In reading the news of Ryan Howard's contract extension from MLB Trade Rumors, the last sentence of the report struck me as odd: "The Phillies clearly like to lock up their guys." The author of the piece seems to attach a tone of recklessness to the Phillies' practice of signing their core to long-term deals. And what's wrong with that? Maybe $125 million over 5 years is too much for one player, especially one who will be 36 (and possibly 37) when the deal ends. But as a pure fanatic of a Phillies' fan, I can't help but be excited about this deal. As a Phillies fan, it means I'm guaranteed to be able to root for Howard, Chase Utley and Roy Halladay through at least the 2013 season. And I've also learned to trust general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr.'s brain trust which includes Pat Gillick and Dallas Green. The decision to extend Howard wasn't made hastily, and the recent track record of the team's front office speaks for itself.
The risks of course are the pure economics of the deal, which could preclude the team from signing other desirable free agents. It's looking more and more likely that 2010 will be Jayson Werth's farewell tour as a Phillie. And the Big Risk is that Howard's production dwindles over the next several years to Burrellian levels. But my initial reaction to the contract is still my overall reaction - I like it.
Beat writer David Murphy offers this fascinating little tidbit on the contract: "Howard's $20 million salary in 2012 is $6 million more than the entire Phillies payroll for the 1990 season." He'll join pitcher Roy Halladay in 2012 and 2013 as the team's $20 million men. Sil Campusano could not be reached for comment for this post.