Charlie Manuel Says Ryan Howard is Ahead of Schedule, Ruben Amaro Defends His Contract

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Your contract starts… now!

Charlie Manuel hopped on WIP yesterday and was asked about the progress of the now not-so-overpaid Ryan Howard. This is what Charlie told Anthony Gargano and Rob Ellis: [Charlieisms in ( )]

Seen him for the last two days. (He uh) I talked to him yesterday for about 45 minutes. I talked to him about his hitting, I talked to him about his injury, of course. Actually, he’s ahead of where we think he should be (you know like we), he’s ahead of that. But at the same time, too (you know like we), I was talking with Scott Sheridan, our trainer, today, (and you know like he he) he still thinks that Ryan, by the first two weeks of spring training and everything, it’s gonna be a light workout deal (you know like) to get him where we want him to be, (and and) and there’s still that chance he might not start the season, (you know like) when it starts, on it’s regular time. 


Right. You know, like, good news about The Big Piece (I capitalize that T in The, by the way… some might just go Big Piece, but I think it’s a like a movie title– he’s The Big Piece.. thoughts?)

There are few players in baseball less controversial (in a geeky way) than Howard. SABR nerds and stat heads think he is drastically overvalued, while average fans and, apparently, Ruben Amaro think he’s worth nearly every penny of that yet-to-begin $125 million contract (gulp). So, with Prince Fielder signing a nine-year, $602 billion contract with the Detroit Tigers yesterday, it was, of course, Howard who came up in discussion… because, you know, that whole chubby black first baseman thing.

Here’s what Amaro told the Daily News’ Rich Hoffman: []

“I’m kind of happy,” he said. “Really happy. Because if I would have had to put an 8- or 9-year deal on Howard’s deal right now, that would be a little disconcerting. Right now, we have Howard for the next 5 years. I kind of like that idea rather than having to do an 8- or 9- or 10-year deal.

“You can say what you want about Ryan Howard and how he stacks up against those guys, but there’s not too many people who, over the last several years, have had this kind of production – and he’s right there in the mix with those guys.”


He’s not exactly comparing apples to apples, since Howard is 32 and a nine-year deal at this point would be out of the question, but we see where Rube going with this.

I agree with him. 

Yes, Howard is probably the first athlete ever to usher in a five-year, $125 million contract with a blown-the-fuck-apart Achilles. But, assuming he can eventually return to form (or close to it), the Phillies have a player who finished in the top five in home runs and RBIs, and top ten in doubles, slugging percentage and OPS at his position. Oh, and he’s been doing that consistently for more than half a decade. 

The going rate for a player of that caliber is seemingly well above both the length and years on Howard’s contract, and the recent deals handed out to Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder – which are more than double the size of Howard’s even though they are not 2X better than him – make The Big Piece’s deal seem not that bad. If there’s one thing you can extrapolate from the fact that the Angels, Tigers and Marlins are throwing around silly money this offseason, it’s that baseball team finances are quite healthy, and teams like the Phillies will in no way have their hands tied by a pair of $120-$125 million contracts (Lee and Howard). 

Is Howard overpaid? Yes, if you’re Brad Pitt’s Oakland A’s or the Tampa Bay Rays. But the Phillies are a big-market team now, and they don’t need to penny-pinch the way other teams do. Howard’s injury notwithstanding (because, obviously, the Phillies didn’t expect that two years ago), the Phillies likely would have had to pay even more for Howard or a comparable player this offseason had they not locked up The Big Piece two years ago. 

Hoffman makes a good point on the matter: []

The contracts rank in this order: Pujols, Fielder, Howard. This makes sense, because that is how the players rank in most people’s minds. What was an eyebrow-raising, market-setting contract extension when Howard signed it a couple of years ago looks a little bit different now that the market has played out.


It’s all relative in the world of baseball contracts. SABR nerds will shudder at the thought of paying a glory-numbers player like Howard $125 million, but if not Howard, then it would be someone else… someone who may get on base more but who would probably cost a lot more, too.

Of course, this whole argument is assuming Howard’s Achilles was put back together properly…

Audio of Manuel interview courtesy WIP

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33 Responses

  1. That Chubby Black First Basemen thing? Sheesh every 6 months or so you have a Brain Fart….get it together…

  2. I think I was one of the few people who wasn’t outraged by Howard’s deal when he signed it. I kept saying, “The Phillies are going to look really smart once Pujols and Fielder hit the open market.”
    Also, I think if you are going to use “the” before “Big Piece”, it needs to be capitalized. It’s a formal title.

  3. I look smart regarding that Dumb contract because LA and Detroit were Dumber and Dumbest…
    now go find Mary Swanson

  4. You poke fun at the way Charlie speaks when he is in front of many members of the media. Yet, you write nearly as bad…from your Mom’s basement.

  5. This is Hindsight 20/20, but Ruben is wrong here. No one would have given a declining and currently injured Ryan Howard a “8 or 9-year deal” this offseason. He would of had to sign a one year deal and prove he was healthy, and try again next year to get a deal close to what the Phils have him already signed him for. Ruben gambled and Howard’s decline/injury have made the gamble not pay off. I do agree that it won’t handicap the Phils to much though.

  6. Ease up on Kyle, he’s gonna put his foot in his mouth every once in awhile, you know, that snarky whiteboy blogger thing.

  7. Fielder and Pujols’ deal are still bettter because they can at least DH in the AL. Howard’s production is dropping each year and that’s not likely to change.

  8. funny, k- judging by this site’s readers and having a fairly good idea of wip’s afternoon ratings, i’d say roughly the same amount of people will read this post as those who heard charlie’s interview, except i created my own medium that you’re commenting on. win.

  9. i can’t listen to gargano anymore, sick of the schtick and hearing about the kid. You grew up in jersey cuz.

  10. MM- I couldn’t agree more with you. I had to stop listening to him and pompus MacNow. I feel like I’m lil Ant’s Uncle with the way the cuz brings him up

  11. Anyone who thinks Rube signed Ryan Howard to a bad contract doesnt know the game or the industry. His power numbers prior to his last contract were record breaking for a player with his service time. From 2006-2009 Ryan Howard made a mockery of Pujols and just about everyone elses Hr’ + RBI totals.
    Its crazy at those numbers to say he is a bargain but he actually is.

  12. @MM I don’t have any rhythm, but I think I do when I’m drunk.
    @Dicky Dick anyone who thinks that you can’t criticize Howard’s contract doesn’t remember that it was controversial at the time. Why get worked up over it now? 20/20 hindsight. Fortunately, they can afford them oversteps.

  13. Schticky, you can critize Howards contract but you would be wrong in doing so. I dont feel like researching the numbers but he outhomered Pujols by like 100 and outRBIed him by 300 between 2005-2009.
    Howard also was the main reason the Phillies have had 220 consecutive sellouts, 5 straight division titles, and a World Series.

  14. @Kyle, Their names come up together because of their status on the field. The chubby Black part is what YOU are THINKING. They also bring up Ryans name with Albert Pujols (Insert Random Joke Here)…based on your logic that would be the Minority First Baseman thing…Get it together…You can do better….I have faith in you lol…

  15. Hey Laddie!, don’t let these shyteheels get ya all kerflubberred. It’s OK to say chubby black. In the oldden days they (not me!—when you’re “Black Irish” like I you can simpathsize with the plite of the Afrrican American minority) would have said lazy fat negroes (and much worse) and would have meant it as a rascist thing.
    I also think this is one of your well written blog stories and agree with it all the way. For the money, Howard is a better fit for the Phils than a Fielder. And argue all the saber shyte you want for making the case of Fielder being a better player. In me humble opinion, a slugger who hasn’t won a World Series is the one who’s “drastically overvalued”.
    And thanks for the tip on “The” vs “the”. Yeah, if it wasn’t for your tip I’d still be writing-down “the Big Sleep” (Great movie from a great book—and that Lauren Bacall!—HUBBA!-HUBBA!—and she’s still a great looker for an octergennarien—they don’t make dames like that anymore, sadly).

    The Real “Real” (and originall) Iron Balls McGinty—Often imposterered, never outclassed.

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