If nothing else, you’ve got to admire Jack McCafferty of the Delaware County Times’ willingness to risk public ridicule. While 1B Ryan Howard is putting the Phillies on his back and has the club in serious contention for a Wild Card spot with his nearly-historic first full season in the big leagues, McCafferty argues that Philadelphia blew it by not trading Howard when they had the chance. (link courtesy Chuck Meehan)

Though spectacular, Howard may have been the necessary lure for pitching or extra major-league-proven clout for a club that has been to the playoffs once since 1983 yet recently could have won a wild-card berth, or maybe two. But all sides agree that the Phillies placed such a premium on Howard that it became prohibitive for any team to meet the purchase price.

Who knows how it would have turned out had Howard been traded? But with a more aggressive use of their farm talent, the Phillies may have been in a postseason by now ..and they still would have had Jim Thome. Howard may prove to be the greatest Phillie in history, but if he never sees the postseason, he essentially will not have made a sound.

Go ahead, if it makes you feel better, and apologize to the Phillies for encouraging them to dip into their system and go head-on for a championship in the earlier portion of this decade. But it was not wrong then, is not wrong now and never will be wrong to play for a championship now, not later, not in baseball™s No. 1 monopoly market.

By the way, just after that apology, ask the Phillies if they felt it was the right move, too, to hang onto Gavin Floyd all those non-playoff years in expectation that he was the next Grover Cleveland Alexander.

Apparently, McCafferty gets a much clearer picture after polishing his crystal balls than you or I, otherwise we too, would’ve known that Jim Thome wasn’t washed up after 2005. But either way, Howard has more than replaced Thome’s production, and done so at a fraction of the cost.

Still, it would be illuminating to find out exactly which trade the prior administration turned down. Aren’t you a little curious to know which package of players the Phillies could have right now that would have them in better position to compete — long and short term — than the probable NL MVP?