No one has to remind you that the Phillies made some trades this season. Nor should that person go on to remind you that many of the trades ended with beloved players going to the post season with their new teams while the Phillies stayed home and interviewed a couple of guys named 'Matt' to be their new GM.
That same person would likely receive an exasperated glare from you if they for some reason continued speaking about the Phillies, stating that the 2008 core that had taught an entire American city how to love again had been almost completely repurposed, except for one guy. Well, two. Carlos Ruiz's contract, however, is never under the kind of scrutiny that Ryan Howard faced day after day for years, until complaints rescinded into a quiet whine.
Howard remains with the team, as efforts to trade him proved in vain. Quite in vain, according to Jim Salisbury.
There were no takers.
No real interest.
"Not to my knowledge," Gillick said. "And that surprises me at least from an American League standpoint. I think [Howard] could be productive in the American League. It surprises me there were no overtures."
Yes, that's right. Grady Sizemore was able to find work after leaving the Phillies, but Ryan Howard has been red flagged by the rest of the league as untouchable.
Sizemore: .253/.307/.381, 6 HR, 33 RBI, -0.7 WAR in 97 games
Howard: .229/.277/.443, 23 HR, 77 RBI, -1.4 WAR in 129 games
Okay, so looking at these numbers isn't exactly uplifting, but at this point you've already left that guy who wouldn't stop talking about the Phillies alone on the subway train. Even though he is still pounding on the window as you walk across the platform, reciting those Howard stats with muffled shouts until a cop tells him to the shut the hell up.
The POINT is, okay, Howard didn't compare quite as favorably to the rebuilt Sizemore as I assumed, but you'd think his power numbers were at least worth a gander to one of the teams operating in a league with the childlike mentality that some hitters don't have to play in the field.
So let's hike up our britches here and condescendingly look at which AL playoff team could have used another power hitter on their bench who exists for basically one purpose. Over the regular season, the AL team in the post season with the lowest SLG and fewest home runs is the... uh, Royals. Yes, clearly things aren't going well for them. Being 24th in home runs (139) and 11th in SLG (.412) has really slowed them down.
Surely, adding a 35-year-old slugger dragging the most maligned contract in sports history behind him could have improved their situation. And if not, then surely the Blue Jays could have used more offense in order to defeat them. Hmm. No, the Blue Jays have a more powerful offensive attack than a few militaries. Imagine someone trying to pitch a deal to acquire Ryan Howard following the Tulowitzki trade, when they also had Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Josh Donaldson; you know, "Just so we have a guy who can hit home runs."
Look, Howard could have fit somewhere, and back in July and August, playoff races were tight enough that one power injection into some lineup could have helped. Which is why "no real interest" is a little surprising, given that the Phillies were well aware of how much of his contract that they would have to pay for to get rid of him - in March, they were reportedly cool with paying up to $50 million of the $60 million Howard was owed.
So, could somebody have used a $10 million vet slugging .443 with a home run every 22 AB or so since 2012? Considering four guys outpaced that SLG in the Royals lineup this season, including their DH, Kendrys Morales (.485 SLG), maybe not? But perhaps a non-playoff team could have improved their odds if they had added Howard, like Oakland. Billy Butler was their DH and his SLG was a paltry .390 over 151 games, and he cost Billy Beane, with a signing bonus included... $10 million this season (in the first year of a three-year, $30 million deal)?!?
Butler also hit for a higher average, got on base more, played in more games, and struck out less than Howard. He's also younger (29; could have sworn he was like 43). But as long as you just focus on the one stat column, then, uh. Um.
We'll never know which team's season Howard could have saved/ruined/done nothing for, though; because nobody wanted him. Which is the saddest part of all this; he doesn't even get to have the "exciting late phase" of his baseball tenure that some of his old teammates have gotten. He certainly earned the chance to do so; far more easily than he, or anyone, could have earned a ludicrous $125 million extension that has left him cursed for eternity.
See you next spring, Ryan.