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Why doesn't anyone ever overpay Bob Howry?

Dec 28, 2009, 12:25 PM EDT

Bob Howry is apparently one of the most underrated or at least unluckiest relievers in baseball, because for the second straight offseason he’s managed only a one-year deal for modest money while inferior relievers get multi-year pacts for several times as much.
Brandon Lyon got $15 million over three years from the Astros. Fernando Rodney got $11 million over two years from the Angels. LaTroy Hawkins got $7.5 million over two years from the Brewers. John Grabow got $7.5 million over two years from the Cubs. Yet over the weekend Howry inked a one-year, $3 million contract with the Diamondbacks after playing last season on a one-year, $2.75 million deal with the Giants.
During the past half-dozen seasons Howry has had an ERA above 3.39 once, and in the other five years posted marks of 2.47, 2.74, 3.17, 3.32, and 3.39. He’s also been very durable, making 79, 84, 78, 72, and 63 appearances in the past five seasons. Among all active relievers with at least 500 appearances Howry’s adjusted ERA+ of 125 ranks 10th, and in the past six seasons only Mariano Rivera, Joe Nathan, Francisco Rodriguez, Francisco Cordero, Scot Shields, Chad Qualls, and Scott Linebrink have logged as many innings with a better ERA+.
Howry is 36 years old, next season will be his 13th in the big leagues, and he’s had a below-average ERA twice, yet after signing a one-year deal with the Diamondbacks he’s earned around $22 million for his entire career. Not bad money, obviously, but Lyon was just handed $15 million for three years and Danys Baez just finished a three-year, $19 million deal. Sometimes it seems like general managers randomly decide which relievers to overpay, and for whatever reason that dart has never really landed on Howry.

  1. FliesD - Dec 28, 2009 at 12:34 PM

    Who are the agents for these guys?
    I’ve watched too much Entourage this week, and I’m inclined to blame Howry’s manager. Ari would get Bob his money.

  2. ralphdibny - Dec 28, 2009 at 12:59 PM

    Didn’t both he and Scott Eyre sign 3 yr contracts with the Cubs that were considered at the time to be overly generous for middle relievers?

  3. TigerS Boy ToY - Dec 28, 2009 at 2:03 PM

    He should sip the Scott Boras Kool-Aid.

  4. hoot4fau - Dec 28, 2009 at 3:54 PM

    Apparently you didn’t pay attention to the three walk-off homers Howry gave up after the all-star break last season. As a Giants fan, I’m glad to see him go!

  5. Grant - Dec 28, 2009 at 5:19 PM

    Forest for the trees, and all that. Sample size. Confirmation bias. Whatever you want to call it.

  6. Josh - Dec 28, 2009 at 7:04 PM

    Maybe it’s because Howry throws only one real pitch: a “meh” fastball that overrules his truly crappy slider and his “saw it coming” changeup. Now, as meh fastballs go, his is tops…truly mid-tier…but that’s all. And it ain’t a strikeout pitch; he’s only K’d more than a batter per inning once in his career. When he comes into the game, the hitter is all “OK, load up for the fastball!” and he usually — no, always — gets it. The only way Howry gets outs is when hitters get overeager because they’re living the first-ball fastball/every ball fastball frickin’ dream!

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