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Wednesday, February 20, 2008


just going on instinct here, but I'm going to predict a loss for Howard; I think he aimed a little too high this year with $10M.

personally I think both sides went too far with their bids - too conservative for the Phils and too aggressive for Howard. IMO, if either side had been $1M closer to the middle, they'd be have an easy win.

A Phillies win is the safest bet, but I'm going with the darkhorse. Howard gets his eight-figure deal today.

huh, I kind of had the impression that a Howard win was the conventional wisdom. (but then I don't live in Philly, so I only get a sampling of the local media.)

Maybe I'm reading it wrong. History is on the side of teams.

favorite line from those articles:

The Phillies won't dazzle the panel with Howard's "range factor."

ah yes, "range factor." one of those high-tech calculation that requires several supercomputers to accurately measure.

The factor that I haven't seen mentioned (and I'm not in Philly either, so I don't know what the locals are writing), is that the union has to be pulling hard for Howard to establish a new, and much higher benchmark of what's possible in a first arbitration hearing. Yes, Howard is an exception, with what he's accomplished already, but if he wins big here, then every team loses because they have to look to this as a new high water mark. That's not necessarily a local angle, but it's an important one that is intertwined with Howard's future arbitration negotiations.

JAS: (From last thread). The problem with your analysis of the Thome trade is that you have no clue whether the Phils could've done better. You and Sir Alden act as if Howard was part of the trade. He wasn't. The fact is, the Phillies dealt Thome for pennies on the dollar. And paid most of his contract. Thome's OPS the past 2 season was 1.014 and .973.

The way to judge any trade deal is: Did you get fair value? Sir Alden had to twist himself into a pretzel to try to make the argument that the Phils got fair value for Thome and he looked silly doing it.

Jason: I think the owners are undefeated in arb so far this offseason.

Clout: Yeah, and the Phils have an excellent record, too. My head says Phillies, my gut says Howard, and I think he deserves it.

ae: LOL! Don't forget range factor is a key ingredient in those fielding ratings that show how bad Rollins and Reyes are on defense and how Feliz is one of the all-time greats.

Howard wins as long as the arbitrators take inflation into account. Which they should.

i hope howard loses.


For me, the biggest tipping point in favor of the White Sox in the Thome trade was the money we paid them. Otherwise, it was a decent deal for us, made worse by the return we got on Gonzalez. But, for all the money we paid out, we certainly should have gotten another top pitching prospect at least.

I don't think Sheridan's ariticle was ludicrous at all. I think he was simply expressing what a lot of us are feeling on this matter. The cheapskate Phils are creating a atmosphere of resentment with a once in a generation type talent. Rookie of the year and MVP. Soak it in boys because this type of player dosen't come along very often, especially in Philly. Jason I usually agree with most of your opinions, but I have to part with you on this one. Howard will win this, as he should. Puljos's case was a couple of years ago and we all know salaries are on the rise. I just hope the damage is not to bad to get a long term deal done very soon.

I'm not so sure the union wants arbitration awards to go up across the board. I would think that would lead to lower FA contracts, since franchises would be less able to save money on younger talent.

in other words, maybe overall average salaries stay more or less the same, but veteran salaries would go down as arb awards go up. (I'm not an economist, so I could be totally off base with my assumptions here.)

The Phils aren't being cheap. They're offering the most money paid to a player in Howard's position. The notion that the Phils should tank it is silly. It's a business decision, and the offer they made is justifiable.

On the fact that Howard deserves the money he's asking, we can agree, and I think he'll triumph today.

I admire Ryan for working on his fielding with Steve Smith this ST but he should have done it last ST. Because he struggled to make the 3-6-3 double play in the field and hit only .225 against left handed pitching last year, I can not see how the abritrators can give what he wants. He will not get the $9.1 million pay hike he wants but going from $900,000 to $7 million will just have to do for now. But next year is a different story if he can make the DP and hit a little better against lefties.

report on says Gillick, Amaro, & Arbuckle met w/Howard's agent to try to reach a deal before the hearing. I know Phillies management are not known for their generosity or flexibility, but I really don't think they're the intransigent ones in this case.

ae: That's a good point, although my sense, and this could be way off base, is that increases in arb wins for players have coincided with overall salary gains. The main thrust of my point is that the ceiling will likely be moved up with this negotiation, a fact that will have long term reverberations, both for the Phils and for the rest of MLB.

I have been a fan since 1975 and the Phils always have been and always will be cheap until a new ownership group is in place. I don't have time to list the mountain of evidence to bolster my case but I don't think I have to. That stadium is a gold mine, yet we continue to operate like the Pirates and Twins. Why don't we just dump him for prospects before he gets real expensive.

I think Howard taking the Phils to arb is a travesty. The fact that his father attended the hearing to me, this is Eric lindros re-visited. The Phils tried to reach an agreement with him to avoid the hearing and it didn't get done. They tried the same thing last year before they renewed his contract. The kid is being very difficult here. And no good good can come of it. There will be bad blood and a long-term deal with this kid is probably a long shot. Jayson Stark and already written that he wants much more than Utley and would not accept a similar deal toPujols (7/100). Puljols is a much better hitter. He simply doesn't K. Utley produces all around as many runs as Howard.

I think the Phils win the case based on service time alone. Mark me, bad blood no matter who wins.

Agreed that Howard has a high opinion of his value. But if the Phils are trying to make a split the difference agreement, that's not going to work. If I were them, I would agree to 9 or 9.5 mil so Howard can claim a win.

Again, they are cutting off their nose to spite their face.


The hearing has already begun. There will be no agreement. Howard will make 7 or 10 as decided by the arbitration panel. There is no middle ground now.

How does the fact that Thome had a no trade clause and was coming off of a big injury factor into people's opinion of the trade?

Does anyone think that another general manager would have been able to get equal value they would have had very little leverage?


I was responding to ae's report of a meeting. It's a shame if they failed, and I can only hope Howard wins today.

I don't see any MVP trophies on the shelves of Pirates players. If you want to compare the Twins, who have/had a Cy Young and an MVP and some recent playoff appearances, that's fine.

From a personality standpoint, Ryan Howard has never demonstrated the prima donna tendencies like Lindros did. There's plenty of evidence from the early days of this blog on Howard's time at Reading.

This whole episode requires a little more nuance than "the cheapskate owners" versus "the working man." That argument only sells newspapers. This coming from the poster that railed against management with snark and vitriol. I must be getting soft in my old age... :-)

from the district:

It factors into my opinion for sure. Given those factors Gillick did quite decently. However for the money we included, I think we could have done better, perhaps another pitching prospect.

A naive question about how these things work: can the arbiters pick a middle number or do they have to pick one or the other?

Ryan Howard actually doesn't do that badly by range factor.

The weird thing is that RF doesn't actually measure range. Its Fielding % with a different demoninator.

ae: I'm always happy to dump on the Phillies' management but, in this case, I have to agree that Howard is the one who is making negotiation impossible. I don't begrudge Howard his right to play hardball, but I hope he doesn't one day regret that he didn't sign a Chase Utley type contract. What Utley realized, and Howard doesn't, is that if he waits around until his free agency eligibility arrives, there's no guarantee that he'll still be able to command anywhere near the dollars he could command today.

That said, I think Howard will win the arbitration. There's sort of a presumption in favor of the team but, in this case, the Phillies' offer is so dramatically out of whack with the present market that no arbitrator will rule in their favor.

"I think Howard taking the Phils to arb is a travesty."

An overstatement?

Tc, they have to pick one or the other. I think in hockey they can chose a number in between.

On Thome: Isn't it a little early to asses that trade? Doesn't Gonzalez's future (and Haigwood) make a big difference in how you assess that trade?

Sure they are both gone now, but that was the fault of the Garcia/Castro trades, not the initial deal.

Wow, it looks like Haigwood took a *major* step back last year, 1.70 WHIP in AA after his very good year for Reading.

Castro - Haigwood may be one of Gillick's best trades.


You can write off Haigwood for sure. He's bounced around a couple times since the Phils and doesn't have a future.

I thought I heard somewhere that the owners are undefeated in arbitration so far this year.

"Don't forget range factor is a key ingredient in those fielding ratings that show how bad Rollins and Reyes are on defense and how Feliz is one of the all-time greats."

Range factor is a terrible defensive metric.

Dewan's +/-, Zone rating, and B-PROs FRAA (the stats that all do say Feliz was the best defensive 3B in baseball and that J-Roll is average - no one says he is bad) all use play by play data.

This means they don't just add up assists, but actually watch every single defensive play made. The formula used to produce the numbers may be complicated, but the input analysis (watching whether a player does or does not make a play) is astonishingly simple.

Jason, thank you for being reasonable on the Arb situation. Anyone who is "rooting" for Howard to win because ownership is "cheap" simply does not know what they are talking about with this. Howard has now changed agents twice trying to get as much money out of the Phils as possible. Both of the last 2 years we have attempted to make a deal with Howard, and both times he has rejected the Phillies.

How can people rail against management for being cheap, and then hope that they spend 3 more million on Howard instead of using that elsewhere (wishful thinking, I know)? Seriously, the idea that Howard will somehow play better if an arbitrator awards him 10 million instead of 7 million is a joke. It's a business people, and both sides know this. Stop using this as an excuse to bash management- there is plenty of other legit reasons to do so.

Fans of a team should ALWAYS root for the team to win in arbitration. The less money players cost, the better for the team. Simple as that guys. If Howard wins 10 million this year, that means that's the baseline for his arb hearing next year, and it goes up higher than it would if he had 7 this year. That means less money to spend on FA's next year. Use your heads, please.

Jon Heyman of reports that free agent Freddy Garcia visited the Mets on Wednesday.

According to the Daily News, no signing is imminent. Garcia had shoulder surgery in August and likely won't be ready to pitch again until at least midseason.


There's a lot of truth to what you wrote and I tend to agree.

I think what has everyone frightened is Howard feeling slighted and becomine another Scott Rolen. I think it's overblown, but a concern.

Howard gets 7 mil. Take the 3 mil saved and sign Loshe.

Based on what I'v read and heard, Howard is searching for an A-Rod type payday rather than an Utley or Pujols type one that people think he'd be so quick to sign. The man wants paid like he's the best. He's damn good, but not the best.

Re the thome trade: this is the rare situation where there is more to the issue than simply whether we got completely fair value in return. While I don't accept Sir Alden's logic that we somehow traded Thome for Rowand, Gio, and Ryan Howard, I do accept that we had to trade either Howard or Thome, and we made the right choice. Thome had little value because he was coming off a terrible year & looked like his career could well be winding down. On top of that, he had a full no-trade clause. I think it was a pretty well-established fact that the WhiteSox were one of the few teams that wanted Thome & to whom Thome would accept a trade. Under those circumstances, I think the Phillies did ok. Without Rowand, we wouldn't have won the NL East last year. And, what was the alternative? To have Ryan Howard backing up Jim Thome last year?

I DON'T think you can evaluate this, or any other, trade by looking at all its unforeseeable downstream consequences. You don't grade down "Star Wars" because "Return of the Jedi" sucked, and you can't grade down the Thome trade because Freddy Garcia sucked and Fabio Castro hasn't panned out yet. Likewise, you can't give the trade a higher mark because we're getting 2 compensatory draft picks for Rowand, or because Gio Gonzalez still hasn't panned out. It's funny how Sir Alden was ga-ga over Gio when he was still in our system; now that he's been traded away -- for absolutely nothing, no less -- Sir Alden asserts that he wasn't all that great anyhow.

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates this morning reached agreement on a contract with free-agent pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim.

It is believed to be a major-league deal, though no other terms are known. The San Francisco Giants also had been pursuing hin but offered only a minor-league deal.

Bed's Beard- You're probably right. If Howard is pissed off at the team for whatever reason, and leaves in a few years, everyone will blame the team. But he's asking for ridiculous money and has shown no signs of compromising at all. The fact is, he's shown consistently that he's out to get the most money possible. If that's the case, then it doesn't matter if we're "nice" to him or not in arbitration. At this point, the Phillies need to put out their best, most reasonable long-term offer, and if he rejects it, then you need to get as much value as you can out of him for as cheap as possible. Simple as that. I just find it amazing that people think it's the ownership being cheap when Howard has taken the hard-line business stance on it. He understands how the business works way better than all the people on here defending him.

Bed Beard:

That is my concern about the Howard situation. I'm not concerned about his play, but about the prospect of trading him for cents on the dollar in a couple years' time.

Is it overblown? Hard to say. Howard is not another brooding personality like Rolen, but he is a strong personality with strong beliefs.

Howard is a marketing bonanza for the team, they should reward him, and pay for better pitching.

Again, it's not my money - f their budget.

"How can people rail against management for being cheap, and then hope that they spend 3 more million on Howard instead of using that elsewhere"

I think the point is that they should be able to pay that three million, still sign Loshe, and have enough money to sign Sabathia.

And they do. Revenue is simply crazy right now in baseball, and the Phils clearly could afford a lot more than their self imposed payroll of $100M.

BAP: I agree with your general point, but whether Gonzalez pans out does matter. As I see it, the Garcia trade was simply bad on its own, and you can't work backwards to say it also makes the Thome trade bad.

It seems silly that the performance of Freddy Garcia should determine whether or not Thome for Gonzalez/Rowand/Haigwood was a good deal or not.

Why does everyone here hate Ryan Howard so much? He's the best player to ever wear a Phillies uniform. The team wouldn't spend that extra 3 million on players, they'd spend it on themselves.

From Jayson Stark's espn article about the arbitration hearing:
"Nobody in history has hit 47 homers or more in each of his first two full seasons. Nobody. Or here's another way to look at it: After 410 games in the big leagues, Howard is already up to 129 homers. Want to know how insane that is? Here's how insane:

That's 72 more than Junior Griffey, 62 more than Barry Bonds, 54 more than Mike Schmidt, 44 more than A-Rod and 31 more than Albert Pujols at the same stage. The only player in the last half-century who was even within 25 homers of Howard, after this many games, is Bob Horner (who was exactly 25 back, at 104).

In fact, you want to know the player in history who is most comparable? It's that George H. Bambino Ruth. He dabbled in the pitching profession for a few years before finally getting his shot as a full-time hitter at age 25. Whereupon he mashed 54 and 59 homers respectively in 1920-21."

You all should love this guy; LOVE him. He's a legend your grandkids will someday ask you about. What will you tell them: "I was one of the guys who ran him out of town"? That sure worked out for the Red Sox.

"The fact is, he's shown consistently that he's out to get the most money possible."

No! Your kidding! Who the hell does he think he is: some kind of rational economic actor in a capitalist country?

When the Phillies owners stop trying to make as much money as *they* can, then you can rip Howard.

"He's the best player to ever wear a Phillies uniform."

In a day of hilarious comments, I think this takes the cake.

Sheridan's article was pretty dumb imo. Check out Keith Law's blog post for some nice analysis on why: .

What it comes down to is that there is no evidence that being generous during arb years translates into better performance or a hometown discount down the road. The system is setup such that the Phillies will get screwed by Howard when he hits FA, so why give him extra $ when it won't net the team anything? That money could be better spend on pitching.

Baxter: That's all great. I love Ryan Howard as a player. He's tremendous, although Mike Schmidt is still the best player to ever wear a Phillies uniform, and Carlton is up there too. Howard is only entering his 3rd full season- let's not annoint him Greatest Ever yet.

It just seems clear to me that Howard is out for as much money as he can get, and that probably means rejecting reasonable long-term deals from the Phillies and going to free agency in 2011. This is as much on Howard as it is on ownership.

kdon: But why spend that 3 million if you don't have to? It's really easy to spend other people's money on a message board. It's another thing if that was actually your money. At least Morty admits he's not being reasonable because it's not his money.

wow, I usually like Stark, but what a ridiculous statement.

so Ryan Howard is most comparable to Babe Ruth. the same Babe Ruth who, at age 25, outhomered EVERY OTHER TEAM IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE.

also like how he throws Bob Horner in there and proceeds to pretend like it doesn't completely destroy his point.

kdon: My point is that idiots like Sheridan who think that if we're "nice" to Howard now he'll give us a hometown discount on a long-term deal are wrong. Howard is out to get the most money possible, no matter what. Which is fine, it's a business. Just expect to see him gone in 2011, as some other team will overspend for an aging slugger in his 30's.

If it were up to me, I'd offer Howard a 6 year deal for 130 million- that's a huge deal, much bigger than Pujols received (7 for 100), or a 7 year deal for 145, if he wants an extra year. If he rejects those, then you get as much value as you can out of him for as cheap as possible. The fact is he won't be worth whatever contract he gets in free agency.

I also don't think Albert Pujols is arguably a better player than Howard. While time has elapsed, certainly, Pujols posted better OPS+'s at a younger age. He's also regarded as one of the best glovemen at the league at 1B. Granted, 1B isn't terribly important in defense, but some outlets (BP, for example) peg the difference at about 2.5-3 games. Even if you think its only a third of that, considering his superior speed I don't think its hard to say that Pujols is better than Howard.


You seem to assume that the Phils would offer him 130 mil over 6.

Extrapolating from their arbitration offers, they have at best offered him the 100 mil over 7 that Pujols got in 2004. In the four years since, there has been inflation both in baseball and the wider world. The Phils insult Howard's and the fan base's intelligence by claiming this is a fair market offer.

Morty: I have no idea what the Phils offered. Just saying that's what I would offer.

Dave X- In Pujol's down year last year he was still significantly better then Howard. Its really not even close.

Howard had a WARP of 6.4, an EQA of .310 and an OPS of .976

Pujols had a WARP of 11.3, an EQA of .320 and an OPS of .993

Keep in mind that Pujols was playing injured most of the year. Ryan Howard is a great player but he is not remotely close to Albert. Albert has a LIFETIME OBP of .420. The guy is just on another plane.

Jack, I see your point and I agree. Both parties should go after what they think they can get, and fans shouldn't hope Howard wins.

Sorry, I thought you were criticizing Howard.

Pujols is better than Howard. Starks article is so stupid, it's hard to know where to begin. Wouldn't age be a better measure than number of days in the majors. I mean, hell, I bet Ichiro and Matsui have waaay better numbers in their first two years in the majors then most hall of famers.

Howard is an incredible talent, and the fact that he was stuck in the minors for at least 1.5 seasons sucks, but Stark is being silly.

Sure, he has 72 more HR than one of the best defensive CF to ever play they game; how is that important?

Stark is hilarious sometimes, he bends over backwards to make ridiculous comparisons and then sounds like he is shocked at the discovery.

Also, fair market value doesn't matter when the team controls his rights for the next 3 years. It's simply not a free market, so it doesn't matter what Howard would make on the open market.

I am really getting tired of this "cheapskate Phillies" nonsense. The Phils have a payroll approaching 100 million (one of the highest in baseball). They overpaid in terms of dollars and years for a lot of guys recently (Thome, Utley, Rollins). You cannot argue that they are not spending money, if you want to say they have not spent all of it wisely (Eaton, Thome, etc.) then so be it, but they are not cheap!

The flaw in Stark's analysis is that the Griffeys and Pujols's and Bonds's of the world didn't get called up at the age of 26. They got called up when they were 20 to 22. Had they been called up in the prime of their careers, I'm sure they would've hit a ton of home runs right out the gate too.


A long term deal will include at least 1 or 2 free agent years.

Does your thinking change if the Phils are only offering what Pujols got four years ago?

Anyone hear any updates on Mathieson's visit to the Doc?

kdon: Sabathia will command J. Santana-type money. I don't see the Phillies paying it. The Yankees will have enough big contracts coming off their books to pay it easily.

Those who talk about what Howard might want down the road are missing the point -- the Phillies will not be able to afford Howard once he reaches free agency. Under that scenario the question becomes, what is the best time to let him go? Should he be traded soon, before any potential drop-off? Should the Phillies keep him through his sixth season? Should they take a middle course? I'm not even sure how to evaluate that question, but it's looking unlikely, barring career-ending injury, that Howard will end his career in red pinstripes.

I am not convinced that Howard will be out of the Phillies price range. The guy is very good but he wont make Arod money. 6 Years at 18 million isnt totally out of the Phillies capabilities.


I think it's stretching it. I believe Alby is closer to the mark, sadly. Everyone is talking on the field exclusively, but you cannot forget about the marketing side of the business as well. And Howard is a monster in that department, especially as he continues in the league.

Alby, I don't think they will pay it either, but they could certainly *afford* it.

Teams all across baseball are paying about 20% less of revenue then they were just about 5 years ago.

There is no question the Phillies payroll could go to 125-130M.

I agree they aren't cheap, but the payroll has flatlined for about the last four years.

They're business men and women, so they can do what they want, but I think people should be free to criticize a group that has substantial profit margins based largely on taxpayer dollars and subsidies.

Oh my freaking God, if I have to read one more comment about how the Phillies "can't or won't be able to afford somebody" I am going to lose my freaking mind. Has the subtle bullshit that has come out of the Vet and now The Bank brainwashed people even on this board? My God.

Now, "don't want to afford" and "can't afford" are two entirely differnt things. Seriously, stop it. Please.

Well, I would hope that the Phillies are smart enough to have done analysis about how much Howard is truly worth, when you take into account marketing and merch sales and then comparing that to how much they'd sell if you didnt sign him long-term and redistributed the money and had a successful team, just without Howard, how much they would sell. My guess is that a winning team sells just as much no matter who the stars are on the team. If Howard wasn't signed long-term and they used the money to keep winning, my guess is people would just buy more Hamels and Utley jerseys instead, and the tickets sales wouldn't decline. Just a guess.

What I wonder is if the Phils (a team generally none to abhor advanced saber techniques to evaluate players) will use them in the arbitration hearing against Howard? That would be kind of ironic.

"Fans of a team should ALWAYS root for the team to win in arbitration. The less money players cost, the better for the team. Simple as that guys. If Howard wins 10 million this year, that means that's the baseline for his arb hearing next year, and it goes up higher than it would if he had 7 this year. That means less money to spend on FA's next year. Use your heads, please."

I totally disagree. $3M isn't going to make a real difference. Plus, if the Phils win it will just go in the owners' pockets.

Owners are racking in profits hand over fist. More importantly, the share of overall revenues going to owners is greater now than it was 4 or 5 years ago too.

Far too often we criticize players for being greedy and the owners get a complete pass. If anything, most players in baseball won't even make MLB. Even if they do, they only will likely have a very limited window to maximize their earning potential.

Meanwhile, the owners are racking in an annual profit and don't even get me started on the taxpayer subsidies that go to stadiums that end up in the owners' pockets. So typical of owners - they love to sit at the gov't trough as long as it benefits them. Anytime it doesn't, they rail against any form of taxes.

the Phils (a team generally none to abhor advanced saber techniques to evaluate players)

honest question: is that factually true? or is it just an impression?

certainly you could point to a Golson as evidence of toolsiness overemphasis, but the same system also developed guys like Burrell and Howard who are virtually 180 degrees from that kind of player.

ae - I do know the Phils don't employ any kind of internal consultant/outside firm that specializes in providing saber stats. Remember hearing that last year on an interview on 610.

Maybe they use them to a degree but I highly doubt that a guy like Gillick (or Green) gives them even second-thought.

from the district: Shoulda, coulda, woulda. The fact (not speculation) is that THIS management got what it got: pennies on the dollar.

MG: You made no counter argument as to why the fans shouldn't hope the team wins. All you said was that owners are greedy. How does it help the fans or the team at all if we pay more money for players already under our control?

ae: The fact that they have good players is not evidence that they use advanced analysis or sabermetric techinques in player evaluation. Every farm system has tons of players, who range from "toolsyness" like Golson to whatever you want to describe players like Howard and Burrell. It seems clear that the Phillies are among the least progressive Front Offices though.

"he Phils (a team generally none to abhor advanced saber techniques to evaluate players)

"honest question: is that factually true? or is it just an impression?"

Ae, I think it's true. Don't forget that Gillick was one the GMs most hostile to Moneyball. Also, Arbuckle comes out of the Braves system, which is certainly more scout than stat based.

I don't know about Wade. He put together some teams that stat guys liked (the Phillies were always high on Rob Neyer's Beane Count), but that could have been by accident.

Based on his lifelong obsession with overpaying for replacement level relief pitchers, if he was a stat guy, he missed that chapter.

Jack - that was my point: that the players in the system or produced by the system aren't evidence of reliance on old-school scouting or modern strategies.

clearly they're not the A's or the Red Sox, but I don't see any evidence produced by you or MG that they're overly conservative, aside from asserting that it "seems clear" or that it's "highly doubtful."

not trying to be argumentative, but I think the conventional wisdom in this case is pretty much baseless, unless I see something more concrete than "I heard an interview on WIP one time."

I would also say the addition of Chuck "I loves them tools" LaMarr is another data point that the Phils are among the least active organizations in sabermetrics.

kdon (in brussels): Yes, you're right & I misspoke. Gio was a direct fruit of the Thome trade so, when evaluating that trade, it's more than fair to take into consideration how Gio pans out (even though he'll be panning out, or not panning out, for another team). But, once you start throwing Fabio Castro & Freddy Garcia & the Aaron Rowand compensatory draft picks into the equation, the connection to the Thome trade becomes a bit too attenuated for me.

In any case, this whole exercise only serves to point out that the notion of grading any individual trade is somewhat misdirected. No trade is made in a vacuum; they are made as part of some larger overall plan. It's that overall plan, not the constitutent parts, that should be graded or evaluated. Even the Abreu trade, for example, wouldn't look so bad if the Phillies had used his $15M salary to sign Ted Lilly & Chad Bradford.

the Gillick/Moneyball connection is a valid point, but I don't see Gillick as having made any major shakeups in his short time here.

LaMarr's hiring also doesn't really convince me - he's a director of scouting, not a statistician. his job is to go look at players and judge them. I doubt any team in baseball has someone doing that job who could be described as a sabermetrician.

I'd just like to see some actual evidence before I buy the extremely broad and possibly hyperbolic argument that "the Phils are among the least active organizations in sabermetrics".

1) Seems like Sabremetrics can be very helpful, but they are not the be-all-end-all. All you need to see is the earlier discussion about how Jimmy Rollins barely cracked the Top 10 last year in VORP or whatever. I am not the world's biggest Jimmy Rollins fan, but there is no question that he and Holliday were the two most valuable players in the NL last year. By watching the game, that's how you know, whether or not the hyper-stats show it. One of the beautiful things about baseball is its mathematical and statistical conduciveness, as opposed to, say, football. That's how we can compare Ryan Howard to Babe Ruth and argue about which stat really matters, but because the game lends itself nicely to stats, that doesn't mean that stats capture everything.

2) Ryan Howard is a great player, and I'm a big fan. He is, however, not the hitter Mike Schmidt was for his day -- when player routinely won HR crowns by hitting 36-38 of them. In 1980 Schmidt hit 48, and no one else was within ten of him. The game was just different then, stats aside. It's like saying that the hitters today are overwhelmingly worse then the hitters 100 years ago, because a bunch of guys hit .400. I'd argue that Pujols is probably a better hitter than, say, Lou Gehrig, but if you look at the stats, it's Gehrig by a mile. Just a different game.

3) Howard ($10 million) vs. Howard ($7 million) + a $3 million reliever. I take the latter. Good luck to the Phillies today.

Jack: By your (and kdon's) logic we should all root for corporations against workers, no? If the workers get higher salaries that cost is passed along to us consumers. If we're stockholders, it's less money for them to invest in the business. In the case of the Phillies, it's less money to spend on good players because of their arbitrary budget limit. Taken to the logical extreme, we should root for the destruction of the player's union, no? The more money for the owners the better for the team, right?

JAS: The problem is you can't PROVE that Rollins and Holliday were the 2 most valuable players last year. Partly because "most valuable" is so subjective by nature, but also because "there is no question" isn't a valid argument. There are plenty of questions about that. Your opinion without objective facts doesn't mean much. Stats don't purport to tell you a person's TOTAL contributions to a franchise, and Jimmy certainly has tons of intangibles that led to his being named MVP. But they do purport to tell you, as best as they can, how much value the player actually contributed on the field. And the numbers say J-Roll wasn't the best in total ON FIELD value- to which I say, so what? Who cares? Why do people here care that stats say Jimmy wasn't the best player? He won the MVP, we won the division, why can't we just be happy with that? The stats tell me that other guys were BETTER last year, but my hear tells me Jimmy is my favorite because I root for him and the Phils and that he's an awesome player regardless. Why can't people reconcile those two things? Seems easy to me.

Agree with you on the other 2 points, although I doubt they use that 3 million to sign a reliever.

Well, that is the logical extreme, which not many people would advocate. But what we have here is an inherent problem in being a fan of a TEAM: What is in the team's best interests often isn't in the best interests of a player on the team, who you also root for. This is one of those times.

That last comment was in regards to Clout's comment.

ae - Of course the Phils use some level of statistics to evaluate players. Every team does to some degree. I also don't know where the Phils stand in relation to other organizations. That would require some really detailed work/analysis. Even then you would likely only get partial information from teams.

The point I was trying to make is that if the Phils do not employ anyone internally or hire outside expertise in some of the advanced saber stats, I highly doubt they place that much emphasis on a number of stats like VORP or such.

Gillick didn't need to make any major shakeups because his philosophy of baseball is very much aligned with the current organization. Additionally, I am pretty dubious that Gillick could make any kind of substantial changes if he wanted to anyway. He is a basically an interim GM and will be gone by the end of this year.

Besides that point, Gillick and LaMarr are well-noted for placing much more emphasis on scouting than stats. Stats obviously come into the picture at some point but take a back seat to scouting.

Not trying to stay that one approach is superior to the other. You obviously need both scouting/stats and blend it together. Line has become increasingly blurred and I have yet to see a really good book on how an organization remedies/marriages the data.

I will tell you this from my experience in the health care industry - stats trump a doctor's recall almost every time. Even the smartest person in the world (and surgeons think they are), have trouble disgusting and recalling large amount of observations correctly.

Also, Clout, most shareholders of a corporation are totally fine with, and in fact, usually encuorage, when the corporation does layoffs in order to streamline costs and cut payroll and increase profits. It's capitalism, for good and for bad.

well, I hate to defuse a potential flame war, but I pretty much agree with your entire post, MG.

Jack - I see your point but basically the difference is the money going in Howard's pocket or the Phils' owners pocket. Maybe the Phils make a move if they save the $3M but I highly doubt it. Amaro has given every indication that the Benson signing set this team's roster for spring training.

If that is the case, I would rather have the $3M go into Howard's pocket I guess than the owners at this point. Just a shame that both sides weren't able to come to a compromise since I can't imagine that Howard is going to be thrilled about having his deficiencies highlighted for 2 hours. No person would be.

Jack: I'd be more inclined to embrace that philosophy if I believed the owners of my team had the best interests of the fans at heart. Fans want one thing: To win a championship no matter what it costs. The ownership has a radically different agenda: To sell as many tickets (and accessories) as possible. A championship is nice, insofar as it's great way to achieve that goal, but it is not the goal itself. If hoopla, a new park, a couple good players and bad baseball can fill the seats, a championship is irrelevant.

MG: Yeah, I think people are being a little simplistic when they talk about being a "sabermetric" organization. Just having a lot of guys who walk, or looking at stats like VORP, doesn't mean a whole lot to me. There is no such thing as stats vs. scouting, both are parts of an organization. I would guess that pure scouting reports are used much more for young players and draft prospects while stat analysis is more relevant for major league players with large sample sizes and who are fully developed as players.

What I would like is a full-on progressive organization that allocates maximum resources to scouting department and minor league development as well as uses the most advandced statistical analysis. Also, I'd like to have a team that does serious research and uses the most advanced technology to deal with health issues, not just relying on outdated medical reports by their training staff. I'd like to see the team invest more into the draft; it makes sense to spend more there on cheap players than to spend on really expensive free agents. I'd like to see a team built for the long-term while also maximizing financial resources to best win in the short term.

Unfortunately, I root for the Phillies. They are none of the above.

MG: If you're worried about the team bashing Howard in a closed courtroom, well he brought that on himself by not agreeing to a deal. He knows what goes on there.

Also, while the Phils might not spend the 3 million this year, it will also affect what they ahve to pay him next year. Because arb raises usually go percentage wise, that 3 million difference probably becomes an extra 4 or 5 mill next year the Phils will be paying Howard. They could use that 4 or 5 mill next offseason, and so on for the next couple years.

If anyone has seen already, Metsblog is already organazing the invasion of Citizens Bank Park for Phils home games against the Mets. I have to give them credit, pretty clever.

I would like to make one point re: Howard and Pujols. They are virtually the same age - Howard is two months older than Pujols. Age is the most important determinant in future career projections and, therefore, contract valuation.

By the time Albert Pujols had started his 2006 season, he had already racked up 1,426 points in MVP voting over five years, from 2001 to 2005. When Howard won his MVP in 2006, his adjusted OPS (or OPS+) for the season was 167. It's a very fine score, but it is not in the top 20 scores of players at age 26. In fact, Pujols scored a 178 that same season. Cecil Fielder also scored a 167 in 1990, the year he turned 26.

In the front of Ruben Amaro's mind, he must see the strikeouts and the career parallel to Cecil Fielder and think of a red flag. As much as I hate to think it, Howard's going to need one more year where he destroys everyone in the MVP.

JAS: If you watched baseball last year what you saw in Rollins was a guy who made more outs then any other player in baseball. A guy who's OBP was below league average. This isnt sabr; simple rule when at bat in baseball not making an out is better then making an out.

If you gave Perez 1000 PAs he would probably be able to match most of Rollin's counting stats. His BA would be pretty close too. Think that would deserve the MVP? Rollins MVP case was predicated on a bunch of stats that were accumulated by virtue of plate appearances. Plate appearances was a product of the team hitting around him. Even with the intangible argument its a weak case.

If you want to really be un-sabr, lets talk about mythical clutch ability. With runners in scoring position Rollins hit .272 (lame) and unlike most players this is not accompanied by an increased OBP, he actually dropped his OBP to .302 with RISP.

With the bases loaded he batted .182 which is downright awful.

So in summary he was a mediocre hitter who got worse when it counted and built an MVP case on the shoulders of his teammates. Chase Utley should be insulted.

Jack, to your point - By simply paying Howard and ignoring the process would defeat your notion of having the "team invest more into the draft; it makes sense to spend more there on cheap players than to spend on really expensive free agents." because then they would be paying Howard as if he is a free agent.

This team has been built (IMO) for the longterm, with a nucleus of young talent (Utley, Howard, Rollins, Hamels, Myers, Burrell) through the draft and farm system -and the biggest advantage to that is that they can pay them less for longer and keep them from the FA market.

Who really cares if the Phils hire any sabermetricians? If they win does it really matter?

Tony: Aboslutely, it matters. If you can't measure it, you can't improve on it.

Jack - Valid points. I guess it is in a fan's interest in Howard getting a lower salary because it allows the Phils to have more resources to spend. I just find it hard root for an owner vs. a player (who I actually pay to see).

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EST. 2005

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