Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Making Sense of Nonsense

As the Free Agent signings spin out of control (how about Soriano’s contract running until he’s 38), and the names that the Indians had targeted are coming off of the board (Walker, Speier, Stanton, Garciaparra, Alou, Catalanotto etc.) – what are we to think?

First off, if the Indians had signed any of these players to these contracts, I think we would all be up in arms...4 years for Speier...a third year option to Stanton…who’s 39?!?

While it’s true that these players will (ideally) help their new clubs in the near future, these are the type of contracts that smart GM’s avoid. They are avoided because it handcuffs future spending, tying up dollars in bad contracts. If, when it comes time to extending C.C. or Hafner, would you rather have some extra jack to throw at them, or have Mike Stanton taking up a spot (and $3M) in the 2008 bullpen?

Secondly, as these contracts are inked, the players on the current roster’s value have to be escalating. If Juan Pierre is worth a 5-year, $45M deal, don’t Jason Michaels and (more obviously) Franklin Gutierrez have some value?

Here are their comparative stats for 2006 (OPS/HR/RBI):
Pierre - .717 / 3 / 40 in 699 AB
Michaels - .717 / 5 / 55 in 494 AB
Gutz - .648 / 1 / 8 in 136 AB

While it’s true that Pierre had 58 SB compared to Michaels’ 9 and The Tank’s big 0, either the Dodgers REALLY value the SB or we’re underestimating the attractiveness of our own outfielders.

After watching Michaels and Gutierrez last year, I don’t think that we’re vastly underestimating Michaels and/or Gutierrez. But, if these players are attractive to other teams and we can obtain a replacement corner OF (or, even if we don’t, give Choo the AB) – let’s allow this crazy market to drive up the values of these players and get some relievers for them.

Right now, it’s time to be patient. Free Agency, particularly with relievers, is a crapshoot and generally the teams that make the BIG splash (the Blue Jays last year, the Cubs this year) are no better off than they were in the previous year (unless Soriano is going to pitch in Wrigley).

Shapiro and Co. have seen the market set with these ridiculous contracts and will target guys that they can sign, without tying up future dollars that can be better spent to lock up homegrown talent.

Whether players like Roberto Hernandez or Joe Borowski excite you is not the concern (unless the Front Office sees either of them as potential closers), because they’re the type of players with experience, a track record, and without outrageous contract demands that will be targeted. Is it akin to having Mo Rivera set up for John Wetteland circa 1996? No, but it’s an improvement. And that’s what we’re looking for right now.

Nothing huge, just some tweaking to get this team closer to where we think it can end 2007.


Anonymous said...

As much as I'd like to believe that they're saving the money to extend our top of the line guys, I don't see it happeneing.

Westbrook will be traded because he is determined to explore his options in Free Agency. The indians will not give him the 4-5 ywar 40-50M contract that he will be able to get. I hope Shapiro can work out another Colon type deal for Westbrook because there is no way he is back in 2008.

Shapiro does not have a history of paying people at market prices. I very much doubt that we will plunk down 15M/year each that it will take to hold on to CC and Pronk. I really hope I'm wrong, but i doubt it.

So while I understand that reasonable contracts to people like Roberto Hernandez or Joe Borowski make sense, I just get the sense that we're coming up short again.

I think that we're going to be left with money to burn again with no one on whom to burn it. I'm tired of having a flexible, non-burdensome payroll and not having the right players to get job done.

Cy Slapnicka said...

I assume you are just trying to get some responses, b/c your comparison of Pierre, Frank, and Michaels is insanity.

They are completely different types of players. Can you imagine batting Pierre leadoff in our lineup, followed by some combination of Grady, Hafner, and Victor? He is a constant threat to steal and based on his numbers, is probably in scoring position ~40% of the time...so I think he'd have quite a few more runs. And would you like to be a pitcher with him on base? He brings a completely different dimension to the game, its not just stolen bases.

Compared to Michaels and the Tank's projected numbers, they currently have average to below average power, lots of K's, and neither has proven to be a legitimate full time player, so projecting their numbers out isn't even realistic!

Do they have value, yes. Is there any relation between their values and Pierre's? No. He completely changes a pitchers approach, sets the table for your offense, and has tons of energy. Its like the 1995 version of Lofton.

Basically, I think you just tried to justify Paul Sorrento having a lot of value by comparing him to Lofton.

Lay off the pipe my man...

Cy Slapnicka said...

One more thing I forgot. He also wears a crooked cap. Thats worse a cool millon a year right there....

I still can't believe you wrote that. I am beside myself. If we were talking about this over a pint, I'd spitting as I spoke (big shocker) and calling the Baltimorian to discuss how we'd go bananas.

Cy Slapnicka said...

btw, i mean "worth a cool million..." not worse.

Paul Cousineau said...

But is that "mayhem on the bases" worth $9M a year...or really that much more than an average OF (Michaels).

Michaels and Pierre had IDENTICAL OBP, SLG, & OPS last year.

Your comparison to Pierre and Lofton circa 1995 is even more ridiculous than the Dodgers giving Pierre his deal.

The point that if Pierre is worth $9M, then Michaels must be worth than what we think he is (not much) must have flown over your head.

Would I rather have Pierre, as opposed to Michaels? Absolutely.

But that wasn't the point of the comparison. The inflated values of the contract being handed out was.

Paul Cousineau said...

That Matthews deal is shocking...just shocking.

If that's the big splash that Arte Moreno promised, that deafening sound you hear is silence.

Paul Cousineau said...

I think that your contract numbers are right on and those 3 players, in particular, and the way that their contracts are handled is going to be the best indication on the ownership and payroll.

There's one thing to be said for going out and getting someone else's players - there's always a little more inherent risk.

Keeping your own, for market value, is what this team needs to do - particularly with the young talent that is 1 or 2 years away from the open market.

Like you said, I hope you're wrong that the Indians won't pay these players the going rate...but we will see.

Cy Slapnicka said...

How is my comparison ridiculous? Look at the numbers. I'm not sure how Juan's defense is but their numbers are very close. If you offered me a good defensive OF right now that produced like Pierre for $9mil, i'd take it.

Is Michaels undervalued based on what we've seen in free agency this year? Yes, but its so insane recently that Josh Bard could command a big long term deal. The Matthews deal proves that.

OBP, SLG, & OPS are similar for Michaels and Pierre, but those 58 SBs are huge. Pierre is on base roughly 235 times last year based on walks and hits. Almost 50 of those are XBHs. Lets guestimate and say that 40 of his stolen bases were from 1B, putting him in scoring position. I know this is all very rough, but that puts him in scoring position around 40% of the time he gets on base. And he has the speed to score from anywhere.

Put him at the top of our lineup, and I guarantee his stats improve dramatically.

I think you forget what Lofton brought to the lineup. Pierre can bring the same thing. Given current market conditions, if I offered you a 1995 Kenny Lofton for $9mil, are you buying? He's even about the same age as Lofton was back then. Have you seen his stats the past few years? Oh, and I think the last time he missed a game, Butch Davis wasn't known for ruining drafts. And he's not even a prick like Lofton was/is.

I see your point, that some of the guys that we have are average, and they are signed for reasonable salaries. In the current market, that makes them valuable. I just feel that if we were going to spend some cash in the CURRENT MARKET (which by the way, is the only market that matters) on an OF, Pierre would be worth $9mil.

Especially in our division. Anything we can do to make AJ's life more hellish, I'm on board with....

t-bone said...

speaking of being on board, i'm completely on board with all of cy's comments on the pierre topic. maybe not that long of a contract, but i'd have no problem throwing $9 mil at him.

Paul Cousineau said...

I know we would like to see some money thrown around, even if it means overpaying for it, but $9M for Pierre?

Number of years aside, that's a huge chunk of change, rivaled only by the Angels giving $10M per to a 31-year-old player who has never hit over .275, had more than 17 HR, 55 RBI, or 15 SB prior to last year (coincidentally, a contract year).

On the Pierre front, how about this from ESPN.com's Keith Law:
"Pierre is a slap-hitting speedster who has drawn 50 walks in a season just once in his career (2003), and whose above-average range in center is mitigated somewhat by his below-average throwing arm. His primary asset, his ability to run, is generally the first skill to decline as a player ages, and since Pierre turns 30 in August, he's headed quickly towards the edge of the cliff. On a good team, he's a bench player -- even at his current level of ability; if he can't run, he's a 4A player. The fact that the Dodgers just committed five years and what will probably be way too much money to a player whose ideal role is "defensive replacement/pinch runner" is mind-boggling. It's almost certain that Pierre will bat first or second in the Dodgers' lineup (you don't bat a $9 million player eighth, even if that's where he belongs) and those 500-odd outs he makes every year will go a long way towards holding the Dodgers' offense down."

As for me, $9 better bring about 20 quality starts and 12-15 wins from the rotation.

Call me old fashioned, but I think it's a mistake to get tied up in this FA lunacy and overpay for a player that we could get comparable (not identical) numbers for a much lower figure.

Spend the money on extending the guys that SHOULD stick around or adding more arms.

Cy Slapnicka said...

Well, Willie Mays Hayes started going yard when he started getting older. Maybe Pierre will too

Seriously though, "On a good team, he's a bench player -- even at his current level of ability". Mr. Law just lost all credibility with me. The guy's numbers speak for themself. And he did bat leadoff for a World Series Champion.

Unless we are going to spend that money where it needs to go, the bullpen or extending some of our studs, I feel its money well spent.

Anyway, have a good turkey day.

Cy Slapnicka said...

Well, Willie Mays Hayes started going yard when he started getting older. Maybe Pierre will too

Seriously though, "On a good team, he's a bench player -- even at his current level of ability". Mr. Law just lost all credibility with me. The guy's numbers speak for themself. And he did bat leadoff for a World Series Champion.

Unless we are going to spend that money where it needs to go, the bullpen or extending some of our studs, I feel its money well spent.

Anyway, have a good turkey day.

Paul Cousineau said...

The 4A level/bench player comment was a little excessive.

Juan Pierre WOULD look great at the top of this lineup, it's the money and the length that are the issues for me.

Happy Turkey Day everyone!

t-bone said...

browns throwbacks sunday.

check it!