Monday, April 26, 2010

Revenge on the Phillies Will Be Ours

The Phillies today handed Ryan "Old Player Skills" Howard a five-year, $125 million contract extension. They are now married to Howard to a whopping seven more years through is age-37 season at an average salary of over $20 million a year.

Beyond the Boxscore rounds up the some of the reactions, and they aren't good. Nor should they be. This, like the Alfonso Soriano deal or the Barry Zito contract, has "mistake" written all over it. Fat guys who thrive on walks and power while striking out a lot don't age well. Howard's top 5 comps on Baseball Reference? Richie Sexson, Cecil Fielder, and Mo Vaughn. Zoinks.

Here's another way of looking at it. Baseball Prospectus projects players' future career paths based on what similar players have done in the past. When it comes to projections, there are no guarantees, but there are certain outcomes that are more likely that others. Here's a graph they do called the "Stars & Scrubs" chart:

(This is a subscription-only image, and if you think it's interesting, I really encourage you to go over and buy your own subscription before I hear from the BP guys and they make me take it down. If they can trace enough new subscriptions to this URL, maybe I won't get in trouble. And seriously, if you're reading this, you're enough of a junkie to try out BP. You won't regret it.)

Basically this is telling us that the odds that Howard will be producing at "star" value in 2013 are extremely slim--forget 2017. By the last season on this monstrosity, there's a 75% chance that Howard will be a bench player. There's about a 50% chance that he won't belong in the majors at all.

Add that to a farm system that they emptied out in the Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay deals and the fact that 29-year-old Shane Victorino is their youngest starting position player, and the '10s are looking grim for the Fightins.

So if you're a Nationals fan, make sure you go out to the ballpark the next time the Phillies come to town. Oh sure, they'll beat our heads in again. But you can feel free to show off a smug grin, secure in the knowledge that this Phillies team is headed for a cliff. By 2013, when Stephen Strasburg and Ryan Zimmerman will be in their primes and Bryce Harper will be breaking into the majors, they're going to have a $25 million-a-year out-machine parked in the middle of their line-up and little help on the way.

Our day is coming, and with Stan's excellent marketing, you know that Phillies fans will be here to take the beatings in person when the time comes


Souldrummer said...

Agreed, agreed, agreed. I did not see the Phillies making this kind of move. I looked at the Good Phight and they seem to believe that this move means Werth is less essential than Howard and they wanted to take care of Howard before Pujols signs some ridiculous deal. I don't get it. Teams that try to set the market in this economy likely end up overpaying.

It's going to be a tough 2-3 years while we're waiting for Howard decline and facing Doc, but maybe we can smoke the Phillies out.

Meanwhile, I am enjoying this ephemeral dream where the Braves are in last despite so many people picking them for the Wildcard.

Let's get one against the Cubbies tonight!

flippin said...

Thanks. I will try to remember this next time we are getting brained by the Phillies (while you are relaxing in Maine somewhere).

CoverageisLacking said...

Nice post, Steven. An interesting aspect of this is that Thome blocked the start of Howard's career by probably a full season, if not a bit more. His comps would most likely be different had he gotten started earlier; would Howard's future projections change if his career stats to date and comps were different? On the other hand, I wonder if Howard will be blocking some other future star 5 years or so from now.

Deacon Drake said...

Man... I was just about to blog the same points. WTF are are the Phillies thinking?

Eric said...

About the only good thing you can say about JimBow is that he didn't saddle the team with long crappy contracts, I'd say Kearns extension was the only pure pooch screw, though the 6 yrs and $32 Guz got out of him deserves and honorable mention.

IPLawguy said...

JimBow payed too much for Guz, but at least he still plays and hits. His faults are not age based. His production and style are the same as they ever were.