let's think about how the Mets feel having to be in the same division as Lee, Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels.

The Rangers, on other hand, were right all along. They could offer Lee comfort the Yankees couldn't match, and something he obviously valued in the end. However, the Phillies offered not only the pillow top mattress, but one he'd slept like a baby in before.

Texas also has a World Series-type team, but one without an ace. The Rangers weren't serious contenders until they pulled Lee from the Mariners last season, and now they're faced with the same problem months later.

The rivalry between New York and Boston means any time the Yankees lose, the Red Sox win and vice versa. The Red Sox, who have added Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez are better (no matter what Evan says ), and the Yankees aren't as good as expected -- so the Sox win.

The biggest winner in all this -- besides the Phillies and Lee -- could be the Royals. Kansas City is dangling a bona fide No. 1 starter in Zack Greinke. And don't think Andrew Friedman in Tampa isn't receiving calls on Matt Garza about right now. The prices on those two starters haven't gone down in the last 12 hours, that's for sure. If you're going to get one of those, you'll have to pay.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 24, 2010 6:19 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2010 9:27 am

Caught looking at end of season

Ryan Howard The great Baseball Reference blog strikes again. This time, looking at something both Ryan Howard and Alex Rodriguez did this postseason -- ending their team's postseason by looking at a called third strike . On Friday Rodriguez became the ninth player in history to do so, and the next night Howard became the 10th.

Here's a look at the rest, which has seen nine of its 10 members join the club in the last 31 years.

Ryan Howard, 2010 NLCS vs. Brian Wilson
Alex Rodriguez, 2010 ALCS vs. Neftali Feliz
Carlos Beltran, 2006 NLCS vs. Adam Wainwright
Terrence Long, 2003 ALDS vs. Derek Lowe
Roberto Alomar, 1997 ALCS vs. Jose Mesa
Omar Vizquel, 1996 ALDS vs. Randy Myers
Howard Johnson, 1988 NLCS vs. Orel Hershiser
Willie Randolph, 1980 ALCS vs. Dan Quisenberry
Cesar Geronimo, 1979 NLCS vs. Bert Blyleven
Goose Goslin, 1925 World Series vs. Red Oldham

It's no surprise with more playoff series, it's become more uncommon. What's interesting, to me at least, is that only one World Series has ended on a called third strike -- 1925, when Washington's Goslin looked at third strike to give Pittsburgh the title. A total of 16 World Series have ended on strikeouts, but with two strikes and the season coming down to one pitch, most will get the bat off their shoulder and at least try to put the ball in play.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 3, 2010 2:02 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2010 2:58 pm

Votto not interested in a long-term deal?

Joey Votto The Reds would certainly like to lock up probable-MVP Joey Votto to a long-term contract, but Votto may not be interested as he approaches his first year of aribtration eligibility.

The team hasn't approached Votto about an extension, he said. That's hardly surprising, because general manager Walt Jocketty traditionally doesn't like to talk contracts during the season.

But the Cincinnati Enquirer 's John Fay asked Votto if he'd be interested in an extension .

"I don't know," Votto said.

Votto's one of the most honest, straight-forward ballplayers I've ever dealt with. Most likely, he hasn't thought about it and wouldn't want to talk specifics without actually knowing the specifics. That's how Votto works -- he's never been a fan of hypotheticals.

Reality is he's eligible for arbitration at just the right time, as the 27-year old will likely be named the league's MVP after a .323/.423/.598 season with 37 homers and 112 RBI.

The largest-ever contract awarded to a first-year arbitration-eligible player was Ryan Howard, who received $10 million for the 2008 season. Howard was a year off his 2006 MVP and had hit .268/.392/.584 with 47 home runs and 136 RBI.

To that point of his career, Howard was hitting .291/.397/.610 with 129 home runs and 353 RBI. Votto is .314/.400/.557 with 90 home runs and 297 RBI in his career.

If I'm Votto, or his agent, I use Howard's $10 million as a starting point. Fay does as well, and also guesses the Reds offer $8 million. In the end, don't expect them to go to arbitration, that's not something the Reds enjoy and it would be precisely the type of spotlight the intensely private Votto would like to do without.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .

Category: MLB
Posted on: September 15, 2010 4:08 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2010 5:23 pm

Votto hasn't popped up to infield this season

Joey Votto CINCINNATI -- Reds shortstop Orlando Cabrera couldn't believe it -- and he said so, albeit with an expletive. But it's true, his teammate, Joey Votto, hasn't popped up to the infield once this season.

"That’s incredible," said Cabrera, who has 13 infield fly balls this season. "I’d be bragging."

Cabrera would, Votto isn't.

"I’d trade 10 strikeouts for 10 popups, that’s for sure," Votto said when asked about the unusual stat on Tuesday.

ESPN's Rob Neyer noted Votto hadn't popped up last week (after Dan Hennessey of the Knuckleballs blog did the same nearly two months ago) and I mentioned it to Votto before Tuesday's game. Votto had never heard about it, nor had Laynce Nix, whose locker is next to Votto's. Nix claimed I'd jinxed Votto -- but the MVP candidate put the ball in play four times Tuesday night, and none of them were a fly ball within 140 feet of the plate (FanGraphs' definition of an Infield Fly Ball.)

Jonny Gomes, owner of 24 infield fly balls this year, called it "awesome."

"It’s tough with a round ball and round bat to be half of a fourth of an inch – whatever that is – to be off and that’s all it takes to pop up," Gomes said. "You can take a great swing and do it, everything can be locked and you can do it. It’s a pretty cool stat."

Like Votto himself, Gomes didn't know if it actually meant anything. In addition to Votto, Gomes, Cabrera and Nix, I asked Chris Valaika (none himself, but in just 28 plate appearances) and Miguel Cairo (three IFFB) -- and neither of them could think of any deeper meaning.

"I wouldn’t say it’s an anomaly, there’s a reason I’m not popping up. I don’t ever remember popping up much when I was younger," Votto said.

So I went somewhere else, I talked to a guy who thinks about hitters and the way hitters hit and think as much or more than any hitter -- pitcher Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo is a couple locker stalls down from Aroldis Chapman, but he doesn't have the arm of Chapman. Instead, he gets batters out by out-thinking them. Arroyo thought about the stat for a moment and broke down what it meant:

"It probably means for one, he lets the ball get really deep. If he lets the ball get deep and he fouls it off, it goes behind him. If he gets out front, it’ll go to the infield," Arroyo said. "That means he stays back a lot, which means he’s going to hit offspeed stuff and hit the fastball the opposite way. Which he does a decent bit. Other than that it’s just having a good eye and square the ball up more than the average cat. You’d still think, I don’t care who you are, Albert [Pujols] has to have a pop up to the infield this year. That’s weird."

Pujols, for the record, has 28 infield fly balls this season.

Of the balls put in the air against Arroyo this year, 11.1 percent (28) of those have been to the infield, while he's gotten 13.4 percent of those in the infield in his career.

As for Arroyo's analysis, Votto is one of the better power hitters going the other way. Of his 34 home runs, 16 have gone to left field. When you look at his home runs , he hits the most to left field, while scattering the rest of the field almost evenly. Arroyo said he's noticed when pitchers get Votto out, they have to go inside -- and the infield popup rate is an example of that.

"That’s an amazing stat. It means he doesn’t get fooled a whole lot," Arroyo said. "You see that on changeups when guys get out front. When he gets beat, he gets beat inside and that’s usually a ground ball because that’s off the hands and you can’t get extended and push the ball in the air."

Votto has just nine infield fly balls in his career. He had two last season, five as a rookie in 2008 and two in his September call-up in 2007.

Over his career, the Phillies' Ryan Howard has just 15 infield fly balls, two this season. His career IFFB% is just 1.8 percent.

This season among qualified batters, the Astros' Michael Bourn has the next-lowest IFFB%, with 1.1 percent of his fly balls going to the infield. He has one infield fly ball this season in 589 plate appearances.

 -- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or