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More Phillies, More Howard, More Hyperbole…

Well, it was a pretty big contract, so I guess we shouldn’t really be surprised to see some BIG responses. Still, it’s created such a hornets nest of comments, that I had to revisit Howard’s massive extension.

Matthew Carruth from the always spectacular FanGraphs acknowledged the humor involved:

When the news first broke and the details started to emerge, I was tempted to fill this entire article with just me laughing. My co-writers convinced me that while an appropriate response, that was not quite informative enough so I have relented and will actually map out the value of Ryan Howard’s new extension. I’m laughing pretty hard, though, in case you wanted to picture it.

Can’t argue with him there, it was pretty funny, I mean not so much Modern Family (blatant, lough out loud) funny, more Office (incomprehensible and awkward) funny, but still… more from Carruth:

Howard will need six seasons that were better than his 2009 season, except over his 32-37 years. I’m not sure I would lay even money on him achieving even half of that. This contract is both incredibly risky and unnecessary since Howard was already signed through 2011. Say hello to baseball’s newest worst contract.

I don’t know about the worst contract in baseball (cough-vernonwells-cough), but Howard sure will have to work hard to justify his 25 million a year. On the other hand, if you listen to some of the comments from Philly fans, this is a veritable bargain. To whit, somebody dubbed the Truth wrote (parenthesis comments are mine):

The contract may be huge but Howard deserves it. Really? (I’d love to know why, please elaborate?) Howard is the best run producer in baseball. (No, he’s not, that would be Albert Pujols) He has at least 40 HR and 135 RBI the last 4 seasons. (Yes, but only one of those is relevant…) Howard is the fastest player to reach both the 100 and 200 home run milestones in Major League Baseball history… For a player entering his 6th MLB season he has already accomplished a significant amount (yes, but for a player entering his 6th MLB season he’s also already surprisingly old).

NL Rookie of the Year (2005) – Irrelevant
2× All-Star (2006, 2009) – Irrelevant
Silver Slugger (2006) – Nice accomplishment, but four years old.
NL MVP (2006) – R’iiiiight…
NL Hank Aaron Award (2006) – Well, he did hit a lot of home runs, and they are shiny…
Home Run Derby winner (2006) – Yup, definitely worth 25 million…
Led NL in home runs (2006, 2008) – True.
Led NL in RBI (2006, 2008, 2009) – Wait for it… Irrelevant!
World Series Champion (2008) – So was Matt Stairs, is he getting a 25 million a year deal?
2009 National League Championship Series MVP – What?!?

Well, I can’t really say that I was convinced. Fortunately, on the side of reason is the good old King of Snark:

Howard ranked 28th among MLB hitters in WAR in 2009, 63rd in 2008, and 38th in 2007. Even if we just look at his bat, ignoring position and defense for the moment, he ranked 18th in MLB in 2009. The Phillies just handed him the second-highest average annual salary in the game, but he’s not the second-best position player in the game, or the fifth best, or even in the top 20. He’s not even the best player on his own team — that would be second baseman Chase Utley.

I can only imagine that Keith’s going to hear about that top 20 comment… but he’s fearless, so he continues:

This signing says to me that the Phillies are still stuck in the old model of player compensation, in which counting stats, especially home runs and RBIs, earn players the biggest paychecks, and knowledge of player aging patterns was largely absent from the industry.

A rebutal from the audience? Yes, how about you, Mr. dalegrey:

I guess this why you work for ESPN and not the Phillies or any other team anymore.

Nice, attacking his career choice, always a good sign that you have reason on your side. How about something from SI’s Jon Heyman (via twitter):

folks keep tweeting howard’s an overpay. but hes averaged 49.5 HRs/143 RBIs last 4 yrs. MVP finishes those 4: 1, 5, 2, 3

Yup, there are all those fancy MVP finishes, but what do they tell us? Maybe it’s just me, but I think they tell us that Howard is exceptionally good at compiling a gaudy numbers in two counting stats. Fortunately for him, those counting stats happen to be the ones that writers who like to denigrate stats use. That those same writers also happen to vote on MVP awards says more about the state of baseball writing than Howard’s MVP finishes.

Well, I could really continue here all day, but the wife wants dinner and what my baby wants… So, I leave you with perhaps the most salient point of all, courtesy of ESPN’s Buster Olney:

Here’s a simple barometer of whether or not this was a good deal for the Phillies: If Philadelphia were to put Howard on the trade market today, with almost seven years and $164 million remaining on his deal, how many offers would it get?

The answer, in all likelihood: zero.

Less than 24 hours into his contract, Howard — a star in his prime — is already considered by many in the industry to be overpriced.

Yup, the Phils really hit that one out of the park. High fives and scotches all around for Ruben and Friends…

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