Ryan Howard is a very rich young man today following an arbitration panel's decision agreeing with the big first baseman's representatives that his true market value is $10 million not the $7 million the Phillies were offering. Were the arbitrators obligated to take into account the impact of their judgment on baseball's salary structure? No. Will their decision have a major impact on that structure? You'd better believe it. Professional sports don't operate in the realm of cost-of-living adjustments.
What does this mean for both sides? Who knows!? Will Howard be "content" to sign a series of one-year deals with the Phils until he becomes a free agent four years hence or will the two sides eventually agree to a long-term contract? Everything is speculation. (For what it's worth, I doubt Howard will be a Phillie in 2012.).
What I do expect is a better year for Howard at the plate and in the field. He arrived in camp early, a little bit trimmer and in good spirits. He said he wants to work on his defense and as the estimable Erik Grissom , author of Philliesflow.com can attest, he needs to!
Howard needs to cut down on the strikeouts and the grimaces that followed. He needs to go the other way a little more and shorten his stroke when contact, not a moonshot, is called for or dictated by how he's being pitched.
If he continues to drive in runs and brings his average up around the figures of his first two seasons, he will have a very productive year indeed. Whatever outcome, he'll be paid handsomely.