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Broken Clouds 41° Good Evening

The Ryan Howard contract

Here's my question for the Phillies, regarding the mammoth extension they just gave to Ryan Howard:

What was the hurry? 

The guy was signed through 2011. What in the world would motivate you to commit, now, to a ginormous deal that doesn't even begin until 2012, at which point he'll be 32?

This is a seriously ridiculous contract. Sure, Howard has done everything right in his time in Philadelphia - he even has improved his defense - and he's a fan favorite. But he's a first baseman. You can drive to any Wawa, pretty much, and find yourselves a first baseman who doesn't embarrass himself. To pay him as a premium player through his age 36 season is highly questionable.

The Phillies obviously have done plenty right over the last five years. They're the two-time defending National League champs, and you could do worse than to project they'll make the World Series in 2010 for a third straight year.

But since Ruben Amaro Jr. took over as general manager, the Phillies have now generated major head-scratching no less than four times: 1) The Raul Ibanez deal; 2) The Placido Polanco deal; 3) Trading Cliff Lee; and 4) This Howard contract. For a bonus, JE reminded us that the Phils exercised Jimmy Rollins' 2011 option one year earlier than necessary.

You wonder if, at some point, they'll start feeling the aftereffects of such questionable decisions.

This of course leaves in doubt whether the Phillies can re-sign Jayson Werth, who can be a free agent after this season.

As for the rest of the market? Albert Pujols has to be doing a dance now. The Cardinals are stuck. They're going to wind up paying Pujols $30 million a year.

But with the Yankees set at first base through 2016 with Mark Teixeira, and with the Red Sox set there through 2012 or 2013 with Kevin Youkilis - granted, Youkilis could move to third - will any team really step up and pay Howard-esque prices for a Prince Fielder, or Carlos Pena, or Adrian Gonzalez? 

Maybe. Right now, though, I'm envisioning plenty of stories in which these guys aim high and falls short.

--I'm here at Citi Field, where we have a rainout. Tomorrow, the Mets and Dodgers will play an old-school, single-admission, twi-night doubleheader.

--Erik Boland has plenty of coverage from the Yankees' visit to the White House.

--The Cardinals placed Felipe Lopez on the disabled list. If Jerry Manuel used an important player to pitch in that 20-inning game, and that player then went on the DL a few days later with an elbow injury, how much would we be killing Manuel? Good Lord.

--Live chat tomorrow at noon. Buy your tickets now.


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