What a difference a year makes.
Not only has Ryan Howard returned to earth, he has crashed landed on the Disabled List with an assortment of ailments. It's still far too early to predict doom and gloom but one has the uneasy feeling his season is in some jeopardy. He will doubtless return to the lineup, but can he climb out of the chasm into which he has fallen? Meanwhile, Flash Gordon is gone, too, his return to the Phillies anything but certain. Perennial ace-in-the-making Brett Myers has moved to the bullpen and become the team's closer. Indeed, he has become the team's savior as the rest of the pen, especially anyone who is a southpaw, continues to stumble. Who would have predicted that turn of events? Not I.
Chris Coste's storybook season in 2006 earned him nothing more than a return trip to that hotbed of baseball, AAA Ottawa, where he struggled until his recall over the weekend, no doubt brooding over what it takes to impress the parent club. The plan is for him to see limited playing time as a pinch-hitter, that is until he starts a game and goes 4-5. Here's hoping he makes the decision tough for Charlie Manuel.
One player about whom the decision shouldn't be all that difficult is Carlos Ruiz, who not only continues to hit but has been stellar defensively on a number of tough plays at the plate. I still haven't watched enough of him as a receiver to comment on his skills handling the pitchers. Earlier in the season there were questions about his shoulder, which if it still continues to bother him will clearly limit how many consecutive games Ruiz starts, , but he is clearly superior to Rod Barajas offensively and appears to be more than holding his own defensively. If healthy, he has earned far more playing time.