Baltimore Orioles: A Worse Contract than that of Ubaldo Jimenez


Aug 31, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (26) takes the ball from relief pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (31) after he walks in a run in the ninth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles defeated the Twins 12-8. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Given the relatively cautious spending patterns and restrained budget of the Baltimore Orioles, it is a great fan frustration to know that the contract of Ubaldo Jimenez appears to one that the O’s will be saddled with for the next three years. At an average of $12.5 million per season, unless his production make a dramatic turnaround from 2014, it is a major hunk of money on the payroll that hamstrings the Orioles from making other moves.

As bad as this contract appears to be after the first one-quarter of it, there are worse situations being endured by some other teams. And as an illustration of such, all we have to do is look up Interstate 95 to the next neighboring MLB club, the Philadelphia Phillies.

Phils first baseman Ryan Howard is on the books there for two more years – for at least $60 million ($25 million per year with a 2017 option of $23 million or club buyout of $10 million).

Howard is not feeling “the city of brotherly love” right now, as actually it is living up to its jokingly-flippant name “the city of brotherly shove.”

In a radio interview of GM Ruben Amaro (reported by Matt Lombardo of he said,

"“We’ve talked to Ryan, and I told him that in our situation it would probably bode better for the organization not with him but without him. With that said if he’s with us, then we’ll work around him. We’ll hope he puts up the kind of numbers that we hope he can and we’ll see where it goes from there.”"

Wow! Imagine that! Imagine being told outright that the team really wishes they didn’t have you, and that if they are stuck with you they will do their best to work around you, while hoping you catch fire even just a little bit.

As the Phillies seek to rebuild – having sent shortstop Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers – they would really like to move the 35-year-old Howard. But where? The most likely place is the American League where the big guy can DH, particularly in the AL East. So teams like the Orioles are being queried about interests and ideas. It’s a hard sell.

At the peak of his career, Howard had some amazing numbers – leading the National League in home runs in 2006 and 2008 with 58 and 48 respectively. He has three times had RBI totals in the 140s.

Howard is a .265 career hitter, though his OBP is decent at .355 – getting pitched around somewhat like Chris Davis. But also like the O’s Crush, he strikes out a lot – leading the NL this past year with 190. His strikeout ratio is only a slight bit better than Davis; and were the Orioles to somehow end up with him, Howard and Davis together would be the second coming of Chris and Mark Reynolds in the same lineup.

Howard ruptured his Achilles in the 2011 playoffs, truncating his 2012 and 2013 seasons – playing only a total of 151 games in those two years.

In 2014, he returned to better health and played in a total of 153 games. He hit .223 with 23 home runs and 95 RBIs.

The Ryan Howard deal is the sort of free agent contract that so many Orioles fans wish the Orioles’ management would go after. But the constraints it has placed upon the Phillies are an “Exhibit A” as to why the Birds almost always hesitate to make such a big move. It significantly thwarts being able to make many other moves whatsoever, and it can become – like the 2014 version of Ubaldo – not much bang for the buck.

And not much bang for Buck either!

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