Friday, April 30, 2010

Eight Reasons to Dislike the Ryan Howard Contract

Ryan Howard is an excellent baseball player. Phillies fans should be thrilled that he will be with the club long term. Howard has led the league in RBI in three of the last four years. He plays huge in September, as well as being a fan favorite and one of the top home run hitters in the game.

However, giving a 5-year, $125 million contract to Ryan Howard may not work out for the Phillies.

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Defense

Howard is average at best with the glove. He works hard at it but by the end of this deal, he will certainly be a below average defensive first baseman.

Many think that a first baseman's defensive performance really does not matter that much. The Phillies must be among that group as Howard's range will be worse each year. On the plus side, Howard is a good receiver with good hands. He makes the plays on balls hit right at him.

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Strikeouts

Howard strikes out twice as often as he walks. This ratio will get worse. Aside from the double play, a strikeout is the worst possible outcome in a plate appearance.

A guy that can strike out in roughly two of seven plate appearances is not an elite player. As his power numbers decline even more, his huge strikeout numbers will be a liability.

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Lefties

Howard has always struggled against lefties. Check out his career numbers against left handed pitchers: .225/.308/.442. Ouch.

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Walks / OBP

Howard's walk rate is going in the wrong direction. He might draw less than 60 walks this year. Howard's OBP two years ago was .339. Last year it was .360. This year it's .308. His huge power numbers help but not for this kind of dough.

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Age

Howard is 30. Many a power hitter has seen his stats fall off as he gets into his 30s. Check out David Ortiz or Cecil Fielder for reference. Howard could be unique and find a way to keep his production up as he ages but it isn't likely. In the National League, he won't be able to hide at designated hitter either.

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Value

Good hitting first baseman are not exactly rare. Take a look at the 2009 season where 13 first basemen topped .900 OPS. Furthermore, as these guys become available in the coming years, the Yankees will not likely be in on the bidding. Paying a first baseman $25 million to produce a .900 OPS is unwise, to say the least.

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Risk

This contract has huge risk written all over it. What did the Phillies gain by committing this much money now? Were they afraid that in 2012 there would be a big demand for a one-dimensional power hitting first baseman in his early 30s? A less risky approach would have been to wait and see what kind of player Howard is going to be at 32 before throwing this kind of money at him.

In taking on this risk, one would think that the Phillies would get a discount, but that does not appear to be the case.

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Resources

Signing Howard is not an efficient use of the team's resources. They would have been better off keeping Cliff Lee. An ace pitcher has more value than an All-Star first baseman. Every team has a revenue limit. Paying Howard this much money restricts the money they can pay to other players.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Five Reasons Why Orlando Hudson's MLB Racism Claims May Be Wrong

Recently, Orlando Hudson of the Minnesota Twins leveled the claim that Jermaine Dye and Gary Sheffield are not playing for a major league team in 2010 because the owners are racists.

I can't get into the heads of each owner to know if Hudson is right or wrong. However, I have found five reasons why he might be wrong.

Now if in the next couple of years, guys like Carl Crawford, Prince Fielder, Brandon Phillips, and Justin Upton can't find work, Hudson's point may be legitimized.

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Jermaine Dye

"You see guys like Jermaine Dye without a job," Hudson told Yahoo!.

Here is why Jermaine Dye is not playing in 2010:

1. He had a very bad second half of 2009.

2. Dye no longer hits the ball hard to right field.

3. Dye's line-drive rate in 2009 was the lowest of career.

4. He would be the worst defensive right fielder in the majors.

5. He was offered jobs with (at least) Texas and Washington and turned them down.

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Gary Sheffield

"A guy like Gary Sheffield, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, can't get a job," Hudson told Yahoo!.

Hudson may be right that Sheffield will be "a first-ballot Hall of Famer." He has the numbers. He is only 311 hits away from 3,000.

Anyway, Sheffield is not in the big leagues now because:

1. He is old—Sheffield just turned 41 this winter.

2. He has often been linked to steroid use.

3. He isn't worth the trouble. The dude can still hit (.276/.372/.451 in 2009), but he sat out a game pouting because the team wouldn't extend his contract.

4. His defense is far from good (-12.7 UZR last year in 500 innings).

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The times are changing

Most everyone that follows baseball knows that young players generally are cheap while old players are expensive. Well, it seems that the owners have finally caught on.

The contracts given to guys like Alfonso Soriano, Milton Bradley, Gary Matthews Jr., Juan Pierre, and Jose Guillen are a thing of the past. Well, for now at least.

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The facts don't back it up

Reality bites. Apparently, the whole claim is not backed up by facts. Don't you hate when that happens?

According to this study, "black free agents were given more money ($3.72 million) per projected WAR (by CHONE) than any other race. If any group has a legitimate complaint, it's Hispanic players, who were compensated only $2.96 million per projected WAR."

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Dye and Sheffield are not alone

These white players have also had the same problems finding work:

1. Braden Looper won 14 games last season and hasn’t found a job yet.

2. Jarrod Washburn, like Dye, had a very good first half in 2009 but has no job now.

3. Jim Thome, like Sheffield, has first-ballot Hall of Famer stats but had to settle for a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Minnesota Twins.

4. Jim Edmonds, despite punching up .235/.343/.479 in 2007, could not find a team interested in his services in 2008. He had to settle for a minor-league deal this year with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Tiger Woods Commercial: What can we learn?

Opinions of the new Tiger Woods Nike commercial are all over the place. Many people are appalled. Many people think it is a breathtaking 30 second film of Tiger Woods today. Then again, many people don't care.

The objective here is to take a pragmatic approach to examining the commercial and answering all the questions. It won't be long before Tiger Woods gets his sponsors back, wins more majors, and resumes life with his family. Also, take a look this article about whether Tiger Woods is better than Jack Nicklaus.

Who should we feel sorry for?

1) Tiger Woods who just used his father's voice to sell Nike merchandise?
2) Tiger's Swedish model wife who has healthy kids and is sitting on half a billion dollars?
3) Tiger's fans who have not seen him play for a while?

Smart money says:
Tiger Woods' image which has taken a beating.

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When did Earl Woods record this?

1) When Earl Woods was talking about a time on the golf course when a young Tiger chose the wrong club?
2) When Earl Woods was talking to Tiger about blowing a tournament in the final few holes?
3) When Tiger was a youngster and got caught playing ding dong ditch on the neighbors?
4) Does it even matter?

Smart money says:
This clip was probably taken when Earl was explaining how he taught Tiger to play golf at a ridiculously high level.

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What does this commercial tell us?

1) That Tiger Woods is back?
2) That we need to give more attention to Tiger Woods?
3) That Tiger is a changed man?
4) That Tiger hears ghosts?

Smart money says:
A lot of people cashed in on this already...Tiger and Nike want their piece of the action.

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Was this commercial a mistake?

1) Yes, it’s a big mistake because people who were disappointed in Tiger Woods will become even more disappointed.
2) No, the visual is so amazing that you can't look away.
3) Maybe, but Tiger made the decision to do it and he knows what he is doing.

Smart money says:
Most people don't care either way.

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What should we learn from this commercial?

1) That Tiger is willing to profit from his situation?
2) That Tiger wants us to think differently and more kindly of him?
3) That he willingly exploited his dead father’s memory to make a little coin?
4) That Nike and Tiger Woods have made a groundbreaking, powerful commercial?

Smart money says:
We should immediately buy more Nike gear.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

MLB 2010: Should The Brewers Complain About Money Troubles?

New York Yankees president Randy Levine thinks that Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio should stop complaining about the Brewers' money troubles. Listed below, are the points and counterpoints about whether Mr. Levine has a valid point:

Point: Yes, Randy Levine is right. The Yankees aren't breaking any rules.

Counterpoint: No, the rules are a joke. The players' union has taken over and made a farce of the game.

P: Teams that don't have the money just have to spend more wisely.

CP: That sounds easy enough. However, the Yankees will spend over $120 million more than the Brewers in salaries in 2010. That gives them a gigantic competitive advantage.

P: Perhaps the Brewers should spend all the revenue sharing money to improve the team.

CP: What are you suggesting?

P: They receive hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue sharing.

CP: There was over $400 million paid out in revenue sharing and luxury tax last year. That money is spread out over a lot teams.

P: Some bring in a lot of dough. For example, the Pirates made $40 million from that. Where does it all go? What do they spend it on?

CP: Of course, I don't have access to their accounting records but my guess is that it goes to player salaries and bonuses for draft picks, among other things. In the end, there isn't much impact on signing players. That money is reinvested on the team and they still fall short.

P: Sharing revenue lowers the incentives for each team to increase revenue at its own cost. The owners have transferred a billion dollars to a handful of uncompetitive teams over the years. I have a feeling it goes straight to the owners' pocket.

CP: I doubt that. The salaries and bonuses it pays for both have been driven up by teams like the Yankees.

P: The Yankees don't have any problem with revenue sharing. Through revenue sharing, the Yankees are helping build up the overall product of baseball.

CP: Oh yeah, they are real philanthropist bunch right there.

P: In some ways, yes. Baseball is not perfect and the Yankees benefit from the lack of a salary cap.

CP: They exploit the salary cap.

P: The Yankees provide great entertainment to baseball fans everywhere.

CP: So revenue sharing is simply the price the Yankees pay to maintain a giant competitive advantage?

P: Maybe that is true. Furthermore, by accepting handouts, the small-market teams forfeit their right to complain about the situation they are in.

CP: These complaints won't stop until the game is fixed. Even Yankees' fans don't think the system is fair.

P: The fact is that the small-market teams accept fat checks from other teams. They should focus on using that to help their teams and be grateful.

CP: The Yankees play in a market that is 10 times the size of the Brewers.

P: Cry me a river. The Yankees have a huge advantage in resources. Isn't that good for baseball since it makes it so much fun when the Yankees lose? It is good to have a big team for the little guys to beat. This makes the game so exciting when it happens. Think about the year the Marlins beat the Yankees in the World Series.

CP: Yeah, that was a great series. The Marlins had to get rid of many of their good players after that, though.

P: Another team will emerge to fill in that gap.

CP: Why can't the Yankees just try to compete on a level playing field? The other New York teams do.

P: Yeah, not in your lifetime.

CP: Maybe not but it can't be all that gratifying beating up on the little guys year after year. They would do a great service to the game if they pushed for a salary cap-and-floor system.

P: Even if they did, the players' union would stop it.

CP: It would solve all the problems.

P: I don't think so. A salary floor would cause many teams to suddenly have to overpay for veterans to reach it. A salary floor can raise the price of mediocre players.

CP: Yeah, but a salary cap would level the playing field.

P: A cap would lower the salaries for the big leaguers What about the minor leagues, though? How would minor league salaries and expenses be included in the salary cap?

CP: I'm sure that could be worked out.

P: The beauty of baseball is that a team that wins 81 games in a bad division has as much chance of winning the World Series as the big spenders.

CP: The Yankees are in the playoffs year after year. Mark Attanasio was simply stating how he wished he had it as easy as the Yankees. Is that so wrong?

P: Yeah, I think he should work harder.

CP: It looks like he'll have to.