Currently on “This Week in Stupid Trade Rumors,” I saw a story this evening on ESPN that the Phillies discussed offering the Cardinals their slugger Ryan Howard for three-time National League Most Valuable Player (and St. Louis institution) Albert Pujols. Not sure if the story is legit, since it quoted unnamed sources and featured a flat denial from Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro. Either way, the proposed trade is, for lack of a better word, retarded. If it did get discussed by Phillies’ brass, I’m going to assume it happened during some kind of drinking game or “Truth or Dare” contest.
The only thing more ridiculous than the Phillies soliciting the Cardinals for this sort of deal would be if St. Louis actually went for it. If I’m St. Louis and I get this call, I assume it’s some kids pulling a prank. You do not trade Albert Pujols, not under any circumstances. Not for Joe Mauer, not for Tim Lincecum (if the Giants could do that deal, I’d tell them to sign off on it tonight, maybe throw in Pablo Sandoval if that’s what it took) and certainly not for Ryan Howard.
I could probably list ten players I’d want on my team before Howard, a rather ordinary, one-dimensional player who just happens to hit the ball a mile. That’s really all he does, kind of like a left-handed version of Frank Thomas without the good batting average or career longevity. Howard didn’t get going until he was 25, is now 30 and with his large frame, I’d be surprised if he’s still going strong in five years. And players like him are fairly replaceable, even if he does have the same name as one of the characters on The Office, which seems like it should be good for some kind of promotional tie-in.
The ESPN story discussed proposed trades of players at the top of their games, like a Ted Williams-for-Joe DiMaggio swap that was once actually discussed between New York and Boston. Howard and Pujols are far less even, though.
I doubt Howard makes the Hall of Fame. On the other hand, Pujols is almost certainly a first ballot selection. He rates superior to Howard in pretty much every offensive category, notably career batting average (.334 to .279), on-base percentage (.427 to .360) and slugging percentage (.628 to .586, not that Howard suffers in this category, Pujols just happens to have the best slugging percentage of any active player, fourth best all-time, in fact.) In addition, Pujols is two months younger than Howard and essentially a once-in-a-generation talent. Unless a positive steroid test surfaces, count on Pujols eventually being classed with Hank Aaron, Ted Williams and Willie Mays.