Brewers Extend Corey Hart | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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Brewers Extend Corey Hart

By on August 2, 2010

Corey Hart signed a three year extension today, believed to be worth $26.5 million over the next three years.

Given the fact that Hart is in a career year and was assumed to be moved at the trading deadline, the easy reaction to this deal is that it’s an overreaction and an overpayment. That’s just not the case, though. The distribution of money for this deal is probably going to be something like 6.5-10-10, meaning that the Brewers probably save some money on next year, and then they pay Hart like an average (or slightly below average, depending on how salary inflation goes, which is kind of a grey area given the economy) player for the next two years after.

Hart should be good enough to make this contract worth it and even a slight win for Milwaukee. CHONE’s updated August projection projects Hart as a 2.4 WAR player over 150 games. ZiPS projects Hart as a better hitter – about +20 runs (.359 wOBA) over the course of a season. Using his average UZR of -4 runs per season, that would make Hart about a 2.8 WAR player. Either way, unless the economy tanks again, this is probably a win for the Brewers.

Don’t forget that these projections are certainly taking into account the poor years Hart put together in 2008 and 2009, where over a combined 1100+ plate appearances, Hart was only worth 1.8 WAR. He’s already eclipsed that in 2010 – 2.1 WAR – despite a -8 small sample UZR which I think is a bit extreme and will go down as the season continues – he’s not a statue out there, he’s just not great.

That said, there is obviously a chance for this deal to fail. If the power this year is a complete mirage and his discipline – which has improved markedly since 2008 – falls back to his early career levels, then yes, this deal will be a gross overpayment. I think the chances of that occurring are low, however. He has turned from a ground ball heavy hitter to a fly ball heavy hitter, and that means that even if his mammoth 18% HR/FB drops to his career average of 12%, he should still hit more home runs simply because he’s hitting more balls in the air. His increase in walk rate – 9.1% in 2009, 7.9% in 2010 after 4.1% in 2008 – is probably real, as that tends to stabilize after 200 plate appearances and we’ve now seen about 900 between 2009 and 2010.

So, all-in-all, between the chances of bust and the chances that he continues his solid year this year and everything in between, the Brewers probably come up even or slightly ahead on this contract. It should help for next season, actually, as Hart would probably have gotten a larger arbitration reward than this contract will call for in year one if I’m correct about the distribution. The Brewers locked up a decent outfielder for a few years. Yes, there might not be room for a long term Prince Fielder contract now, but I don’t think that is an issue for this front office, nor should it be. Corey Hart is a good player, and he should help this team in the short term. The money should still be there in the offseason to get pitching. Overall, I don’t love this deal for Milwaukee, but I do like it.

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Comments

Tell us what do you think.

  1. Jared says: August 2, 2010

    I absolutely hate this move.

    Things we know about Corey Hart:
    - He’s having a career year at the plate that he will never repeat
    - He still swings 2 feet over balls in the dirt and outside
    - He’s a horrible outfielder
    - He’s a headcase that’s prone to extremely long slumps
    - He doesn’t like Brewers fans and would rather play on the road than at home
    - His trade value was at an all-time high and the Brewers should’ve cashed in last week

    • Jack Moore says: August 2, 2010

      As far as the trade value thing goes, doesn’t the fact that SF wasn’t willing to give up Jonathan Sanchez really say a lot about how high his value actually was?

      I’m just not sure there was much there.

  2. Harry says: August 2, 2010

    Do you have any evidence to back up these claims Jared?
    Where did he ever say he didn’t like playing in Milwaukee? From the sound of it he loves playing here or he wouldn’t have been so public about his desire to stay.
    How can you be sure he won’t repeat this years performance? He’s gotten his vision problems seemingly under control and straightened out his mental issues from last year and spring training this year.
    I believe this is a great signing.

  3. Jared says: August 2, 2010

    From http://www.jsonline.com/sports/brewers/32540289.html:

    And Corey Hart said the Brewers actually felt looser here than at Miller Park, perhaps becoming the first player ever to cite Philadelphia as the place to come to avoid fan abuse.

    “Actually, it felt more like a home game than playing in Miller Park,” Hart said. “We didn’t hear the boos that we sometimes hear at home. That’s the way it goes. Everybody’s expecting (the team) to win.

    “It’s not a lack of hustle or effort. A guy makes an error, a guy strikes out and you hear your home town booing you. It makes you ready to get out of there and go somewhere else for a while. I think we’re all looser here.”

    Keep in mind, he said that just a few weeks after Brewers fans voted him into the All-Star game and while he was in the midst of a team-crushing slump.

  4. Jared says: August 2, 2010

    Corey Hart might not have netted Alex Sanchez before the season, so I think the fact that Jonathan Sanchez was even in the discussion for Hart is telling.

    This is Hart’s best season. And this was a mistake signing.

  5. Harry says: August 2, 2010

    Thanks for the article, but the fact that you describe his slump as “team-crushing” should lend a little bit to how important he is to the team overall.
    And I don’t think the things he said should be taken as an all the time thing. It sounds to me like he just got as sick of the fair weather fans as the rest of us do. i can remember questioning the boos during the playoff run too.

  6. Rob says: August 2, 2010

    This isn’t Hart’s best season. That was 2007. But this is very similar to 2007, so it really amazing for a player to have 2 career years but not be any good.

    And yes how dare Corey Hart not always love the petulant fans at Miller Park who’ll boo a 2 strike out game.

  7. Jared says: August 2, 2010

    His slump was team-crushing because Yost left him in the lineup for half of a season in which he was an absolute black hole on offense and a liability on defense. He rode that slump all the way through the 2009 season. He’s only put together one full season of good play in his entire career (2007). What makes you think he won’t revert to sucking again?

    And I hate when fans boo at Miller Park. I never do it. But I will never forgive a player for saying something as classless and stupid as what he said, especially given how bad he was playing. Those fans he was criticizing set a franchise attendance record that season and voted him into the All-Star game despite the fact that he was going up against players in major media markets. Shut the booing fans up with your play you weak-minded hillbilly.

    I will remind everyone who applauded this deal every time Hart flails 2 feet over a breaking ball, allows a ball he could easily catch to fall in front of him, sleep walks through another season or prevents the team from locking up players who actually deserve that kind of cash.

  8. CommissionerDan says: August 2, 2010

    I’m not the world’s biggest Corey Hart fan, but I don’t think this deal is a killer for Milwaukee (or Doug Melvin). I am leery, however, since I feel like a lot of the same things were said about Bill Hall after his career year in ’06.

    For comparison’s sake, Bill Hall increased his HR rate suddenly from 12% to 19% from 2005 to 2006, whereas Hart’s is up to almost 18% this year, 9% higher than 2009 and about 6% higher than his previous season-high (13% in 2007) in a similar number of PAs. I’m not saying he’s terrible, I just doubt Corey Hart is this good.

    • CommissionerDan says: August 2, 2010

      Just as a clarification, I mean’t HR/FB rate in my above post.

  9. Jared says: August 2, 2010

    To be fair, it probably sounds like I hate Corey Hart a lot more than I actually do. Beyond the stupid comments he made in Philadelphia, I think he’s an average player who can help a team when he’s hot. I don’t think he’s a player to build around though and I wish they would have used that money elsewhere.

  10. Rob says: August 2, 2010

    He’s being paid as an average player

  11. Jared says: August 2, 2010

    The Brewers could get average production from a pre-arbitration player for much, much less than that. Mat Gamel, for example.

  12. Rob says: August 2, 2010

    And then who plays 1B? The Brewers have 2 corner (infield or outfield)bats in the system right now, Gamel and Lawrie. Lawrie is at least one year away.

  13. Jared says: August 2, 2010

    Someone you don’t have to pay $8.5 million to be average. They’ll probably pick up a bat in the Fielder trade too.

  14. Harry says: August 2, 2010

    I think beyond all the talk about Hart himself and his performance, it shows that the Brewers front office still cares enough about the team and its players and fans to try and retain people who truely want to be here and are assests to the team on and off the field. I may be biased, I’ve always liked Corey, but it seems to me that his stats this year are so much of an improvement that it can’t be as simple as a fluke. I really believe he has found something that works and will continue his new found pace.

  15. Mike says: August 3, 2010

    With Corey Hart the brewers offense is elite, but without him the offense is still likely elite. If Prince is dealt for pitching in the off season the offense takes a serious hit. It would be hard to get rid of both Prince and Corey Hart and act like production won’t drop. This contract ensures their offense, but it will only be good if it doesn’t hinder them from signing or trading for someone that will address their glaring weakness, starting pitching.

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