Sunday, December 22, 2013

Then and Now...A Salary Comparison

As we prepare for Christmas, and begin to anticipate what Santa will leave us under our trees, I thought it would be interesting to compare the salary breakdown between what our highest paid Phillies players received in their stockings in '08  to what they are receiving in '14. Please understand, as much as I anticipated this being a critique of Ruben Amaro Jr.'s spending and allocation process, by the time you complete reading this article, my hope is that you could reflect on how our team was built then (i.e., in '08), compared to how it is built now (i.e., in '14). Most importantly, to help you appreciate the increase in baseball salaries during the past five seasons, the average salary for that position in 2013 is next to the 2014 salaries.

Top 10 Phillies Salaries in 2008 

          Name            Position      Salary            Pct       WARP    Avg. salary of position

  1. Pat Burrell          LF    $14,250,000   14.17%       2.63            $3,387,553
  2. Ryan Howard     1B    $10,000,000     9.95%       2.88            $5,831,272
  3. Brett Myers        SP    $8,500,000       8.45%       1.37            $6,133,743
  4. Jimmy Rollins      SS    $8,000,000       7.96%       4.47            $3,290,881
  5. Adam Eaton        SP    $7,958,333       7.92%      0.39            $6,133,743
  6. Chase Utley        2B     $7,785,714       7.74%       5.25            $2,386,892
  7. Brad Lidge          RP    $6,350,000        6.32%      2.24            $3,080,082
  8. Jamie Moyer        SP    $6,000,000        5.97%       1.74           $6,133,743
  9. Tom Gordon        RP    $5,500,000        5.47%       0.14           $3,080,082
  10. Geoff Jenkins        RF    $5,000,000        4.97%       0.15           $4,104,798
Top 10 Phillies Salaries in 2014

      Name                 Position   Salary       Pct   WARP in '13  Avg. salary of pos. in '13

  1. Ryan Howard         1B   $25,000,000   17.79%    0.70           $4,337,982
  2. Cliff Lee                 SP   $25,000,000    17.79%    4.20           $5,559,357
  3. Cole Hamels           SP   $23,500,000    16.73%    3.60           $5,559,357
  4. Chase Utley            2B   $15,000,000    10.68%    3.50           $2,817,616
  5. Jonathan Papelbon  RP   $13,000,000      9.25%    0.80           $2,048,222
  6. Jimmy Rollins          SS   $11,000,000      7.83%     1.20           $2,993,928
  7. Carlos Ruiz              C    $8,500,000        6.05%     1.70           $2,014,076
  8. Marlon Byrd           RF   $8,000,000        5.69%     2.70/0.40* $3,995,665
  9. Mike Adams           RP   $7,000,000        4.98%    -0.2            $2,048,222
  10. Roberto Hernandez SP    $4,500,000       3.20%     -1.5            $5,559,357
***2014 salary percentages are based off of top highest salaries as of 12/22/13 and a total payroll of $140,500,000 for those ten players, an average salary of $14,050,000.
* Marlon Byrd's WARP differs between his time with the New York Mets/Pittsburgh Pirates.

Looking back on the 2013 season across Major League Baseball a few points are important to consider:

  • The average team salary was $106,000,000
  • The World Series Champion, the Boston Red Sox, had a team salary of $150,656,000
  • The National League Champion, the St. Louis Cardinals, had a team salary of $116,505,000
  • The lowest team salary for a team that made the playoffs was the Pittsburgh Pirates at $66,805,000
Although Ruben Amaro Jr. has received a great deal of criticism over the past several months, the concern goes back to a point he made earlier this week. During a December 18th press conference at Citizens Bank Park, Ruben shared "it's about spending the money wisely, and trying to spend it intelligently." Additionally, Ruben interjected to reporters "why would you spend money that you think is going to be money not well-spent?" Unfortunately, as you scan his top ten salaried players for 2014, one can quickly determine RAJ greatly overspent in his bullpen with contracts awarded to Jonathan Papelbon and Mike Adams. Now one can argue if Adams was healthy, it wouldn't have been a bad gamble. However, when examining the WARP (i.e., wins above replacement), it doesn't take long to deduce that relievers aren't a huge return on investment. Going back to 2008, even in Lidge's perfect season, he was only at 2.24 WARP while Madson who primarily served as the "bridge to Lidge" was at a 1.05 WARP. These two combined at a salary of $7,750,000 and had career seasons. RAJ gambled on two players for 2014 who will cost the team almost three times as much at a price tag of $20,000,000. Overall, I'm glad Ruben has learned his lesson, but it seems a little bit late when two pieces of your bullpen are going to cost you this amount.

On the bright side, when examining the other players, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz are all wise buys when healthy. One could even argue Byrd is a worthwhile gamble when compared to the average salary for rightfielders in 2013. The concern raised regarding offense is whether or not age will plague these three individuals or any members of the older core as the season unfolds, putting Ryne Sandberg in a precarious position. If productive and healthy, we could begin to hope for a return to career highs in wins above replacement for Rollins (6.5 in 2007), Utley (6.8 in 2007), Howard (4.4 in 2006), Ruiz (5.2 in 2012) and Byrd (4.0 in 2010). Coincidentally, for four of these five players, their career highs occurred during their primes and they haven't returned to this level since and have aged in the process. Ruben hasn't yet seemed to comprehend this fact or if he has is setting the team up for a major sell off in the upcoming season when attendance and victories both begin to plummet.

On paper, the Phillies line-up doesn't look that bad. If Ryne Sandberg mirrors his approach to the end of the 2013 season, we can probably anticipate the following:

  1. Ben Revere    (CF)
  2. Jimmy Rollins  (SS)
  3. Chase Utley    (2B)
  4. Ryan Howard  (1B)
  5. Marlon Byrd    (RF)
  6. Dominic Brown (LF)
  7. Carlos Ruiz        (C)
  8. Cody Asche      (3B)
When reflecting on the above then and now comparisons, we can only hope that our top ten salaried players have big seasons, our remaining players play a key role every night, and collectively, the team prides itself on positive chemistry and the desire to win. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Baby, it's cold outside!

Well Phillies phans, if you were waiting for the hot stove to heat up this baseball offseason then you may be currently singing the lyrics to "Baby, it's cold outside!" The only warmth to expect in the near future will be the temps from Clearwater during spring training in early February when pitchers and catchers report. Now keep in mind, if we learned anything from Ruben's approach in recent years, the weeks before and after Christmas are a quiet time of year. In the next couple of days, "EVERYBODY HITS", will be sharing a few blogs focused on the following:

"Creating a New Chemistry in Philly"

"Strength of a Starting Rotation"


"Building a Bullpen"

Stayed tuned, keep warm, and reframe this anticipated offseason by breaking out your Hawaiian shirt and singing Mele Kalikimaka!

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