Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Would YOU Take a $4,000,000 Raise?

The Phillies' website is reporting that first-baseman Ryan Howard is seeking $18 million for 2009 in arbitration. The club has supposedly offered Howard $14 million, which is a $4 million raise from 2008.

The question that GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. needs to answer is how valuable is Howard's overall contribution to the club? Last year, Howard played the first half of the year like he was Dave Kingman - hitting around .220 and striking out a whole lot, with some towering, majestic home runs strewn among the mediocrity. The second half he came back and began playing like the Ryan Howard who should have been paid $10 million, culminating in a .281 average over the last 10 games of the season, pulling his overall average up to .251 for the year, to go with 48 home runs and and 146 RBIs.

Those power numbers are right in line with past seasons (47 HR, 136 RBI in '07; 58 HR, 149 RBI in '06), but his batting average has tumbled from .313 two years ago. Add to that the fact that his defense is iffy at best, and do you really have an $18 million player?

I happen to like Ryan Howard, and I'd like nothing more than to see him stay with the Phils. So far, the club has come to arbitration-avoiding deals with Cole Hamels, Greg Dobbs, Ryan Madson and Shane Victorino. Can they bridge the $4 million gap with Howard before arbitration? Better question: should they?

Another Blow Against Local AM Radio

The World of Isaac is reporting that Detroit station WDFN 1130-AM in Detroit, MI will have switched to an all-syndicated content station as of 3:00PM today. All local shows cancelled, all local talent let go.

Sad days.


The pomp and circumstance has not yet begun to wind down in Washington DC tonight. There are balls to be attended, more speeches to be made, and celebrations of what many are hoping will be a new, better chapter for our country. Once the party is over, however, the hard work begins.

As I noted during this morning's live blog (thank you again to those who were here), I did not vote for Barack Obama. I happen not to agree with his politics. While I think all Americans want to see the same ends achieved, I personally don't believe the means by which Mr. Obama seeks to achieve those ends are the proper way to go. Still, I want to see President Obama succeed. I would like nothing more than to be proven wrong, for if I am, we as a nation will be in a much better place.

President Obama is outstanding when it comes to delivering speeches full of sweeping emotion and go-get-em attitude. His "Yes we can!" slogan and his calls for "hope and change" are straight out of the Positive Affirmation playbook, and his speech today fell right in line with that attitude. To hear him speak today and not be caught up in the enthusiasm would have been impossible. To hear him speak today and not ask "How can I help President Obama rebuild this country?" would have been unthinkable. And, as I noted earlier today, that speech was pitch-perfect as far as what he needed to say...today.

Where Mr. Obama has always fallen short, in my eyes, is when it comes time to get to the detail. How, exactly, are we going to face the challenges before us? What, precisely, is the Obama Administration going to do to bring about the change and maintain the hope that he has talked about for these many months? It's great to shout to the rooftops that the old internal political divisions that have sometimes cuffed our hands are obsolete, but what does President Obama do when those obsolete divsions inevitably cuff his hands from the things he wants to accomplish? Is he prepared for those battles?

I do not envy President Obama the job he has begun today, and I hope that he does have a few tricks up his sleeve for when the going gets tougher, because it will. And it will be in those toughest of situations that we will learn whether this change is one for the better, or whether we have once again fallen for the old "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" routine.