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Screwing Ryan Publicly
2007-03-04 21:12
by Mike Carminati

Friday was a tense day in Philadelphia. Would the Phils sign Ryan Howard by the ordained deadline? And if so, would they open the coffers as they did earlier this offseason for Chase Utley?

The final word was just short of the million dollars that some had predicted. By signing Howard to a $900K one-year contract, the Phils made him the highest paid not-yet-arbitration eligible player in baseball history, or some such verbiage, according to ESPN.

That's fine and dandy, but did anyone notice that a day or two earlier the Giants signed 22-year-old rookie pitcher, Matt Cain, who has a slightly better than average ERA but a very good strikeout ratio, to a four-year $9M deal.

The truth is that the Phils delayed Howard's ascent to the majors far too long and the only way he earned a starting spot was due to a Jim Thome injury when Howard was already 25. While Howard was stuck in the Phils system, the fans were told a myriad of reasons why his great stats in the minors would never translate into the majors. He can't hit the curve, he can't hit lefties, he has minor-league power, he is unteachable, etc. Remember this is a team that had Chase Utley, the best second baseman in the league, platooning to start off 2005 as well.

Well, I would toss this "record-setting" contract on the pile of indignities the Phils have heaped on Howard.

Consider that the average salary for a 27-year-old player in 2006 was about $1.9M and the last time the average 27-year-old made less than Howard will make this year was 1998. Here's the average per year:

Yr Avg 27 salary Avg Salary %
1985 $ 366,635 $ 476,142 77%
1986 $ 332,946 $ 417,192 80%
1987 $ 372,765 $ 434,001 86%
1988 $ 393,307 $ 453,020 87%
1989 $ 334,233 $ 505,462 66%
1990 $ 407,331 $ 511,801 80%
1991 $ 698,875 $ 891,884 78%
1992 $ 869,706 $1,047,521 83%
1993 $ 686,648 $ 976,967 70%
1994 $ 727,935 $1,049,589 69%
1995 $ 938,847 $ 964,979 97%
1996 $ 950,991 $1,026,924 93%
1997 $ 788,809 $1,219,888 65%
1998 $ 712,990 $1,280,845 56%
1999 $1,113,364 $1,485,317 75%
2000 $1,193,857 $1,992,985 60%
2001 $1,428,637 $2,279,841 63%
2002 $1,546,983 $2,392,527 65%
2003 $1,866,579 $2,573,473 73%
2004 $1,681,850 $2,491,776 67%
2005 $1,418,423 $2,633,831 54%
2006 $1,928,660 $2,828,623 68%

If that's not enough, consider that the last reigning MVP to make less than $900K was Roger Clemens in 1987 (who has pitched just parts of three seasons in the majors). Here are the lowest paid reigning MVPs (since 1986):

YrReigning MVP Salary
1986Willie McGee $ 500,000
1985Ryne Sandberg $ 505,000
1987Roger Clemens $ 650,000
1985Willie Hernandez $ 660,000
1989Kirk Gibson $ 1,333,333
1986Don Mattingly $ 1,375,000
1989Jose Canseco $ 1,600,000
1988Andre Dawson $ 1,850,000
1988George Bell $ 1,900,000
1990Kevin Mitchell $ 2,083,000
1992Cal Ripken $ 2,100,000
1987Mike Schmidt $ 2,127,333
1991Barry Bonds $ 2,300,000
1994Frank Thomas $ 2,755,000
1992Terry Pendleton $ 3,025,000
1997Ken Caminiti $ 3,150,000
1990Robin Yount $ 3,200,000
1991Rickey Henderson $ 3,250,000
2002Ichiro Suzuki $ 3,696,000
1993Dennis Eckersley $ 3,800,000

If I ran this team, I would have played Solomon and split the big paycheck that they gave Utley this year between the two players. Then again, I wouldn't have signed Wes Helms and Adam Eaton.

Comments
2007-03-04 22:46:51
1.   sanchez101
Howard spent all of 127 PA's in AAA in 2004 after his 'breakout' year in Reading, and then spent half of 2005 in AAA, pummeling the International League for 257 PA's. I have a hard time believing that a guy who spent all of 384 PA's in AAA was "... delayed (in his) ascent to the majors far too long ..."

At the time people expected the Phillies to stick him in AAA for an extended period b/c of Thome ... but it never actually happened. They did the smart thing and traded Thome. You seem to use this as evidence of the Phillies incompitence ... when in fact it only proves the opposite. You also imply that the Phillies told "the fans ... a myriad of reasons why his great stats in the minors would never translate into the majors." I have a hard time believing this ... who spends a 5th round pick on someone they don't believe in? Also, seeing as it looked like Howard's future was in another organization why would the Phillies be talking his stock down? In reality it was (some, really, a few) scouts and prospect prognosticators how were making these comments (and they had legitamate reasons), not the Phillies.

The real reason Ryan has so little service time at such an advanced age is that he's a college player who started his first full season in low-A, and needed to. That's one of the drawbacks to going to college ... if you go at a one-level-a-year pace starting in low-A, your rookie year will be your age-26 season. Don't blame the Phillies.

2007-03-05 12:53:03
2.   gibsonhobbs88
All I know is, he has now got to be considered the top bargain for his salary in MLB. He was last year at $333K so try to name someone else with his monstrous production that is getting paid less.
Also, a nice feature on him on the last edition of Real Sports. I hope he can stay true to his words and away from the juice, I root for guys with that type of attitude.
2007-03-05 13:11:32
3.   thetruth
http://mikesrants.baseballtoaster.com/archives/16405.html

Mike, do you remember what you said a little over two years ago?

"Howard may be a decent major-league player or at least power hitter."

"...a highly questionable rookie."

"I wish they would have traded him before the trade deadline when Conlin was praising him to high heaven and his downside was perhaps less apparent. But the best they can do now is to pump up his value in the AFL and get some first-base strapped team (Yanks anyone?) take him off their hands."

2007-03-05 14:16:31
4.   Tangotiger
I talked about Ryan Howard on my blog. He was definitely held back by 2 years, if not more.

I also said this:
"Since the time of integration, the oldest Hall of Famer to get to 1000 PA was Carlton Fisk. That was in 1973. In 1972, he was 4th for MVP and ROY. ... Unless Ichiro or Edgar beats him to it, if Ryan Howard makes the HOF, he will be the oldest post-integration HOF nonpitcher to get to 1000 PA."

It's not like he's a late bloomer that you could justify bringing up so late. He twice was MVP in his minor leagues.

2007-03-05 14:17:15
5.   Tangotiger
Hmmm...link didn't get through:
http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/how_much_for_pujols_as_a_free_agent/#39
2007-03-05 18:44:06
6.   El Lay Dave
Aren't some/most GMs trying NOT to advance their kids too quickly, lest they achieve arbitration or, gadzooks, free-agent eligibility all-too-soon? This way, the teams can pay less for peak years and hope to avoid burning off the cheap years on growing pains. How old will Ryan Howard be before he can hit the free market?
2007-03-05 19:34:34
7.   jeff122
Who cares how much money Ryan Howard makes this year? All I care about is that he plays well and the team is successful. He seems like he has a good positive attitude and will do well. Undoubtedly, he will be well-rewarded financially for his efforts.
2007-03-06 14:57:13
8.   Mark Peterson
Oh yeah, he'll make more in one season than most of us will make in 10 years. Yeah, poor Ryan Howard.

Seriously, I don't feel bad for any of these major leaguers no matter how much they get or don't get. The major league minimum is $380,000 for God's sake.

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