Here's Bill Conlin's biweekly article praising Ryan Howard.
Howard looks great but there are three things Jabba the Columnist does not get: a) Howard is in Double-A, not Triple-A. Who's to say that his Double-A production will translate at the major-league level? BP is not so sanguine given his past.
B) The Phils have a first baseman by the name of Jim Thome, who will be either by at first for the foreseeable future. By the way, in comparing Howard to Thome at Double-A, a problematic venture all things being equal. It is doubly scattershot given that Thome was a third baseman in the minors and at the age of 24, Howard's current age, Thome was the starting third baseman for the Indians, and he already had 30 major-league home runs under his belt before the season started. I'm not so sure how high a ceiling there is for a 24-year-old in Double-A whose only defensive postion is first base. BP says Lee Stevens or Jeff Liefer, which seems about right.
Finally, C) the Phils need a starting pitcher and a center fielder NOW. I'm not advocating trading Howard, but teams--or at leats the Phils--don't get alot of opportunities to make the postseason. The Phils haven't done it for eleven years and have done it just three time since the 1980 World Series championship team.
The Phils do have to make a deal though, if they want to contend. The Mets and Braves have far less talent, but I would bet on one of those teams before the listless Phils. And the Philly media are doing nobody any favors by letting the Phils brass skirt the gaping holes on the team that they refuse to fill as long as phannies are filling seats at the new stadium.
Bill, get off your endomorphic hinder and demand that the Phils get a center fielder and a starting pitcher and while your at it, demand the head of Larry Bowa, who is content to devote ABs to the horrific Doug Glanville and innings to the tragedy that is Roberto Hernandez while the Phils skirt .500.