SAN FRANCISCO -- About to jump on a conference call with Ryan Howard's agent, Casey Close, but for now, here are some of the most interesting answers from the press conference that just ended with Howard and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.
AMARO: We just felt it was good timing for us. We felt like No. 1, he's one of the elite offensive players in the game. We could have waited another year-and-a-half or so and dealt with it later on, but the fact of the matter is we decided that he's that important to our organization and our future. We decided to go ahead and work something out with Casey and it worked quite well.
Did the market of other first basemen (Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez) play a factor in doing it now?
HOWARD: I know that all of us were going to be free agents around the same time. I think the decision was based more for myself. It wasn't trying to live off what Albert might get or what Prince might get. It was look after myself in this situation. I wanted to stay in Philadelphia. I've had fun here. The fans have been great. The organization has been great. I'm glad we were able to reach the agreement and now I can focus on going out there and just playing ball.
You could be 37 when it ends. What's the risk involved?
AMARO: I think that we're blessed as an organization with guys who take a lot of pride in their craft and what they do. Ryan is one of those guys. Ryan has clearly dedicated himself to being a very complete player. He's worked on his defense. He's worked on a variety of ways to make himself a more complete player. He has a special attribute with his power and run-production that not many in the history of the game have been able to accomplish. Yet he continues to try and work to be a better player. When we commit these kind of dollars and these kind of years to a player, it's not just because of what he does on the field as an athlete but it's also as a person. To me and to our organization and to our fans, he's not just a special athlete, he's a special person. And that makes a difference.