Maybe A-Rod’s contract isn’t so bad after all…..The Phillies and first baseman Ryan Howard agreed to a contract extension this afternoon. Pause for a minute and let me laugh before I actually tell you the amount.

AP Photo/Gregory Smith

The Phillies gave Ryan Howard a five-year, $125 million dollar extension that will kick in after 2011. Ryan Howard will be 32 years old when this contract takes effect. Howard will earn $20 million in 2012 and 2013.  Howard will then earn $25 million from 2014-2016, (34-36 years old). The Phillies have team-option for the 2017 season worth $23 million.

Ryan Howard has had four great offensive seasons. Since 2006, he has averaged 50 home runs and 143 RBIs. These are big-time numbers, but the Phillies were paying him league minimums and arbitration amounts. Now, they want to pay Howard $25 million on average?

When valuating players, teams must look at a player’s WAR(Win Above Replacement). This valuates the player’s entire game compared to league average. Howard’s WAR average over the last three seasons was 4.1. In comparison, Alex Rodriguez’s WAR was 6.8 and Albert Pujols’ was 8.6. I only make this comparison because these three players will be in the same financial bracket come 2012.

My other problem with Howard’s contract is how similar players did not age gracefully after 30. If we look at David Ortiz, Cecil Fielder, Mo Vaughn and Richie Sexson, all three of these players had huge down swings after 30 years old. I’m afraid that Howard will fall into this same class and the Phillies do not have the luxury of the DH.

Will Howard become a liability in the field? He has never been regarded as a great defender. His UZR has always floated around the league average.

Howard’s WAR was 4.9 in 2009 when he hit 45 home runs and drove in 141 RBIs. For Howard to justify his future contract, he will need to exceed these numbers every year from 2012-2017. His WAR will have to be right around 5.5-6 each season, something that Howard has only done once in career(2006; MVP 58 HRs, 156 RBIs).

Many people were crying foul when the Yankees signed Alex Rodriguez to a 10-year/$270 million contract in 2007. Two years through the contract, he has statistically justified his salary. I’m not saying that he always will, but the Yankees net worth greatly outweighs the Phillies and they can afford to take the risk with that contract. The Phillies do not have the same leverage.

When this contract kicks in in 2012, I think the Phillies will be making a big mistake. I do not think Howard will age gracefully and the Phillies will have a big time issue on their hands.

If we project Howard to average a WAR of 3 over the course of his contract, he’ll be worth way less than what’s stated in his contract.

Say hello to baseball’s new worst contract.