Did off-field stress contribute to Howard's poor batting average in 2014? One could argue yes, and he still managed to hit almost 100 RBI on the season
I read this story yesterday at Philly.com, you have to feel sorry for Ryan Howard after you read the whole story, which you can do here.
You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family. That's the old saying when things go wrong in a family, and that's exactly what happened with Ryan Howard. He started employing his family and paying them fantastically high wages for doing next to nothing and one day he woke up from that fact and decided to close the gravy store for them and now they've come back at him and sued him.
Howard is paid very well, some would argue too much, for the Phillies. That wasn't his fault though, there was a contract offer made after Howard had several great seasons in a row. He looked as if he would continue to tear the cover off the ball for years, but in the last couple years, Howard has appeared more human than the super-human feats he put up when he was in his late 20's.
This is just a bad story all the way around. Now it's public. Apparently, it's already settled out of court after it made it to court. The damage is still there though. It's what happens sometimes when a person comes into money like Howard did.
Now the Phillies apparently look to shop Ryan Howard to a team where he can play out the remainder of his career. Yes, the Phillies still owe him millions, and Howard will be OK where ever he ends up, I still wouldn't be surprised if we see him in Phillies pinstripes come opening day though.