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  1. It’s hard to quantify, but shouldn’t we at least discuss the risk each team was taking on as well? An overweight 32-year-old centerfielder definitely carries some injury risk over four years, but probably not as much as a 29-year-old pitcher with more than a thousand innings under his belt being signed to a seven-year contract.

    Comment by Ben — January 25, 2011 @ 3:22 pm

  2. If this was the Death Match finale, what other contracts were in the semi’s ?

    Did the Rowand contract at least make the quarter’s ?

    Comment by Scout Finch — January 25, 2011 @ 3:40 pm

  3. Looks like the authors can do some pre March Madness bracketology with this one.

    Comment by Vegemitch — January 25, 2011 @ 3:43 pm

  4. napoli has been traded for frank francisco. Doesn’t really alter the results of this trade however

    Comment by William — January 25, 2011 @ 3:45 pm

  5. I would agree with Ben, the length of the contract for the pitcher puts the actual decision over the top as worse since there would be a much higher probability that he would fail to meet expectations due to limitations in playing time. However, given that contracts are insured, a catastrophic injury to Zito would actually alleviate the financial burden of his contract at least to some degree.

    Comment by Vegemitch — January 25, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

  6. Does it make it any more significant that Napoli’s value which had been thrown away by the Angels in this deal is now being used against them by the greatest threat to their ability to reach the post season?

    Comment by Vegemitch — January 25, 2011 @ 3:55 pm

  7. That’s what we call “irony”.

    I guess the BlueJays wanted a legitimate closer more than they wanted a poor defensive/good power bat catcher.

    Comment by NEPP — January 25, 2011 @ 3:57 pm

  8. In a twist of fate, Napoli just got traded to the Rangers, so now not only do the Angels get to see Wells be average in LF 19 times a year, they also get to see the player they gave someone $75 million to upgrade from launch bombs into their stands an equal amount of times.

    Gotta wonder why AA made this Napoli for Francisco deal, though. It seems like a bad trade, but with AA you are at this point where you have to wonder if there isn’t some sort of secret motivation or reasoning that you just aren’t aware of.

    Or maybe he’s continuing his quest to be the biggest star on the Jays team.

    Comment by SC2GG — January 25, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

  9. the Jays just decided to screw the Angels over, just for the hell of it.

    Napoli for Francisco? i’d def. take Napoli

    Comment by Eric — January 25, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

  10. Mike Napoli was just traded to the Rangers for Ben Francisco. The Blue Jays have joined the Angels in not thinking much of him. It appears to this observer that these two teams (the Angels and the Blue Jays) think Napoli is a -30 run catcher and a -5 run 1B when he plays defense and therefore a DH no mater where he plays.

    Comment by giantsrainman — January 25, 2011 @ 4:05 pm

  11. Frank Francisco, not Ben Francisco.

    Ben Francisco is still an OF on the Phillies.

    Comment by NEPP — January 25, 2011 @ 4:08 pm

  12. Yeah my mistake. I knew it was the reliever not the outfielder but I got the names confused. My point still stands though that this shows the Blue Jays do not think Napoli is a viable option at catcher. I am betting the Rangers do not either and they will use Napoli almost exclusively as a DH when Young plays defense (especially against lefties when Moreland is likely to sit).

    Comment by giantsrainman — January 25, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

  13. Although all details aren’t clear, supposedly it’s for Francisco and cash. Cash can mean anything from 1 to many million (although almost certainly under 10) so it might not be that they judge Napoli’s defense so bad

    Comment by bender — January 25, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

  14. I don’t’ think it has anything to do with valuing Napoli. It’s doubtful the Jays are planning on either one being on their roster past the trade deadline, so the question is merely which one do they have a better chance of flipping to a contender for some prospects – a good reliever or a catcher? The good reliever would be my guess. Everyone’s looking for bullpen help in July.

    Comment by Mateo — January 25, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

  15. The pticher has more injury risk even at 3 years younger.

    Comment by joe — January 25, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

  16. Ok, this is getting weird. I guess the path has been cleared for Arencibia to be the starting backstop for the Jays now?

    Frank Francisco beefs up a bullpen being worked over this offseason. Not sure if he is to be part of the closer competition or intended as a setup man for Frasor/Dotel.

    I’d have thought Napoli had more value than that, I’m not sure Francisco is better than some of the relief talent already on the roster. I sincerely hope Anthopolous knows what he is doing…

    Comment by Max G — January 25, 2011 @ 4:22 pm

  17. Francisco will be a type A at the end of this season too… Plus, AA now has a monopoly on the RH RP market. Wouldnt be surprised to see one or two of the bullpen arms traded at the deadline.

    Then again, you have to imagine Napoli would be worth more than this.

    Comment by jkjkljlk — January 25, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

  18. Does the added fact that Napoli has wound up in Texas where he can contribute to the Angels’ division rival tip the balance?

    Comment by Mario Mendoza — January 25, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

  19. Your methodology is flawed. Your looking at the player’s value, but the issue is the price. Price is set by the market, and in this case Zito had a much greater market than did Wells at the time of the acquisition. If we take media reports at face value than the Mets, Rangers, and Mariners were all in on Zito to some degree, with the Mets reportly offering $105M over 6 years. If true, the Giants overbid the market by about $20M over a six year period.

    On the other hand there was no market at all for Wells, the Angels set their own prize, which obviously way exceeded what the rest of the industry thought was appropriate.

    Comment by Jason — January 25, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

  20. I wonder if the fact that the Angels seemed to value him so low and he was traded directly before being flipped again compressed his value somewhat. It would be interesting to determine if subsequent trades of the same player do indeed have an effect on market value of the player even if that does not match their true value.

    But if that is the case, there is no need to push him out the door when his value is lowest.

    Comment by sssox24 — January 25, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

  21. As an Angels fan, I’m astonished by this trade. I think the best move was probably to let our roster sit and wait for something to open up later, like midseason before the trade deadline to fill any real holes that appear throughout the season. But, as an Angels fan, I must look to the greener side of things…

    I think the problem with the value analysis (and this speaks to “what the team sees” side of things) is that it is only effective in a vaccum. I love sabremetrics, I think more managers should use it to determine moves and plays, etc. But, there are a gross amount of confounding variables that statistical analysis cannot account for, albeit some legitimate, some wanky and apologistic.

    Napoli generated all of those offensive numbers the author uses to determine value when it didn’t matter. He hit most of his homers when the Angels were already winning. He also hit most of those homers when there was no one is scoring position. In fact, he was terrible in the “clutch” and with RISP in general. I do not know how to effectively and reliably weigh these problems with the value analysis, but it seems that, like carbs, his WAR is empty.

    Wells is a strange story. Some have claimed that the switch to natural grass will reinvigorate him like it supposedly did for Torii Hunter, but I am skeptical. I wonder if there is a way to statistically plot out performance based on turf surface reliably. Instead, I think a far more persuasive consideration is whether Wells is more willing to put out with a change in venue. The effect is demonstrative in players like Adrian Beltre, who appear to play harder when it matters more for them (i.e. increased contract). Maybe the wild variation is partially explained by such psychological circumstances, especially with the ridiculous and random explosion of players like Bautista. Moreover, the Angels are a contender if only because of the weak AL West. The Blue Jays are perennially behind in their division, even though they post respectable W-L splits and general performance. Maybe Wells just cared less, especially after having scored the jackpot with his contract in 07.

    This is all an apparent crap shoot – stranger things have panned out. But, unfortunately, I’m resigned to believing this might be GMJ part deux. I hope Hank Conger or Bobby Wilson can save us offensively at catcher. Or that we successfully fill 3B…

    How do you say… wah wa.

    Comment by ThatApologist — January 25, 2011 @ 5:30 pm

  22. I think I agree with Jason. The galling thing about the Wells deal is that you have to figure Wells could have been had for so much less. Alex Rios’ contract was less horrendous than Wells’ and they surrended Rios for literally nothing. In fact, the expectation was the Jays would have had to kick in money to boot. If there was no money coming along with the contract you would have thought a prospect at least. When I first heard the deal I kept thinking, as apparently a lot of people did, … and how much money? what prospect is it going to be? A straight WAR vs. contract amount doesn’t seem to properly capture the true wrtechedness of this trade.

    Comment by bc — January 25, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

  23. I agree. Obviously neither team sees Napoli as a catcher.

    I fully expect that he ends up as the Rangers DH/platoon 1B/emergency catcher.

    Comment by NEPP — January 25, 2011 @ 5:43 pm

  24. that is hilarious. now they can see napoli hit against them while vernon wells sucks for them! oh those poor poor angels, missing out on crawford, beltre, soriano, taking on wells’ contract, losing napoli and having him play for a division rival. makes me feel a lot better as a yankees in an offseason when the red sox acquired AGon and crawford and the yankees signed soriano to a massive contract that he can opt out of at any time if he actually manages to earn the money!

    Comment by phoenix2042 — January 25, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

  25. its under 1mil

    Comment by phoenix2042 — January 25, 2011 @ 5:53 pm

  26. You do know that there are stats to measure “clutch”, right? Although Napoli was slightly negative in 2010 you simply can’t write off his value like that. For some perspective, T. Hunter was a fair bit worse in the clutch than Napoli in 2010 and V. Wells was also worse in 2009 than Napoli in 2010.

    Additionally, all of the psychological factors, etc. that you mention are accounted for in player performance anyway. If a player “doesn’t care” or any other myriad of factors you can point out actually are present, they are 1. not able to be accounted for and 2. should translate into future performance anyway, meaning that those traits are a part of the players game. An MLB season is also sufficiently lengthy that these factors should wash out in the end. I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out that the players should care more about their own performance for their own enrichment given the free market in baseball even if their team is not in a playoff hunt.

    But if I can’t persuade you that your argument is fatally flawed, lets just say that everyone knows that Napoli has played in his managers doghouse for years and this probably negatively affected his performance or made him cringe in the clutch. I would expect him to flourish under management that has faith in him. :)

    Comment by Vegemitch — January 25, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

  27. You know, I was gonna dispute you on the “Napoli isn’t clutch” but I looked at his career splits and wow…he really does seem to come up small in clutch situations (RISP, men on, High Leverage, etc).

    I checked an entire career to get a legitimate sample size too…not just 2010.

    Comment by NEPP — January 25, 2011 @ 6:08 pm

  28. It seems to me the Wells trade is worse because they had the benefit of hindsight. Everyone could see what a disaster the contract was for the Blue Jays, yet the Angels who were armed with this knowledge traded for the player anyway. In addition, they took on the worst part of the deal (the final 4 years, with the most dollars, during Wells’ age 32-35 seasons), despite the fact that the Jays had absolutely no leverage whatsoever. It was commonly known the team wanted to rid themselves of that contract, and very well would have given him away for nothing. If that wasn’t enough, they didn’t even make the Jays offset some of the cost, and instead gave up assets in the deal. A terrible signing at least has the promise of rewards if the player pans out, but being able to see the Wells contract backfire horribly, then trading for him, is quite obviously crazy.

    Comment by Chris — January 25, 2011 @ 6:44 pm

  29. Did the Giants lose a draft pick when they signed Zito? Or did the A’s not offer arbitration?

    If so, that should also probably factor into this analysis.

    Comment by walt526 — January 25, 2011 @ 6:54 pm

  30. consider that the Jays only payed 1/3 of the entire contract for 3 years.
    The Angels really, really, fcuked up

    Comment by Eric — January 25, 2011 @ 6:59 pm

  31. maybe he’s just really really unlucky?
    what’s his BABIP during RISP?

    Comment by Eric — January 25, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

  32. he is pretty unlucky during Runners on and RISP (or maybe he hits too many flyballs when RISP)

    Bases Empty: .310
    Runners On: .274
    RISP: .252!

    Comment by Eric — January 25, 2011 @ 7:03 pm

  33. and thats career numbers

    Comment by Eric — January 25, 2011 @ 7:04 pm

  34. ooh, this would be an excellent idea

    Comment by KB — January 25, 2011 @ 7:05 pm

  35. Sort of puts the Cliff Lee contract into perspective doesn’t it? Zito may look like a bargin if Lee blows his elbow the next year or two. Baseball will kill itself with guaranteed contracts at some point-and no salary cap or spending limits. The first team to fold will be one that has contracts like Wells, Zito, and Lee have.

    Comment by Harrill Lovelace — January 25, 2011 @ 7:50 pm

  36. I can’t tell if it’s worse that the Giants wasted similar money for a longer period of time or if it’s worse to be committing so much over a shorter period of time. All I know is I’m looking forward to paying Timmy a Ducktales bank vault worth of cash more than I did Zito. I’d also like to see the Pierzynski trade analyzed in comparison, although I know this would be so-called useless hindsight… it was SOOO bad.

    Comment by JWTP — January 25, 2011 @ 7:52 pm

  37. One point against the Wells contract: It happened AFTER the Zito contract.

    Comment by sbtokyo — January 25, 2011 @ 11:06 pm

  38. Even if this pitcher has NEVER been on the DL. I happen to think Zito might even have a good year or two left in him. Don’t let his ridiculous contract blind you to some of his strengths. He pitches a lot of innings and doesn’t go on the DL. His team winning the WS makes it look like the franchise that signed him didn’t hurt themselves as much as Texas did when it signed ARod.

    Comment by BZF — January 25, 2011 @ 11:49 pm

  39. Well… Yes this was a horrible trade an a an Angels fan can not understand why we only got 5 million back from the Jays. They should have paid 30 million of the contract! Anyway, I would rather have Wells playing left and batting 5th than having Rivera anywhere in the lineup or on the field. This trade while it hurts the teams financially, they will be better this year because of it. I think management panicked because it is the 50 anniversary and they wanted to put a better starting lineup on the field. Bottom line this trade does help them this year but hurts them for the next 3. Another thing is that Wells is accustom to batting in the heart of the lineup while Naps was a back end guy. Naps would not get many at bats with the Angels if he would have stayed. So as far as which was the worst….I would say at least Wells will make the Angels better for at least one year while Zito did not. How much better Wells makes the Angels depends on many factors but the clubhouse Will be much better off with Wells and without Rivera.

    Comment by Bad-dive — January 26, 2011 @ 12:55 am

  40. “I would say at least Wells will make the Angels better for at least one year while Zito did not.”

    Given that Zito was significantly better than the Giants’ 6th starter, it’s pretty safe to say that he did make the Giants better. In fact, given the way they sneaked into the playoffs, they probably wouldn’t have won the whole thing without Zito.

    What matters, though, is that the Giants greatly overpaid for Zito, and the Angels greatly overpaid for Wells. Maybe the relevant stat to compare isn’t WAR, but instead the value each player provides above that of the actual replacement in each case (WAAR – Wins Above Actual Replacement player? :P).

    Comment by rectin — January 26, 2011 @ 2:31 am

  41. The Wells trade is worse because he’s paid like Josh Hamilton from 2010 should be, but he hits like Delmon Young. Apparently, in recent years, he’s starting to play the outfield like Delmon, too.

    Comment by ToddM — January 26, 2011 @ 3:37 am

  42. I would argue that LAA is worse after this deal. Wells is probably 2 WAR better than Rivera over a full season in LF, but Napoli is about 3 WAR better than Mathis as a full time C even if his defense is brutal.

    The LAA management, of course, improperly utilized Napoli and would probably continue to do so. This would negate the 1 WAR benefit of not making the trade. So the WAR is a wash whether the deal is done or not.

    We don’t know if the Angels will be in contention but even if the deal doesn’t effect W-L negatively, it certainly effects the Angels ability to make a trade or any other pickups. This is a very marginal negative for 2011 but becomes significant in 2012 and beyond just like the Zito contract is for the Giants. They are going to need to get rid of at least one of their young pitchers, perhaps even Lincecum, because the budget is stretched.

    Comment by Vegemitch — January 26, 2011 @ 8:13 am

  43. It definitely should. I’d be stunned if Beane didn’t offer Zito arbitration.

    Comment by chuckb — January 26, 2011 @ 9:51 am

  44. As a Blue Jay fan, I can assure you that there is no chance that “Maybe Wells just cared less, especially after having scored the jackpot with his contract in 07”

    Wells is one of those baseball players who always runs hard to first even on a slow roller to 2nd or a pop up. I have never questioned his level of effort or commitment. I have no doubt that he should have taken more time off to heal in those terrible years but taking time off is not in his nature. He’s an all effort guy.

    The sad thing is that Wells is not a good enough player for his contract and that is not his fault. But he is a good enough player to enjoy watching, despite his annoying tendency to pop up.

    Comment by siggian — January 26, 2011 @ 10:45 am

  45. t seems like a bad trade, but with AA you are at this point where you have to wonder if there isn’t some sort of secret motivation or reasoning that you just aren’t aware of.

    Yeah, I think that’s pretty much a double-standard that exists here at FG.

    When a saber-metrically inclined GM makes a “bad trade”, it’s always because he has some super-secret alternative plan.

    When an “old-school” GM makes a bad trade, it’s because he’s dumb and subscribes to na outdated philosophy.

    We see it whenever TB, OAK, MIN, BOS, TOR makes a move that doesn’t qualify as “good” by our rigid criteria. Compare to how we’d react if this trade was made by SFG, KCR, HOU, CWS.

    GM’s make both good and bad moves.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 26, 2011 @ 11:16 am

  46. I’m wondering how this happened.

    When approached about LAA wanting Wells, did TOR’s GM really start playing coy, “Well, we really like Vernon as a player …. it would take something extra to entice parting with him, because he’s such a good player, great guy, and team leader.” After LAA refused to sweeten the deal with Mike Trout, only then did AA say “Okay, I guess Napoli and Rivera will suffice, although it breaks my heart to part with V-Dub.” Party in Toronto ensues.

    Seriously, did LAA contact TOR offering Naps and Rivera or what?

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 26, 2011 @ 11:19 am

  47. maybe he’s just really really unlucky

    Why are athletes the only ones that get to use this as an excuse?

    It’s not fair.

    If I receive a poor evaluation, I just wanna respond “Sorry Boss, been really unlucky this year.” Of course, when I am receiving a raise I won’t mention anything about good luck.

    When someone consistently performs a certain way, luck is diminished.

    Maybe with RISP, Napoli is intentionally trying not to hit a ground ball (GDP) and makes poorer contact. makes he poops his pants. Maybe he tries too hard. We don’t know, and it doesn’t really matter. What we do know is that over his career, “he don’t hit real good with men on”.

    We don’t need to know how or why to make the statement.

    When a pitcher consistently is 30 points below average on BABIP, we stop yucking it up to luck.

    I do agree that that a single season’s worth of data is not really useful in terms of projecting what the player might do the next year in regards to “clutch”.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 26, 2011 @ 11:26 am

  48. Is it possible that Texas was after Napoli and the Angels would not deal with them, so they were offering Francisco to 3rd parties if they could get Napoli in trade? And even that they would not announce it for a couple of days so it would not look like a 3-way?

    Comment by gdc — January 26, 2011 @ 11:40 am

  49. The Zito contract is universally acknowledged as a bad contract, but at least he eats up innings for the Giants. What about the contract that the Dodgers gave to Jason Schmidt? They got virtually no return for their $47M investment! Far worse, in my opinion.

    Comment by Maximus — January 26, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

  50. Most contracts are not insured, and those that are, are not insured past three years, or four MAXIMUM. In all likelihood, the Zito risk belongs entirely to the Giants.

    Comment by SteveM — January 26, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

  51. There ARE spending limits and salary caps in baseball. It’s just that each team gets to decide their own! Individual team/s may hang themselves with that rope, but baseball as a whole is in no such jeopardy.

    Comment by SteveM — January 26, 2011 @ 1:05 pm

  52. Oakland did offer arbitration.

    The Giants first round pick was protected. They surrendered their 2nd round pick, 74th overall to Oakland, who selected…Grant Desme.

    Oakland also got Sean Doolittle out of it by way of supplemental draft choice.

    Comment by bjbirdie — January 26, 2011 @ 1:29 pm

  53. Based on interviews done by AA in the Toronto market, the Wells deal was made largely independent of the Francisco deal.

    AA knew that there was a fair amount of interest in Napoli from back at the Winter Meetings. When discussions on the Wells deal were entering final stages with Reagins, he asked what teams had been in on Napoli and they were basically the same teams he’d known about from the Winter meetings. (Hence – Reagins wasn’t blindsided by the fact that Napoli might get flipped).

    With Texas, AA had tried a bunch of different packages to get Francisco – Minasian and the other Pro guys seem to particularly like him. When word came down on the Wells deal, Daniels approached AA about Napoli and it came together pretty quick.

    Yes, Daniels gave just under 1M to AA.

    Comment by bjbirdie — January 26, 2011 @ 1:39 pm

  54. Following up Scout Finch’s post above, I’d guess that Jason Schmidt’s contract was eliminated along with Aaron Rowand’s contract in the semifinals.

    Comment by gonfalon — January 26, 2011 @ 1:41 pm

  55. If you agree with the (generous) valuation of Zito skills, the Zito contract was a waste of 53 million. The Schmidt contract was, at worst, a loss of 47 million.

    Comment by Bill — January 26, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

  56. I’d have to think that Matt Morris to the Pirates would be there, wouldn’t it?

    Comment by ndbrian — January 26, 2011 @ 2:54 pm

  57. What about the Soriano contract? 7/$136m, and he’ll be done with that deal at 39. That might end up being worse than both of them.

    Comment by BillyBeaneismyHero — January 26, 2011 @ 6:46 pm

  58. My question would be, what would’ve happened if the Angels asked TO to put Wells on waivers? Would TO have refused to do so? I doubt it. And I doubt anyone would’ve claimed him. They could’ve at least kept Napoli by picking up Wells on waivers, and then have been able to trade him for the equivalent of Fransisco.

    Comment by Joey B — January 27, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

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