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Saturday, February 13, 2010


From the end of last thread:

"The original issue I raised was you quoting a 23 mil salary for Howard and 15 for Werth"

Jonesman, exactly. And as I have said to you earlier last thread, Howard can be an MVP, win you playoff series' and carry your team when you need him most (See September 2008). Howard is a historic player, therefore Howard IS worth the extra $8 mil a year.

"Which type of player do you think ages better?"

Well let's see. Howard is an average defensive 1st baseman that hits for power. Werth is a fast, good defensive OFer, that hits for power mostly as well. What will happen when Werth slows down in a couple years? Will he end up being another Burrell or Manny in the field as they got older?

Howard can hit HR's and drive in RBI's until he is late 30's, early 40's (i.e. Manny and Bonds).

Are you confident letting Howard walk to put $15/year into a guy like Werth for the next 5 years?

"One last thing, if we extend Werth, but not Howard, we have them both for 2011"

Genius, Jonesman, pure genius. Except one little minor issue, our payroll can't be $155-160 million to make that happen.

Tommy- there is only one comic genius here, and it is you.

The fact that you think a heavyset power hitter ages better than an athletic outfielder with excellent OBP skills is amazing (and citing Manny and Bonds, hmmm, I wonder what those guys have in common)

I really do try to have reasoned discussions with you, but you ignore half the things I say (at least), use completely faulty evidence for your points, make personal attacks, and in general think and behave like a child when you post on this site.

My whole point was to question your definitive stand that 'Werth has to go' and try to show you that there is some more nuance to the issue. But clearly you are incapable of dealing with subtlety in any form.

Werth is very likely gone due to money - everyone knows that. It is possible that he returns, however, contingent on him taking less than top dollar next year as part of a backloaded, 4-5 year deal. Say $10-11MM for 2011. Not likely, but who knows. Of course, something (or something) would have to give in 2012 and that would likely be Ryan Howard. I can see the Phillies opting to let Howard go but, I doubt they do it simply to keep Werth. It would be done due to overall financial flexibility, Howard wanting absolutely top dollar (not a prediction) and concerns about him making much more than he's worth on the back end of the deal. They're not going to do what the Yankees will do to keep a Derek Jeter as the face of the franchise, which is grossly overpay for a player on his last big contract. With that said, it's far from clear that Werth is more than a gamble on a 4-5 year deal. He has no track record other than one of injury, which is the greatest X factor in predicting where he'll be and what he'll make next year. If he plays a full season this year, it will be just his second full year. Given his projected stature in next year's free agent market, somebody will pay him handsomely in the hopes he stays healthy and productive until he's 36 or 37 but, I highly doubt that somebody will be the Phillies.

"My whole point was to question your definitive stand that 'Werth has to go' and try to show you that there is some more nuance to the issue"

Jonesman, I understand. But I am a little annoyed when posters try to make points to keep Werth and let a historic player like Howard go. The truth is Werth will lose his strengths (speed) much faster than Howard will lose his (Power).

The fact of the matter is not "Werth has to go" but due to the economic strangle hold on the Phillies budget, "Werth will go". Two completely seperate issues.

I for one and many posters here agree (the sane ones at least), is that Howard is much much more valuable than Werth. And he has proven that by winning the MVP, and being very big reasons why the Phillies have won a WS and won back to back pennants.

I cannot understand how we continue to talk about Werth when we could be discussing Zak Farkes.

Andy - The name alone is worth an entire thread...

I hope they break payroll for 1 season and keep both Werth and Howard. If it is a choice between the 2 players, the Phillies should keep Howard.
Werth is very valuable to the Phillies, but I think Werth's value is enhanced by hitting behind Howard and to a smaller extent by hitting ahead of Ibanez.
Howard is the #1 hitter in the National league vs. RHP. Werth is the #6 hitter in the NL vs LHP. For a player who kills LHP, Werth gets inordinate amount of opportunity against them because Howard forces managers to get RHP off the mound in games. As much as the popular perception sees the Phillies as vulnerable against LHP, it is/will be more vulnerable against RHP, when Howard is gone. Ryan Howard is the ONLY Phillie that punishes RHP.

What do you think the chances of Werth signing a one-year deal are? I could see it happen if he has a more mediocre season... Something like 28 HR, 14 SB. 1 year/9 million, keeps the team together for another run. Might go a bit over 140m, but maybe they will allow it, perhaps accounting for inflation.

mike: Chase Utley and his .302 career average vs. RHP is on line 1.

tommy, I happen to agree with you that Howard is/will be more vaulable than Werth.

However, I don't think you realize how badly you hurt your own argument when you make silly comparisons like to one above comparing Manny and Burrell's defense to that of Werth.

It's just not a good comparison, not remotely, and speaks to one of two things:
You either post hastily without thinking, or, and this is lack analytical skills.

I hope it's the former.

"For a player who kills LHP, Werth gets inordinate amount of opportunity against them because Howard forces managers to get RHP off the mound in games. "

Mike, I've never noticed that. Please provide some evidence that that is the case.

"What do you think the chances of Werth signing a one-year deal are?"

Happ's ERA, the chances?........o, as in zero. Or rather, a big 0 as in ZERO.

Martino has a mini spring training preview up on his blof at

awh: I posted that Burrell and Manny thing tongue-in-cheek. Not seriously.

So don't worry, I wasn't serious.

Oh and funny response to Happ's ERA. I agree. The chances of that happening are about as good as me taking Rube's job.

Vs. RHP for career:

Ryan Howard: .307 AVG,.409 OBP,.661 SLG, 1.070 OPS

Chase Utley: .302 AVG,.375 OBP,.536 SLG,.912 OPS

Raul Ibanez: .290 AVG,.354 OBP,.496 SLG,.850 OPS

All 3 are very tough against RHP. Polanco and Vic both hit around .290 against RHP, Rollins is in the .270s and Werth is a bit lower but still has a good OBP. Polly, Vic, Ruiz, Rollins and Werth are all very tough against LHP so our "unbalanced" lineup is more myth than anything at this point.

awh, you are such a clown, I hate to even respond to you. Where did I say that Werth should sign a 1 year contract? Ibanez will have 1 season left on his deal. In 2012, Domonic Brown will take his place for the league minimum. If the Phillies bite the bullet for 2011, and increase payroll to 150m just for 1 season, they can keep both Howard and Werth.

NEPP: I think the problem is who replaces the 1.070 OPS vs. RHP. Unless you think Utley & Ibanez can do it alone. The decision on Howard will depend in large part on how much power the Phils have in their lineup vs. RHP without him. If Ibanez is still going strong at age 40, Utley remains healthy and the team has picked up another solid LH power hitter along the way to 2012 (hopefully his name is Dom Brown), then Howard would be the logical man out. If those 3 things don't happen, however, the team will be faced with a tough choice: Pay Howard or say goodbye to being a contender.

Tommy- I know you don't like statistics, but these are the players most similar statistically to Ryan Howard through age 29:

1. Richie Sexson (918)
2. Cecil Fielder (893)
3. Mo Vaughn (891)
4. Willie McCovey (891) *
5. David Ortiz (890)
6. Tony Clark (890)
7. Mark McGwire (889)
8. Carlos Delgado (889)
9. Fred McGriff (885)
10. Norm Cash (876)

The thing most of these guys had in common is they were all pretty great until they turned 32 or so and then they went down hill pretty quick. The exceptions are usually known steroid users (like the two guys you had cited before). Not saying Howard will necessarily fall in to this pattern, but if a team is going to bet extreme amounts of money on him continuing his present rate of production, this is the kind of information they will look at. Assuming no steroids, a player like Jayson Werth profiles to age better than a giant power hitter.

I'd take Howard over Werth if its feasible (i.e.: Ryan doesnt want Arod money).

Jonesman: I'm inclined to agree with you on who ages better, but that's not really the point. The point is who replaces Howard's 1.070 OPS vs. RHP and Werth doesn't remotely come close to doing that.

And under the category of what's good for the goose is good for the gander, here's Werth's equivalents through age 30:

Craig Wilson (970)
Chet Laabs (964)
Glenallen Hill (963)
Josh Willingham (962)
Bubba Trammell (955)
Eric Byrnes (950)
Kevin Mench (947)
George Altman (944)
Jeffrey Hammonds (943)
Ryan Ludwick (942)

Any of those guys look particularly scary to opposing pitchers?

Clout- But what if Howard can no longer do it either, and we are paying him massive amounts of money? And what about when we face LHP?

Dear Zak, I know you are out there. Feel free to interject at first opportunity. Keep it blithe and pithy. Your intelligent comments will be welcomed.

Jonesman: Then we're screwed. Might be screwed either way, but that's baseball.

Clout- you and I both know Werth's comps are skewed by his fluke injuries and part time status before the last two years, but fair enough. Maybe we shouldn't extend either of them? Kidding about that, but doesn't the uncertainty work in favor of extending the guy with less risk (i.e. the cheaper guy)?

Gabe Martinez was a bit of a surprise after signing with the Rays. He was a 27th round draft pick in 2001, which is where you take organization filler.

But he showed great contact skills and a hint of power, especially at Bakerfield in 2004 where he crushed 39 doubles and hit .323 in 436 ABs.

The true test for any prospect comes in Double A, that's really where the scouts are proven right or wrong and in this case they were proven right: Organizational filler. His average and SLG plunged in 2005 in the Southern League as he faced pitchers who could do more than rare back and throw.

The Rays gave him a second shot in 2006, and by then he was old for AA, and he put up a .272/.329/.433 line. Last year was his 4th year in AA and he had a pretty decent line (.296/.372/.498) as JW notes, but he's 26.

His K/BB isn't very good, he's not a plus defender and he doesn't have speed. I'd give him a shot at LV, but it's unlikely he'll make it to The Show.

Jonesman: If you can get me someone to replace that 1.070 OPS, I'm all for letting Howard walk and keeping Werth. If you can't, then say goodbye to contending for awhile. But Jayson would be a fun guy to root for on a .500 team. If Dom Brown hits it big, that would solve everything and we wouldn't have this dilemma.

mikey, who said anything about a one-year contract to you? you actually read before you post?

I asked for some evidence that "Werth gets inordinate amount of opportunity against" LHP.

I'm still waiting.

I expected Farkes to be an economics major at Harvard but I was wrong. From The Harvard Crimsom: "Zak Farkes, the starting shortstop for Harvard’s varsity baseball team and Crimson home run record holder, is the only English major on the baseball team. Farkes, who does much of his reading on the bus to and from games (“It’s a lot more interesting than watching ‘The Rock’ or ‘Major League’ for the hundredth time,” he says) and submits many of his papers by e-mail, has found that English and baseball actually complement one another." He's a Beerleaguer.

Just so its clear, I am a huge Howard fan and hope we can keep him for a long time, I would just feel better about giving 60 million to a 31 year-old Werth than 100 million to a 32 year-old Howard.

And I agree with Clout, for this team to continue to be great past 2012, Dom Brown will need to be as-advertised.

Of the top 10 NL hitters vs LHP, Jason Werth had the most at bats against LHP.
Upton: 122
Braun: 119
Pujols: 148
Wright: 113
Diaz: 136
Werth: 149
Kemp: 138
Sandoval: 145
Blake: 103
Ibanez: 144

Most of those guys hit higher in the lineup than Werth, so they should have more at-bats against LHP. They do not. Why? Because Ryan Howard impacts how pitching is used against the Phillies. Even when he is not hitting, the other players benefit. Ask Aaron Rowand.

Howard has more impact on the Phillies lineup than any other player. The only other in the conversation is Utley. I'm a big fan of Werth, but he is no Ryan Howard.

"If Dom Brown hits it big, that would solve everything and we wouldn't have this dilemma."

clout, that may be the reason they were willing to give up Taylor in the Halladay trade instead of Brown - the hope that Brown's bat can replace "some" of what Howard does.

El Domo will get a good chance to study some premier lefties in Clearwater. There are plenty of stories down there. Let's get the show started. Is our Chief heading South?

Our Chief has a newborn, so I doubt it. Consolation prize: Jonesman will be there from March 4th-13th! (I actually derive an extraordinary amount of consolation from this)

Howard has shown that he is not an undisciplined athlete who will eat his way out of the game. He has lost +15lbs two straight years now(rumored at least for 2010) and stepped up his defensive game last season. I didn't bother looking at his UZR just because I dont want that topic to take over again - but I am pretty sure everyone agrees he was better in 2009 than beore.

Just because Mo Vaughn and Cecil Fielder couldn't cut it past their prime doesn't mean we should hold it against signing Ryan Howard long term.

Werth is the one who has dealt with injuries for the maority of his career, not Howard. They seem to be isolated and over with, but still should be considered.

Again, I would love to hold on to both players, but if were forced to choose, Howard would be my main target. Werth has had his two best full seasons that only compare to Howard;s worst.

When the Phillies win 117 games beating Gillick's personal best and win the WFS there will be plenty of money but it won't go to Werth. Lee should be a deal if he has a recovery year in Seattle.

Jonesman: Not only were the two guys mvptommy referred to (Bonds and Manny) steroid-users, they were also much better overall hitters than Howard, which presumably helped them age better.

mikey - you are proving once again why you are a founding member of the Sir Alden Trio. Look deeper, my friend, look deeper.

First of all, you need to look at PAs, not AB, as they indicate how many times a batter actually goes to the plate.

Second, the simple number of AB vs LHP does not tell the whole story and can be misleading, because the .

Rather the percentage of PA that they face LHP is more significant, because someone with a high number of total PA is probably going to see LHP more just because he has such a high number of PA. (See Pujols, who doesn’t have Howard in the lineup with him).

So, let's look at your comps first, to see whether or not it's - as you put it - INORDINATE.

(BTW, the definition for inordinate: –adjective 1. not within proper or reasonable limits; immoderate; excessive: 'He drank an inordinate amount of wine.')

Based on the definition of 'inordinate', using only your criteria I would say that Werth's AB vs LHP were not "inordinate", and were well within an acceptable range, especially given that Pujols had 148 and other were close. But, why did you use only the top 10 NL hitters against LHP? It seems to me that's a small sample size. Do all the other guys in the league magically not count?

Let's look at the whole league:

There were 99,531 PA in the NL in 2009. Of those 99,531 PA, 25,313 were against LHP.

So 25.43% of all PA in the NL last season were against LHP. Jayson Werth went to the plate 676 times. Of those 676 PA, 188 were against LHP. That works out to 27.8%. “Inordinate”? If Werth had gotten the league average percentage of PA against LHP he would have had 172 PA vs. LHP, or, a whopping one less every 10 games.

Of some of Werth’s comparable players posted above by clout, these are the percentages of PA they have had against LHP in their CAREERS, which is a far bigger sample size:

Wilson – 30.3%
Nady – 27.3%
Ludwick – 34.4%
Willingham – 24.41%
McLouth – 25.3%

Looking at those numbers, it seems to me that the percent of PA that Werth enjoys against LHP are right in the middle of that range, and that he DOESN’T get “an inordinate amount of opportunity against them”.

Unless, of course, you have a different interpretation of the numbers, or a different definition of "inordinate"?

BTW, mikey, I happen to agree with this statement:

"Howard has more impact on the Phillies lineup than any other player. The only other in the conversation is Utley. I'm a big fan of Werth, but he is no Ryan Howard."

mikes77: For those stats to work in your favor you need PAs, not ABs, and you need to show that all of the players played about the same number of games.

To say, for example, that Werth saw more LH pitching than Blake because of Howard in the lineup is a fallacy. Werth started 152 games last season, Blake 131. In fact there's several guys on your list that missed 10-20 games more than Werth.

Ooops I see awh beat me to it and in greater detail.

Good point. Zak Farkes. Googling FARKES.

Actually mikey, since you maintain that Howard's presence in the lineup affects the number of LHP Werth get to see, I went and looke up Werth's career splits:

FOR HIS CAREER, Jayson Werth has actually faced LHP 30% (29.95% actually) of the time - which is MORE than he faced LHP in 2009, his first full year as a starter hitting behind Howard.

And actually, he only batted 5th for 373 of his 688 PA. When Raul was hot at the beginning of the year, werth frequently hit 6th, and did so for 192 PA last season.

You see, mikey, to test your "theory", you need to look at the number of time Werth faced LHP when hitting behind Howard, and see if that differed significantly from when he hit in other spots in the order.

If you want to do the work - go ahead - I don't have the time.

Ryan Howard impacts the lineup more than any other hitter - we agree, but I seriously doubt he "inordinately" impacts how many times Werth sees LHP.

awh: It's sort of like how Clout claimed last year that the presence of Ibanez would cause us to see significantly more lefty starters. This did not occur.

In general, lineup construction dictates the handedness of relief pitcher usage, but has no bearing on the majority of ABs. Werth may see marginally more ABs against lefties late in games being sandwiched between Howard and Ibanez, but not very many, because at this point, he's so well-known as a lefty crusher that teams bring in a righty reliever just to face him.

Jack, exactly!

With Moyer, Ibanez and Lidge all coming off the books soon, the Phils can afford to sign both Werth and Howard to extensions. If the farm can produce an effective SP (May - ?), closer (Aumont - ?) and CF (Gillies/Gose/James - ?) by 2012 or 2013, the team can remain among the elite for several years without exceeding a $150-160 million payroll. I'm assuming the Phils either would trade Victorino after 2011 or let him go after 2012. We also need to replenish the farm with some solid IF and C prospects.

If the Phils had to choose only 1 of Howard or Werth, they would let go the one who's most easily replaceable. That, IMO would be Jason Werth.

We'll know RAJ is one of the top GM's if he can unload Raul's contract then sign Werth to an extension b/4 December and let Ben F or D Brown play LF in '11.

derek, I think the real question is this:

Who does the FO see as being the core of this lineup/team after 2010-2011?

IMHO, JRoll will get extended foe a simple reason: Who else is there?

Freddy Galvis, who is, by the reports I read, MLB ready defensively, but has yet to really hit in MiL. Harman isn't the answer and Donald is gone (if he ever was the answer). So, unless they sign another FA, they'll have to re-sign/extend JRoll. He is, after all, the face of the franchise. I go to New England a lot during the year, and all of the Red Sox fans I talk to mention him first when talking about the Phils.

So, beyond Utley, who do they see as being the core of the team/lineup?

While they really can't share their thinking because they wouldn't want to play their hand before any potential contract negotiations, I would be interested in knowing what they're thinking.

I know it's fun to talk about Werth vs Howard, but it's way to early to start saying they will keep one over the other in any kind of definite form.

Financially it is tough to keep both, but it's not impossible. There are ways to do it and not have it become a huge financial burden. Backload some of the Werth deal to make it feasible for 2011. The guys they would need to replace next year are mainly Moyer and Durbin and both of those can probably be filled in-house rather cheaply.

In 2011, you'd be backing yourself up towards the artificial cap with more spots to fill but again, it just takes some creativity.

That all being said- one of the two is probably going. And it will probably be Werth. There are many reasons being bandied about but the main reason is this- Howard completely changes the dynamic of the line-up. When he isn't getting himself out with a poor approach he is hard to pitch to. If he becomes more consistent with his plate discipline and learns to lay off the junk he will be on base more. That means the 5 and 6 hole guys get more fastballs. Howard is a true force in the middle of the line-up as far as a pure masher goes. Without him you lose the guy that helps other guys get pitches to hit. That makes a huge difference.

awh - I agree with you about keeping Rollins. That is my reason for eventually letting Victorino go for a cheaper alternative from the farm. The money saved on Victorino would more than cover the increase in Rollins' salary.

IMO, the core consists of Rollins, Utley, Howard, Werth, Halladay and Hamels.

I think we can keep all 6 with a payroll of $150-160 million. I'm assuming the farm will provide us with four decent players to fill some of the other key slots, starting with Brown in mid-2011. I think we can also use the farm to fill some bullpen slots, starting in 2010 with Bastardo and maybe Mathieson.

Hey you guys are really into math. Thats cool, but what do you do for fun? Are any of you into sports at all?

In re: Howard's comparables

The most important note that's been missed is how low Howard's comparable numbers are. Only one above 900 and that's Sexxson at 918. What that indicates is that Howard is very unique.

The HOF is loaded with people whose closest comparables are under 900.

Oh...and how incomparable is that Zak Farkes's kid's name, huh?

I think another thing to consider is who is more dedicated to improving himself. It's been said many times about Howard's extra defensive and cardiovascular work the past two offseasons, but didn't Werth have problems last spring from having too much fun in the offseason?

I know this is mostly conjecture, but it is definately something to guy became more focused after becoming a WFC and the other guy, not so much (disclaimer - this obviously didn't have any impact on numbers for 2009).


Yes Andy I am also fascinated with the Wordsmith Zak Farkes' name. I am also intrigued with Kyle Kendrick and his 5 out pitch repertoire as related by his fiancee.

GoBS - Sports? I force my son to play Math games on my boob tube. He's quite good for age 8. I am hoping to mold him for a career in accounting.

Martino's Spring Training Preview is up over at

I'll see you later.

Howard's story is familiar to most readers but I like to read his bio especially about his father and Dick Allen and Birmingham.

Sports are best enjoyed mindlessly--a fact that nullifies, among other things, the purpose of Beerleaguer.

Andy: Excellent point about Howard's comps.

awh, I did not have time to Werth's argue plate appearances yesterday. My original point was that Werth gets more opportunity against LHP than the other players who kill LHP. I believe that Ryan Howard gives him that opportunity, because opposing managers work so hard to have LHP against Ryan Howard.

Of the top 10 RH NL hitters vs LHP with 500 or more PA, Jason Werth had the most PAs against LHP.

Upton: 137 or 23.3% of PAs
Braun: 141 or 19.9% of PAs
Pujols: 185 or 26.2% of PAs
Wright: 133 or 21.5% of PAs

Werth: 188 or 27.8% of PAs

Kemp: 154 or 23.1% of PAs
Sandoval:159 or 23.9% of PAs
Blake: 129 or 22.8% of PAs
C Ross: 147 or 24.3% of PAs
Cameron: 150 or 24.8% of PAs

Werth had the MOST PAs against LHP of any of the top 10 RH hitters in the NL(500 or more PAs). Werth had the highest percetage(%) of his total PAs come against LHP, of the Top 10 RH hitters in the NL(500 or more PAs).

Pujos is the only one close to Werth and that is logical, because he does not have a lefty righty split that matters. He kills RHP and LHP, so the manager has no choice.

awh said, "FOR HIS CAREER, Jayson Werth has actually faced LHP 30% (29.95% actually) of the time - which is MORE than he faced LHP in 2009, his first full year as a starter hitting behind Howard."

You countered your own argument whithin the same paragraph... Werth was a PLATOON player for most of his career, genius.

One other note on Howard's comps... his career was depressed by being blocked at first base. What if his first qualifying season was age 23 instead of age 25?

mikey, I ask you again...why do you limit it to only ten hitters? What about the rest of the league? Why don't you think they count?

Also, you haven't addressed why Werth's lifetime PA percentage against LHP is actually HIGHER than his percentage in 2009.

One season could be an anomoly due to random events.

Additionally, how many of those 188 times did Werth face a LHP early in the year when he was batting 6th behind Ibanez? If it's a higher percentage than when he was hitting 5th behind Howard I could could make the same argument about Ibanez you're making about Howard.

You have not convinced me that the term "inordinate" applies, or that Ryan Howard is the "cause".

You are entitled to your belief, but you have not proven your case.

"Also, you haven't addressed why Werth's lifetime PA percentage against LHP is actually HIGHER than his percentage in 2009."

Do you understand what the term "Platoon" players means?

Howard/Werth . . . All I know is that I wish I was reporting to training camp this week in Clearwater.

"You have not convinced me that the term "inordinate" applies, or that Ryan Howard is the "cause".

You do not have to be convinced, but Ryan Howard had the 2nd most PAs against LHP in the NL. Jason Werth had the MOST PAs by a RH hitter vs LHP in the National League.

Ryan Howard: 252 PAs vs LHP
Jason Werth: 188 PAs vs LHP

It is up to you whether you choose to argue the semantics of "Most" vs "inordinate".

mikey, I missed you other comment before I posted, and agree it could be the platoon factor, but you still haven't answered my other questions.

You haven't addressed his the players who are his comps, small sample size, when he was hitting behind Raul, or league averages.

Your argument is that 16 PA above league average out of 676, in one season, is some kind of trend.

Here's the thing. If Howard continues to expect ARod money, he has to go. Either by trade or free agency. Should he decide he wants to sign a five year 100 mil contract when his current one is up, then he'll be a career Phillie.

It's as simple as that. He is a one to one and a half tool player. His power tool is as good as anyone in baseball so that makes up some for his other limitations. But a one tool player cannot be worth more than 20 mil per season, no matter what the tool.

Jayson Werth is roughly a four tool player. He will likely never hit for average. And he occasionally goes into Von Hayes type vapor lock on the bases. He also likes to party a bit. So, he's a bit of a risk to sign longterm, more for his personal life than his baseball talent.

Who is easier to replace? Oddly enough, even though neither will be easy to replace, I'd say Howard. His power tool isn't replaceable. But a first baseman like LaRoche, for instance, has middling power, can hit for average and would be a major fielding upgrade. Guys like that do shake loose for reasonable amounts of money. They won't carry your team, but they will give you a reasonable cost effective replacement for a time.

Players with Werth's talents do not come along often, and almost never for a reasonable price.

My suggestion would be to sign neither of them when their current contracts are up. When Werth goes, Francisco plays right. When Howard goes, some unnamed free agent or Ibanez or Utley, etc. can play first. Because it's going to be important going forward to keep both Halladay and Hamels, while adding as good a third starter as possible as Blanton fades into the background.

I'd also be casting around in the present to replace Rollins. He almost certainly will want a raise, and given his offensive decline the last few years, he will not be worth it. I'd love to see the Phils get in on that Cuban kid. He might be signed for 10 mil and be the answer at short for a long time. I believe he's 19 and will hit for power, while his glove is already major league caliber.

It's great to hold onto the core of your team, but holding on a little too long as players decline is at least a small part of what killed the '93 team.

"a first baseman like LaRoche, for instance, has middling power, can hit for average and would be a major fielding upgrade. Guys like that do shake loose for reasonable amounts of money. They won't carry your team, but they will give you a reasonable cost effective replacement for a time."

So LaRoche could be the replacement for Ryan Howard. The Phillies should save money by letting both Howard and Werth go. Ridiculous.

"given his offensive decline the last few years, he will not be worth it."

smitty, the next 2 years are very important to Rollins. If he can put up numbers consistent with his 2nd half of 2009, .288 .334 .510 .844, or even his career averages of .274 .329 .439 .768 and an OPS+ around 100, then given his ability to steal bases and play defense he'll get a decent contract. The question is: From whom?

Mikes77 - Nothing is static. Of course, LaRoche or similar is not a complete replacement for Howard. He is a cost effective type player who will allow you to get some production from first, good fielding and spend money on pitching or another position of need. If you could have Lee back after this season for 20 mil, would you take Howard instead? Maybe you would and maybe I would too, but the tradeoff has to be recognized.

Domonic Brown will need to replace some lefty production. And Utley may move to first and Polanco to second if they get rid of Howard. Then some money may be spent at third. There are all kinds of possibilities. They can spend 25 mil on Howard. Or they can let him walk and commit to Werth for 17 mil per season. Of they can bring back Lee for 20 mil and let go of Werth this season and trade Howard. Which choice do you make? It's not a simple question. And of course the simple answer is you keep Howard, pay him whatever he wants and do without another pitcher and Werth. And should Howard decline, your team literally heads for 3rd place.

The Marlins take a minimal budget and produce stars from their minor leagues and trades almost every season. It's not like it's impossible. They've even won a WFC by doing exactly that. They trade players when they make above a certain amount of money. And the mostly get good value for them.

Trading Howard and letting Werth go for two draft picks will not be the end of the world. The only question would be do you trust Rube to get return on the trade and the picks. Still an open question.

And AWH - If Rollins shows he's still at the top of his game for the next two seasons, it would be hard to let him go. But highly paid stars at every position is not an option for the Phillies. For ten mil, they could probably pick up the Cuban 19 year old and have control of him for the next 6 seasons relatively cheaply. I've only seen a few videos of him, but the reports are that he's special and will likely get more than 8.5 mil for a bonus. This becomes important if they're paying Howard 25 mil and Halladay 20 and Hamels 17.

It's all about how to arrange the talent for whatever the budget will tolerate. Rube has a tough job going forward.

smitty, look at it this way:

The MLB averages for SS in 2009 were .271 .328 .393 .721.

If Rollins hits his career averages, which are basically the same as above but with superior SLG, and adds SB and GG defense, he's a highly valuable player at his position and will get paid.

The negative is that he'll be 32-33 when/if he hits free agency, so the best he may be looking at is a 3-4 year contract.

I just wonder if offering Werth a multi year contract at this time and telling Werth if he gets hurt he wouldn't be making anything after this year. Its called insurance and some players will take it, knowing the next few years he will be getting millions, and maybe not as much as if he went out as free agent, but will not have to worry the rest of his life. (He also could have a bad year and lose some of the free agent money.)

Aw, Rubes job is not as hard as we make it. The Phillies won the Division in 2007 with minimal contribution from Werth, they won it again in 2008 with him as a platoon player. If they keep Howard, Utley, Hamels and Rollins they can keep on winning. Just get another RH outfielder for 2011... I would prefer Werth, but they can win without him.

They already have Francisco. If he can replace Werth and Brown can eventually replace Ibanez, that's probably how they keep the payroll in line. But what do they do to keep their pitching up to snuff? And can they afford to overpay Howard? And what if JRoll is only okay for the next two years. Do they overpay him?

I promise that even though Philly is supposedly the new baseball heaven, none of these players is going to take a discount like Halladay did. It's not in their DNA.

The Phils are very lucky to have so many star players on the team at the same time. Because of the marketplace, it won't be easy to replace the current core group with cheaper major leaguers of comparable talent.

A trade of Howard, for example, won't yield comparable major-league-ready talent. Only a few teams like the Yankees or Bosox could trade for Howard, and, of those two, only the Bosox have prospects that we might like. We should expect that Theo would not be willing to trade either of his top two prospects, Westmoreland and Kelly. The package we would get from the Bosox would be disappointing. Also, getting back prospects is always an iffy proposition

If we trade or let go Werth, Howard and Rollins, the Phils may begin a descent from the elite to the competitive and eventually to the mediocre.

Why do so many people think Ffrancisco can be a starting corner outfeilder on a contender? He just isn't that player.

If Brown matches Taylor's '09 and hits at both AA and AAA, the team may decide to platoon Brown/Mayberry or Gload/Fransico in RF to replace Werth.

The Phillies are not stupid enough to trade Howard in the middle of a pennant race in 2010. The Phillies would not get any value for Ryan Howard in the off-season, leading into 2011. Nobody will trade anything for position player making 20m, in the last year of a contract. The team that would want him, would just sign a Free Agent. Howard is not going anywhere until 2012, if at all. I do not understand how people come up with these silly notions.

Brad Lidge todat from the Wilmington DE paper, Scott Lauber interview.

"Assuming J.C. Romero and myself are out there healthy and doing our normal thing, I feel like we have the best bullpen in baseball."

"I think there is no reason to expect us to be anything less than a great bullpen."

"I'm upset enough to work on it hard (holdong runners) in spring training."

"...really optimistic about this year."

Not sure how it will all shake down, and I guess you could say he's saying the things he is supposed to say, but I'm glad to hear him saying how good he is feeling and for the confident tone of his interview.

Bob - Will you be similarly cheered when Moyer pronounces himself fit and ready to take over as the ace of the starting staff?

What players say in the offseason is as relevant as what GMs say right before they trade that player who was untouchable right up until the trade happened.

aksmith: LaRoche's production is equal to Howard?


Howard career OPS+ 142
LaRoche career OPS+ 116

I'm not saying we should sign Howard no matter what, but I find attempts by Jack, who's got an obsession with bashing Howard, and yourself to portray Howard as easily replaceable to be quite ignorant. I'll ask you the same question I've asked him and others and have yet to get an answer: Who replaces Howard's 1.086 OPS vs. RHP?

If you can't answer that, then you need to take another tack or wind up looking foolish.

aksmith: "Should he decide he wants to sign a five year 100 mil contract when his current one is up, then he'll be a career Phillie."

Should he decide that, he would be the stupidest player in baseball history. Sometimes we need to put our fanhood aside and look at things objectively.

derekcarstairs: "If we trade or let go Werth, Howard and Rollins, the Phils may begin a descent from the elite to the competitive and eventually to the mediocre."

I'd say you can count on it.

gobaystars: I think Francisco can be an everyday player on a contender, assuming that contender has above average players at most other positions. I love Benny, but he's a big dropoff from Werth and no better than a league-average starter. But the Phils won with a below average player at 3B so it can certainly be done with a guy like Benny, who's a good fielder has decent speed and is a league-average hitter.

Clout - Seriously, Dude. Where did I or anyone else ever say LaRoche's production was equal to Howard's?

I know people say that you must be learning disabled with the reading comprehension of asparagus, but really.

You have to know I didn't say that. What I said was that we could replace him with a lesser hitter who was a better fielder in order to strengthen other positions with the difference in money paid to them. And I don't know how I could say it any clearer.

And about the 100 mil for five years. That would make him stupid? No, it would make him a very rich guy who played his entire career for one team. If he's looking for 25 mil per year, then he's likely to be playing somewhere else. And that's what I suspect he will be looking for.

There has to be a point where a lot of money is simply a lot of money. Is there anything you can do with 125 mil that you can't do with 100 mil? Not in any meaningful way. And that's what Roy Halladay was saying by signing the contract he signed. I don't see any recognition of that in Howard, so he'll be moving on probably. And I'm not expecting anything else.

Clout - I've got a serious question for you. At times, you post really intelligent and insightful stuff. Then you pop in to completely take stuff out of context and misquote another poster. Are you more than one person sharing a name? Is someone impersonating you?

aksmith on Howard: "But a one tool player cannot be worth more than 20 mil per season, no matter what the tool."

aksmith "LaRoche or similar is not a complete replacement for Howard. He is a cost effective type player who will allow you to get some production from first, good fielding"

Among the silliest things I have read on Beerleaguer.

aksmith: "Who is easier to replace? Oddly enough, even though neither will be easy to replace, I'd say Howard. His power tool isn't replaceable. But a first baseman like LaRoche, for instance, has middling power, can hit for average and would be a major fielding upgrade. Guys like that do shake loose for reasonable amounts of money. They won't carry your team, but they will give you a reasonable cost effective replacement for a time."

Please note the phrase "a reasonable cost effective replacement."

Maybe we disagree on the word "reasonable."

aksmith: Yes, Howard will get more than $20M a year assuming he's healthy and productive over the next two seasons. And, yes, he'd be stupid to settle for less than the market would bear just to keep some emotional fan happy.

There are ways to replace Howard and still field a contender, but Adam LaRoche ain't one of them.

Francisco may indeed be a dropoff from Werth. But he's only started about half of one season in the majors. Werth wasn't exactly lighting the world on fire earlier in his career. Although admittedly, a lot of that was because of injury.

They have similar skill sets, although I think Werth has at least a slight edge in every skill, I don't think we can know what Francisco brings to the table until he's had a chance to play everyday on a contender and with this coaching staff.

From what I saw last season, he's still raw. He'd be fine on the Nats with poor fundamentals because that's what they seem to specialize in. With a full preseason in Philly to work on his rough edges, we should certainly see at least a little improvement. Maybe he'll figure out how to not overslide bases and he'll learn to get a better jump on balls in the outfield.

clout: Generally I agree with you on things but you are sort of being misleading about ak's argument there regarding Laroche vs Howard.

His point- which he didn't overtly say but did imply- was that you can find a guy who gives you some percentage of Howard, but you need to make up that percentage at other spots. He outright said Laroche would not be a complete replacement for Howard. he would probably be better defensively and give you roughly the same average but less power.

Now I don't agree with him because I think there are some intangibles that misses with Howard- but his argument is a little more advanced than you characterized it as.

Emotional fan? Yeah, that must be it. I truly don't care if Howard moves on or not. I only care that the Phillies get something or multiple somethings to replace him with that allow them to continue to be a team capable of winning championships. Does that sound emotional to you? And about taking 100 vs 125 million for five years, it's possible that that's too much to leave on the table. But people do it all the time. I left about a million on the table over fifteen years to work where I enjoyed working, even though another hospital was constantly trying to get me to jump. And I'm very happy i made that decision. I'm retired now, and I don't miss the 1 mil. And I'd dare say that the 1 mil is worth a lot more to me than 25 mil over five years would be to Ryno, who will already have about 70 mil earned just on the last four years he'll be a Phillie before negotiating for the next 5-7 years.

Tell me, when Utley is up for a new contract after 2013, what could you possibly pay him if Howard is getting 25 mil? I'd say Utley is the epitome of a five tool player. He'd have to be worth somewhere North of whatever Howard gets. Wouldn't you say?

Or is it the length of the contract that doesn't seem right? Even though Howard is likely to decline, I'd consider 6/120 or 7/140. Is that less upsetting to you?

aksmith: "He'd (Utley) have to be worth somewhere North of whatever Howard gets. Wouldn't you say?"

Well, no, actually. I understand that on Beerleaguer Utley is considered one of the greatest players in baseball history and far superior to Howard in all facets of the game, and that Howard is considered a one-trick pony, but the fact is the guys who hit 58 HRs have traditionally been paid more than the five tool guy who doesn't lead the league in any category, but is always near the top in several.

FWIW, Howard career OPS+: 142.
Utley career OPS+ 129.

If both stay healthy and continue to hit at the same level as now and both were free agents in the same season, Howard's free contract would be bigger than Utley's.

One of the great mysteries of Beerleaguer: Howard has gotten far less respect and far less support on this blog than Pedro Feliz.

Very, very strange.

TTI: I think the disagreement is whether Adam LaRoche is a "reasonable" replacement for Howard's production.

clout, sometimes BL has it's own version of the Twilight Zone.

Poor Mike Schmidt would have been ripped to pieces for all those strikeouts on BL 70's.

Clearly, although chicks dig the long ball, many beerleaguers, um, not so much.

clout: keep in mind. My understanding his point does not equal agreeing with his point.

I really do try and grasp why Howard is slammed so badly here. Between Jack's incessant bashing and aksmith's liitle roundabout you'd think the guy is Travis Lee or something.

Simple fact to all the Howard bashers is there are very few guys who average 49 home runs and 142 RBI's per year.

Without Howard this line-up will fall off significantly. Even the beloved Utley (my favorite guy on the team) will witness a dropoff because he won't get as much to hit since he'll be the big bat in the line-up. The only thing that would make losing Howard semi-tolerable would be having someone like Fielder, Pujols, or Teixeira being added- and that is just not happening.

If Pujols rips another lat or something the Cards might want to trade even up for Howard, the St.Louis area native.

I'm not sure why thinking someone is worth 20 mil per season and not 25 mil per season is bashing. Think of salary as a stat. Then you'll probably get it.

And no, Clout. TTI has it exactly correct and once again you do not. In no universe is Laroche a one for one replacement for Howard. he's a better fielder, not nearly the hitter, and that's it. But he, or someone like him, could be had for a lot less than half of what we're paying Howard now, and likely a third of that 25 mil per in the future.

That would leave about 16 million or more to go after a Cliff Lee or a David Wright or some other player who could soften the blow of Howard leaving.

I'm speaking English. In case you were wondering.

And I do think that Howard has been a clutch performer, even though a lot of stat heads don't think that means anything. Both late in games and late in seasons, he has excelled. That is tough to replace, and I sure don't think a generic first baseman is likely to do so.

But if you could have Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels as your top three starters by letting both Werth and Howard walk, do you mean to tell me that you wouldn't have to consider that?

Also, since when is OPS+ the only measure of a ballplayer. I daresay you could put Utley at first and he'd contend for the gold glove every year. He's the best baserunner in the game (not in steals, but general baserunning) and not just claimed as such by me, but by stat guys who I don't happen to clip and save. At worst, he's always in the top three in all around baserunning.

And by moving him to first, you'd likely prolong his career because he won't be taking that pounding he takes at second all the time.

Howard is an awesome power guy. No doubt. But I would just say no to 25 million a year for him. And all that presupposed the Phillies don't go all out and decide to spend 180 mil per season on payroll. If that's the case, I say keep the old gang together. But it ain't happening.

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