Phillies 2012: A Look Ahead

With the signing of Ryan Howard to a five-year, $125MM deal, the scope of what the Phillies can do heading into the 2012 season has come into greater focus. And at the risk of hyperbole, the key takeaway may be: when the Mayans said the world would end in 2012, were they specifically talking about the Phils?

Let's take a look at what Philadelphia will be spending money on as the 2012 season dawns. Roy Halladay is signed for $20MM. Howard, too, is signed for $20MM.  Chase Utley is signed for $15.3MM. Joe Blanton is signed for $10.5MM, Shane Victorino for $9.5MM, Placido Polanco for $6.4MM, Carlos Ruiz for $3.7MM, and almost certainly, Brad Lidge will be given a $1.5MM buyout.

That's $87MM going to seven players to play and one player to not play. And for their money, the Phillies will receive:

  • The age-32 season of a first baseman whose numbers overall have been in decline through age 30, and whose difficulties against lefties make him a good deal less valuable against situational relievers late in games (Howard).
  • The age-35 season of a pitcher who is dominant now, but will be 35 years old (Halladay).
  • The age-33 season of a second baseman, a position that is notoriously tough on aging players (Utley).
  • The age-31 season of a pitcher with a career 4.21 ERA (Blanton).
  • The age-31 season of a center fielder whose value is largely tied to his legs (Victorino).
  • The age-36 season of a third baseman whose value is largely tied to his defense (Polanco).
  • The age-33 season of a catcher whose career OPS is .720 (Ruiz).

Now obviously, the above list merely points out the red flags of the players under contract. Perhaps all seven of them will perform in 2012 as they did in 2009.

The problem is that even if they do, the Phillies will need to make a relatively small amount of money go a long way.

Consider that the team traded Cliff Lee this past offseason, passing up a chance to have a 1-2 punch in the rotation of Halladay and Lee over concerns that Lee would cost C.C. Sabathia-type money ($23MM annually). It seems fair to assume that the money that would have gone to Lee went to Howard instead. In other words, the $140MM threshold the Phillies find themselves at right now isn't far from where they expect to be in 2012. Certainly, they had no intention of being at $160MM, which is where Lee plus Howard would have landed them.

But we want to be fair to the Phillies, so let's split the difference, and plan for a $150MM 2012 payroll. With $87MM gone, Philadelphia has $63MM left over for: three starting pitchers, six or seven relievers, a shortstop, a left fielder, a right fielder, and four or five bench players.

In other words, even without any decline from any of the seven players under contract that year, the Phillies are going to need a lot of their prospects step up. And if they decide to sign current right fielder Jayson Werth and shortstop Jimmy Rollins– both likely to cost $10MM or more annually and both entering their age-33 seasons in 2012- the entire remaining team will have to be low-cost options fresh from the farm system to make the numbers work.

And we haven't even discussed what Cole Hamels, signed for $9.5MM in 2011, is likely to get in 2012 in what will be his final year of arbitration.

With so many holes to fill, it is hard to believe that Philadelphia decided to put so much of its 2012 payroll into Ryan Howard. This analysis doesn't even get into the problems for the team when Howard pulls down a cool $25MM annually from 2014-2016 for his age 34-36 seasons.

For a team that has managed to position itself as the clear favorite in the 2010 National League, such success may be fleeting.


41 Responses to Phillies 2012: A Look Ahead Leave a Reply

  1. richatmilehigh 5 years ago

    You forgot about Raul Ibanzez! I think he makes 10 million next year.

    • $1529282 5 years ago

      This is for 2012, once Howard’s new contract kicks in, not 2011.

      • richatmilehigh 5 years ago

        Cool, i’m obvioulsy not paying attention this morning. 9.5 mil is alot of money for Victorino! I wonder if they will resign Werth?

        • therambler 5 years ago

          They can’t re-sign Werth. Too much money. They have basically reached their payroll limit. That’s why signing Polanco and Ibanez to such big deal’s was a bit of a head scratcher. Also, throwing money at Brian Schneider was weird. Not to mention (though I am) the deal they gave Joe Blanton…
          They should have traded Howard after their WS win. Lock up Werth, Victorino, Utley, and the pitching… and then build around that with role players. Howard is a one trick pony (all though his “one trick” is a REALLY big power bat)… I think they probably could have gotten Billingsley and Loney (at least) from the Dodgers for him.

          • I don’t understand why anyone would give Ibanez a 3 year deal, either. They’ll be lucky if he finishes up this year with average numbers, not to mention next year.

            In fairness, they had little to pick from after 2008, and definitely made the right choice between Burrell/Ibanez as Burrell was just designated for assignment today. A 3 year deal still seems ridiculous, though.

  2. RichMahogany 5 years ago

    For all their success, the Phillies have made some questionable moves. Ibanez, Polanco, trading Lee away for surprisingly little, and now Howard. With some bad luck, this is the sort of team that could get much worse very quickly.

    • garettf 5 years ago

      Yea surprisingly little. Aumont just threw six innings of no-hit ball in AA the other night and Gillies is heating up. Not to mention that Ramirez is pitching well himself. All you couch GMs out there should get a job in baseball.

      • nhsox 5 years ago

        Aumot has big upside. I really don’t understand why people dog the Lee trade so much. I’ve heard he could easily resemble Derek Lowe in a few years with even more velocity.

        • Because a Halladay + Lee combo would have guaranteed a WS. Also if you HAD to trade Lee, I think you could have gotten a better package.

          • FlyinHawaiianPizza 5 years ago

            Really? Guaranteed WS? I know this is the internet where hyperbole was born, but come on…

        • Because a Halladay + Lee combo would have guaranteed a WS. Also if you HAD to trade Lee, I think you could have gotten a better package.

        • Because for all of Aumont’s talent, there are some seriously legitimate durability and health concerns. Ramirez and Gillies are both nice prospects, too, but they’re not what anyone would call an elite prospect.

          When you trade someone as valuable as Cliff Lee, you should get more than Aumont/Gillies/Ramirez. I think that most people criticize the Lee deal because they may have been able to get more by waiting, and it’s not like the Mariners would’ve turned down that offer a couple of months later.

    • Yankee_Baal 5 years ago

      Amaro Jr.’s tenure so far has been disappointing. Overpaid extensions (Howard, Victorino and Blanton) contracts way too long or way too expensive (Ibanez, Polanco, Baez, Schneider, Gload, Contreras…) the Cliff Lee trade (I wonder if Blanton couldn’t have landed at least Aumont + one of the others), failure to address other needs (like extending both Werth and Hammels to cover his arbitration years instead of Victorino and Blanton, getting a second lefty for the bullpen to cover the injury of Romero, playing a better waiting game with Park and getting someone that could close in the absence of Lidge).

      I always thought very high of Ruben, but now I have to wonder if the 2012-and-onwards Phillies will be similar to what they were in the late 90s/early 2000s.

  3. tightlines 5 years ago

    What’s to prevent him from being traded later in the deal to an AL club that could use a slugging DH? They did that with Jim Thome and got Aaron Rowand in the deal.

  4. dizzle4 5 years ago

    Maybe they’ll be so cash strapped they have to trade Halladay back to the Jays in time for their hopeful playoff runs.

  5. NYM10 5 years ago

    I’m so happy the Phillies gave Howard that ridiculous contract. I think I can speak for the rest of the NL East teams by giving a big thank you to Ruben Amaro Jr.

  6. Guest 5 years ago

    This is when I come in.

  7. therambler 5 years ago

    I argued with a friend when the Phillies won the WS that they should trade Howard. Their payroll was just beginning to balloon and I thought they wouldn’t be able to keep the core of their team together. I still think that was the way to go.
    If they would have traded Howard after the WS when his value was through the roof, they could have gotten IMMENSE value in return from a team like the Giants (or anyone else looking for an elite power bat). Trading Howard would allow them to resign everyone else of value, and the even without his HR’s the Phils would still be a very good power hitting team.
    Imagine the return they could have gotten for Howard? Several top prospects? An elite pitcher and a prospect or two? And with the plethora of average first basemen on the market the Phillies would have been fine at first too.
    They probably could have signed a guy like Adam LaRoche to a cheap deal and kept Cliff Lee – while adding a pitcher of perhaps … Matt Cain quality? The Phillies could have molded an unstoppable juggernaut with a little out of the box thinking… instead they just threw $125 M at a player who is alread declining in offensive skills and is below average defensively.

  8. NYBravosFan10 5 years ago

    Wow I never even saw the figures that way. That will probably break the record for the most amount of money paid to thirty somethings on a single team. Although it’s not like players die when they hit 30, that’s only for Andruw Jones.

  9. wayne_gomes 5 years ago

    You guys can save your doomsaying and sympathy, I’ll take that team for 2012. They have other cheap pieces who can contribute in Happ (#4) and Francisco (LF, where he is probably an average regular with everyday PT), Dominic Brown will be playing OF for the minimum that year, and have several plausible bullpen replacements on the way in Mathieson, Schwimer, Rosenberg, Stutes

    Can we do this for the Yankees please now for 2012, and red flags for every 32+ key player they will still be paying 8 figures annually?

    • Gimme a break dood. 34+ is NOTHING. With the amount of roiders on the team they’ll never age. EVER. Those damn cheaters. Also, generic money/salary complaint. YEAH!

      Signed,
      Anonymous commenter from Yahoo or ESPN

    • Gimme a break dood. 34+ is NOTHING. With the amount of roiders on the team they’ll never age. EVER. Those damn cheaters. Also, generic money/salary complaint. YEAH!

      Signed,
      Anonymous commenter from Yahoo or ESPN

    • NYBravosFan10 5 years ago

      gladly. Don’t know the figures exactly but here’s all the 30+ guys
      Pitchers-CC 32-33 (July Birthday), AJ-35, Mariano-42 (he’s gonna play until he’s 50 lol)
      1st Base-Teixera-32
      2nd Base-Cano turns 30 that year but in October so you can’t really count him
      SS-Jeter–37-38 (June birthday)
      3B-A-Rod-36-37 (July birthday)
      DH-Posada (40-41)

      CC, AJ, Tex, Jeter, A-Rod are all signed to large contracts. Mariano and Posada’s aren’t as big but still. That’s alot of money for older guys.
      Is that what you were looking for?

      • wayne_gomes 5 years ago

        It is, you forgot Granderson though who will be 31 and who “is a player who depends on his speed,” Swisher will be 32 if they want to keep him, etc. Not to mention that CC, AJ, Jeter, A Rod, Teix will likely have a combined 600mm+ still due to them

        Also try some little editorials in the spirit of the original post, like “hmm…Utley will be 33….zomg, maybe he won’t be 130% as good as other 2Bmen anymore, but only 115% “

        • wayne_gomes 5 years ago

          Also for the record, I do not like the Howard deal, but if we’re going to try to pick apart the 2012 Phils roster, it would be nice to try to maintain some sense of perspective, as well as give credit for other key pieces they will still have

          Hamels (Arb 4), Happ (Arb 1), Francisco (Arb 2), Brown (min) will probably be due about 22-24mm combined that season. They will EASILY exceed that in terms of WAR. Add that to your core of 7 mentioned above, add 5 internal bullpen pitchers (Bastardo plus the four I mentioned earlier), and now you have 4 SPs and 7 starting position players accounted for at a total ~115mm budget, with a total of 9 roster spots to fill (two starting players).

          35mm left to spend for 2012 for a SS, 5th starter, two pen arms and some various bench guys–and again, internal guys like Aumont (5th SP or late inning guy), Mayberry (4th/5th OF) or Gillies (4th/5th OF) are candidates for some of these spots–is far from an OH NOOOOEZ situation, especially when you still have the vast majority of the core of the current NL favorite, and the only really older (35+) guys are Halladay and Polanco

          Now if we want to talk about 2013 and onwards, it probably gets a little dicier. But you can do that for EVERY SINGLE TEAM IN THE MLB, IMO

          • NYBravosFan10 5 years ago

            To be totally honest, all this stuff about 2012 is taking things a little far into the future. Who knows what’s going to happen to throw all of this stuff off. Big trades that take people by suprise happen all the time!

        • wayne_gomes 5 years ago

          Also for the record, I do not like the Howard deal, but if we’re going to try to pick apart the 2012 Phils roster, it would be nice to try to maintain some sense of perspective, as well as give credit for other key pieces they will still have

          Hamels (Arb 4), Happ (Arb 1), Francisco (Arb 2), Brown (min) will probably be due about 22-24mm combined that season. They will EASILY exceed that in terms of WAR. Add that to your core of 7 mentioned above, add 5 internal bullpen pitchers (Bastardo plus the four I mentioned earlier), and now you have 4 SPs and 7 starting position players accounted for at a total ~115mm budget, with a total of 9 roster spots to fill (two starting players).

          35mm left to spend for 2012 for a SS, 5th starter, two pen arms and some various bench guys–and again, internal guys like Aumont (5th SP or late inning guy), Mayberry (4th/5th OF) or Gillies (4th/5th OF) are candidates for some of these spots–is far from an OH NOOOOEZ situation, especially when you still have the vast majority of the core of the current NL favorite, and the only really older (35+) guys are Halladay and Polanco

          Now if we want to talk about 2013 and onwards, it probably gets a little dicier. But you can do that for EVERY SINGLE TEAM IN THE MLB, IMO

      • Posada’s contract ends after the 2011 season. If Jesus Montero proves to be somewhat competent at catcher, he will be starting there and perhaps even during the 2011 season. If he isn’t at catcher (he is going SOMEWHERE. His bat is way too good) then the Yankees have other in house options at backstop, such as Austin Romine who is excellent behind the plate and could have a nice bat to go along with his defense. Cervelli is good as well. He is going to be an excellent back up for years to come. And in my unqualified opinion, he could start for a few (bad) teams. I hope the Yanks keep him around.

        Other than that, yeah, the Yankees are going to have to do a lot of shuffling at DH when A-Rod and Jeter get older. And I have to worry how much longer CC can be a “horse”. He is (hopefully) going to have a lot of innings come 2012 and you have to wonder how long he can keep his pace up. But if anyone can do it, it would be him. As for AJ, I just hope he stays healthy. We all know his history.

        But I feel like the Yankees are in a great position for there future. Aside from A-Rod and Jeter (assuming he gets resigned) and their long contracts in their late 30s, the yankees don’t have anyone signed long term into late ages. They already got younger when they let go Damon, Matsui, Molina. Call me biased, but I think the Yanks situation is pretty good.

      • Posada’s contract ends after the 2011 season. If Jesus Montero proves to be somewhat competent at catcher, he will be starting there and perhaps even during the 2011 season. If he isn’t at catcher (he is going SOMEWHERE. His bat is way too good) then the Yankees have other in house options at backstop, such as Austin Romine who is excellent behind the plate and could have a nice bat to go along with his defense. Cervelli is good as well. He is going to be an excellent back up for years to come. And in my unqualified opinion, he could start for a few (bad) teams. I hope the Yanks keep him around.

        Other than that, yeah, the Yankees are going to have to do a lot of shuffling at DH when A-Rod and Jeter get older. And I have to worry how much longer CC can be a “horse”. He is (hopefully) going to have a lot of innings come 2012 and you have to wonder how long he can keep his pace up. But if anyone can do it, it would be him. As for AJ, I just hope he stays healthy. We all know his history.

        But I feel like the Yankees are in a great position for there future. Aside from A-Rod and Jeter (assuming he gets resigned) and their long contracts in their late 30s, the yankees don’t have anyone signed long term into late ages. They already got younger when they let go Damon, Matsui, Molina. Call me biased, but I think the Yanks situation is pretty good.

      • Exactly. Since when is being 31-34 years old classify you as declining in MLB? And 35 for a pitcher like Hallady? Not that big of a deal, really. Not to mention most of those players have 3 year deals, which hardly classifies 2012 as the end of the Phillies run. The current team will just be two years older…I don’t see the problem here at all unless I am missing something.Even so, the Phillies are willing to make sacrifices, and can extend their payroll more since their recent success. And after 2012 (the doomsday according to the author), many of those players will be at the end of their contracts. That will free up tons of payroll for the team, along with the departure of Moyer ($13 million a year) and Ibanez ($11 million a year) who will be gone by then.And as a side note, the author also claimed the Phillies wouldn’t give Lee the money he wanted which is why the Phillies don’t have the Halladay-Lee combo. Not true. The Phillies weren’t about to give up 7-8 of their own prospects for Halladay…The Phillies not keeping Lee had nothing to do with money at all.

    • NYBravosFan10 5 years ago

      gladly. Don’t know the figures exactly but here’s all the 30+ guys
      Pitchers-CC 32-33 (July Birthday), AJ-35, Mariano-42 (he’s gonna play until he’s 50 lol)
      1st Base-Teixera-32
      2nd Base-Cano turns 30 that year but in October so you can’t really count him
      SS-Jeter–37-38 (June birthday)
      3B-A-Rod-36-37 (July birthday)
      DH-Posada (40-41)

      CC, AJ, Tex, Jeter, A-Rod are all signed to large contracts. Mariano and Posada’s aren’t as big but still. That’s alot of money for older guys.
      Is that what you were looking for?

  10. NYBravosFan10 5 years ago

    I still think Posada will be a DH in 2012 but Montero/Romine is quite the discussion issue. I’ve heard that Montero has a phenomenal bat but questionable defensive skills and Romine is excellent behind the plate but his bat isn’t anything staggeringly special. Now I could very well be wrong but that’s just what I’ve heard. I just don’t see a guy being brought up straight into a DH role. Especially since neither are proven major league hitters yet. And that’s a big time “yet”. I see Montero being the catcher and Posada at DH but like I said above, who knows what’s going to happen by that time. Maybe the end of the world will have taken place by then and we don’t even have to worry 😉 I don’t believe in that by the way, the Mayans are just messing with us.

  11. NYBravosFan10 5 years ago

    I still think Posada will be a DH in 2012 but Montero/Romine is quite the discussion issue. I’ve heard that Montero has a phenomenal bat but questionable defensive skills and Romine is excellent behind the plate but his bat isn’t anything staggeringly special. Now I could very well be wrong but that’s just what I’ve heard. I just don’t see a guy being brought up straight into a DH role. Especially since neither are proven major league hitters yet. And that’s a big time “yet”. I see Montero being the catcher and Posada at DH but like I said above, who knows what’s going to happen by that time. Maybe the end of the world will have taken place by then and we don’t even have to worry 😉 I don’t believe in that by the way, the Mayans are just messing with us.

  12. jwsox 5 years ago

    I never realized that this deal blocked utleys future with the team having hoard locked into 1st with limited no trade basically says to utley hey man sorry but once your deal is done and howard is stil at 1st we are going to part ways with our best over all hitter because we cant move him to first…good on phills

    • You do realize that Utley is one of the greatest defensive second baseman in recent memory, right?

      • jwsox 5 years ago

        yes i do and one of the best hitting 2nd basemen as well which is why there was a common thought that he might get moved to 1st eventually to extend his career. Plus he would for sure be a better 1st basemen defensively than howard. like the article says Utley is playing a position that is notoriously physically bad on aging players. With this extension it says something that they feel that utley will be able to play 2nd for the next 5-6 year which maybe he will maybe he wont but his career could have been extended many more years if he is moved to 1st…..this post nor my last was meant as a slam to utley he is one of my favorite players

  13. killeryams 5 years ago

    This doesn’t preclude the Werth signing, it would just take a backloaded deal. Howard is a unique talent who hits for tremendous power and is a game changer, is the deal risky..absolutely but the options for the team are limited concerning the 1B position. The Phils are too bat heavy in my opinion and should have invested in a second elite pitcher..rather than guaranteeing another bat..but a lineup of:

    Rollins
    Polanco
    Utley
    Howard
    Werth / Other R handed OF
    Brown
    Victorino
    Ruiz

    Is still very intimidating even in 2012.

  14. jrollpatrol08 5 years ago

    wow i cant understand all the negative backlash. phillies fans out there somewhere have to see some positive from this deal. players that produce like ryan howard come around once in a great, great while. his numbers for HR and RBI over the last 4 years are the best in baseball. he is a historic slugger and will continue to be a threat in the lineup for years to come. how many raw sluggers of howards ability are left anymore in this post-juice era? im just not real concerned about dedicating a huge chunk of money to utley, howard, halladay for the next 4 years minimum…i love that a huge superstar slugger came up through the system and is now being retained by one team for his foreseeable future. it doestn happen very often anymore and im glad howard will be in this lineup for a long time..

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