Man, apparently the new drug of choice among Major League players is dehydrochlormethyltestosterone.
It's a household name.
On Friday, Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Chris Colabello was suspended 80 games after testing positive for the drug favored by the former East Germans, the same drug that resulted in Phillies Rule 5 pick Daniel Stumpf's suspension last week.
As a result, the Blue Jays now have an opening at first base. Justin Smoak, who is just 4-for-18 with no homers and one RBI on the season but boasts a .481 OBP and .759 OPS (dude's had a weird year) will probably get the bulk of the playing time for now.
As has been our custom, whenever a first baseman on another team gets injured, the knee-jerk reaction in Philadelphia has been to immediately offer up long-time first sacker Ryan Howard to the baseball gods. Eager to get out from under his contract, the team, and its fans, have been looking for a trade partner for years.
Of course, we're now in the last year of Howard's deal and, as I've mentioned previously, it's time to stop wishing Howard would go away. But if there is a situation that would benefit both Howard and the Phillies, then a deal should at least be pursued.
So is that what we have here? Would the Blue Jays be interested in Howard? And would Howard be interested in the Jays?
If you look at Howard's batting average and on-base percentage, you're not going to like what you see. He's hitting just .188 this season with an on-base percentage of .268. His wRC+ of 81 is the lowest of his career and he's been worth -0.2 fWAR so far this season.
But there are some reasons to believe Howard's season hasn't been as bad as some of the numbers would indicate.
His .438 slugging percentage is half-decent, and his isolated power of .250 is the highest it's been since 2009. He's also walking in 10.7% of his PAs so far, his highest rate since 2011. And while he still strikes out a ton, it is not higher than normal.
Howard has also simply hit into a lot of bad luck, as referenced by numberFire's Sal Cacciatore a few days ago. Coming into the Phillies' weekend series against the Milwaukee Brewers, Howard is second in all of baseball in average exit velocity, averaging 96.0 miles per hour. Only the Brewers' Domingo Santana (96.3 mph) has hit the ball as consistently hard this year.
Howard also has a BABIP of .167. If that starts to normalize to the .270-.290 range he's been at the last two years, he should be in the .230-.240 batting average range, pushing his on-base percentage up as well.
But here's why the Blue Jays might prefer Darin Ruf to Howard. Smoak is a left-handed hitter, while Colabello was a righty. If Toronto plans on continuing to use Smoak as part of a platoon at first, it's more likely they'd target Ruf than Howard.
Unfortunately, Ruf has been lousy in limited plate appearances this season. He's come to the plate just 20 times and is hitting .111/.150/.167 with no homers and one RBI. He also hasn't started a game since Sunday, April 17.
In the end, neither player feels like a perfect fit. But if the Jays are desperate, and if they want to continue to use Smoak in a platoon, Ruf meshes better and is far cheaper than Howard.
However, if they believe Howard is hitting better than his numbers indicate and believe he can hold his own against lefties, he would seem to be the better option, especially if the Phils pick up most of his salary.