Following up my post from yesterday, a number of “baseball insiders” from national media have commented on the contract extension of Ryan Howard. I am not going to name names, but I am very disappointed in most of the reactions. A lot of pundits did not have applicable reasoning behind why they think that the Phillies made a poor decision. Moreso, I am definitely disappointed with a certain “insider”‘s professionalism. I believe most of you know who I am talking about, but if you don’t I will hint only this. He actually wrote in his blog that he “laughed” upon hearing about the signing.
To all the writers who think that the Phillies will regret this signing, I present my case. Many of you have gathered a plethera of stats comparing Ryan Howard to a multitude of players in comprable situations. The only flaw with your approach is that Ryan Howard is NOT comprable to ANY player that has or does play this game. Ryan Howard has a playoff pedigree. So to you, I provide the only numbers that need be mentiioned.
- 2005 National League Rookie of the Year
- 2006 National League Most Valuable Player
- 2008 World Series Champion
- 2009 National League Championship Series Most Valuable Player
I dare anyone, reporter or not, to find one player with those accomplishments in their first 5 years in the league. So to say that Ryan Howard’s numbers compare to any player is unfair. Many media outlets like to promote Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, etc. None of which have put up the numbers that Ryan Howard has. None of them have accomplished what Ryan Howard has.
Many of you will state that Albert Pujols is a multiple MVP winner. Well Albert Pujols is a hypocrite and needs to check himself. I do not doubt that Mr. Pujols is one of the game’s premier players, but following the 2006 MVP presentation, Mr. Pujols was quoted as questioning how can someone who’s team did not even qualify for postseason play be eligible to win the MVP? First off, he had just won a World Series title. I would imagine that any player would prefer to win a championship than a league most valuable player award. To bring things full circle, in 2007, Mr. Pujols won the NL MVP award, yet his team did not qualify for post season play. How could someone accept an award that he himself stated he should not have been eligible for.
Either you are a sheep and follow suit with other national media or you are just as big a hypocrite as Albert Pujols. Three of the four titles are voted upon by the BBWAA. So I do not understand how you can talk out of both sides of your mouth, stating that Howard is deserving of all these titles, but not the compensaiton that comes with it.
As for the whole debate between which is the best first baseman offensively, I would like for everyone to take a look at the numbers. I’ve taken Albert Pujols out of consideration because no one seriously thinks that he is ever going to leave St. Louis. The remaining two premier names heading into free agency after the 2011 season are Adrian Gonzalez and Prince Fielder. Both are younger than Howard, who would be 31 at the conclusion of the 2011 season. Gonzalez would be 29 and Fielder would be 27. Both of which, as some reporters will say, are past their prime as hitters.
Since the 2006 season, the players stack up like this. I chose 2007-current because Ryan Howard won the NL MVP in 2006. That wouldn’t be fair to compare considering NEITHER of the other two candidates have won the MVP.
- Ryan Howard: 37 HRs 130 RBIs .711 OPS .218 Avg.
- Prince Fielder: 34 HRs 116 RBIs .773 OPS .260 Avg.
- Adrian Gonzalez: 32 HRs 108 RBIS .723 OPS .234 Avg.
If those numbers seem a little off to you, that is because those are purely the numbers versus left handed pitching. I know some of you will want to be quick to point out the number of strike outs. I concede that. Ryan Howard is a strikeout machine. Ryan Howard will continuously be battling Mark Reynolds and Adam Dunn for most strikeouts in a season, but strikeouts are irrelevent when it comes to production. An out is an out. Whether you strike out or groundout. Clearly, Ryan Howard has produced more with less success at the plate than either of the other two.
I also would like to point out that outside of 2008, neither Prince Fielder nor Adrian Gonzalez have even played on a team that made the postseason. So if you think by either one of those players going to a contender will help improve their numbers, I would disagree. The more pertinent games played at the end of the season will more likely result in decreasing numbers.
The Phillies have decided to live and die by the long ball. Today, RAJ and the Phillies brass made a 5 year/ 125 Million dollar commitment that includes an option for a sixth year that includes a 10 million dollar buyout. Where I am excited to have one of the game’s best offensive producers locked up for the bulk of his career, I question the move. Ryan Howard, as I have stated in previous entries, was one of the Phillies biggest chips going into the offseason. Now, the Phillies have even less leverage going into an offseason where they could possibly lose their only consistent right handed power threat in Jayson Werth.
Howard’s contract, if you haven’t already seen, breaks down like this:
- 2012: 20 Million
- 2013: 20 Million
- 2014: 25 Million
- 2015: 25 Million
- 2016: 25 Million
- 2017: 23 Million Club Option (10 Million Buy Out)
The deal also includes a limited trade clause, but with the amount of money involved, the only way the Phillies could trade him would to pay ATLEAST half of the contract.
The thing I question is this. RAJ stated after the Cliff Lee trade, that the deal had nothing to do with money and completely to do with talent depth in the minors. The Phillies currently have the infield locked up thru atleast 2011. The outfield is going to go thru changes between now and the end of 2011. The starting rotation is 80% locked up thru 2012. Ultimately, where will any of this talent get the chance to play at the major league level barring injury?
The Phillies already have 97.5% of this years payroll committed to 2011 with four key positions vacated. They also have to worry about SS in 2012. Do they resign Jroll long term or turn it over to top SS prospect Freddy Galvis, if he is even ready?
I do realize that we are only two weeks into the season and that this is way early to want to think about, but the truth is, it may have an impact on this season as well. RAJ has already been on record that for as much as he is a “win-now” GM, he is also a “win-down-the-road” one too. So, I thought I would take a look at what MIGHT happen during the course of this year and the offseason.
The Phillies Opening Day Payroll for 2010 was a record high $138,178,379.00. 2011 projected opening day payroll? $134,728,000.00. And that is for only 19 under contract. An additional 2 players have options that would increase that 134 number even more. Romero’s club option is 4.5 Million and Castro’s club option is 750k. That would bring the number to 140 million for 21 of 25 players. As of now, even though Castro is filling in nicely, I don’t see them retaining him for next year unless he has a career year and actually hits over the Mendoza line. But that is a contract worth less than a million dollars.
Contracts coming off the books include RF Jayson Werth, RP Chad Durbin, SP Jamie Moyer, and RP Jose Contreras. The only two that are really significant losses are Werth and Durbin. Werth because he is the only right handed power threat the Phillies have. Could Francisco or Mayberry turn into someone that could take over for Werth? Yes,I believe so, but neither one is really proven. The two of them combined have hit 37 career HRs, or exactly one more than Werth hit by himself in 2009. Both could be options to play a platoon in right next year and cheap, but are you gonna bat both of them 5th?
Durbin, when healthy, is a really effective reliever. He proved in 2008 and is showing the beginnings of a solid season through 4 appearances. Durbin will be no where near a type A free agent, but he may be resignable. It would have to be a max contract of around 2-3 years and 7-10 million to be feasible.
Between the options the Phillies are developing in the minors and the nearly four dozen free agent starting pitchers projected to be available, losing the Ageless Wonder (Jamie Moyer) would not be a bitter pill to swallow. I would love to retain him as an advisor to Rich Dubee, but I think if anywhere a coaching job in Seattle would be made available for him. Even if Moyer is the Moyer of 2008, I would not hesitate to pass on him for the 2011 campaign.
Contreras just seems like a mercenary to me. With the uncertainty of both Lidge and Romero, Contreras was just a veteran arm to fill a spot. If healthy, a guy like Scott Mathieson could easily fill his spot in the pen.
Granted all four free agents could be filled internally, but that would create major question marks at key positions. The only way possible to assure high levels of success may be to trade away some players, either at the deadline or in the offseason. I know some will kill me for this, but the list of trade candidates should include:1B Ryan Howard, RF Jayson Werth, LF Raul Ibanez, RP Chad Durbin, and RP J.C. Romero.
You won’t get much value in return from Durbin or Romero and if the Phillies plan to go all the way, there is no way you trade both if not one, unless you are already receiving a quality reliever in return. Right now, if Ibanez didn’t have negative trade value, he wouldn’t have any value. He is barely hitting over the Mendoza line and has yet to hit a homerun. Ibanez is probably the player the Phillies would like to move most if they had to. Between the 12+ million per year contract he has through 2011 and the assumption that Ibanez may have hit a wall is what is giving all of us heartburn. So your two realistic trade chips are Howard and Werth.
Werth could be very valuable to a team close to contention at the trade deadline. In no way, shape, or form should he be moved any where but an American League team. Even if you are getting completely bowled over. You don’t want to help your competition. Let me worry about seeing him again in the World Series, not before. Teams with OF concerns early like Boston, New York, or just about any team in the AL West outside of Texas could have a need for an outfielder. Werth’s two greatest strengths are the fact that at mid season an acquiring team would only be responsible for roughly 3.5-4.0 Million of his contract and the fact that Werth can play all three outfield positions. Three useful pieces in return should be expected for the rental. If the Phillies decide to stick with him and let him walk, you can atleast bank on two high draft picks to stock the farm, but that doesn’t help us in 2011. The Phillies will very much be looking to sign Werth long term, atleast they should be.
The only problem would be the fact that Ryan Howard is sucking up 20.0 Million next season by himself. Realistically, we would have to shed Howard and Ibanez to sign any marquee names for 2011. Ryan Howard would bring a truck load of talent in return, even more if RAJ is willing to pay part of that 20.0 million. I would see where paying nothing gets you first. Trading Howard would require bringing back a stud 3B or 1B MLB ready player plus a stud pitching prospect I would hope.
When Ibanez does indeed find his stroke, he may gain some value. Then the question becomes do you have faith in a combination of Mayberry, Francisco, and Domonic Brown fighting it out for the outfield positions. If for some chance of random luck the Phillies moved Howard and Ibanez, Werth would instantly become resignable.
No matter what happens, this 2010 calendar year will probably be RAJ’s most important.
The last couple of years the ONLY thing that the Phillies have been missing is that marquee third baseman. Now, I am in no way saying that Polanco is doing anything less than a PHantastic job. He is signed for two more seasons at a reasonable rate. Right now if Polanco isn’t the MLB player of the Month, he definitely is the Phillies position player of the month. So let’s get to the point.
My option for third baseman of the future? Current SS Jimmy Rollins. J-Roll is currently signed thru 2011. We have seen a lot of quality SS make the transition to 3B. Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Tejada come to mind immeadiately. The level of play that Rollins plays, his offense and defense would be more than adequate for a 3B worthy salary. I only see two possible questions that would stand in the way.
- Would Jimmy Rollins be willing to make the transition to third?
- Would the Phillies be willing to pay Rollins to stay past 2011?
I know that anyone who reads this is thinking, “Okay, but who plays SS if J-Roll moves to third?”
The answer to that is Phillies prospect Freddy Galvis. Galvis, who turns 21 in November, is currently the starting SS at AA Reading. A lot of people see top prospects successfully making the jump from AA to the show. So could Galvis make the jump? Probably, but why rush him. Granted it is only the second week of the season, but Galvis is handling himself. A switch hitter, he is hitting lefties at a .286 clip and righties at a .313 clip. He’s got a solid OBP of .360 and SLG of .391. Both of which are early improvements over his 2009 campaign. Defensively, Galvis is MLB ready. Offensively, I can understand why he is not nudging Rollins already.
Now, if all goes according to schedule, having Rollins, Galvis, Utley, and Polanco signed will give you the ability to, dare I say it, TRADE RYAN HOWARD! I do not believe that Howard will remain with the Philies after the 2011 season when he reaches FA. Ryan Howard is also the most attractive, AND MOVABLE, piece that the Phillies have. His salary is also a big issue. With the Phillies owing him 20 Million for 2011, the Phillies may have to consider using Ben Francisco as their everyday RFer. I think that he could do the job, but Werth has already proven himself, and will be a costly player next year. Ryan Howard could net you a good return, with or without paying part of his portion. The Red Sox, Orioles, Rays, Astros, Cubs, Blue Jays, and White Sox could all definitely be in the market for Howard. Granted that the Astros have a clup option for Berkman.
In no way do I wish the Phillies trade Ryan Howard. He is a special player and a valuable part of this team. But I am a realist, and acknowledge the fact that the payroll is climbing towards Yankeean heights. I don’t see the Phillies moving Halladay or Utley, nor do I see a team wanting to take on Lidge or Ibanez’ contract. So moving Howard is the “easiest”and the Phillies do need to start thinking about getting this team younger.