What is Pujols worth in wake of Howard deal?

April 28, 2010

BASEBALL/Ryan Howard, 30, just inked a 5-year extension for $125 million with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Let’s look at those numbers.

His current deal expires in 2011, making the first baseman 37 years old at the completion of the contract.

Howard is not known for his defensive prowess and it is reasonable to question whether he will even be able to play first base by the time his contract is ready to expire. Being in the National League, the Phillies won’t have the option of transitioning Howard into a designated hitter.

This is not to say that the slugger isn’t a great player. Howard was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2005, NL MVP in 2006 and a World Series Champion in 2008. He is a two-time All-Star and last year was the MVP of the NL Championship Series, guiding the Phillies to the World Series against the New York Yankees. His professional stats paint the arc typical of a hall of famer. Having checked out Citizens Park for the first time two weeks ago, it is evident that he is a favorite of the fan base and replicas of his jersey can be seen all around town.

But is his new salary a reflection of the market or a reward for prior accomplishments? Howard will now be the second-highest paid player in baseball behind Alex Rodriguez. Few people will contend that he is the second-best player in the game and some would argue he might not even be the most valuable player on his own team (Chase Utley anyone?).

Another player directly impacted by this deal will be St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, unquestionably one of the best players in the sport. Pujols’ contract expires after this season. Since contract numbers have begun to take past performance into account, Pujols could be justified in asking for the moon.

Given all of the advancements in statistical analysis embedded into sports, you may wonder why a simple, practical pay-for-performance standard cannot be devised.

Any thoughts on that, please post them in the comments.

FILE PHOTO: Philadelphia Phillies’ Ryan Howard (L) scores past New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada (R), who loses control of the ball, during the fourth inning in Game 4 of the 2009 Major League Baseball World Series in Philadelphia November 1, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Segar

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pay for performance standard is interesting idea
better then entering into a contract with someone who may or may not be able to perform well or great

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