THE NEWBERG REPORT — FEBRUARY 20, 2008

Ian Kinsler and Brandon Phillips were baseball’s only second basemen to turn in 20-20 seasons in 2007.  Phillips signed a four-year, $27 million deal last week that will pay $38 million over five seasons if Cincinnati exercises a club option for 2012.  Incentives could kick the package up as high as $43.25 million.

Kinsler agreed to terms yesterday on a deal that guarantees $22.5 million over five years, and $32 over six if Texas exercises a club option for 2013.

Why the disparity?  Why did Texas offer Kinsler less than the Reds offered Phillips, and more to the point, why did Kinsler accept it?

It comes down to service time.

Here’s the breakdown of the Phillips deal, followed by the Kinsler deal:

PHILLIPS

2008: $2.75M + $0.75M signing bonus
2009: $4.75M
2010: $6.75M
2011: $11M
2012: $12M club option ($1M buyout)

KINSLER

2008: $0.50M + $1M signing bonus 
2009: $3M
2010: $4M
2011: $6M
2012: $7M 
2013: $10M club option ($0.5M buyout)

Yes, Phillips (1618) has nearly twice as many big league at-bats as Kinsler (906), and he’s been a major leaguer in each of the last six seasons, as opposed to Kinsler’s two.  So if you wanted to make the argument that Phillips is more of a known quantity, there’s probably a little something to that.

But the key difference between the two young second basemen is the following:

2.000 vs. 3.022

Service time.

Kinsler, in his two big league seasons, has amassed two years of service, having spent no time on the farm in 2006 or 2007.

Phillips, over his six years in the major leagues, has three years plus 22 days of service.   

What that means, boiled down to the key point, is that Kinsler was one year away from being arbitration-eligible this winter, while Phillips was arbitration-eligible this off-season for the first time.

So you can’t compare the above contractual breakdowns by putting the first years side by side, and the second, and so on.  You have to compare Kinsler’s 2008 to Phillips’s 2007 (when he too was in his final pre-arb season), and go from there.

Let’s do that:

PHILLIPS

2007: $0.4075M
2008: $2.75M + $0.75M signing bonus
2009: $4.75M
2010: $6.75M
2011: $11M
2012: $12M club option ($1M buyout)

KINSLER

2008: $0.50M + $1M signing bonus 
2009: $3M
2010: $4M
2011: $6M
2012: $7M 
2013: $10M club option ($0.5M buyout)

Interestingly, the salary Phillips earned last year was nearly identical to the one that Kinsler was set to be paid this season, before yesterday’s extension was announced.

With the new deal in place, Kinsler will pocket nearly $1.1 million more this year than Phillips did last year, when he was in the same service class as Kinsler is now.  Phillips will earn $3.5 million in 2008 (including his signing bonus), a rough midpoint between the $2.7 million and $4.2 million arbitration figures submitted by the Reds and by Phillips a month ago.  Kinsler’s equivalent year — when he too would have been arbitration-eligible for the first time — is 2009, when he’s set to make $3 million.

In each of the following two years (which would have been their final two arbitration-eligible seasons), Phillips is set to make $750,000 more than Kinsler.  The big disparity is in what would have been year one of free agency, which the Reds bought out by agreeing to pay Phillips $11 million and the Rangers purchased for $7 million.  The gap narrows a bit in the option year, when Cincinnati will have to sign off on a $12 million contract to keep Phillips from free agency, while Texas has a $10 million option to exercise.

Did Phillips command higher numbers because his extra year of service makes him more of a proven commodity?  Maybe because his 20-20 season last year was actually 30-30?  Was his appearance in the NL MVP vote (he finished 22nd) a factor?  Did Texas just make a better deal than Cincinnati did, and if so, why did Kinsler accept it?

Maybe because a minimum guarantee of $22 million is enough security for the married, 25-year-old second baseman, who said yesterday: "I was not trying to set the bar and make the most money for a second baseman.  I’m just here to play the game and be treated fairly.  All I wanted the Rangers to do is step up and make a commitment to me.  They did, and I made a commitment to them."

Furthermore, this ownership and this front office have already shown that they’ll tear up a contract like this one in favor of a bigger deal to ensure that free agency never becomes imminent.  Michael Young was set to earn $3.5 million in 2007 and $4 million in 2008 (via a club option) when the Rangers agreed in March 2007 to add five years and $80 million to his deal.

Said Jay Franklin, one of Kinsler’s agents (along with former Rangers second baseman Jeff Frye), regarding the deal: "It’s fair to both parties.  I don’t know if it’s a win for either side.  This was his decision.  Ian loves the city and the organization, and this is what he and [his wife] Tess wanted to do."

More from Kinsler, the 496th player chosen in the 2003 draft: "A lot of people say [Young] took a club-friendly deal in his first [multi-year] contract, but the important thing was to make sure he had taken care of his family first and that he could concentrate on just playing baseball.  We talked about all of that.  It’s the same way for me."

Admirable.  That’s a core guy, no matter how you look at it.  Great day for anyone who is a Rangers fan.

Back in September, Kinsler and Young and Hank Blalock told reporters that they were lobbying the organization to bring red back as the team’s primary uniform color, even though none of them were with the Rangers when they ditched red in favor of the current blue.  Texas’s three playoff seasons came during the six years (1994 through 1999) in which they were in red.  The club has yet to finish higher than third in the AL West since the switch to blue.

Rangers Executive Vice President of Communications Jim Sundberg told reporters yesterday that the Rangers may consider a switch to red as soon as 2009.  It’s a discussion that is expected to involve new Team President Nolan Ryan.   

It’s time to bring the red back.

Blalock, whose last defensive activity was prior to his mid-May surgery to remove a rib in connection with his diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome, made throws to first from third base Monday for the first time since the procedure, and he came out of it without pain.

Lefthander John Rheinecker, complaining of numbness, tingling, and swelling in his throwing arm shortly after reporting to camp, returned to Arlington for tests and has been diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome himself.  He’s expected to have shoulder surgery before the month is up and will be out until at least the All-Star Break.   

Rheinecker is out of options, but he’ll be afforded 30 days on a minor league rehabilitation assignment when and if he’s ready to pitch in 2008.  In the meantime, he’s a strong candidate, obviously, to start the season on the 60-day disabled list, which would clear a spot on the 40-man roster for a non-roster player who earns a role on the Opening Day roster.

Lots of buzz on righthander Josh Rupe’s early work in camp.  If healthy, his dirty stuff could play in several different bullpen roles (and, in the bigger picture, could factor into a rotation competition down the road, though evidently not in 2008).

According to Jeff Wilson and Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 55 to 60 minor leaguers have already shown up in camp even though their reporting date is still a couple weeks away.  Cool.

I’m not sure how proud I am of this, but Mark Cuban and I have something in common.  Jason Kidd is the reason that I, too, bought Mavs season tickets (or at least a third of two seats) back in 1994.  (The trade of Kidd in 1996 is also the reason I gave those tickets up.)

Flip Boone wants another chance, and Washington is going to give one to him, a non-roster invite to camp.  Good luck with all that.

Newsday baseball columnist Ken Davidoff, the author of my favorite Bound Edition foreword (he wrote one in the 2008 book), stuck a fully unsolicited plug for the Newberg Report at the end of his blog today. 

Ron Washington’s tentative lineup, health-permitting: designated hitter Frank Catalanotto, center fielder Josh Hamilton, Young, right fielder Milton Bradley, Blalock, left fielder Marlon Byrd, first baseman Ben Broussard, Kinsler, and either Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Gerald Laird.  Against lefthanders (Opening Day, for instance, when Seattle is expected to give Erik Bedard the ball), Kinsler moves to the leadoff spot and a right-handed designated hitter replaces Catalanotto, probably eighth or ninth.

The Cubs still want Byrd, according to several reports.  The Rangers still want to be overpaid (in the form of pitching prospects on top of outfielder Matt Murton) if they’re going to part with Byrd, a better (and more versatile) defender and a guy who has established himself as a strong clubhouse presence.  I’m good with that.

According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, the Rangers will have their pro scouts cover the Low A farm clubs for the four or five organizations they’re responsible for scouting, which is one level deeper than most clubs.  Texas, like most franchises, had previously charged its pro scouts with coverage of the High A, AA, and AAA affiliates of the big league clubs they were assigned.  The purpose for the increased coverage is to be prepared to target teenaged prospects at trade deadline time, rather than focus solely on the higher minor league levels.

The added coverage won’t help Texas find the next Ian Kinsler, who was in AA by the time the Incaviglia Rule made him eligible to be traded.  His baseball life has been an amazing odyssey, one in which he didn’t play in the same place two straight years between high school (2000) and the year he broke into the big leagues (2006), and that was only because of a 10-game rehab assignment in Oklahoma City that year.   

Tucson’s Canyon del Oro High School in 2000.  Central Arizona Junior College in 2001.  Arizona State University in 2002.  The University of Missouri and Spokane in 2003.  Clinton and Frisco in 2004.  Oklahoma in 2005.  Texas in 2006, with that 10-game rehab stint with the RedHawks.  Fans of the home team didn’t get much of a chance to get attached to Kinsler for the first half of the decade.   

Much different story these days.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

1 Comment

Jamey,
Great stuff as always, thank you so much for your work. You should have us pay for this stuff.

Saw this on John Sickel’s blog during his question and answer post:

top 5 (or 10) prospects in 12 months

Depending on how much time you have to answer the 200+ questions, any level of detail is fine.

Top 5 or 10 prospects in 2009, in order or not.

by Galt on Tue Feb 19, 2008 at 11:56:36 AM CDT

2009

Assuming that people aren’t promoted ahead of schedule, and NOT including potential 2008 draftees.

Hitters:

Wieters

Teagarden

Lars Anderson

Elvis Andrus

Triunfel

Pitchers:

Kershaw

Price

McGee

Tillman

Latos (sleeper to move forward)

by John Sickels on Tue Feb 19, 2008 at 12:35:18 PM CDT

[ Parent ]

If that doesn’t get you excited I don’t know what does. 2 of our boys in the top 5 for hitters! Can’t wait for the cactus league games to start up. Thanks again for the hard work!

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