Posts Tagged ‘Phillies’

More Phillies, More Howard, More Hyperbole…

April 27, 2010 Leave a comment

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…


The Day the Phillies Jumped the Shark…

April 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Well, it’s happened. The writing’s now on the wall for the Philadelphia Phillies. We might have wondered this winter, when they pulled off a brilliant trade for Roy Halladay and then mucked it up by giving away Cliff Lee. Still, the Halladay trade and the subsequent contract he signed were enough to determine that Phillies management still remained cognizant of how to build a top flight baseball organisation. Then, today, with Ron Howard driving the boat, the Phillies strapped on their water skies, jean shorts, and signature leather jacket and… jumped over a great white shark.

I touched briefly on Howard’s limitations when the “trading him for Albert Pujols” nonsense percolated, but just to review: His greatest claim to fame is his prodigious power and his copious RBI totals. One’s legit and one isn’t. He doesn’t run the bases, is a weak fielder, has a body that wont age particularly well, and – oh yeah – he’s twelve days younger than me. Trust me when I tell you that my wily eyebrows and rogue nose hairs have the Bride telling me daily that I’m an old, old man (my cranky demeanor probably doesn’t help either).

I don’t want you to think that I think Ryan Howard’s a bum, he’s not. He’s got phenomenal power and decent plate discipline. He’s also made strides to become a better fielder and seems to be a nice guy, but he also cannot hit lefties. Serioulsy, in 957 lifetime at bats against lefties, Howard has a phenomenal 54 home runs. He also has a .226 batting average, .309 OBP, and .443 slugging percentage. Against righties, Howard is essentially Albert Pujols (1.064 OPS), but against lefties he’s Alex Gonzalez (.752), but without the defense at short. So, basically the Phillies are committing 25 million a season to a glorified platoon hitter who’s going to age poorly. Great! As the incomparableRob Neyer points out, Howard’s deal really is a victory for the RBI believers over logic. Which for any intelligent Philly fan (and given that none of them seem to realise how valuable Chase Utley is, I’m starting to wonder if there actually are any…) must be a real kick in the n***s.

But, it acutally gets worse, because there’s also this… in baseball history there have been 20 players to receive 100 million deals (ARod of course has two of them). In order of size, courtesy of Cots Baseball Contracts:

Alex Rodriguez, $275,000,000 (2008-17)
Alex Rodriguez, $252,000,000 (2001-10)
Derek Jeter, $189,000,000 (2001-10)
Joe Mauer, $184,000,000 (2011-18)
Mark Teixeira, $180,000,000 (2009-16)
CC Sabathia, $161,000,000 (2009-15)
Manny Ramirez, $160,000,000 (2001-08)
Miguel Cabrera, $152,300,000 (2008-15)
Todd Helton, $141,500,000 (2003-11)
Johan Santana, $137,500,000 (2008-13)
Alfonso Soriano, $136,000,000 (2007-14)
Vernon Wells, $126,000,000 (2008-14)
Barry Zito, $126,000,000 (2007-13)
Mike Hampton, $121,000,000 (2001-08)
Jason Giambi, $120,000,000 (2002-08)
Matt Holliday, $120,000,000 (2010-16)
Carlos Beltran, $119,000,000 (2005-11)
Ken Griffey Jr., $116,500,000 (2000-08)
Kevin Brown, $105,000,000 (1999-2005)
Carlos Lee, $100,000,000 (2007-12)
Albert Pujols, $100,000,000 (2004-10)

Now, I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, but since the Bride’s at work and the Jays are getting hammered by Boston, let me break it down. Of those deals, the second ARod contract, Mauer, Tex, CC, Cabrera, Santana, and Holliday were all handed out recently enough that the jury is still deliberating in regards to their overall worth. So that leaves us with 13 monster contracts to examine. The Yanks would give Jeter his deal over again and obviously Pujols’ contract is a massive bargain (calm down people, I mean relatively). You could argue that both Manny and Helton were worth their money – of course the Devil’s Advocate in me would point out that both their team’s spent several seasons regretting that much dough going to one player – but still each has been roughly worth their large contract, even if marginally so.

I’m not sure, if given the choice to go back in time, whether or not the Mets would still give Carlos Beltran his monster deal, but FanGraphs estimates his dollar value over the first five years of that deal to be 101.5 million, so we’ll chock it up as a win. If you’re keeping track at home, and I hope one of us is, that leaves Soriano, Wells, Zito, Hampton, Giambi, Griffey Jr, Brown, Lee, and Texas’ ARod contract as deals that the team came to regret. In the case of a few of those guys (cough-vernonwells-cough) when I say regret, I mean waking up after a wild night out with a 300 pound, naked man named Earl spooning you…

So, out of thirteen 100 million contracts, that’s five, or just slightly more than one in three, that a team received reasonable value from. Really only three (Jeter, Pujols, and because of the ’04 and ’07 titles, Manny) would be no-brainer do them again deals, and at least twice that many were outright disasters. To be clear, I’m saying that spending a 100 million on a player will work out at best a third of the time, and nearly half the time it will cripple any franchise that isn’t spending a 140 million on salary. I don’t know much about numbers, but that sure seems like bad math to me.

So, does giving Howard a 125 million deal (and a 25 million yearly average to boot) seem like the decision a smart franchise makes? Especially when you factor in the glorified platoon hitter with a DH’s body? Look, I’ve been wrong before (the Bride would tell you often), but as soon as I read of this deal, I instantly thought, “Yikes, in three years, we are going to look back at this signing as the moment that the Phillies dominance in the NL East started to crack. Or, more accurately, we’re going to see it as the moment when the Phillies jumped the Shark…

Charlie’s Right…

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Two days ago Phillies manager Charlie Manuel lamented the loss of Cliff Lee from his starting rotation:

Manuel said he would have preferred to have both Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee in his rotation, but said he understood the decision the Phillies’ front office made.

“Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball right now,” Manuel said. “Cliff Lee may be a tad behind. . . . Baseball is a business. I understand a lot of things. I have my own opinion and suggestions, but at the same time, I have a boss.

Two things here.  First, Manuel is going to love Roy Halladay.  There’s no other way. Doc just oozes work ethic and professionalism.  He comes to the park every day, works his arse off, pitches a gem every fifth day, and turns up ready to work hard the next morning.

Second, Manuel is right.  The Phils would have been much stronger with both Doc and Lee.  Baring major injury, the Phils are pretty much locks to make the playoffs and once in there’s nothing more important than who you can put out on the mound.  Remember, in baseball momentum is tomorrow night’s pitcher.  A playoff rotation of Halladay, Lee, and Cole Hamels would have been the best in baseball and enough to topple even the mammoth Yankee hitters.

So, here’s the weird part… There’s absolutely no logical reason they don’t have both.  Not from the perspective of the trade, not from the perspective of the future talent on their roster, and not from a money standpoint either.

When the Phillies acquired Halladay, it was largely reported that he was acquired in a three team trade with the Mariners (latter amended to a four team trade when the Jays swapped prospects with the A’s), this is inaccurate and misleading.  In reality, the Jays traded Doc (be still my beating heart) and six million (be still my queasy stomach) to the Phillies for three prospects (be still that rush of vomit).  In a separate deal, the Phillies then moved Lee to Seattle for the poo-poo platter of outfielder Tyson Gillies and right-handers Phillipe Aumont and Juan Ramirez.

Now, in the interests of fairness, I should note that Ruben Amaro and his staff have a very good track record of assessing talent, so maybe there’s more to those three Seattle prospects than anyone believes, but on its face this was a terrible trade.  The three guys that Toronto acquired for Halladay each ranked in Keith Law’s Top 100 prospects, with two in the top 50.  None of the guys that the Phils received from Seattle were on the list.  None.  Not a single one.  This is for a pitcher who won the Cy Young two years ago and beat the Yankees twice in the World Series last fall.  Why give him up for such a lousy assortment of players?

It’s likely that the Phils were terrified about shipping out seven players from their farm system in the span of four months.  That’s a fair concern, but if they resign Lee, as they did Halladay, then while the cost for those two stud pitchers was high in terms of bodies, it was low in terms of quality.  If Lee leaves as a free agent, then the Phillies get two first round picks as compensation (well, technically, it’s a first rounder and a sandwich round, but lets keep our eye on the prize here), which given their recent draft success, they surely could have used more favorably than the Seattle threesome.  Also, if they keep Lee, they could have moved Joe Blanton for a prospect probably in the range of the guys they got from the Mariners.  Add that prospect to the two draft picks and you have the same number of bodies they received in the Mariners deal.

The other reported reason that the Phils moved Lee was for fiscal reasons, but given that they’re paying Blanton 7 million this year, I’m not entirely sure how they couldn’t afford the 8 million that Lee’s going to make.  Believe me, the difference between these twos’ performance is worth a lot more than one million dollars (it works better if you say that in the accent of a maniacal, evil genius while stroking an imaginary hairless cat).  Yes, next year Lee will cost a lot more than Blanton, but, again, if they didn’t want to pay him, then they could have just let him leave and taken the two draft picks.

So, just to recap.  They didn’t need to move Lee as part of the trade that brought them Halladay.  They didn’t make their farm system any stronger by trading Lee, and they didn’t need to move him for financial reason.  So, why exactly did they move him?

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