Ryan Howard has played nearly the entire season for the Philadelphia Phillies. When will it be time to put his contract aside and play younger players over Howard to see how they compare to MLB pitchers? Ryne Sandberg did not sign Howard to his contract. He has players who could easily play over Howard, but he receives criticism for playing a below average player at first base.
When Sept. 1 comes, MLB expands the rosters to 40 players. During this stretch to end the season, many rookies contending for a job next season will have the opportunity to prove themselves. Maikel Franco will be one of those players called up.
Playing the majority of his minor league career at third base, Franco could either compete with Cody Asche at third or with Darin Ruf at first. I believe Franco could see more playing time at first base with Asche playing well at third in his first MLB season.
Howard has a -0.6 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) this season with neither a positive offensive or defensive rating. He also has an 88 wRC+ (100 being average), which displays his mediocrity. This proves his value is worse than a replacement player such as Ruf. What is Sandberg waiting for? Does he think he could get fired if he doesn’t play his below average $25 million player?
I picture Ruf, Franco and Asche playing most of the games during the 2015 season. Sandberg needs to prove himself as a coach and make this team as competitive as he can before he loses his job. Playing Howard is not the answer.