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Ryan Howard's contract extension could determine the future of several Phillies

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For all of you Phillies fans out there who were afraid Ryan Howard's  final days with the team were next year, you can all breathe a collective sigh of Ryan Howardrelief.

The Phillies have reportedly signed Howard to a 5-year, $125 million dollar extension. This will start after Howard's current contract expires in 2011 and continue to the year 2016. This ensures that Howard will play the majority if not his entire career in a Phillies uniform.

Of course, with every positive comes with some negatives, and the future of several other Phillies notables remain uncertain.

While you have to applaud the Phillies for their commitment to one of their best players (if not their best player), Howard's deal almost guarantees that Jayson Werth  will not return to the Phillies in 2011. This is unfortunately one of the prices you pay for your baseball team not having their own television network (damn you, Yankees and Red Sox!). Everyone knows the Phillies can't keep all of these guys (You learned that the hard way this winter. You know who I mean) Moreover, Jimmy Rollins'  contract is also set to expire after the 2011 season. While some may have their issues with Rollins, his value to the team is unquestionable, and he is vastly underpaid for what he has accomplished in his career. This will be an interesting scenario that unfolds. The Phillies don't have ANY shortstop ready to take the place of Rollins. Werth's replacement is in all likelihood Domenic Brown, a possible a September call-up who the Phillies might want to take a look at before Spring Training rolls around.

Although it is highly unlikely, Werth's impending free agency could have him traded this summer if the Phillies need for bullpen help continues, or if they need another starter to go with Roy Halladay  because Cole Hamels  continues to struggle. As much as the Phils need to sure up their staff if they plan on winning another World Series, their limited prospects in the minor leagues may prevent this from happening.

Come on, do you think the Padres will actually give up Heath Bell for nothing?!

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@hotmail.com