By Sam Bush

The question is, was Larry Bowa simply expressing an opinion when he said Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard belongs in the American League or was he sending up a trial balloon for the team’s witless management?

Speaking Friday morning on 94WIP, Phillies bench coach Bowa was honest when asked if Howard was better suited for an American League team as opposed to the National League.

“Yeah, I think he is” Bowa said. “I mean, in all fairness to him [Howard], when a big guy like that does something to his Achilles and then you’re out on the field for nine innings and you’re making plays, you’re going to your right, going to your left, that takes a wear and tear on your body. I mean, if you look at just numbers, I would be shocked if an American League wouldn’t say you know what, ‘I’ll take 25 [home runs] and 100 [runs batted in] and he’ll be my DH [designed hitter].'”

The Phillies reportedly hope Bowa is right. The rumors surrounding Howard and his departure from the Phillies have been circulating for months. The main obstacle in moving Howard appears to be his contract, as he is owed $61 million over the next three seasons.

If the Phillies can’t move Howard, they will have to decide what to do at first base next season. With the team seemingly about to enter a rebuild mode, having an aging Howard at first doesn’t seem to make much sense, when a younger player like Darin Ruff could be getting time.

Which is why, even if Bowa is somewhat optimistic, he stood behind the idea of Howard succeeding on an American League team.

“Last year was his first full year since that [Achilles] injury [he suffered in 2011] and he thinks he’s gonna get stronger and better, so again, we’re going to have to wait and see,” Bowa said. “But I think an America League team—I think he can help an American League team.”

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