I was going to write something long and critical about Ryan Howard asking for $18 million in arbitration, but then Melky Cabrera’s crazier arbitration demand came along.

Darn, it now seems that Melky and the Yankees have come to an agreement, thereby mooting all of the snark I had stored up overnight. Still, this is probably a good thing, because if they didn’t, the Yankees would have had to use that PowerPoint presentation they made up illustrating Cabrera’s true value, and whoever put the deck together would likely have been subject to prosecution under New York’s obscenity laws if it ever saw the light of day.

So back to Howard. Eighteen million dollars is an awful lot of money. More money than Albert Pujols will make in 2009 and not that much less than Mark Teixeira will make. This a year after he posted a .339 OBP and a 124 OPS+. Yes, he hits many pretty home runs and the writers went ga-ga over him in the MVP voting, but when your OPS is in the same ballpark as Andre Ethier and Brad Hawpe’s, and you don’t even crack the top 15 in Win Shares in the National League, $18 million is a little rich.

The Phillies are offering Howard $14 million. I think even that may be a tad high, but since the arbitrators have to go with one of the numbers presented to them, that’s where they should come out.

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  1. Jason @ IIATMS said...

    Predicting arb winners/losers is a tough game.  Phillies were 7-0 in arb rulings before Howard’s win last year.  I agree, I think Howard loses this bid, but if he wins… he’s making free agent money for the life of his arb years.

    If he gets $18M this year, is it out of the realm of possibility (if he has a similar year) that he ask for $23M next year?

    Because he’s going to be 29 next month, he’s not going to get that longer term deal from the Phillies.  He got off to a late start due to Jim Thome blocking the base.  Unlike Prince Fielder, who’s 24 (I think)…

  2. Travis M. Nelson said...

    Seems to me that instead of the $1M raise, Melky ought to pull a Lyman Bostock and give donate some of his salary to charity if he can’t do better than a 641 OPS (worst in the AL for 425+ PA) this year. 

    Not that I wish him Bostock’s fate, just his batting average.

  3. Ryan said...

    Over at Fangraphs, they have a bit of a different take. . .

    The 18 million sounded crazy to me at first as well, but now that I look at it more, it seems about right.

    Of course, they have Pujols value for 2008 at around $40 million while he was under contract for $13.9 million.  He’s got 2 more years with a team option for 2011, so it seems likely that Howard will continue to make a lot more money than he does. . .

  4. TC said...

    Dear Phillies,

    Please trade Ryan Howard.  I don’t see how Fangraphs comes up with the conclusion that Howard is “average at first base” defensively, but you know, in your hearts, that they’re wrong.  You’ve seem him play baseball.  He LOOKS atrocious.  Have you seen his +/- or UZR?  His IS atrocious.  Watching games, I sometimes see him and think “oh, that was a really nice play from Howard”, and then I remember that it was just a routine grounder that the HR champ barely snagged.  Ryan Howard, defensively, is amazingly bad, with moments of astonishing competence. 

    He does appear to be a pretty competent baserunner, though.  I’ll give him that.  Not fast, but smart on the bases. 

    The bat, though.  His entire reason for playing every day.  It’s not returning to 2006.  It’s probably not returning to 2007, either.  It’ll float around 2008 for a couple more years until the hinges fall off.  He’ll never hit the soft stuff, and sooner or later, he won’t hit the hard, straight stuff, either.  Trade him, please.  Someone will take him and give you the moon. Seriously. 

    I mean, Chan Ho Park and Raul Ibanez are bad enough.  Lucking into the World Series doesn’t give you a free pass to do stupid things, and while holding onto Howard isn’t stupid, it would make me feel a lot happier if the Phillies had a stable of impressive prospects instead of an aging, declining, defensive liability out there at first.  Come on.  Try it out.  You can move Utley over there, maybe, and put Donald in at 2B.  Utley, Donald, Rollins, and Feliz.  Best defensive infield in baseball?  Maybe.

    Think about it.


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