According to FOXSports.com, the reigning NL MVP will be represented by Casey Close, agent for Derek Jeter and Derrek Lee.
Few ballplayers earn as much in endorsements and share the spotlight more than New York's favorite son Derek Jeter. Howard, a class act and the new face of Philadelphia sports, deserves nothing less. Jeter is entering the seventh year of a 10-year contract and made $20.6 million last season. Howard is not eligible for salary arbitration until after next season, enabling the Phillies to control his salary for 2007. The Phillies are expected give Howard a $1 million raise over last season’s salary.
--- Catching up on Beerleaguer's running debate, if there’s one pitcher whose path cannot be predicted by anyone, it’s Ryan Madson. He prepared as a starter in 2006, failed, went back and forth for a while, until he finally settled into back-end relief during a tight Wild Card race. When it was all said, he was a relief pitcher who logged 134.1 innings. Career-wise, he’s been around the block. Bobby Cox and Willie Randolph know about the changeup. Nobody knows about the curve, including the Phillies. Physically, what is his delivery doing to his shoulder? Mentally, how’s the confidence? In the life of a reliever, that’s the name of the game. I’ve never doubted his toughness, and thought he pitched in some bad luck late in the season, but how much can he handle until it all falls to pieces?
--- Ron Villone. Now we’ve hit the bottom of the barrel. None of the remaining free agents should be seen as anything more than damage control, and Villone is not going to be the cheapest. He declined the Yankees’ arbitration offer and is looking for a two-year deal. If the Phillies are nervous about their current options -- and they will test more young arms this spring than in any camp in memory -- then resign Rick White to a minor league deal. Either way, none of the free agents will help them win a championship, so it’s probably better to use the opportunity to break the cycle of veteran retreads and test young players.
--- The Hall of Fame results deserve mention. Final voting: Cal Ripken Jr., 537 votes, 98.5 percent; Tony Gwynn, 532 votes, 97.6 percent; Rich Gossage, 388 votes, 71.2 percent; Jim Rice, 346 votes, 63.5 percent; Andre Dawson, 309 votes, 56.7 percent; Bert Blyleven, 260 votes; 47.7 percent; Lee Smith, 217 votes, 39.8 percent; Jack Morris, 202 votes, 37.1 percent; Mark McGwire, 128 votes; 23.5 percent; Tommy John, 125 votes; 22.9 percent; Steve Garvey, 115 votes, 21.1 percent; Dave Concepcion, 74 votes, 13.6 percent; Alan Trammell, 73 votes, 13.4 percent; Dave Parker, 62 votes, 11.4 percent; Don Mattingly, 54 votes, 9.9 percent.
I’ve never felt much passion for the Hall, but Tom Goodman of Swing and a Miss has a worthwhile take on Cal Ripken Jr., written in the context of his own timeline as an Orioles fan. [Link]