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  1. In February, St. Louis gave Yadier Molina a $75 million extension that looked shocking at the time but appears to be brilliant now.

    What would Molina have be worth as a free agent this offseason? 6/100?

    Comment by Anon — September 25, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

  2. Isn’t this exactly what the Cubs started to do last year?

    Comment by Marty — September 25, 2012 @ 3:06 pm

  3. So, based on this information, complete this sentence…

    The Dodgers are ________ .

    Comment by rustydude — September 25, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

  4. It’s tough to say, because there isn’t really any history for long term deals for catchers, but Molina would clearly be the best player available. I’d guess 6/100 probably wouldn’t get it done. Maybe 7/120 or something?

    Comment by Dave Cameron — September 25, 2012 @ 3:15 pm

  5. Slightly different situation, because the Cubs weren’t recently competitive, and don’t have the same history of success with large payrolls. Theo is basically doing a classic rebuild there – what the Red Sox are talking about doing is more of a Yankees-style plan, still spending in free agency but spending differently.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — September 25, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

  6. Going to be just fine. They probably could have done better by skipping out on the Gonzalez deal and throwing their money around this winter, but the coming inflation might just serve to make their commitments look a little less crazy. They’ll have to get some value guys to fill out the roster, but they still have a strong core.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — September 25, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

  7. Twins fans wish that this statement were accurate

    Comment by John — September 25, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

  8. glad you said that. so much of the knee jerk reaction has been to criticize the Dodgers in-season moves. They should be fine for the next several seasons given the core 7 or 8 players there. Kershaw being the big issue they’ll have to deal with.

    Comment by Spike — September 25, 2012 @ 3:40 pm

  9. Very interesting take…although I understand you’re using them as a lens through which you can view MLB parity, I’m nonetheless curious as to your view of the Red Sox going forward.

    If you subscribe to the conventional narative of Red Sox success (circa 02-07), one believes that they succeeded because they were able to outthink the room with advanced analysis coupled with financial means.

    As teams caught up in terms of analysis (ie more sabermetrically inclined GMs assembled analytical FOs), the Sox stayed ahead by flexing their financial clout to insure they got the players they wanted in FA.

    But fastforward a decade and the league has, generally speaking caught up to the point where FO is not an advantage, and–if I read your take on salary inflation going forward–payroll as well. If this is the case…where does this leave them?

    Comment by jcxy — September 25, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

  10. Dodgers should have an easy time this offseason zeroing in on the remaining holes on their roster. LF and the bench OF have been terrible.

    Juan Rivera (-1.0 WAR)
    Tony Gwynn Jr (-.2 WAR)
    Scott Van Slyke (-.2 WAR)
    Jerry Sands (0 WAR)
    Alex Castellanos (-.5 WAR)
    Bobby Abreu (.2 WAR)

    That’s 948 plate appearances going to players that combined for -1.7 WAR. If Carl Crawford and perhaps Scott Hairston were to replace that playing time with just 2 WAR, that’s a huge 3.7 WAR swing. An equally large upgrade could be coming from a full season of Adrian Gonzalez at first base. A full season of Hanley, Cruz, Punto should be an improvement seeing as how awful Uribe/Gordon were for a large chunk of this year. A healthy Kemp could add a few wins. Lastly It can be assumed that the Dodgers will sign at least one of the top starting pitchers (Grienke, Peavy, Sanchez, Jackson, Dempster, etc). So it’s easy to see the Dodgers improving greatly next year. Long term though…that roster could encounter a 2012 Philly like hiccup.

    Comment by Table — September 25, 2012 @ 3:59 pm

  11. Jayson Werth broke baseball.

    Comment by Basebull — September 25, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

  12. Yeah, lol, no history?

    Comment by Eminor3rd — September 25, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

  13. This is all very interesting.

    I just wonder how much of it is kind of circular reasoning. As in, if the Red Sox spent the last few years paying for exact value as opposed to paying market price for players they evaluated to be good, would they have still made the same decisions?

    I’m guessing probably, maybe with the admittedly large exception of Crawford. But the calculus used to evaluate Crawford in the first place was a detour from either method of thinking we’re talking about.

    The issue here seems to be this: If you “value” a player at 12m a year, but his market value is 14m and other teams are offering that, should you budge? What if we play with other variables within the same problem, i.e., “this player will put you over the top.” This is a situation the Red Sox have already been in, explored, and decided on.

    Distancing themselves from their evolved point of view after deals didn’t work out and going back to a more basic valuation process might be dumb. I think the solution is more along the lines of just committing money to better players. The flaws were in the evaluation process in the first place, not the money they paid.

    Comment by Josh Amaral — September 25, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

  14. Yeah you are right, it is definitely not quite a full rebuild for the Red Sox / they probably aren’t going to be absolutely dreadful. I am just thinking of pickups like DeJesus & Maholm and the fact that the Cubs have been shrinking the payroll for a couple of years.

    Comment by Marty — September 25, 2012 @ 4:20 pm

  15. How long can deals like that last? The Yankees are trying to get under the luxury tax, the Dodgers are going to run out of roster spots for 100 million plus guys, and the other teams in the league simply aren’t going to have the money to sign superstars to 200 million dollar contracts. I would guess that fairly soon we’ll see contracts drop in value as the big players fall out of competition for the superstars.

    Comment by TLD — September 25, 2012 @ 4:20 pm

  16. i think it’s pretty clear dave meant long-term free agent deals

    Comment by jim — September 25, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

  17. MLB tv makes avoiding cable entirely too easy

    Comment by 81 — September 25, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

  18. I bet we see some amendments to the CBA luxury tax/amateur spending before it’s all said and done.

    Comment by Josh Amaral — September 25, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

  19. Only if you live out of the team’s blackout zone, which the majority of fans of any given team don’t. And MLB has also gone to some lengths to ensure that is a very imperfect substitute for cable TV (the atrocious Saturday blackouts, the unavailability of postseason games online).

    Comment by Anon21 — September 25, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

  20. Dave, any thoughts on how this affects teams with bad TV deals like the Braves? I know you say above that all the sharing will help the low market teams, but having a HORRENDOUS TV deal has to hurt them.

    Comment by Braves Fan — September 25, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

  21. Well I’m fortunate enough to be a Chicago fan in the Milwaukee market and get all Cubs games unless they’re in Milwaukee (which just lends greater incentive for me to go to games when they’re a ten minute drive away, which is the intention of network black outs) or Chicago, which if I’m really desperate, I’ll run my router through a out-of-network proxy. Usually I prefer the Cubs radio broadcasts to television anyway, so if I’m fiending for baseball I’ll passively watch another game while I actively listen to my awful Cubbies. I realize now that no one cares about my methods of baseball consumption, but I’m fairly high right now so this sort of thing happens.

    Comment by 81 — September 25, 2012 @ 4:54 pm

  22. Anyone else think that not firing Bobby V and keeping their groomed scapegoat into next season would be a possible move for the Sox? Just in case things don’t go well next year it would be nice to be able to pull the switch on him and appease fans and the local media. I like this move only if a really good managerial candidate is not available for them (like last offseason).

    Comment by MustBunique — September 25, 2012 @ 5:32 pm

  23. How does the 8% national TV growth rate compare to historical increases? Some context is necessary – is this an increase? decrease? same as past growth?

    “Continuing inflation of free agent prices seems inevitable”

    Hasn’t the cost/win on the free agent market been relatively flat for the last 4 years? I get that you’ve been driving the inflation bandwagon for the past two offseasons, but do the numbers support this narrative? You were saying 5mil/win two offseasons ago.

    Comment by Tom — September 25, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

  24. Yes, but the point is it may hurt them less. They will still likely become a mid/low payroll team in 10 years – but if teams continue to shy away from hitting the fixed luxury tax threshold, while more money comes in to everyone, there could be a consolidation of payrolls.

    Still terrible TV deal for a Braves team that could benefit more than just about anyone from an excellent TV deal. They have to have the highest “too far away to go to games” to “fans” ratio in the league.

    Comment by Mike — September 25, 2012 @ 5:49 pm

  25. I don’t know the numbers, but at least the high- profile deals (Crawford, Werth, Felder, Pujols, Votto) have supported the narrative of ever-rising $/expected win.

    Comment by Bookbook — September 25, 2012 @ 6:35 pm

  26. Not to rain on your parade, but counting on all players to return to peak levels and ignore the probability of more injuries is a recipe for disappointment.

    Comment by 2Chainz — September 25, 2012 @ 6:39 pm

  27. Anyone else think that Boston is racist?

    Comment by Truth hurts — September 25, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

  28. I don’t think so. Those contracts are just too inflated. The Dodgers’ competitors will also have some extra money to play with, and they can’t help but put it too more effective use.

    The Dodgers will only have a strong core if those guys stay considerably healthier than competing professional ballplayers usually manage. Anywhere near normal injury luck, they’ve little farm to cover for it now, and are also now no less but also no more able than their competitors to take on a bad contract or two to cover for an injury.

    Comment by Richie — September 25, 2012 @ 7:10 pm

  29. Very nice article, tho’.

    Comment by Richie — September 25, 2012 @ 7:11 pm

  30. “sports is proving to be one of the main television events that is both DVR-proof”
    Tell me about it, just try watching a game on tape delay and watch everyone get all butt hurt when they find out

    Comment by DodgersKingsoftheGalaxy — September 25, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

  31. {perks up}

    Comment by Howard Bryant — September 25, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

  32. Incredibly thought-provoking stuff, Dave.

    Comment by Ben — September 25, 2012 @ 9:54 pm

  33. Of course, we could always just assume that Theo Epstein cut a deal with Cubs owner Tom Ricketts shortly after he bought the team back in 2009, and decided to manage like there was no tomorrow, because he wasn’t planning to be there when tomorrow came. That would explain how the reveryone knew the Cubs were interested in Theo Epstein (and Epstein was interested in the Cubs job) months before the Cubs had permission to talk to Epstein, why the Red Sox suddenly abandoned the statistical approach that had worked so well for them before in December of 2009, how the Padres were able to hire their current GM nine months before their previous GM left, and how Theo Epstein managed to trade the Red Sox best prospect — TO HIMSELF.

    In a less conspiratorial vein, I think the reality is that the CBA has always provided bad teams the opportunity to compete, they just didn’t fully exploit it. Because, unlike in other sports, players can be “stashed” in the minors, teams can remain bad for a couple of years and stockpile real quantities of talent. It is no coincidence that the Nationals are arguably baseball’s best team after a half a decade of high picks (watch for the Astros in a few years).

    Small market teams didn’t take full advantage of their draft position, often drafting “safer” cheaper players instead of the best player available, and they didn’t use the leverage provided by the CBA to lock up their players to long-term contracts. Now they are, and as a result, the pool of premium talent available later in the draft or via free agency has shrunk (and some new big market teams have waded into the pool).

    It is very hard to build a winning team without either high draft picks (or selling high on premium veterans). A short list of the players drafted before the Red Sox first pick would include: Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Mike Trout, Jared Weaver, Steven Strasburg, Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, Evan Longoria, Buster Posey, Chris Sale, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Tim Lincecum, Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Texeira and there’s plenty more. I think the reality for the Red Sox isn’t so much about better free agent signings as it is about accepting the fact that every year you are competitive is year you are further removed from access to about half of the talent pool. With the possible exception of the Yankees, it is impossible to field a playoff team year after year; every now and then you have to re-tool. You either have to occassionally be bad (and draft high) or occassionally sell high on productive veterans (and be bad as a result).

    Comment by Patrick — September 25, 2012 @ 10:47 pm

  34. Yes, because what Boston needs is Tim Lincecum and Josh Beckett. 8/180, anyone?

    Comment by Hot Turd — September 25, 2012 @ 11:31 pm

  35. America is racist.

    But I have no idea how Boston’s alleged racism has anything to do with retaining Valentine.

    Comment by tommy — September 25, 2012 @ 11:48 pm

  36. I think you missed Patrick’s point.

    Comment by Naysayer — September 25, 2012 @ 11:55 pm

  37. Just say no.

    Comment by Nancy Reagan — September 26, 2012 @ 12:03 am

  38. I expect there to be both regression of the expected and unexpected kind, and injuries. However that does not change the fact that areas of the roster where there was crap to begin with can’t now be filled with quality, thus greatly increasing the team’s ceiling and margin for error

    Comment by Table — September 26, 2012 @ 1:01 am

  39. “an historical”

    please make this die. the ‘h’ is not silent. ffs.

    Comment by tyke — September 26, 2012 @ 2:54 am

  40. So James is saying that if the Red Sox value say….Zack Greinke at $20M/year for 5 years and someone offers hims $25M/year for 5 years they’ll pass? OK, now let’s see how long they keep this up after foregoing all the Greinkes and finishing 3rd or 4th a few years in a row and revenues start to get affected. At some point the Red Sox have to understand that their price should be above just about everyone else’s price for FA, other than the Yankees and maybe Dodgers and Angels. James is actually saying that they won’t chase the best players just because of price? Not only do I not believe they’ll actually do that if the alternative is missing the playoffs year after year, I do not believe they should do that.

    Is anyone seriously saying that they’d be getting all this flak for Gonzalez and Crawford if they had been in the postseason the last couple of years and Crawford had been a healthy player, even at 3.5- 4 WAR? Hah.

    Comment by Ivan Grushenko — September 26, 2012 @ 7:56 am

  41. This, and pronouncing “human” as yoo-man are quite possibly the worst things ever.

    Comment by kp — September 26, 2012 @ 8:43 am

  42. Nope. Curt Flood did.

    Comment by chuckb — September 26, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

  43. About the luxury tax, won’t the influx of revenues raise the luxury tax level or is that set in stone as long as the current CBA is in effect?

    Comment by chuckb — September 26, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

  44. When the stress is on the second syllable, the h tends to soften so much it nearly vanishes. That is why, historically, the article an has been used before words like historic, habitual, hysterical. When the stress is on the first syllable (hot, happy, hectic), the h is a hard consonant and the article a is used.

    Comment by Michael — September 26, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

  45. haha. Dodgers. Stupid

    Comment by Steve — September 26, 2012 @ 6:15 pm

  46. One contract doth not a history make.

    Comment by The Ancient Mariner — October 4, 2012 @ 10:08 pm

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