Detailing Where the Philadelphia Phillies' Money Is Best and Worst Spent
The 2012 Philadelphia Phillies' payroll is just over $170 million. Unfortunately, general manager Ruben Amaro's management of that cash has led to large sums of money spread out over only a few players—some worthy of their paycheck, some not even close.
The Phillies have finally gotten back over the .500 mark, but a team with this high of a payroll should never find itself 14 games under .500 to begin with.
Amaro has been too quick to sign players to extensions and overpay for talent. He might have to learn the hard way from his mistakes, but we'll leave that decision to David Montgomery.
The Phillies have moved further and further away from a World Series victory ever since Amaro took over the helm in 2009. The Phillies' streak of five straight NL East titles will end in a few short weeks, but at three games back from a wild-card spot, the Phillies still have a shot at returning to the postseason.
Here are three of the best and three of the worst allocations of funds for the 2012 Phillies.
Best: Juan Pierre
The biggest surprise this season has been the addition of Juan Pierre, who wasn't even given a major league contract when he came to spring training.
Pierre is only making $800,000 in 2012; his team-leading 34 stolen bases alone are worth that kind of money. Even half that many would be worth his paycheck in 2012.
No one thought Pierre would have a .306 average and a .347 OBP in 356 at-bats with fewer than three weeks to play. He also has scored 51 runs, which ranks second on the Phillies' current roster.
Hopefully, the Phillies will re-sign him for 2013; his leadership and work ethic are among the best in all of professional baseball.
At least Ruben Amaro Jr. made one economical acquisition that turned out well in 2012, but the rest of his signings have been pretty disastrous. Insert Chad Qualls joke here.
Best: Carlos Ruiz
Carlos Ruiz will earn only $3.7 million in the last year of his three-year deal. The club has a $5 million club option for 2013, which they definitely will pick up.
Ruiz is having a career year. Barring a recent injury that had him miss a month of the season, Carlos would be battling for National League batting title.
Ruiz's stats are MVP-type numbers over a full season. In 318 at-bats, Carlos is batting .340 with 14 HR and 60 RBI. His OPS is a staggering .968.
Players like Carlos Ruiz help build championship-caliber teams—low risk, high reward and a work ethic second to none.
Best: Kyle Kendrick
When Ruben Amaro Jr. signed Kyle Kendrick to a two-year extension this past February, many Phillies fans were shaking their heads in disbelief. Lately, Kendrick has been proving to all the naysayers that he truly belongs in the Phillies rotation.
With all of Kyle's recent success, Amaro looks like he was finally able to sign a player whose performance will overshadow his paycheck. The addition of a change-up to Kendrick's arsenal has really kept hitters off balance. Hopefully his newfound confidence can turn Kendrick into the pitcher we all wanted him to be.
The Phillies' recent resurgence to baseball relevancy has a lot to do with the success of Kendrick, who has taken over a spot in the starting rotation. The Phillies need Kyle to continue his success for a late-season Phillies playoff run, and then he needs to carry that into the 2013 season and beyond.
Worst: Ryan Howard
After Ryan Howard signed an extension that will keep him in Phillies pinstripes until at least 2016, Phillies nation was somewhat happy with the deal—even though most believed the contract to be too long.
Then, Howard ruptured his Achilles tendon to end the Phillies 2011 season, and our $20 million-plus man was set to miss the majority of the 2012 season. With the seriousness of the injury, many think Howard's already diminishing statistics will continue their downward slide.
Since his return, Howard has had a modest showing. In 57 games Howard is batting a lowly .227 with 10 HR and 40 RBI. The most concerning stat is his amount of strikeouts—80 in only 207 at-bats (nearly 40 percent of his at-bats). Injury or not, that is simply a horrendous stat. No major league baseball player should strike out 40 percent of their at-bats.
This contract will continue to hinder the Phillies' ability to spread out payroll. They extended Howard too quickly, for too long and for too much. Everything that is wrong with long-term contracts to aging players is found in this deal.
We will see if Howard can bounce back in 2013, but it looks like Howard will never be the $25 million player we are paying him to be.
Worst: Cliff Lee
The Phillies are paying Cliff Lee to pitch like an ace with a $21.5 million salary in 2012. This is part of a five-year, $120 million contract, plus a $27.5 million option with a $12.5 million buyout.
Lee just turned 34, and it looks like his best years are behind him. The Phillies had the option to ship Lee to Los Angeles once he was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers, but they decided to pull him back.
Lee is 5-7 with a 3.36 ERA in 2012 and has pitched extremely well as of late. The contract is enormous and for far too long. Ruben Amaro has the habit of giving out contracts for two years longer than he should and backloads them where the team is forced to pay a high price for an aging player.
Cliff must get back to Cy Young form if he wishes to earn his paycheck for the next four years.
You can't blame Cliff, but you can blame Ruben Amaro for overpaying yet another free agent.
Worst: Jonathan Papelbon
Jonathan Papelbon's four-year, $50 million contract is by far the worst allocation of funds on the entire roster. He also has a vesting option for $13 million, which is very achievable. If the option vests, his contract will be five years for $63 million.
To pay a closer over an average of $12.5 million a season is insane, and there is a reason no one else in baseball is paying that type of money to a closer.
There are approximately 1,458 innings for any given team in a regular season, plus whatever extra-inning games they may play. So far, Papelbon has pitched 62.2 innings, or 4.2 percent of the innings in a season. To pay a closer more money than a player like Jimmy Rollins, who plays in over 1,000 innings in a season, is just bad business.
Ruben Amaro went out and signed a quality arm, but he overpaid terribly for him, leaving the rest of his bullpen in shambles.