Ryan Howard needs knee surgery, will miss 6-8 weeks
After an MRI on Monday, the Phillies got the exact news that they were hoping to avoid - Howard has a torn meniscus that will require surgery, and he will be sidelined for 6-8 weeks.
The timetable has Howard returning to action in late August or early September, but it is worth noting that general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has clearly stated that the team will be "conservative" with Howard's rehab process. After this season, Howard will still have four years left on his monstrous $125 million contract (the final year being a club option), so the Phillies will not want to rush him back and risk an injury that will affect him long term. Though the timetable is currently set at 6-8 weeks, it is very realistic that Howard's rehab could take longer.
Howard's previous contract would have ended after the 2011 season, and he has done nothing since then to show fans that he deserved the massive extension he signed in 2010. After topping 100 RBI for the sixth consecutive season in 2011, Howard managed to play in only 71 games in 2012, batting .219 with 14 long balls and 56 RBI. This season, Howard has batted an improved .266, but still with only 11 home runs and 43 RBI, and his numbers are unlikely to get much better considering he will miss the majority of the remainder of the season.
Howard's recent regression, which is unfortunately common for big sluggers in their early 30's, has a lot of people saying that his current five-year, $125 million contract is one of the worst in baseball. ZiPS, a baseball projection system created by Dan Szymborski, calculates Howard's contract as worse than even the likes of Alex Rodriguez's deal with the Yankees.
You can probably drop Howard in fantasy leagues if you don't have an open spot on your DL. He likely won't be back until the final few weeks of the season, and even once he returns, there is serious question as to whether or not he'll even contribute. You're probably better off using that roster spot to grab a player who will help out your team over the next three months, rather than just the final three weeks of the season.
It's sad to say, but it looks like we are watching the demise of one of the great sluggers of the past decade. It would be pretty surprising to see Howard return to 100+ RBI form at the age of 34 next season.