The swirling trade rumor of the weekend was a blockbuster! Ryan Howard, first baseman of the National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies for Albert Pujols, last years National League MVP and first baseman for the St Louis Cardinals. Wow! Okay, so it’s not going to happen, but MLB must be thrilled to have rumors floating around about their superstars just before the 2010 season starts up.
Why won’t it happen you ask? Well, it would be a interesting deal for Philadelphia because even though I really like Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols is the best player in baseball. In addition to that Howard is actually older than Pujols despite less MLB service and makes more money per year through 2011 and most likely beyond as Pujols signed his blockbuster deal and Howard still has his on the horizon. It is a fantasy baseball players dream trade but not in this day and age of baseball.
Wonder why Tony Larussa jumped so hard on the trade rumor to squelch it? He didn’t need his slugger thinking what if and sulking over the possibilities. Ever since Pujols publically campaigned against Howard winning the MVP award two years ago (Pujols narrowly beat Howard in 2008), one wonders if Fat Albert doesn’t have one eye on the rear view mirror and is watching the up and coming Howard rapidly gaining on him???
Take heart Phillies fans; Howard is definitely closing the gap on Pujols. He has arrived at Spring Training early for the last two years to work on his Achilles heel, fielding, with Phillies coach Sam Perlazzo and has made major steps forward. In addition, he’s lost weight, gained strength and there’s no reason to think he couldn’t hit for a 280 average with 40+ home runs and 130+ RBIs this season. The Phillies are the favorite in the NL this year and cornerstone Ryan Howard is a big reason why.