Results tagged ‘ contracts ’

Werth Signs With The Nationals


34B.jpgIn a shocking move, Jayson Werth has signed a 7-year deal with the last place Washington Nationals, snubbing higher-profile teams like the Red Sox.  After losing Adam Dunn to the White Sox and star rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg to Tommy John surgery, the Nats needed a seat-filler.  Attendance in DC has been pathetic over the years due to a lack of success for the team and very high ticket prices. 

In the last two years, the Nats ranked 24th and 23rd place for attendance out of 30 teams.  The acquisition of Werth should produce a spike in season ticket plans, not to mention a spike in team batting average and runs scored.  The exact terms of the contract have not yet been disclosed, but it is in the area of $126 million dollars.

The real shock is that Werth chose to sign with a last-place team.  The Nats are trying to build a winner, but realistically, this will not happen overnight.  In fact, their biggest obstacle may be the Phillies who have won the division 4-straight years now.  But Werth has his ring already so maybe winning is now lower on his list than money and stability.

As for the Phillies, they now have a huge, gaping hole in right field to be filled.  With Domonic Brown leaving Winter Ball early today due to being “tired and sluggish,” big questions remain as to his ability to fill the spot.  Worst case scenario is that the left-handed  Brown will have to platoon with righty Ben Francisco.
Brown Francisco.jpgAnother right-hander who may be able to platoon with Francisco or even Ross Gload is John Mayberry Jr.  In 11 games with the big club in 2010, Mayberry batted  .333 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI.  He has been working on his stroke in AAA and, if Brown is not ready, Mayberry might be a better option.

There is a list of free agents as well that may also be able to fill the hole.  The top choice for Charlie Manuel is probably Matt Diaz.  The two men live in the same neighborhood and spend time together in the offseason.  Diaz is a lifetime .301 hitter who got little playing time with the Braves last season.  However, Diaz did find time to tackle a rouge Phillies fan on the field back in September.  He is almost a folk-hero in Philly already after that feat.

A few other options include Jeff Francoeur, Carlos Quentin or Scott Hairston.  With a little more creativity, the Phillies may wish to consider former Phillie Aaron Rowand.  The Giants have indicated that Rowand is not in their plans going forward and may be willing to eat his huge salary just to get rid of him.  Rowand struggled last year at AT&T Park.  Perhaps the smaller, friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park can revive his bat?

A few other long-shot free-agents might be Willie Bloomquist, Joe Inglett or Jose Guillen.  Whichever way the Phillies decide to go, it is clear that Werth has left very big shoes to fill.  He will be missed.

Are Rumors Werth Listening To?

In the digital age, rumors fly much quicker than they used to.  It literally takes only seconds to post a rumor online and create a huge buzz over basically nothing.  The same applies to Phillies free-agent  right fielder, Jayson Werth. 
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Early this morning, a talk-show radio host mentioned that the Phillies had offered Werth a contract and that it was good enough for him to possibly sign.  Should you give credence to this rumor?  The simple answer is “No.”

Black Friday came and went and no “sale” on outfielders was ever advertised.  Tomorrow is Cyber Monday; for those awaiting a holiday miracle and second-chance sale on Werth, put it out of your mind.  It is not going to happen.  The odds of Werth returning to Philly are about the same as the possibility of a meteor landing on your house; for the record, those adds are about 182,138,880,000,000 to 1.

Did you know there is even a web site page on eHow.com dedicated to helping people determine if rumors are true?  One of the suggestions says, “Send at text to (CHA CHA) 242 242 with any rumor questions and they might be able to answer your question in just a few minutes.”  Is this not the basic equivalent to shaking a Magic 8-ball?

So if you prefer logic to magic text messages, just look at the facts.  The Phillies already have $143 million dollars committed to 2011 salaries.  Werth is going to aim for an average of $15 million a year.  Nearing the $160 million dollar mark does not leave room for improvements elsewhere, like in the bullpen.  Plus, while Domonic Brown may not be ready to take over full-time in right field, he is close enough.  The Phillies can find help elsewhere for the one year or so until Brown is ready.

Now think about some of the moves GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has already made.  If Amaro was not willing to pay to keep Cliff Lee, $15 million a year for Werth seems even more like a huge, unsustainable amount.  The Phillies are also not afraid to platoon players to fill the spot, as evidenced by previous pairings like Werth and Geoff Jenkins.  While this will not improve the position at all, it is possible that the Phillies will settle for a platoon of Ben Francisco and Brown if all else fails.

Players will wait to get the best offer.  Remember after the 2007 season when the Phillies gave a solid 3-4 offer to Aaron Rowand to return?  The Giants came in with a 5-year deal and Rowand walked.  It will be the same with Werth; even if the Phillies offer a very good deal, odds are that another team will outbid them.

And if all that has not quelled your suspicions that this weekend’s rumor might be true, take it from Werth himself.  CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Werth said via text message about being close to signing, “Not at all. It’s very early. I will make an informed decision in due time.”  So you can choose to believe the magic CHA CHA eHow text message or the verified text message sent to Salisbury.  Magic or logic; you decide.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Lopes Moves On; Giants Are Champs

In their first major blunder of the off-season, the Phillies allowed 1st base coach and base running guru Davey Lopes walk.  Lopes was happy in Philadelphia, but with the additional responsibilities he has handled in his 4 years with the club, he felt he should be properly compensated.  Lopes told reporters, “I just felt it was time to make a stand.”

Normally first base coaches are low man on the totem pole as far as salary goes.  But Lopes did much more for the Phillies than point runners in the right direction. 
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He taught them how and when to steal bases and was the sole person in charge of the running game, something that is the manager’s job on most teams.   Since 2007, Lopes ensured that the Phillies led all of baseball with an 84.3% stolen base success rate.

Lopes is right; with the added responsibilities, he deserved a larger pay check.  He said the money they offered was good, but it did not reflect his true value to the team.  Lopes stated, “I wanted to get paid what I felt I was worth…Believe me, I wasn’t trying to break the bank.”  So, why not pay the man?

I spoke with Lopes during an event in 2009 about base stealing and also about player discipline.  I asked him why a particular player (who shall remain nameless ;o) continually seemed to be in the wrong field position during certain situations.  Lopes told me that he had personally spoken to that player about that exact issue on numerous occasions, but the player felt he knew better and would not follow instructions.  I then expressed that I did not think discipline should be part of his job, to which he agreed.  But Lopes is the kind of man that always does the right thing, whether it is his job or not.  So after four years of doing many tasks that he was not getting paid for, I can see why he felt the need to make a stand.

The real shame here is that when Lopes expressed this to the management team, it fell on deaf ears.  He should not have been allowed to walk.  Will the Phillies suffer as a result of this loss?  Only time will tell, but I can assure you that either way, he will be greatly missed by both the team and the fans.  I wish Mr. Lopes all the best in his future and hope he lands in a city that appreciates his talents.

And The New Champs Are…

…the San Francisco Giants!  Ok Phils fans, you can now officially feel better about the Giants whooping us in the NLCS; they did the same thing to the Rangers in the World Series, taking the title by 4 games to 1.  The Giants pitching totally shut down the Rangers powerful offense, just as they did to the Phillies.

Another thing to feel good about?  Cliff Lee lost both games he pitched in the series.  I will always appreciate Lee for what he did for the Phillies in 2009, but losing him stings a little bit less now.  It will be interesting to see where Lee lands in 2011.

So congratulations to the World Champion Giants and their fans…they deserve the title!  See you next year :O)

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Analyzing Ryan Howard’s Season

The final out of the Phillies 2010 season will linger in the minds of many fans throughout the off-season.  In Game 6 of the NLCS on a pitch that was borderline, Ryan Howard stood and watched as strike three was called, officially ending the Phillies year.  Whether it was a ball or a strike does not matter; it was close enough that Howard probably should have swung to protect the plate and at least try to foul it off to stay alive.  But that is how the season went for this team – they were so close to breaking out and just never got it done.

Injuries plagued the team all year, including Howard who missed 16 games with a sprained ankle.  So while Howard’s numbers were down significantly from 2009, how much better could he have produced if he played those 16 games?

This is a chart that shows Howard’s numbers in 2009 and 2010.  The numbers in red bold are projections if 16 games, which is roughly 12% more at-bats, were added in.  Take a look:

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

TB

BB

SO

SLG

AVG

2009

616

105

172

37

4

45

141

352

75

186

.571

.279

 

616

97

170

26

6

35

121

311

66

176

.505

.276

2010

550

87

152

23

5

31

108

278

59

157

.505

.276

 

From the data, it appears that Howard had a similar season to 2009, although his power numbers are clearly declining.  Even with the adjustment, on average, Howard would still be hitting 10 fewer home runs and have 20 fewer RBI’s than in 2009. 
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Back in 2007, the year of the MVP award, Howard hit 47 homers in only 529 at-bats.  In 2008, it was 48 homers in 610 at-bats.  So the years 2007 – 2010 show a steady and consistent decline in power.

It is also worth noting that with the power outage, Howard’s batting average has not improved.  Howard has been getting more singles and fewer extra-base hits.  So while the average remains steady, they are not paying him around $25 million dollars a year to hit singles.

The high strikeout count for Howard has also been an issue since he arrived.  He had 157 this year, an improvement over 186 in 2009.  But if you average in 12% more at-bats, that number rises to 176, only 10 fewer than 2009.  So he is striking out at about the same rate but seeing less production in extra base hits, homers, runs scored, walks and RBI’s.

One positive may be that Howard’s defense has improved, something he has worked very hard at.  While he had the same number of errors this year and last with 14, sometimes the numbers do not accurately reflect the overall performance.  Howard was able to get to balls this year that he may not have last year and seemed to put more effort into diving for balls that he may have given up on before.

All this amounts to is that Howard had a disappointing season and did not come through in clutch situations during the playoffs.  In fact, the same can be said for most of the team; many had down years.  That makes the age of the Phillies’ key players a bit more concerning overall.  But Howard, 31, should be in his prime, which is why his steady decline in power is alarming.  His numbers are not bad by any means; I just think the Phillies expected more from him when they gave him a huge extension.  Howard is signed through 2016 with an option and $10 million dollar buyout for 2017.  The Phillies will have Howard for at least 6 more years so, they had better hope he comes out of the gate swinging next year.

I will be examining other Phillies players as well throughout the next few weeks while we await word on free agency and other off-season moves. 

The World Series begins tonight (without the Phils….*SIGH*).  Who are you rooting for and what are your predications?  Please let me know in the comment section below.  My crystal ball says Rangers in 6.  The MVP will be Cliff Lee.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Howard Signs 5-Year Extension

Phillies fans were taken by surprise this afternoon as it was announced that Ryan Howard will be with the Phillies through at least 2016 with a contract worth about $125 million dollars.  Howard was already on-board through 2011 and here is how the remaining years will pay out: $20 million a year for 2012-2013; $25 million a year for 2014-2016 plus an option for 2017 worth $23 million and a $10 million dollar buyout. 
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There is a limited no-trade clause attached as well, plus award bonuses.  Needless to say, Howard will be laughing all the way to the bank.

Not he isn’t worth the money; Howard leads all major league players in home runs with 222 and RBI’s with 650 since 2005.  He also has a National League MVP award under his belt and was named the NL Rookie of the Year in 2005.

What is surprising about the deal is both the timing and Howard’s willingness to commit.  It is the end of April and the Phillies are in the middle of a West Coast road trip; so, the timing is weird.  Plus, it was almost assumed by most experts that Howard would want to test free-agency, in search of a bigger paycheck.  And while the paycheck here is plenty large, it is still nice to see that Howard wants to stay in Philly.

The only possible drawback I see is this: Remember all these years past when the Phillies used Pat Burrell’s large salary and long contract as the excuse for not resigning key players or not going out and getting players to improve the team?  Oh yeah, that.  While GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is set on winning, let us all hope that the financial commitment does not translate into a boat-load of excuses later. 

Imagine when Chase Utley’s contract comes up for renewal in 2013, as an example.  Is Howard worth losing Utley, the best overall player and most dedicated member of the team (in my humble opinion, of course)?  Nope.  But, I promise not to panic until it comes to that ;o)

In the meantime, congratulations to Ryan!  Now go hit some more homers….please and thank you :O)

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

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