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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

CSN: Enough is enough — time to move on from Ryan Howard

The budget Ryan plan…

At what point does this experiment end? Howard is hitting .224 with a .305 on-base percentage. He has one home run in his last 121 plate appearances. He has three doubles in his last 55 games dating back to May 22.

The Phillies are throwing away games and costing themselves wins by batting Howard fourth nearly every night. It hurts to write that about a player as gregarious, as friendly, as easy to root for as Howard, but it’s the truth. There is no longer a logical defense for him.

Howard’s backers cite his RBI total, that he’s driven in 60 runs. Well, so have 17 other major-leaguers. And Howard has had more plate appearances this season with men on base than any player in baseball.

In 224 of Howard’s plate appearances, one or more runners have been on base. He’s driven in just 14.8 percent of them. More than 175 players have a better rate of plating their baserunners.

Howard is owed $25 million next season. He’s owed $25 million the season after that. In 2017, he’s on the books for $23 million but can be bought out for $10 million. So he will be paid at least $60 million over the next three seasons, making him completely untradeable unless the Phillies pick up just about every dollar.

...Playing him everyday, batting him fourth everyday, will not turn this situation around. Howard has hit .236 with 40 home runs in his last 1,026 plate appearances. His OPS over that span is two percent below the league average. That’s a pretty indicative sample size.

At this point, Darin Ruf deserves the opportunity. Bat Marlon Byrd cleanup until/unless he’s traded. Maybe bring up Maikel Franco and give him a two-month look against major-league pitching. See what they can do with all of the RBI opportunities that have gone to waste.

Because the easy route, the loyal route, the status quo that values feelings over results ... that isn’t working.

Repoz Posted: July 23, 2014 at 03:08 PM | 114 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: phillies, sabermetrics

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   1. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: July 23, 2014 at 03:27 PM (#4756388)
There is no longer a logical defense for him.


Logic! Logic! I'm sick to death of logic!! Do you want to know how I feel about your logic?!
   2. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: July 23, 2014 at 03:32 PM (#4756394)
Stupidest contract? Has one ever been met with as much derision on BBTF?
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 23, 2014 at 03:44 PM (#4756406)
So he will be paid at least $60 million over the next three seasons, making him completely untradeable unless the Phillies pick up just about every dollar.

Egads. I was thinking, well, at least it's not as much as ARod, but he's owed exactly as much.
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 23, 2014 at 03:46 PM (#4756408)
Stupidest contract? Has one ever been met with as much derision on BBTF?

It's up there. Wasn't he extended 2 years before he had to be? That was the truly mind blowing part; an over valued FA contract, when he still had 2 years of team control.
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 23, 2014 at 03:47 PM (#4756409)
HE LEADS THE TEAM IN RBIzzzz
   6. Randy Jones Posted: July 23, 2014 at 03:48 PM (#4756411)
Wasn't he extended 2 years before he had to be?

yes
   7. PreservedFish Posted: July 23, 2014 at 03:50 PM (#4756414)
How much worse is Howard's contract right now than Vernon Wells' was when he was traded?
   8. AROM Posted: July 23, 2014 at 03:52 PM (#4756417)
It's a case of a dumb contract made to look even worse than it is by dumb luck - the last thing Ryan Howard did before his new contract went into effect was tear his Achilles while making the last out of the NLDS.
   9. zonk Posted: July 23, 2014 at 03:55 PM (#4756419)
How much worse is Howard's contract right now than Vernon Wells' was when he was traded?


I'd say 85% worse...

The better question is probably how stupid were the Angels to trade FOR it?
   10. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 23, 2014 at 03:55 PM (#4756420)
How much worse is Howard's contract right now than Vernon Wells' was when he was traded?

Looks like Wells had 4/90 left, vs. Howard's 2/60.

But, Wells was coming off a 125 OPS+, 4 WAR season. Howard is currently at 90 OPS+, -0.4 WAR.
   11. BDC Posted: July 23, 2014 at 04:02 PM (#4756427)
Yes, Howard's contract is enormously worse than owing Prince Fielder $120M or whatever over the next six years. Nobody would trade for that one … eh- heh hmmn {loosens tie nervously}
   12. Davo Dozier Posted: July 23, 2014 at 04:09 PM (#4756431)
Has any long-term contract given to a first baseman ever worked out well?
   13. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: July 23, 2014 at 04:09 PM (#4756432)
So he will be paid at least $60 million over the next three seasons, making him completely untradeable unless the Phillies pick up just about every dollar.
Doesn't change the general point but it's really two more guaranteed years at 60 (25+25 + 10 buyout). If by some miracle the option year was picked up, it's for 23.

The Phillies really locked themselves into a bad situation with Howard. He won his Super 2 hearing for 10M, which was unprecedented. That and the silly RBI numbers set the stage for high arbitration figures of 15, 19, and 20. The smart decision was obviously to let him walk, but once the team was committed to bringing him back the yearly salary was going to be elite.
   14. PreservedFish Posted: July 23, 2014 at 04:19 PM (#4756440)
Todd Helton was "worth it" for about half of his big contract.
   15. Jeltzandini Posted: July 23, 2014 at 04:19 PM (#4756441)
Howard's not even a major league quality player anymore. Amaro's got a glittering array of lousy moves to his credit, but the Howard extension will always be his Mona Lisa.
   16. Randy Jones Posted: July 23, 2014 at 04:19 PM (#4756442)
Has any long-term contract given to a first baseman ever worked out well?

The Yankees got 22 WAR for $115M ($5.2M/WAR) from Giambi.
   17. JRVJ Posted: July 23, 2014 at 04:21 PM (#4756444)
Frankly, I would hold on to Howard until early June of next year, by which time Maikel Franco should be ready AND he would not be a Super 2.

At that point, I would waive him, say thanks for 2008, give him a standing invite to all future Phillies veterans reunions and that's that.

(If you dump him now, you have to man 1B with - Darrin Ruf?. I'd rather have Ruf around as insurance, since Howard is an absolute sunk cost).
   18. Nasty Nate Posted: July 23, 2014 at 04:21 PM (#4756445)
Has any long-term contract given to a first baseman ever worked out well?


Yes of course. Pujols' long-term extension with the Cardinals is an example.
   19. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: July 23, 2014 at 04:33 PM (#4756458)
Many other contracts since Howard's have been more frightening in terms of number of unnecessary years, and sheer amount of money likely to be flushed down the toilet. But I don't think a giant unnecessary extension has been given to a less promising player. He was almost incapable of hitting lefties even in his prime. It should not have been a surprise 5 years ago that in 2013 he would struggle to hit .150 against them.

When he SIGNED the new contract (April 2010) he was older (30 years and 5 months) than Prince Fielder is NOW.
   20. asinwreck Posted: July 23, 2014 at 04:38 PM (#4756463)
Maybe Amaro and Howard could switch jobs. There's a chance Howard would be a significant improvement.
   21. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: July 23, 2014 at 04:55 PM (#4756468)
Howard’s backers cite his RBI total, that he’s driven in 60 runs. Well, so have 17 other major-leaguers. And Howard has had more plate appearances this season with men on base than any player in baseball.


That and the silly RBI numbers set the stage for high arbitration figures of 15, 19, and 20.


Howard has batted with 312 ROB this year (3rd in MLB, #1 is Casey McGehee who has seemingly transmorgified into a completely different type of hitter this year))
in 2011 he was 8th
2010 he was 14th
2009 he was 4th
2008 he was 8th
2007 he was 7th
2006 he was 2nd

basically his entire career he's been "lucky" with respect to raw # of RBI chances
   22. Nasty Nate Posted: July 23, 2014 at 05:11 PM (#4756474)
It's a case of a dumb contract made to look even worse than it is by dumb luck - the last thing Ryan Howard did before his new contract went into effect was tear his Achilles while making the last out of the NLDS.


If he hadn't signed the extension, the dumb luck would have worked against Howard.
   23. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: July 23, 2014 at 05:11 PM (#4756475)
$190M career earnings, assuming the $10M buyout.

Currently at 18.5 career WAR, and sinking.

$10.3M per WAR for his career.

Yowza.

   24. Walt Davis Posted: July 23, 2014 at 05:38 PM (#4756499)
basically his entire career he's been "lucky" with respect to raw # of RBI chances

Well, basically his entire career he's had the luck to bat behind Utley (when healthy) but of course it's the guy who drives 'em in that gets the attention.

I think Amaro gets more grief than he deserves (not that he doesn't deserve some) but the Howard extension was such a monumental mistake that few GMs could overcome it.
   25. TDF, situational idiot Posted: July 23, 2014 at 05:52 PM (#4756513)
Yes, Howard's contract is enormously worse than owing Prince Fielder $120M or whatever over the next six years. Nobody would trade for that one … eh- heh hmmn {loosens tie nervously}
There is no comparison between the two.

The 2 seasons before Fielder was traded, he amassed 6.7 WAR - not great, especially for the money. However, that's still better than the 5.7 WAR Howard's amassed over the previous 5 seasons ('09-'13). The past 3 seasons Fielder has 11.4 WAR, a full win more than Howard's totaled since 2006.
   26. Joey B. "disrespects the A" Posted: July 23, 2014 at 06:04 PM (#4756524)
The Phillies should have a "countdown clock" in the corner of the screen during every game constantly ticking down showing the amount to the penny that they still have left to pay him.
   27. Brian White Posted: July 23, 2014 at 06:42 PM (#4756557)
Stupidest contract? Has one ever been met with as much derision on BBTF?


Jayson Werth's contract came pretty close:

Boras gets insane contract for Werth

Signing Scott Boras client Jayson Werth is great, according to Boras

Mike Rizzo: No, I wasn't drunk when I offered that contract

Of course, Werth is up in WAR during the respective contracts, 8.6 to -0.8.
   28. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: July 23, 2014 at 07:22 PM (#4756575)
If you dump him now, you have to man 1B with - Darrin Ruf

Isn't Darrin Ruf a character in the new Star Wars movie?
   29. Tubbs & Minnie Miñoso don't fear Sid Monge Posted: July 23, 2014 at 07:26 PM (#4756576)
Maybe Amaro and Howard could switch jobs. There's a chance Howard would be a significant improvement.


Sounds good. Although Ruben only had 2 IBB in 1051 career PAs...not enough of teh fear
   30. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: July 23, 2014 at 07:48 PM (#4756586)
Dear Ruben,

Please follow instructions...

The self-same moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.

A baseball fan.
   31. Moeball Posted: July 23, 2014 at 08:36 PM (#4756624)
Stupidest contract? Has one ever been met with as much derision on BBTF?


Aren't the Mets still paying Bobby Bonilla to not show up? And won't they still be paying him years/decades from now?
   32. McCoy Posted: July 23, 2014 at 08:57 PM (#4756633)
Fred McGriff got a 5 year deal that worked out so well that he got a 4 year deal after it expired. Frank Thomas had a 7 year contract.
   33. Tubbs & Minnie Miñoso don't fear Sid Monge Posted: July 23, 2014 at 09:48 PM (#4756657)
Fred McGriff got a 5 year deal that worked out so well that he got a 4 year deal after it expired. Frank Thomas had a 7 year contract.


McCoy, if you know, which seasons did each of McGriff's contracts cover?
   34. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: July 23, 2014 at 10:13 PM (#4756666)
Howard has had very good to great base runners ahead of him his whole career. Rollins and Utley for his whole career plus a few years of Victorino; I wonder if that helps the RBIzzz much at all.
   35. McCoy Posted: July 23, 2014 at 10:27 PM (#4756671)
1991 to 1995
   36. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: July 23, 2014 at 10:46 PM (#4756686)
The Palmeiro deals in Baltimore (first time) and Texas were good, I'd bet.

And McGwire in STL. Maybe that's not long term, though.
   37. Tubbs & Minnie Miñoso don't fear Sid Monge Posted: July 23, 2014 at 10:48 PM (#4756687)
Thanks, McCoy.
The 5 & 4-yr contracts were good lenghts considering McGriff's age and performance when they were signed
   38. Walt Davis Posted: July 23, 2014 at 11:49 PM (#4756717)
I'm not sure which years Derrek Lee's extension covered or what year it was signed but I assume it covered at least 2007-10. He put up 12 WAR for $53 M ... probably about break even in those days.

I'd guess that all of Olerud's contracts worked out OK.

   39. Textbook Editor Posted: July 24, 2014 at 12:36 AM (#4756725)
Unless Amaro is also fired to go along with the move, there is simply no way the Phillies are releasing Howard and eating $60 million. Just not going to happen. He'll be a bench guy next year and in 2016 and maybe they'd release him midway through 2016 if there was a roster crunch.

Is it perhaps possible Amaro thought "expiring contracts" had value in MLB the way they do in the NBA? That's the only rationale that's ever made sense for his extension.
   40. Walt Davis Posted: July 24, 2014 at 04:36 AM (#4756750)
That's the only rationale that's ever made sense for his extension.

Oh come on now. The "rationale" for the move was (a) Howard was very popular; (b) For 2008-9 Howard had 93 HR (one black ink) and 287 RBI (both black ink). He had a career 143 OPS+ with 222 HR in just a bit over 700 games. (c) He was 2nd in the MVP voting in 2008 and 3rd in 2009 after having won in 2006 and finishing 5th in 2007.

Amaro made a massive mistake in not realizing how limited Howard's talent really was and that he wasn't likely to age well. But basically he believed the hype, thought like a sportswriter and lots and lots and lots of real baseball people thought Howard was pretty awesome. And a 143 OPS+ is the same as Teixeira had posted from 25-29 and he was at that time still owed 7/$160. Those are also basically the same numbers that earned AGon his 7/$154 contract a year after Howard got his extension. It was a bit worse in OPS+ terms but better in black ink/MVP terms than Fielder when he got 9/$214.

And the sportswriter stupid didn't stop as Howard finished 10th in the MVP voting for both 2010 and 2011.

As to his future, this just posted story says he's being benched in favor of Ruf: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2014/07/23/ryan-howard-playing-time-to-decrease-amid-struggles/13076193/

This story says they're contemplating eating the money and releasing him after the season: http://www.csnphilly.com/baseball-philadelphia-phillies/ryan-howard-sits-future-team-serious-question

   41. Jeltzandini Posted: July 24, 2014 at 07:53 AM (#4756762)
You can't use a roster spot on a 1B-only who isn't your starter. Well, the Phillies can this year, because it's only a month until rosters expand and this last losing streak has extinguished any hopes for the season.
   42. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 24, 2014 at 07:57 AM (#4756763)
I think that likely Amaro will finally be fired near or just after the end of this season, and almost certainly the new GM will make releasing Howard one of his first moves. It's pretty hard to imagine either of them still being around come Opening Day 2015.

You can't use a roster spot on a 1B-only who isn't your starter.


The Pirates are using two on a 1B platoon of Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez. Sanchez hits for power but doesn't get on base; Davis gets on base but God alone knows why, since he has shortstop power and there's no reason not to throw him strikes.
   43. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: July 24, 2014 at 08:34 AM (#4756770)
Votto's contract is looking like it is going to be fairly albatrossy...
   44. Ziggy Posted: July 24, 2014 at 10:13 AM (#4756811)
Yeah, Votto is a much better player than Howard, but that contract is for MUCH longer.

FWIW, Howard is at 2.3 WAR per 162 games and is below replacement this year. Votto is at 6 WAR/162 and accumulated 1.9 in 62 games this year. But Votto's contract runs until he's 40. Which one ends up being worse?
   45. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: July 24, 2014 at 10:18 AM (#4756814)
You can't use a roster spot on a 1B-only who isn't your starter. Well, the Phillies can this year, because it's only a month until rosters expand and this last losing streak has extinguished any hopes for the season.

I thought the sign that all hopes for the Phillies had been extinguished was the trade of Hunter Pence (along with Victorino and Blanton). That was 1 year and 51 weeks ago. God alone knows why there have been no other signs of rebuilding since then.
   46. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: July 24, 2014 at 10:31 AM (#4756821)
Crispix, Amaro is gun shy because he hasn't traded for a young player who has provided any value to the team.
   47. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: July 24, 2014 at 10:41 AM (#4756835)
But only twice has he even tried to trade for a young player of any value!

The guys they got for Cliff Lee all suck. Fine, stop trading for Canadians. And Ethan Martin (acquired for Pence) sucks. Fine, stop trading for players named "Ethan".

At least none of the much larger list of players he traded away for veterans have become good either, except Jarred Cosart.
   48. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: July 24, 2014 at 10:42 AM (#4756836)
Votto's deal is Helton 2.0.
   49. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: July 24, 2014 at 12:10 PM (#4756901)
I didn't read this thread carefully, but the Carl Crawford contract still has a touch over $62 million for 2015-17. If that's not the worst, it's got to be close.

And that's not including the 2011-14 portion: $74.5 million for 2.6 WAR. Total, not per season.
   50. Davo Dozier Posted: July 24, 2014 at 12:11 PM (#4756903)
41:
"You can't use a roster spot on a 1B-only who isn't your starter."


I read that and thought "Oh, come on, there's no way that's true."

...But, really, it kinda is. You have the two NL Central clubs rocking platoons at 1b (Mark Reynolds/Lyle Overbay in Milwaukee, and Ike Davis/Gaby Sahcnez in Pittsburgh), but that's really it; there's really not a single team who's using a bench spot for a backup first baseman who can't play anywhere else. It's one of those spots that's just disappeared with the rise of 12-man bullpens.
   51. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 24, 2014 at 12:13 PM (#4756906)
I don't know that "backup first baseman that can't play anywhere else" was ever something anyone used a roster spot on, even in the days of 8-man and 9-man pitching staffs.
   52. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 24, 2014 at 12:21 PM (#4756911)
By the way, wouldn't the Pirates be better served moving Alvarez to first and playing Harrison at third at least some of the time? Alvarez at third base seems like the kind of thing you're willing to live with if you have a 1B-only bat on your roster... but the Pirates don't. It seems like you'd be better served parking Alvarez at first and using two roster spots on guys that can play the infield, as opposed to playing Alvarez at third and using two roster spots on a not-very-good first base platoon.

I get the "Alvarez has a great arm and you'd waste it at first base" thing, but he's not a very good third baseman, certainly not good enough that keeping him there is a priority.
   53. McCoy Posted: July 24, 2014 at 12:26 PM (#4756915)
I read that and thought "Oh, come on, there's no way that's true."

...But, really, it kinda is


I think the for the most part they'll plant these guys elsewhere on the field. Plus everyone has DH games nowadays.
   54. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 24, 2014 at 12:36 PM (#4756927)
Has any long-term contract given to a first baseman ever worked out well?


Paul Konerko's contract was roundly hooted at here, but it turned out fairly well.
   55. Davo Dozier Posted: July 24, 2014 at 12:37 PM (#4756928)
I don't know that "backup first baseman that can't play anywhere else" was ever something anyone used a roster spot on, even in the days of 8-man and 9-man pitching staffs.
Well, there were guys who were just like "full-time pinch-hitters," which is pretty much the same thing--teams could keep a spot on their bench open for a guy whose sole job was to pinch-hit (and maybe play a corner position in an emergency).

The last 4-5 seasons of Matt Stairs', Bob Watson's and Rusty Staub's careers.... big chunks of Dave Bergman's and Greg Colbrunn's careers.... That type of player.

It's the sort of job a guy like Ryan Howard would actually be very good at (just keep him on your bench until the other team brings in a right-handed reliever, then use him as a pinch-hitter and hope he hits a homer), if the Phillies were allowed to use a 28-man roster or something.
   56. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 24, 2014 at 12:41 PM (#4756933)
if the Phillies were allowed to use a 28-man roster or something.


... or had the stones to carry just 11 pitchers.
   57. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 24, 2014 at 12:47 PM (#4756939)
zeth

hurdle has been benching him semi-frequently to get harrison in the lineup and yet still playing ike davis. to your point that seems odd
   58. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 24, 2014 at 12:55 PM (#4756945)
Yeah, that basically amounts to a semi-platoon at third between Alvarez and Harrison, dunnit? Which is a good idea; Alvarez can't hit lefthanded pitching, never could, never will.
   59. Ziggy Posted: July 24, 2014 at 01:09 PM (#4756958)
#55, I thought the "maybe Howard as slayer-of-right-handed-relievers" was a good idea, and then I checked his splits for this year. Nope. Terrible against pitchers of both persuasions. Only one year worth of splits, it's true, but there's been no way so squeeze any value out of him this year.
   60. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: July 24, 2014 at 01:17 PM (#4756962)
Re: #51

Lou Gehrig?
   61. BDC Posted: July 24, 2014 at 01:41 PM (#4756992)
"backup first baseman that can't play anywhere else"

Mike Hegan was in that role for the 1972 A's. Those Oakland teams were a bit experimentative :) Didn't seem to hurt them any.

Hegan could play the outfield, but very rarely did so that year. He pinch-hit a lot. But he would very often take over from Mike Epstein in the late innings – not a platoon arrangement, since both batted LH. He was on the Oakland roster all season and started just six games, three at first and three in RF.
   62. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: July 24, 2014 at 01:49 PM (#4756996)
Votto's deal is Helton 2.0.


Pretty much, except, everyone in Cincinnati seems to have turned against Votto, whereas, Helton was beloved until the end in Colorado.
   63. Nasty Nate Posted: July 24, 2014 at 01:51 PM (#4757002)
backup first baseman that can't play anywhere else


Doug Mientxkcwic for Boston in the second half of 2004 was almost this, although he probably got too many starts to be considered a true backup.
   64. JE (Jason) Posted: July 24, 2014 at 02:45 PM (#4757043)
   65. Davo Dozier Posted: July 24, 2014 at 03:27 PM (#4757095)
That's just so crazy. For all the ill will they've received for giving him that contract in the first place, they deserve just as much praise for (apparently, per #64) recognizing that he's a lost cause and swallowing their pride (and their $60,000,000.)
   66. Tubbs & Minnie Miñoso don't fear Sid Monge Posted: July 24, 2014 at 03:29 PM (#4757103)
Mike Hegan was in that role for the 1972 A's. Those Oakland teams were a bit experimentative :) Didn't seem to hurt them any.

Hegan made a big play in the '72 WS that I believe was in the same game as Rudi's catch. Bruce Markusen did a nice write up on Hegan after he passed and in Bruce's A's Dynasty book wrote about how Hegan helped Tenace adapt to playing first and how Tenace appreciated it since Hegan was putting the team above himself since helping Tenace succeed cut into his own playing time
   67. McCoy Posted: July 24, 2014 at 03:48 PM (#4757124)
Jason giambi
   68. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 24, 2014 at 04:18 PM (#4757145)
Mike Squires lasted ten years as a backup first baseman for the White Sox. He never got as many as 400 PAs in a season, and by the end of the string, in 1984, he appeared in 104 games and got just 89 PAs. He was such a glove wizard that he played in 14 games at third base, despite being left-handed, but could never hit enough to justify a starting position at first.
   69. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: July 24, 2014 at 05:43 PM (#4757196)
"You can't use a roster spot on a 1B-only who isn't your starter."

I read that and thought "Oh, come on, there's no way that's true."

...But, really, it kinda is. You have the two NL Central clubs rocking platoons at 1b (Mark Reynolds/Lyle Overbay in Milwaukee, and Ike Davis/Gaby Sahcnez in Pittsburgh), but that's really it


Even that oversells how common the practice is, because Reynolds has played 30 games at third base this year. Outside of 3 innings in right by Sanchez, both Pirates have been exclusively first basemen.
   70. Walt Davis Posted: July 24, 2014 at 06:00 PM (#4757211)
Not to mention it was a lot easier to run a platoon at 1B or elsewhere in the olden days.

Such guys are more likely to end up in the AL these days but it still seems a common thing to do for stars and franchise icons and ... well whatevers. Giambi's been mentioned, Konerko's in that role this year, Thome was a part-time DH and there was that strange move when the Dodgers picked him up.

This is how Banks's career ended (111 games, 76 starts over his last two seasons) and Stargell for his last 3 seasons.

Those Pirate teams of the 70s were a lot of fun because they'd platoon like mad. One day it'd be May at C, Stargell at 1B, Hebner at 3B, Cash at 2B, Oliver in CF and the next day it would be Sanguillen at C, Oliver at 1B, Robertson at 3B, Stargell in LF and Davalillo in CF and then against the leftie it would be Sanguillen, Robertson at 1B, Maz at 2B, oh what the hell let's put Pagan at 3B today, Clines in LF.
   71. TDF, situational idiot Posted: July 24, 2014 at 07:32 PM (#4757230)
Votto's deal is Helton 2.0.

Pretty much, except, everyone in Cincinnati seems to have turned against Votto, whereas, Helton was beloved until the end in Colorado.
I think I've mentioned this before, but I don't think Votto's contract is nearly as horrible as many assume for one simple fact - the economics of the game are vastly different today.

Votto doesn't make $20M until 2016, when he'll be the 13th highest paid player in the NL; Helton make $20M in '11, he was 2nd. Helton was the highest paid player in the NL in '07 at $16.6M (more than Votto will make in '15); at no point in the remainder of his contract will Votto be within $10M/yr of Kershaw (salary + prorated signing bonus; $8M if you ignore the bonus). Right now, Votto is the 5th highest paid NL player in '17, but that's the year Stanton and Gomez (among others) become FAs.

Votto's getting a lot of money for a lot of years, but "Helton 2.0" is quite a stretch. By 2018, when he'll finally make more than Helton ever did in a year ($25M), that may be what it takes to get an all-star caliber player.
   72. Textbook Editor Posted: July 24, 2014 at 08:42 PM (#4757263)
The real question is: Is Howard worth a roster spot at a pro-rated (or, for 2015-2016 a full) major league minimum salary?

And see, I'd argue he certainly would be... but only in the AL, where he could DH/1B and never, ever face a LHP. In fact, you could argue even the husk of Ryan Howard is likely to get a dead-cat bounce if he got ~100 ABs in New Yankee Stadium.

But the Yankees have a bit of a 1B/DH logjam (especially if A-Rod plays in 2015), and I'm not sure an aging Ryan Howard is gonna be anywhere near the top of Cashman's wish list.

If he's released, it wouldn't at all surprise me to see him picked up, but his NL days are pretty much over. It's entirely possible he's completely out of baseball by mid-2016.
   73. Srul Itza Posted: July 24, 2014 at 08:57 PM (#4757271)
   74. Boogie Nights Powell Posted: July 24, 2014 at 09:11 PM (#4757280)
Mike Hegan was in that role for the 1972 A's.

Don Mincher played on the '72 A's also.
   75. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 24, 2014 at 09:36 PM (#4757289)
The real question is: Is Howard worth a roster spot at a pro-rated (or, for 2015-2016 a full) major league minimum salary?


I can't imagine he is. When you can't play any position, can only kind of fake first base, can't run and don't take a walk, you have to slug at LEAST .450 to be worth a roster spot as the long end of a 1B/DH platoon.
   76. PreservedFish Posted: July 24, 2014 at 09:50 PM (#4757291)
The real question is: Is Howard worth a roster spot at a pro-rated (or, for 2015-2016 a full) major league minimum salary?


Oh, of course he is. If Raul Ibanez can keep getting jobs, Howard gets one too.
   77. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 24, 2014 at 10:07 PM (#4757300)
True, but the question was is Howard worth a roster spot, not will some dimwit give him one :)
   78. PreservedFish Posted: July 25, 2014 at 12:38 AM (#4757372)
I pondered that for a moment but given that the days of the Ken Phelps All-Star team are now long gone, I don't think there's a lot of distance between the two questions. ZiPS has Ryan Howard as good for a 100 wRC+. Plenty of DH types are getting starts with similar projections: Ibanez, Konerko, Moreland, Colabello, Corey Hart, the Delmonster ... somehow Logan Forsythe and Alberto Callaspo are in that list too. Sure, they all suck, and some have other attractive features, like putative versatility or team mascot status, but I don't think there are enough superior hitters in the minors that you can determine that these guys actually do not deserve to be playing. So yes, I think that Ryan Howard deserves a contract, as a DH for a shitty team.
   79. Walt Davis Posted: July 25, 2014 at 02:59 AM (#4757390)
2014, <=3 Rbat, 50% games at 1B/DH, 200+ PA

Loney 2.8
Carter 2.4
Reynolds .2
Ike -.3
G Jones -2.2 (thought he was doing well this year)
Davis -2.6
Mauer -2.6
Hart -3.6
Overbay -4.1
Howard -4.3
Swisher -5.9
Beltran -6
Smoak -6.2
Hosmer -6.6
Alonso -8.4
Butler -8.5

Leaving out young-ish guys and guys under longish contracts, Howard's competition for 2015 would seem to be Carter, Reynolds/Overbay, Ike, Hart and maybe Butler. Kendrys Morales was well on his way to joining this list and maybe the White Sox or Indians will want an elder statesman Konerko/Giambi replacement.
   80. Red Menace Posted: July 25, 2014 at 03:16 AM (#4757393)
Aren't the Mets still paying Bobby Bonilla to not show up? And won't they still be paying him years/decades from now?


Bonilla's deferment is misunderstood. In 2000 the Mets were due to pay him 5.9 million. Instead they agreed to pay him 29.8 million over 25 payments starting in 2011. As of today they have paid him less than 5 million in '11-14 dollars. Whether this makes sense depends on what rate of return you can expect to get with your invested millions. The fact that the Mets gave their money to Bernie Madoff and lost it all, while hilarious, is not really relevant.
   81. Jeltzandini Posted: July 25, 2014 at 07:29 AM (#4757419)
Bonilla's deferment is misunderstood.


Yes, people make too much of "*still* paying him!" If Ryan Howard were to foolishly agree to trade his $60M due in 2015-17 for $1M/year to him and his descendants forever, the Phillies would jump at it. Despite the fact that he'd be "off the books" in three years in one case, and sportswriters would snark about how they're still paying Ryan Howard as the sun went red giant in the other.
   82. McCoy Posted: July 25, 2014 at 08:13 AM (#4757425)
If you take an illegal risk and use that illegal move to inform your decision on paying someone else the results are absolutely relevant.
   83. McCoy Posted: July 25, 2014 at 08:15 AM (#4757426)
Re81. How about twelve million a year over twenty five years?
   84. BDC Posted: July 25, 2014 at 09:50 AM (#4757465)
I was surprised to see no Rangers in #79 till I realized they haven't been able to get anybody to stagger out there long enough to collect 200 PA at either position. Two Ryan Howards would surely have been an upgrade for them this season at 1B and DH.
   85. Jeltzandini Posted: July 25, 2014 at 10:03 AM (#4757474)
How about twelve million a year over twenty five years?


That would be a very bad deal for the club, barring a seriously high level of inflation or investment return. (To equate with the Bonilla deal, it would have to start in 2025 or so, which would lessen the impact and increase the uncertainty.) My only point is that "still paying him" is an easy snark, but isn't very meaningful in and of itself. You have to look at the actual numbers and know what to do with them.

Notre Dame has a similar thing going on with Charlie Weis. They're "still paying!" him.
   86. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: July 25, 2014 at 10:25 AM (#4757483)
I was surprised to see no Rangers in #79 till I realized they haven't been able to get anybody to stagger out there long enough to collect 200 PA at either position. Two Ryan Howards would surely have been an upgrade for them this season at 1B and DH


Out of 30 teams the Phillies are 24th in OPS at 1B with .686 (Texas is 28th with .648) (Houston 1Bs are hitting .181/.269/.310, so the Rangers are beating them...)
Ranger DHs are hitting .248/.328/.401, so alas I do not believe that 2 Ryan Howards would help Texas


Plenty of DH types are getting starts with similar projections: Ibanez, Konerko, Moreland, Colabello, Corey Hart, the Delmonster ... somehow Logan Forsythe and Alberto Callaspo are in that list too.


You think every team looks at those projections and says, yes I'll settle for that? I think the majority of time a player like that gets PT is because his team thinks he's better than than that, or will/might be better than that, or he's cheap, meanwhile a team like Boston stockpiles guys like Napoli/Nava and Carp, and the A's have a guy like Brandon Moss, and have guys like Kyle Blanks on ahnd in case of emergencies
   87. Textbook Editor Posted: July 25, 2014 at 10:26 AM (#4757485)
Bonilla's deferment is misunderstood.


I'll admit... I misunderstood this.

So the strategy here was that the Mets ownership thought if they took $5.9 million owed to Bonilla in 2000 and invested it in Madoff, they'd have so much money by 2011 that it would then be cheaper to pay Bonilla $29.8 million over 25 years, starting in 2011? Do I have this right?

Ha. Yup, I admit: if the above was truly their "logic" in this situation... this is even funnier than I understood it to be.
   88. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: July 25, 2014 at 10:38 AM (#4757493)
I was surprised to see no Rangers in #79 till I realized they haven't been able to get anybody to stagger out there long enough to collect 200 PA at either position. Two Ryan Howards would surely have been an upgrade for them this season at 1B and DH.


Bring back Michael Young and platoon him with Howard, as the Phillies should have done.
   89. BDC Posted: July 25, 2014 at 11:00 AM (#4757516)
Effectively, the Mets sold Bonilla an annuity.

Does the annuity expire if Bonilla does? That would make me nervous if I was him.
   90. PreservedFish Posted: July 25, 2014 at 11:10 AM (#4757526)
So the strategy here was that the Mets ownership thought if they took $5.9 million owed to Bonilla in 2000 and invested it in Madoff, they'd have so much money by 2011 that it would then be cheaper to pay Bonilla $29.8 million over 25 years, starting in 2011? Do I have this right?


Exactly right. Because Madoff was supposedly beating the market so hugely every year, they thought that this was a no-brainer.
   91. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: July 25, 2014 at 11:17 AM (#4757538)
So the strategy here was that the Mets ownership thought if they took $5.9 million owed to Bonilla in 2000 and invested it in Madoff, they'd have so much money by 2011 that it would then be cheaper to pay Bonilla $29.8 million over 25 years, starting in 2011? Do I have this right?


yes, their Madoff "investment" was making 12% a year
so if they invested $2,667,500 with Madoff in 2000, and it made 12% each year (compounded annually)
and starting in 2011 paid Bonilla $1.192 million every year for 25 years-
the Mets/Wilpons would have come out ahead

Of course that required faith that Madoff would consistently beat the Market's 9% historical average for 30 years, at 9% the Wilpons would have needed to invest $4.5 million in 2000

Paying Bonilla 29.8million over 25 years in the future rather than 5.9 million up front was not actually insane, what was insane was investing the $ to pay for it in a ponzi scheme
   92. PreservedFish Posted: July 25, 2014 at 11:21 AM (#4757544)
You think every team looks at those projections and says, yes I'll settle for that? I think the majority of time a player like that gets PT is because his team thinks he's better than than that, or will/might be better than that, or he's cheap,


I don't know how to respond to this ... I'm not cherrypicking bad performances (I didn't mention Beltran or Butler), these are the ZiPS numbers, a reasonable expectation for what these guys are capable of, and they are still getting ABs at DH. Also, a DFA'd Ryan Howard would be cheap, and of course whichever teams offer him a contract would be the ones that think he could outperform.

My point wasn't that teams are happy with 100 wRC+ from the DH position, but that they are sometimes legitimately required to settle for it. Blanks and Nava also project to a 100wRC+. There is not enough available hitting talent in the world for us to say that a team stuck with one of these guys at DH is just being stupid.
   93. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 25, 2014 at 11:41 AM (#4757564)
So the strategy here was that the Mets ownership thought if they took $5.9 million owed to Bonilla in 2000 and invested it in Madoff, they'd have so much money by 2011 that it would then be cheaper to pay Bonilla $29.8 million over 25 years, starting in 2011? Do I have this right?

Another way to think about it is that, in 2000, they basically borrowed $5.9 million from Bonilla at a 8% fixed rate with a ~27 year weighted average life. When you consider that 30-year government bonds were yielding 5-6% around that time, it doesn't look quite as stupid.

Taking the cash and investing it with Madoff, on the other hand...

EDIT: I was using $1 mm per year, not $1.192 per year, in my original calculation.
   94. Jeltzandini Posted: July 25, 2014 at 11:44 AM (#4757568)
FWIW the breakeven point on the Bonilla payment stream was a discount rate of 8%. Which I think most large entities would view as in the reasonable range, again with the caveat to avoid Ponzi schemes.
   95. PreservedFish Posted: July 25, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4757569)
When you consider that 30-year government bonds were yielding 5-6% around that time, it doesn't look quite as stupid.

No, but I'm impressed with Bonilla's decision - that's the kind of patient and conservative decision that everyone is supposed to make but has great difficulty sticking with.
   96. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 25, 2014 at 11:54 AM (#4757578)
No, but I'm impressed with Bonilla's decision - that's the kind of patient and conservative decision that everyone is supposed to make but has great difficulty sticking with.

If other professional athletes are any indication, the best thing about this deal from Bonilla's perspective was that it kept the money out of his hands during those first few years of retirement, when he was probably pretty likely to blow it. And his 8% squarely beat the S&P 500 return during that time period (4-5% depending on when in 2000 you start).

Then again, he was taking Wilpon/Mets credit risk, so he needed to be appropriate compensated.
   97. Jeltzandini Posted: July 25, 2014 at 11:56 AM (#4757579)
No, but I'm impressed with Bonilla's decision


Psychologically that has to be a good way to handle it. "You're going to make $1M/year forever--figure out a lifestyle compatible with that" vs. "Here's a giant pile of money--try to make it last."

Within reason of course, the numbers have to make sense.
   98. Textbook Editor Posted: July 25, 2014 at 12:58 PM (#4757614)
Thanks for all the explanations. It is really one of the more fascinating payouts I've ever come across. Out of curiosity, how would that work today with the luxury tax for AAV purposes--if it was agreed to in advance, when the contract was signed? i.e.

2015: $20 million
2016: Under contract but paid $1 million
2017: Under contract but paid MLM ($500,000)
2018: Under contract but paid MLM ($500,000)
2019: Under contract but paid MLM ($500,000)
2020: Under contract but paid MLM ($500,000)
2021-2039: Paid ~$1.2 million a year for 19 years

For luxury tax purposes, would that count as:

a) 25 year/$45.8 million contract
b) 6 year/$23 million contract
c) 6 year/$45.8 million contract

? I have no idea how this would work... Does Bonilla's payout count against the Mets' payroll for tax purposes?
   99. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: July 25, 2014 at 12:59 PM (#4757615)
was that it kept the money out of his hands during those first few years of retirement, when he was probably pretty likely to blow it.


Pro Athletes (and one hit wonder musicians) are terrible at that, many people have a habit of spending what they take in- no matter how much they take in- and many people whose income drops will keep spending at the old rate until they start bouncing checks. Also, not to be misogynist, but good diggers do exist (not remotely near the extent that the PUA community says)- and pro-athletes attract them the way a magnet attracts iron filings- and if a pro-athlete marries one, they're likely to see a divorce petition not long after retirement (I want "my" half...)

There are other players who have agreed to defer salary for quite some time, Bonilla's looks to have had the longest time horizon.

Oddly, enough Catfish Hunter became one of the first FAs because of his desire to save for the future- part of his deal with Oakland was that the A's were supposed to put a % of his contract towards a whole life policy- the A's owner Charlie Finley) inexplicably* failed to do so- Hunter brought a grievance- and Finley finally ponied up the money- but still inexplicably failed to pay enough to cure the arrears and bring the Insurance Contract current, instead he took the money he hadn't paid to the Ins Co and tried to give it directly to Hunter in one check.

It was one of the few cases where Bowie Kuhn actually took Finley's side... to the arbitrator it was an easy case, Finley had breached the contract, Hunter was declared an FA.

*Finley later claimed that the reason he didn't pay was to "help" Hunter, that a life insurance contract was a bad investment/retirement vehicle...
   100. Lassus Posted: July 25, 2014 at 01:05 PM (#4757621)
what was insane was investing the $ to pay for it in a ponzi scheme

Well, it was rather a rather large bit of insanity believed for a long time by a whole lot of people who were supposed to be experts. It's kinda hard for me to get down on the Mets for something nobody else figured out either.
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