FG on Fox: Ryan Howard and the Worst Case Scenario

The Phillies’ 2011 season ended with Ryan Howard crumpled in a heap between the batter’s box and first base. What was suspected then was confirmed later: Howard had suffered a rupture of his Achilles. Howard’s five-year, $125-million extension was to begin in 2012.

It just about goes without saying that Howard’s contract with the Phillies has been a disaster. It’s important to understand that most analysts predicted that the deal would be a problem for the organization. It’s just as important to understand that the deal has gone far worse than anyone could’ve thought. The most-wrong person here is Ruben Amaro, but in a way the skeptical analysts were also wrong, for not projecting a bad-enough outcome. That’s not entirely fair, but the point is that even the biggest cynics didn’t think what has happened with Howard would happen.

And here’s what’s happening: it’s 2014, and Howard’s deal has two more years left. According to Jon Heyman, the Phillies are trying hard to deal Howard away, expressing a willingness to eat a lot of the money. So far, of course, there have been no takers. Meanwhile, Ryne Sandberg is starting to sit Howard, trying to find room for Darin Ruf. Ruf, in Triple-A, has hit one home run. Contained within that piece is a note that the Phillies have internally discussed just dropping Howard from the roster, paying him, and moving on. His contract is a little more than halfway over. Said Amaro at the time of the extension agreement: “There’s always risk when you’re doing guaranteed deals, but based on what he’s done, I think it’s a good risk.”

The contract, for the Phillies, has been catastrophic. It hasn’t singlehandedly prevented them from competing, but no reasonable contract can do that to a team, and it’s certainly made the situation more difficult. Probably, it’s not the worst contract in the history of baseball, in terms of the difference between dollars paid and dollars worth. The one bit of good news is that Howard inked a five-year deal, whereas, say, Albert Pujols is under contract through 2021. So, at some point in the somewhat near future, Howard will be off the Phillies’ books. But Howard is well on his way to an ugly feat. One that seems almost inconceivable, but one that captures the reality of all that’s gone down.

Read the rest on Just a Bit Outside.



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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


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Phillies113
Member
Member
2 years 2 months ago

The money the Phillies spent on Ryan Howard is long wasted. They’ll be paying him that money whether he’s on the roster or not. And it’s not like they can use that money to sign a free agent if/when he’s released. So why not just cut him, eat the money (as an accountant, oh god does that phrase make my blood boil), and try out some of the minor leaguers at first? At least see what you’ve got so, when you eventually DO have payroll flexibility, you know what to do.

Eminor3rd
Guest
Eminor3rd
2 years 2 months ago

In order to make an argument that Howard isn’t completely useless, Sullivan cited Howard’s 2013 OPS on balls hit up the middle.

Lol.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
2 years 2 months ago

I don’t think you and I read the same article.

Eminor3rd
Guest
Eminor3rd
2 years 2 months ago

“For sure, Howard’s still capable of doing some damage. He’s not completely and utterly punchless. Up the middle, he has a career 1.279 OPS; this year, he’s at 1.133.”

I’m just saying I don’t think anyone has ever had to squint so hard to set up a strawman. Not Sullivan’s fault, just Howard is so mega-bad.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
2 years 2 months ago

I don’t think he is arguing that he isn’t useless. He says that Darin Ruf, who sucks, is a better option. I think he is anticipating some sort of defense (remember, this is on Fox) and responding by saying “yes, he can sometimes hit the ball pretty hard but overall he is a zero-win player.” In a sense, Howard isn’t useless, like I’m sure he’s a better option for the Phillies to put out there than you or me.

Hason Jeyward
Member
Hason Jeyward
2 years 2 months ago

You do not know what a “strawman” is.

This Guy
Guest
This Guy
2 years 2 months ago

Yeah, you don’t know what the term “strawman” means.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

Carlos
Guest
Carlos
2 years 2 months ago

The last line about the club option is a treasure!

Ruben Amaro. Jr
Guest
Ruben Amaro. Jr
2 years 2 months ago

So is the option!

Matt
Guest
Matt
2 years 2 months ago

make it stop

Ned
Guest
Ned
2 years 2 months ago

Could anyone see a scenario in which the Dodgers trade Carl Crawford for Ryan Howard to bring up Pederson?

They have roughly the same amount of money left (Assuming Dodgers exercise the $10mm buyout in 2017) with both contracts expiring in 2017.

Dodgers would get stuck with a very highly paid backup 2B who is also left handed but they’d be able to free up an outfield spot.

williams .482
Member
Member
williams .482
2 years 2 months ago

The thought of Ryan Howard playing 2B is even funnier than his contract situation.

Eminor3rd
Guest
Eminor3rd
2 years 2 months ago

What?

joser
Guest
joser
2 years 2 months ago

2B? I’m trying to visualize that Hanley Ramirez-Ryan Howard double play combo (assuming it doesn’t just collapse in a pile of ruptured lower limbs)

NBarnes
Guest
NBarnes
2 years 2 months ago

All can I think about is how ridiculously lop-sided the Red Sox – Dodgers trade was. The idea of the Red Sox’s season with Crawford, Gonzales, and Beckett on the books turns the season from disastrous to seppuku-inducing.

Ned
Guest
Ned
2 years 2 months ago

Lol, I meant backup 1B guys. Good catch though.

Johnston
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

That’s crazy talk.

Puig's Translator
Guest
Puig's Translator
2 years 2 months ago

Stinks. You would think that teams would learn. I feel like some orgs pay for huge extensions knowing that they are not going to get much production later in the deal. Pujols for example will be productive for a handful of years and then quickly fall off a cliff. But maybe they realized that was what it would cost and were willing to overpay in years for good production up front. I don’t know, seems crazy to me.

joser
Guest
joser
2 years 2 months ago

“were willing to overpay in years for good production up front” — this is exactly what they do, as has been noted here at FG multiple times. The hope is that (a) the excess value early in the contract more than balances the overpay later, and (b) the ongoing inflation in contracts makes those later years not look so bad when they arrive (if you believe the RSN money bubble will never burst, you might actually hope that contract looks reasonable and moveable by then, a la Veron Wells)

dang
Guest
dang
2 years 2 months ago

Darin Ruf was injured for much of the year. Sure, 1 HR in 91 PA isn’t great either, but saying that he has 1 HR at triple A this year makes it sound like he’s been terrible all year.

AK7007
Member
AK7007
2 years 2 months ago

Are you Darin Ruf’s mom? He’s not good, and this article isn’t about him. Splitting hairs over “not good” and “terrible” doesn’t really matter except to say that Howard is probably even less valuable at this point in time.

Dang
Guest
Dang
2 years 2 months ago

Presenting partial facts to paint the picture you desire is bad for a site that’s supposed to be about presenting the truth. I was merely pointing out what had happened for those unfamiliar with the phillies organization.

Ya ding dong

Ruf's mum
Guest
Ruf's mum
2 years 2 months ago

Lucky he was injured if he had 500abs and had 5hr and horrible defense he would be releAsed already. Lucky he got injured

Fact: ruf had 1 hr in aaa last year
Fact: puig has 0hr in aaa this year

Leo
Guest
Leo
2 years 2 months ago

I dunno… he has more RBIs than that shortstop for Colorado

joser
Guest
joser
2 years 2 months ago

I realize this is sarcasm, but don’t these articles get enough of those kinds of comments over on Fox?

Cole Hamels' High Pitched Voice
Guest
Cole Hamels' High Pitched Voice
2 years 2 months ago

Ryan Howard can’t hit whenever I pitch because he doesn’t like me.

Strikeouts are Fascist
Guest
Strikeouts are Fascist
2 years 2 months ago

Wow, just begging for trouble posting an article like this on Fox.

joser
Guest
joser
2 years 2 months ago

Fox has a history of trolling its own viewership just to get things stirred up, as Murdoch is of the “any news is good news” school; I assume that’s why they picked Fangraphs in the first place.

Johnston
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

It’s not just Fox, it’s a lot of sites, including such liberal stalwarts as the Huffington Post. They all love to inspire forum activity.

Cole Hamels' High Pitched Voice
Guest
Cole Hamels' High Pitched Voice
2 years 2 months ago

But real talk though, I’ve seen Howard play everyday and the guy just looks like he is cooked.

I feel like the organization is a little worried to release him cause what if he goes to an AL team and starts producing some, not a lot like he used to but something like 25-30 HRs and 90-95 RBIs. But at the same time Howard has shown zero promise of going back to any form of his old self.

DD
Guest
DD
2 years 2 months ago

Jeff, I’m curious if his OPS on pull balls can be split by by fly balls and grounders? That could give us an idea on how his power to the pull side has declined and to what extent.

David
Guest
David
2 years 2 months ago

The thing that differentiates Howard’s horrible contract from most other potential nominees from worst contract ever given is that most others were at least situations where teams had to outbid the market to get near-term value while knowing that the out years could be ugly. Howard’s contract was without any other bidders, and ONLY bought out years…

Joe
Guest
Joe
2 years 2 months ago

I’m pretty sure Hal and Hank were bidding against themselves for A-Rod’s current contract. Sure he was nominally a free agent, but there is no evidence iirc that anyone else was anywhere close (or even bid at all!)

MrKnowNothing
Guest
MrKnowNothing
2 years 2 months ago

On the open market after the season he’d just had, A-Rod would’ve for a huge deal. I’m sure the Yankees didn’t get a steal or anything but A-Rod would’ve had plenty of suitors.

D
Guest
D
2 years 2 months ago

Why any GM signs players to 100 million plus contracts? These GMs are real dumb and deserve to be fired.

D
Guest
D
2 years 2 months ago

Only 6 good contracts to 18 bad ones. GMs should really learn from the past and stop repeating the same mistakes.

Good $100 mil contracts:
Arod (first one) Manny Jeter, C Lee, Holliday, Beltran

OK $100 mil contracts:
Mauer, Sabathia, Texeira, Tulo (we don’t know from 2015-2020 yet)

Bad $100 mil contracts:
Howard, Arod (2nd one), Pujols, Fielder (likely), Verlander, Helton, Zito, Crawford, Soriano, Hamilton, Hampton, J. Giambi, Griffey, Kevin Brown, Carlos Lee, V Wells , Johan santana

Ian R.
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

I’m not sure the history of huge contracts is as bad as you’re saying. Jason Giambi had a legitimate MVP-caliber year his first season in New York and was worth 22 WAR over the life of the deal. That was an overpay, to be sure, but not an awful one. Helton had a few really terrific years during his mega-contract, a few more very good ones, and was worth a combined 32 WAR. That’s really not bad at all. Also, you didn’t mention Miguel Cabrera, and he’s been nothing short of fantastic during his contract – there’s still a year and a half left, I suppose, but even so.

Ian R.
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

To clarify, I’m referring to Cabrera’s current nine-figure contract, which covers the 2008 through 2015 seasons. His eight-year extension kicks in in 2016 and runs through 2023 (!), and I’m not expecting that one to be especially good… but the original contract has worked out very well for Detroit.

Garrett
Guest
Garrett
2 years 2 months ago

Virtually everyone predicts some sort of abysmal Howard/Poopholes/A-Roid decline. You are dealing with a range of probabilities assigned to a range of outcomes, not just throwing a dart and randomly guessing the future.

Good effort at an article tho.

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