What’s that Obi-Wan? Tell us what everyone else is missing that you, astutely noticed that we all missed…
Digressing, did I just have an argument with myself in a different voice? Have I sent our beautiful and complicated language back a day or two?
Back to the point – here’s what everyone has missed:
Ryan Howard is just going to get better. He’s going to get stronger, smarter and faster. He’s going to be able to recognize pitchers and their tendencies better. He’s going to go to the plate with a more developed plan of what he wants to do. He’s going to strike out less and walk more. As a result, his batting average and slugging percentage will rise. He will score more runs and the Phillies will win more games.
Then there are the other things away from the field. Such as Howard will learn how to work out better. He’ll learn what he can eat and can’t eat. He’ll see Pat Burrell and realize that sleep is much more important than people realize and directly affects an athlete’s performance.
He’ll learn how to say no.
He better because the world changes for guys who win the MVP Award in just their first full season in the Majors. That first full season came just a year removed from a rookie-of-the-year award and a trade of established all-star Jim Thome in order to make room for a player making just the league minimum instead of the big years and eight-figures Thome was drawing.
The Phillies will never admit it (then again, maybe they will), but the only reason they didn’t deal away Howard was because of the economics.
“He's better than I expected,” general manager Pat Gillick admitted to reporters yesterday. “Our people thought he would struggle against left-handed pitching. That's why we tried to sign Wes Helms and Eddie Perez last year. We were looking for someone to take the heat off him with a left-hander pitching. As it turned out, none of that was necessary.”
Nor will it be for the foreseeable future.
Howard is just 27. He’s still years away from his prime, which will coincide, coincidentally, with his ability to test the free-agent market if the Phillies fail to sign him to a long-term deal. Though it isn’t likely he will turn in 58 homers and nearly 150 RBIs every year, 40 and 120 isn’t out of the question. Neither are a .330 batting average, .450 on-base percentage, and 1.100 OPS.
“We laugh all the time about Ryan because he doesn't think he should ever make an out,” hitting coach Milt Thompson told reporters yesterday. “I love that about the kid. He's never satisfied. That's a sign of greatness.”
But does he need protection?
That will be the $125 million question this winter.
Soriano gone to craziest bidder
It was no secret that the Phillies coveted Alfonso Soriano as the compliment to Howard in the lineup. What they didn’t expect is that it would take eight years and a gazillion dollars to add him to the club. Apparently that's what the Chicago Cubs thought he was worth.
Good luck with that, Cubbies.
Here’s what is clear about that… Soriano is not interested in playing for a winning club. He’s a Dominican Rod Tidwell. Moreover, I hope the Phillies were just playing lip service to “being in the running” to sign Soriano. Eight years? For a 31-year-old player with no position?
Let the Cubs have that albatross of a contract.