Ryan Howard should probably take Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. out for dinner. Or maybe buy him a car. Heck, Howard may just want to name his first born Ruben.
Why does Amaro deserve the love and praise of his slugger? All you have to do is look back to the spring of 2009 to find the beginnings of what’s been a very prosperous but expensive relationship.
It was then that Amaro and the Phillies came to their first agreement on a contract extension with Howard. The deal was worth $54 million over 3 years, locking up Howard through the remainder of his arbitration eligibility.
Amaro again delivered for Howard after the big man had another monster season in 2009, launching 45 home runs while driving in a league leading 141 runs. In April of last year the Phillies again extended Howard, this time the contract reached $125 million for 5 more years of service.
2011 was the first year Howard’s salary hit $20 million, a mark that it will remain at or above for the next 6 or possibly 7 seasons.
So that’s gotta be reason enough, right? Millions upon millions of dollars.
It’s another year, and Amaro continues to be the GM that just keeps on giving. After going out and adding top of the rotation arms the previous two seasons, Amaro made another splash this July when he traded for outfielder Hunter Pence. Offense had been the Phillies “weakness” this season, and as he usually does Amaro went out and addressed it.
But how does this impact Amaro’s relationship with Howard?
Not only does Pence’s addition help the Phillies offense as a whole, but it provides Howard with some much needed protection in the lineup.
On the season, Philadelphia’s 5-hole hitters have a ridiculously low OPS of .699 thanks to an OBP of only .314. Enter Pence and his season line of .307/.355/.469.
Now I know it’s only been 5 games, but Howard certainly seems to enjoy having someone that pitchers consider to be at least somewhat intimidating hitting behind him. Over the span since Pence has joined the club, Howard has gone 9 for 22 with 4 home runs, 4 doubles and 9 RBI’s.
So while you may just be able to chalk it up to another one of Howard’s crazy hot streaks, it looks like Amaro has once again delivered for the big man.
For more on the Phillies, be sure to check out That Balls Outta Here.