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The Worst Signing Of The Winter

I’m one of those people who doesn’t really enjoy Saturday Night Live sketches, because to me, the joke is made in the first 15 seconds and then just repeated over and over for the next several minutes. You drive a Dodge Stratus and you think that makes you important – okay. Not much funnier the 15th time you yell it. Not to me, anyway.

Ed Wade is the GM equivalent of a bad SNL sketch. The first time he overpaid a middle reliever, we figured out that he didn’t really know how to build a roster. Now, when he gives Brandon Lyon a 3 year, $15 million deal, we just shrug our shoulders and say, “Yeah, that’s Ed Wade for ya.”

Seriously, $5 million a year for the next three years for Brandon Lyon. We’re not talking about overpaying for a premium bullpen guy. Lyon is a generic middle reliever, the kind of guy who could be replaced by a minor league free agent or a Rule 5 draftee. His career FIP is 4.23, which is below average for a relief pitcher. He doesn’t even have magical FIP-beating properties – his career ERA is 4.20.

But, hey, he got hit lucky last year (.229 BABIP) and that allowed him to strand a bunch of runners (80.8% LOB%), so his 2009 ERA is a sparkly 2.86. To Wade, that matters, because he’s still analyzing like it’s 1999. Don’t worry about the fact that his career BABIP is .305 or that his career LOB% is 71.4%, and that the entirety of his low ERA in 2009 was luck – pay him like the best reliever on the market anyway.

What year does Wade think this is? The market for relief pitchers absolutely cratered a year ago, as teams stopped paying significant money for setup guys who could be effectively replaced by league-minimum earners. So far this year, we’ve seen a significant pullback from even that level of spending. The average dollar per win for the first crop of free agents signed this winter has been about $3 million per win. The Astros are paying about $10 million – ten million – per win for Lyon.

They don’t have any money to spend to fix the rest of their bad, old roster, but they can commit $5 million a year to Brandon Lyon through 2012. Moves like this are why the team isn’t good, and won’t be good any time soon. This move is just the latest act in a joke that’s gone on far too long.