Two things are inherently true about the Philadelphia Phillies: The roster is full of talent and that talent is being paid a ton of money.
We live in an era and love a game in which getting a good deal is vastly important, and when the Phillies have nearly $200 million invested into the payroll, one can only wonder whether or not that money is being spent wisely.
Are two, possibly three by the end of this off-season, starting pitchers truly worth $20 million a season? If the Phillies were to ink Cole Hamels to a lucrative contract extension, it would be the first time in history a team housed three pitchers that expensive.
What about Ryan Howard? Was that huge contract extension worth it?
In this slideshow, we will take a look back at the 2011 season, comparing each player's performance to the money he made, ranking who provided the biggest bang for the Phillies' buck, and how that will be impacted on the 2012 roster.
Before we get into the actual slideshow, it is important to mention that only players on the current roster were considered for this list. That means that you won't be seeing Jimmy Rollins or Roy Oswalt on this list, as they test the free agent market, but will see Wilson Valdez and Kyle Kendrick, who though are not technically under contract, are still property of the Philadelphia Phillies.
This would also be a good place to list a few honorable mentions. Because we are trying to narrow down to a 25-man roster, players with minimal to no Major League experience were not included. That means that although you may see relievers like Justin De Fratus, Phillippe Aumont, or Joe Savery break camp with the Phillies next spring, none will be featured here.
Truth be told, players making the league minimum are rarely a detriment to the club, regardless of how well or poorly they pitch.
2011 Salary: $20 million
Ryan Howard is not a bad first baseman. In fact, he is an excellent first baseman that is often a favorite target of the media because he is not the superstar that his contract dictates, but you can't blame the man for taking the money that the Philadelphia Phillies were offering.
He posted an OPS of .835 and slugged 33 home runs in 2011, finishing 10th in the NL's MVP voting, but did not come close to living up to his lofty salary. The scary part is that his extension hasn't even kicked in yet. The five-year, $125 million deal he signed in 2010 does not kick in until this season.
Howard is a great first baseman and could be a perennial All-Star if healthy, but with that ridiculous contract signed, he'll never be able to live up to that dollar amount. Not now and not in the future.
2011 Salary: $8.5 million
Joe Blanton was going to have trouble living up to his salary before the season began, so spending most of the season on the disabled list certainly didn't help. He made just eight starts for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011, and while he was being paid as a middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, he produced more back-end-of-the-rotation type results.
With the emergence of Vance Worley in the rotation, Blanton slid into the bullpen upon returning to the diamond, but with Roy Oswalt's likely departure, he'll be called on as a starter once again in 2012. Though he won't be able to live up to that salary either, there is a silver lining for Blanton. He returned from injury in noticeably better shape and the results followed suit—seven innings pitched, 2.57 ERA, 0.96 FIP in the month of September for Blanton, as a reliever.
2011 Salary: $1.5 million
His handling of rookie starting pitcher Vance Worley made Brian Schneider more valuable to the Philadelphia Phillies than he would have been to other teams during the 2011 season, but even with that being considered, there wasn't much value in keeping Schneider on the roster last season, let alone bringing him back for 2012, albeit at a lower salary.
Though offensive production isn't the priority of the back-up catcher, Schneider was a virtual black hole at the plate. He played below replacement level, posting an OPS of just .502. Schneider did, however, get the season started off on the right foot. His first two hits were home runs.
The only problem is that he would finish the season with two home runs.
All things considered, a base salary of $800k for Schneider next season won't even make a dent in the Phillies' payroll. As long as he is only the back-up catcher and handling Worley, he should be able to prove his worth.
2011 Salary: $425,000
When you're making the league minimum, compared to the rest of the Philadelphia Phillies' roster, it is hard not to have much bang for your buck. However, when your name is David Herndon and you are throwing flat sinkers that are sailing over the outfield wall on a near-nightly basis, you may run into some problems.
The Phillies did pay the former Rule 5 Draft pick the league minimum in 2011, but was that worth keeping him in the bullpen? He struggled mightily, giving up 1.42 home runs per nine innings, despite posting a strong ground ball rate. It was almost as if anything that was hit in the air went over the wall, as evidenced by an incredible HR/FB rate of 18 percent.
Even at a rate near the league minimum again in 2012, the Phillies would be wise to leave Herndon in AAA and give one of those bullpen spots to one of their higher-ceiling relievers, especially if Kyle Kendrick is the long-man again in 2012.
2011 Salary: $3.5 million
Ty Wigginton was a solid pick-up for the Philadelphia Phillies. Acquired from the Colorado Rockies, he'll provide some pop off of the bench, and though he isn't exactly a great defender, he does have the ability to be a warm body at several different positions.
Wigginton hit 15 home runs last season with the Rockies—a number that certainly has the potential to remain the same playing home games at Citizens Bank Park. He posted an OPS of .796 against left handed pitching last season, which is an upgrade over Ben Francisco's production.
The best part about this deal is that the Rockies, who needed to move Wigginton, are paying half of his 2012 salary. The Phillies will be responsible for just $2 million next season.
2011 Salary: $414,000
Michael Martinez's versatility defensively increased his value to the Philadelphia Phillies a bit last season, but not by much. He spent time at second base, shortstop, third base, left field and center field of the Phillies in 2011, playing above average defense at just the middle infield positions.
His production at the plate, however, was simply nonexistent. He posted an OPS of .540 and hit three home runs. Martinez struggled with the fundamentals at times, failing to do basic tasks required of this type of bench player, like getting a bunt down.
Had he been making any more than the league minimum, this could have been a disaster. The acquisition of Ty Wigginton probably means that he'll be a stating position player—on the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
2011 Salary: $2.5 million
If Jose Contreras can stay healthy, he is still a valuable asset to the Philadelphia Phillies' bullpen. Charlie Manuel showed him a vote of confidence last season when he was asked to step into the closer's role, before conceding to injury and handing that role over to Ryan Madson.
He'd only pitch 14 innings last season and struggled with control, but he was able to work out of trouble. Contreras' posted an ERA of 3.86, but a FIP of 3.10, converting five saves. As long as he is able to stay healthy next season, Contreras should be much more valuable than his injury-plagued 2011 campaign.
2011 Salary: $1.175 million
Ben Francisco's three-run home run in the postseason against Jamie Garcia made his salary completely worth it, right?
The Philadelphia Phillies went to arbitration with Francisco last winter in hopes that he would be able to step in and fill the void that Jayson Werth was about to leave behind as the starting right fielder, but that was far from the case.
Instead, he became a part of the right field carousel, posting an OPS of .704 and hit just six home runs, helping to force the Phillies to make a move at the trade deadline. With Hunter Pence's arrival, Francisco once again moved to the bench, where he struggled against left handed pitching, posting an OPS of .661 versus lefties.
With John Mayberry Jr. likely making the move to left field as a regular and Ty Wigginton arriving to take most of the at-bats versus left handed pitching off of the bench, Francisco is a serious non-tender candidate this winter.
2011 Salary: $2.45 million
All things considered, Kyle Kendrick played a valuable role for the Philadelphia Phillies last season. He started the year in the bullpen, where Charlie Manuel used him as both a long reliever and a one-inning type of guy. When Roy Oswalt hit the disabled list, Kendrick stepped into the rotation and did a solid job.
He posted a record of 8-6 for the club in 2011, starting 15 games and compiling 114.2 innings. He posted an ERA of 3.22, but that is a bit misleading. Kendrick posted advanced marks that were quite uninspiring—4.55 FIP, 4.45 SIERA and 4.98 tERA.
The Phillies will have an interesting decision to make on Kendrick, who is eligible for arbitration yet again this winter. Do they want to pay him more than $3.5 million to fill the same role that he did last season, or is turning the ball over to a less experienced option the better move?
2011 Salary: $560,000
Once upon a time, Wilson Valdez had people calling him the MVP of the Philadelphia Phillies following the 2010 season, when he did a fine job of filling in for players like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Placido Polanco, as they struggled with injury. His defense off of the bench was, for a time, invaluable.
All of that seemed to slip by the wayside when 2010 turned into 2011, as Valdez failed to recapture that value. His defense wasn't the same, he couldn't hit a lick and by the end of the season, Michael Martinez had all but taken his role. Not even throwing an inning of relief could up his value.
The best thing that Valdez had going for him in 2011 was that he was inexpensive and out of Minor League options. That won't be the case for 2012, when the Phillies must decided whether or not he is worth nearly double his 2011 salary in arbitration.
2011 Salary: $414,000
Michael Schwimer got his first taste of the MLB in 2011, and though it wasn't as impressive as his stint in their Minor League system, the Philadelphia Phillies have high hopes for him moving forward. The tall right handed reliever struggled with his control, but showed good life on his fastball and a nice breaking ball.
Scwhimer finds himself in the middle of the pack on this list simply because he is as cheap as a Major League player can be and neither helped nor hurt the Phillies in 2011. He'll be an inexpensive part of the bullpen for the next few seasons and with his potential, could be heading up this list in the near future.
2011 Salary: $414,000
When the 2011 season began, the Philadelphia Phillies' bullpen was full at the Major League level, but they knew that in the event of a few injuries, they had some depth that was ready to compete on the big stage. So when the bullpen began falling apart, the Phils called upon the closest reliever to the MLB, Mike Stutes.
Upon being called up, Stutes was electric, with a good fastball and tight slider that made him tough to hit. As the season progressed however, it seemed as though the opposition began catching on. He struggled with his control, walking more than four batters per nine innings and became less of an option in more important games. He posted an ERA of 3.63, but advanced metrics weren't as kind, as he posted a FIP of 4.07, a SIERA of 3.70 and a tERA of 4.17.
Like Michael Schwimer before him, Stutes is in the middle of the pack here because he was inexpensive. As long as he pitches to his potential in 2012, he should be on the way up.
2011 Salary: $12 million
The Philadelphia Phillies needed a closer. There was no doubt about it. With young guns like Antonio Bastardo and Mike Stutes struggling down the stretch and Jose Contreras' health up in the air, they needed someone who can step in and make sure the efforts put forth by their dominant starting rotation would not go to waste. Enter Jonathan Papelbon.
The Phillies signed him to the most lucrative contract ever for a reliever and the question is, will he be able to live up to that deal? The short answer is no, but the answer is more complex than that. With the Boston Red Sox last season, Papelbon converted 31 saves and advanced metrics absolutely loved him; 12.17 K/9, 1.53 FIP, 1.58 SIERA and 1.88 tERA.
The kicker for the Phillies is that Papelbon is actually taking a pay-cut (down to $11 million) in 2012 to join the club before he earns $13 million throughout the duration of his contract. For a dominant closer from the AL East moving into a much less demanding NL East, that should bode well for the Phillies.
2011 Salary: $15 million
There is a big asterisk next to Chase Utley's name on a list like this. If he is healthy, we are probably talking about a guy who should be within the top five because short and simple, he does everything. He can hit for power and contact. He can field and throw. He is one of the best base runners on the Philadelphia Phillies and can even swipe a bag.
The thing is, he wasn't healthy in 2011 and still somehow managed to collect 3.9 WAR—second most among Phillies' position players. Utley posted an OPS of .769 and hit 11 home runs, despite playing in just 103 games.
So the big question about Utley is whether or not he is completely healthy moving forward. If he is able to drive the ball for power, we are talking about a player who completely changes the landscape of the entire offensive attack.
2011 Salary: $3 million
It is really hard not to like the signing of Jim Thome for the Philadelphia Phillies, Even at 41 years old, he is one of the most feared sluggers in the game and can take the opposition deep with just a swing of the bat. Splitting last season between the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians, Thome posted an OPS of .838 and hit 15 home runs.
Moving to the Phillies, he'll be tasked with the job of being the primary pinch hitter, stealing those duties from free agent Ross Gload. The fact that the Phillies were able to sign Thome for just $1.25 million is just icing on the cake. Even in a limited role, he should be able to provide the bang for that buck, whether it is in on the field performance or clubhouse leadership.
2011 Salary: $419,000
The Philadelphia Phillies' bullpen probably would have been lost at one point during the season had it not been for Antonio Bastardo. After bouncing between the rotation and the bullpen over the last couple of seasons, he settled into his reliever's role and grabbed it by the jugular in 2011. After taking JC Romero's job as primary lefty specialist, Bastardo climbed his way up the ladder thanks to injuries and was the set-up man by season's end.
Even after struggling a bit with his control and in the month of September, Bastardo was still great for the Phils in 2011. He logged 58 innings and posted a K/9 rate of 10.86, along with an ERA of 2.64. Advanced metrics also thought highly of the lefty, as he posted marks of 3.30 FIP, 2.93 SIERA and 3.00 tERA.
Bastardo is going to be an integral part of the bullpen in 2012, and any time an integral piece of your club is making near the league minimum, you're in great shape.
2011 Salary: $5.25 million
You can say what you please about Placido Polanco's fragile health and inconsistent offense, but with the way he played defense in 2011, it isn't hard to understand why general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. would give him a vote of confidence heading into the off-season. Granted, it will take more than defense for Polanco to be an effective starting third baseman in 2012, but with good health, the potential is there.
After a scorching hot month of April in 2011, Polanco feel victim to injury and his numbers began a consistent slide. He posted an OPS of just .674 for the season, and his normally lofty batting average fell to .277. Polanco did, however, play arguably the best defensive third base in the National League, and was awarded with the Gold Glove after the season.
Polanco will get a raise next season and though it is unlikely he'll be able to live up to that salary, it is possible that he could do so, should he be healthy throughout the season and the starting third baseman, neither of which can be said with confidence over the winter.
2011 Salary: $2.75 million
Where would the Philadelphia Phillies be without Carlos Ruiz?
His work as the catcher for some of the best starting rotations in baseball over the last couple of seasons has garnered him national acclaim as one of the best defensive catchers in all of baseball, and he hasn't been too shabby with the bat in his hands either. In 2011, Ruiz posted an OPS of .754 and hit six home runs—gravy when compared to his defensive contributions.
Even after receiving a raise for the 2012 season, it is difficult to believe that Ruiz will not be well worth it. With him behind the plate, some of the best pitching in baseball has gotten even better. Not bad for a former second baseman.
2011 Salary: $414,000
When the Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers swapped Greg Golson and John Mayberry Jr. a few years ago, the Phillies firmly believed that one day Mayberry would be able to turn his five tool potential into Major League production, one day becoming a starting outfielder. After a few shaky seasons, that seemed to be in doubt, until of course, 2011 rolled around.
After a slight alteration to his batting stance, Mayberry figured it out at the plate. He had always been a good defensive outfielder, but now, Charlie Manuel was looking to find him at-bats, be it to give Ryan Howard a breather or platoon with Raul Ibanez. Mayberry posted an OPS of .854 and slugged 15 home runs, leaving people wondering what he would be able to do with a starting gig.
Looks like we'll all find out soon enough.
2011 Salary: $414,000
Vance Worley seemed to come out of thin air in 2011. After appearing in a few games out of the bullpen over the last few seasons, Worley worked his way into the rotation following injuries to Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton. After surprising hitters with the movement on his pitches, Worley hit a rough patch where he struggled with control and needed to build arm strength, forcing the Phillies to send him to AAA. When he came back, however, he was here to stay.
With improved command and a two-seam fastball that hitters simply could not follow, Worley forced his name into the mouths of those that spoke of the Phillies' aces, including Los Angeles Dodgers' manager Don Mattingly, who said with tongue in cheek during a three game series, "We get [Roy] Halladay and [Cliff] Lee. Then we get their ace," of course, referencing that series' third starter, Worley.
Through his first season, he has been compared to Kyle Kendrick when he first emerged with the Phillies. However, the difference is that Worley is legitimately tough to hit, and as long as he has that late movement on his fastball, he's not going anywhere.
2011 Salary: $9.5 million
Cole Hamels was the least expensive of the Philadelphia Phillies' aces in 2011, but his production hardly dictated that. The only member of the aces that was drafted and developed by the Phillies, Hamels put a miserable first start of the season behind him to post a record of 14-9, with an ERA of 2.79. Advanced metrics supported the notion that he had become one of the best left handed starters in the game, as he posted marks of 3.05 FIP, 3.03 SIERA, and 2.99 tERA.
Ruben Amaro Jr. shot down any notion that the Phillies would look to trade Hamels, who is due for his final season of arbitration this winter and instead suggested that the team will look to explore an extension for the lefty, who could be in line for a deal similar to the ones that Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver inked with their clubs.
2011 Salary: $6.9 million
The addition of Hunter Pence was huge for the Philadelphia Phillies, but for argument's sake, we'll be talking about his season totals from 2011, including the time he spent with the Houston Astros.
After coming to the Phillies at the trade deadline, Pence helped provide a spark to a struggling offense that would turn things around in the second half, placing them among the leagues' best at scoring runs following the All-Star break. He posted an OPS of .871 and slugged 22 home runs, giving the Phillies that right handed power bat they desperately needed.
Pence is also eligible for arbitration this winter and due a raise. With the impact he has had on this club, the fans and his age, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Phillies pursue an extension of their right fielder either.
2011 Salary: $20 million
Due to the nature of this game, it isn't often that a player can live up to a $20 million salary, but then again, Roy Halladay is certainly no ordinary player. Despite being one of the most expensive pitchers in the game, Doc's level of dominance has made him more than worth it. He followed up his 2010 Cy Young campaign by posting a record of 19-6, with an ERA of 2.35 in 2011.
He carved up the National League yet again, posting the highest K/9 rate of his career and displaying pinpoint control. Advanced metrics showed just how dominant he was in 2011, as he posted marks of 2.20 FIP, 2.79 SIERA, 2.46 tERA, and 2.71 xFIP.
Frankly, he should have been the Cy Young again in 2011, and that is nothing against Clayton Kershaw, but that argument is neither here nor there.
2011 Salary: $7.5 million
Shane Victorino is everything that a club hopes to receive when they make a selection in the Rule 5 Draft. After plucking him from the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Philadelphia Phillies have watched the Flyin' Hawaiian develop into one of the game's premier five-tool outfielders, and at $7.5 million, that is simply a price that cannot be beaten.
Victorino continued to play some of the best defensive center field in all of baseball in 2011, responsible for not a single error last season. At the plate, he continued to grow as a hitter, showing his ability to hit for average and power, and of course, speed. He posted an OPS of .847 and slugged 17 home runs, while managing to steal 19 bases as well.
He's due a raise in 2012 before reaching free agency, but Victorino should have no problem living up to that salary.
2011 Salary: $11 million
If you need a reason as to why back-loaded contracts can work wonders, just look at what Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies did in 2011.
After swooping in and landing the prize starting pitcher of the 2011 free agent market, the Phillies agreed to sign Lee to a five-year, $120 million contract. However, the sides also agreed to back-load the contract, paying Lee just $11 million in 2011 so that the Phillies would have some payroll flexibility. Combine with that a Cy Young-caliber season and you're talking about some serious bang for your buck.
Arguably the best left handed starter in baseball, Lee posted a record of 17-8 with an ERA of 2.40 last season, along with a career best 9.21 K/9. Advanced metrics were in support of that argument, as Lee posted marks of 2.60 FIP, 2.72 SIERA and 3.10 tERA.
Of course, along with the good part of a back-loaded contract comes the bad—Lee is about to get very expensive. With that being said though, he may not appear first on this list again, if his future seasons are anything like the years he had in 2011, he shouldn't fall from the top five, which bodes well for the Phillies.