Pittsburgh Pirates v Philadelphia Phillies

Ruben Amaro continues to overvalue Ryan Howard

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Over the weekend Ruben Amaro was quoted as saying that he’d rather have Ryan Howard on his current deal than either Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols on theirs.

Like I said at the time, I’ll give him some latitude there because Howard is his guy and it’s not like he’s going to say bad stuff about him, even if he secretly believes it. Amaro is no dummy.

But I’m less inclined to give this bit, from Ken Rosenthal’s latest in which Amaro talks about why he’s loathe to extend Cole Hamels’ contract now, the same latitude:

“The difference between Ryan’s and Cole’s situation is that we’re talking about a guy (Howard) who is very, very difficult to match up what he did in successive years and equate that with what Cole has done,” Amaro said. “He was probably the most productive player during that span of anybody, including Pujols. This is not a slight against Cole — he has had some phenomenal years. But he is not the most decorated player in baseball.”

So for starters, he’s not simply comparing a Phillies player to a non-Phillies player here. He’s comparing two Phillies’ players — the dominance of Howard vs. the dominance of Hamels — and finding Howard’s greater.  As such, one would think he’d be as honest as he can about it and less willing to engage in hyperbole in a way that would anger one of them.

And, really, why anger Hamels here? Does he simply want him to bolt as a free agent next season? He must, on some level, believe that Howard is a more valuable piece at first base than Hamels is in the rotation. Which seems … off to me.

More to the point, by what metric does Amaro have Howard being more productive than Pujols between 2005 and 2009, which is when Amaro is talking about? Because the way I see it:

Howard: .279/.386/.586, 220 HR, 635 RBI and an OPS+ of 143
Pujols: .334/.439/.631, 206 HR, 608 RBI and an OPS+ of 173

Fine: a few more homers and a few more RBI for Howard, but overall he was clearly the inferior player.  And then you can add in the fact that Pujols played superior defense in case you think it is somehow close.

And hell, even if you use Amaro’s phrase “most decorated player,” Pujols won three MVP awards during that stretch to Howard’s one MVP and one Rookie of the Year Award.  So even if you adjust for the strange perception of some that Howard was better than Pujols because of the love he gets at awards time, Pujols still outclasses him there.

Not that I need to make that argument to most of you. It doesn’t take much to appreciate that Pujols, by every single measure that matters, was the better player during the time Amaro specifies.  The thing I don’t get is why Amaro would use such a clear line of specious reasoning as a means to explain why Cole Hamels does not yet have a contract extension.

Don’t you think Hamels might be miffed by that? I think I would.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Monday’s action

DETROIT, MI - JULY 20: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the eighth inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on July 20, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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Tigers starter Justin Verlander got off to a bumpy start, finishing his sixth start of the season with a 6.49 ERA. His velocity wasn’t quite where it used to be and the 33-year-old seemed to be on the decline. Some had already lost faith after a subpar 2014, so his slow start to 2016 wasn’t converting anyone.

Since throwing seven shutout innings against the Rangers on May 8, however, Verlander has been one of the best starters in baseball. Over his last 14 starts, Verlander has a 2.76 ERA with a 106/24 K/BB ratio in 97 2/3 innings. He’s tacked on nearly 2 MPH to his average fastball velocity compared to April, going from below 93 MPH to nearly 95 MPH. Verlander’s overall strikeout rate of 26 percent is close to four percent higher than his career average and is reminiscent of his rates during his prime five years ago.

Verlander will look to keep it going in Monday night’s start at Fenway Park. He’ll take on Drew Pomeranz, recently acquired from the Padres by the Red Sox, in a 7:10 PM EDT start.

The rest of Monday’s action…

Colorado Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa) @ Baltimore Orioles (Yovani Gallardo), 7:05 PM EDT

San Diego Padres (Colin Rea) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Aaron Sanchez), 7:07 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies (Jeremy Hellickson) @ Miami Marlins (Jarred Cosart), 7:10 PM EDT

St. Louis Cardinals (Carlos Martinez) @ New York Mets (Noah Syndergaard), 7:10 PM EDT

Arizona Diamondbacks (Braden Shipley) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Chase Anderson), 7:20 PM EDT

Oakland Athletics (Daniel Mengden) @ Texas Rangers (Martin Perez), 8:05 PM EDT

Chicago Cubs (Jake Arrieta) @ Chicago White Sox (Miguel Gonzalez), 8:10 PM EDT

New York Yankees (Michael Pineda) @ Houston Astros (Dallas Keuchel), 8:10 PM EDT

Los Angeles Angels (Hector Santiago) @ Kansas City Royals (Ian Kennedy), 8:15 PM EDT

Cincinnati Reds (Anthony DeSclafani) @ San Francisco Giants (Jake Peavy), 10:15 PM EDT

Report: Mets offered Travis d’Arnaud to Brewers for Jonathan Lucroy

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 3: Jonathan Lucroy #20 of the Milwaukee Brewers looks to the dugout during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth inning at Busch Stadium on July 3, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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In an effort to make an upgrade behind the plate, the Mets reportedly offered backstop Travis d'Arnaud to the Brewers in exchange for All-Star Jonathan Lucroy, according to a report from Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. The Brewers turned down a straight one-for-one deal. Bob Klapisch of The Record reports that a Lucroy trade involving the Mets is “not happening.”

Lucroy, 30, can become a free agent after the season if his controlling club pays him a $250,000 buyout instead of picking up his $5.25 million club option. While it’s believed that the Brewers will trade him before the August 1 non-waiver trade deadline, the club could pick up his 2017 option if no offer is enticing enough.

In 359 plate appearances this season, Lucroy has hit .301/.362/.491 with 13 home runs and 50 RBI. Going by the Sabermetric statistic weighted on-base average (wOBA), Wilson Ramos (.393) is the only catcher (min. 200 PA) with a better mark than Lucroy’s .361. Buster Posey is next at .350.

d’Arnaud, 27, has had a tough season. He missed nearly two months between April 26 and June 20 with a strained rotator cuff. Across 34 games this year, he has a paltry .246/.302/.339 triple-slash line with two home runs and 10 RBI in 129 plate appearances. d’Arnaud will become eligible for arbitration for the first of three years after this season.