Minor-league slugger and Bill Conlin's idol Ryan Howard, who was sent down by the Phils in one of their final cuts, has requested a trade. He has also requested a personal valet, not that it will matter all that much.
Howard hit 48 home runs last season in Double-A (mostly), Triple-A, and with the Phils. However, after a failed shift to the outfield, Howard remains stuck at first base behind Jim Thome and DH demand are light in the NL. The value for Howard, 25 years old and stuck in Triple-A, is at its zenith, one would think.
However, after failing to move Howard last year to fill holes on the major-league roster, Ed Wade now seems to be holding onto him to have some ammunition at the trade deadline. Of course, whatever the Phils get then will be worth about half what it is today to the team in 2005.
Howard should have some disgruntled company in Scranton with incumbent starting center fielder Marlon Byrd getting sent down as the last cut of spring. And remember that the peerless Charlie Manuel has already reduced Chase Utley's time at second base. Should Utley slump, he might join Howard and Byrd in the Phils' form of purgatory.
Tomorrow the least promising of all the Phils' young players, Brett Myers, starts against the Nationals after getting promoted to number two in the rotation.
God, I miss Larry Bowa already. And I hated Larry Bowa. Ed Wade and his minion manager are doing everything to make Bowa look like John McGraw. My only solace is that when the Phils fade this year, Wade will have nowhere to hide.