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Ryan Howard is “very optimistic” he’ll begin rehab assignment in the next week

Jun 22, 2012, 8:28 PM EST

Ryan Howard Getty Getty Images

Chase Utley may soon have some familiar company in the minors.

According to Jake Kaplan of MLB.com, Ryan Howard said in a podcast on his website that he is “very optimistic” he’ll begin a minor league rehab assignment “in the next week or so.” I may have buried the lede here, as the bigger news might be that Ryan Howard has a podcast.

Anyway, Howard has been rehabbing his surgically-repaired left Achilles tendon in simulated games in Clearwater. He recently began running the bases and playing the field. He’ll need to feel comfortable with both before being cleared for competitive game situations.

Position players are given a 20-day rehab window in the minors and Howard figures to need most or all of it. Assuming he can get into a game by next weekend, that would put him on track to rejoin the Phillies shortly after the All-Star break.

Howard, who is in the first year of a five-year, $125 million contract extension, batted .253/.346/.488 with 33 home runs, 116 RBI and an .835 OPS last season. The Phillies have combined to bat .265/.325/.425 with 10 homers and a .751 OPS from the first base position this year.

  1. proudlycanadian - Jun 22, 2012 at 8:33 PM

    Where had you gone Ryan Howard? The Phillies nation turns its lonely eyes to you. Good luck and best wishes. It has been a long time coming.

  2. kwf1224 - Jun 22, 2012 at 8:50 PM

    That’s what he says, but he probably will be wrong.

  3. Reflex - Jun 22, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    This and the Alfonso Soriano deal have to be the worst contracts in baseball. Figgins might be close, but at least its half over.

    • xmatt0926x - Jun 22, 2012 at 11:19 PM

      Reflex, you have zero idea of what you are talking about. I’m not saying this because I’m a Phillies fan defending Ryan Howard. I didn’t agree with the contract when it was announced and I don’t now.There was no need for it at the time when they still had 2 years left of control and he was showing that his numbers were in decline. That being said, it’s a bad contract, not a totally brutal contract for a player who gives absolutely no production. Figgins received his big deal and has given next to nothing to his team. Those are the type of contracts that are the worst in baseball or sports in general. Howard is overpaid for sure but he does provide some value to the team. Let’s see what he does over the contract before we decide it’s one of the worst in the game. I don’t have any question that he’s not a $25 million a year player but if he can keep giving 32-40 HR’s and 115 or so RBI’s then it’s nowhere near a totally empty contract like Figgins or Soriano.

      • dan1111 - Jun 23, 2012 at 6:03 AM

        I think your criticism of Reflex is a little harsh. Howard’s contract is massive. His value has been quite low the last two years when you account for defense, and it’s uncertain that he will even be able to play at that level going foward.

        The value of Figgins’s deal is tiny in comparison at $36 million compared to Howard’s $125 million. Suppose the Mariners get no value out of Figgins over his contract, while the Phillies get $75 million in value out of Howard. Who would have done worse in this scenario: the team that wasted $36 million, or the team that wasted $50 million? And in my mind, it is optimistic to think that Howard will produce even that much value over this contract.

        There is a lot of competition for the title of worst contract in baseball, but I think this deal is definitely in the running.

      • paperlions - Jun 23, 2012 at 10:44 AM

        The Wells contract was worse. The Pujols contract will be worse, they’ll be lucky to get $150M in value out of him.

      • dan1111 - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:34 AM

        @paperlions, when you compare it to the Wells contract, you see just how bad Howard’s contract is. Wells is making significantly less money per season. His contract started at age 29, rather than age 32. And over its first four years, Wells produced 1.2 WAR per year. That’s higher than what Howard has managed in his last two seasons.

        Of course Pujols’s contract carries massive risk. But there is also a massive gap between the two players in value. Again measuring by WAR, Pujols’s worst season was more valuable than Howard’s best season. If you take just Pujols’s two best seasons, they exceed the value of Howard’s entire career.

  4. captainwisdom8888 - Jun 23, 2012 at 1:19 AM

    6 years ago, when Howard was fatter and less experienced…he hit .313 with 58 homers and 150 RBIs. HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO GET WORSE EACH AND EVERY YEAR!!!!!!?????????????

    • dan1111 - Jun 23, 2012 at 6:06 AM

      It is odd that Howard is defying the trend by declining as he ages. I wonder if he has been tested for performance decreasing drugs.

      • bleedgreen - Jun 23, 2012 at 8:37 AM

        He lost weight, lost power, and started chasing junk pitches trying to force it. Theres no magic there.

        Howard has batted over .290 ONCE in his career, his MVP year. The year after (2007) he hit .268 with 199 (career high) strike outs. The following year (2008), he also had 199 strike outs and batted .251. The difference between those 2 years and last year? The amount of walks (107 and 81 vs 75) and 10-15 HR. The # of hits stayed the same in 2007, 2008 and 2012 with 142, 153, and 141, but he also played all 162 games in 2008, vs 144 and 152 in 2007 and 2012 respectively.

        So yeah, he’s taking less walks. Thats the MAJOR difference, but I am guessing that its because he lost weight and lost some power, so he’s more apt to TRY and hit home runs, when he should just be settling to get on base or settling for a base hit. He’s down 10-15 homers, and 25-35 BB a year, but all other stats are about the same, other than his career MVP year in 2006. RBI is down about 25, but if you imagine that about half of his homers would have been solo, that still leaves 5-7 that aren’t. thats another 5-15 RBI, and while its not EXACTLY the same, dropping 8-10 RBI over a year is more a product of the people in front of you sometimes, and we all know that Utley and Rollins haven’t exactly been consistently playing in front of Howard either due to injury.

    • areyesrn - Jun 23, 2012 at 10:16 PM

      I don’t think that ridiculous but effective defensive shift became the norm after that year…and he continues to hit right into the shift

      • areyesrn - Jun 23, 2012 at 10:17 PM

        *I meant to say that every team began to use “the shift” after that year…

  5. gotmelk - Jun 23, 2012 at 10:32 PM

    I say the toughest thing about his return to the majors is going to be regaining the ability to getting out of the box…

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