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Monday, January 21, 2008


Do you think there is any possibility that Howard and the Phils could split the difference between them and settle on 8.5 million? Or isn't this usually done after both sides submit their proposals?

No, not RJ am I supposed to sleep at night?!

From the previous thread- Howard is awesome. I hate his k's and his defense, but his positive attributes outweigh that junk. I want him around through 2011 and possibly later, but we have no clue how his body will hold up until then. When I said about David Ortiz being strictly a DH I was trying to point out that the season is far less taxing on his body because of his hitter only duties. Howard plays "both ways" and therefore wears down faster. I doubt he'll be worthless come 2012, but the question is- will he still be worth the probably 18-20 million he'll be wanting come that time?

@James... they COULD do a deal like Rockies with Holliday and make a deal that covers his arbitration-eligible years, as a sign of good faith for a long term deal. That would require a 3 year deal. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong?)

Right now, the last thing we need is a disgruntled superstar, to muddy things up.

If I were the Phils I'd let this go to arbitration this year and then if Howard has another big year, sign him to a five year for about 75 million. I think his possible decline is worth the risk. He'd then be 34 years old.

I saw several posts in the last thread saying that Willie Stargell had a similar build to Howard and had his best years in his thirties. Thta is encouraging. I disagree that Stargell had less power than Howard. At the time, it wasn't as easy to hit HRS. The home run title was often won with less than 40 HRS. I think that Stargell would reguarly come close to 50 HRS if he played today. Small ballparks have played a role in this. Howard is a special player. I don't think I've ever seen anyone who had such power to the opposite field. I wish he would go back to what he did in 2006 and stopped trying to pull everything. He flirted with a .300 season that year (for awhile).

Of course I meant that I'd ATTEMPT to sign him to a 5 year deal worth 75 million. That doesn't mean he'd accept it.

JW - I would ask Arbuckle about the Phils' scouting and developments new market, particularly in Asia. I remember Gillick saying that the Phils would explore additional avenues for talent and as far I could tell the Phils haven't signed any Asian players/nor any any kind of development focus there.

They have signed a few young players from Japan.

I haven't really blogged since shortly after the season ended. I check BL a few times a week though, but I have not been moved to blog beacuse of an underwhelming feeling of standing pat(no pun intended) with the current club, which is obviously weaker and slower without ARow and Bourne. I have found this off-season as exciting as watching grass grow.

As usual, the Phillies have shown their complete incompetence, as well as their lack of a feel for their fan's vision of their chances at a NL Title. My frustrations are already welling up inside, watching the whole Ryan Howard fiasco take place. Nothing like trying to keep the embers glowing by building on last years euphoria, instead of pissing on the 'ol camp fire with an underwhelming sense of ho-hum when it comes to adding a few pieces to the nearly completed puzzle.

History teaches us that with the Phillies, repeating mistakes is never something to learn from. Rather for them it means; keep trying to prove to everyone that we're right and you're all wrong.

Get a good look at Ryan Howard, he is too expensive to keep around for this ownership. When he decides to opt for free agency a few years from now, you can hear the familiar cry from the Phillies..."We made him a great offer, he just didn't want to stay here". I guess not, since you pissed him off a few years prior with your, cheap, insulting, low ball offers.

Thanks for listening. I feel a little better.

I haven't really blogged since shortly after the season ended. I check BL a few times a week though, but I have not been moved to blog beacuse of an underwhelming feeling of standing pat(no pun intended) with the current club, which is obviously weaker and slower without ARow and Bourne. I have found this off-season as exciting as watching grass grow.

As usual, the Phillies have shown their complete incompetence, as well as their lack of a feel for their fan's vision of their chances at a NL Title. My frustrations are already welling up inside, watching the whole Ryan Howard fiasco take place. Nothing like trying to keep the embers glowing by building on last years euphoria, instead of pissing on the 'ol camp fire with an underwhelming sense of ho-hum when it comes to adding a few pieces to the nearly completed puzzle.

History teaches us that with the Phillies, repeating mistakes is never something to learn from. Rather for them it means; keep trying to prove to everyone that we're right and you're all wrong.

Get a good look at Ryan Howard, he is too expensive to keep around for this ownership. When he decides to opt for free agency a few years from now, you can hear the familiar cry from the Phillies..."We made him a great offer, he just didn't want to stay here". I guess not, since you pissed him off a few years prior with your, cheap, insulting, low ball offers.

Thanks for listening. I feel a little better.

OK, here's the Phillies way step by step. 1. Trade Marlon Byrd for Endy Chavez. 2. Cut Chavez. 3. Byrd and Chavez each go on to hit .300. 4. Texas now offers Byrd to the Cubs for Matt Murton and Sean Gallagher, two good young players.

I don't know if the Cubs will make that deal or not, but I do know what the Phils got out of it: The same thing they got out of the Abreu trade. Nothing.

Wayne, I don't believe the Phils signed any young players from Japan...they signed ,I think, 2 from Taiwan, one being Yen-Fend Lin who pitched at Williamsport last year.

hey, clout! what you talkin bout man? we still got Matt Smiff.

"Older and Weaker"?

Baseball America Rated our Minor League Pitching as 4th overall of all 30 teams.
Gillick looked at the team and decided to go 75% Pitching. With another year of progress (AA Reading will have a great pitching staff) and a good draft in 2008 (with 6 picks in the first three rounds), our minors (on the pitching side) will have recovered from the abject destruction allowed by the Ownership of the Gang of Seven during the last ED WADE years.

He is not off doing his magic for Houston.

Take a look at the Pitching now in the pipeline:

clout, I was just thinking about Byrd the other day, checking his stats (800+ PA) since being traded. He's been decent, but not great. Though last year he was very good.

Dave X, you go ahead and keep trusting the BP folks. They are always right. They must have a huge database, that's why they only referenced two players, both who played 20 years apart!

Did it ever occur to you that the BP stuff is OPINION and not fact? There's no evidence that the BP writer did any more homework than you or I could do.

Next, I concur with clout: baxter - that was an "excellent analysis of the BP nonsense".

However, baxter, if Prince Fielder only weighs 260, and Howard 235, I'll meet you at any beer vendor in the Zen and pay for your beers for the entire season. I think my money is safe! Your comparison is on point, though.

Lastly, this whole Howard arb process will give us a chance to see if the Phillies truly have changed their ways and learned from past mistakes, or if they are going to continue to be seen as the baseball idiots we all know and love, and are doomed to repeat the errors of the past for lack of being able to learn.

Contrast them with the Yankees, who knew they needed ARod to compete in the AL, and did what was necessary to bring him back without trying to lowball him.

I submit that the Phillies need Howard as much as the Yankees need ARod. No ARod - no playoffs. No Howard - no playoffs.

And then there is the long-term marketing to consider. Why should fans get excited about a team when they know it's most marketable player is eventually headed out of town?

Hey Jason, here's my question for Arbuckle:

Why should fans get excited about the long-term prospects for this club, when Rollins and Utley will both be 30 soon, your relationshp with your biggest slugger seems to be deteriorating, and you have no prospects that seem remotely ready to replace them, and despite the best efforts of the front office, the MLB pitching staff is continually in the bottom half of the league?

Alden, you still haven't answered my question from the last thread:

Where can I get a pair of those rose-colored glasses?

Alden, please substantiate this comment with some evidence:

"Gillick looked at the team and decided to go 75% Pitching".

BTW, Alden, Arbuckle himself has said teams need approximately TEN prospects to yield ONE decent MLB starter.

So what you're implying is that out of the top ten SP listed, one will have an impact at the MLB level, right?

Hey, Alden! Now I feel better!!!

When the Phillies get rid of Howard in another bad trade, or let him walk because thay don't want to pay him, we'll have Matt Rizzotti or Karl Bolt to replace him!!!!


Baseball America ranked our minor-league pitching 4th out of 30 teams? What's that incredibly annoying song that goes "there must be some misunderstanding, there must be some kind of mistake"?

Jason. my next question for Arbuckle:

Mike, with all due respect, how do we know 2007 wasn't an abberration, just like 1993?

Tray, classic!

SirAlden: Do you have a link for BA's rating of the Phils pitching prospects as 4th best in all of baseball? Also, is BA out with their top 100 prospects list yet? John Sickels came out last week with his list of the Top 50 pitching and Top 50 position players. No Phillie made either list. I'd be curious to see how many make BA's Top 100.

"A couple of pitchers - Anderson Garcia, Fabio Castro - are pitching in the Dominican, but in keeping with my early off-season promise, I won't waste my time with an update."

Actually, I find this a very funny statement, since most of what we discuss here (involving possible moves to improve the team) ends up being a waste of time anyway.

If you realize that the currently constituted 25 man roster nets you a 3rd place finish, the angst just seems to disappear, just like the few million dollars profit that gets raked in by the CURRENT "gang"

For all he has done, 10 million seems fair to me for next season, but it's not my money. Will he end up getting his money? It's doubtful. Will he be happy with that? Probably not, although I think no matter what he ends up getting, he will still be upset with what the Phillies are putting him through. And we all know what happens when superstars get upset in Philadelphia. Ask Allen Iverson, Charles Barkley, Scott Rolen and the rest. They get shown the door in trades that net Philadelphia teams next to nothing

Enrique, the Scott Rolen trade got us a player who should have satisfied our need for a third baseman for years to come.

AWH, the Baseball Prospectus similar players is not just some bunch of numbers they throw out. If you're going to bash the process that's fine, but there IS plenty of description in how they come up with who exactly is a similar player.

The concept derives from Bill James' similarity scores. Instead of just surmising that there is no evidence out there as to how researched their comparable players list, how about you actually look for the evidence first? They explain it pretty clearly.

As a side note, Baseball Prospectus references 20 players. Last year's comparables of Howard are (in order): Mo Vaughn, Travis Hafner, Mike Epstein, Boog Powell, Carlos Delgado, Cecil Fielder, Willie Aikens, Dave Hostetler, Willie Stargell, Tony Clark, Nate Colbert, Jim Gentile, Fred McGriff, Greg Luzinski, Kent Hrbek, Walt Bond, Bob Hamelin, Dick Stuart, Harry Anderson, Frank Howard.

This is a scientific process, not just some person with an opinion. The opinion goes into the process, not which players the process selects. It makes it less biased because everyone is done the same way.

That list of 20 will change in a few weeks whenever the new projections come out, but that's a good start. He clearly may or may not age well.

MattS, the BP article excerpt we've been discussing said "big bodied guys", which any reasonable person knows is a vague term at best. It also said "The Phillies should have a three-year window in which they can expect this kind of production from Howard, but should not plan beyond that."

Now, several players on the list (Stargell, FHoward, Delgado, etc.) you quote had some of their peak years between 31 and 33 yrs old. RHoward is 28, so which is it? Does he have six years left? Three? Ten?

There's just too much subjectivity involved.

Have you even analyzed the list? It seems to include anyone over 6' and 200 lbs. Nate Colbert was 6'2", 209 lbs. Dave Hostetly was 6'4", 215 lbs (never played a full season, either). Are they the same body type as Howard?

From the list above, I challenge you to argue to anyone who saw them play, that Luzinski, McGriff and Ryan Howard are the same body type.

If that's their definition of a scientific comparison, then those of us who are arguing that "it ain't exactly scientific" are more right than the 'scientists' who put the list together. Are they physiology experts? I'm even more convinced that BP is grasping at straws with some of their "comps".

If that's the kind of "information" this group of Phillies management are relying on in their decision making process, then no wonder they've only made the playoffs twice in 25 yrs.

BTW, I grew up in DC as a Senators' fan. I saw Frank Howard and Mike Epstein play at RFK on the same team numerous times, even in the on deck circle together.

Trust me...they ain't the same "body type" either.

Seriously, how much better would things be right now with Placido Polanco in this line-up playing 3rd? I know I am beating a dead horse, but man that trade was bad. Maybe Ugie Urbina is learning how to play the hot corner in between shakedowns by the guards.

No one could've known Urbina would go on a killing spree, or that Polanco was about to reach the peak of his career, and at least they went out and got a proven setup man. Knowing what they knew I would've done it myself.

How about trading Ryan Howard now while he has the most value since it is obvious he will become unhappy now and eventually leave. Howard to the Yankees for 2 or their 3 big young pitchers and some lesser prospects or Howard to the Red Sox for Ellsbury and Bucholz.

I'm a little behind on the BP argument, but it seems that the article is making a point - Howard's body type is a concern - that is valid.

However, to call that scientific seems to be a bit much. I have a lot of respect for stuff that BP does, like looking at BABIP, DIPS, etc. but this kind of analysis (just looking at heights and weights) is just speculation and about as scientific as the regular at the bar saying "hey, Howard's a big guy, he might decline pretty quickly," which is a pretty fair argument, BTW.

Len, I love what Howard brings to the Phillies, but I have said the same thing myself. If they're not going to pay him, then trade him now when he has max value and can be controlled for 4 more seasons.

I'm sure that discussion has happened on the ZenWay.

"Do we trade him now and try to get as much as we can, or do we try to milk it for a couple of more seasons and hope we make the playoffs and maybe win a WS?"

He'll still have decent value at the end of the '09 season, especiall if he has two more 45+/135+ seasons. If proves that '07 was an off year and goes 50+/145+ for two more years, then he'll be hands down the premier slugger in the game. He'd still have great trade value with teo more years left.

Of course there's one caveat:

The Phillies DO NOT have a great track record in trading their stars and getting equal value in return. They don't do a good enough job scouting to evaluate the minor league talent they are getting in return.

Also, if Howard does have two more 50+/145+ seasons, he'll get his money, whether it's from the Phillies or someone else. He WILL set records for arbitration awards if he's not signed to a LT deal.

Conlin has a column this morning in the DN.

kdon, my argument is simple: "big bodied guys" is ambiguous at best, and doesn't necessarily translate into "same body type".

Just look at the list MattS posted. I stand by my argument, which is:

It is just as likely Ryan Howard will continue to be productive into his mid 30's as it is likely he'll decline.

On the ZenWay it's the Great Unknown.

FWIW: Phils seem to be neglecting Asia, but do have a pretty good scouting footprint in Australia.


I agree with you that the comparison are flawed, but I do think Howard carries a higher risk than, say, someone like J-Roll or Utley, or A-Rod.

And the question isn't whether Howard declines into his mid-30s, it is how much. Almost everyone (juice-free) declines in their mid-30s, and I think there is much higher chance of Howard having the Mo Vaughn career path than the Jeff Kent one. It seems you think those possibilities are equal, which seems unlikely.

If you really think Howard in his age 34-35 will combine for 105 HR, I appreciate the optimism, but I have to disagree.

Gee, kdon, if he delines 15-20% to 84-89 HR in those two years, where would that put him on the list of power hitters in today's game?

With rising salaries, where would he be relative to his peers?

"declines" 15-20%

in Conlin's article:
Ruben Gillbuckle - priceless

AWH, The article you selected includes 3 of the many comparable players listed in Howard's profile. I listed 17 others mentioned on his 2007 projection they generated.

Comparable player selection is not exclusively based on body type. It is based on a variety of traits that have historically shown a mathematical correlation with player's career paths, rate of decline, etc. Some of those are phenotopic traits like height and weight; others are statistical traits like homerun rate and walk rate compared to the average rates at the time they played, and adjusted for park effects.

If you do not understand the process, do not criticize it. If you think they are grasping at straws, you have to actually know what they're doing.

Of course there aren't 20 players exactly like Ryan Howard in baseball history, so they are not all perfectly comparable. You're right that a number of those players continued to play at a peak level in their 30s. Others did not.

The point that BP is making is that it's quite possible that Howard will not be productive in his early 30s and for that reason, the Phillies should wait to sign him until they have a better idea of whether he's going to age like Willie Stargell or Mo Vaughn.

I don't necessarily agree, since I would like them to be able to sign him up in his early 30s without committing to paying him in his mid to late 30s when he is far more likely to be overpaid. Signing a 6-year deal when he's 28 is better than when he's 31, and I fear that 3 years of solid production while going through the arbitration process will lure the Phillies to sign him to that deal that goes way passed his prime.

However, please learn about the process you dismiss. Don't speculate as to whether a highly successful website with consistently the best projections of performance (based on the projections' correlations with actual statistics the following year) is using a good or bad process. If you know the process, criticize or complement accordingly.


If you want to change your argument from this:

"It is just as likely Ryan Howard will continue to be productive into his mid 30's as it is likely he'll decline"

to this:
Howard will still be pretty good even after a decline

that's fine. Just know it's a different argument. We are now talking about how much of a decline (Vaughn-like precipice vs. gradual aging).

If his production drops 20% (your estimation), that is pretty big. Consider his current lifetime OPS is around if it drops 15-20, you are then talking about paying 15-17M per season to a poor defensive 1B who has an OPS around 800 or 850.

I read an article about the Howard situation over at Fleece Factor. Tke K-Rod negotiations could get just as ugly it seems.

That piece was misleading, as was the Conlin article. You can't compare Howard to Cabrera and Texiera because he is behind those guys in service time.

In case you don't think that matters, anyone think Tulowitski is getting "fleeced" at 6/30, even though he is averaging about 3-4M less per year than Eaton?

Service time matters. At this point is his career, Cabrera made $7.4M (the Fish offered 6.7) and Texiera $6.4M.

Those are the relevant comparison numbers, not what they received this year.

"A couple of pitchers - Anderson Garcia, Fabio Castro - are pitching in the Dominican, but in keeping with my early off-season promise, I won't waste my time with an update."

Jason, waste our time. Let us know how the short Model Dictator is doing. As a former Phillies 25 man roster player, he will always be on our radar until he retires.

I'm with LF - instead of rehashing the "trade Howard" debate (or return to the "Feliz is the savior" debate) it might be interesting to hear about Fabio. (Is he named after, do you suppose, that romance novel model from the '80s?) I'd be most interested in knowing whether he has discovered that there is such a thing as the satrike zone.

"strike" zone...

(Is there such a thing as the satrike zone?)

AWH: This debate isn't taking place in a vacuum. We're discussing this because the relationship is showing every sign of deteriorating. We're trying to decide whether it pays to keep Howard until he walks, trade him now, or trade him as free agency approaches. Or even sign him long-term.

To: James L (Forever a Phillies fan):

Dude, You might want to check Howard's final numbers for 2006. He hit .313 for the entire season while also striking out 181 times. So I don't get your point.

Here's my two cents on the Howard issue. It may be true that many big, burly guys have had short peaks. But it wasn't their body type that caused the short peak. It's the type of hitter that they were. Guys like Fielder, Stargell, McCovey & Reggie Jackson were .270-ish hitters with huge strikeout totals, even in their peak years. As you get older, your power tends to stay the same but your batting average drops, taking the power numbers down with it. On the other hand, guys like Frank Thomas & Jim Thome were very good hitters in their prime, with great pitch selection. As they got older, their averages predictably dropped but, because of their tremendous pitch selection, it still stayed high enough for them to post big power numbers.

At this point, I'm on the fence about which of these 2 categories Ryan Howard falls into. He looked like a good overall hitter in 2005 & 2006, when he hit .288 & .313. But he didn't look like a good overall hitter last year, when he hit just .268, set the all-time strikeout record, & often looked lost against left-handers & finesse pitchers in general. Howard does draw a lot of walks, but it's more because pitchers are afraid to pitch to him than because of great pitch selection.

Since we've got him under our control for 4 more years, at which time he'll be 32, I can't think of one rational reason why the Phillies should lock him up to a long-term contract right now. I would much prefer to wait & see how his career develops over the next year or two. It may well be that the best use of Ryan Howard is neither to trade him nor sign him, but just to ride out his prime years & then let him walk after 2011. It would, however, behoove the Phillies to make him reasonably happy in the meantime. A nasty arbitration hearing is not in anyone's interest & the Phillies should certainly kick in another $1.5M to make him happy.

I actually find it very revealing that the number the Phillies are offering Howard is the same number the Cardinals gave Albert Pujols 4 years ago. It's sort of a window into ownership's mindset. Monty & Co. live in a time warp, where players' salaries are constant. The Phillies' 2004 payroll was $93M and that's pretty much what their payroll remains today. Similarly, if a player was worth $7M per year in 2004, the Phillies think that's what he's worth today. They haven't even noticed that salaries have risen at least 20% since then.

Thing is, nobody knows what's going to happen with Howard three, two, even one year from now. That's why you take the chance. You're betting on future success from present promise.

Because you don't know what Howard's going to do three years from now, you have to look around at what you could get at first base elsewhere. As of today, Howard is the top slugging first baseman, a high-strikeout hitter with one good average year and one mediocre average year. He's an average at best fielder who hasn't done a lot to stay completely healthy.

With all that known, the sample size has been 2.5 seasons. That's it. I'm not confident offering him a big deal yet. I'm not. There are other options out there (lesser, I know, but they're there) and Howard needs to show he's going to mash for another couple years.

If he performs well this year, sign him for three. Or trade him for high value. Don't low-ball him again, don't go into arbitration again.

Should the Phils have offered more in arb? Maybe. But like any organization, they're low-balling for a reason. Miggy Cabrera got his big deal because he had proven it over more time. Pujols had to go through the motions too. Howard needs to be patient. Next year will be his year, if he wants it.

Seems to me a way to allow both sides to save face would be a multi-year deal that would pay Ryan $7 million this year in salary and then a signing bonus that would come off the back end someplace. Of course we may have reached a zero sum game here.

BAP, remember who owns the Phillies, a bunch of old money types, who consider this a hobby, like golf or polo. Then there are The Wharton Boys, who view the world through the prism of a CPA. And, of course, we cannot forget the semi-retired Pat Gillick, who periodically returns from his home in Canada to pick up his social security check and to look in on how the 1987 Phillies are doing. It's no wonder the payroll hasn't budged in years.

On a side note, the South Maryland Blue Crabs may be one of the tastiest team names I've ever heard.

Malcolm says, "There are other options out there (lesser, I know, but they're there)." Really? Who? To me, that's the stumbling block to trading him -- nobody coming up through the minors, nobody near his level available on the market.

bap, I think you have some points here, but I also think that this may be a case where perception (and it would be my perception too, don't get me wrong) does not accurately reflect reality.

first, Howard hit .283 after he came off the DL, which I think is a valid split to look at. still a step down from his .313 last year, but I think most of us would agree that he's not the kind of hitter who's going to rack up high batting averages. .283 and .288 are, for all intents and purposes, identical batting averages over a season (another two singles would have pushed Howard's post-DL average up to .288).

second, statistics indicate that Howard does have good pitch selection, at least in terms of seeing a lot of pitches. only Burrell saw more pitches per PA than Howard did last year. it's true that this number is going to be skewed by IBBs, but Howard was seeing a lot of pitches in 2004-5 when he wasn't getting walked constantly. Howard's pitch selection (even making a slight adjustment for IBBs) compares favorably to Thomas and Delgado, if not to Thome.

you could criticize Howard for swinging at too many first pitches (he does so more often than Rollins, if you can believe that), but since his career first-pitch OPS is 1.410, I think that's an acceptable flaw. a more legitimate concern than pitch selection, I think, would be contact, which Howard does not do well at all on. he makes contact (when he swings) far less than Burrell, as a matter of fact.

FWIW, I fall down more on the short-peak side when it comes to assessing Howard. (I think any comparison that relies even partially on equating Ryan Howard with Babe Ruth, who's only THE GREATEST HITTER IN BASEBALL HISTORY FOR GOD'S SAKE I MEAN SERIOUSLY ARE YOU KIDDING ME, is pretty absurd.) and I don't think Howard is going to sign a long-term deal unless it's in the $100M+ range (and incentives based on Ks or weight or fielding percentage or whatever are nothing more than the fevered dreams of a madman).

I initially thought the Phils' $7 million offer to Howard was fair, but as b_a_p points out, times change... and he might have added that the game on the whole, and the Phillies in particular, had a very successful year in 2007.

They should have offered him more than $8 million; at that number, they might have won the hearing, and they probably could have reached a deal.

As is, we can guess how this story will unfold: get ready for another oh-so-fun trip down Rolen Road, paved with bad blood between team and player and ending in a terrible trade for someone else's C.J. Henry or Bud Smith, plus a free-agent-to-be mediocrity and one or two prospects nobody will have heard of.

Len- You can't trade Howard now, because this team is built to win right now, and trading the biggest power threat in the league out of your lineup does not help you win now and wastes the primes of Jimmy, Chase, Myers and Hamels. However, if you tried to trade Howard in 2010, a year before he hits free agency, his value is far less and the Yankees/Red Sox of the world will not give up their stud prospects for him. If they aren't giving them up for Santana going into his walk year, they certainly won't give them up for Howard, as good as he is. That's the problem with the scenario- if the Phillies were set to rebuild and had no other weapons around Howard, it would make sense to consider trading him and rebuilding around young pitching. It would be absurd to do so right now while this team is built to win.

Also, BAP, you're assuming then that Howard and Pujols are equal, or that Howard is better than Pujols. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone in the baseball world who thinks that Ryan Howard, as great as he is, is better than Albert Pujols (or even equal). Pujols is the superior player. That said, the Phillies are still offering him a near-record amount for a 2nd year arb player. He's worth it, but it's not like the Phillies are low-balling him here or being really cheap. This is how the system works.

The real complicating issue here is that Howard's clock started at age 25. Cabrera debuted at 20, Pujols at 21, and Texiera at 23. That means that Howard isn't going to see as big of an overall payday as those other guys, since he'll be seeing free agency at a later age. It also means it's much less attractive for ownership to give him a long-term deal, since they'll own him for the traditional peak years no matter what.

Dominican league wrap. Fabio Castro was 0-2 4.34era, 18.2 inns, 10bb, 13k regular season and 0-1 3.57, 17.2 inns, 4bb, 12k in playoffs. Francisco Rosario was 0-0 2.70, 16.2 inns, 10bb, 8k, regular season and 2-1, 4.96, 16.1 inns, 5bb,16k in playoffs. Anderson Garcia only played regular season at 1-3, 2.73 29.2inns, 8bb, 13k. All these guys' seasons are over unless they are picked up by another team for the Caribbean Worls Series.

I just read that the ChiSox designated David Aardsma for assignment to make room on the 40 man roster for Dotel. Aardsma may be worth a waiver wire pickup...any thoughts?

For cryin out loud, give him the $10mil! Its a small price for such a large contributor. Its chump change considering all it brings.

The 10mil also pays to keep away bad feelings, loss of focus, bickering, bad clubhouse energy and bad press.

No brainer, show him the dough. In fact, kick in a bonus just for good measure.

Phanatics Brother- It doesn't work like that. The team submitted their offer, and Howard submitted his. Now an arbitration hearing will settle which one they think is more fair, and that will be awarded. It's how the system works.

If the Phillies weer to pay him 10 million dollars it would be by far the largest arbitration settlement ever for a first year-eligible player. This is why the Phillies did not offer him 10 million dollars. You may not think that 3 million dollars difference is a lot, but what do you think that left-handed arm everyone wants for the bullpen is gonna cost?

ae: Those are good points. I know of no statistic which differentiates between a guy who sees lots of pitches because of his good batting eye & a guy who sees a lot of pitches because pitchers throw him lots of crappy pitches. But my eyes tell me that Howard swings at a huge number of godawful pitches -- particularly against left-handers, against whom he seems to have extreme difficulty picking up the ball.

MattS, I understand the process as you explain it. It's not that complicated. But you continue to ignore my point that there seems to be a great deal of subjectivity involved, regardless of how much "science" the BP folks claim. Again I ask you:


It seems to me that in order to avoid criticism for not using a statistically significant sample size, the BP folks have included players who ought not be there. There are players on the list who, IMO, are very POOR comparisons to Ryan Howard, much less "exactly like Ryan Howard".

I have no problem with statistical analyses and processes thereof; I use them in my profession all all the time. But the sampling has to be valid for the analysis to hold water.

To wit, political polls are often wrong because of sampling errors, not because the data analysis is flawed.

If you look through the list and want to make the case that all of the players on it are comparable to RH... go ahead. I take the position that based on some of their ages, when they played, and their career stats that some of those players are very poor samples to be using.

But please don't tell me I don't understand sampling and the various forms of multiple regression analysis.

Alby: There's nobody in the Minors. Yet. If they dangle Howard, there will be biters, and possibly, a younger 1B option is among them. Also, if you get rid of Howard, you could look into signing aor trading for a third tier 1B for a year or two. No, he won't be at the caliber of Howard, but that's that.

Really, the crappy thing is that the Phils didn't have Howard up with the club before 2005. Instead of understanding this team wasn't anything without pitching, they went for Thome to sell seats. They could've had Howard with the club by 2003 for crying out loud. Now they have a 2.5-year 28-year-old who may or may not be at his prime now.

The gamble is whether you think his prime is now or not. If it is, trading is a better option now than later.

kdon: What's your evidence that big guys go downhill quickly? Some big guys? Most big guys? All big guys? Any reason to believe the BP article is anything more than idle speculation with no factual basis? I bet I can name as many non-big guys whose careers fizzled in their early 30s as you can name big guys.

there's definitely no disputing that Howard struggles against lefties comparatively. Howard on his career: .805 vs LHP; 1.102 vs RHP (-.297)
Howard 2007: .826 vs LHP; 1.072 vs RHP (-.246)
which looks bad. OTOH, Thome has a career .757 OPS vs LHP and 1.065 OPS vs RHP (-.308).

it seems kind of contradictory, but Howard maintains excellent power against lefties even as his average drops. his isolated power against LHP was .268 last year, which is pretty damn good (only Fielder, Dunn, and Howard himself had higher overall iso numbers in the 2007 NL). his HR rate was 13 AB/HR against LHP and 10.3 against RHP; only Fielder again, Howard himself, and Bonds had better overall HR rates.

kdon, point taken on the different arguments, but I think you misconstrued what I meant in the larger argument tha tAlby points out.

Also, arbitration is not ONLY about service time, or comparing players only to other players with equal service time.

Also, arbitration is not ONLY about service time, or comparing players only to other players with equal service time.

that's sort of true, but kdon is correct that Cabrera and Teixeira's current salaries are irrelevant.

cf: "Criteria the panel may consider include the player’s contribution to the club in terms of performance and leadership, the club’s record and attendance, 'special accomplishments,' the salaries of comparable players in his service-time class and, for players with less than 5 years of service, the class one year ahead of him. The parties may not refer to team finances, previous offers made during negotiations, comments from the press or salaries in other sports or occupations." (my emphasis. remember that Howard is super-2; Teixeira currently has 5 years service time and Cabrera is at 4+.)

Careful, clout. MattS is going to show up and tell you YOU, "If you do not understand the process, do not criticize it."

ae, salaries are irrelevant, but production is not, and that is the larger point that Conlin was making.

I don't think Conlin was arguing Howard deserves what Tex and Cabrera are getting. Heck, Howard doesn't...he hasn't asked for it.

The question is whether he's worth $7MM or $10MM.

BTW, ae, where do you think Howard ranks in the other relevant criteria you list, specifically: "contribution to the club in terms of performance and leadership, the club’s record and attendance, 'special accomplishments,'"?

oh, I have no doubt that Howard would win his arbitration hearing...

Anyone who thinks trading Howard now is a good idea is an idiot. There is no way this management gets equal value for the best young slugger in baseball. Thus this window of oportunity the team has with their best players just entering their prime will be wasted.

It is already being wasted by managemnet's failure to provide an adequate supporting cast, but at least they have a chance. Without Howard, there is no chance.

3-4 years down the road, if this team is in rebuild mode, as Jack suggested, THAT's the time to trade him.

DaveX: The lack of service time is an excellent reason to think that Howard has enormous incentive to stay in peak shape through his 30s, no?

Carson: Aardsma would be a substantial upgrade over the Condreys and Segovias or whoever the 12th man is on the staff, but he's not a high ceiling guy or setup alternative.

Dajafi: While I totally understand your point, I think trading Howard for young players will help the Phillies now. A Howard/A-Rod 1-2 punch would be too much for the Yankees to pass up. A rotation of Hamels, Hughes, Chamberlain or Kennedy and Myers (if you don't move him back to the pen) could be poised to win for the next 5 years. If you go to the Sox and get some combination of Youk/Ellsbury & Bucholz once again you are poised to win now. I wouldn't trade him for any prospects that are a couple of years away, but rather some arms that can make an impact now. The Phillies will still score enough runs and then have a devastating rotation. Ellsbury is a very productive player too and would help the offense and defense. Youk will also solve some defensive problems while bringing some offense to the table and a rotation with Hamels, Bucholz & Myers is looking pretty good. Maybe I'm overestimating Howard's trade value, but I don't see how the Yankees could pass on a Howard/A-Rod combo and then the Sox would get in the mix to keep the Yankees from getting him. I guess its all a fantasy though.

AWH, I think if you read Conlin again, he *is* arguing that the Phils should pay Howard Texiera money.


"The Braves just avoided arbitration with Scott Boras client Mark Teixeira by signing their first baseman to a 1-year deal worth $12.5 million. The Detroit Tigers did likewise by settling with third baseman Miguel Cabrera for $11.3 million.

If the Phillies can argue that Teixiera's 63 homers and 215 RBI the past two seasons trump Howard's 105 homers and 285 RBI, then we need to send whoever prepares their case immediately to the Middle East as a dove of peace."

And clout: so you are arguing that body type and skill set are completely irrelevant to predicting how a player will progress/decline?

I just remember Aardsma's stuff being highly touted, and thought he might be worth a shot- trust me I understand he's not a setup option...but could be useful nonetheless.

My prediction--Howard is going to work harder this offseason than he did last year w/ all the MVP hoopla, and have a monster year that makes the Phils will wish they signed him to a long term deal already.

timr, that's my feeling as well.

no banquet circuit = Howard '06

kdon, I disagree. He wasn't specific about salary level so you are taking liberties.

I think his overall point was the Phillies are lowballing Howard and poisoning the relationship.

If the Phillies know Howard is getting disgruntled and less likely to sign long-term in Phila., then that is a huge indicator that they just don't care, and therefor, must have little intent of signing him to a LT deal.

Len: It's fantasy all right. Here's the fantasy part: "trading Howard for young players will help the Phillies now."

kdon: No. I am arguing that body type is NOT the sole predictor or even the main predictor of how a player will perform in his early 30s.

AWH: Lets face it, anyone thinking the Phillies are a real threat to do anything more than contend and give us an exciting September is fooling themselves. They simply don't have the pitching to win a World Series and if the Mets get Santana then things will be that much tougher. Now if you get two of the Yankees stud pitchers and have Hamels, Myers, Hughes, Kennedy or Chamberlain and a nucleus in the everyday lineup built around Rollins and Utley then you are talking about having a real foundation for years that should be able to compete this year and then be dangerous for the next five years after that. Same if you get Ellsbury and Bucholz. Sure they would have to spend some money on a slugger, but they tried to get Lowell this year so hopefully that means they'll make a big run at someone big next winter especially if they have Howard and Burrell's money to play with. Not only that but if some of those pitching prospects in the lower minors actually pan out then we might actually have a surplus of young pitching and can trade for some power in 1-2 years when they are really capable of winning a World Series. Imagine that.

Ok clout, that seems reasonable. I don't think it is the main factor either, just a consideration.

No one (I think) is saying that Howard is a lock to suffer a big drop off, only that it is a point of concern.

I guess we just have different readings of Conlin. But if you read the link above, you'll see that other people took it as a direct comparison.

"Just as a comparison, the Braves gave Mark Teixera a $12.5 million deal for this upcoming season to avoid arbitration and the Tigers forked over $11.3 million to Miguel Cabrera…..and the Phillies won’t give Howard the $10 million that he is asking for?!?!?!?!"

you know, for all the talk about how the Phillies are being stingy and close-minded, nobody's really made the argument that this is how successful teams operate. I would argue that that's exactly the case.

take Boston. over the last 2-3 years, maybe the best combination of deep farm system and strong major league team in baseball. David Ortiz is a guy who's fairly similar to Howard in terms of body type and playing style and so on. and I think he's also fairly similar in terms of his identification with the team, perceived importance to regular season and postseason success, and fan popularity. (it's true that Ortiz has never won an MVP or RoY trophy, but I don't think that's for lack of production.)

in 2004, Ortiz was entering his age 28 season and coming off a 5th-place MVP finish. Boston avoided arb by offering $4.6M. in 2005, Ortiz had just hit 47 HR (2nd in the AL) with 148 RBI (1st) and finished second in the MVP balloting. and he signed a 2-year/$12.5M contract with a $7.75M team option for year three. then in 2006, he finally signed a big-money extension. still, Boston only committed to 4 years and $52M. I could be remembering incorrectly, but I don't recall seeing a constant stream of stories about how Boston was shortchanging Ortiz, or with both sides exchanging volleys in the media about how one side asked too much while the other didn't offer enough. and Ortiz never got a nine-figure contract, and signed a deal that was probably substantially below market value in 2005.

now, I'm not saying that these situations are identical. Ortiz is "only" a DH and doesn't take the field. their service times don't match up. Howard has done more at a younger age than Ortiz did. Boston has a better reputation as a successful franchise than the Phillies. and average salaries may have been a few ticks lower three or four years ago (although Boston was over $120M in payroll--substantially more than the Phillies are spending this year--as early as 2004).

I'm no apologist for management, so I'm not excusing them for their missteps. but my point is that while the Phillies are probably not managing this situation in the absolute best way possible, I think there's also ample reason to believe that Howard & his agents aren't exactly itching to reach a compromise.

Aardsma is definitely worth a shot! The Phils should be all over this like stink on a monkey. Too bad they won't make obtaining him a priority. He will probably end up being a decent reliever for a division rival.

I'm with ae on this one. While this will certainly be held up as another example of the Phillies operating on the cheap, it's very much with precedent. That's why so many times try to combine their aging, probably over-paid stars (in our case, uhhh...Adam Eaton) with young, cheap talent - because there's a system in place that allows young talent to remain cheap.

It's not like football where you can blow out a knee at age 24 and never play again - Ryan Howard will get his big bucks eventually, and if he's still performing, I hope he gets them from us. But for right now, even if it upsets him, it makes the most sense to go year-by-year, or at least a "long-term deal" that isn't actually that long. The only hope we have of the team spending any more actual money, unfortunately, is to maintain our useful situations with those who deserve the VERY big bucks (Rollins, Utley, Howard), and continually to overpay some older sidekicks. Sucks, but that's baseball.

ae, you make some good points, but the actions of the Boston franchise (that is, management), are entirely different than the one in Philly. And their fans know it.

For example, do you really think the Phillies mgmt would have signed Manny Ramirez to his contract? Do you think the Phillies would have exercised the option that the Bosox recently exercised?

The Dice-K posting fee?

Does anyone question Boston ownership's desire to win, the way we question the Phillies?

So to compare the two franchises is like comparing apples and oranges.

Boston mgmt may be tough, but they're not perceived as cheap the way the Phillies are - whether that perception is true or untrue.

The Bosox will do whatever is necessary to win, including paying ridiculous posting fees. The Phillies? I'll let you answer that.

Couple all that with your acknowledgement that the Ortiz and Howard situations as individuals are not identical, and you can see how I must disagree with your statement: "nobody's really made the argument that this is how successful teams operate. I would argue that that's exactly the case."

Boston operates very differently than do the Phillies. They have won 2 of the last 4 WS.

Hmmmm...I wonder if there's a correlation?

Just saw on Daily News that Pat Gillick called the Twins about Santana and they hung up on him, thinking it was a hoax. When they figured out it was really Gillick they called back but the Phils weren't interested. What the F? This has got to be BS but I saw it just 5 minutes ago.

AWH, I honestly can't figure out what your point is. as you point out--not that anybody needs to--Boston's an extremely successful franchise. and yes, they hand out some huge contracts when they have to (i.e. when they need to go on the open market).

but when they're dealing with their own controlled players, they have no problem whatsoever with handing out cheap contracts and (presumably) playing hardball to do so. like king myno says, and this is so crucially important to baseball in 2008 that it bears repeating, "there's a system in place that allows young talent to remain cheap."

so how can you disagree with the statement that successful teams operate in a "stingy" manner when it's appropriate?

Conlin thinks it was maybe The Phils thinking, Howard for Santana offer in the works. But I just re-tivo'd it and I missed which website but Conlin was quoting a website.

Slocs: As I said earlier if the Phils offered Howard for Santana, the Twins would accept in less than a minute.

It seems to me the arbitration process is working like it's supposed too. The spread between high and low may be wide, but as far as I know no one has ever asked for $10M in arb before.

My guess is that it never goes to arb and they settle around $8.5M.

- I know Twins would accept in a minute but I was just reporting what I saw on DNL.

Soriano asked for @12 million but lost and got $10 million the club's offer, the year he was on Washington.

I think the Phillies will bite the bullet and give Howard a long term deal. They do not want to go to arbitration and quite frankly they can not afford to wait another year while Ryan's long term price tag goes up. I agree with the earlier comment about the concern of Ryan being worth $18 to $20 million in 2012 but the way players salaries have been increasing, it is likely to be a bargain. Just look at what people said when Rollins signed his contract. Now he is a bargain.

ae, I can argue with it when you write it this way:

"you know, for all the talk about how the Phillies are being stingy and close-minded, nobody's really made the argument that this is how successful teams operate. I would argue that that's exactly the case."

and call the Phillies a "successful team(s)" comparing them to the Red Sox. That's rather like Joe Banner saying the Eagles are the gold standard of the NFL when he compares the Eagles to the Patriots.

Let's see the Phillies make the playoffs a few times and maybe win a WS before we call them a successful team and analogize them to Boston.


You are correct that the process of picking 20 players objectively did not draw many good comparables. That does not mean that it is subjective. The process is done a certain way and obviously some of those comparisons are poor.

You are correct that Hostetler and Colbert are pretty poor comparables. They were not very high on the list, and there similarity index was much lower. It seems that there projection of him is mostly based on his own numbers as well as similarity to 7 players: Vaughn, Hafner, Epstein, Powell, Delgado, Fielder, and Aikens.

Regardless, there probably is some reason that those players were comparable. Perhaps it has to do with their path of development rather than its absolute level. Maybe they progressed at the same rate or something. I'm not sure the details of the analysis.

But you can't argue with the results. The past several years in a row, they have had consistently better projections than any other system. If it takes a system that uses Dave Hostetler to judge Ryan Howard, so be it.

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