During the offseason, Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Ryan Howard that he believes the team will be better off without him, expecting to trade him before the 2015 season.
“I told him that in our situation it would probably bode better for the organization not with him but without him,” Amaro told a local radio station in December.
Well, Spring Training started last week, and Howard is still on the team—making for an awkward situation in the Phillies organization.
For one reason or another, the Phillies were unable to trade Howard, and now with the team starting Spring Training in Clearwater, Florida, the first thing Amaro did was apologize to his five-time all-star first baseman.
“Frankly, I apologized for those comments that I made that were public,” Amaro said. “And I think he appreciated that. Other than that, I want to keep the conversation private. It was a good talk.”
The Phils traded away Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd and John Mayberry Jr. in the offseason, making it seem like they were looking to rebuild for the future. But they kept veterans like Howard, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels and Carlos Ruiz, making it difficult for Amaro to turn the team around.
The Phillies owe Howard at least $60 million so it will be difficult to get rid of him during the season. Their best bet is to hope Howard can show bits of his earlier years when he helped lead the Phillies to two straight World Series appearances and winning it all in 2008.
The 35-year-old Howard, hit .233 last year, slugged .380—his lowest slugging percentage ever—but did hit 23 homeruns and 95 RBI.