Analyzing the Ryan Howard deal 

April, 27, 2010
A few years ago, Ryan Howard took batting practice by himself in a cage at the Philadelphia Phillies' spring training complex, trying to make an adjustment in his swing. It wasn't working for him that day, and he shouted out in anger repeatedly. Howard has always wanted to be a great player, which is why he has fought to get better: losing weight, altering his body, improving his footwork, improving as a hitter. "I think he wants to be Hall of Fame great," said a friend of his this spring.

Howard has demonstrated beyond any doubt that he will work to the best of his ability to make his five-year, $125 million extension pay off for the Phillies. He is a great player who gets it.

But Howard's professional integrity is an entirely separate issue from the question that was being kicked around baseball circles Monday night -- why would the Phillies commit that kind of money to a 30-year-old player with Howard's body and particular skill set?