One of baseball’s former elite stars appears to be on the comeback trail.
Yesterday, the Colorado Rockies announced the signing of former Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard to a minor league deal. The veteran slugger will report to the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Rockies’ triple-A affiliate.
The 37-year-old Howard hasn’t played in the majors this season. He last played in 2016, hitting a career worst .196 in 331 at-bats with 25 homers. Following the season, the Phillies declined his $23 million option for 2017.
Howard, the 2005 NL Rookie of the Year and 2006 NL MVP, has spent his entire MLB career with Philadelphia which began with 39 at-bats in September 2004. As a rookie he hit .288/.356/.567 in 88 games with 22 homers, and his breakout MVP campaign saw him lead the majors with 58 homers, 149 RBIs, and 383 total bases. In addition, he was a World Series champion in 2008, and the 2009 NLCS MVP.
It’s no secret that Howard’s performance has been steadily declining. From 2006-2011 he averaged 153 games, 43 homers, and 132 RBIs a season while hitting .273 and slugging .559. In the last five years though, those marks have dropped greatly to 109 games, 19 homers, and 66 RBIs with average/slugging marks of .226/.427.
Overall, this is a decent pickup for the Rockies. It’s definitely worth a shot. If Howard performs well enough in triple-A, he could be in the majors before September when the rosters expand. What he’d do is give Colorado a power hitter off the bench as well as another option at first base in addition to Mark Reynolds who’s struggled offensively since July, and 22-year-old top prospect Ryan McMahon who was called up on Friday (can also play third base).
This is a great opportunity for Howard to rediscover some of the power he possessed early in his career. Playing in Colorado’s thin can definitely help that, assuming he makes it to the big club. For an aging slugger well past his prime, you’d think it’s a perfect fit.
Since Howard was limited to 71 games in 2012 and 80 the following year due to injuries, he appeared in 153, 129, and 112 games, respectively, the next three. Despite just a .219 average in those three seasons, he’s averaged 29 homers and 95 RBIs per 162 games since 2014. So the potential to be productive is still there, when he is in fact on the field. He may not hit for average, but he can still hit you a big dinger. Definitely a move that could give the Rockies solid insurance.
Overall, Howard’s a career .258/.343/.515 hitter with 382 homers and 1,194 RBIs.
Rangers’ Yu Darvish No-Trade List Revealed
As the trade deadline approaches, speculation regarding the availability of Texas Rangers’ ace Yu Darvish, 30, has continued to increase.
While it is still 100% unclear whether the Rangers are making their prized ace available ahead of the trade deadline, most signs indicate that the Rangers will shop their front line starter.
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthall released a reported list of 10 teams that Darvish has listed on his no-trade list. Those teams include the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics, Colorado Rockies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays.
Earlier this week ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported that Rangers general manager Jon Daniels has called teams regarding Darvish and that he is ready to move him for the “right deal.”
Teams that immediately come to mind include the New York Yankees who have been linked to Oakland starter Sonny Gray. The Yankees may prefer Darvish over Gray who has durability concerns.
Darvish is also linked to the Los Angeles Dodgers and could slide behind Clayton Kershaw in the rotation.
Darvish is a 4-time All-Star with a career ERA of 3.32.
For now, the baseball world and a handful of teams are waiting on the Rangers to decide if they will be making Darvish available.
If they do, expect a hectic flurry of action.
Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw Angry With Rockies’ Tyler Anderson’s Pregame Walk
In what was a rough atart for Kershaw, who ended up finding his groove to throw 10 K’s, the Dodgers ace was upset that he had to wait as Anderson made his way to the dugout from the bullpen in right field after completing his pregame warm-ups.
“That was … I mean, that was one of the more disrespectful things I have been a part of in a game,” Kershaw said after the Dodgers to a 4-2 victory over the Rockies.
“I really didn’t appreciate that,” Kershaw said (h/t ESPN). “The game starts at 7:10 and has started at 7:10 here for a long time. Just go around, or finish earlier. But yeah, that wasn’t appreciated, for sure.”
Kershaw seemed to be shaken a bit as he led off the game by putting three Rockies on base. Despite loading the bases, Kershaw escaped the inning by only giving up 1-run.
“I don’t think it affected [Kershaw],” Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal said.
“Actually, it might have started a fire [under him]. That may be the best way to describe it. It was probably a bad thing for them. But it’s a learning process. [Anderson] is young, and I think he hasn’t even had a year in the big leagues yet. He’ll learn from it.”
“I threw a few extra pitches in the bullpen before the game,” Anderson said. “I didn’t mean any disrespect by it. I was surprised the umpire didn’t let him pitch.”
Although Kershaw said Anderson didn’t effect his performance, it’s hard to believe that it didn’t make him angry when it was happening.
Walt Weiss Out As Colorado Rockies Manager
A change is coming to Colorado. This morning it was announced that Walt Weiss has stepped down as the Rockies’ manager, which ended a four-year stretch during which the franchise failed to have a winning season.
Weiss had just completed his 3rd season as manager and his exit comes just one day after completing a 75-87 season and a third-place finish in the NL West.
Weiss was under a 3-year contract that had expired. Weiss compiled a 283-365 record as Colorado’s manager which is the worst record in the Rockies’ 24-year history.
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