Tuesday, April 27, 2010

On The Howard Deal

So the Phils have Ryan Howard locked up for the next 6+ seasons and it only cost them the second richest contract in MLB history in terms of $/year. My first thought was, "Wouldn't that money be better spent on some decent pitching, like maybe Cliff Lee?" But I don't want to turn this into a Cliff Lee argument, although I can do that with about any topic. ["Hey, what do you think of the 12 district House seat that's up for election" Me: "Cliff Lee would win that election if he still lived in Pennsylvania."] And even though my first instinct is to be totally against this deal and rant for paragraph upon paragraph about they gave too many years to an aging slugger, I won't do it. I fully understand that this signing cannot be judged until about 4 years from now when Howard is still not hitting lefties and is only hitting about 30 homers and the Phils still owe him $60 million. So instead of needlessly ranting years before I have to, I'm just going to show what similar hitters, in terms of modern day large, power hitting corner infielders, have done once they've reached their thirties.
Age David Ortiz        Mo Vaughn
30 .287-54-137 .337-40-115
31 .332-35-117 .281-33-108
32 .264-23-89 .272-36-117
33 .238-28-99 DNP
34 .160-1-4(2010) .259-26-72
35 .190-3-15

Age Cecil Fielder Troy Glaus
29 .267-30-117 .252-38-104
30 .259-28-90 .262-20-62
31 .243-31-82 .270-27-99
32 .252-39-117 .172-0-0
33 .260-13-61 .186-2-8(2010)
34 .233-17-68

Age Jim Thome Jason Giambi
32 .266-47-131 .250-41-107
33 .274-42-105 .208-12-40
34 .207-7-30 .241-32-87
35 .288-42-109 .253-37-113
36 .275-35-96 .236-14-39
37 .245-34-90 .247-32-96
38 .249-23-77 .201-13-51
The only player on this list that put up decent numbers after 35 is Jim Thome but do you think he would have hit over 30 homers at age 36+ if he wasn't a DH? Since his age 34 season, Thome has played only 4 games at first. Five of the six guys on this list finished their careers as designated hitters which probably extended their careers...yet by the time they hit their mid-thirties they were essentially all overpaid mediocre players. The only player comparable to Howard who was able to hit for power and average into his late thirties was Frank Thomas and I use the term "comparable" very loosely. Thomas was arguably the greatest hitter of the 90's who hit lefties and righties and struck out infrequently. Again, comparable? Not really.

So what do the stats of these players tell us about the Howard deal? Nothing. He won't necessarily end up like Ortiz or Vaughn. He could go out and hit 40+ homers for the next 7 seasons and prove me wrong. It just doesn't seem very likely.


Corey said...

usually when i have a day off i take some time in the morning to watch First Pitch on MLB network, or ESPNews and maybe read some sports news on the internet - but because of last night's game and the Howard deal, I can't stand to see/hear/read anything. Is it too early to start drinking?

GM-Carson said...

David Ortiz, Jason Giambi, Troy Glaus, Mo Vaughn, Scott Rolen, Cecil Fielder, Jim Thome...all big men that did not age well. Why? Because in general players trend downward after 32 years old, especially large body type players like Ryan Howard.

Now the Phillies will have 2 players making roughly $45M dollars (Howard/Halladay) which will hinder the team in allocating money to other positions of need. Ryan Howard is a tremendous talent, one of the best pure power hitters the game has seen in awhile and I love having him on this team. 40+ homerun season for the next few years can be expected. After that though his bat will slow, his mobility in the field will lessen, and his value will drop...certainly not worth the $23M or so he'll be making.

This is just not a good deal. As many baseball analysis are saying- "The new worst deal in baseball." Ouch!

*Corey- tall can in the air, let me hear "F--k you!"

Preserve Jon said...

I'm having a hard time agreeing with you guys on this contract. Of course, the numbers you researched make it difficult to argue, as well.

Howard is the engine of the middle of the Phils' lineup. Think of what the order would look like without Howard in it. It's awfully hard to replace 48 HRs/143 RBIs per year. Say Howard goes down and Werth slides into cleanup. Ibanez then moves up to 5th and Dobbs is inserted into the 6 hole. Our lineup is nowhere near as potent. Beyond that, sluggers of Howard's calibur are not easily found at the corner of Ninth and Passyunk.

I understand the qualms over the size of the contract, but the effects of inflation on the market, restructured media contracts, and increasing advertising revenues must also be considered. The team seems to look at the upside and make plans based on increasing returns. This is a dangerous strategy unless your Goldman Sachs and buying shorts. We certainly don't plan our household budgets that way.

As SI.com reports, Howard essentially got Texiera money two years after he did. Even though Texiera was on the open market. Just into his second season, the Texiera deal is generally viewed favorably. Let's give it a chance. Recall there's a limited no trade clause, so the Phils can always work a deal to an AL team in a few years. I like your approach to let the contract breath for a few years.

Lastly, the only thing that really bugs me about this contract is the timing. Why now? RAJ should remember that Lee Thomas got drunk and gave Dykstra and Daulton terrible contracts after that 1993 season. Deals that seemingly influenced how the team spent money for the next decade. In that sense, maybe you guys have a point.

furiousBall said...

I'm with Preserve Jon on this one. Every long term deal is going to EVENTUALLY look bad on paper, but keeping this guy here hitting 40+ bombs a year and driving in baserunners for a long time (which I feel that he will) is what it's all about. It may be a bad deal sooner than expected, but I don't think anyone can (even with stats) say this is the worst deal ever - time will tell, not any of us.

GM-Carson said...

I don't think it's the worst deal ever, but I do think it's bad. Howard is an elite class of sluggers right now and probably remains there for 2-3 more seasons. After that though, his average will dip lower than it already is, his power will decrease, and rbis won't come as easily.

Andrew said...

I'm going to assume this was the shortest/cheapest deal the Phils could work out with Howard's agent to prevent him from reaching free agency and leaving the team. If thats true, then I'm inclined to say its worth it just to guarantee Howard is on the team for the next 3-4 years. Then he can be traded, perhaps. Or maybe he's still raking it until he's 40. Or maybe he's roiding and hits until 45. Who knows.

The confusing part, as pointed out by Corey, is that if the Phils are willing to spend this cash on one player, why didn't they pony up for Lee? And are they going to flash the cash for Werth?

Also interesting to note that this deal breaks a long-standing tradition of the Phils to "not negotiate during the season." Rube has got some balls, for sure.

GM-Carson said...

Comment from another site that I really thought hit the nail on the head in regards to Amaro's GMing approach:
"I think Rube likes to make splashes...whether it be good or bad. He likes to be that guy that sets the market.

So far it hasn't worked out too well:

1. Signing Lidge to a 3 year extension midway through 2008. He was at the top of his value at that point and its been all downhill since then. That $12 million per for the next 2 seasons is killing our payroll.

2. Setting the corner OF market by giving Ibanez a 3 year, $31 million deal. We've gotten 1 very good year out of him and he already is looking old early in the 2nd year. Next year, his salary along with Lidge will be hogging up close to 18% of our payroll.

3. Moyer's 2nd year. Nobody was gonna give him a 2nd year...not the Twins, not the Mets, nobody. We should have stood firm and said, "Here's 1 year, $6.5 million...take it or leave it". He'd of taken it.

4. 2nd years to Baez, Gload & Schneider. Why? Why lock up bench guys with 2nd years...especially when they're all coming off either injuries or decline years?

5. Polly's 3rd year: Was it really necessary? I mean, yeah he's looked good so far but we're 4 weeks into a 3 year deal.

Seems like he's overreaching a bit here is all."

Also, this Howard deal was unnecessary. Why lock him up now? It's not like they got a discount. Pujols, Fielder, and others were set to become free agent 1st basemen the same year as Howard. The Yankees can't sign all of them, nor would they because of Teixeira. Just like the Jamie Moyer deal, they bid against themselves. Just seems foolish.

GM-Carson said...

"Let's take a look at what Philadelphia will be spending money on as the 2012 season dawns. Roy Halladay is signed for $20MM. Howard, too, is signed for $20MM. Chase Utley is signed for $15.3MM. Joe Blanton is signed for $10.5MM, Shane Victorino for $9.5MM, Placido Polanco for $6.4MM, Carlos Ruiz for $3.7MM, and almost certainly, Brad Lidge will be given a $1.5MM buyout.

That's $87MM going to seven players to play and one player to not play."

Wow, that's a lot of holes to fill, 15 roster spots.

Click here for the full article.

GM-Carson said...

From Jayson Stark:
"This contract means that, over the first 10 seasons of his career, Howard will earn approximately $190.5 million. No player -- not A-Rod, not Mauer, not Derek Jeter, not Albert Pujols -- has equaled that number, in this or any other era."

*So the Phillies think Ryan Howard is the best player, because they're certainly rewarding him like he is?

Scottie said...

It's a waste and while people get tired of the Lee comment, it is just too good of an example. They could have resigned Werth and Lee with the money thrown at Howard. Who was on base in last night's game? Werth. Who hit two home runs in their lone win in Arizona? Werth. Two isolated examples, but Howard swinging at breaking balls out of the zone last night made me cringe at the thought of this contract - meanwhile the pitching staff is in horrible shape. It just seems like there were better ways to spend this kind of money.

Corey said...

Presever Jon - you make some really good points and I hope you're right and this money doesn't handcuff them in the future. I just have feeling that despite inflation, increased revenue, etc. that the phils will be paying howard significan money in 5 years without much production. again, i hope i'm wrong.

this is kind of a digression from the main point, but as to your suggestion about not easily finding players of howard's caliber - i don't value howard as much as others. i made the comment to carson last night, "they should have just traded him to arizona for mark reynolds." couldn't they just have signed adam dunn for a few years? there are comparable players making far less money than this monster deal.

to me the question become, is it worth wasting millions and millions just to make sure howard is here in 2012 and 2013? because that is what i fear they did.

GM-Carson said...

Howard is awesome, but he plays a position deep position, one that can be easily plugged.

Sure a Paul Konerko or Lance Berkman aren't as productive as Howard, but could have been signed for far less years and money without a huge dropoff in production. Take a look around the Majors at 1st basemen and you'll find plenty of talent.

Good to Great 1st basemen: Konerko, Berkman, Pujols, Fielder, Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, Teixeira, Dunn, Butler, Youkilis, Morales, Morneau, Derek Lee, Pena, Cantu. Are they all as good as Howard? No, but some aren't that far off and they come a lot cheaper.

Corey said...

i forgot one thing: if you look at the stats of the aging sluggers in the main post, i neglected to put up their "Luck Factors." All of those players had at least a -4 Luck Factor during the years that their stats swooned, meaning they were more a victim of circumstance rather than a victim of age and declining skill. the exception is giambi, who had a +7 Steroid Factor early in his career that declined later, which explains his fall more than Luck Factor does.

Dr. Steve said...

1. I fully believe Ruben Amaro sucks as a GM.

2. I'm glad Howard is staying on the team.

3. I believe they didn't do much this offseason to spend money on Howard AND Werth. Our payroll might go up to 170 million next season.

4. Money around the league is probably on the rise. Which is a problem. When is the next potential lockout season? I still remember sitting in my bed playing The Legend of Zelda on my laptop (because I was sick) when Bettman announced the NHL lockout.

Preserve Jon said...

Oh dip! I just got served!

Nice points about RAJ making splashes. Very, very interesting that he likes to set the market, for better or for worse. Time will tell whether this strategy is effective.

ACSmitty79 said...

I'm glad we locked up Howard. I think one thing people that are miffed about the deal are missing is that he's still improving as a hitter. Perhaps i am naive to assume the new money won't change that growth. But while your numbers and examples don't lie, those guys all peaked at 30. I don't think Howard peaks/plateaus for another year or 2.

Still whenever this type of Howard discussion come up i think of how he was trapped in Reading for so long (I know, few initially thought he would be THIS good) and how, with more MLB ABS earlier, how much better he might already be.

GM-Carson said...

ACSmitty- he's not improving. His peak year was 2006, his OPS has gone down since then, except for a slight uptick last year.

GM-Carson said...

From ESPN's Rob Neyer:
"Maybe it's not fair to compare anybody to Albert Pujols, considering that he's the single best player in the sport. But Howard's going to be paid like one of the best player in the sport, and he's not. Not one of the very best. Last year, enjoying one of his two best seasons, Howard might have been one of the 30 best players in the majors. Maybe one of the 25 best. And maybe, just maybe, if you stretch the boundaries of analysis and tilt everything in his favor, he was one of the 20 best players in the major leagues.

That was 2009. What will we (and the Phillies) be trying to do in 2015? Make a case for him as one of the 40 best players in the majors? One of the 50 best?

Ryan Howard's new contract is a testament the enduring power of the Are-Bee-Eye. It's also a testament to old-school ignorance: ignorance of aging patterns, ignorance of position scarcity, ignorance of opportunity costs ... hey, take your pick. The Phillies have done a lot of things right over the last few years. But this is a big bowl of wrong."

Dr. Steve said...

I've read some commenters on this subject. They range from in-division rivals seeing this as a chance for the Washington Nationals to surge to the front (...) to national writers suggesting the payroll can't support Howard.

But in my book, you don't pay someone this much money to NOT surround him with talent. The Phillies aren't going to stick with 140 million payrolls every year.

In order for this deal to make ANY sense, the Phillies have to show they're willing to pay money. Not Yankee style... but close to it. They make plenty of money, not TV deal money like Boston and the Yankees, but money. They can afford to sign Howard AND Werth and have money left over to bring in more players.

Is Ruben making good deals? Not always, but he does seem to want to Ed Snider his way to a championship through deals and trades and signing the best free agent possible. And I don't think resigning Ryan Howard is going to knock him out of that mode.

In four years, if Howard's production is down, don't think they won't spend money on a big name talent to improve the team.

My only question is - how can the Phillies make money off their TV airings a la Boston and New York?

Spencer said...

All these comments and only one person mentions steroids? Ortiz, Vaughan, Giambi, Glaus all more than played in the steroid era, they've been associated with it – and big shock, their bodies broke down as soon as there was testing. As for Fielder – take a look at his body and if you can’t figure out why he declined, then I can’t even take you seriously.

Thome presumably didn't take steroids, and he took care of his body – that sounds like what we hope Howard is. There is no reason to believe that that won't be Howard’s luck. I love that everyone brings up steroid era examples of big men that didn’t make it. How about some pre-steroid era big men? Willie Stargell, Willie McCovey, Dave Parker? And where does Frank Thomas come into the discussion? All of these players were productive into their late 30’s.

Fact is – you don’t get Ryan Howard for years 30-34 unless you pay for 35 and 36. This deal will be worth it if we get 3-4 years at current production and then he declines at a slower rate than the steroiders that you mention above.

Corey said...

willie stargell declined significantly after age 33. parker after 35. frank howard after 33. mccovey after 32. boog powell didn't make it that long. it is very difficult to find a player comparable to howard that produces for as long as the phillies are betting he will.

howard was under contract this year and next, now for 5 years after that AND a 10 million buyout. i agree you can't get the first two years without giving the last three and the huge buyout. that's not the question. the guestion is, "will it be worth it?" i'm betting no.

as for thome, howard will not be able to DH like thome has done for the last four years. and if you think howard is comparable to frank thomas, i can't take you seriously. thomas was the greatest hitter of the 90's - pre-steroid power combined with average that was unmatched. but if you want to go there - thomas missed the majority of 4 of the 8 season he played in after age 32. and in those seasons he hit .262 (compared to .321 before that.) that is a pretty considerable dropoff.

but then again, i'm sure the 35 year old howard will do something no other comparable player has been able to do...

SirAlden said...

Howard's Contract:

2010 ---- $19M -- 30 years old
2011 ---- $20M -- 31 years old

Howard's New Contract

2012 ---- $20M -- 32 years old
2013 ---- $20M -- 33 years old

2014 ---- $25M -- 34 years old
2015 ---- $25M -- 35 years old
2016 ---- $25M -- 36 years old

2017 ---- $10M -- 37 years old
or $23M

Let's Take a look at Howard's Contract Year by Year. I think we are all happy this year and next, his projected 125-45 RBI's and 35-50 HR's.

I am also happy with the first two years of the new contract $20M for years 2012 and 2013 during ages 32 and 33. I am also happy with year 2017 age 37 with a $10M Tip. Thank you very much Ryan. In year 2017 one wonders what crappy but interesting middle relievers go for.

So what do we have left? $75 Million Dollars of Risk during years 2014-2016, ages 34 to 36.

Kind of like Raul Ibanez. With Raul I would have been really happy with 1 year at 100%, 1 year at 80%, and 1 year at 50% as a payoff for World Series Appearances
during year 1 and 2.

If we get 50 cents on the dollar for years 2014-16 for Ryan Howard's other years I for one will be very happy and remember what he did for us from 2006 to 2013.

Hopefully 2014-16 will not be at 10% with everyone forgetting what
Howard will have meant to History and the Phillies. We were not going to get Howard for 2012-13 at $20M without this contract.

Time will tell. Keep up the good work Ryan, thank you for working on your weight and fielding these last two years.

See everyone in 2014.

Jack said...

What a change a week makes.

By Friday, it is quite possible that the Phils would need to sweep the Mets to regain first place.

Did I mention I hate the Mets?

GM-Carson said...

The Phils really do suck right now. Their bats are just horrible.

By the way, nice hustle by the newly crowned 2nd highest paid player in the game Ryan Howard last night, getting deeked by Renteria on a sure double that ended up being a long single. Run that shit out!

Bloodstripes said...

One thing in the world everyone thinks they can do better than everyone else is manage a baseball team.

All ballplayers are overpaid. One lousy year on Howards money and I retire.

Muck the fets!!!