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Phillies Sign Mike Adams

Posted by Eric Seidman, Sat, December 15, 2012 09:31 AM | Comments: 32
Acquisitions, Analysis, Commentary

The Phillies have signed reliever Mike Adams to a two-year, $12 million contract, with a third-year vesting option at preusmably the same annual rate.

Adams underwent surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in October — a literal rib-removal procedure — but expects to be ready for opening day. He has had his fair share of health issues over the years but is still very much worth the risk at $12 million over two guaranteed years. As with most vesting contracts, its design will likely mean that Adams is very much worth that extra year and $6 million if the option is triggered.

Adams, from 2008-11, was an elite major league reliever. He had videogame numbers in that span. He made 237 appearances in a setup capacity and posted the following numbers: 1.71 ERA, .235 BABIP, 2.52 SIERA, 28.3% K-rate, 6.8% BB-rate, 0.90 WHIP.

He had a K/BB ratio over 4.0, an above average groundball rate, and what looked like a legitimate skill at inducing weak contact and keeping runs off the board.

The Padres had Trevor Hoffman and Heath Bell closing games out in San Diego, while the Rangers went with Neftali Feliz, but Adams was better than all of them in this span.

Last season, Adams saw his strikeout and walk rates decline, while injuries slightly limited his action. He threw 52.1 innings and had very good numbers but it was his worst season since becoming the Adams we know and love with the 2008 Padres.

That isn’t to say he will continue to decline, or that he has lost that Mike Adams mojo, but rather that it’s important to remember that the Phillies signed the age 34-36 Adams and not the younger, peak version. He could get back to somewhere in between last year and the preceding span, but he doesn’t have to in order to justify this contract.

And that’s what makes this move solid: the Phillies didn’t, as frequently happens with relievers, pay Adams current dollars for past performance.

They didn’t sign him to the eight-figure annual salary his peak numbers likely merited. They didn’t even guarantee  three years as an enticement to accept a lower annual value. Unless doctors accidentally removed his entire ribcage, or every other team has access to detailed medical data the Phillies don’t, it’s hard to find a reason to really dislike this move.

Even the watered-down version of Adams that pitched for the Rangers last season was worth $6 million, $ per WAR be damned, since I’m not really a fan of using WAR for relievers. Now, one could argue that this is $6 million spent in an area that didn’t really need an investment, but the front office clearly wanted more stability in the bullpen. Wouldn’t you rather this than an $11 million Rafael Soriano?

The Phillies may have missed out on some big-time talent this offseason, but signing Adams to this reasonable contract was a very subtle way of improving the team in a more pronounced manner. The Phillies bullpen pitched very well after the all-star break last season, as some pitchers regressed (in the good direction) while others succeeded after being given a chance to replace dead weight. Adding Adams to that mix is exciting.

Having said that, the Phillies bullpen was pretty great after the all-star break and there are more significant needs elsewhere. If this move precludes them from upgrading in the corner outfield or rotation, then its value is reduced. However, as it currently stands, I’m choosing to evaluate it from the best case scenario standpoint as the start of more moves to come. Though if the Phillies really just signed John Lannan to be their 4th or 5th starter, then perhaps I spoke too soon with that best case scenario talk.

Avatar of Eric Seidman

About Eric Seidman

Eric Seidman has written 64 articles on Phillies Nation.

Eric offers his unique analytical perspective to Phillies Nation and is a regular contributor on FanGraphs.com.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    A big piece filled. Now go get that other bat

     
  • Posts: 0 Ken Bland

    One more thing this siugning stands a good chance of doing. It lends to weakening the position of those that were critical of the Young deal in giving up Lindblom and Bonilla. Not that either of those 2 were going to be the setup answer in ’13, but this offers a chance to strengthn middle relief by filling the 8th in with a certainty. Bastardo and Aumont now figure to get the 7th, so with Horst as the specialist, that would leave Jake the likely candidate to pitch where Lindblom would have. Who knows if Jake ever learns control, but it’s not like the Phils traded all their prospects for Young, they dealt Linblom, who’s now replaced, and still have a very good prospect in Diekman who has a decent enough chance to do what Bonilla might as a well thought of prospect. We’ll see how it plays out, but from where I sit, the Adams sign makes the Young for Lindblom and Bonilla deal less risky as the blanks were filled in..

     
    • Posts: 904 schmenkman

      Avatar of schmenkman

      The risk in the Young deal is not that the bullpen was weakened, but rather that Young won’t be much of an upgrade over Frandsen, and yet they’ve given up two players who they could have used in a trade that would actually provide an improvement, and reduced the money they can spend on other players by $6 million in 2013.

       
      • Posts: 0 Double Trouble Del

        Frandsen is a career minor leaguer who had success in a relatively small sampling of PAs. Young is established, although coming off a poor 2012. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs sees Young as a bounce-back player for the 2013 season. There were no better statistical or economical alternatives to the acquisition of Young.

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        All true enough. But that still leaves the question of how much better Young will be than Frandsen, if at all.

         
  • Posts: 0 Psujoe

    Ken, don’t forget Stutes and defratus. Bonilla had nice upside, but when you have 9 guys ahead of him(10 if you count Adams) he was expendable.

     
    • Posts: 0 Ken Bland

      As I wrote that, I was thinking I was leaving somebody out. Just caught Gelb’s first blurb on it, and sure enough, he mentioned the 2 names you did. Pretty good quality to have forgotten. And if we add Schwimmer to the list, who has pitched pretty well in spots, not to mention other names like Valdes and Rosenberg, there oughta be some good competition, and a little potential trade depth. I’m not annointing all these names, but they’ve all had theior moments, and might bring some organizational depth if they aren’t part of the club’s plan.

       
  • Posts: 0 George

    Seems like a good signing. I hope he’s fully recovered from his latest surgery and stays healthy for his years in Philly. Relief pitching is getting stupidy expensive with stupidly long contracts, but at least Adams won’t break the bank and won’t be a long-term risk.

     
  • Posts: 1135 EricL

    Avatar of EricL

    Waste of money, again.

    The Phillies had one of the best bullpens in the league the 2nd half of the season. Papelbon, Bastardo, Valdes, Horst, Diekman, Aumont, Schwimmer, and Rosenberg all had better K% than Adams last year. He’s coming off an injury, has declining velocity and a declining K-rate, and is 34 years old.

    For a team with as many holes/questions as the Phillies (SP3-5/LF/RF) spending $6 million on the bullpen, which was actually very good last year after they dumped Qualls, seems like a misallocation of funds.

    Also, as Matt Swartz of Fangraphs/The Hardball Times points out, relief pitchers who leave their teams via free agency are typically overpaid and underperform:
    “He’s coming off injury too & the Rangers didn’t want him. RP who switch teams produce less than half as much per $ as those who stay. “

     
    • Posts: 146 Eric Seidman

      Avatar of Eric Seidman

      We can’t say whether it’s a misallocation of funds until we know what amount of funds they plan on using. If they follow this up with a trade for Trumbo/signing of Marcum, or signing of Swisher and paying the tax to bring in another starter, it’s a lot different than if this is $6 million more spent that precludes them from other moves. I’m choosing to view this as the start to more moves being made with the possibility of paying the tax as a consequence, but then again I’m a romantic. Though this Lannan signing certainly puts a dent in my theory.

       
      • Posts: 0 Double Trouble Del

        I’m really starting to wonder if what we see is what we get. I suppose he felt we needed certainty for the 8th inning and got it, choosing not to rely on the Bastardos, Aumonts and Schwimmers already in the fold. I’ve said many times that the seaon really depnds on the performances of Halladay, Utley and Howard. If they can’t produce then there is no need for any additional signings or trades. Perhaps what we see is what we get.

         
      • Posts: 1135 EricL

        Avatar of EricL

        Basically agreed.

        I said the same thing about Young – that if the $6.6mm there, and now the $6mm here, doesn’t preclude them from adding other quality players then I’m okay with it. Unfortunately, all indications, both over the past few years and now this offseason, seem to point to a team that really has no desire or willingness to surpass the CBT threshold.

        Either way, that’s $12.6 million in salary this year (plus two trade chips) that has been spent on parts that are either redundant or a very marginal improvement over what they already had at those positions, and for a team close to the luxury tax threshold, you can do a lot with $12.6 million.

         
      • Posts: 0 hk

        Right. If Lannan is the 4th or 5th starter, the Phils will have spent between $14.5M and $17M of next year’s payroll to upgrade a bullpen that EricL mentions was pretty good once they dumped Qualls, upgrade (?) from Frandsen to Young and add Lannan to the rotation. Personally, I would have preferred to see them spend most or all of that $14.5M on a much better starting P, even if it forced them to go with the status quo at 3B and in the pen.

         
      • Posts: 146 Eric Seidman

        Avatar of Eric Seidman

        Yeah — I would have rather they spent the $14.5 mil elsewhere as well. My offseason plan laid out what I wanted them to do, and even if the names changed, the ideas didn’t.

        - Trade for Bourjos (Revere is the same theory, a cost-controlled guy)
        - Sign Swisher (I wanted them to spend money in corner OF)
        - Sign Eric Chavez (platoon with Frandsen on a 1/$3, which he signed for)
        - Sign Madson (a low-risk bullpen move at a low base salary)

        They did the 1st thing, prob went a bit overboard with #4, even though I like Adams and this deal as of now. Who knows if Chavvy just wanted to go home to AZ or not, but they likely overspent on Young. If they opt not for my #2 and instead bring in Ross, it’s a bad overall offseason.

         
      • Posts: 146 Eric Seidman

        Avatar of Eric Seidman

        And also, all the credit in the world to EricL, but I’VE been touting the Phils bullpen for months based on their Aug-Sep numbers, so it’s not like I’m unaware of it. ;-)

         
      • Posts: 1135 EricL

        Avatar of EricL

        So we’re all basically agreement then? And schmenkman too, since he’s been on the status quo bullpen train for a while too.

        http://i.imgur.com/7L5yA.gif

         
      • Posts: 146 Eric Seidman

        Avatar of Eric Seidman

        I would think so — I mean I like this move because I like Adams and think that he’ll help an already good bullpen. But this wasn’t a necessity or anything. It’s still a worthwhile investment in my view, but less so after spending that money on Young. I viewed 3B and Bullpen as the positions where you do something at one or the other, not both, unless they were minor moves like Chavez/Madson for $6 mil combined, not each.

         
      • Posts: 0 George

        Eric S:

        Your idea of adding Chavez and Madson for $6M total was blown out of the water quite awhile back when Madson signed with the Angels for $3.5M PLUS $3.5M in incentives. That’s more than the Phils will be paying Adams this year (assuming the incentives kick in, which is very likely). And Madson, too, is coming off of a major injury. Even if his extra $3.5M doesn’t kick in, Chavez at $3M and Madson at $3.5M still comes to more than your $6M.

        I’m not saying your thoughts weren’t good ones. However, I think you are a little off on your estimates of how much players can be obtained for.

        I also don’t fully agree with the idea that the Phils didn’t need an 8th inning upgrade. Manuel was playing mix and match for set-up the entire second half, and I seem to recall a lot of complaints when he’d use someone fans didn’t think had enough experience for the situation, or was forced to use a lefty against a righty. Lindblom stunk, Aumont and Bastardo were inconsistent, and most of the rest had been used already in the seventh.

         
      • Posts: 146 Eric Seidman

        Avatar of Eric Seidman

        George — I wrote that Chavez could be had for $3 mil per year. I believe I had the Phils sign him for 2/$6 and he signed for 1/$3. I wrote that Madson would probably cost somewhere around $3-5 million for a setup role. The Angels signed him for a max of $7 mil to be the closer, which tends to cost more. Please tell me where I was off on my estimations of what certain players could be had for. Both players signed for what I expected them to.

        And the offseason plans were done a while ago now so obviously certain moves weren’t feasible weeks later when those players went elsewhere. I was also speaking about base salary because I look at the luxury tax at the beginning of the season as well as the end. Base salary of $3 mil for Madson at the start, and it’s possible that subsequent moves could get the team below the LT threshold by the end of the year if his incentives kicked in.

         
    • Posts: 0 roots

      Hey, Eric. How did you ever become such a good couch GM? It must be really hard to imagine what it’s like to spend other people’s money.

       
  • Posts: 0 Dave P

    Hooray! Another move to address a clear need. Good offseason.

     
  • Posts: 0 Joe

    Phillies just signed John Lannan as well to be the 4th starter.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/12/phillies-agree-to-sign-john-lannan.html

     
    • Posts: 0 chuck schreiber

      P U, batting practice.

       
  • Posts: 0 Ryne Duren

    go get a quality RH bat now! lets go rube!

     
    • Posts: 0 Ryne Duren

      the one question i have is this. does the lannan signing free up kendrick for a possible trade for a bat? actually i have more questions. i lied! if they pursu a good bat (trumbo or bourjos. will dom brown included, plus another prospect go? and will pettibone take KK’s spot in the order?

       
      • Posts: 0 hk

        I don’t think so. I think it makes Cloyd start the season in AAA or in the long reliever / 6th starter role that KK has occupied the past few years.

         
      • Posts: 1135 EricL

        Avatar of EricL

        All indications are that the Angels are shopping Morales as they want to hold on to both Trumbo and Bourjos.

         
  • Posts: 0 Bart Shart

    Now we need a decent corner outfielder with some power. Adams and Lannon both get the “thumbs up” from me. Lannon is still young and Adams is proven as an outstanding set-up man. Hope they stay healthy and effective

     
  • Posts: 5343 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    How much under the LT threshold are they now? Is there enough left to sign Swisher?

     
    • Posts: 904 schmenkman

      Avatar of schmenkman

      I haven’t done the math, but I’ve seen a couple of comments say $14 million. So they would likely have to go over a little to sign him. I doubt that 17% on $2 million (say) would be a deterrent in itself, but when talking about Swisher there is also the #16 pick to consider, and he just turned 32. It would be nice to have his bat, but I doubt they go for him.

       
      • Posts: 5343 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty

        I really wish they would re-visit the Twins and Willingham, maybe something reasonable could be worked out. That way they can keep the pick. Bill James expects Willingham to normalize a bit, and I agree with that, but he’s a guy I’ve always liked.

         
      • Posts: 5343 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty

        They could offer to throw in 3 or 4m in cash to the Twins and still stay under since Willingham only makes 7m.

         
 
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