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What they're saying about the Ryan Howard deal

Apr 27, 2010, 8:27 AM EDT

Ryan Howard happy.jpgI said plenty yesterday, but so did a lot of other people. Here’s some of it, starting with the sort of hyperbole that may inspire ESPN to place Jayson Stark under psychiatric evaluation for the next 72 hours, and ending with Matt Swartz at Baseball Prospectus, with what is probably the most middle-ground take I’ve seen.

  • Jayson Stark: It’s quite a tale, all right, for a player who looked as if he was
    going to be blocked by Thome from ever playing in Philadelphia, who
    didn’t get a chance to play every day until age 25, and who only got
    that shot because Thome hurt his elbow in July 2005.But once
    Howard got his chance, he decided to turn himself into his generation’s
    Babe Ruth at the plate.
  • Rob Neyer: The Phillies have done a lot of things right over the last few years.
    But this is a big bowl of wrong.
  • Kevin Kaduk: Even if you’re not fully convinced it’s a deadlock that Howard will turn into David Ortiz  over the next three years . . . you have to wonder why GM Ruben Amaro felt the need to do this deal almost two years earlier than necessary.
  • The 700 Level: Will Phillies fans in 2016 bemoan the $25 million Ryan Howard is
    getting paid that year? Perhaps. But most Phillies fans can barely make
    plans for next weekend let alone five years from now. That’s why Ruben
    Amaro Jr. gets paid to make important, long lasting decisions like this
    one. It’s amazing how every Joe on Twitter turns into a soothsayer on
    days
    like today. Only time will tell if this one pays off down the road. Until
    then, enjoy watching Ryan Howard play first base for your Phillies.
  • Phil Sheridan: Everybody wins. Come to think of it, that pretty much sums up Ryan
    Howard’s time here.
  • Matthew Carruth: When the news first broke and the details started to emerge, I was
    tempted to fill this entire article with just me laughing. My co-writers
    convinced me that while an appropriate response, that was not quite
    informative enough so I have relented and will actually map out the
    value of Ryan Howard’s new extension. I’m laughing pretty hard, though, in case
    you wanted to picture it.
  • David Murphy: I’m not surprised that they decided to sign Howard now, but I would’ve
    thought that any deal would come only as a result of some obvious
    concessions on Howard’s part.
  • Jonah Keri: 5 years, $125 million for Ryan Howard!!! A
    financial quagmire that’ll make the Iraq War look like a slap fight [note: pro-Howard comments don't have the market cornered on hyperbole].

  • Balls, Sticks and Stuff: Once you get past the initial feel-good wave and you really start to
    examine the contract, things get a bit scary. Think about it, when Ryan
    Howard is in his mid/late-30’s, he’ll be getting paid like one of the
    best players in baseball when the chances of him actually being that
    type of player are slim.
  • Matt Swartz: If you listened to the roar of the sabermetricians, you would think the
    Phillies had thrown nine figures at Juan Castro . . . On the other hand, if you listened to the roar of the old-school
    writers, you would think the Phillies had stolen an MVP off the market
    at a discount . . . The reality is that Howard falls somewhere between these two extremes.
    The contract is far from spectacular, but it is unlikely to be an
    albatross.

A fun project for which I’ll try to make the time later today:  tracking the reactions of those who support this deal against those same people’s reactions to the Alex Rodriguez contract. I have this feeling that it would lead to a pretty interesting lesson about how much value there is to being a likable player when it comes to media treatment of your mega-deal.

  1. Jonny5 - Apr 27, 2010 at 8:55 AM

    Ok, I’m a huge Phillies fan. I’m also a huge Ryan Howard fan. But unless Amaro has some secret plan up his sleeve where he’s going to bring “Yankee like money” into the organization, he’s going to be seriously handicapped when it comes to signing other players the team NEEDS to continue to be a championship caliber club. Werth comes to mind, he’s been more productive than Howard in a couple of ways. Utley, well if Utley goes bye bye Philly fans will riot, me being one of them. If they can’t keep him because of “financial reasons” I’ll pop a freaking gasket and swear allegance to the Nationals, Ok maybe not but I’ll have a shit fit nonetheless. My problem with this deal isn’t with Howards production, I’m pretty sure he’ll continue to perform very well until the end of his contract, I don’t remember him being injured like most ball players come to think of it. My problem is my concern about the club being able to sign other players the team will NEED to continue to be a championship team. Please Ruben, tell me something good about the Phillies pockets and how they’ll still hold enough loot to keep our best players.

  2. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Apr 27, 2010 at 9:11 AM

    My problem is my concern about the club being able to sign other players the team will NEED to continue to be a championship team.

    Nothing to add, but this needs to be repeated.

  3. Moses Green - Apr 27, 2010 at 9:22 AM

    Wanted to think this one over for a while and let it marinate before chiming in. The Swartz analysis is the one that I ended up favoring, although leavened with M.P.’s analogy to the way that the Yankees handle this kind of business. It’s not a terrible deal, but it’s hard to understand why it had to be done now, and difficult to imagine they couldn’t have inked the same exact deal next year.
    I have to wonder if it wasn’t influenced by 2 things: the Joe Mauer deal (which is a terrible comp IMO) and the criticism that flooded into Philly after the trading away Cliff Lee as part of the Halladay deal when it seemed like it didn’t have to be done. Being labeled “cheap” probably didn’t sit well with ownership.

  4. Bull Durham - Apr 27, 2010 at 9:30 AM

    As a lifelong Phillies fan, I have no problem with this contract. Utley, Howard and Rollins are the core of the team (and I suppose you would have to add Halladay to that trio now). If the Phillies are going to sustain this excellence, they will need to continue to produce homegrown talent. Talent that will eventually replace those leaders and talent that will bring necessary pieces via trade in a pennant stretch. Add in one reasonably priced free-agent each off-season and enjoy a long stretch of playoff appearances.
    Ryan Howard has transformed his body, transformed his fielding skills and continues to make adjustments in his approach at the plate. And he signed for “only” $125 million. That’s a whole lot less than the total committed to Texiera and Mauer and a universe less that what Pujols will soon get. Just like getting Halladay for “only” $60 million was a great deal, this too benefits both the player and the club.

  5. Jackson - Apr 27, 2010 at 9:59 AM

    I need research on baseball players using steroids. Can u help me.

  6. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Apr 27, 2010 at 10:23 AM

    If the Phillies are going to sustain this excellence, they will need to continue to produce homegrown talent.

    This may be true, and if so, it’s important to keep a core like that together for the long haul. However, this deal doesn’t kick in until 2012(!). There was no rush to get this deal done now, for the money it’s worth. Howard’s deal starts when he’s 32 and pays him through Age 37. Why the rush? Why not wait a year and see if his numbers keep dropping before shelling out this kind of money?

  7. Phil - Apr 27, 2010 at 10:29 AM

    Seems to me the Phillies are spending a lot of money to keep treading water.
    Two things:
    1) The Phillies just keep getting older and older as a team, which worries me. If we sign Werth to a contract extension, which sounds like it’s something the front office is working on, then that just makes us older for longer. I realize our “window” is 2-3 years (3-years is a real stretch in my book), but I’d like to get some younger players with upside versus relying on older veterans to continue producing through their mid-30s (or late 40’s in Moyer’s case).
    2)With that being said, stud 25 year olds aren’t readily available nowadays, and the Phillies don’t have too much in the prospect cupboard outside of Domonic Brown. No power arms (like a David Price or Tommy Hanson), no great infield talent (none from 1st to 3rd base). So where’s the internal improvement/reinforcement coming from?

  8. Rick - Apr 27, 2010 at 11:33 AM

    The Phillies jsut threw a GIGANTIC wedge into that clubhouse with that over the top, ill timed, ridiculous contract. Look for any chemistry that club had to just disappear into thin air. trao

  9. Fast Eddy - Apr 27, 2010 at 11:35 AM

    And you thought the Cardinals / Holliday contract was bad.

  10. bud - Apr 27, 2010 at 12:36 PM

    I did not hear all of this commentary when Joe Mauer signed his deal for 184 million.

  11. Utley's hair - Apr 27, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    I posted this on another of Craig’s pages, but I wanted to restate it here with some elaboration. First, I’m glad Ruben is trying to keep the Utley-Rollins-Howard-Hamels-Ruiz (with Hamels being the weak link, since he’s the most unlikely to re-sign) core of this team together to maximize World Series opportunities with minimal distractions like free agency. Second, where will the cash be to keep the rest of these guys? Where will the cash be to get or keep other pieces, like Werth? Third, why now? I’ll wrap up with something I’ve mentioned before (about a certain primadonna crybaby Yanker): nobody is worth $25 million a year. NOBODY. (Except maybe me.)
    appropriate enough captcha: fitting discontent

  12. Craig Calcaterra - Apr 27, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    That’s because Mauer is (a) better; (b) younger; and (c) has defensive value.

  13. Mark - Apr 27, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    The worst part about Stark’s comment comparing Howard to Ruth is that I don’t think for a second that he actually believes that. He’s just being lazy and writing for effect.

  14. Curious George - Apr 27, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    nobody is worth $25 million a year. NOBODY.

    Do you have an economics-based argument to defend this assertion, or is it just a value judgement?

  15. Ghost of Cliff Lee - Apr 27, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    The Phillies showed during last years World Series and are once again showing this year that pitching > batters with holes in their swing.
    That money would have been better spent on securing Cliff Lee for 5 years and taking the rest to invest in solid bullpen help.
    Howard has good numbers and has at times come up clutch but the good pitchers know he can’t hit a breaking ball to save his life.
    Now you don’t have Cliff Lee and you are going to lose Jason Werth.
    My Phightins are going to be in a world of hurt in a few years with this deal.

  16. YANKEES1996 - Apr 27, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    These long term contracts are always a roll of the dice and more often than not they do not work out. Ryan Howard, Matt Holliday and Alex Rodriguez all fall into this category and by the middle to end of their contracts they will not be producing the results they are being paid for. The Yankees are going to have to deal with Derek Jeter this offseason and even though he is not in Howards age range I don’t want to see the Yanks make a long term contract mistake.Even the Yankees stuck to a budget this past offseason, I do not understand the Phillies motivation to get this done at a time when it really did not need to be done, I think the Phillies may have robbed Peter to pay Paul with this deal. I am interested to see in the short term how the Holliday contract and the Howard contract are going to affect the respective teams. The Rangers gave A-Rod the huge deal a few years ago and everyone knows how that turned out, the Rangers did not have enough remaining money to sign the additional players they needed to make the type of Championship run they were hoping for. The Rangers deal with A-Rod is proof that one superstar signing does not make a Championship squad.

  17. J. McCann - Apr 27, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    1. The Phillies have lots of money.
    2. The deal will be fine for the next few years.
    3. It will be bad at the end, but they will stink by then anyway (and may win a few more pennants in the meantime).
    But are you telling me if they said 4 years – 100M, take it or leave it: he would have left it?

  18. MiamiGiant - Apr 27, 2010 at 1:51 PM

    The contract will probably become an albatross to the teams ability to sign players around Howard and on the pitching staff. With a huge payroll for your starting pitchers, Halladay anyone, and upcoming discussions with Phillies sluggers row of hitters, Phillie will have some financial issues to address.
    I am a lifelong Giants fan and Barry’s contract restricted our ability to sign players to get us deep into playoffs. Now we have Zito’s contract, which he is finally earning for once since he joined, but it has restricted our ability to sign a big bat or two to compliment our amazing pitching staff that only needs 2-4 runs per game to win.
    So the Howard deal alone will not hurt the team, it is the aggregate of Howard’s deal, Halladay’s deal and what players like Werth, Utley and the rest will ask for now that the bar has been raised.
    The primary difference between our payrolls is that most of the Giant’s payroll issues will come from arbi elligible young players, whereas the Phillies have to deal with FA eligible players…meaning FAs will ask for more.
    Last nights game was fun…looking forward to the next two…great watching Pujols in the last series and Howard in this one. The closest we can come to getting the big bopper we need is with Adrian Gonzalez and he will be too expensive for us unfortunately.

  19. gr33nazn - Apr 27, 2010 at 2:33 PM

    My initial reaction to this deal is that it is highly unlikely that Howard will be worth the money 4+ years down the road. After giving it a bit more thought, I believe that this is a calculated gamble that the Phillies can get 3 good years out of Howard, and those 3 years could very well represent the anticipated “championship window” for the existing core players. Additionally, it’s probably better to set the market for first basement than it is to wait for Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols to sign new deals. Better the salary figure you know than the one you don’t know.

  20. dsims7_2000 - Apr 27, 2010 at 2:50 PM

    The Phillies made likely the most stupid mistake in all of Baseball history. 1. They gave him a “No-Trade” clause (they are stuck, reguardless of his production. 2. They have at least 3 players with better numbers. Going by the numbers, such players will want the same if not more money because their production is more.

  21. Cole - Apr 27, 2010 at 2:58 PM

    I agree with the comments on setting the market. I fully expect this deal to be surpassed by at least 5 players before it even kicks in in two years.
    Another item I’ve stressed for some time is that at the rate Ryan Howard is hitting homeruns he will surpass Mike Schmidt as the club leader in that category either in the “final” year or the option year. So it may be a calculated gamble on the front office part to capitalize on the potential revenue stream from his assault on such a hallowed club record.

  22. Money/burns-a-hole-in-my-pocket - Apr 27, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    Pay them all what you want to. Sooner or later it will catch up to you. Phillies should have learned a lesson from the Mets or the Knicks. There are several teams out there that have done bad deals, that’s what seperates the winners from the losers over time. Mistakes always bite you in the end.

  23. Dan in Katonah - Apr 27, 2010 at 5:10 PM

    I liked the Swartz article, but also you should read the Will Carroll one at BP since it makes the simple point of – why now? You have 2 more years to evaluate before needing to pull the trigger and anything can happen in that time. Wait at least until the end of 2011 and see where you are before commiting all that money for what may be the decline years in Howard’s career. The hated Yankees don’t pay up until they have to and others that have done so suffered the consequences. If he drops off a cliff next year (like Ortiz) the Phils will feel awfully stupid for acting now.
    Prescient captcha? “be defeated”

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