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Why the Phillies should sign Anibal Sanchez instead of Josh Hamilton

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The Phillies are trying to improve on a disappointing 81 - 81 record from 2012. Subtracting runs given up is just as useful as adding to runs scored when trying to improve a team. If Josh Hamilton wants $25 - $30 million a year to play baseball, why not find spend the $30 million in a way that adds more value than Josh Hamilton?

SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!
SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!
Christian Petersen

Lookit. Josh Hamilton put up 4.4 WAR in 2012. He put up 4.1 WAR in 2011. He has played in more than 150 games a season once in his career. And there's the history of off-field issues. Why put nearly $30 million eggs in one basket? There are alternatives, you know.

Hamilton's bat would add runs to the Phillies' offensive production, no doubt. But at an average fWAR of 4.25 for 2011 and 2012, he should probably be making something like $20 - $25 million a year. He has had higher WAR seasons (8.4 in 2010) but he's gone as low as 1.4 in 2009. There is a lot of variability, and his career averages are a little over 4.0 WAR per season, and he's getting older.

While the fanboi in me really would like to see more offensive fireworks, the rational part of my brain ("Lisa needs braces!") tells me the Phillies can buy WAR more cheaply elsewhere while at the same time reducing their risk through diversification of their productive assets.

Here is my current pet theory:

  1. Sign Edwin Jackson
  2. Sign Anibal Sanchez

Although recent reports indicate that the Phillies are looking more closely at back-end "low-risk, high-reward" guys to fill the rotation, let's try to think a little bigger than that. Sanchez will be 29 in February. He scoffed at a 4 year, $48M offer from the Tigers and reportedly asked for 6 years at $90 million. Like Hamilton, Sanchez is also a 4 WAR player. He's not one likely to have a transcendent 8.4 WAR season, but he has plugged away efficiently at 4.4, 3.8, and 3.8 for fWAR during 2010, 2011, and 2012 respectively. His K/BB was 2.6 last year. His asking price is half as expensive as Hamilton is likely to be, per year.

Roy Halladay may be cooked, folks. Kyle Kendrick remains a Kendrickian enigma to all of us, and the Phillies fifth starter is who, Tyler Cloyd? It's not like they couldn't use another arm in the rotation, especially considering pitcher injury risks - some additional numbers equate to additional insurance through something akin to portfolio theory, albeit a really small portfolio.

Similarly, Edwin Jackson presents an interesting opportunity, too. He is 29 years old, and has put up fWAR numbers of 3.6, 3.9, 3.9, and 2.7 in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. He took a one year deal last year for $11M. His K/BB ratio was 2.5.

The Phillies need someone to fill the 5th starter slot. Halladay may be gone after 2013. Kendrick is far from a sure thing as a starter, though he has some flashes, and as a 5th starter he (gulp) may not be too bad.

If the Phillies could have Sanchez for maybe 5 years at $70M and Jackson for 3 years and $36M, it might be a far better deal than picking up Hamilton for 4 or 5 years at close to $30 million a year.