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The Phillies will regret the Ryan Howard extension

Apr 26, 2010, 2:53 PM EDT

howardryan.jpgRyan Howard is making $19 million this year and will get $20M in 2011.  Now, courtesy of the extension he just signed, he’ll make $20 million in 2012 and 2013 as well, and $25M per year for 2014, 2015 and 2016. There’s a team option for 2017 at $23M with $10M buyout. He also gets a limited no-trade guarantee, the parameters of which are not yet known.

This is madness.

Don’t get me wrong: I like Ryan Howard. You like Ryan Howard. We all like Ryan Howard. He’s a great player. He’s already been an integral part of one World Series championship team and another pennant winning team. He hits the ball a long way. He’s worked hard to improve both his conditioning and his defense. He’s, by all accounts, everything you want in a player when it comes to demeanor, leadership, maturity, etc.

But he’s also — at best — the third most valuable player on the Phillies, and reasonable arguments can be made that he’s not even that high. He’s big and he’s slow and despite that extra work he’s put in, it’s more likely than not that he’s going to age poorly.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a list of Ryan Howard’s most comparable players through age 29 — his age for the 2009 season — according to Baseball-Reference.com: Richie Sexson, Cecil Fielder, Mo Vaughn, Willie McCovey, David Ortiz, Tony Clark, Mark McGwire, Carlos Delgado, Fred McGriff and Norm Cash.  The only two guys on that list who didn’t fall off a cliff before age 36 are McCovey and McGriff, and they were a heck of lot skinnier than even Ryan Howard v.2.0 is. The rest of those names should constitute nightmare fuel for Phillies fans.

But the thing is, Howard doesn’t even have to fall off a cliff in the next five years for this deal to be bad. It’s bad on day one. Why? Because while we all like Ryan Howard, he’s not as good as many like to think he is.  Lefties are kryptonite to him.  He doesn’t walk nearly as much as a slugger like him should. While he’s better than he was on defense, he’s still bad and, before this contract was signed, seems like a guy who was on the DH-express.

As of now, Ryan Howard is going to paid more than anyone in the game not named Alex Rodriguez. Unless you can tell me that you can’t think of anyone else in baseball not named Alex Rodriguez who is better than Ryan Howard, this contract makes no sense. And if you tell me that, you make no sense.

In other news: Albert Pujols: call your agent. Your asking price just went up by $10 million.

  1. jamba - Apr 26, 2010 at 4:23 PM

    David Ortiz’ fake Dominican birth certificate might SAY 34, but he’s got to be closer to 40.

  2. Juba - Apr 26, 2010 at 4:24 PM

    Ugh-I think I just watched the Phillies strangle themselves. The jury was still out on Ruben. Bad deal to Ibanez and one too many years for Polonco, but he made the right noises about the the farm system and got a great deal on Halladay. But this seals it, Ruben isn’t a good GM. This just shows a total lack of understanding of modern valuation. There really isn’t an excuse for a mistake of this magnitude in 2010. I have a feeling we’re going to be paying alot of money to Ryan in 2014 to play DH for an AL team. Jim Thome round two.

  3. JayT - Apr 26, 2010 at 4:25 PM

    One of the big reasons Howard was the fastest to 200 was that he started his career pretty late (24), so he came up just as he was hitting his peak. Look at A-Rod in comparison. He had already been in the league 4+ years by the time he was that age. In A-Rod’s 24-29 years he had 60 more homers then Howard did.
    The only reason it took Ruth longer was that he started out as a pitcher. In his age 24-29 season he also hit more then Howard.
    I like Howard as much as the next guy, but there just isn’t a good track record for big guys maintaining dominance into their mid thirties. I can name a ton of guys that fell off a cliff though, like Mo Vaughn, Mark McGwire, Cecil Fielder, Travis Hafner…the list goes on.

  4. Evan - Apr 26, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    At Ortiz’s peak, nothing got past him.
    .
    To a complete non-professional like myself, it looks like Ortiz’s bat speed slowed down a few clicks and he is no longer able to pull inside pitches into the bullpen at Fenway.
    .
    Suddenly, his biggest strength became his biggest weakness and everything else fell apart. Once pitchers realized they could pound the inside part of the plate, they could make him look like a fool by throwing off-speed stuff outside. When pitchers couldn’t pitch him inside, he would end up cracking 2-0 and 3-1 outside pitches into the Green Monster. Now that he can’t hit the inside fast ball, he ends up in less favorable counts and has to swing defensively at most stuff thrown outside.
    .
    Also, as a non-professional, I think his complete decline is more attributable to him not being able to use steroids instead of him just getting old. It wasn’t like he was putting up anything close to those gawdy numbers when he was younger and playing in Minnesota.

  5. Joey B - Apr 26, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    “I don’t see what the urgency is. He’s signed through 2011.”
    I agree. If he were a FA in 2011, then I could understand it. I’d think it was still too much, but sometimes you have to pay.
    But what advantage did the Phillies get by signing him now? The only reason to sign him two years early is if you think you are getting a material discount to the market place. It seems, imho, that if Howard remains relatively productive, the Phillies get their money back, and if not, they get roasted.

  6. walk42 - Apr 26, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    Well played. Yes price is extremely high on ryan howard but it locks him up through his prime and puts the pressure on st louis. Remember cards just gave out a big contract to matt holliday. This deal drives pujols price up and possibly drives him out of national league as well. So how much is it worth to get albert out of the league is really the question that should be asked here.

  7. The Rabbit - Apr 26, 2010 at 6:05 PM

    I think there is another factor that may be overlooked.
    In reality, Howard didn’t come up until 2005 when he played only half of a season.(I don’t count the 8 games in 2004.) Jim Thome was playing first for the Phils and there was no spot for Howard until Thome was traded in ’06 to the White Sox. I don’t think Howard was even eligible for arbitration until 2008….That’s not very long ago, kids.
    There is no way to know what his stats would be if he came up at the age many players do.
    Note: The Phillies don’t seem to rush their minor leaguers. Howard isn’t the only player the Phillies kept on the farm. For example, Chase Utley spent 3 years in the minors after graduating college, being a first round draft pick, and being named an NCAA Outstanding Player. He was almost 25 before he had a regular position.
    Now, it’s possible that some of this contract may be considered payment for “past performance” for some of those early years. Although it may not seem to be common practice in the world of baseball, it’s not an uncommon negotiating factor in the business world.
    Do I think a 36 year old Howard will be worth $23M? Probably not. Do I think a 26 year old Howard was worth more than $900,000? In relative baseball salaries, yeah, I do. (Whether any baseball player or billionaire owner is worth this kind of money is a completely different discussion.) If I apply this money over an entire career (All Star, so far) adding what he has already been paid, it’s not as out of line as it may appear at first look.
    I wasn’t invited to the negotiations but I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t part of the discussion.

  8. scatterbrian - Apr 26, 2010 at 6:33 PM

    What a complete waste of money. Ryan Howard is like the sixth or seventh most productive person in that organization. Stanley could probably outsell him without a rolodex. Dunderheads.
    (captcha: chronic armpits….strange, that was pseudonym back in my porn days)

  9. Jeffrey - Apr 26, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    it could be worse for Ryan Howard – porkchopfactory . com

  10. Fast Eddy - Apr 26, 2010 at 7:47 PM

    Don’t look now, but Prince is trying to pull this off withthe Breweres too. BIG mistake.

  11. Benjamin - Apr 26, 2010 at 8:45 PM

    Ryan Howard is a Phillie for life. All of you are jealous and mad.
    His numbers are historic. Just look at them. How many people provide that output yearly?
    Why speculate he can’t continue? Why compare him to players who played in the steroid years, and bodies BROKE DOWN?!
    The Phillies shouldnt be criticized for preventing what Boston did with the 1st coming of the Bambino.
    “Get me to the plate” – Ryan Howard to his teammates prior to winning a playoff game against the Rockies 2009

  12. airedale - Apr 26, 2010 at 8:49 PM

    WoW..that’s Kei Igawa AND Kyle Farnsworth stupid!!

  13. I can read - Apr 26, 2010 at 9:20 PM

    Yes, I can read & I can count, and it’s been said here too. Money is meaningless, to billionaire owners, and millionaire relief pitchers who can’t pitch more than an inning. In Howard’s 4 seasons he has put up numbers NO ONE in MLB baseball can compare with, including the Puhols & A-Rods. The numbers that count are runs. If you don’t score runs you don’t win games. And no one drives in runs like RyHo. An avg of 49.5 HRs & 143 RBIs can speak for itself. Puhols hasn’t seen a 140 rbi yr in all his 9 yrs, and A-Rod has only reached it twice and will never see it again.

  14. Robert - Apr 27, 2010 at 2:46 AM

    No one knows, the Phillies are betting on his future. Great Player
    but it depends how well he stays in shape and avoids injuries. I think Arod will have a longer career, because he has less weight to haul around. The Big guy analogy of not aging well is true. Look
    at Ortiz, Mo Vaun.

  15. JohnnyNewGuy - Apr 27, 2010 at 8:27 AM

    Steve are you serious?!
    “It was a good deal for a guy that is getting paid in line with Mark Texieria and Miguel Cabrera, and I’d rather have Ryan.”
    The reason that Mark Texieria has an 8 year $180 million dollar deal is because he is the best 1B in baseball not named Pujols. Texieria hits for average, power, walks, and plays some of the best 1B defense in the game; hence the 3 gold glove awards. And to put THAT into perspective right now there are 3 1B men playing in the majors with 3 gold glove awards; Texieria, Derrek Lee, and Todd Helton. Helton and Lee have more HR’s but have both been playing in the majors 6 years longer and are 7 and 5 years older than Texieria. Basically what I am saying is that if you factor in defense one could make the arguement that Texieria is the best 1B in baseball. So don’t say you would take Ryan Howard over him. And if you do plan to say that, tell a tabloid (they print anything) and then have yourself committed.
    P.S. I hate the Yankees, so don’t start by saying your bias cause your a Yankee fan. No I’m bias cause I hate ignorant baseball fans.

  16. JohnnyNewGuy - Apr 27, 2010 at 8:44 AM

    Also to everyone else saying that Howard puts up numbers unlike anyone else. Yeah he does, on a technicality. Ryan Howard plays and has played in a lineup and on a team that is built to score runs, period. Guys like Rollins, Utley, Burrell, Werth, Ibanez, Victoriano, the list goes on. When you have protection like that people have to pitch to you cause there is no benefit to pitching around you. Either Howard drives in a run or someone else does. Slot Ryan Howard into the Cardinals lineup at the beginning of last season and see how he does without the aid of a fantastic lineup around him. Lest we forget about the pine box the Phillies play in which seems to have the bases 45 feet apart instead of 90 and it is seemingly 100 feet from home plate to straight away center. Thats not true of course but you get the idea. Pujols and A-Rod (up until last year) play or played in baseball fields with realistic dimensions and especially in the case of Pujols don’t have nearly the protection around him that Howard does.
    The simple fact of the matter is that the Phillies way over payed on this deal. Power hitting 1B are a dime-a-dozen. You expect to get big offensive production on of the corner infield spots. The Phillies would have been wise to instead extend Utley, Rollins, and Werth all of whom have great offensive production in non-offensive spots and also play solid defense. This is very similar to this offseason where the Cards were bidding against themselves with Holliday. The only difference Howard wasn’t a FA and wouldn’t have been till the end of next season.

  17. yoyo mama - Apr 27, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    Re Utley missing time for injuries, not only did that only occur in 2007 (despite the fact that he had hip surgery after 2008), but it was the result of his hand being broken when he was hit by a pitch. And, clearly there have been no lingering effects. There is a big difference between players who seem to be injured every year, like Drew, and players who are injured a single time because they are hit with a high-velocity projectile in an vulnerable spot.

  18. susie - Apr 27, 2010 at 10:07 AM

    ok, i like ryan howard and i love my phillies, but where does that leave jatson werth at the end of the season? he is a free agent and ya know he’s gonna ask for more $. but with all the $ going to howard, they will lose jayson, big mistake in my opinion.

  19. Laross - Apr 27, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    At least he’s not on steriods remember they got paid too

  20. Shely - Apr 27, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    Well, the truth is that we all like the big home run hitters and love to cheer and shout when they hit em out. That is mainly why he is getting the contract. However, I can’t see all the money going his way, but the Phills do, so let them pay. I agree with most of you that they are going to regret this contract, but lets all wait and see. I know the Philly fans very well, and predict that when his HR production falls off, you will hear Boo’s like they give in Yankee Stadium and worse. Then the fans will make a decision on how good this deal was or was not. Personally, I can hear the booing start around August of next year, or sooner.

  21. Matt Veasey - Apr 27, 2010 at 11:54 AM

    We here in Philadelphia are happy to have Ryan Howard, and are glad to see the Phils sign him to this extension. We’ll see what shakes out a few years down the line, but one thing is for sure – the Phils have their 45+ homerun and 130+ rbi slugger signed through his prime. Period. Nice move.
    Chase signed through 2013, Halladay through 2013 with a ’14 club option, Polanco through 2012 with a ’13 mutual option, Victorino through 2012, Blanton through 2012, Ruiz through 2012 with a ’13 club option, J.A. Happ going nowhere.
    Jayson Werth is likely gone, and this had NOTHING to do with whether Howard got extended/signed or not. If he puts up numbers resembling last year, let alone betters it, and he is off to a nice start, then he will be highly coveted and command a high price.
    The Phils print money these days thanks to massive crowds at The Bank, so they could buck up, but with both Rollins and Hamels expiring after 2011, and with Dominic Brown near ready, it will be tough. And don’t count out the club wanting instead to go after another big arm, such as bringing back Cliff Lee, rather than going for Werth.
    Bottom line, the NL is going to be putting up with a strong Phillies club for some time to come. Get used to it. We will be happy to keep watching the show for years to come.

  22. bruce - Apr 27, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    THE PHILLIES HAVE A KID IN THE MINORS WHO CAN HIT A BALL FURTHER THAN HOWARD AND HE’LL BE IN LEFT FIELD AND WERTH WILL GET THE MONEY THE OTHER LEFT FIELDER IS GETTING NOW.

  23. JohnnyNewGuy - Apr 27, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    For all you Phillies fans who think that this helps the club and keeps you competative for years, including Matt, you all should take a look at the breakdown of this team here.
    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/04/phillies-2012-a-look-ahead.html

  24. DukkoInBeerTown - Apr 27, 2010 at 2:01 PM

    Brewers fans can identify with the anguish of this situation because we are going through the same thing with Prince Fielder. What choice do you make? Overpay for a very good player or let some other team do it? At first I was upset when I heard about the Howard deal because that raises Fielder’s price too – as it does Pujols, etc. But then I thought about it and realized that this will probaly help Fielder leave Milwaukee, and that’s a good thing because the Brewers were going to overpay him anyways. 15mil/year is overpaying for Fielder and his agent was seeking 20+/yr and now he is going to argue that Prince is at least as good if not better than Howard because of his higher on-base percentage and want Texeira money. The Brewers tried overpaying for Carlos Lee and thankfully the Astros came along and overpaid him more. The Brewers tried overpaying for CC Sabathia (although he was probably worth it) and the Yankees came along and overpaid more. The Brewers have already offered to overpay Prince and as much as I’d love to see him stay, I hope Boston or the Angels come along and overpay him more. Right now the Phillies have turned into the Yankees of the NL (the Cubs don’t count because at least the Yankees get some results for their spending). The Brewers need to stick to their game plan and get the best guys they can for less than 10mil/yr. The more that teams do that, the more that big contracts will come back to bit the big spenders in the butt. Joe Mauer was worth his money. Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder won’t be.

  25. splonger - Apr 29, 2010 at 12:23 AM

    not in the top five in any of the years for MVP huh? Well, thats why you’re a little faggt Cardinals Spic fan

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