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John Mayberry and Wasted Resources

Posted by Eric Seidman, Sun, March 30, 2014 02:29 PM | Comments: 26
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Back in December, I argued against tendering a contract to John Mayberry, suggesting that his salary outweighed his projected contributions. Mayberry was worth rostering when he made the league minimum and exhibited upside, but he was well past both points. There was no risk to letting him go, because despite his athleticism and versatility, he had been a replacement-level player for two straight seasons. Replacement-level players should not be guaranteed $1.5 million on a salary-strapped team.

Over 2012-13, Mayberry logged 863 PA and hit .237/.294/.393, with a -1 baserunning mark and a -14 fielding rating. He was worth -0.3 WAR in that span. While injuries unfairly forced him into a larger role — a good chunk of his negative fielding rating is attributable to his playing out of place in CF and only 288 of those 863 PA were against lefties — he is ill-equipped for long-term duty. His .337 wOBA against lefties since 2012 wasn’t all that special either.

Adding fuel to the fire is that the Phillies stumbled upon a clear-cut replacement for Mayberry in a player who also happens to be the son a famous outfielder: Tony Gwynn, Jr.

Gwynn lacks power but literally does everything else better than Mayberry at a fraction of the price. Even if the Phils were unsure of whether Gwynn — who wasn’t in the majors in 2013 and had a few weak offensive seasons before that — would be an upgrade over Mayberry, they had enough of a book on Mayberry to know that a replacement-level outfielder would be as good or better than Mayberry for much less money.

Here is their statistical comparison from 2009-13:

Mayberry: 1,232 PA, .245/.304/.430 line, 7.3% BB, 23.0% K, +0.1 BsR, -18.1 Fld, 1.9 WAR
Gwynn: 1,407 PA, .243/.314/.322 line, 9.1% BB, 16.2% K, +7.6 BsR, +36.3 Fld, 5.5 WAR

Gwynn gets on base more often and utilizes his speed better. He covers more ground in every outfield position. Yes, Mayberry has more power, but that is clearly negated by Gwynn’s significant fielding and baserunning advantages. Gwynn didn’t play in the majors last season but that was more because of the Dodgers’ outfield logjam than anything else.

What blew my mind in December was Amaro’s suggestion that non-tendering Mayberry wasn’t even a thought that crossed his mind, and that was before even considering alternatives for that roster spot. Mayberry may be able to hit 14-15 home runs, as Amaro cited, but who cares if the overall package isn’t ultimately worth anything?

Now, let’s be clear, it isn’t the end of the world that the Phillies have kept Mayberry. However, it speaks to a lack of creativity in roster construction that has plagued this regime for some time. The Phillies have one of the best front-threes in the majors with Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and A.J. Burnett. Fewer relievers will be used every three of five games. The Phillies could afford to carry one less mediocre mop-up reliever if it meant bolstering a bench that, as Pat indicated yesterday, clearly needs bolstering.

The utilization of that extra roster spot is important, because when Darin Ruf is activated, assuming he is installed on the major-league roster (as he should be), it’s Gwynn that will likely be sent down. Mayberry is guaranteed $1.5 million this year, and while the Phillies recently released Kevin Frandsen – who was also tendered a contract in December — it’s doubtful that they would be able to eat Mayberry’s salary. Fast-forward to mid-May, and instead of Gwynn, Ruf, and Power Bench Bat X, the Phillies will have Mayberry and Ruf, and an inconsistent reliever who might pitch five times per month.

Besides the fact that Gwynn is much better-suited for Mayberry’s role, the latter’s $1.5 million salary could have bought the Phillies the Power Bench Bat X mentioned above.

Regardless of Bobby Abreu‘s age, he would probably still lead the Phillies in on-base percentage if he made the roster. He would have cost less than Mayberry. Raul Ibanez has 48 HR and a .471 SLG since 2012 and cost $2.75 million. Garrett Jones has 42 HR and a .472 SLG since 2012 and also cost $2.75 million. Take away everyday fielding and Jason Kubel, who signed a minor-league deal with the Twins worth up to $3 million in incentives, would have been an interesting choice.

The Phillies didn’t want to have another Jim Thome situation, where they carried a bench batter solely for pinch-hitting and DH duty, but their hesitance is misplaced. That final roster spot would be better utilized by an Ibanez or Jones than a reliever who might pitch the 5th and 6th inning when Roberto Hernandez struggles.

These are but a few examples. Gwynn himself is already more valuable than Mayberry, and the combination of Gwynn and any of the guys mentioned above is certainly worth more than the Mayberry and Extra Reliever X combo that will likely fill out the roster when Ruf returns.

It’s hyperbolic to suggest that the Phillies’ season hinges on decisions like this, but if their best bet is 83-85 wins and a shot at the second wild-card spot, every extra win is extremely valuable. The gap between Gwynn/Extra Bench Bat and Mayberry/Extra Reliever could be the very difference between 83 and 85 wins.

Nothing will ultimately matter if Hamels misses significant time, or if Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins don’t produce, but lesser decisions like this really do matter in the grand scheme of a season.

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 Scotty Ingerton

    I’ve always questioned RAJ’s talent evaluation. If he’s getting this advice from his scouting department, it’s probably time to bring in some new people. Nate Schierholtz wasn’t even tendered last year, and had a decent season in Chicago. His OF defense alone would have made the Phillies better last season.

     
  • Posts: 0 Matt

    Mayberry was a waste of a contract. There has be a better outfielder and hitter somewhere in our farm that can outplay that stooge.

     
  • Posts: 543 Morris Buttermaker

    Avatar of Morris Buttermaker

    My friend has a dog that is 4 foot tall. He has a fence around the yard that is 3 foot high. In 8 years, the dog has never once figured out that he can jump over the fence. The dog jumps well. We have seen him jump high before. But he will be chasing a squirrel, and the squirrel runs through a hole in the fence. And the do just stops chasing him. The dog has never once figured he can jump over the fence to get the squirrel.

    That is how I feel watching John Mayberry Jr. play. You look at him, and he looks like he has the ability to play baseball well. But for whatever reason, he just doesn’t do it. He runs well. He has a good arm. He has some power in his bat. He seems to have a good baseball IQ. I don’t see many bonehead plays from him. He looks like he is an ideal bench player. But he isn’t. He stinks. He’s like the bizarro Jayson Werth.

     
    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      Actually, I think he actually _is_ a good bench player. What he is not is the starter that he’s been asked to impersonate several times over the last two years.

      And sure, he looks like a player and could sell the heck out of some jeans. But hitting a baseball is tough, and he’s not not that talented.

       
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        *just not that talented.

         
      • Posts: 0 wbramh

        I wish JMJ had JMS’s (sic) jeans.

         
  • Posts: 0 Pj

    It’s awesome when people who never played Major League Baseball can critize a player off numbers on a screen. That they can’t see that maybe he brings more to the team then hits and big plays. Mayberry has pulled the phillies out of the fire many times. I’ve watched him AAA and in the phillies. He has earned every bit of his contract. I personally love seeing him in the outfield. If you’re looking for dead weight on the team, I’m sure their is plenty of other players in line before Mayberry. Sorry sick of people talking out of their asses.

     
    • Posts: 0 steeydad

      You have got to be kidding. We have plenty of sample size on JMJ.

       
    • Posts: 0 Bruce

      I would rather see the Phillies go with young guys if it is not going to be a good year and give them experience. One guy I think is dead weight due to lack of hustle along with other things is Rollins. Kick his ass to the curb. Also, they probably cannot do anything with Howard, but if he doesn’t learn that he is being pitched outside and decide to make an adjustment, both he and the batting coach should go. Only my humble opinion.

       
  • Posts: 5383 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    Eric, While I agreed with the original posting that Mayberry should not be tendered, I’m not sure about it being so clear cut that Gwynn would be the one they let go when Ruf is ready. I think it very well could be Mayberry.

    Once Ruf is back, they will no longer need JMJ’s services as a back up at first base. And while Ruf truly lives up to his name in right field, keeping Gwynn may take some pressure off the defensive side. Ruf and Mayberry in RF, CF could be a dangerous combination. I think they’ll eat whatever portion of the 1.5 that they have to- in order to help the team’s overall run prevention. At least I hope so anyway.

     
    • Posts: 145 Eric Seidman

      Avatar of Eric Seidman

      Lefty – I wish you were right, but I can’t see the team committing $1.5 million to a player, then getting rid of him in mid-May because someone who was already on the roster when he was tendered a contract returns from injury. Mayberry is out of options, meaning he would have to clear waivers to get sent down, and I don’t see any team claiming him if it means they have to pay him that salary.

       
  • Posts: 0 Matt Rouscher

    It’s true mayberry’s money should have been used for other causes but once Ruf comes back, i think mayberry will be gone, i think gwynn stays, i think once Ruf went down the odds of him being traded dwindled, watch to see what happens once Ruf comes back, DFA could be a option if he decides to Leave to find another team.

     
  • Posts: 0 todd

    I might be one of the few that like JMJ. I think he’s a clutch bat off the bench, and can fill in a number of positions. I know that he didn’t come through when given the opportunity to be a starter, but I think he’s a nice player to have.
    Besides, if you break down our outfield, WE STINK. Dom Brown had a great month last season, but still hasn’t proven anything. I think I have a better arm than Ben Revere. Marlon Byrd? Who knows about him.
    Those three are our starters. We should be more worried about them, then whether Tony Gwynn Jr., who had a good spring is a better bargain than Mayberry.
    I actually like Eric Seidman’s stuff, but disagree with him on this. If you were to may a list of what is wrong with the Philllies, Junior would be nowhere in the top 10

     
  • Posts: 2896 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    First of all, no one knows for sure just when Ruf will be back. Oblique injuries are some of the hardest to recover from. And everyone is just assuming that it may be Gwynn that is kept over Mayberry. But what if in a month or whatever Gwynn stinks it up and Mayberry shines? Hopefully the right decisions are made and that $1.5MM doesn’t necessarily dictate what those decisions are.

     
  • Posts: 0 CK

    Is JMJ in the same situation as Frandsen? If he is DFA’d, does he have to accept or else lose his guaranteed salary to become a free agent? In that case, I would think he accepts, since nobody else is gonna give him $1.5 mill.

     
  • Posts: 0 Joe

    Mayberry’s stats are based on playing sparingly, under Mr. Manuel, and almost always hit 7th, or even 8th in the lineup. Not gonna many pitches to hit there. Still managed to pop a few homers. He can cut down on his strikeouts, but that can be said of the whole lineup. Give him a chance, and let’s see.

     
    • Posts: 145 Eric Seidman

      Avatar of Eric Seidman

      Mayberry has almost 900 PA the last two years. That’s not sparingly. He SHOULD have been used sparingly, as in only against lefty pitchers. He’s been given a chance for two years and it hasn’t happened. The $1.5 million could have been better allocated.

       
  • Posts: 0 Scotty Ingerton

    In reality, JMJ has hit better when batting 7th or 8th (.262 in 523 PAs) than when batting 5th or 6th (.235 in 503 PAs). In fact, he performed at his best (.316 with a .913 OPS) when hitting in the 8th slot.

     
  • Posts: 0 todd

    I’d still rather have him as a pinch hitter than Gwynn or Ruf. Is John Mayberry Jr. really what is wrong with this team? I am more concerned that we have a manager that belongs in the minor leagues. There is a reason that the Cubs didn’t want him

     
    • Posts: 0 Pj

      BEFORE you start slinging stuff about Sandburg, I can tell you first hand he has the chops to make this team successful.. I live in the Lehigh valley my wife and I have been going to ironpig’s games for years. We say first hand what he did, with in a couple seasons he turned them into a winning team all the while losing players to the phills. Nobody here thought he could do it.. But with him. You stand out of the way and let him do his job.. Just because the cubs didn’t want means we benefit. Again this whole article is just stupid.. Unless you’re front office personal.. You’re talking out of your ass… Just go to the game.. Have fun.. Cheer when the win, sigh when they lose. But stop bitching about players who stats and why they should be dropped when you don’t know anything about the situation and why he’s still there.

       
    • Posts: 0 Mike in NJ

      LOL the Cubs are the Cubs for a reason. Who did you want as manager?

       
  • Posts: 0 todd

    My point was that if he wasn’t good enough for the Cubs, why would we take him? And I am sure that he was a very good triple-A manager. But, dealing with Major Leaguers is a whole ‘nother ball game. I’d have taken a run at Scioscia or maybe (hopefully) Sandberg is a stop gap and they can get Gerardi when he isn’t with the Yankees next year.

     
    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      Yeah, agreed. It seems to be the Phillies philosophy to promote from within, rather than do a search of the best possible candidates.

       
      • Posts: 0 George

        There have been some exceptions to that “promote from within philosophy,” the most notable being the hiring of Charlie Manuel as manager and Pat Gillick as GM. This year’s pitching coach is another exception. I think some of the minopr league people have also come from other organizations.

        There can be advantages to looking within. For one thing, you know if you can work with that person because you’ve already done so.

         
    • Posts: 0 wbramh

      I have questions about Sandberg but I also believe he deserves at least a full year at the helm before semi-serious judgments can be made just as I would not anoint him the second coming of *Andy Cohen after enjoying a relatively successful final 6 weeks as interim manager. I say “semi-serious judgments” since managers can only do, or undo, so much for a team. Neither Sawyer nor Mauch told their teams to stop hitting when everything was on the line. Conversely,Danny Ozark wasn’t the brightest bulb in the clubhouse but he still led the team to three league championship series. The great Casey Stengel never managed a team finishing higher than fifth place during his first TEN years as a major league manager.

      I’d give Ryno a break. The team already made one rash and regretful judgment about the player. Let’s not repeat it now that he’s a manager.

      * Andy Cohen was named interim manager in 1960 between the reigns of Eddie Sawyer and Gene Mauch. He managed exactly one game and won it. That victory made Andy the Phillies manager with the highest winning percentage in history. Now you know…if you didn’t already.

       
  • Posts: 0 George

    This article is a little premature. I don’t think even Nostradamus could tell just who will be dumped when Ruf comes off the DL. It might even be Ruf.

     
 
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