Phillies Sign Jamie Moyer, Chan Ho Park

Chan Ho Park is 35 and will be 36 at the end of June 2009. He looks like a newborn child compared to Jamie Moyer, who turned 46 in mid-November. Both were signed by the Phillies today in what continues to be a perplexing offseason by new GM Ruben Amaro.

I’ve mentioned a couple times in the past couple weeks that I don’t expect Moyer to be anything like his 2008 self. Moyer was one of the beneficiaries of the Phillies’ miraculously overachieving defense that was +74 according to John Dewan’s Fielding Bible. He doesn’t strike anyone out, so he depends on his fielders converting the excessive amounts of balls in play into outs. It’s much more likely that the Phillies are closer to the +18 defense they had in ’07 as opposed to last year’s version. If this holds true, Moyer’s production will sag as well.

The Park signing also makes little sense. Before last season, he hadn’t put up good numbers since 2001 at the end of his first stint in Los Angeles. Last year, when he was used primarily as a reliever by the Dodgers, he put up a 125 ERA+ in 95 and one-third innings. His home/road splits told the story: 2.18 ERA at home, 4.50 on the road. Dodger Stadium had a 95/94 batting/pitching park factor according to Baseball Reference.

From the Phillies’ official website:

According to The Korea Times, the deal is a one-year, $2.5 million contract with performance bonuses that could push it to $5 million.

[...]

“…they considered me a starter, I signed with Philadelphia.”

2.5-to-5 million dollars. It may be a pittance to Alex Rodriguez, but it’s not chump change when you’re talking about a #5 starter or a mop-up reliever. Unfortunately, the article informs us that Park is under the impression that he will be a starter. Hopefully, the Phillies have made no official promises to him and he has to compete for it in spring training with J.A. Happ, Kyle Kendrick, and Carlos Carrasco.

There is no question that someone like Kendrick could have done the same job Park will be doing for 10-20% of the price. The Park signing is superfluous.

Assuming Moyer’s two-year contract is in the neighborhood of $9 million annually, this would bring the Phils’ payroll to around $135 million, a steep increase from last season. And it would essentially put a lid on the Phillies’ ability to acquire any more players unless through trade. At this point, the Phillies don’t have too much to offer besides scrap nobody else wants, like Adam Eaton, Geoff Jenkins, Kendrick, and Chris Coste.

It seems it would have been a better use of money to have simply signed Derek Lowe instead and shed some payroll by trading Eaton and Jenkins for next-to-nothing provided that the other team(s) take on the salary (a common occurrence). Maybe this thought is why I am not and will never be a general manager of anything, but it just doesn’t make sense.

Amaro started off well enough by making two slight improvements in trading Greg Golson for John Mayberry, and Jason Jaramillo for Ronny Paulino. Then, he essentially lost two first-round draft picks by complementing non-arbitration to Pat Burrell (a Type A free agent*) with the signing of Raul Ibanez (a Type A free agent). And today, he spent between $10-15 million on two old, average pitchers who are much more likely to fail miserably than to succeed greatly.

* Information on compensation for Type A free agents can be found here.

Since you asked (you obviously didn’t), how would I grade Amaro’s moves thus far? On a scale of 1-to-10 with 10 being great and 1 being awful…

  • Golson for Mayberry: 5
  • Jaramillo for Paulino: 5
  • No arbitration to Moyer*: 8
  • No arbitration to Burrell*: 8
  • Signed Ibanez: 2
  • Signed Park: 1
  • Signed Moyer: 4

* This is without the hindsight of later dealings.

World F-king Champions. Pfft. These are moves that the Kansas City Royals would make.

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3 comments

  1. PhillyFriar

    December 15, 2008 06:45 PM

    Whoa whoa, we’re not quite in the “Kyle Farnsworth for 2 years for $9.25 million” category yet. But we’re getting there.

    Regarding Park… I didn’t hear it, but from what I’ve heard relayed from an interview Amaro gave on the radio, Park sounds like another Chad Durbin ca. 2007 situation: bring him in to nominally fight for the 5th starter’s spot, and then stick him in the front end of the bullpen when he fails there. And he could have some use there; his velocity is up (92.6 mph average fastball this year, as opposed to 88.4 mph the year before), and the ball is down (50.9% grounders last year). And I’ll assume that he doesn’t reach more than $3.5 million if he doesn’t make the rotation.

    As for Moyer… if I go for a glass half full mentality, then I see that Josh Kalk has Jamie switching from a fastball in 2007 to a sinker in 2008 — a pitch which, naturally, had about 2.8″ more downward movement. The resulting 43.9% of grounders (the highest percentage among Fangraphs’ numbers, stretching back to 2002) were certainly instrumental in his improvement from 2007 to 2008. So while he’s not the 3.71 ERA version from last year, I’ll bank on him being better than the 5.01 ERA version from two years ago. Marcel has him pegged at a 4.58 ERA over 178.0 IP; I’ll take it, though I think that may even be a bit conservative on the innings.

    All that being said… I think it’s officially soon enough to pass some early judgment on this offseason — seeing as our big moves are all done — and we’re in wholehearted agreement here. It doesn’t look good.

  2. Ernie

    December 16, 2008 03:46 AM

    6.5 million a year?!?! I can throw it in the low 80′s on the outside corner. The Phils should sign me.

    With all these signing they are making, I would never have guessed they won the WS last year.

  3. Bill Baer

    December 16, 2008 12:17 PM

    If Park ends up having a good spring training and he earns the #5 spot in the rotation, I would be very happy. Similarly, if he gets put in the bullpen and succeeds there, I will be happy as well.

    But it’s just not a smart business decision regardless of how good of a job he does or does not do. $2.5-to-5 million to someone for doing a job Kyle Kendrick would do for $500,000.

    Regarding Moyer, let’s just say that when you’re banking on a 46-year-old to not post an ERA in the 5′s, you may have undershot your needs.

    Info on the Moyer contract per Scott Lauber:

    Here are some details on Moyer’s contract: He’s guaranteed no less than $13 million. He’ll make a base salary of $6.5 million 2009 and 2010. His 2010 salary can escalate to as much as $11 million based on innings pitched in ’09 ($250,000 for 150 innings, $500,000 each for 160, 170, 180 and 190 innings) and starts in ’09 ($250,000 for 23 starts, $500,000 each for 25, 27, 29 and 31 starts). Also, he can earn $250,000 performance bonuses each year for 150, 160, 170, 180 and 190 innings pitched.

    The worst combination would be that Moyer struggles and struggles, yet he is never pulled from the rotation because he’s a cagey veteran.

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