Ruben Amaro Throws Money at Problem, Signs Ryan Howard

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Ruben Amaro must really hate confrontation. Faced with his first big arbitration hearing of his short career as Phillies' G.M., he decided to cut out the back-and-forth dickering and all that arguing mumbo-jumbo and just wrote a big fat check to his big fat first baseman. Ryan Howard was offered $14 million earlier this winter by the team but he wanted $18 million in arbitration. No matter, he'll make his desired amount three times over in the next three seasons as his new contract is worth $54 million. Do you have any idea how many five-dollar footlongs that can buy? My rudimentary arithmetic says "enough to block up his bowels for the next 83,297 ice ages".

So, is he worth it? Last summer I compared Howard to Mo Vaughn which is akin to comparing your favorite musician to Creed. Howard just turned 30 in November and has pretty much started his career decline, typical among power-hitting, poorly-fielding first basemen. His slugging percentage and on-base percentage have dropped noticeably the last three seasons while his strikeout rate has remained about the same. Perhaps the only real good news is that his defense isn't getting any worse, but that's mostly because it's really hard to earn a grade lower than "F minus minus".

But Howard still has value, and most projections have him rebounding from a somewhat under-performing 2008 season. The man could strike out three times a game and still provide value to his team with his tater tots, free Subway sandwiches, and all-around jovial mood. The three-year $54 million deal buys out his remaining arbitration-eligible years and will leave him a free agent after 2011; Amaro is assuming that his value will not drop precipitously until that point so I'm going to call this a good deal for both the team and the player. As long as Ryan's mom keeps doling out his allowance and investing the rest of the $54 million, Howard should be comfortable the rest of his life, even if he's out of baseball at age 34 like Cecil Fielder.

(photograph stolen from Flickr user ebot)

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It's gotten to the point where even the written words "five-dollar footlongs" touches off that frigging song in my head. I've only been up for two hours -- now I have the whole day to look forward to that. Damn you to hell, Iracane.

This deal smells kind of Pronky to me.

At least Mo Vaughn had value at some point in his career, unlike Creed. Also, I think Mo Vaughn is Wiccan.

How dare you.

I'm offended by every part of this post. *Personally* offended.

The entire time I was reading this I kept substituting "David Ortiz" for "Ryan Howard" and added 4 years to his age. Oof.


My wife's replica Phillies jersey will stay relevant for at least three more seasons. Thanks Ruben!

Also, the incentive breakdown:

Howard’s base salary would increase by $1 million in 2010 and 2011 if he was named MVP in the preceding season. In 2011, an MVP would bring him a $1 million bonus. Bonuses are also included for World Series MVP ($100,000), LCS MVP ($50,000), Gold Glove ($50,000), $100,000 for Silver Slugger, and $50,000 for an All-Star selection.

$50k for a Gold Glove, eh? I must have missed the part where he gets $200k for curing cancer and another $300k if he can bring peace to the Middle East.

Talk about a HEIST.

Juan Gonzalez think he should have held out.

Again with the "tater tots"???? Come on Iracane!!1!! you are better than that!!! Try "round trippers" or "touch em all's" or "out of staters"

The Mo Vaughan comparison is an apt one given the type of player he is, but Hit Dog got a SIX YEAR deal at age 30 (the Mets are still reeling from paying him $35mil to sit on the bench for two years). This deal is 3 years so you're totally protected from RyHo hitting the wall at 33. Philly fans should be happy to be world champs and have a morbidly obese first baseman who's gonna hit 40 tots and strike out 150 times a year. Things could be worse.

Pay the man his money.

I'm not sure which I believe less -- that the Phillies won the World Series or that management is spending money on talented baseball players. Chalk this up as a win for Phillies fans who still walk around wearing Jim Thome jerseys.

@bc twins fans

It's funny because "round trippers," "touch em alls," and "out of staters" sound like euphemisms for different flavors of hookers.

FYI, I don't think it's "tips" worthy because it is very early, but the A's have rekindled interest in O. Cabrera. If he wants $9 million like last year, Beane said he can go spit. But if they can get him for less they are interested.

@the colonel

How much for the "out of stater?" I have a thing for foreign women.

You know, Howard could easily avoid the inevitable late-career decline. By...uhhh...taking steroids.

Is chipotle sauce a steroid?

If I could do High School over, my top priority would be taking as many steroids as possible.

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