Pavano and Westbrook

After fruitlessly hunting around for a three year contract all winter, Carl Pavano finally re-signed with the Minnesota Twins yesterday. The two year, $16.5 million contract he signed is perhaps a bit smaller than expected, given that he was generally considered one of the better free agent pitchers on the market and teams have been pretty casual about throwing cash around all winter. Perhaps more interestingly, it’s also the exact same contract Jake Westbrook signed two months ago.

Heading into the winter, I doubt many of us had Westbrook and Pavano linked as guys who would land similar deals, but a closer inspection reveals that they actually are pretty similar: Pavano is 35, Westbrook is 33. Pavano has thrown 1,500 innings in the majors, Westbrook 1,300. Pavano has a career FIP of 4.15, while Westbrook is at 4.17. Pavano doesn’t get quite as many groundballs as Westbrook, but he makes up for the difference by getting a few more strikeouts and walking slightly fewer. Both of them have fairly recently missed seasons due to injuries, but they also both threw over 200 innings last year and have been effective innings eaters when not on the DL.

So now, I’m trying to figure out why we all thought Pavano was going to get more money than Westbrook to begin with. Pavano did post a slightly lower ERA last year while pitching in the American League, but any team who evaluated him by ERA would also have to be somewhat scared of his 2009 mark. Most true talent evaluations would have them as extremely similar, and the market ended up coming to the same conclusion. And yet, that didn’t seem to be the perception going into the off-season.

For instance, here’s Frankie Piliere’s Top 50 free agents from FanHouse – he had Pavano #12 (between Andy Pettitte and Jorge de la Rosa) while Westbrook came in at #20 (between Adam LaRoche and Jon Garland). Sports Illustrated’s list was even more extreme, as Pavano came in at #12 while Westbrook was #32 (between Ty Wigginton and Pat Burrell this time). Perhaps the most credit should go to Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors, who had them next to each other (#13 and #14) on his version of the list.

In retrospect, Pavano and Westbrook are pretty similar pitchers, and this deal for Pavano seems like a triumph of logic over narrative. While a lot of us (myself included in this) expected Pavano to land a better deal than Westbrook this winter, the underlying facts suggested that they should get similar deals, and they did. Score one for capitalism.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Andrew Kneeland
Member
5 years 4 months ago

“Pavano doesn’t get quite as many groundballs as Pavano…”

Now that’s a cute trick. How does he manage to do that?

Matthew
Guest
Matthew
5 years 4 months ago

“How does he manage to do that?”

He doesn’t. What could be clearer?

deathsinger
Guest
deathsinger
5 years 4 months ago

I’m too lazy too look up whether the following

Pavano doesn’t get quite as many groundballs as Pavano,

should be

Pavano doesn’t get quite as many groundballs as Westbrook

or

Westbrook doesn’t get quite as many groundballs as Pavano

but I am sure that it is not correct as written.

wobatus
Guest
wobatus
5 years 4 months ago

They’re close, but Ithink Carl desrves slightly more. Since you used FIP, Pavano, healthy in 2009 and 2010, put up fips of 4.00 and 4.02. Westbrook’s last 2 full seasons were 2010 and back in 2007 (even then only 25 starts), with a fip of 4.33 and 4.22 for those years. With his fip somewhat aided last year by moving to the NL for about a third of the season.

Good point and correct, closer than many think (and I thought), but, and I can’t believe I am saying this, I think Pavano reliably (relatively) can be counted on to be a tad better over the next 2 years.

filihok
Guest
5 years 4 months ago

“So now, I’m trying to figure out why we all thought Pavano was going to get more money than Westbrook to begin with.”

Innings pitched since 2009:
Pavano 420.1
Westbrook 202.2

Innings pitched since 2008:
Pavano 454.2
Westbrook 237.1

Innings pitched since 2007:
Pavano: 466
Westbrook: 389.3

but of course

Innings pitched since 2006:
Pavano 466
Westrbook 600.2

But, you’re right. They are a lot closer than we ‘think’.

Big Jgke
Member
Big Jgke
5 years 4 months ago

WOooooOOOOOO. SUCK it communism!!!

Luke in MN
Guest
Luke in MN
5 years 4 months ago

I think the article’s basically right, but Pavano also had the type-A status hanging around his neck. I imagine that deflated his value a little bit. Frankly I think they’re both pretty good bets to exceed the 4 or so WAR over 2 years they’ll need to be worth their contracts.

Barkey Walker
Guest
Barkey Walker
5 years 4 months ago

Well, there is also the fact that fans project an additional 1/2 WAR for Pavano and a 0.9 WAR difference in 2009.

I think part of what happened to Pavano is that he is that this one other team that might have outbid the Twins was… not as interested in him in particular.

Franco
Guest
Franco
5 years 4 months ago

The 2 years part was expected, but I was surprised when he got less annual money than Arrojo. I guess we shouldn’t have been as the rumor mill only had the Twins and Nationals as serious bidders.

Karl Marx
Guest
Karl Marx
5 years 4 months ago

This is no triumph for capitalism. Pavano took less money to go to minnesota. Clearly, the profit motive was not the primary mover in his decision. He chose security and comfort ahead of dollars: welfare ahead of profit–what a commie.

Looks like Thome did the same thing. I always suspected Minnesota a was socialist country. Must be all the Scandinavian blood.

Adam
Guest
Adam
5 years 4 months ago

That is not communist, he just placed a higher than usual utility on non-monetary factors. He still did it for his own reasons.

If you could make 50k in Miami or 60k in Nova Scotia, you wouldn’t say it wasn’t self interested to take the Miami offer…

karl marx
Guest
karl marx
5 years 4 months ago

you’ve obviously never been to nova scotia, eh..

mmmm, McLobster

Cliff
Guest
Cliff
5 years 4 months ago

Choosing to take less money voluntarily because you place great value on security and comfort is hardly socialist. It is fully consistent with capitalism.

Jimbo Jones
Guest
Jimbo Jones
5 years 4 months ago

Another slap to the face of the Nationals franchise! So far that’s three this offseason. First Derek Lee, then Pavano, but first was Werth’s contract.

Dwight Schrute
Guest
Dwight Schrute
5 years 4 months ago

Didn’t Greinke shoot them down too?

Steve
Guest
Steve
5 years 4 months ago

One of the main reasons that Pavano did not get more money was because he is Carl Pavano.

In other words, if he was named Parl Cavano, and had the exact same numbers the last 2 years, the Yankees would have given him a few more $$ than the Twins to fill out the back of their rotation.

But since that was never going to happen, no matter what the rumors said about a possible reunion, Pavano’s wealthiest suitor had to sit out of the bidding.

adam smith
Guest
adam smith
5 years 4 months ago

actually, the yankees didn’t sit out the bidding. they offered 10 million for one year. the twins gave him 8 million a year for two years.

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