After winning the NL MVP Award and nearly leading the Phillies to the Wild Card last season, Ryan Howard hit it big–sort of–when he signed a one-year deal that will reportedly pay him $900,000 in 2007. Not exactly big money for a guy who hit 58 HRs last year, but Howard, a baseball visionary since his high school days in Lafayette, Mo., is setting his sights on bankrupting the Phillies by 2012.

“I look around and see Pat Burrell’s $50 million six-year deal expiring after next season,” Howard said. “We stole Freddy Garcia from the White Sox, but he’ll be a free agent in November. And then there’s me. I think we form the nucleus of a team in the future that no one will be able to afford.”

The Phillies enter 2007 with the highest payroll in team history: $96 million. Local civic leaders have taken offense to Howard’s remarks as a slight against the city’s economic vitality.

“I don’t know where Howard is from,” said Philadelphia Mayor John Street. “But just because we’re not Chicago, L.A. or New York doesn’t mean we’re financially unstable. Our residuals from ‘The Sixth Sense’ alone will exceed Chase Utley’s $85 million dollar deal through 2013.”

heckler editorial staff