Every week my e-mail ([email protected]), gets flooded with readers from our site asking me questions about various Philadelphia sports topics. Normally they are topics that I either already am planning to answer in one of my daily pieces, or I try to work into our sites’ content. Unfortunately, some questions go unanswered, which lead me to the idea of doing a weekly mailbag, where I answer some of the best questions that I get sent over the course of the week. And now that football season has come to a close, and the only big Sunday sporting event until baseball season will be the Sunday NBA Showcase (which we won’t be seeing the Sixers on anytime soon), I figured Sunday would be as good as any day to do the mailbag.
Geoff from South Philly: Ryan Howard said yesterday he believes that he can hit 40 homeruns and play 162 games; how realistic is this?
I think for Howard to think that he can play 162 games and still hit 40 homeruns, is good, because I don’t remember him feeling as confident last year. At the same time, his goals are pretty unrealisitc.
I’m glad to see Howard believes that he is healthy enough to play 162 games, but to push him to that level when he is 34 years-old and hasn’t topped 80 games (81 is half the season) in two seasons, seems like asking for trouble to me. If they can get 130 out of him (which leaves time for small injuries and days off), it would be hard not to be content at this point.
As for 40 homeruns, it has been four seasons since Howard has topped 40. Since 2010, Howard hasn’t even topped 35, as knee and achilles injuries have rapidly slowed down his production. Even had he not had those injuries, by 34, his power production naturally would have slowed down.
If the Phillies can get 32 homeruns out of Howard, and he is able to drive in 110, then they are in a good situation. All of that would require Howard playing at least 130 games, and maybe a little bit more. Contrary to popular opinion, Howard producing like that won’t singularly carry the Phillies back to the postseason.
Antwon from Landsdale: How did Miguel Gonzalez go from being a big-name signing, to a guy that is competing for a job in Spring Training?
Six-years and $48 million might not mean what is once meant in MLB terms, but if you are prepared to give any player eight-million per season, wouldn’t you think that you were pretty sure they were going to be a key contributor to your MLB team immediately? You wouldn’t think that you would even have to discuss whether said player would be on your MLB roster, right? You couldn’t possible pay someone eight million to pitch for the Iron Pigs, could you?
Sure, concerns with Gonzalez’s physical ended up nullifying the six-year deal and making it a two-year/$12 million deal, but you don’t pay someone six million a year to pitch in the minor leagues, or as a long-man in the bullpen. I guess hypothetically the Phillies could look at him as a setup man, but I think it would be a mistake to not give him a look as a starter.
According to numerous scouts who watched him throw, he was reaching 93 on the gun, and has a fastball that tails at the end, making it even harder to hit. If he can figure it out in the rotation, he would be looked at as the number four starter, behind Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and A.J. Burnett. Throw in the fact that Kyle Kendrick would then be the fifth starter, and that is a pretty stacked rotation. Of course, that’s only if he figures things out as a starter.
I’m excited to see what Gonzalez can do, but even if he does really well, I will have a tough time giving the Phillies front office too much credit for the signing. Giving credit to Amaro and company is especially when this is the type of answer he gave when asked about Gonzalez last week.
“If I knew more what Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was, I would feel better about it,” Amaro told reporters. “We think he has the potential to be that guy. It’s not a slam dunk. We haven’t seen him pitch. In some ways, we have to get lucky on that one.”
I hope that “we haven’t seen him pitch” means that we haven’t seen him throw in a major league game, and not that Amaro hasn’t watched him throw in person, but I wouldn’t put anything past him.
Hopefully the Phillies “get lucky” on Gonzalez, but if not, this may be the final big-money, low result signing of Ruben Amaro’s tenure.
If you wish to have your sports questions answered in the Section 215 Sunday mailbag, e-mail me at [email protected], leaving your first name, where you are from, and your question.