Tag: Brandon Lyon

Brother, can you spare $115,384 so we can beat the Nats 6-2 instead of 5-2?

The rise to super-stardom by Chase Utley and Ryan Howard has helped bring the Phillies a championship and a whole lot of spectacular moments. It has also brought a payroll challenge. Utley and Howard have been fantastic offensive players over the last four seasons. They were great four years ago, great last year and the Phillies are counting on them to keep on being great in 2010. But while the amount of offense they are producing hasn’t improved over the past four years, the amount of money that the Phillies have to pay them to produce it has.

The chart below shows the number of runs they each created in 2009 (as calculated by Baseball-Reference), their ’09 salary and the salary over runs created. It also shows the same information for the 2006 season.

  Runs
Created
Salary $/RC
Howard ’09 130 $15,000,000 $115,384
Howard ’06 169 $355,000 $2,100
       
Utley ’09 130 $11,285,714 $86,813
Utley ’06 136 $500,000 $3,676

The point here is not that Utley and Howard are overpaid. It’s also not that they’re anything but great offensive players. They are — in 2006, Howard led the NL in runs created and Utley was fifth. In 2009 they tied for fifth in the league with 130 runs created.

The point is that in 2009 they created about the same or less offense and it cost the Phillies about 55 times as much for Howard to produce a run as it did in 2006 and about 23 1/2 times as much for Utley.

Last year the Phillies spent about $57.1 million to pay their offensive players and scored 820 runs. Let’s pretend that for each of the past four years the Phillies had spent $57.1 million on offensive players and also tried to score the 820 runs they did in 2009. Using runs created as the measurement, the amount of offense produced by Utley and Howard is not improving. It’s high, but has stayed very much the same for Utley since ’06 and gone down a little for Howard. So to get to 820 every year they get similar offense from Howard and Utley, but need to get the same contribution from the players who aren’t Utley and Howard and have a lot less money to pay them.

The Phillies didn’t pay their offensive players $57.1 million in 2006. If they had, though, the $855,000 they paid Utley and Howard would have accounted for about 1.5% of the offensive payroll. In 2009, the $26,285,714 was about 46% of $57.1 million. With Utley and Howard producing at about the same rates in both years it would leave the Phils about $56.2 million to pay non-Utley or Howard players in 2006 and about $30.8 million to pay them in 2009.

If Utley and Howard do the same thing every year, that’s about half the money to acquire players from whom you need the same result.

Of course, the Phillies payroll isn’t staying the same year after year. It’s rising. With help from USA Today’s Baseball Salary Database we see that in 2006 the Phillies payroll was about $88.3 million and in 2009 it was about $113 million.

The problem is, though, that it wasn’t rising as fast as the salaries for Utley and Howard. The table below shows the payroll for each of those years, how much Utley and Howard combined to make and how much all of the players on payroll other than Utley and Howard combined to make:

  Payroll Utley and
Howard
All
players other than Utley and Howard
2009 $113,004,046 $26,285,714 $86,718,332
2006 $88,273,333 $855,000 $87,418,333

So despite the fact that the Phillies spent almost $25 million more on payroll in 2009 than in 2006, they spent less to pay players that were not Utley and Howard.

Again, Utley and Howard are great but they’re not getting better. If the goal is to get the same or better results from the rest of the team it leaves the Phillies with less money to do so.

Good news, though. Just about everyone seems to think that the Phillies payroll for 2010 will be about $140 million. Let’s pretend it is exactly that. Knowing that Howard will make $19 million in 2010 and Utley will make $15 million, we can add 2010 to the list:

  Payroll Utley and
Howard
All
players other than Utley and Howard
2009 $113,004,046 $26,285,714 $86,718,332
2006 $88,273,333 $855,000 $87,418,333
       
2010 $140,000,000 $34,000,000 $106,000,000

Nifty. So compared to 2006, the Phillies didn’t spend more money on players other than Utley and Howard than they did in 2009, but they sure will in 2010 (if their payroll really is $140 million).

Finally, a payroll jump from $113 to $140 million would be a huge one for the Phillies. By total dollars the jump of about $27 million from the 2009 payroll would be the biggest for the team in more than 20 years. By percentage things get weirder — remember that the Phillies went to the World Series in 1993 with a payroll under $27 million. So things have changed. Still, $140 million is about 123.9% of $113 million, which would be the biggest percentage jump for the Phils since 2004. In 2003 the payroll was about $70.8 million. In 2004 it rose to about $93.2 million — the ’04 payroll was about 131.7% of the ’03 payroll after a jump of about $22.4 million.

This suggests that the Phillies might be offering JA Happ and one of Domonic Brown or Michael Taylor in a deal for Halladay. Really? I would be surprised if that happened.

The Phillies took 24-year-old right-handed pitcher David Herndon in the first round of the Rule 5 draft. John Sickels writes about him here. You can see the results of the Rule 5 draft here.

Pedro Feliz and Brandon Lyon will both be Astros.


Run differential makes you wonder how long third place is going to be the home of the Braves

I’m starting to wonder if our time spent worrying about the Phillies third base situation could be better spent worrying about the Atlanta Braves.

The Braves went 86-76 in 2009, the seventh-best record in the NL and the third best in the NL East behind the Phils and the Fish.

Their run differential tells a different if less important story. In 2009 the Phillies scored 111 more runs than they allowed. The second-place Marlins scored six more runs than they allowed. The Braves scored 94 more than they allowed.

Do this. Don’t really, cause I already did it. I mean, read what I did and then do it if you think it’s important. Find the average runs scored per game and the average runs allowed per game for each team. For each team, divide each of those numbers by the average number of runs scored and allowed by the teams in their league and combine the two numbers.

For example, the Diamondbacks play in the NL. The average NL team scored 4.43 runs per game and allowed 4.49 runs per game in ’09. The Snakes scored 4.44 and allowed 4.83. 4.44/4.43 is 1.00226 (a tiny bit better than average) and 4.49/4.83 is 1.07572 (worse than the average for the league). Then you combine those numbers by adding .00226 and -.07572 and you get a total for the Diamondbacks that you can compare to all the other teams you’ve done it for. If you do it for all 30 teams and put them in a list it looks like this:

  1. LAD
  2. NYY
  3. PHI
  4. BOS
  5. ATL
  6. LAA
  7. STL
  8. COL
  9. SFG
  10. CHC
  11. MIN
  12. TBR
  13. TEX
  14. FLA
  15. TOR
  16. DET
  17. OAK
  18. CHW
  19. MIL
  20. CIN
  21. ARI
  22. SEA
  23. NYM
  24. CLE
  25. HOU
  26. SDP
  27. PIT
  28. BAL
  29. WSN
  30. KCR

I don’t think there’s much argument that the Dodgers were better than the Yankees in 2009, but they did out run differential them. 169 for LA and 162 for the Yankees. Dodgers put up a Pythagorean record of 99-63 compared to 95-67 for the Yankees.

Anyway, it’s the Braves that are the focus of this post and the point here is that show up in that list higher than I would have expected. A lot higher. They come in ahead of all the teams in the NL except the Phils and Dodgers, including the playoff teams Colorado and St Louis.

After the Dodgers, Phils, Braves, Cardinals and Rockies, there is a huge drop off to the team with the sixth-best run differential in the league. The Rockies had the fifth-best run differential and they scored 89 more runs than they allowed. The Giants were sixth-best and scored 46 more than they allowed.

It hasn’t been so long since the Braves were dominating the NL East. Over the past ten years the Phillies have won it three times, the Mets once and the Braves six times. Four times in those ten seasons a team won the division with a run differential that was worse than or about the same as the 94 for the ’09 Braves — in 2006 the Phillies won it with a run differential of 71, in ’05 the Braves won the NL East with a run differential of 95 and in ’00 and ’01 they the scored 86 and 96 more runs than they allowed while winning the division.

I think the biggest thing to worry about when it comes to the Braves is if they start to get consistent pitching.

Offensively the Braves have been in the top six in the NL in runs scored in each of the past seven seasons. Their pitching, on the other hand, has been all over the place but was very strong in 2009. Here’s a look at their rank among NL teams in runs scored and runs allowed for each of the past six seasons:

Year NL Rank R NL Rank RA
2009 6 4
2008 6 12
2007 3 6
2006 2 11
2005 4 5
2004 T-5 3

Atlanta’s pitching was dramatically better in 2009 than it had been in 2008. After allowing 778 in ’08 they allowed just 641, 137 fewer, in 2009. Only the Giants improved more at preventing runs between ’08 and ’09 in the NL.

So what else do the Braves need to do? Not a lot. It’s a big if, but If they can keep pitching like they did in 2009 they’re just going to need a little more offense. And that’s scary news given that Chipper hit .264 last year and the team got miserable production from both corner outfield positions.

This suggests that the Phillies may consider trading Joe Blanton. That sure seems like a bad idea. It also mentions pitchers John Smoltz and Brandon Lyon and outfielder Brian Giles as players the Phillies might be interested in. I would be thrilled if the Phillies added Brandon Lyon and a lot less thrilled if they added either of the other two.

Lyon declined arbitration from the Tigers and this suggests he may have made around $6 million if he had not. I am going to be very surprised if the Phillies pay Lyon more than $6 million this year.

This says that Lidge and Romero may not be ready for opening day and suggests that bringing back Park is a high priority for the Phils.


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