-P- Ryan Howard answering questions at TIme.com:
How do you feel about the comparisons of you to Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Willie Stargell? George Travlos HAVERTOWN, PA.
It's funny, because my college coach used to always make that same comparison. He used to call me Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell. So it was definitely funny when I got into professional baseball. It's an honor to be mentioned in a category with a guy like that.
Howard's won't have a Stargell-like career, in my opinion. (Few players do.) There are parallels, but they're mostly unflattering--both Howard and Stargell went backwards in their age-27 and age-28 seasons. Stargell came roaring back and had most of his best years in his thirties, but I'd bet against that in Howard's case. His incredible strikeout totals, which are nothing like Stargell's, don't portend well for his chances of bumping his batting average back up. Stargell is on Howard's list of PECOTA comparables (subscription required) but many of the other players on it are early flameouts, like Mike Epstein, Jim Gentile, Cecil Fielder, Boog Powell, Mo Vaughn, Richie Sexson and Travis Hafner. Willie was still a good hitter until he was 40.
-P- The Nats have signed Kip Wells to a minor league deal, begging the question of when the time to stop bothering is, if it isn't now.
-P- I've been meaning for a while now to link to this intriguing post by a new Pirate blog called The Jolly Roger, which suggests that (American) players born between August and October may have a strong developmental advantage over players born in other months, because the official Little League age cutoff has made players born in late summer and early fall the oldest players in their leagues. The post only looks at Pirates players and therefore has sample-size problems, but there's a great study lurking in there.