Saturday, May 1, 2010

Contract Analysis: Is Ryan Howard overpriced?

Most of you probably know about how the Phillies have extended Ryan Howard's contract through 2016 for a massive $125 million that kicks in in 2012.
Many sports analysts, including Buster Olney feel that this is very much overpricing Ryan Howard, and I think I may agree.
Olney brings up the good point that literally no one would be willing to trade for Ryan Howard now, just because his contract is so massive. While the man is a virtual lock for over 40 home runs a year and is arguably the best non-Pujols first basemen in the league, there are a number of things that worry me about him and his contract:

1. While Howard has improved his ability to hit breaking balls over the last few seasons, the Yankees proved in the posteason that he is still not able to recognize breaking balls at a high enough rate. He went 4 for 23 last World Series with a whopping 13 strike outs.
2. Howard's walk rate has decreased the last two years and, while it's early this year, has continued to decrease into 2010. He still walks quite a bit, but if the trend continues, things could look pretty bad for him.
3. The Phillies now have Howard signed through his age 38 season, and are going to be paying him a massive sum of money for those late seasons where his production is all but certain to decrease. There's a chance he ages well and continues to produce, but even great future Hall of Fame players (see: Chipper Jones, Ken Griffey, Jr.) run out of elite production around that age. It also seems likely that someone with his frame will put on weight, making him a liability in the field, but that's just speculation on my part. Some of you might argue "Well, A-Rod is signed by the Yankees through an even older age", and I also have a feeling that A-Rod's production is going to be horrible for the massive amount of money he will be getting paid in the last 2-3 years of his contract.
4. They already had him signed through 2012, and could have waited to see where he is in 2012 to give him an extension. Why not wait until then? Who knows what could happen between now and 2012.

Personally, I think in the end this contract will end up being a bust, at least in the later stages of the contract. I don't think Howard will be producing numbers that correlate with his pay grade as his contract continues, and the Phillies will be hampered by his contract. I feel the same way about A-Rod's contract, but I will save that for a post another time.

Anyway, what do you think? Is Ryan Howard's extension worth it for the Phillies?


Furious Gunman said...

Even if his numbers do decline for the last couple years of his contract, if the Phillies even win 1 World Series before he's done then the contract is definitely worth it.

Jacob said...

But what if they win that one world series in the next 3 years when they had him locked up anyway, and then the fact that his contract is so massive makes it difficult for them to sign a huge number of quality free agents?