Wednesday, April 4, 2012

2012 Milwaukee Brewers - Most Overpaid and Most Underpaid

Welcome to you second annual overpaid/underpaid post. Milwaukee Brewers majority owner Mark Attanasio has consistently increased payroll since buying the team in 2005. In less than 10 years Attanasio has increased payroll from roughly $27 million in 2004 to over $100 million for the first time in franchise history in 2012. Keep in mind the Brewers will eclipse $100 million in payroll as Prince Fielder and his $15.5 million salary from 2011 comes off the books since Fielder signed a monster contract with the Detroit Tigers. As you can imagine, a fair amount of guys from 2011 made the list this season. Here is my take on the most overpaid and underpaid players on the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers opening day roster:

Honorable Mention: Shaun Marcum (RHP, $7.725 million) and Cesar Izturis (SS, $875,000)

#5) Aramis Ramirez (3B, $6 million): Last year Ramirez had an uptick in his performance at the plate hitting .306 with 26 home runs and 93 RBI (flawed stat) in a contract year so 2012 has regression written all over it. It's not so much the $6 million that Ramirez will earn in 2012, its the fact that the Brewers have a more than competent option in Triple-A in Taylor Green that would only cost them $500,000 in 2012. Add in that the Brewers signed Ramirez to a back-end loaded three-year, $36 million contract and unless Ramirez gets traded he will be on this list through 2014.

#4) Corey Hart (RF, $9 million): The Brewers have a couple impressive minor league outfield prospects (Caleb Gindl and Logan Schafer) that are currently blocked at the major league level by Hart. I would much rather pay Gindl $500,000 than Hart $9 million but that doesn't sell tickets.

#3) Randy Wolf (LHP, $9.5 million): When you fail to draft quality starting pitchers you are forced to overpay for middle of the rotation starting pitchers in free agency like the Brewers did with Wolf. Thanks to some decent drafts the last few seasons the Brewers finally have a bunch of potential starting pitchers at all levels of their minor league system (Jed Bradley, Taylor Jungmann, Wily Peralta, Cody Scarpetta, and Tyler Thornburg) that project as potential major league starting pitchers. The Brewers hold a $10 million option on Wolf for 2013 with a $1.5 million buyout. The progress of some of their minor league pitchers will go a long way towards determining if the Brewers pick-up Wolf's option. Hopefully if those guys continue to develop the Brewers might not have to overpay for guys like Wolf in the future.

#2) Rickie Weeks (2B, $10 million): Injuries have derailed the two-time collegiate batting champ since he joined the Brewers. Injuries aside, Weeks is nothing more than a below average fielding 2nd baseman and an above average offensive player with speed. That previous sentence doesn't describe a guy worth $10 million. With Scooter Gennett scheduled to start at 2nd base in Double-A this year, the Brewers have a younger and cheaper option nipping at Weeks' injured riddled heels.

#1) K-Rod (RHP, $8 million): After a soft market for closers didn't get K-Rod a mega-closer-contract that his agent (Scott Boras) promised he accepted arbitration to earn $8 million in 2012, which is more money that the rest of bullpen is scheduled to earn combined (Kameron Loe owed $2.175 million, Jose Veras owed $2 million, Manny Parra owed $1.2 million, John Axford owed $525,000, Marco Estrada owed $486,000, and Tim Dillard owed $482,000). K-Rod better cash his checks and keep his mouth shut this year because last year K-Rod complained about being just a set-up guy as opposed to the closer despite the fact that closer John Axford put together arguably the best closer performance in franchise history.

Honorable Mention: Chris Narveson (LHP, $500,000) and Marco Estrada (RHP, $486,000)

#5) Jonathan Lucroy (C, $500,000): The Brewers and Lucroy recently agreed to a five-year (possibly six) contract worth a minimum of $11 million and a maximum of $18 million (if the Brewers exercise their $5.25 million option for 2017). The Brewers priced in a raise if Lucroy qualifies as a "Super Two" player following 2012 because that means that Lucroy would only have two seasons at league minimum instead of three before becoming arbitration eligible for the next four seasons. In order to qualify as "Super Two" Lucroy will have to finish in the top 22% of a complicated MLB algorithm, which he projects to do just barely. If Lucroy does not qualify for Super Two status he will earn much less in 2013 ($750,000 v. $1.9 million) otherwise the rest of the base salaries are similar. Here is the breakdown of what Lucroy will earn if he does NOT qualify for "Super Two" status in 2012: $750,00 in 2013, $2 million in 2014, $3 million in 2015, and $4 million in 2016. If Lucroy does qualify for "Super Two" status in 2012 he will earn: $1.9 million in 2013, $2.3 million in 2014, $3.3 million in 2015, and $4.25 million in 2016. "Super Two" status aside, I love the contract even if Lucroy has one or two below average seasons between now and 2017 for one simple reason, veteran backup catchers make at least $1 million a year so the Brewers are getting a younger starting catcher with a much bigger upside for about the same amount for at least the next five seasons.

#4) John Axford (RHP, $525,000): The Brewers are currently talking with Axford's representatives about a long-term contract extension. Despite everything I just said about Lucroy it makes no sense to do the same thing with Axford because of how unpredictable closer performances are year-to-year besides the super human Mariano Rivera. Axford is not even salary arbitration eligible till 2013 meaning he cannot become a free agent till after the 2016 season at the earliest. The Brewers should go year-to-year with Axford. If Axford performs well for the next few years, the Brewers will pay for it. If Axford struggles, the Brewers don't have to worry about a long-term financial commitment. I guess that's a long way of saying I think its worth paying long-term for catching as opposed to saves.

#3) Zack Greinke (RHP, $13.5 million): If the Brewers did not have the reigning N.L. MVP (Ryan Braun) and their opening day starter (Yovani Gallardo) earning less than Greinke combined, I would have Greinke #1 on this list despite being the highest paid player on the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers. Greinke is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2012 season and has been without an agent all off-season as the Brewers tried to sign him long-term. In the interim the San Francisco Giants signed right handed starting pitcher Matt Cain to a six-year, $127.5 million contract. While that is great financial news for the Cain and Greinke families, it's a big blow to the Brewers. If you look at Cain's numbers (69-73 with a 3.35 ERA in 204 games) v. Greinke's numbers (76-73 with a 3.82 ERA in 238 games), Greinke still has a better resume since he pitched in the American League for a good portion of those start en route to winning the CY Young in 2009. Cain is 11 months younger that Greinke, which makes age less of a factor. Now that Greinke re-hired his old agent Casey Close that moved from Creative Artists Agency to Excel Sports Management, the Brewers better get ready to pay Greinke at least $20 million a year if they want to keep him in Milwaukee.

#2) Yovani Gallardo (RHP, $5.5 million): Only a handful of teams can truly claim to have more than one "Ace" in their starting rotation. Salary aside I would much rather have Greinke and his quirky personality than Gallardo. When you factor in that Gallardo is scheduled to earn $8 million less than Greinke in 2012 then Gallardo becomes much more valuable to me than Greinke. Even if Greinke leaves after 2012, at least the Brewers have Gallardo signed through 2014.

#1) Ryan Braun (LF, $6 million): Thanks to Braun pulling the Reverse Al Capone the Brewers will get the reigning NL MVP's services for only $6 million...enough said.

A special thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for providing all the financial data used for this post.

Check back the rest of the week and throughout the weekend for a ton of Milwaukee Brewers coverage as the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers open the defense of their 2011 N.L. Central Title against their hated rival and 2011 World Series champs the St. Louis Cardinals.

Related Posts:
- Quick Thoughts - 2012 Milwaukee Brewers Opening Day Roster
- Quick Thoughts - Braun pulls the Reverse Al Capone
- Wednesday What (Should) Happen - 2012 Milwaukee Brewers Spring Training Preview

No comments:

Post a Comment