Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Gettin' Iggy With It: The Richest Ass In The World

Hi, everyone!  This is Iggy Beartran.  You may know me as the cute sister to Studious Metsimus roving reporter and culinary expert Joey Beartran, but I'm more than just looks.  I also have a brain.  And today my brain is thinking about the asinine contract the Phillies just gave to starting pitcher Cole Hamels.  Or should I say ASS-inine, because they just made Hamels the richest ass in the world.

In case you hadn't heard, the last place Phillies agreed to terms with Hamels on a six-year, $144 million contract.  The deal will keep him in the city of No Brotherly Love through the 2018 season.  There is also a vesting option for 2019.

I'm not a numbers gal, but I'll give them to you anyway.  Since making his debut for the Phillies in 2006, Hamels is 85-58 with a 3.38 ERA.  However, he has never won more than 15 games in a single season despite the Phillies averaging just under 95 victories per year since his first full season in 2007.  Even Steve Trachsel won more than 15 games in a season for the Mets, winning 16 in 2003.

Now I know what you're thinking.  I shouldn't judge Hamels by the number of wins (or lack of) he has.  After all, Felix Hernandez won the Cy Young Award in 2010 despite a mediocre 13-12 record.  Rather, I should judge him by whether or not Hamels can keep his team in the game.  Fair enough.  I had someone who doesn't fall asleep when looking at baseball stats do the research for me (thanks, Joey) and came up with the Phillies' record in games started by Hamels over his career:

  • 2006: 23 starts, 13-10
  • 2007: 28 starts, 19-9
  • 2008: 33 starts, 19-14
  • 2009: 32 starts, 16-16
  • 2010: 33 starts, 18-15
  • 2011: 31 starts, 18-13
  • 2012: 19 starts, 12-7
  • Overall: 199 starts, 115-84, .578 winning percentage

Okay, so a record of 31 games above .500 over the past seven seasons is not bad at all.  I'm sure many teams, including my beloved Mets, would love to have a pitcher like that.

But let's look at what the Phillies have done over those seven seasons to make a comparison between the team's overall record and their record in Hamels' starts.

  • 2006: 85-77
  • 2007: 89-73
  • 2008: 92-70
  • 2009: 93-69
  • 2010: 97-65
  • 2011: 102-60
  • 2012: 43-54
  • Overall:  1069 games, 601-468, .562 winning percentage

The Phillies have a better winning percentage in games started by Hamels since he made his debut in 2006, but Hamels has been playing for a contract in 2012.  Prior to 2012, the Phillies were 103-77 in Hamels' starts for a .572 winning percentage.  Meanwhile, over the same time period, the Phillies' overall record has been 558-414.  That's a .574 winning percentage.

So in years when Hamels isn't playing for a contract, the Phillies actually perform better when he's NOT on the mound as opposed to when he is.  But according to them, it makes good sense to lock up a pitcher into his mid-30s with a contract worth an average of $24 million per season when he gives them a worse chance to win the game, especially when he's not being motivated by the prospect of a lucrative deal.  But hey, it's not my money!

The Phillies will now be paying Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee a minimum of $20 million each in 2013, not to mention the $15 million that Chase Utley will be earning to miss his usual month or two of action.  Haven't they learned yet that doling out huge contracts to aging, fragile players always come back to bite you in the ass?

Then again, the Phillies have plenty of experience when it comes to signing an ass.  They're paying for it now with Shane Victorino, who has been the talk of many trade rumors.  They're paying for it with the plethora of injuries to their aging sluggers (Utley, Howard) and thirty-something pitchers (Halladay, Lee).  And they will pay for it with the ridiculous $50 million deal they gave to closer Jonathan Papelbon prior to this season.  But that didn't stop them from giving the second-most lucrative deal ever given to a starting pitcher (after CC Sabathia's deal with the Yankees) to Colbert Hamels.

Billy Crystal said it best in When Harry Met Sally.  In the first of many famous restaurant scenes with co-star Meg Ryan in the film, Crystal discussed why one of her ex-boyfriends could never have done what she claimed he could do:

"A Sheldon can do your income taxes.  If you need a root canal, Sheldon's your man.  But humpin' and pumpin' is not Sheldon's strong suit.   It's the name.  Do it to me, Sheldon.  You're an animal, Sheldon.  Ride me, big Sheldon.  It doesn't work."

The same thing applies to Colbert Hamels.  A Colbert can fix your aluminum siding.  If you need someone to clean your septic tank, who better than Colbert?  But earning $24 million per season to be a top-notch starting pitcher?  That's not a Colbert thing.

That type of money should only go to pitchers who are locks for the Hall of Fame.  As much as it pains me to compliment a Yankee, CC Sabathia is that type of pitcher.  He has earned his exorbitant salary and barring injury, should be a 300-game winner before he retires.  (At age 31, Sabathia is 14 wins away from 200, averaging 19 wins per season since 2007.)

Cole Hamels is not a Hall of Famer.  He isn't even worthy of cleaning my septic tank.  But he is an ass.  He is also a rich ass, agreeing to terms with the Phillies on the second-highest dollar amount ever given to a pitcher in major league history.

Let the Phillies spend their money however they want.  Hey, if they need someone to figure out how much they're going to pay in luxury tax fees next year because of all their eight-figure contracts, they can contact Sheldon.  (I hear he's good for that type of thing.)  I'll just continue to be a Mets fan, watching our general manager do things wisely so that the team doesn't get saddled with bad contracts.  All the Phillies put saddles on are asses like Cole Hamels.  Giddy up.

Cole Hamels is smiling all the way to the bank.

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